2013 reflections

Well, my hopes at getting back to blogging didn’t pan out. But its my own fault, I just had no initiative to write. I know that something like writing is some thing you do when you want to and when you don’t want to, but at the same time, I’m writing this blog for friends and family… not to generate income, or create a business base, but to encourage, enlighten, and inform. And sometimes, you just gotta let it all lie dormant for a bit.

I started to look back at my 2013 posts, but there are an awful lot of them. The first post of the year, however, was a fun one, and I thought I’d do something like that. A few pictures, a few reflections…

G&G Younger Visit

Feb 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 20131

Sept 2013

Oct 2013

Nov 2013

Dec 2013

 

2013 was a good year in many ways. We’ve had a ton of fun with Little Man as he grows and develops. It was also a hard when we lost Kiddo in June (an early miscarriage), but we have great hope to comfort us in that loss.

Its exciting to look ahead at 2014. I see the potential of lots of exciting things! Or perhaps normal things… I plan to do laundry today. ūüėõ

Christmas Shorts

Taking a cue from another blog-friend, here are a few tidbits of our Christmas.

–We took it easy this season. Put the tree up, did the advent train, and a single manger scene on the mantel. And a candle on the dinning table with a runner under it. I made cookies with Little Man on Christmas Day (or was it Christmas Eve? no, Day of, I think). No guests. We didn’t travel. It was so nice. I’m realizing I’m not sure how I feel about decorations, per say. I think manger scenes, angels, shepherds and wise men about are quite appropriate, and I do love putting up and having a tree up, but I’m not sure I’m interested in the rest of the hoopla of the season. Though, based on Little Man’s love of the various displays of lights around our neighbor, we might put up a few more lights around the house next year.

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Christmas morning, before anyone else was up.

— We mainly did stockings for each other. Not sure why, but I *love* stockings. Hubby did a great job for his first time doing stockings and got me The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Yes, I can google, but having ¬†book is so much for useful when you know its a fox, but you don’t know what kind. I decided I’m pretty sure it was a Grey Fox that came through out yard last May. And that we have Fox Squirrels running around.

–Little Man has become very interested in letters and spelling lately. He can form a recognizable “H” now, which I think is pretty impressive for 2 1/2. He has begun ‘spelling’ things, though most of the time the words are all p’s, g’s and a few c’s. I’m seeing how fine motor skill development really opens a whole new class of activities for a child. (see about the sewing card below)

— I’m thinking and reflecting on goals, habits and 2014, of course. This is just part of who I am! I think, based on my failure to finish any of my 2013 goals, I ought not do ‘goals’ right now. I think its just time of life, really. So, I’m going to focus on ‘habits’. First up, the daily routines habits, like ‘morning routine’ and ‘evening routine’. More on the details of these later…

–I’m still finishing off the Christmas gifts for the niece and nephews. I’m now declaring them ‘Epiphany Gifts’, since I think I can get them to the kids by Jan 6…. I hope. 15 mins of work a day, and they will be finished in 2 or 3 days, but Little Man doesn’t like to let me work unless its what he is doing also. I did create a ‘sewing card’, and he really enjoyed it. I need to remember to pull it out for him more often. I think road trips got easier with this activity. Maybe its time to explore putting together some ‘busy bags’. Might make ‘afternoon rest time’ easier.

working hard on his sewing card

working hard on his sewing card

— Little Man appears to have mostly given up the afternoon nap. I’ve maintained an ‘afternoon rest time’ for my own sanity (and patience), but that has its own learning curve. He is getting better at it, and is understanding better that its as much for me, as for him. I’ve also realized the ‘quiet time boxes’ that I’ve put together are woefully inadequate, so they will get some revamping soon.

There are more things I could talk about, but I think this is long enough! Again, I have intentions of getting back to blogging, but we will see. I’m working to make the internet and the computer a smaller part of my life, but I’m still working to find the right balance, I think. I’m not back on facebook, and I’m still thinking about when I might open that can of worms. I miss some of the interactions of facebook, but I’m also enjoying that I have one less thing to bother with on the computer.

Until next time….

Blowing the Budget and Goal reflections

Yes, this is how this week has been. I’ve been so tired all week, I think from just finishing 2 projects with AB (never (?) doing 2 at the same time again!), in laws in town (free childcare!) and a beautiful spring. Yeah, I haven’t wanted to do *anything* this week. Today, along with¬†the¬†beginnings of a cold, I feel renewed energy to look at life and get back on the bandwagon. You’d think I’d have learned by now, after 35 years, that this ebbing and flowing of energy is quite normal and, likely, healthy. All that to say that I don’t think I’ll get everything on my April goal list done in April, but I’ve got good excuses.

