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Archive for April, 2011

So about a month ago, we bought an elliptical trainer. My husband has been fabulously diligent, exercising 4-5 times a week. I’ve managed about 3 times a week. Usually, I try and exercise after I’ve dropped my daughter off preschool and then put my toddler down for his nap.

There was no time for exercising in the morning today. After the kids got home from school, I made sure everyone was settled, changed into my workout clothes and went to exercise. I filled my water bottle, turned on the music (The Corrs–so happy and peppy even when they are singing mournful songs), and started the 20 minute workout. 19:39 (the minutes count down from 20) J the toddler wanders in and begs for water. I hop off, fill a cup of water and hand it to him. I start my routine again. 18:40 J the toddler pushes his stool to the counter and finds the can of tomato paste I forgot to throw away. Then he digs his little hand into the paste, smears it all over, and tastes it. I jump off, clean his hands, throw away the paste. Get back on again. 17:22 J the toddler pushes his stool to the cd player and turns off my music. I get off the trainer and move the cd player up high and fold the stool away. By this time, I plead with my older children to watch their brother so I can finish my workout in peace. But to no avail. After multiple interruptions, I give up, get a glass of milk and eat 3 oreo cookies. They made me feel better, but not healthier.

Oh well, guess there is always tomorrow. . .

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Yesterday, my beautiful younger sister gave birth to a baby boy. Her second boy in fact–almost a carbon copy of the first.  Her family will no longer be the 3t’s, but the 3t’s and a D. I can’t help but smile as I think of the transition she will make from mother of one, to mother of two. I don’t know what role her new little guy will have in her family, but it is bound to be a special one.

Almost ten years ago, my second son was born. And our family of three became four. My second son was a placid, peaceful fat baby. He had startling blue eyes and hair so blond that you couldn’t see it. We never knew, in those quiet days of the babymoon,  that lurking behind those placid, blue eyes was a spitfire just waiting to get out. He was biding his time for the day of inevitable mobility. When he began walking and talking, I knew that our days of peace were over. He has such a strong character and wasn’t willing to play second fiddle to his brother. And he still isn’t, 10 years later. Over the years we’ve dealt with tantrums, fits, and a lot of passionate arguing. But through it all, he has a happiness bubble that carries him. One minute he’ll be so mad that he is steaming and in the next he’ll be laughing with glee over something funny he saw.

It’s tough to be the second child. You are always struggling against inadvertent comparisons, getting attention, and carving out an individual identity. In all that struggle I see in my son, I also see a tremendous amount of strength, willpower, passion, character and more. Someday he will grow up and move away and all that he has gained through his years of struggle will carry him forward. I really look forward to watching it unfold.

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I suppose it was inevitable that I would crash and burn sometime in this happiness project of mine. I just hope that I can glean some lessons from the experience and rise again.

My week was HECTIC. I was booked every single day with appointments and meetings. I find doctor appointments draining. I try not to resent the fact that frequent and regular appointments are a part of my normal life. Usually I focus on the positive. Those regular check-ups are a very important part of keeping me healthy with my odd little/big health issues. But sometimes its hard not to resent the intrusion of appointments, lab tests, and medication. But can I really complain? Because, really, it could be much worse. (See my post in March 2009–when is this going to end?)

My husband was gone for a business trip. Usually I do okay. We typically face some major disaster, deal with it and move on. But this week I was exhausted by the time he came home.

Anyhow, the daily grind of taking care of my kids, going to appointments and meetings and the inevitable household chaos that ensues when I’m not on top of things wiped me out. By Friday, I was done. I sat around the house, in a bit of funk, just trying to recuperate. When I would start a project, I would get distracted on move onto something else. In the end I gave up and rested.

On Saturday I felt like I had to catch-up on everything. My stress at not finishing my normal weekly work grew as my kids complained about their chores. At one point, I found myself alternating between lectures and threats (half-yelled) at my kids and my husband. No one appreciated the verbal harangue, least of all myself. After lunch, my husband took four of the children to an Easter egg hunt and I took some time to collect myself.

