Goals, Thoughts, Wishes

So I’ve shared my “One Little Word” for 2017 already, but I’ve also made a list for myself of some specific things I hope to see in 2017.  I’ve labeled the list “Goals,Thoughts,Wishes” they are 7 things that I’m going to work towards.  They are specific and I really believe they are achievable, two must have things for any goal.  I thought that I would share my list with you all as a way to keep myself accountable.  I know that I won’t nail every single item but I do hope to make some good progress on each item.

So without further ado:

  1. Home Pre-schooling – This is probably my loftiest goal by far but one that I’m really determined to do and try to do well.  Besides adding another wonderful child to our family in 2017 I’m most looking forward to spending the year with Ezekiel.   Some people keep their toddlers in daycare for the social aspect, and some make sure to put them in a pre-school.  I’ve chosen to keep him home for that extra one on one time during home-schooling and to save a substantial amount of money.  I’m currently working on researching and developing a curriculum based on where Ezekiel is at currently and where I think he could be at the end of our year.  I’m cognizant that this will have to be flexible but the important things to me is that we have variety, socialization (outings with friends, library classes etc.) and get outside to explore as much as possible so those will all be worked into our curriculum.  I’m hoping to start by mid-June depending on when this new babe decides to make an appearance so the next two months I’ll be in organization mode to get the curriculum finished up.  I’ll write an updated post before we start and maybe blog our experience as we go, there are sure to be lots of mistakes and a steep learning curve!
  2. Post-Partum Restored Health – Last year my health was so far from where I wanted it to be and although a lot of it wasn’t in my control, there are many things that are in my control.  I will be going gluten free again (this is a recommendation from my GI doctor and he wants me to do it now, so this may start earlier than postpartum).  I’m really looking forward to being home and having the time to focus on food, nutrition and cooking it was a huge highlight from my first maternity leave.  I will also try to be active each day – whether that be walking, yoga, or a home workout – moving my body will AGAIN be a priority.  This will be a struggle in the beginning given that I will be coming off of several weeks of modified rest and many more weeks of not being able to do much other than walk for a few minutes.
  3. Financial Stability and Wellness – This could be one of the bigger struggles coming up.  After 3 years of being a one income household and struggling just to keep up with it I’m ready to take back some control.  I’m researching and hoping to find a way to make some extra income this year to put towards my debt.  Luckily my husband has little to no-debt and is amazing with his money.  It’s my debt and payments that are the problem and so in 2017 he’ll be working and able to contribute to household expenses while I’ll be able to focus on paying down my debt and being smarter with my money.  I’m starting this one off with a bang by making January a “no spend” month.  That means that nothing more than the necessities will be purchased.
  4. House Decor and Maintenance – This one is big! The three years that we have lived in this house there are things that we’ve never done like clean the carpets and furnace ducts – I’m embarrassed to even admit that! I’m also really terrible at deep cleaning, I’m talking light fixtures and baseboards so I’ll be working on a list of tasks that should be completed within the year and splitting that up into 12 months to make it more manageable.  Then there are the wish-list items that may not happen depending on our budget like painting.
  5. Social – Last year we tried monthly dates and I think we only did three months – a terrible attempt.  This year I’m going to try to do this again.  With school, work and now adding another little soul to our family it will be easy to forget that marriage takes work and maintenance.  I want to spend time focusing on us beyond just our kids and responsibilities.  I’m also excited to start up some ladies nights with friends to keep connected and build a community around me.  This is something that I’ve lost over the last couple years and as I sit at home on modified rest it has been so apparent.  I’m a homebody but I also crave community and connection and I’m ready to get back to that.
  6. Family Trip – This may just be a week in the mountains, or maybe it will be a week in another country.  I have no idea but we need a trip away together.  I’m going to be spending a lot of time researching, budgeting and planning it well so that it is something we can afford to do.
  7. Gardening – My garden last year was beyond what I could have imagined but I’m dreaming even bigger this year! I’ll be narrowing down what I plant for what we actually use.  I want to plant even more flowers, get even more tomatoes and peppers harvested, maybe even sell some.  I also want to start the front yard landscaping project – this one may be put on hold or only partly done depending on budget but it’s something we’ve been dreaming of for a couple years and now that the back is more or less complete it’s time to focus on the front.

