Saturday, January 3, 2015

A new thing

It's cold and rainy and Day 4 of Jon's 12 hour shifts. Day 4 is always the worst. And Day 4 on a weekend is doubly so. Which is why I'm already thinking of ways to redeem this day before it even starts--a fire all day long, a second cup of coffee, jammies for as long as you want, homemade donuts for lunch, and a movie for the kids to get me through this afternoon. Mmmm, see? My mood has improved already and breakfast isn't even over!

Showing off his handiwork!

Big surprise for the girls!

Lia was slightly disappointed that she didn't get to keep the "phone" too.
Christmas was good this year. And the amazing thing is, we were healthy the whole week and didn't bring any sickness back to Maryland! There was no snow though, which was a tad disappointing. Christmas posts are always awkward to write, since our time in PA was mainly a succession of celebrations and gift giving. So I'll just share a few pictures here and move on.

So typical right now.

She took the LONGEST time opening her stocking. And then she lined each gift up one by one. 'Bout time we get ourselves an orderly kid!

Jon worked the four days leading up to Christmas so not only did we have our family's celebration early, but we also had all of our shopping and wrapping finished early too. Which meant I had already moved on to casting my New Year's vision while everyone else was making last-minute trips to Target.

So grateful to have Grammie and Grandpa with us this year. Grammie is in the middle of chemo and we were so blessed that they drove down from New York to celebrate Christmas with our family!

I truly love New Year's (even though the only celebrating we did was was some whoops and jumps when the clock struck 7:00--the kids were celebrating 2015. The parents were celebrating bedtime!) And while I believe we can take the initiative to make changes at any time during the year, I appreciate a time to intentionally look at where I am now, where I want to be at the end of this year, and determine what needs to change to accomplish that.

There's that word again: intentional. If I had to pick a one-word theme for this year (as I know many people are doing these days), I think this would be it. Which kind of bothers me because it's been thrown around so much lately, and you all know I like to be different. But when I glance through my goals, I keep coming back to it. Intentional. After spending the past 6 years stuck in baby-land and just trying to survive on a day-to-day basis, this seems like a good transition.

And on that note, mamas of tiny ones, give yourself some grace! I think this is the first year I've actually set specific, measurable goals for myself (remember that one year when my only goals were to read my Bible and drink more water?). And that's only because I know there's no more babies coming. Life with littles can be so unpredictable. And it's a little difficult to hit a target that seems to move on a daily basis!

Anyway, Jon and I used our trip to PA and back to discuss our vision for the new year. I'm sharing my goals here, not to make you question your own, but to encourage you to think about your new year and especially to keep myself accountable for what I'm setting out to do. That's one of the reasons Jon and I discussed our goals together, so we can spur one another on to good works. I personally am inspired by two excellent bloggers: Money Saving Mom and Jess Connolly (from Naptime Diaries). I'm not much of a blog reader these days, but Jess posted an Instagram photo last week that really stirred my heart for vision casting for the new year! One thing I've learned from both these ladies is to identify areas or themes for improvement, and then to write specific goals for each of those categories.

I've typed my goals out because (a) my handwriting is atrocious right now compliments of carpal tunnel and (b) anything I write down ends up scribbled on, wrinkled, ripped, and under the couch compliments of the little people. But mainly I just wanted them written down and in a spot where I can review and reference them often (which is another goal.) So without further ado, shall we take a glance?

This year, I'd like to read through the Bible chronologically (as in based on when each book was written). This is something I've been wanting to do for A LONG TIME. I'm not saying I'm necessarily going to finish the whole book by December, but it's certainly something I want to make a daily practice of this year. This is the plan I'm using and I've already gotten a head start ('cuz I'm gonna need it!)

In addition, I'm sticking with my She Reads Truth daily readings as well. I think this site is just fabulous and it's been a perfect fit for my hectic, I-take-quiet-time-whenever-I-can-get-it lifestyle.

Finally, I want to work on starting each day with praise. I loved the 30 Days of Praise Challenge I took last year (or was that two years ago?). I think incorporating praise and worship into my schedule really affects the tone of that day, a huge bonus for this mother of four needy little ones!