As I thought about the morning, I felt like a failure. See, the point of this whole happiness project is learning how to be happy in the moment and creating happiness. My cleaning tirade did not fulfill either criteria. I hadn’t created happiness for myself nor had I contributed to the happiness of my children.

The rest of the day, the kids played and I finished the few projects I had left. I only accomplished a few goals this week. My other frustration with this week is that the whole point of establishing my routines is so that things run smoothly when my schedule gets crazy. 

So what have I learned?

1. I need to schedule my appointments for the afternoon. As hard as it is to take two children to the doctor, things run smoother when my work is done in the morning.

2. I need to take complications to my schedule in stride. Instead of rushing to catch up, I need to do what I can and let the rest go.

3. Stress is not good for my health. My lupus flares when I get stressed and thus I run at less than at my best.  

4. Family work goes smoother if I am not constantly pushing my kids. I need to stop looking at my schedule and just slow down. I’ve been listening to the book Contentment by Maria Covey Cole and realized that work should be a time when my kids and I can talk candidly. If I look at family work as family bonding time, I might feel better about the process.

How do you cope with failure? How do you collect yourself and get back on track?

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I put this together last night, using ingredients from my pantry. It was very easy and delicious.

6-ingredient Crockpot Stew

2 large pork-chops, cooked and chopped into small pieces

4 potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped

1 pkg. (10 oz)  frozen spinach (you could also used fresh, I just happened to have frozen spinach on hand)

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 to 2 cups of beef broth

1 (14 oz) can of chickpeas (or any type of bean will do)

Put the ingredients in the crockpot and stir well to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I didn’t add salt and thought it was just fine. Serve with a crusty bread.

You could also serve this over rice. If you want the soup to have more liquid, simply add more broth. My children really loved it.

If you want to try your hand or spoon at kneadless bread which is seriously so easy that a child could do it, this is the recipe I use.  http://steamykitchen.com/168-no-knead-bread-revisited.html  The column is a little long, but the recipe at the end is more than worth the read. Just remember to plan ahead. You have to start the bread about 24 hours before you want to eat it. Yesterday, after eating dinner with the family, I chopped up the remaining pork chops (minus the bones) and assembled the stew in the crockpot. I put the crockpot in the refrigerator and then mixed up the bread. It took me all of 15 minutes to make the stew and mix up the bread.

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Edited to add links to the clothes I bought:

I generally hate shopping for clothes. In order for the experience to be successful and fun the following circumstances must be present.

1. Children should be at home and not in a stroller or walking beside me. (Usually, I have a pack of children attending my every movement and then some when I go shopping.)

2. Money should be available in sufficient quantities to spend. (My budget doesn’t often have leeway in extra cash.)

3. Clothes that fit and look attractive must be available. (Most clothes seem to only fit super-skinny models without curves of any size. I, on the other hand, am short, and while slender, have curves.)

4. Sales should be on. (Sales aren’t that difficult to find. But sometimes when you find the perfect dress or outfit, there is not a sale to be had and it hurts to pay full-price.)

5. I should look attractive with curled hair and wearing makeup. (While am striving to look more put-together when I venture into the public eye, sometimes I can’t quite manage it.)

When these circumstances align, they are rarer than a solar eclipse. But on those oh so rare moments, fate intervenes and I get a perfect shopping trip.

Today was such a day, though it didn’t seem as if it would be likely. I had a rare moment, less than an hour, by myself at the store. I had tried on a couple of dresses earlier that fit perfectly and were very flattering. When I first tried them on, I didn’t have money. But today, my pocket was lined with some green. I looked more than presentable and felt optimistic as I looked through the store. There were some sales and I was able to find two dresses, a pair of comfortable dress shoes, nylons, and accessories for a good price. They even gifted me a lovely clutch for spending a certain amount.

The first dress has a floral print pattern that is fresh and springy. I could wear it anywhere–during the day, to church or at a picnic. The second dress is the perfect “little black dress”, elegant and almost formal, appropriate for a night at the opera, or at church, or on a date with my husband.

And so I revel in my perfect shopping day. Hope to post pictures soon of the dresses!

