Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Mom's Health

New Years Resolutions 2016

OCP-new-years-resolution-3Happy New Year!

I was scrolling back through my blog to find last year’s resolutions and realized that somehow, I completely flaked and didn’t make a NYR post. It’s disappointed in myself; I’ve been blogging my NYRs since 2009 . I hate that I messed up my streak! Oh well; too late to cry over it now.

I was all set to write a new list and it occurred to me that there’s nothing that I want to accomplish this year that is different from what I wanted to accomplish in 2014. It’s a lot or ‘more of the same’. I don’t think that’s a bad thing; I like the goals I set for myself. Even last year, those were the same goals I was working on. Maybe that’s why I didn’t make a new list last year?

A couple of years ago, there was a trend towards coming up with a theme for the year. In 2014, mine was ‘onward and upward’. It fit, and I think I managed to meet that theme. I think that instead of writing NYRs this year, I’ll go with a theme for 2016.

I really like the term ‘mindfulness’. It’s one of my favorite words, and has been for a long time, especially when it comes to parenting or dealing with my kids. It’s something I am always struggling with. The HuffPo article has this to say on mindfulness as a theme:

Theme: Mindfulness. Many of us live in a constant state of distraction, due to our busy lives. But this relentless multitasking can take a toll on our health, as well as our overall quality of life. Research has linked mindfulness with many beneficial outcomes, such as being able to curb overeating, experiencing less stress and anxiety, and even helping with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment. We can practice this in many ways — taking time to notice the taste of our food when we eat, pausing to focus entirely on a child during conversation, or purposefully enjoying the feeling while taking a brisk walk are all acts of mindfulness.

I definitely live ‘in a constant state of distraction’… maybe that’s not exactly accurate – more like hyper-focused on whatever I am doing; often to the exclusion of things going on around me. Mindfulness in this context would mean setting aside time for each task, and not letting my focus exceed the time frame I designate and eat into time set aside for other things. I am also very guilty of doing one thing, but thinking about what comes next. Days will sometimes go by when I am constantly focused on what’s coming up, rather than enjoying what I am in the middle of.

That said, I can think of a few things I want to accomplish in this vein:

  • meditation – I practice on my own, but I really would like to make it part of my week to go to the group sit at St. Mark’s. They meet twice a week; I want to make at least one of them.
  • simplify – KonMari! I want to clear out things that don’t make me happy, from possessions to wardrobe to household goods
  • health – movement and community – walking with playgroup; with the kids; family health; focus on cleaner eating
  • relationships – tend those I care about and cut loose those I don’t

I think that’s a good plan.

*****

At the end of my NYR post, I usually copy and re-cap the previous year. Since I didn’t do one for 2015, we’ll pretend that they just carried over.

2014 NYR Re-cap

1.) Food – Join the local produce co-op; cook with more fresh (and unusual) foods. Be more open to trying new recipes, including gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and other diverse styles. We’ve been in a rut food-wise and I am ready to get out of it! Also – freezer meals. I’m feeling freezer meals in 2014. – DONE! I am still part of the co-op, and have been using Pinterest to find and make new recipes. We’ve had a few mishaps, but overall, it’s been good!

2.) Home Improvement – this is an on-going thing. We’re planning for a new roof in the spring, and hopefully the kids’ rooms will be finished this year (again). DONE! (mostly) – New roof was done, and PeaGreen’s room was totally gutted and re-done. In the Spring, we’re planning to repaint LBB’s room and possibly put in central air and heat.

3.) Health & Fitness – Rather than put pressure on myself again for a specific belt goal, I am going to plan on karate 2x per week, and biking or walking/running 2 miles per week. I also want to do two 5k’s this year. More would be great, but at least those two. I said one last year, and didn’t do it, so TWO this year! (Maybe even 3!) Yeah… this is going to have to carry over to 2016. I do plan on going back to karate at some point, hopefully this year.

4.) Kids – They’re really growing up now! I’d love for a family vacation to be on the menu this year (even if it’s a camping trip or weekend in Houston, Galveston or San Antonio). I really want to start bigger art projects with them. They’re always interested in my art, so I want to get them set up in collaborative projects with me, and with others. – Unfortunately, I have a bunch of homebodies… so travel is still on the menu, but we’ve spent lots of family time hanging out at home. We’ve been trying to do game nights and movie nights together, which is fun.

5.) Husband – Date Nights are always in the plan! I’d like to put into use some of the things I’ve Pinned on my board for dates or sweet things to do for him. Mini-break would be just heavenly!! DONE – maybe not every month, but more often this year for sure. Now that the kids are older, we can go out without having to worry about finding a babysitter, especially for just dinner or something. There are definitely perks to having older kids! We took a mini-break away from the kids for a weekend away – we went to the Texas Renaissance Festival for Pirate Weekend. That was a lot of fun and I want to plan on doing it again this year! 

6.) Myself – Art Classes; Journalistas, Mom’s Night Outs… all of this and more on a regular basis! Writing workshop – if I can find one, go to it! Write, write, WRITE. Also, wanting to get back into painting this year. Even if it’s Painting with a Twist! DONE!!  I did a month long index card art challenge, made affirmation cards for myself (as part of that), have been journaling and painting and joined my local NaNoWriMo group. Even though the event is over the group still meets every week. I’ve been making and meeting most of my specific writing goals, which is very satisfying!

7.) Extended Family – Visit my parents more, continue working on family history/genealogy research. Maybe plan a big family reunion. DONE! No family reunion, but my siblings and I have been doing family dinners about every 6 weeks or so. I also started working on family history again and my sister and I have plans to work together on it this coming year.

8.) Community – We’re Spiral Scouting this year, in addition to our regular community service work that we do through school. That will lend the kids even more opportunities to help out on a larger basis. We’re already signed up for a river clean-up and plan to pitch in on a creek clean up as well. Done, but not through Spiral Scouts. We let our charter lapse due to a lack of community support, so we found other ways to fulfill this.

9.) Work – Finish my BFUSA cert., start looking into pre-req.s for school (for me!). Done and done! 

 

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself! Let’s hope my re-cap for this year looks as good or better!

go me

 

Warmly,
~h

 

 

 

 

 

 


Homeschooling with Depression

homeschooling depression

homeschooling depressionDepression and anxiety are issues I deal with on a daily basis, and have for many years now. I rarely mention it, because I tend to think that most of the posts about depression disorders are along the lines of ‘hey, I have depression, too, but I got better and you will, too!!’, which is both annoying to me and completely unrealistic. Or maybe my perspective is off; maybe their depression was situational, or seasonal and they got over it – which is great for them, but really annoying when you’re dealing with the kind of long-term, cyclical, never-ending depression that I’ve been dealing with for years. I wanted to write about it, because I don’t see depression talked about often in homeschool blogs, either.

Homeschooling parents deal with a lot of stereotypes. There’s the martyr, who sacrifices everything (including her sense of style) for her kids; the saint, who has many, many children, and just blesses each and every one of their little mischievous hearts without ever losing her cool (or mind); the overachiever, with only two or three kids, but all of them play a sport, a musical instrument, have each started a charity or their own business by the age of 10, and have private riding and fencing lessons twice weekly… and the rest of us, who just muddle through each day trying not to lose our minds. But chief among all of them, across the board, is the idea that homeschooling moms are, first and foremost, happy all the time. They are endless paragons of patience and bastions of knowledge and kindness and absolutely satisfied with every aspect of their life.

Oh, that it were so, but it’s definitely not. Here are some of the areas that I find to be challenging:

Motivation

Motivation is a huge issue for me – probably the main one I struggle with as a homeschooling mom. There are days when I just can’t. get. out. of. bed. Or just can’t manage to get it together and actually get the kids started on their work. It’s not that I didn’t plan well, or that we don’t have things to do – we absolutely have things to do, and I often find myself scrambling at the last minute to get ready to go, even for things I really want to do. It’s frustrating.

So far, I’ve found that, surprise! Nothing helps. This is a matter that I deal with on almost a daily basis. Some days to a lesser extent than others, but getting out of bed is a daily struggle. Homeschooling has been a double-edged sword in that we’re not tied to anyone else’s time table, which is great, because it means that I can adjust when we start and stop the school day. On the other hand, I’m not tied to any particular time table, which means that it’s entirely up to me to make it happen. So, I do what I’ve always done and complain about it in my head and just do it anyway. Some days, I manage it fairly well. Other days, school runs later into the day than I’d planned. It’s helped a lot that the kids are able to work independently more and more as they get older, but someone still has to plan the plans and keep track of things and be dressed when it’s time to go do the thing. I wish I could end this with a platitude or strategy, but I haven’t found one yet. The search continues, which is something, I guess.

Dealing with Bad Days

Bad days are bound to happen, depression or not. But with depression, bad days seem to linger. It’s almost like depression is a tangible fog or miasma that infects everything. The kids aren’t immune to my mood, either. As the mom/teacher, when you’re homeschooling, you often set the tone for the day. If I wake up in a bad mood, my kids will inevitably follow. If I wake up with a (forced) song in my heart, then they’ll likewise, generally follow suit.