That’s it! As I wrote it out I began to think maybe this is all too much! Yet one step at a time is what gets you to your goals.  So I’ll be focusing on the small steps that will take me closer to each goal and I’ll be happy with progress whatever that may look like.

Happy New Year friends! Praying it’s the best year yet for you! 

 

God is here, He cares and He’s in control


The past couple weeks I’ve had so much more time off than I am used to.  Last year for most of the year I would regularly have one day off sometimes 2 and if I was really lucky I might be able to take a long weekend off.  Now with the change in my job situation I have 3-4 days off at a time and it is glorious! I’m still a bit stressed about a lack of shifts at work but I’m counteracting that stress with being very intentional with my spending and time.

For groceries I try and make our meal plans for the week out of what we already have here.  It takes the question from “what do I want to make for supper?” to “what do we have in the house that I can make for supper?” It’s really amazing what you can make – whole nutritious meals – with what you already have on hand.  It does require a small amount of creativity and improvisation sometimes but 90% of the time it works just fine.  Over the last year I’ve transitioned most of our foods to organic when possible which means that it is more expensive to buy.  Admittedly we spend quite a bit of our budget on food but when I’ve thought about this recently I can’t imagine not buying the quality we buy just to save money.  So that means I just need to make some sacrifices else where – no more buying daily coffees (it really helps that I bought myself a Chemex last year), I think twice even three times before buying ANYTHING (do I need it? Do I really need it? Will I use it this week? – if not then I don’t REALLY need it).

Along with being careful about our food budget I’m finding on my days off that I’m just not going out all the time.  On my days off before I would be out and about, usually spending money somewhere.  The past couple weeks I’ve only wanted to stay home, I can’t even think of something I’d like to do instead.  I was thinking about this this morning because when I talk to new moms I always say – “make sure you get out everyday, even just for a walk.  It’ll be so good for your mental health.” I wondered where I was mentally because I have no desire to leave the house – it’s usually a red flag for me.  I did a quick self evaluation of my own mental health compared to a few weeks ago just before writing this post and the difference really is night and day.  Mentally I’m in such a better place, instead of needing to go, go, go and do, do, do I’m content to just BE.  I think mentally and physically I’ve just been subconsciously using this time off to recover from the past year of insaneness.  I’ve been soaking in every second I can with Ezekiel and usually just staring in wonder at the creation he is, thankful for each moment spent with him.  Oh I still have so much to do even at home and slowly I’m tackling those projects (2 years of filing oy!) but I am just so content.

Sometimes we need to be forced out of what we think is the best situation for ourselves in order to see how destructive it really was, or maybe it’s not completely destructive but there’s something so much better out there.  I’m so thankful for the past year – even though there were so many difficulties.  In the day to day moments I really enjoyed what I was doing and most importantly I was able to provide for my family.  I expanded my knowledge and experience as well as learned new things about myself (clinic nursing is not my favourite, I still want to pursue my dreams etc.).  It’s hard to see the 360 degree view when we have our blinders on to get through the days.

There’s a theme in my life (and in yours) that I keep seeing time and time again.

God is here, He cares, and He’s in control.

DIY Log Planters

Hi Friends! Sorry I’ve been quiet this week, came down with the stomach flu, worst 24 hours in a long time.  Good news is I’m feeling 100% better and I’m ready to get back at it!

Today I thought I’d show you a little project that my husband dreamt up and implemented.  Now I’m not sure if you realize how big of a deal that sentence is.  My husband is an amazing carpenter.  Years ago in his home country he was trained from a very young age in furniture carpentry.  He learned how to build beautifully ornate furniture, then he moved on to concrete forming and excels at that.  You’d think with having such a handy husband that I would be able to get lots of my hands on – power tools needed projects completed.  That is not the case.  While my husband is very good with his hands he really doesn’t like to do anything carpentry related at home – I can’t really blame him but sometimes that’s uber frustrating for me.  BUT this project was his baby and it turned out so lovely!