I bought this dress:   http://www.dressbarn.com/detail/box-pleated-watercolor-print-dress/100840659/406

and this dress: It isn’t an exact replica as I wasn’t able to find it on the website. I bought it in black and it has a v-neckline instead of a scoop neckline

http://www.dressbarn.com/detail/ruffle-front-dress/100825385/405

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April Monthly Goals

Spirituality

1. Stay on track with New Testament reading. This is going to require reading 85 verses a day, which is a heavier load than I was reading before. I can’t miss days, because it will take too much time to catch up.

2. Start a prayer journal

3. Attend temple 2 times this month

This month I am starting the New Testament. I just want to stay on track with reading and writing my journal. I am starting a prayer journal where I take time each day to list things I want to pray for. I hope to be more deliberate and thoughtful in my prayers with this exercise. Brent and I want to alternate temple attendance by attending on Thursdays.

Home

1. Make budget for the month of April

Include in my budget money for temple trips. Remember to save!

Health

1. exercise 3 times this week

2. wear sunscreen moisturizer daily

3. eat fruit daily

4. Go to bed at 9:30

I need to sleep more and go to bed earlier. We are going outside more and so I need to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen daily. I found a good moisturizer with 30 spf. With my lupus, it is essential that I wear sunscreen. I need to eat more fruit, which I tend to save for my kids.

Create

1. make cards for MIL and Mother

2. Make little album for mother

3. Finish 2009 album

4. edit 111 pictures and upload to snapfish

5. 10 pages of 2010 album

6. 10 pages of Israel album

In order to accomplish my create goals for this month, I need to step up my scrapbook work. But since I’m more organized, I think I can accomplish this.

Family

1. Do four letters per week for alphabet book with Brooke

2. Josef read 12 books.

3. 8 faith in god goals with Walter

4. 8 scout goals with Trent

5. One act of service or affirmation for Brent

In order for my kids to earn their awards, I have to instigate the work. If I set a goal, we are more likely to set aside time to work on their projects. Brooke and I are going to create an alphabet book. I’ve got tons of scrapbook supplies and I think it would be a fun and meaningful project for us to do. I also want to start taking the kids to the park when the weather gets warmer.

My last goal is an important one. I think it is very important to continually nourish one’s relationship with one’s spouse. Several months ago I read The Five Love Languages  by Gary Chapman. According to Chapman, people feel and receive love in different ways. In order to love one another better, you need to learn what love language your spouse responds to and speak to that language. That has made a lot of sense to me. My husband’s love language is predominantly acts of service with words of affirmation following closely. Acts of service isn’t my love language, so it doesn’t come naturally to me. I want to make sure I do one extra act per day that shows my love for my husband in the way that is meaningful to him.

Personality

1. Argue less

2. Stop and listen to kids

I have a terrible weakness of being very argumentative–with my spouse, kids, online forums, etc. I am working to stop and listen more and try to understand with empathy instead of ways to deconstruct other people’s arguments.

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April to June 2011 Goals

 Maintain the following habits

  1. Daily scripture study
  2. Check in Weekly and monthly on my blog about goals
  3. Keep up the daily, weekly and monthly routines
  4. Keep the kitchen clean daily
  5. Plan and organize meals
  6. Wear retainer nightly
  7. Continue to create daily

 New Goals

Spirituality

  1. Read the New Testament
  2. Start a prayer journal and pray morning and night
  3. Attend temple twice monthly (work with Brent on this)

 Home

  1. Plan a monthly budget and stick to it
  2. Go through clothes
  3. Go through toys
  4. Go through stuff

 Health

  1. Exercise 20 minutes 5 days  a week
  2. Eat fruit daily

 Create

  1. Finish 2009 scrapbook
  2. Scrap 2010 pages for pictures I have
  3. Scrap 2011 pages for pictures I have
  4. Scrap 100 pictures for Israel album
  5. Scrap 100 pictures for 2007 album

 Family

  1. Spend time with Brooke and Jonathan in afternoons
  2. Josef reading
  3. Help Walter set goals for Faith in God
  4. Help Trent set goals for scouts
  5. Do one extra act of service for Brent daily

 Personality

  1. Work on being less argumentative
  2. Listen better
  3. Work on not criticizing

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