As we all know, exercise helps. Having an exercise routine is a good thing – sticking to it is difficult. When a bad day peaks, movement can help get you out of the funk. If I am anxious, sometimes physically getting up and walking away from my problem (or the source of my stress) can put the problem back into proper perspective. If inside is gloomy and doomy, then hitting the sunshine and connecting with Mother Earth does wonders for my mental state. We school ‘on the go’ quite a bit, because staring at the same four walls would drive anyone crazy. Schoolwork outside has always, always been a great thing.

Meditation is a good way to re-center and re-charge also. We have mind jars that are between 5-10 minutes of glittery peace. Mindful movement is another non-stressful way to integrate movement and exercise into your day. A friend of mine has turned me on to ‘restorative yoga‘ – it’s amazeballs. Dance is another good one – a silly way to move your body, get out of a funk and connect with the kids. We favor Latin dance music for housekeeping – I recommend it.

Getting Overwhelmed

As a homeschooling parent, everything rests on your shoulders. All of the responsibility of educating your children – their successes and failures all reflect on you. What’s crazy about that is that even if they excel in several areas, if they fail in even one area that someone who feels they’re more qualified than you to decide what’s important, you’re still cast in a bad light. Maybe that’s my anxiety talkin’, but I’d wager most homeschooling parents would agree with that to some extent. As the sole arbiter of education, that’s a tremendous responsibility. Depression already casts the weight of the world onto your shoulders, it seems like adding the burden of homeschooling on top of that is insanity. There are days that ‘The Worry’ gets me, and I have a hard time snapping out of it.

Managing anxiety and depression are key in those moments. I use a few apps that help. My favorite is Mood Tools. I use it every time my anxiety starts getting high, and it honest-to-goodness helps. My most-used tool in that app is the Thought Diary. It takes you through rating your initial state, works you through your cognitive distortions, gives you a place to verbalize your fears and thoughts, and evaluate them, then re-evaluate your anxiety levels and I almost always am able to get a reality check and control it.

In a homeschooling context, the best tool I have is ‘some is better than none’. That’s not a crutch or an excuse not to do the thing… even public school teachers have days where they bring in the video cart and let the kids watch movies all day. What it does is release some of the pressure for getting things done today. Tomorrow is a whole new day, and things may be very different then – my mood may be better (or the kids’ moods); the sun may be shining…. brand new day.

When you homeschool, sometimes it doesn’t seem like there’s room for ‘real life’, so housework can get shuffled to the side. I like the idea of making everyone who is capable of physically doing the job responsible for his or her own messes/cleaning and care of personal spaces. That way, my workload is diminished, and the kids learn to do for themselves – win/win! Community spaces are community responsibility – just like in real life.

Stuck in a Rut

Homeschooling can be tedious, especially when, for whatever reason and despite your considerable effort, your kiddo just isn’t getting it. Or maybe things are going along as normal, and you just feel ‘blah’ because every day is routine. It doesn’t happen here very often, thanks to my ever-increasing sphere of interests and willingness to experiment, but when it does, how do you break it? For me, personally, I am prone to restructuring from the ground up. I can only handle doing the same task for so long before I go cuckoo-bananas, so we get a remodel of pretty much everything maybe once every other year or so. I make smaller changes about every few months – simple things like colors and fonts on printed materials, or shelving something that’s gotten dreary in favor of something with more pizzazz for a while.

In a larger sense, I plan our year so that I have different areas of focus at different times of the year. We plan for the fall semester to be the bulk of the text work, while the winter is more literary-based, leaving spring for unit studies. Summer is a mixed bag of catch-up and prep for the fall. I structure things so that I don’t have too long to focus on one thing. We also schedule our year so that there are built-in breaks every 4-6 weeks or so, rather than one long break.

When I need a quick fix though, even just a change of scenery for the day can do the trick. An impromptu field trip, or going to visit my brother for a couple of days – anything to break the monotony.

Asking for Help

Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you’re ‘supposed to’ have it all together. Combine that with the stigma of mental health issues, and it’s no wonder that people suffer silently. But I know there are more moms out there who are making it work, every day, step-by-painful-step. If you’re one of them, I’d love to hear from you.

I hate platitudes, especially ‘it gets better’, because it doesn’t always. I’m a rather pragmatic sort, and  one of the best, most practical things I’ve seen is the ‘Everything is Awful and I’m Not Okay: Questions to ask before giving up‘ list. I have it in my planner, I gave copies to my kids. It’s on the bulletin board in our kitchen. I like it because it’s something to help me focus ‘small’. Depression is ‘big’ – it looms over me; it takes up a lot of space in my head, in the room, in my life. It’s overwhelming and ever-present. The list is ‘small’. It’s useful. It’s something I can focus on right here, right now, that helps keep the despair at bay.

So, like I said, this isn’t one of those ‘and now I’m all fixed’ posts. I’m not; I’m still broken and struggling, every day, and it’s really damn hard.

 

Warmly,
~h


NYR’s 2014 – Better Late than Never!

New Year’s resolutions tend to be a joke among the general population. Not that I don’t get a good laugh at all the unrealistic, radical lifestyle changes that people plan to put into action like flipping a switch, but I find it somewhat insulting that the plan to make changes has become so cliche’. Most of my friends make resolutions, and actually do work towards them. Either their resolutions are more realistic, or they’re more motivated than the average Joe; but I’m lucky to be around people who are inspiring me to continue working towards my goals well into the month.
I’ve flip-flopped back and forth about whether to do resolutions this year, and about how to do them. There’s a trend right now about choosing a single word or phrase that sums up your goals and making that your theme for the year. I like that idea, but don’t know exactly if it will work for me… but who knows. Once I getall of this out of my head and onto the screen, I may find a theme when proofreading!

So, I am going to do my traditional 9, and update my last year’s resoloutions as well (as usual). Here’s last year’s post; I’m late this year – it’s Jan. 14th already.

2014 NYRs:

1.) Food – Join the local produce co-op; cook with more fresh (and unusual) foods. Be more open to trying new recipes, including gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and other diverse styles. We’ve been in a rut food-wise and I am ready to get out of it! Also – freezer meals. I’m feeling freezer meals in 2014.

2.) Home Improvement – this is an on-going thing. We’re planning for a new roof in the spring, and hopefully the kids’ rooms will be finished this year (again).

3.) Health & Fitness – Rather than put pressure on myself again for a specific belt goal, I am going to plan on karate 2x per week, and biking or walking/running 2 miles per week. I also want to do two 5k’s this year. More would be great, but at least those two. I said one last year, and didn’t do it, so TWO this year! (Maybe even 3!)

4.) Kids – They’re really growing up now! I’d love for a family vacation to be on the menu this year (even if it’s a camping trip or weekend in Houston, Galveston or San Antonio). I really want to start bigger art projects with them. They’re always interested in my art, so I want to get them set up in collaborative projects with me, and with others.

5.) Husband – Date Nights are always in the plan! I’d like to put into use some of the things I’ve Pinned on my board for dates or sweet things to do for him. Mini-break would be just heavenly!!

6.) Myself – Art Classes; Journalistas, Mom’s Night Outs… all of this and more on a regular basis! Writing workshop – if I can find one, go to it! Write, write, WRITE. Also, wanting to get back into painting this year. Even if it’s Painting with a Twist ;)

7.) Extended Family – Visit my parents more, continue working on family history/genealogy research. Maybe plan a big family reunion.

8.) Community – We’re Spiral Scouting this year, in addition to our regular community service work that we do thought school. That will lend the kids even more opportunities to help out on a larger basis. We’re already signed up for a river clean-up and plan to pitch in on a creek clean up as well.

9.) Work – Finish my BFUSA cert., start looking into pre-req.s for school (for me!).

So there…. those are my plans for this year. Maybe my theme could be ‘Onward and Upward’…

2013 recap:

