Some people like to call them New Year's Resolutions, but I like to call them my big "What I'd Love to Do This Year" list. I truly believe in setting goals to help give you direction, a sense of purpose, and way to measure how things are going. Back in August I share some of my personal goals with you all I wanted to update you on how things are going...
1) Increase my knowledges and studying time of the Bible over the next year
I've not been stellar at picking up my Bible and reading from it every day for myself but I have been working on finding stories in the Bible to read to my children. Reading the parables that Jesus shared with others has been how I've been reconnecting with the scriptures. Trying to summarize those stories to my little ones has been good for me to reinforce those stories I remember from my Sunday school days. My mom gave my children Max Lucado's The Story for Children, a Storybook Bible for Christmas and it has been so refreshing for me to read through these stories and everyone in our family listens intently every night as we read the Bible together. I have been looking into find a new study Bible and getting lots of suggestions from family members, but I need something else to give me a direction on where to start and how to apply it to my everyday. I'll keep working on making more time to do my own studying but for now reading to my kids has been at least a move in the right direction.
2) Work with my husband to develop a set of short term and long term "family" goals and for us as a couple
Our short term goals for the past 6 months has been to get this new house of ours built without breaking us mentally and emotionally. Building a house alone can be stressful to a relationship, but doing it after living overseas for almost 4 years and trying to start life all over again can be tough. I can tell you that I have a wonderful and hard working husband and we have been plugging away to keep our family strong during our transitional time. We have committed to attend church regularly, committed to eat dinner together as a family as much as possible, and we've finally started talking about planning a big family vacation. Granted we haven't gone out on a date by ourselves in over 6 months we do try to squeeze in at least 10 minutes a day to have a meaningful conversation together.
3) Diligently teaching my children about God and His ways and making Him a part of our daily experiences
This is one of my top priorities. With all the changes going on in our lives over the past year, I wanted to make one thing constant with my little ones - God is always with us no matter where we are or what we are doing. We listen to the Christian radio station in the car, we are reading stories from the Bible together and from the daily devotional books they got for Christmas. We talk about the stories we've read from the Bible and we the stories they learn about at Sunday school each week. At night we talk about things that made them happy, things that made them sad, things or people we could pray for. Going to church is an exciting event for them and it's helped my little guy come out of his shell a bit. If I don't accomplish anything else in life other than keeping God in my children's lives then I have been successful. My next activity to start introducing to them is learning to memorize Bible verses to further our understanding of God's word.
4) Develop a template for organizing my household duties
I feel I have set up a pretty good system for planning meals and making up my weekly grocery lists. I still need to get my head around keep my house clean in a more efficient manner. I'm going to leave this goal to sort out when I get in my new house and figure out what I'm going to have to do to keep in organized. I will keep you posted....
5) Create a gardening and landscaping plan for next summer
I just checked out some gardening books from the library yesterday to get the juices flowing. I am going to break out my binder full of articles I pulled out of Better Homes and Gardens magazines for gardening inspiration ideas. Also while I was repacking up my basement last weekend I held out all my gardening and landscaping books, so we'll see what develops in the next few weeks as we prepare for some spring seeding.
6) Identify things we would like to have for the new house and set up a budget to be able to make or buy them
Ohhhh....I have my very BIG "wish list", but I am trying to make myself wait until we are in the new house before I start buying or making. Reason being is that I have a garage full of boxes that I haven't seen the inside of for 5 years and I'm thinking there are some hidden treasures in them that I can reuse, refinish, repurpose, or just plain remove from my house.
7) Evaluate family finances and work with my husband to identify key areas I can help us save or invest money over the next year
Building a new house vastly affects your expendable income and ever decision we make affects our future finances. We have discussed the pros and cons of every single item going into our house from toilet paper holders to investing in higher quality products and construction practices to help save on energy costs down the road. We even took on doing all the electrical labor with the help of my totally awesome dad to help us save quite a bit of money, so we could invest in other things. It's been a little bit more stressful but will be worth it in the long run. Once all of our house decisions are done we'll celebrate a little bit and then start hankering down on ways to reduce, reuse and recycle all through out our household.
9) Develop a healthy meal planning method and learn new meal preparation methods to meet nutritional and health needs of my family over the next year
After returning to the US and getting back into routine doctor checks, we've been advised (like most Americans I'm sure) to eat better and get more exercise. With high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels being a few issues our family, my challenge is to again focus on lean meats, more whole grains, less salt, and keeping us from eating out too much. Of course we splurge every now and the holidays are tough when you aren't always in control of the menus, but we're starting anew this month. The library has been an amazing source for "healthy" cookbooks, but I'm looking forward to taking on some new recipes this year.
