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Monday, January 31, 2011

February Goals

Last month I started tracking monthly goals instead of setting annual goals and I think it was a great idea, if I do so say. 
It helps me get focused so I'm not wasting my stay-at-home time and still am able to spend the quality time with my family that I want to. 
So, here are my February goals.  Again, maybe too many? 
Oh well!  If they don't all get completed it'll be just fine.

February Goals
Celebrate my 40th birthday!
Remodel 2 bathrooms
Work on 2 room painting projects
Finish spring cleaning the house
Hang our new kitchen curtain
800 minutes/exercise
Experiment with new photography tips

Again this month, I'll be tracking my progress on my blog side bar.

Happy February!

Best To Do List Ever

In case you didn't know, I'll tell you.  I'm a list person.  I always have been. 
Lists work for me. 
They allow me to get everything down on paper so the multitude of things I need/want to do aren't bouncing around in my brain competing for priority.
Making a list and checking most things off makes me feel like I'm focusing on the right things in my life.
Lists allow me to feel a sense of completion.
Lists help me stay on daily track with larger goals.

I love lists.

I've tried a lot of different To Do lists over the years. 
A running list in a notebook works really well for me.

Then I found this list on Bonnie's blog House of Grace.
I have been using it for several days now and I've formally switched.
I'm finding I'm remembering and getting to more things daily using this easy list.
You can download or print this To Do list for free here.

Try it and let me know what you think!

January Goals Wrap-Up

Back at the beginning of the month I decided to set goals for the month instead of the year and I love that!  So, how did I do in January?  I've been tracking the goals on the right side of my blog.

Exercise/Eating Plan for the Month
Spring Clean Entire House
Study Up on Photography/My Camera
Renew Passports
Remodel 2 Bathrooms
Celebrate Brennan's 9th Birthday
Kick Off Wine Club

Pretty well!  We had a great Wine Club kick-off, with the next several months planned for our group.  Brennan had a fantastic birthday which I posted about here and here.  We renewed our passports (which was a lot more work and a lot more expensive than I remembered it being!)  I've been reading a great Digital Photography book and am ready to employ the tips I've learned.  Those I would say I have certainly accomplished.

Partially remodeling 2 bathrooms - better move that to February.  When you're relying on a busy contractor, the timing is not your own I'm seeing!  Spring cleaning the entire house.  Well, I've done a TON and have a plan for finishing the rest.  I've put a lot of energy into cleaning the grout on our main floor and WOW is that a ton of work.  I've got help so it'll be completed soon and I can finish the other rooms.  I've taken more than 20 bags of stuff to Goodwill and it feels great!  Finally, an exercise and eating plan for the month - I'm definitely on the right track and have lost 8 lbs so that's good.  Always room for improvement there though.

I think the month-to-month goals work best for me.  I still need to think about February's goals and I'll post those later this week!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Elder

Today I was ordained an Elder at our church.
It was a surprise to be nominated in the Fall, and it was quite an experience today to go through the ordination.  I'm really excited about this new role in our church and I know I'll learn a lot and hopefully be able to contribute in some meaningful ways.

We're really proud of our church and have been active for the last 4 years.  David is on the finance committee and we teach Sunday School.  I'm on the Children's Nurture committee as well.  Of course, the boys participate in VBS and Sunday School.

It's really an honor to be an Elder and I'm looking forward to learning more about the church and how I can serve the church over the next few years.

Pinewood Derby

Brennan participated in his first Pinewood Derby with the Cub Scouts this weekend! 
I was at a church retreat this weekend so I was not able to attend and I hate that I missed it. 
David took good photos for me though!

Brennan's car.  Yes, of course, it's a math car!

Brennan placed 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, and 4th in various races. 
Way to go Brennan!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Recommendations

I can't believe it's been a week without a blog post. 
Nothing too exciting has been going on this past week except for spring cleaning, grout cleaning, and normal weekday events. 
But I have made some time to read so I'll share some recommendations with you.

I recently found out about http://www.goodreads.com/ and I'm loving it.  Are you on?  If so, please friend me.  I love tracking the books I've read and keeping up with a to-read list.  I have waaay too many on my list but that's OK.  It's a great place to keep all those book names that people recommend so you don't forget about them!

I just finished reading Steve Martin's latest book, An Object of Beauty. I cannot believe how quickly I got through it. He's a good writer and this story was light but also detailed in its own way. I got sucked into the story right away.  It's about the New York City art world and now I'm dreaming of taking an Art History course at the local college or reading Art for Dummies (which I have). I enjoyed it for a change of pace.

Our Book Club read Leaving Mother Lake this month. 
When one of our members mentioned this book several months ago I think I actually (inadvertantly) yawned when she was describing it. 
I'm always a little leery about books that I've never heard of or been recommended before.
But I'm so glad she encouraged us to take this one on and maybe I shouldn't be so suspicious!
It is the life story of a famous singer in China and her native Moso tribe in China near Tibet. 
 It is a largely unknown tribe that is matriarchal/matrilineal where marriage is not the norm. 
It's non-fiction and I found it just amazing.  Well-written and so interesting. 