  1. Complete ‘Wreck this Journal’, and keep up with the Art Journalistas group on Facebook. (It’s a secret group; one for my IRL friends and I to post pictures and progress and meet up to browse each others’ books. We’re starting in January.) 2014: DONE!! I’m working on my second journal in this series as we speak (or as I type). 
  2. repaint living room & kids’ rooms (also includes new beds in their rooms, decor and the like) 2014: FAIL (klaxon) I painted about 2/5 of the living room and hate the color. Haven’t even started on the kids rooms. Why is this is HARD to accomplish??
  3. spend more time with Grandmama & Mom & Dad (My mom had a stroke this past year, and it really pointed out how little time we spend together. Plus, my grandmother’s sister died a few weeks ago – her younger sister – which really brought home how much time she may have left. Making more time to visit with my family needs to be a priority this year.) 2014: DONE (and continue to do. I could spend MORE time with them, but who can’t say that? Keeping them in my plans for this year as well.
  4. Harry Potter Marathon. I’ve talked about it many times… now is the time. ALL of the movies – one weekend. 2014: Meh… The kids and I have started working through the HP series as part of their literature and reading assignments. They’re enjoying the book, so when we finish a book, the plan is to watch the movie, then do a comparison diagram.
  5. Karate: keep on keepin’ on. I’d like to be a green belt (or maybe even blue!) by the end of the year… though I am  not the one who has the final say in whether or not I get to test; still, I plan on working hard, and I think that green is doable over the next 12 months. I also want to learn the Dojo Kun in Japanese. Also included in this res is going to be general health/fitness goals. More HAES, less sighing over a flat stomach. 2014: I took a break form karate from July-December. 3x a week was stressing me out with all the other stuff that’s always on my plate. I just burnt out of it. So I’ve started again this year, and am only committing myself to 2x per week (Tues & Thurs) so my weekend is free. Other health/fitness goals have suffered for the last 5 months or so, but I am back on track.
  6. Submit at least one writing project for publication (AnnA – gonna need your help on this). I also want to work on establishing and maintaining a regular writing schedule this year, and collaborate more with AnnA (my amazing writing partner – click her name above and read her blog!). Also, check out the local writer’s guild group again. I tried it a while back and it wasn’t my cuppa; it’s been a while though, so maybe fresh meat? 2014: FAIL  on everything but collab. with AnnA. She’s back in town though, so I foresee more collabs in the future.
  7. Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x each month. we did really well on this a while back, but have gotten away from it and it shows, so back onto the list it goes. Up this week: Django Unchained. At some point this coming year, I also want to take a mini-break, just the two of us. San Antonio or Dallas, maybe. 2014: Once a month was maybe pushing it – we resolve, but we have a life. The good thing about it is that even if we don’t get to go out alone together, we still enjoy one another’s company when hanging out at home, or with the kids. But a mini-break does sound heavenly.
  8. Family Vacation – we so very much need to do this. We’re in better financial shape that ever before, so maybe this is doable this year. 2014: Back on the list for this year!
  9. Run a 5K… or walk a 5K. I really want to do a Color Run and/or a Tough Mudder…. or aZombie Walk… or a Flash Mob. Something along those lines. We have friends who are into 5Ks as a family and it looks like fun. I’d love to get the kids involved in something like that. 2014: FAIL – but I’m not giving up! The color run is coming up, and we have a Zombie Response Team in the area now, so maybe a Zombie Walk is forthcoming ;)

So… that’s that. I’m not updating the past years’ goals like I have in the past. Some of that is irrelevant; much of it is still on the list.

I thought that while I was on the subject of goals, I’d make a few homeschool goals for this year as well:

1.) Stick to our schedule a bit better. We did well through October, but November and December were difficult to keep on-track. January has been barely holding on; we need to do better.

2.) Math manipulatives – get better use out of them! We have a ton, and they just sit in the cabinet for the most part.

3.) Make use of Pinterest in a more productive manner. There are so many cool things there – that’s why I pinned them!! Now, the trick is to use them!

 

In any case, I think I will stick with Upward and Onward as my theme for this year. How about you – themes for the year, or traditional resolutions? Share yours!

Warmly,
~h


April Update

I suck at blogging this year. I know it’s not an excuse, but (like most of you) I’ve had too much on my plate lately. I used to make time for blogging, but I haven’t been motivated to do so lately. I tend to work in cycles, so this isn’t entirely unexpected  from my end. Things have been kinda topsy-turvey for the last couple of months, but we are settling into a routine again, so hopefully updates will come a little more frequently now.

Let’s see…

February was pretty busy. For field trips, we saw a play (The Real Story of the 3 Little Pigs, which is based on this book – one of my kids’ favorites when they were small), visited the symphony, went to Moody Gardens, celebrated Imbolc and Valentine’s Day, met with our newly-forming Spiral Scouts group to finalize our charter paperwork, had a ‘s’mores and movie day’ with our local homeschool group and had our monthly community service day volunteering with our local Humane Society.

picture by Amanda Horn

picture by Amanda Horn

Aidan - HumaneSoc January26_2013

picture by Jean Bennett

I also tested for my orange belt in karate, re-visited my doc for an update and medication switch to handle my depression and anxiety (because I am a good mother who does not want to end up on the evening news for freaking out and taking off my clothes and running down the street starkers), and got new contacts (because vision is of the good).

Orange belt!

March was full of school-y goodness, with a visit to the ballet to see Snow White, the NOAA Sea Turtle Research Facility in Galveston, celebrated Ostara & observed Easter, went hiking in the Big Thicket (I’m Mayor of the Kirby Trail on FourSquare!!), the Exotic Cat Refuge in Kirbyville, TX, a hike in Village Creek, and another successful volunteer date with the Humane Society.

Shambola

April has been equally exciting in some ways, but less ‘school-ish’. Due to inclement weather, we’ve ended up seeing movies (OZ and The Croods) instead of educational stuff, but those links are to lesson plan fun, so even strictly social/leisure outings can be built into school). I was also sick for a couple of weeks, so we missed out on some pretty awesome field trips (like NANO Days at the Houston Children’s Museum). I was bummed. I also missed our Humane Society date. Boo to that.

I’m on the mend though, and on a personal level, April rang in both the celebration of my 36th birthday and marked the occasion of my first ever 5K event. Loverly Husband and I went with my sister and some friends to the Mud Farm in Sour Lake, TX to do a ‘mud run’ obstacle course. It was so dirty and so much fun! #213 Heather Thomas 1:19:56 – 111 of 121 runners <— that’s me! He came in 38th with a time of 0:43:50.

Mud Run 5K - April 6, 2013

picture OF me, BY someone who is NOT me…
Carrie, maybe?

In homeschool news, we’ve been working our literature unit pretty consistently. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with the kids on a unit study; I’ve forgotten how ‘big’ this type of schooling can be. Even though this is ‘just’ Beyond Five In A Row, and ‘just’ The Boxcar Children #1, which is way below the boys’ reading/grade level, it’s still lent itself to some surprisingly in-depth lessons. We don’t necessarily have anything to show for it (other than the lapbook components), but it’s steady progress, which is a good thing. One of the more memorable lessons was on the construction of the Hoover Dam. The boys watched a half hour documentary about it and were pretty riveted. Another lesson was on planting blueberry bushes, which led to growing zones and was a nice tie-in to starting our garden this year. We’ll be planting more, but this was a nice start.

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We’ve also been hitting math and Latin pretty hard, which has been surprisingly fun. I found a Cambridge Yahoo group that and has been helpful in finding add-on lessons to go with book I. They also have a files section with worksheets and practice lessons and games.

I’ve been working with the boys on timed multiplication drills using Math-Drills.com worksheets. 5 minutes to do as much as they can. We’re working on adding one number each week and it’s going really well. We started with 1’s and that was a real confidence builder for them both. I am also using a workbook that I found called Multiplication Puzzle Practice by Bob Hugel/Scholastic. It’s divided into riddles and puzzles and the lessons are cumulative, each one adding another number. With this and the drill sheets, they’re doing quite well. I’ve also found that they are motivating each other (in between snarky comments and death-threats whispered under their breath to each other). Sorry… it’s been one of those days, LOL.

I’m also going to start using Lesson Pathways again, I think – at least for Language Arts and Science. I need something more… guided, I think. I tend to flit about from subject to subject in science and I really want something a little more cohesive. Their 5th grade Language Arts is using Dear Mr. Henshaw – a book I remember doing in 5th grade and I loved it. I think the boys will like it when we’re done with Boxcar.

In personal news, we had another Journalistas ‘dinner & coffee’ event, I picked up two of the other Keri Smith journals (Mess and This Is Not A Book). I’m more or less done with WTJ, but am having a really hard time getting into the other two books. I think I am going to start Mess first; TINAB makes me cringe for some reason. I’m not ready to explore that feeling just yet. Somewhat recently, I also went to see Beautiful Creatures and to a Happy Birthday dinner with PBJMom, and spent a Saturday morning cooking quiche and toffee crackers for a friend’s Blessingway. Loverly Husband and I had 2 date nights with our ‘best couple friends’ (to see Evil Dead and IHOP, and out for dinner and coffee), had my picture taken by a real professional for the BBC’s new website (coming soon), and am almost done with Leader Training for our Spiral Scouts group.

photo by Sarah Lynne Photography (click picture for link)

photo by Sarah Lynne Photography
(click picture for link)

Sprinkled between all this has been regular school days, pool preparation for the summer, board meetings an peer counseling with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition, complete and utter enjoyment of the new seasons of Game of Thrones & The Borgias, taking care of taxes, visiting family, and cooking dinner, amid other things. I’ve been in a funky place lately, but I am coming out of it now. My life is full, and I am grateful.

We’re getting ready for the summer, which means summer reading club, summer movie clubs, hiking every week, my niece, Appleberry, will be back with us, and lots of time spent lazing about on the beach (if things go well). Hopefully, you’ll hear from me again very soon!

Warmly,
~h

 

 


New Years’ Resolutions: 2013

If you’ve been fluttering around in my world over the last few years, then you’ll be thrilled to know that my annual tradition of writing NYR’s, and re-capping previous year’s resolutions is still in effect.

If you’re new here, then consider that your crash course in how I do NYRs.

Before I get started, I’d like to say that writing NYRs is a tradition that I am quite fond of. I don’t necessarily write them to break bad habits; I view the practice as more of a goal-setting session for the coming year.

The religion that I was raised in forbade the making of NYRs, based on some such nonsense that I can’t even remember anymore… suffice it to say that whatever the history of the practice, the reason that *I* make them is because the beginning of a new year feels like a natural time to set goals. The marking of a years’ time is a good way to mark progress… and it’s fun. I didn’t get to do the ritual growing up, which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much now.