As for the grocery budget — yep, I very much blew it this month. And the quarter cow was ready. I’m treating the cost of the cow differently this year, though I might change it if Hubby or someone else thinks this isn’t a fair way.

Okay, details… ¬†In all its glory, my April grocery spending:

9-Apr sams 126.77
4-Apr walmart 14.53
2-Apr HEB 27.15
17-Apr sam’s 26.44
16-Apr HEB 50.63
17-Apr HEB 4.3
6-Apr atwoods 10.72
23-Apr sams 39.54
23-Apr walmart 16.18
21-Apr HEB 16.99
27-Apr WAlmart 13.64
27-Apr HEB 36.39
27-Apr Meat House 8.41
27-Apr Meat House 34.41 412.92
total 391.69

I splurged and got some amazingly yummy and spicy breakfast sausage at the Meat House. I ought not have (one way that being on a cash envelope system would save me).

The $412.92 was the quarter of a cow. I’ve divided that out over 12 months, and each month there will be an automatic $34.41 debit. I’ve also created a sheet to keep track of my use of the beef. When I picked up the meat, I got a list of all the packages, so I figured how many packages a month (or packages per X months) I can use to finish it all in a year. If nothing else, meal planning is simplified (sort of. I need to figure out new ways to using sirloin and t-bones rather than just grilling. maybe.)

The crockpot is now running with roasted bones to make bone broth. I’ll boil it down to really-really concentrated after I’ve leached all the goodness I can out of those bones. In last year’s cow, I got 2 packages of ‘soup bones’. And this year I got 2 packages again. I tried using the ‘soup bones’ to make stew, but the meat was really a bit wonky and tough, so into broth making they go. We’ll see how the addition of a bit of meat affects the broth. I suspect that the broth will be more meaty, but we will see!

Now, sweet readers, you have a job. First, how is your April food budget shaping up? Second, how can I help you gain control over that food spending? Do you want to/need to spend less?

Bluebonnet pictures

I think that its a tradition in central Texas to get pictures of the kids/family in bluebonnets in the spring. After 4 years of living here, we finally did it…DSCN1935

 

Of course, I had to take pictures of the flowers themselves.

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DSCN1938

 

We’ve had enough rain of late that everything is growing. And April has been amazingly cool, its been so wonderful.

And of course, there was nature all around us, so *someone* had to poke it with a stick. Little Man was happy to do the duty.

DSCN1941

Grocery Budget Update

Back at¬†the¬†end of February, I was thinking about how everyone claims that if you spend cash, you spend less. I suspect this is because when your cash is gone, its just gone. Credit cards are dangerous in this way, in that you can spend more than the amount of money you’ve got. But if you pay the credit card off each month, have reward points that you use strategically, and treat even credit purchases like cash, I think you wouldn’t find the cash/credit difference less.

That said, I decided I’d set a limit for my March food budget. I ¬†looked at the last several months and found that my *average* was less than $350 and was less than $300 for the 4 months previously. I though some of this is because I hadn’t needed to buy any of the items that we buy in bulk. Nonetheless, I set my March limit at $300.

Do note, I don’t include any paper goods, baby goods (except food), clothing, etc in my food numbers. Its just food, including actual food, seeds and transplants for garden veggies.

March 2013 — I set the limit at $300. So, I figured I’ve got $75 a week (I needed a weekly guideline). And since I’ve been buying the bulk items previously, I thought they will just work into the budget just fine.

3/4/2013 Aldi 2.53
3/5/2013 HEB 20.25
3/7/2013 aldi 21.23
3/15/2013 Walmart 3.64
3/19/2013 sams 119.76
12-Mar aldis 26.28
12-Mar HEB 4.78
23-Mar Walmart 3.63
21-Mar HEB 27.04
total 229.14

Whew! I did okay. I came in under budget.

April 2013 — I’m sticking to the $300 budget. If I was running cash, I could, if I wanted, transfer the previous month’s balance to this month, but I’m not doing that right now. The budget resets each month. Here’s the run down so far:

9-Apr sams 126.77
4-Apr walmart 14.53
2-Apr HEB 27.15
17-Apr sam’s 26.44
16-Apr HEB 50.63
17-Apr HEB 4.3
6-Apr atwoods 10.72
total 260.54

Oh, dear. I still have a week and a half left in April and only $40 to spend! Ugh. You’ll notice the big Sam’s run, which includes the annual membership dues. And, to be honest, I haven’t been paying as close attention as I did in March.