Every once in awhile I pick up a Stuart Woods.  He writes legal-type mysteries. 
A friend compares the Stone Barrington series to Domino's pizza - maybe not the best pizza in the world, but you always know what you're going to get and you close the book satisfied. 
I'd agree with that assessment.  I've read several in the series and they're great for a change of pace between the Moso tribe and studying up on Digital Photography.

I saved up for a couple of years and bought a DSLR camera last year.  I love it but honestly don't know 5% of what I can do with it. 
I set it on Auto and start shooting most of the time. 
I decided in Janaury I was going to study up and maybe improve on my photography skills. 
I have had Scott Kelby's seminal book on my library hold list for months but I was way down on the list. 
I finally just bought the book and am so glad I did.  I've marked it up like crazy, highlighting great tips.
It's fan.tastic. 
A lot of photography terminology panicked me (aperture, ISO, color balance...) 
This book de-mystifies it all. 
I highly recommend it if you have a DSLR and are new to photography as I am.

Here is a book that I read last year that I forgot to mention.  It's not that memorable of a book, but it is a good beach read if you're looking for something light.  It's about two very different sisters who inherit a house from their aunt in the Hamptons.  It's certainly not a must-read but good if you need a break from longer, heavier tomes.

Happy Reading!

Recent book recommendations can be found here:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Birthday Boy

Brennan had a great 9th birthday.  The celebrations started out at the indoor water park at our Fitness Club. 

Group photo.  Getting this shot was like herding cats. 

We had the pool primarily to ourselves.  Here are Brennan and his friends enjoying the party. 

When Dad got back from his trip, we had a family present celebration on his actual birthday.  We loved it when a birthday is spread out for several days :) 

Happy Birthday, 9 year old!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday Brennan!

Happy Birthday Brennan!  9!  We can't believe it.

You arrived 11 days earlier than your due date - January 29th. 
But we planned to have you on Martin Luther King Day - January 21st. 
But on January 18th you let me know that it was THE DAY.

Aw, look at your scrunchy face in the bright sunlight!

And here you are at 3 weeks. 
You spent your second month in short-term housing as we prepared to move to Mexico
(that's why you don't recognize this couch)!

And happy 7th birthday to your birthday buddy Natalie! 
Cousins born on the same day, just 2 years apart.  It makes today even more special!

Happy Birthday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Valentine's Day Art

It is really hard to believe that Valentine's Day is less than a month away! 
With our long 3-day weekend I decided to go ahead and get out a couple of Valentine's Day decorations to go with some of the winter-y things I still have out like this

and this

First up, I printed this great subway art onto cardstock.  I got it here at eighteen25.  I liked theirs in the white frame, but I went with black this time.

And I replaced the art in these frames

for Valentine's Day!

I love being able to change out the art so easily.  I showed you how I did the originals here.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I have heard about this great skiing and tubing place about an hour from us and have always wanted to take the boys but never had. 
This year I invested in some snow pants and boots for myself (after 6 years!) and decided to do it!

I didn't tell the boys where we were going until we were in the car.  The suspense was killing them but they love a surprise. 
They were so excited, but nothing prepared them for this first glimpse of the actual place.  They were beside themselves!
They have never seen people skiing in real life.  They couldn't wait for me to park. 

Today I decided to see how tubing went before we take on skiing.  They couldn't wait. 
I, on the other hand, saw these slopes and realized how high they were and how fast everyone was tubing down them.  Hmmm.  And Dad's traveling so it was just me. 

Photo taken with my phone so we could send it to dad.  They couldn't wait!

Here we are riding the moving sidewalk to the top of the 3 sets of slopes.  I'm searching for the bunny slope.  Brennan is figuring out which one is highest so he can start there.  Oh crappola. 

I find the shortest ones I can find.  Here I am at the top re-thinking this entire escapade. 

But I did it and it was awesome!  A little nervewracking but after two times down, I was hooked.
The boys on the other hand are afraid of nothing and immediately moved to the taller, faster slopes without me. 

Thomas had a blast, but he wants to do skiing next. 

Brennan had more fun than anyone.  When I asked if they liked their surprise Brennan said, "It wasn't just a surprise.  It was a THRILL!" 

The below freezing temps didn't bother any of us in the least.  Two hours of tubing in the beautiful sunshine in the right clothing kept us from realizing how cold it really was.  I'm so glad I finally got the snow pants and boots so I can enjoy winter a little more!

Painting the Fireplace

This is one of those projects that I am adding to my list of projects that I should have done years ago!  It was so easy.  But if it hadn't been for the home decorating blog world, I never would have thought about it.

Last year we had our living room fireplace fitted with gas logs.  It's nice to be able to have a fire going during the cold winters.  But look at the interior.  Yuck.  27 years of fires burning in there.

Some more close up shots. 

And then I read somewhere on a blog months and months ago that they had used heat-resistant paint to paint the interior of their fireplace.  I had never heard of heat-resistant paint.  While I was at Lowe's yesterday, I picked up a can and a small roller.

And voila!

And some close-ups.

I ended up doing two coats and let it dry in between overnight.  Not sure that was necessary but it looks really nice and finished now.

Ah.... so much better!