Moving on then…

2013 Resulutions:

  1. Complete ‘Wreck this Journal’, and keep up with the Art Journalistas group on Facebook. (It’s a secret group; one for my IRL friends and I to post pictures and progress and meet up to browse each others’ books. We’re starting in January.)
  2. repaint living room & kids’ rooms (also includes new beds in their rooms, decor and the like)
  3. spend more time with Grandmama & Mom & Dad (My mom had a stroke this past year, and it really pointed out how little time we spend together. Plus, my grandmother’s sister died a few weeks ago – her younger sister – which really brought home how much time she may have left. Making more time to visit with my family needs to be a priority this year.)
  4. Harry Potter Marathon. I’ve talked about it many times… now is the time. ALL of the movies – one weekend.
  5. Karate: keep on keepin’ on. I’d like to be a green belt (or maybe even blue!) by the end of the year… though I am  not the one who has the final say in whether or not I get to test; still, I plan on working hard, and I think that green is doable over the next 12 months. I also want to learn the Dojo Kun in Japanese. Also included in this res is going to be general health/fitness goals. More HAES, less sighing over a flat stomach.
  6. Submit at least one writing project for publication (AnnA – gonna need your help on this). I also want to work on establishing and maintaining a regular writing schedule this year, and collaborate more with AnnA (my amazing writing partner – click her name above and read her blog!). Also, check out the local writer’s guild group again. I tried it a while back and it wasn’t my cuppa; it’s been a while though, so maybe fresh meat?
  7. Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x each month. we did really well on this a while back, but have gotten away from it and it shows, so back onto the list it goes. Up this week: Django Unchained. At some point this coming year, I also want to take a mini-break, just the two of us. San Antonio or Dallas, maybe.
  8. Family Vacation – we so very much need to do this. We’re in better financial shape that ever before, so maybe this is doable this year.
  9. Run a 5K… or walk a 5K. I really want to do a Color Run and/or a Tough Mudder…. or a Zombie Walk… or a Flash Mob. Something along those lines. We have friends who are into 5Ks as a family and it looks like fun. I’d love to get the kids involved in something like that.

Here endeth the Resolutions. As always, nine only (not ten, or eight or five or three – NINE. Because that’s the way how I roll {which is not a typo; that’s how my kids used to say it and I am posting it here so that I don’t forget it}).

And now for the updates!!

2012’s NYRs (posted December 28, 2011)

1. Home Blessing – this has been my first resolution for a couple of years now. It’s an on-going thing and I am wondering now how long it needs to be an actual resolution since it doesn’t seem like it’s completely accomplishable. There is always something else to do that falls under this category… in any case, this encompasses all de-cluttering and home improvement type activities from resolutions past. This year’s actual targets are the master bath and kids’ rooms: painting and decor.

UPDATE: I left off the ‘major’ home blessing resolution for 2013 because we’ve made a lot of progress in 2012, and now need to be more specific. Over the past year, we moved our bedroom to the spare room, opened up the second bathroom, moved the boys into their own rooms, repainted and re-applianced the kitchen (new table, new fridge, new dishwasher, new microwave, and the all-important new coffeepot). I’m looking forward to working on the living room and kids’ rooms this year!

2. Medication: get them filled, on time; stay on them. I seem to go through phases where I feel good and stop taking them, then need them again, but fight the need and so things deteriorate until it’s apparent that I am truly effed up and require them. So… keeping them filled and myself stable will circumvent this whole scenario. FYI, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and last month was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well. It’s helping. I also take thyroid medication, asthma, and allergy medications daily.

UPDATE: This is an ever-lasting battle. Right now, I am only taking asthma and allergy meds, because breathing is important. I am taking a break from the anxiety meds, and I actually seem to have less anxiety overall… but depression is still an issue. So, it’s back to the doctor, I go. 

3. Plan and take a family vacation. As the kids get older and wrapped up in their own interests, Loverly Husband and I actually get quite a bit of time to ourselves these days. That trend will only continue as the kids age, and I think that the focus needs to shift to keeping them focused on the family. A family vacation before they get too old and too ‘cool’ to enjoy it would be nice.

UPDATE: Negative, Ghost Rider. We didn’t do a big vacation this year; we never have, really.  It’s back on the list for this year.

4. Get back to kid-friendly exercise. We slacked a lot on this in 2011. I want to get back to being outdoorsy even if it means just me and the kids by ourselves. Hiking, biking, swimming, beach – all that and more are on the books for 2012.

UPDATE: Yes! We hit the beach a ton this summer, and though we didn’t hike as much as I would have liked, we did FINALLY make it out to the swim area at Village Creek – more than once. Also, karate 3x a week for basically this entire year *totally* counts*! I am calling this one successfully met, and look forward to continuing in this vein in 2013.

5. Forage/Raw Foods Week: Loverly Husband’s idea is to take a couple of weeks and instead of doing our normal grocery-shopping routine, buy only foods that can be prepared or consumed without cooking. I’m open to it, and doing something like this with him on board will be much easier than trying to do it with him kicking and screaming. Since it’s his idea, it’s going on the list for this year.

UPDATE: Done! We did raw foods and 90% vegetarian for about 3 weeks in 2012. A friend of mine (the lovely Miss Mamie) has been doing raw foods for a couple of months now and is absolutely inspirational. I’m considering trying for a month in 2013.

6. Fashionista: this is going to encompass my hair/nails and wardrobe. I need to keep up with my hair, I want to get my nails done (and keep them done) and update my wardrobe in the coming year. Hopefully the ‘kid-friendly exercise’ resolution up there will help necessitate the actual need for new clothing… one can hope, right? 

UPDATE: Meh… I am considering this one half-way met. My nails are done, and have been done since October, and my hair has been in various stages of color since then as well. Currently, nails are black-tipped French manicured and hair is purple in the front (well, faded to blue and is in desperate need of a root job). New clothes? Not so much… I hate clothes shopping, and I love black… so anything new I buy just adds to the already exhaustive selection of black clothing I already possess. I need new jeans though.

7. Figure out Container Gardening: This year will be our third attempt at a garden. I want to do an herb garden indoors and a veggie garden outside. I’d also like to do a couple of fruit trees (a cherry tree??). I need to read up on them and decide where and when to start them. It’s part of our homeschool science class, so the kids can help, too. 

UPDATE: Another half-met goal. We did container gardening (and my rosemary is STILL ALIVE! Muah-ha-ha-ha)… I learned that next year’s garden needs to go off my front porch or in bigger containers. We have no roof over our porch, so the shallow containers we were using basically took the heat of the sun and the heat form the concrete of the porch and fried my plants… so lesson learned. Next year’s garden will be the best yet! Maybe straw-bales?

8. Post my art journals to DeviantART. I have an account and pictures of my journals, I need to either put them in a video or post the pictures. 

UPDATE: Ha! I posted ONE picture of ONE page… that is all. I need to do this.

9. Complete at least one writing project. Any of them. At least one.

UPDATE: Aaaaaannnd again with the no.

Normally, this is the space where I would post resolutions from previous years and update them as well… and after a little thought, I decided that I like that tradition, because it puts all of my goals (past and present) in one place. It makes for a hella long post, but since it’s my party, I can post if I want to {wink}. Feel free to move on!

2011′s Resolutions (originally posted December 29, 2010) & updates:

1: Home Blessing – this has been on the books for a while, and will finally see real progress this year. This resolution encompasses all the de-cluttering/cleaning goals from years past and includes anything related to making our home a nicer place to live in. We’re planning a major re-decorating/face-lift to our house in the spring, including painting inside and out, switching our bedroom into the master bedroom (which is currently doing time as a storage/library/craft room) and putting the boys in their own bedrooms. We’ll also do some appliance upgrades and redecorate. I’m excited!! – update: We completed repainting the outside of the house, and our bedroom is moved and decorated. That took a lot more money than we’d planned on, so the rest of the renovations will be carried over to this year. I’m not displeased with our progress – it’s part of home ownership, which I am grateful for. 2013: see #2 above.

2: Teach the boys to cook. SFK was bragging about her 9-year-old dd making a four-course meal; I’m jealous and so shall attempt to teach the boys more about the culinary arts this year. The goal is to have them make at least one full meal each by… December 1st. That should give me plenty of time.update: meh. Cooking, yes. Full meal, no. They have gotten pretty good at making simple things – following recipes and using the stove. That’s more from efforts of their own than me actively teaching them, but I am not displeased with that, either. I find that as much as I dislike cooking, I dislike for the children to be underfoot while I am cooking even more. Based on this year’s progress, I can surmise that their continued experimentation and learning in the kitchen will continue with or without my help. 2013: Last year’s presumption is correct; the children have continued to experiment on their own. They can use the stove and oven, and though I still haven’t turned them loose in the kitchen with the task of making dinner, I anticipate that they’re ready for that sort of assignment and plan to make that happen sometime this year. We may even plan out a dinner for them to make on their own (but that’s a little ambitious, so don’t count on it).