10) Implement an exercise plan and plan physical activities to help attain and maintain a healthy weight and physical condition for whole family for the next year.
This goal has been a horrible struggle for me. With both kids at home most of the time and a hubby who works long hours, its very hard to find or even make time to get out and exercise. I refuse to spend loads of money to go to a gym so I tried to exercise using the Wii. Even this weak attempt is now an issue for me as my 3 year old son throws a fit when he doesn't get to play "games" after mommy's done exercising. Our rental house has not been an ideal place for space to get away and exercise or to even indulge in safe family walks outside, so I'm praying that our new neighborhood will be more conducive to family exercising and activities. I'm going to start scouring Craig's List for a weight set and a treadmill soon, and my friend Cathy has inspired me to potentially looking into boxing bag.
11) Maintain and grow my relationships with friends and extended family
God bless those wonderful people who put up with our house building madness and continue to be our friends and support us through all of this. It has been great to be back closer to family and old friends, but what I've found out about our American lifestyle is that we are ALL so busy!!! What I loved about life in England was that we seemed to take more time to spend time with people - have a cup of tea, have a glass of wine, spend two hours+ out for dinner with others talking about holidays, good food, and life. I find myself becoming too busy myself, but I'm going to dig down deep here soon and get my "British" influences back in my being and make more time for people.
12) Make new friends.
Friendships and family support is what keeps me afloat in life and it's been a trying year to have left some of the most amazing friendships I've ever had and starting life all over again. I have been blessed by God that every time I have had to go through this process that I have been successful at making new long lasting friendships. I just have to keep telling myself that it just takes time to get settled. (But I so wish God would help rush it along a little faster - ha ha!)
13) Family service projects
So far we've done a few things to help out others, but it never seems to be enough. This fall we went as a family to purchase items to fill 4 Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes - that was hoot carting around Walmart picking out things for other kids. What a great lesson to teach our little ones and a tradition we intend on keeping every year. We made up lots of Christmas goodie bags and boxes for the people working our our house, working for my hubby, and our neighbors. We are also big recyclers and each big load of stuff we bring to the recycling trailers uptown helps generations to come. We are excited to come up with some more things to do together.
14) Develop "Making Something of Myself" series on my blog
I've been doing so much research into loads of different topics that I can't wait to share with you all. You would think I was a crazy person if you saw me taking notes as I walk through the grocery store aisles, checking out 8+ "How to..." books at a time from my local library, and this mess of a binder that I keep all my notes and ideas in. I am so passionate about improving the way I do things and so excited to share with you all what I find out. The real world does hit me in the face pretty hard and I remember that I actually have to do things on a daily basis to keep my family going. Needless to say time blogging has to come second, but I'm going to keep plugging away and take advantage of my "after bedtime" time to write about some really cool stuff I'm trying out.
My S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals....
I've actually accomplished one of my stretch goals!!!! I set up a shop on Etsy.com and have made over $400 in selling some of my homemade creations. It all got rushed along when a wonderful lady requested that I make her a zebra tree topper for her zebra themed Christmas tree this year. Shortly after I made that transaction, I completed 3 of my Quiet Books and sold all of them in a week's time. I sold a crayon tote and a few of my tool belts and I am so pumped up to start making more items to post on my shop. It's not a lot of money for the time it takes to make all these things but the feedback I'm getting from my buyers is so wonderful and I'm making things that people are going to treasure for generations to come.
As far as my website goes, my husband was a dear and thought about getting me some web software for Christmas to start my site but thought I would get better use of a Professional Series Kitchenaid Mixer in the short term. I can't complain about that, but I'm still going to look into it this year....some day....
"Things I'd Love to Do Pretty Soon" List
Again the above are some great goals for me to keep striving for throughout this next year, but I've identified some key "Things I'd Love to Do" list items that I'm working on as well:
1) Do everything I need to do to get my new house ready to move in, get my current house ready to get moved out, and move into my new house within the next month!!!!!
2) Create more quiet books for Etsy and fulfill customized project requests from other customers.
3) Create decor for my new house - items for kids' bedrooms, master bedroom, living room, and kitchen/dining rooms like pillows, window treatments, framing photos, etc.
4) Plan a family vacation and weekend outings for this spring.
5) Prepare for a garage sale this summer.
6) Find exercise equipment and get fit!!!!