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This is my new upright planter on my front step that is made from a hollowed out log and I adore it!  In case you didn’t notice we love to use things found in the outdoors to repurpose and decorate our surroundings – outside included.  We also LOVE flowers and plants.  I have no idea how Carlos came up with this idea but once it entered his mind he was obsessed with finishing it.

We started by sourcing out the stump.  We actually found one when we were camping in June but my parents also found two really great stumps and brought them for us to use so that’s what we ended up using.

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Carlos was so obsessed with finding these stumps that while we were camping we drove off to the middle of nowhere and he got out and walked forever by the road farther into the forest to find trees that had already been cut down.  This is him after finding what we thought was a perfect stump – he’s obviously excited.

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The next part was the most time consuming – hollowing out the log.  I don’t really know if there’s a better way to do this because this took a long time and was super hard on our power tools.  Carlos bought a large spade style wood bit and just drilled holes all around.  He did shallow drilling all the way around and then drilled deeper until he reached the depth he wanted.

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He also drilled diagonal holes from the inside to the outside to let water drain through.  Then we simply planted the flowers!

IMG_8833He also made two of the long planters for either side of our steps and I’m so in love with those as well.  They make great conversation pieces for people walking by our house. The only problem I see with these is that eventually the wood will rot out.  The large stumps will last longer than the long ones for sure but I’m trying to brainstorm how I can make them last.  I may use some sort of epoxy on them next year.  Definitely we’ll have to store them somewhere dry over the winter but I’m not convinced they’ll last very long at all.

What do you guys think? Is this a project you’d be willing to invest your time in? It really cost us nothing but time.

Budget 101

Growing up I think I was always pretty good with money.  I remember saving money for a seemingly large amount of time and then being able to splurge on a coveted item.  Often I’d make deals with my parents about saving up for half of an item such as a stereo system etc.  I’ve been working since I was 15 and in high school I never saved much but I never wanted for anything.

Of course then I graduated and was on my own.  My first year out of high school I travelled to the Caribbean on a set budget and came back with lots to spare and I was pretty proud of myself.  Then I went to college and all my money wise ways went out the window and I was on a downward spiral into an absurd amount of debt.

Fast forward to 2011 when I was in my final semester of University and knowing that I needed to change something and get control of my money situation.  It’s not that I didn’t work hard – it’s that I didn’t know how to properly handle my money.  So I bought an audio book by Dave Ramsey and decided to follow his step by step guide on how to get out of debt and save money.  I never did follow that guide religiously, and I’m definitely not out of debt, but I did learn how to manage my money responsibly.

I used a cash budget for a few years and did so great on it and was able to pay down my credit cards (then build them up and pay them down several times over….) and have very very rarely been into my overdraft or been late with any payment.  Since going back to work after my maternity leave I’ve noticed that I’m being far less strict with my budget and it’s causing stress that is really just unnecessary.  I’m the only one in my household with an income and am solely responsible for a mortgage plus all the bills that come with home owning on top of paying down all my school debt and a car loan.  Talk about a lot of financial weight on my shoulders! That’s the major contributing factor to me not being as strict with my money.  When I stress on things like this, one of my coping strategies is to just avoid.

Well it’s time to stop avoiding.

I’m going back to square one, tracking all my receipts and redoing my budget system.  Becoming far more strict with my miscellaneous spending and grocery budget.

Money can be such a paralyzing factor in people’s lives, but I refuse to give it that power over my life and the life of my family.  I choose to live well and live simply and that means getting back control of my bank account.

Any tips and advice on how to budget? I’m all ears!

Erin Condren Life Planner

Erin Condren Life Planner

I don’t often splurge on items, and I also don’t often buy myself a birthday gift but this year I decided to do both.