3: Attend a Writer’s Conference/Workshop (or a homeschooling one). Both would be ideal, but attendance at one or the other will fulfill this one. This is a re-hash of a previous resolution; before it was ‘attend monthly group meetings’. I think that the monthly group would be good to do, too, but I really want to try for a conference or workshop that is more in my field (so romance or sci-fi/fantasy or para-normal romance. And no, you can’t read them…yet). update: nope; I didn’t do either. I DID, however, work on a couple of my stories and stared a new writing project with one of my BFF’s, AnnA of TheEverydayAlchemist. We have weekly Skype dates to collaborate and toss some encouragement for our individual projects around… and just because we’re more awesome when we’re together and need to be reminded of that often. 2013: I’d seriously LOVE to make a conference happen at some point this year, but in lieu of that, AnnA and I have tentatively planned a weekend retreat in NOLA at some point mid-year to write, write, write. I sincerely hope that the stars align appropriately to make that happen, because I want it SO BAD.

4: Try veganism on for a week. I’ve tried vegetarianism on (it doesn’t fit), but never veganism. It’ll be a challenge. update: HA! I say. I didn’t do this at all. In fact, I did the polar opposite of this – going all meat for a few weeks. I tried the Atkins diet for about three weeks – it sucks; I don’t recommend it. Maybe in 2012? Loverly Husband has mentioned trying a meal plan that consists of keeping only raw foods in the house and ‘foraging’ so maybe something like that would be more attainable since I’d have his support. 2013: This year, I met the lovely vegan/Greyhound-loving Sabrina, and have had more of an inside look at veganism. Since her son is my son’s BFF, that means that my boys are exposed to vegan meals, and even have taken it upon themselves to learn about what is and is not vegan so that when thier friend comes to our house, we can feed him appropriately (though S makes it super easy by sending food)… but still… knowing them and seeing vegan in-action, so to speak, makes giving it a more serious try this year an attainable goal.

5: Personal Growth. This is the one that I am lumping the rest of my writing goals and all of my health/weight loss goals into, as well as parenting goals (such as putting into practice/deeper study of NVC). I always have a couple of these listed, and I think it’s kinda cheating to have 4 of the same, on-going goals… so. I’m also putting things like: continue meeting meditation and spiritual goals, making time for ‘me’, blogging/writing something daily, etc. Some friends and I are re-committing to SparkPeople.com for this year (so if you wanna join me, come on!). I have many goals in that particular department, but I blog there too, so that’s where most of that goes. update: Meh… I’m giving this a 75%. Some of this has been met and surpassed, other parts of it have been seen to but not quite as well as I’d like. See this year’s NYR’s for an updated and possibly more specific list of goals. I have posted parts 1-6 of 13 from the NVC book here on my blog with plans to continue this year. 2013: We had to give up on NVC. I am a sarcastic bitch and NVC can be used as a weapon just as much as other words… more so, even, because it can be uber-manipulative. Maybe I just don’t care enough and/or am a horrible person, but I hate people prying into my feelings almost as much as I hate delving into other people’s feelings… so that got shelved. We have, however, worked on other aspects of communication that are effective for my (and my kids’) personalities. Even Loverly Husband has gotten on-board, and with all of us working together, it’s much easier. I also have to say that proper medication plays a role here, for me, at least. As much as my mother hates for me to say it, I have a mental disorder that I will forever need to take medication to effectively manage. Managing my illness makes me better able to manage other areas of my life. As far as health/weight is concerned, I ahve long been under the impression that the two go hand in hand, and they may, to some extent. However, I am/ have been getting regular exercise for the better part of the last year, and have been building stamina and muscle. I’m damn proud of that, even if my pants size has stayed the same.

6:  Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x per month. We used to do this at least that often, but this year, it seems like that’s taken a backseat. Between homeschooling and him working more, it’s been harder to find time to go out. It’s not a ‘problem’, but I’d rather focus on this now, before it becomes a problem. One the plus side, we did get a mini-break in 2010, with plans for another in a couple of months. Yay!! update: We didn’t stick to this plan… nor did we get to have a mini-break without the kiddos. We spent our money on house stuff, which was good, and as the kids are getting older and more wrapped up in their own interests, we do get more time together. I think this year’s more family-focused goal is more necessary as the kids get older. 2013: We actually did get a mini-break this year; Loverly Husband and I went with my brother and SIL to the Texas Renaissance Festival for the weekend. I was sick the whole time though, so it might not count {wink}. I put monthly date nights back on the agenda for this year, but I agree with more family-fun as well. LH and I have a plan to sit down and plan some togetherness activities for this year – soon, before the calendar gets too full.

7: Dye my hairNote to self: For the love of all that is salon, please visit the beauty supply shop and DO SOMETHING about your hair!!!! It’s been months – MONTHS – since you’ve put color in it. You have 6 inches of natural hair color. WTF?? That’s simply unacceptable. One cannot remain worthy of the moniker ‘Rainbow Brite’ with one’s natural hair color slapping people in the face. Before the month of January is out, you must fix this! And keep it fixed. All year. update: for the most part, yes. I haven’t had roots beyond an inch or so and have kept dye on-hand most of the year. Go me! 2013: Again, yes… (even though I need color at the ‘mo). Next week, scout’s honor!

8: Plan for lunch out better. When the kids were little, I had food for them on me all. the. time. I breastfed them for 3 years each, and I believe that had an effect on how they eat now. They’ve always eaten frequent small meals throughout the day; with no big meals and no set times, that meant that as an in-tune mama I needed to keep food in the bag so that I could meet their needs. When they started school, they had to adjust to a more common eating schedule and I got out of the habit of keeping food with us. Since we started homeschooling, they’ve fallen back into their normal eating patterns but I have not. So my goal for this year is to plan for food better – packing a cooler with appropriate small meals and snacks when we go out. This will help me with #5 as well. update: pretty much met for the first part of the year, then sort of slacked off as the year wound down. We did Bento lunches for months, then were home a lot and I slacked off on making them. I do prefer Bentos and so do the kids, so we’re going to work on getting back to that on a regular basis again. 2013: We had a really good stretch where we didn’t do fast food at all, then it gradually started creeping back in. I need to work on eliminating fast food again. Bentos are still the lunch of choice, I just need to get back to planning for them better.

9: Do something about my wardrobe. I am putting this one separate from the ‘home blessing’ because it’s not really about making space or de-cluttering (though that does play a part). I have a bunch of clothes that don’t fit (both too small and too large) and that are out-dated that I’ve held on to. It’s time to let go! I don’t necessarily need new clothes (though if certain portions of #5 are carried out, I may), but I would like for the clothes that are taking up my space to be ones that I like and wear.update: I did declutter my clothing! I am in need of some new pieces though (but don’t expect a rainbow of colors or anything; I am still *me*). I also did the kids’ clothing and Loverly Husband’s, so yay! 2013: I think this is under ‘Fashionista’ above… I do desperately need to go through the boys’ clothing again… drat them for growing up so fast!

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2010′s Resolutions and Progress Report: NYE’s Written on Jan. 2, 2010

ONE: Continue making progress on the home front.
I’m going to include all the things that are in reference to “home blessing” from previous years, such as redecorating, de-cluttering and the like. It’s still in the plan, but it’s something that can be chipped away at slowly. There are a couple of specifics that I want to focus on like:
-my office (switching our bedroom to the office and the office to our bedroom) and the redecorating that goes along with that.
-the hallway bathroom (I’d really like to work on that this year)
-decluttering and organizing (all over)
**Semi-Accomplished** We actually lost the office when we started homeschooling. I do have to say that I’ve rocked the decluttering thing this year though. About twice a month, I take at least one bag of stuff to Goodwill and still have more to go. The switching didn’t happen, but will this year, and the bathroom also did not get attention (though I did paint in there). Everything will get a face-lift this year though… so yay!
2012: ongoing – I think we’ll forever be decluttering and simplifying.
2013: ongoing… but progress is definitely visible!
 
TWO: Take a mini-break with Loverly Husband without the kids.
I want to go somewhere, just the two of us, with no kids, for a whole weekend. It’s been over 8 years since we’ve gone away for some time alone, so I think we’re due.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We went with my brother and SIL to Galveston for a long weekend, and have plans to go to San Antonio this year. Yay!
2012: we didn’t get to do this in 2011. I did get to go to Ren Faire for the weekend with The Girls though. Not the same thing.

2013: TX Ren Faire with Loverly Husband (as mentioned above)… but I was sick the whole time, so dosen’t count.

THREE: Attend the Writer’s Workshop every(ish) month.

I really want to work on my stories/books/series this year. It’s once a month, on a Tuesday, and I think I need to make that a priority.
**Semi-Accomplished** I went to a couple, then got lazy. The main problem is that half of the writers didn’t say much, and the other half were SO not in my field. I am going to try again for this year though. Writing is fun for me, and I owe it to myself to hone my craft, even if it is only a hobby. For now. This has been updated for 2011′s list.
2012: That’s good advice, self. You should pay attention. 
2013: Ditto above, self. Look into the writer’s workshops again this year. It’s been a while; maybe there’s fresh meat?
 