For the past 12 months, I’m doing pretty good…

Jan-13 267.91
Feb-13 232.5
Mar-13 229.14
Apr-12 772.65
May-12 359.04
Jun-12 250.4
Jul-12 231.47
Aug-12 407.36
Sep-12 297.94
1-Oct-12 307.03
1-Nov-12 289.45
1-Dec-12 282.77
monthly average 327.305

April 2012 was when we got the quarter cow, thus the crazy number. I expect we will get our quarter cow in the next week or two, which will really throw the monthly budget off. I have ideas on how to ease the effect on a monthly basis. I promise to share that when we get the cow and I have actual numbers to share.

How’s your monthly food budget going? Staying on track?

 

 

Monthly Goals: updates and new ones

Yeah, we are a week into April and I’m only just now figuring out April goals. Upon the return from our trip, I hit the ground running. I picked up 2 projects with my job, one of which has been eating my lunch until yesterday. I finally hit my stride, which means it’s not taking hours (like 3 or 4) to do the work (only 2, which is the expected time frame). Which is very nice.

So, March — I did okay.

  1. Write Hubby a love note
  2. Finish 2 books that are currently in progress
  3. Limit online dinking to 1 hour a day (total)
    1.  Sort out blogs in reader to only the ones I really read and are good for me
    2. ¬† ¬†Unsubscribe emails ‚Äď erewards, one roast veg
  4. Finish Baby girl’s blanket, finish Green Baby’s blanket
  5. Finish wrap skirt

Yeah, I fell through on the really important goal! Argh.

Since the start of April, I did finish 2 baby blankets for the twins that were unexpectedly born early. Two girls, who are doing well right now.

I finished the wrap skirt, but it is just too small. The friend who has sent me the pieces, all already cut out, is smaller than me. Bummer, because the material is just gorgeous.

gorgeous fabric. too small wrap.

gorgeous fabric. too small wrap.

Okay, April goals.

  1. Write Hubby a love note
  2. Work on morning devotion habit (a bit of Bible study, a bit of prayer)
  3. Finish the 2 very late baby blankets (since both babies are born!)
  4. Read 2 new books
  5. Keep up the blog habit (2x a week!)
  6. Work on being intentional with my time

Other things that are going on around here include the garden, visiting in-laws, adoption education class next week, 1 major and 1 minor work project, a crazy and very active little boy who loves to be outside, and one tired mom-mom who ought to go on walks more often. Let’s just say¬†that¬†life is a bit busy right now. Luckily, its busy with things that I quite enjoy (or love very much!)

Goals, Goals, Goals

January has left us and February is here. Winter? What’s that? We really haven’t had much of one so far, though our severe weather does tend to hit in February and March.

So, how did I do in January? Not too bad, if I can say so honestly. The original Jan goals post is here. And here they are, marked appropriately for completeness.

1. Write Hubby a love note.

2. sew a schoolhouse tunic for me.

3. make 2 blankets for the gift stash. (both of which are likely to be given away this month, too!)

4. blog 10 times. (this is the second time in January)

5. make  morning and bedtime routines habits (getting easier each day)

6. finish Doctor D’s pants (2 down, 1 to go)

5. establish a reward system for my own chore chart.¬† I made chocolate pudding for myself since I checked off a majority of the boxes on my chore chart. Yeah, I know… I was pretty easy on myself.

I picked up a project for a company I work for (its a kinda new thing for me) that was a bigger project than I’ve ever done before, and life got quite busy for a bit. Like the last 2 weeks of January. Things are a bit more normal now, though I’m finding that doing these projects is going to require a new normal. That doesn’t surprise me though.

As for the tunic… well, I made it, but haven’t quite finished the hems. See, its a bit too big….

school house tunic

I’m telling Doctor Destructo to not mess with the tripod. Yep, got to use the tripod today!

This is it. Worn over 2 tee-shirts and a sweater. It might make a nice maternity top, should that blessing come along again. But I think I’ll finish the hems and put it away. I was thinking about taking it apart and adjusting the size to fit better, but decided against that, it just feels like too much right now. I do want to figure out how to adjust clothing and patterns to fit better.

I didn’t get any blankets made. Argh, I’m so behind on baby gifts.