You’ll notice that I’m definitely fixating on my return to work, it’s what I do when I’m worried or stressed about something – I fixate.

So in light of my returning to work and my sense of losing control of many things – mainly the daily ins and outs of Ezekiel, I decided that a good planner would help me to organize all of our lives and give me a sense of control again.  Of course I know this is in vain – ultimately I’m not really in control, but it makes me feel better so let’s just pretend I am oblivious to that fact.  This year while I’ve been at home I’ve been trying to use my iPhone and MacBook calendars to organize my life, and it’s been fine for the year but I’m still so drawn to paper.  The more I simplify my life the more I realize that technology gives me a bit of a sense of clutter.  I like to have things laid out on paper, I don’t know why.  I do know that I’m never going to be able to completely get away from technology (hello blog!) but the less I use my phone and computer the less cluttered I feel.  Hence my decision to use a paper planner rather than a digital calendar.

I browsed lots of planners in Chapters and Staples but didn’t find one that I absolutely loved.  I researched online and it came down to this planner or Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner.  I chose this one for a couple different reasons: 1) I could add the months from now until 2015 and 2) it has a folder in the back of it to hold letters, documents, etc. etc. and 3) I fell head over heels for this white and gold theme.

Life Planner Package

It came packaged super cute with some fun extras that I plan on using randomly with gifts.

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Another bonus is this perpetual calendar for birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates.

When it arrived I immediately sat down with a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand and started browsing through the planner and jotting down things here and there, dreaming of how I was going to use it creatively and effectively.  So far I’m loving it, although it’s only been a few days I feel like I’m going to continue loving it.  I’m planning on using it a few different ways:

  • Obviously to plan my own work/life balance.  I’m joining self scheduling at work starting in January, which basically means I can choose the days/shifts I want to work – with guidelines of course, but having a nicely laid out planner with full month spreads in essential in planning and picking well.
  • I’ll be using it as a blog editorial calendar.  I intend to keep up with my blog posts once I go back to work, so I know I’m definitely going to have to have posts planned well in advance.  The planner will be essential in this.
  • I’ll be able to meal plan using this planner and my kitchen book.  There’s space at the bottom of each day to jot down that days supper plans.  I’ll doing that one or two weeks in advance so that I can transfer it to our soon to be menu board.  This gives me a heads up for groceries for the week, and what to pull out of the freezer for the week.  It also will help my husband to know what I’ve laid out for that nights meal when I’m at work.  With another little mouth to feed I’m afraid my husband will be very overwhelmed being on his own and figuring out what to make for supper.
  • I’ll be keeping a running tab of Ezekiel’s days and milestones.  Right now I keep a journal specifically for Ezekiel that I write down little things we’ve done, big milestones he’s made and generally how life is with him around.  I plan on giving it to him when he’s much older, and I really want to keep doing something similar but after 10 months of using the journal I’ve realized that it’s not realistic to maintain.  Along with the journal I’m doing a digital photo book of his first year, and I’ll transfer some of the journal entries into it.  It’s like double work! Before I realized this I was already so committed that I decided to just finish off the year.  So in 2015 I’m trying a different approach using my life planner to jot down general things that happen and then doing a Project Life Binder to keep photos and general journal entries using my life planner as a guide.  As I write that it feels like that will be just as much work… Again I think it’s the tendency to draw away from technology that attracts me.
  • I’ll be keeping track of finances and budgeting.  I already have a good-for-me system in place for my budget so I’m not sure if this one will stick but I’m going to give it a go and see how it turns out.

Generally I want this to be my all-encompassing-life-book.  I’m excited to see how it unfolds and makes me feel in control! HA!

Do you use a planner? Do you like digital over paper or are you like me and need paper? If you’re interested in trying out anything Erin Condren you can click here for a $10 off code on your first purchase.  Full disclosure this will also give me a $10 credit.

Here’s to simplifying life and trying to feel in control!