FOUR: Get more kid-friendly exercise.
Now that the boys are older and more active, it’s a little easier to plan excursions with fitness as a focus. We all have kids and I have a bike rack for the car, so I think that’s going to be something we do more of this year. The boys are also into skating, so we’re going to get back into that habit again, too.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We’ve been hiking, biking, skating, swimming and Wii Fitted… and we’re continuing in this vein this year! Go me!!
2012: suckage for 2011.  It was insanely cold, then ridiculously hot and I’m being whiney and lazy. Better goals for this year!
2013: Karate, baby! And the beach! And more of the same for this year!!
 
FIVE: Go TV-FREE for one week per month and for one month during the summer.
I have no idea how this will work since Loverly Husband is completely opposed to the idea, but I would like to try it. We already don’t have much TV time when school is in session (no TV in the mornings, and no TV until homework is done) so it’s not like we watch a ton of TV as it is, but I do know that my kids are much more imaginative when the TV is not there to influence them and I want to see more of that.
**FAIL** Well, kinda. We actually don’t watch all that much TV. The boys are not allowed to watch TV or play video games on school days, so that’s the bulk of the week. The time they do have is squished between when ‘chores are done’ and ‘dinner’ so free-tv time is rare. Video games, however… they’re all about them and will spend as much time as allowed on them. We’ll be curtailing this come January 3rd.
2012: We’ve actually enforced this a couple of times. The kids have been playing more video games, but they’ve had less ‘free’ days… so I think it evens out. We’re going to cut them back this year again though. More outside time!
2013: I think we’re going to add this back to the list. With my mom’s hospitalization and recovery, the kids spent a lot of time being ‘out of the way’, which usually meant ‘in front of the tv/game’. I’m thinking that a strict ban on screen time might be a good thing, at least until a little more balance can be found.
SIX: Work on getting Mom’s old pictures into digital format

Mom has TONS of pictures that I want and since she won’t part with them I need to make an effort this year to get them in digital format, both for preservation purposes and just to have.
**FAIL** Yeah… not so much. I did get a fantastic external hard drive this year, so now I actually have space to put all those pictures. Maybe in 2011…
2012: Because I don’t have enough of my own pictures to put on discs, I had to take on someone else’s photo-library?? What was I thinking?? I am retroactively striking this from the list.
2013: YES!! That’s insane! It’s still a monumental task and I am annoyed with myself for having suggested that I should do this. Maybe I will get HER a scanner and external hard drive and show her how to do it.
 
SEVEN: Savings & Retirement plans
We’re doing pretty well in this regard, so it’s not a major thing to have to ‘resolve’ to do, but I like having it on my list because it IS something we need to focus on. SO the plan is to continue adding money to our savings accounts, to the kids’ savings accounts (and college funds), and into our retirement. We’ve been talking about getting a new car this year, and about painting the outside of the house and landscaping a bit, and it would be nice to follow through with those plans.
** ACCOMPLISHED** We bought a new (to us) Honda Odyssey in April 2010, also bought our house in June. Loverly Husband took care of all the retirement plan financial stuff, so we’re doing well! The landscaping and painting are in the plans for the next couple of months.
2012: Yep – Loverly Husband is still on top of this. Landscaping and home improvements are all still on the list as money becomes available.
2013: More of the same… handing money makes me physically ill – more even now than in the past, so he handles all of that business. Landscaping will be on the menu once the inside is finished.
 
EIGHT: Be more crafty
I really have missed arts and crafts. I’ve cut back on my “work and volunteering” schedule, so I am going to use the ‘extra’ time to do the things I enjoy. I want to do a glass project for the living room window, batik the curtains in the living room, make blackout curtains for our bedroom and the boys’ room, re-cover the couch… among other things. Plus, I need to work on scrapbooking and having pictures from recent years printed. I also would like to work on drawing and painting.
**ACCOMPLISHED** With multiple craft-days under my belt this year, and many crafty-projects with the kids, this is well done! Not these exact things, maybe; I made new curtains for the living room, decided not to cover the couch at all and blacked out my bedroom windows with foil and tape. Not as classy, maybe, but it’s hella-freaking-dark even at mid-day in there, so that’s done. The kids don’t want it to be that dark in their room…
2012: Two words: ART JOURNALS. Love them and have been having SO much fun with them! Eventually, I’ll have them all loaded to my DeviantART account, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also made several crafts projects for friends, so I’m definitely still feeling the craftstravaganza vibe and hope it continues.
2013: I’ve actually added to my ‘work and volunteering’ schedule again this year, but I am determined not to let those commitments detract from my crafty time. My goal for this year is to work through Wreck this Journal, and I am doing it in a group… among other projects. DeviantART – yes… gotta do that.
 
NINE: Learn more about homeopathy
I have a fairly decent foundation (not that I’m an expert or anything), but I’d like to learn more and utilize this more in day-to-day life.
**ACCOMPLISHED** I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve relied much less this past year on western medicine than we have in years past, and I know more about treating the underlying cause of something than simply masking symptoms, so I’d call this well done as well. I plan to continue educating myself, and am thankful to have several friends who are willing to share the knowledge!
2012: Actually, it’s not ‘homeopathy’, it’s naturo-pathy that I like/use/meant. And yes; still into it.
2013: Ditto… more-so even than last year. I’m all about it, baby!
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Here’s an update on 2009′s resolutions: 
Numero uno: Stop obsessing about things.

2010: Ummm… yeah. So I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. “Stop obsessing” is like saying I’m planning on not breathing this year. FAIL.
2011: no change.
2012: added an anti-anxiety med to my anti-depressant meds… it’s nice so far; need to up the dose, I think, but I am definitely less stressed over minor nothings.
2013: All hail anxiety medications! Best thing I ever did for myself. Even though I am currently in need to a visit to the Man in the Lab Coat, I recognize that many, many of my issues with ‘things’ have to do with my illness. Accepting that, admitting that, and working within that context has helped me so much.

 

Numero dos: Help the kids to listen to their bodies more and learn to understand the feeling of, and be able to voice “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” instead of falling apart at inopportune moments.
2010: I’d say that this one is accomplished. Not in the sense that this is something that is ever “done” with, but I think it was something we worked on, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
2011: This is an ongoing exercise for us. Food affects me and the kids so much, and it’s a struggle to respect its power without obsessing or over-focusing on it.
2012: ditto.
2013: more of the same

 

Numero tres: Stick to SP goals.
2010: Well… this one got pushed aside this year. Between being pregnant for the first part of the year, and then grieving throughout the last half of the year, I am just glad I haven’t gained 20lbs. 5 is acceptable and easier to get rid of.
2011: I’m back on the wagon, with some friends to help motivate and keep me accountable. We’ve already started, and are doing well!
2012: meh. I’m working on it.
2013: Suck it, skinny bitches. I am working on ‘health at any size’, and trying not to focus on weight.
Numero quatro: Finish DONA cert.

2010: Eh… I didn’t do this, but it’s still the same ole thing I have been debating about since the beginning. Certification is nice to have, but not necessary and may be too limiting. BFF and I are planning goals for WMC on Monday, so we’ll re-hash this again and decide what we want to do about it.
2011: I can pretty much cross this off my list. I’m not interested in being a doula anymore. I’ve also retired from LLL Leadership this year, so my attention is focused in other areas.
2012: Same; I am happy volunteering with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition when I can and/or the mood strikes with no further obligation. 
2013: Same; I’ve taken on a larger role for 2013 with the BBC; and plan to pursue formal lactation counselor certification this year.

 

Numero cinqo: Continue de-cluttering house and down-sizing possessions. Get rid of things I don’t love, use or need, including shoes, baby clothes and extra furniture.
2010: This is a mixture of yes and no… yes b/c I have definitely been downsizing, esp over the last couple of months, but the baby clothes and stuff I have kept and will keep as there may be a need for them at some point. We’re still kinda unclear on that point, too.
2011: Ongoing… forever?
2012: ditto…
2013: ditto…
Nombre six (… switching to French now, because 5 is as high as I can spell en espanol without looking it up. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.): {edited on 12/31/2010 to add that since ‘cuatro’ is how you spell four in Spanish, it would appear that I can only spell to three…lol. Funny that it took 2 years to realize that.} (2013: Also, wprdpress wants to autocorrect ‘cuatro’ to ‘coatroom’. I find that funny.)

Home Improvements: Repaint and redecorate my bedroom and re-finish the kitchen cabinets. Design and complete the mural for the boy’s room, and re-do their decor. Rugs for various rooms, extra storage bins and cabinets, etc…
2010:… not so much. On any of that, actually.
2011:Eh.. some of that got done, some didn’t in 2010. The mural is ever incomplete, but we’re painting everything in a couple of months, so it’s fine.
2012: ongoing… home decor is much more expensive than I previously realized, but we have a plan. My bedroom is done; kids are up next.
2013: Kids’ rooms and living room still on the menu, but now a reachable goal since the kitchen is done (except for the cabinets).