I’m thinking about February now. I figure I need to consider that February is a shorter month, so keep goals reasonable. I also want to keep working on habits that promote discipline. I’ve started getting up earlier, and I’m participating in the Hello Mornings Challenge, and those morning and evening routines sure help the day get started well. So, with all that in mind…

February Goals

1. Write Hubby a love note.

2. Finish reading “Sheet Music” (by Kevin Leman, I started it a year or two ago. Yeah, I do that with books!)

3. Get caught up on baby gifts (blankets) and make 1 more gift for the stash.

4. Blog 10 times in February.

5. Keep up with morning and bedtime routines.

6. Get up at 6 am on weekday mornings. (which means getting to bed before 10 pm!)

7. Sew a simple skirt for myself. or somesuch simple, simple no more than 4 seams to sew. Maybe fleece pants.

Anybody else have goals they can talk about? I really do enjoy reading about them! Post a link in the comment if you’ve got something. Or just leave a comment with what you are working on.

And now, I’m off to lounge this Saturday morning.

Goals vs resolutions, and January

I read in a blog this morning, “I like the idea of goals versus resolutions. It may seem like semantics, but goals bring with them the elastic sweatpants of life. There‚Äôs room to make mistakes. Resolutions are a bit more rigid. They split open easily. And when they do, you feel really, really bad about yourself.” and I realized that quote embodies many of my thoughts as well on goals versus resolutions.

Now, on to January. Year goals are great, but you’ve got a whole year to reach them. I am far enough along in the process to know that I need to determine what chunk I can do in one month (and there is the weekly planning, and daily planning…..)

For January, I hope to reach/finish these goals:

1. Write Hubby a love note.

2. sew a schoolhouse tunic for me.

3. make 2 blankets for the gift stash. (both of which are likely to be given away this month, too!)

4. blog 10 times. (this is the second time in January)

5. make  morning and bedtime routines habits (getting easier each day)

6. finish Doctor D’s pants (2 down, 1 to go)

5. establish a reward system for my own chore chart.

Other kinds of things I’m thinking about include the thought that I should keep track of what I read so that I can make more concrete goals about this in the future. Kinda hard to make a goal to read “more” when you don’t know what you read now.

Of course the hard part is not being to overly¬†ambitious. Though they aren’t goals, I still have basic everything kinds of things to do, like laundry and making dinner. And taking Doctor D outside to play.

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Anybody else working on goals for this month?

New Starts

2013 has begun! And we are well into it now.

I am one who really enjoys looking back, reminiscing, and planning ahead. I am a perfectionist and I strive to reign in that¬†tendency, in general,¬† but it serves me well as I’m always striving to improve the various aspects of my life. And one thing my perfectionism pushes me to is write out goals.

I love new starts. Its a chance to start from scratch, to start over, to start with a clean slate. I know a new year isn’t quite a “clean slate”, but it seems to be a good time to think through goals and such, as everyone else is, too. Of course, I love the idea of cleaning out the whole house and cleaning like a mad-woman, but I don’t. So, I know that what I love to do isn’t necessarily a good thing to do.

So, onto goals. I’ve been reading and following moneysavingmom.com, and the author there has prompted me to get really specific. She’s got some good stuff about the whys and wherefores of creating goals and how those goals will benefit you. And so, here I go.

Marriage Goals

1. Write Hubby a love letter each month.

2. Read 2 marriage books this year.

3. Keep our bedroom picked up and looking nice. (its a dump-all place right now)

Parenting Goals

1. Establish (and maintain) a daily routine with Doctor Destructo that includes reading and playing together and doing chores together.

2. Help Doctor D establish a set of chores that he does regularly.

3. Do swimming lessons this summer with Doctor D.

Personal Goals

1. Get up at a regular time that is earlier than Doctor Destructo.

2. Do the morning routine and bedtime routine everyday.

3.Figure out a good daily routine/rhythm (see parenting goal #1).

4. Make one new wardrobe item a month for me.

5. Set and maintain reasonable online limits.

6. Have a daily devotional/quiet time.

7. Plan meals 2 weeks out.

8. Create and maintain a gift stash.

9. Blog twice a week.

There are some details to figure out, but I will do those as I go. I grabbed the current Bundle of the Week, which has The Confident Mom planner, which will help some. And I’m excite to read the other books, too! And, please don’t laugh, I create a chore tracker page for me… yes, I so very much like checking things off, so I chart where I can check off when I swept the floor that day, or I ate breakfast (yes, that’s a hard one for me). I figure I can put on the chart something I struggle with each month and I can reward myself when I have so many days (or what-have-you) checked off. ¬†Maybe I make a treat I love (chocolate pudding?) when I have checked 75% of the boxes. Something like that.

I’ve linked up with moneysavingmom.com where we are sharing our 2013 goals. I’d love feedback and new ideas if you have any!