 

Nombre sept: Work on kids’ scrapbooks and get big pictures into frames. Lapbook the boy’s previous years’ school work. Better organize craft supplies and find the damn high-temp hot glue gun! Get a label maker. Try really hard not to label every single conceivable thing in my house. Figure out where the holiday boxes will live when not in season.
2010: …ditto.
2011: Yeah… not so much. That last part is a big one since we’re losing our storage room in a couple of months!
2012: Still working on some of this; not so much the scrapbooking thing – I’ve been art journaling, not srcapbooking. One day the mood will strike again and I will love it. Until then, it remains in storage. Plans to get the school room storage situation under control this year are underway.
2013: Jesus, the frakkin holiday boxes are still a problem. I have a plan for them, but need Loverly Husband to install shelving over the washer and dryer… then the boxes can live there. Found the glue gun! It was in a box of craft stuff that I had packed to make personalized clothespin ornaments for a fundraiser for the kids’ school a few years ago. I actually found it last year, I think… it was packed up for a LONG time, lol. Scrapbooking… meh. I’m kinda over it. Art journals have taken up my time, and blogging documents the kids, so I don;t ‘need’ to scrapbook, really. Maybe one day when they’re older….
 Nombre huit: 

Either buy gumballs for the gumball machine or get rid of it.

2010: DONE! We bought more gumballs. There are still some in the machine, too! 

2011: Why aren’t all of my resolutions so simple and easy to accomplish?? I think I’ll start adding at least one challenge to my resolutions list. This year: be vegan for a week!

2012: this is a throw-away resolution. I am including at least one every year, I think. 

2013: We got rid of the gumball machine, LOL Yay for de-cluttering!

 
Nombre neuf: 

… That’s all I can think of for now. I need to print this list out for myself so I can keep track of sticking with them. Now, I need to go back and see how I did for last year.
{Edited to add:  found a number nine!} Create outlines for all the story concepts I have written.
2010: Yes and no – I did outlines for some of them and have started an outline for most of them.
2011: I’ve really slacked on my fiction this year. I’ve blogged pretty faithfully though.. does that count?
2012: While not exactly kicking ass, I have been slowly plodding away at my stories. Progress=progress, yes?
2013: Added a few thousand words  spread out across several stories just yesterday, after a coffee date with AnnA… with plans to continue this year.
 **********************************
As for 2008′s resolutions, Ha! I didn’t write them till the 6th last year, so I’m ahead of the game this year. To recap: 
1) It’s called a budget! I need to make one and stick to it. More importantly, I should probably let my loverly husband in on the what’s what so he isn’t surprised by the complete lack of money that we have going.

2009: Yeah… we actually have been doing much better in the cash-flow department this year. I’m fairly proud of that, so I think I can call this one “accomplished” and we’ll say maintain this instead of making it a new resolution.
2010: We did VERY well this year in this regard. I can say that we’re progressing nicely on this front. We eliminated credit cards a couple of years ago, so that’s a big hassle that we don’t have to mess with anymore. This year, we’re funneling more money into savings and retirement. I’m proud of that!
2011: Loverly Husband took over all the budgeting of funds early in 2010, so… yay! He’s better at it than I am. We’re definitely in a better place financially now that we were back in 2007/8. It’s nice to be able to look back and see progress happening.
2012: Loverly Husband is still Mr. Finance. I have less and less to do with money and I like it that way.
2013: I am hands-free on the money department, and couldn’t be happier about it. Thanks to Loverly Husband’s awesome fiduciary skillz, we’re insured, we’re saving, we’re planning for retirement and the kids have savings accounts… it’s been a long road, and he’s been working hard to make our family’s finances are in order, and I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to worry with it.
2) Complete my Childbirth Doula Certification and Trustbirth Facilitator Application

2009: This is kind of a done deal (DONA) – but I’m making it an actual resolution so that when it’s done I can cross it off the list. Actually, I’m not doing TrustBirth at all – after thinking more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disagree with them, exactly, just that I am a little more open-minded about things. As for the birth doula cert, I am still working on it, and am actually doing DONA now instead of CBI, which was what I was looking at then. DONA is different, and either way, I need certain criteria to certify and I haven’t been as on top of it as I had planned. Can I blame part of this on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike?
2010: see above.
2011: Let me explain… I had all of my certification stuff done – all I needed to do was send it in and pay for it. I was waiting on BFF to get her breastfeeding education requirement done so we could submit our applications together, and got pregnant, then miscarried… Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a doula, and therefore see no reason to pay for the certification. So. That’s the what’s what on this.
2012: ditto…
2013: no change…

 3) Keep my prescriptions filled and faithfully take my medicines daily … so that I don’t end up needing my rescue inhaler multiple times daily and end up on the nebulizer like I did 2 weeks ago.

2009: I suck at doing this. I HATE taking meds EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a huge hassle (and could it be any clearer that I am barely taking anything at all right now, which is why I am defensive about it?) I have kept up with asthma and allergy meds though, which is a good thing… so this is a “halfway” for me.
2010: I STILL suck at this. Something about this time of year. I have not been keeping my Rx filled and have been using the neb for the last couple of weeks. Ugh.
2011: Better this year… I’m off of some of them and need to refill others. This is going to be one of those on-going things for me, I think.
2012: ongoing… new meds this year; anti-depressant & anti-anxiety. It’s helping. Now to stick with them.
2013…. see above notes on medications and illness….
4) Stick with SparkPeople I slacked off in about August, so I’m starting over with that, kinda. So far, a week in and I’m doing well, so go me!

2009: Since I’m basically starting over again, and it’s on this year’s list, I guess  didn’t keep this one either.
2010: See above.
2011: Ditto this year… I lost 80lbs the first go-round with SP, then my weight-loss plateaued and I got discouraged. I managed to keep it off for a while, then have, over the course of 3 or 4 years, have put back on about 30lbs. That sucks. So, along with a couple of friends, I’m re-committing myself. It’s in 2011′s #5.
2012: *expletive deleted*
2013: Skinny bitches can still suck it.

 

5) Wear hats more often because I like them.

2009: Ha! I SO did :) I bought, like 4 new hats and have worn them all. And they look awesome, if I do say so myself. Go me!
2010: I’m still keeping this one faithfully :) That makes me happy.
2011: ditto :) My hat collection is ever-growing and still awesome.
2012: chapeaux + NicCuinn = even more awesome as time goes by. This remains one of my favorite NYR’s.
2013: Hats… yes and double yes. My favorite is a black fedora, but I also have a black newsboy style cap that I just love (but currently cannot find). I think I need a few more hats this year.
6) WRITE!! I have no less than 7 stories outlined, and 5 more concepts written that I need to work on if they are ever to become actual reading material. So my goal is to devote a little time each week to write something, even if I don’t like it and end up deleting it.

2009: Fleshing out already-written storylines? No. Adding all the newly thought-of concepts into word.docs? Yes! So another half-assed accomplishment on my part. I’m going to add “making an outline for all story concepts” above.
2010: I have been feeling more creative lately and have started a couple of new concepts that need to be fleshed out. As long as I keep doing that, I am happy with this level of progress.
2011:Yeah… homeschooling leaves very little time for writing fiction. That’s a total cop-out, but that’s my excuse for doing absolutely NO writing this year, fiction-wise. I did come up with a new non-fiction concept for a children’s book series, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I’m making notes on it now (like right this minute …. okay – I have an overview of the series written now) – so that’s something, at least, lol.
2012: And Skying/collaborating with AnnA. Lots of it. 
2013: As previously explained, writing = yes, with AnnA.

 

7) Maintain the clutter-clearage that’s been going on. because I don’t want to end up like one of those people with an un-livable home due to all the unusable crap stored in it, I’m going to continue whittling down my collectibles (not that there’s that many that aren’t in printed format) and other assorted crap so that it at least looks like we have space in our house.
2009: I guess I’m kind-of on the same page as last year with this. I got rid of a TON of crap over the past year, so this is another “maintaining” for me. I’ll leave it as above though, because I have more specific goals in mind for this year.
2010: see above
2011: ditto
2012: ditto
2013: ditto
8). Make more time for me. As a wife and mom, I have a full plate – add starting a new business to that and you can see how much time I don’t have. So my goal is to take a few hours sans anyone else and concentrate on me once a week (if I can swing that, but once a month is probably more realistic).

2009: This has been a lot easier since both boys have been in school. So I guess I’ll mark that as an “accomplished” too.
2010: I have been keeping this one.
2011: Oh, I just thought I was busy before…homeschooling is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken yet. It requires almost constant thought and attention on my part. On the plus side, my Loverly Husband is incredibly supportive and has both encouraged and made it easy for me to go exercise with my sister or grab coffee with a friend in the evenings. My resolution for this year is to stop feeling guilty about it!
2012: Yes – homeschooling time commitment is eternal. Coffee out and a weekend trip to Ren Faire with the girls this past year was amazing. Definitely on the list of traditions to continue. Also, meeting more personal spiritual nourishment goals has helped. Planning to continue in this vein.
2013: 2012 was an AMAZING year for me, overall (barring a few unexpected happenings). Our school year went exceptionally well, I found a sport that I love (that also qualifies as ‘family time’), a spiritual study group that has become more like family, and a group of friends that is so full that I am starting to feel guilty about not having time to spend with any of them. I am truly blessed.
9) Whole Mothering Center I don’t know how much we will be able accomplish this year due to external factors, but I want us to accomplish all that we three are able to.

2009: The “three” isn’t the same three as it was when this was written, and I think that we’ve done pretty well. We’re well into our 2nd year, and with the Ike evacs and BFF’s birth, the last few months have been slow, but we’re gearing up for an eventful year with WMC. So this is another thing I think I can say “accomplished” on.
2010: 2009 was rough on many fronts. I am hoping that 2010 will be a better year for WMC.
2011: I’ve pretty much phased myself out of WMC. BFF is continuing with her own plans, including starting midwifery school in Jan 2011, and I will be involved as much as I can, but it’s pretty much her show now. My attention and focus is elsewhere these days, and though I miss being in the place in my life where WMC was my dream, I’m excited about what the future now holds, both for my BFF and WMC and for myself.
2012: I miss being involved, but am so glad to see BFF continue meeting her goals. Also very glad to see WMC and the BBC flourish, if not quite in the ways we’d first envisioned. I am still proud to be part of the community of support for natural mothering in our area. My attention is still focused elsewhere, but my future goals are leaning in a similar direction – I’d like to go to school and work in counseling with new mothers and families once my kids are grown.
2013: I have found it easier over the past year to start working myself back into the goings-on in the new mother community again. It was really hard for a long time, but it’s much better now. I actually enjoy talking to new moms again, and even holding the occasional babe (though I am quick to give them back when they start crying). I still plan to get into counseling, but that’s several years off yet; gotta get the boys into college first!

 

10) (because ten is a nice, round, reasonable number) I can’t think of anything else, but I’m going to format this like there is an actual resolution here anyway. because it looks better and because I can. So there.
LOL – I think it’s funny that I can only ever think of nine. I did the same thing this year. But it’s edited to add the writing one update ;)
2012: nine has become the tradition. I see no reason to alter that now!
2013: Nine is an awesome number ;)
Thanks for playing along, kids!
May your 2013 be full of joy and happiness, goals met and accomplishments celebrated. May your families be healthy and whole; may your every day be full of thankfulness and love.
Happy New Year!
Warmly,
~h

 


Summertime: Week 7

<—- Yes, THIS, exactly.

If you know anything about me at all, then you know that I don’t like to stay home. I will do just about anything to get out of the house, but most days, like ‘good moms’ the world over, I take into consideration the needs of my kids when I go out. In fact, I would say that I go above and beyond with finding fun things for the kids to do that isn’t stuck at home 90% of the time.

So when I start fielding ‘I’m bored’ – no, ‘I’m booooooooooored!!!!’, it makes me a little…. twitchy.

Add to that constant drone of whine the behaviour of my children during a class that I was taking on Sunday evening; I go once every 2 weeks; in this particular (rare) case, silence was of utmost importance and to help with that, they had 2 laptops playing different movies, PLUS a gameboy each, PLUS all the art supplies any kid could possibly want, PLUS books – manga – not even books with chapters or anything!! I totally set them up to succeed in that environment and they were horrendous – making messes, being loud, running in the building, being a nuisance in general – and this mommy has HAD. IT.

I don’t ask a lot from my children; I really don’t. They have schoolwork and chores and even that is kept to the minimum and tailored to their individual needs and abilities. We just had a week full of birthday fun, during which one child’s preferences were met for the most part (when feasible – we’re not that saintly… er … stupid?) and the other was given special treatment to compensate (because we wouldn’t want things to be unfair now, would we? {/sarcasm})… and so the only thing I asked was that they chill out and give me my class time to enjoy.

Aaaaaand, No.

So this week, instead of our schedule looking like this:

  • Monday: session II of Tennis Camp
  • Tuesday – hike w/ homeschool peeps, SRC Art to Go at AMSET, karate
  • Wednesday – BEACH
  • Thursday –  movie & karate
  • Friday – Big Thicket Summer Camp Class

it looks more like this:

  • Monday – playing outside
  • Tuesday – playing outside
  • Wednesday – playing outside
  • Thursday – playing outside
  • Friday – playing outside – and then writing a paper on ‘why we *all* prefer to have Mom in the Best Mood Possible so she doesn’t go all 1987 on our asses’. (We are a homeschooling family, after all.)

No TV, no computer, no movies, no gameboy, no field trips… just a whole lot of good, old-fashioned YARD to help them appreciate exactly how good they have it (and probably some sneaking off to Grammie’s next door to look pitiful and beg for snacks – she’s been warned though – no TV!!).

In addition to that, one of the things we will be undertaking in a serious way this year will be charity work. Our community has a soup kitchen that I only recently learned about, and I am thinking that we will be organizing and participating some food and toy drives around the holidays. I love them, I really, really do… but so help me, by all that is Holy, I will be extremely disappointed in them  END THEM if they don’t straighten out of this ‘entitlement’ crap and learn to show some appreciation!

Brats.

Warmly,
~h

 

 

 

 


It’s Not About Patience

Oh, if I had a penny for every time I heard some variation of ‘I wish I had the patience to homeschool my kids’, I could buy the bestest homeschooling stuff!

I would like you to think about that statement. What does it mean? First of all (and I recognize that I may take a tremendous load of crap for saying this), I think it’s a cop-out. We teach our children from the moment they are born. Everything they do is a testament to our ability to teach and support them as they learn, from breastfeeding, to sitting up, to walking to riding a bike – we’re there, preparing them, supporting, kissing boo-boos when they fall and gently encouraging them to try again. So saying that you lack the patience to teach your child is patently untrue (unless your kids were raised by wolves, in which case, I salute you {wink}).

If you’ve had a four-year old that is currently still alive and past that point, then you can most certainly homeschool your child, for NO ONE asks more questions than a four-year old who wants to know ‘why’. I know of no other scenario that is solely designed to test one’s patience than ‘Why?’ for an hour straight. No school-aged child asks that many questions, even when you’re trying to explain molecular science, prepositions and fractions (all in the same day).

When I hear, ‘If only I had the patience’, it kinda irks me. It implies that I possess something that you do not. Since I am a mom who takes medication for anxiety and clinical depression, I assure you that patience is not a virtue one must possess in order to successfully homeschool. There are days here where – just like in your home, I am sure – things go to crap the moment feet hit the floor. There are bad moods that must be dealt with, whiney kids that must be endured, savage beasts that must be tamed. I think the difference is having a strategy to handle those types of situations.

Most of us know when days like that are brewing. The smart homeschool mom nips it in the bud by feeding everyone, then shooing them out of the house. If nothing productive paperwork-wise is going to get done anyway, then take school on the road. We have a state park with a lovely pavilion area that is perfect for school outdoors. Between assignments, the kids can hike the baby bear trail or skip down to the creek’s edge for some stress relief and solitude before coming back and hitting the books again.

Then again, there are days where school just ain’t gonna happen – and you know what? They have those days in school-school, too. Those are the days your kids comes home and you ask, “What’s you do today?’ and the answer is ‘Watch movies!”. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a day off now and then – beneficial, even.

The other thing that I hate about that statement is that it automatically sets up a competition between you and me. Yeah, I homeschool – so what. Surely there’s something that you do with your kids that I don’t do (that I might even be envious of). That’s cool – rather than competing, why can;t we appreciate that we have different approaches to the many aspects of child-rearing, learn what we can from one another and support the rest?

So what is it, really, that prevents moms from homeschooling? For the vast majority, I think it’s a choice. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine – and it is a choice that should be supported.

Homeschooling does not automatically win you the ‘Better Mom’ award. You don’t get extra points; there is no gold star or special prize when your child graduates. We all educated our children according to the needs of our individual families – and those needs will vary wildly from one family to the next – from one year to the next, from one child to the next, and that’s as it should be.

But for some reason, there seems to be a taboo against saying, ‘I just don’t want to homeschool.’ I for one, think that if you know yourself, and homeschooling isn’t your ‘thing’, then it’s better to send your kids elsewhere to be educated. Homeschooling is a lot of work – it’s fun for most of us most of the time, but it’s work, too. If you’re not up to it, that doesn’t mean that you’re not just as dedicated to ensuring that your kids get a good education. You just have a different path to accomplish that.

Other families are not in a position to homeschool. Perhaps both parents need to work – or there is only one parent. There are those that manage to homeschool despite that limitation, but they more than likely don’t do it alone, and they word hard to make it happen. And those that do make it happen alone? Those are the ones that deserve accolades. But again, it’s not about being a better parent than you, it’s about what is best for their individual child(ren).

Still other families are happy with their local ISD or can afford a private school option (or charter school, or special theory school – whatever). Believe me, if our ISD was more interested in the child and not his ability to test well, I might have my kids in public school. If I could afford to put my kids in Montessori school, or if our area offered an affordable Waldorf style school, I would seriously consider it! But short of my husband working a second job, and me taking on a full-time job, that’s not going to happen! Some those kids who thrive in a classroom environment – and that’s fine, too. For every child who ‘needs’ to be homeschooled, I imagine there’s a child who just functions better in the hustle and bustle of the classroom.

I think that patience comment has become a convenient way to gloss over the real reason – explaining ones’ self fully would be too complicated (and invasive). Most of us can relate to feeling frustrated dealing with homework and equate that frustration with what homeschooling must be like, not realizing that it’s not even remotely the same.

I don’t know where all I was going with this, but it was on my mind and I wanted to write about it. Feel free to continue the discussion!

Warmly,

~h


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