Okay, this is a repeat from last year because it's one I haven't hit yet--one morning a week to myself to think and plan. This is a hard one, mainly because the counterpart to this goal is Jon planning "one morning a week to watch the kids on his own." It doesn't help that when I'm exhausted and emotionally drained from 4 days on my own with the kids, he's exhausted and emotionally drained from 4 days of stressful 12-hour shifts (and lack of sleep!) So I don't know how this will work. Maybe we'll have to hire a babysitter. All I know is I NEED to take more breaks from my children in order to maintain my mental health!

Take more walks! You guys, I love walks. Walking is my love language. It's no mistake that my husband asked me to go for a walk minutes before he asked me to marry him! My kids need walks too. And so I resolve to do this more, no matter the temperature! (Also, I think getting a dog would be an excellent way to get me out and walking more, just sayin'.)

And now, for the on-everybody's-goal-list resolution of physical fitness. I'm really not a "work out" kind of girl. Nor am I interested in losing any kind of weight at this point in my life. I would, however, like to gain a little strength back so I don't have to ask my kids to help me open the pickle jar. Jon and I are hoping to work together on a little P90X yoga. It's one thing that I think we could both do together and doesn't require me going to the gym.

Finally: diet. Remember that time I cut out sugar and carbs for, like, a hot second? Well, it was a really, really good experience. I felt great (after feeling absolutely miserable for a few days.) I don't think no sugar/no carb is ever going to be a lifestyle for me, but they are two areas of my (and my family's diet) that I'd like to cut back on. So in 2015 I'm going to sharpen the focus on veggies and proteins. Yay, the kids are so excited!! ;)

Oh, and as usual, I plan on drinking more water. But this time I want to cut back on caffeine. This past year has been a doozy! I often find myself caught in that vicious cycle of drinking coffee because I'm tired, which cuts into my water drinking, which only makes me more lethargic. And on that note I'm going to take a quick break to chug this mug of water.

Something glorious happened over Christmas break, Jon and I got 29 hours all to ourselves (it was supposed to be 32, for Jon's 32nd birthday, but family events got in the way!) It was the first time we had an overnight with no kids since our trip to Florida almost 2 years ago. And while it certainly wasn't long (unless you were Joci, who thought it was entirely too long to go without mama!), it was so amazingly good for the both of us to get away, enjoy a few quiet meals with just us, and do something that reminds us we're still young!

We spent the day skiing at Montage!

There's wasn't much snow, but it wasn't to crowded either.

Jon and I haven't been on the slopes in over 10 years. And I haven't been on skis in over 15 (I used to snowboard in my heyday). In fact, I think I've only ever skied once or twice before this. I was a little shaky at first (which is how I accidentally flew into the lift line too far ahead of Jon and we each ended up riding alone) but by the end of the afternoon we were spending our time on the black diamond. 

We spent the night at The Bischwind Bed and Breakfast.

And got a free upgrade to the Teddy Roosevelt suite!!

These windows were amazing!

That all said, one area we'd both like to be more intentional about is a monthly date night. Actually, a weekly date night would be rad, but that's just not possible at this point in our lives. So we want to try to get out of the house and away from the kids one night a month, and then do an at-home date night the other 2-3 weeks of the month. That's actually pretty easy for us. Thanks to the kids' 7:00pm bedtime, we enjoy a lot of movie and game nights together. So perhaps a better goal would be to find a new game that's good for two people and that neither one of us is particularly good (or bad) at!

We would also love to get away for a few nights sometime around our anniversary. Jon has some frequent flier miles to use up, so it's just a matter of working it in to the schedule (and we just found out his work schedule may actually be getting worse this coming year rather than better!) and finding sitters for the kids. Let's be honest, people aren't exactly lining up to watch our Fantastic Four for days on end!

Finally, I'd like to attend a marriage class together. The last time we did this, Julia was born right in the middle of it. I don't know about you, but newbornhood is not exactly prime time for making improvements to your marriage. Our church is planning to offer something this spring so I'm hoping we can also make this work with our schedule.

Moving on to the other humans in my life: mothering. This is where I really want to get intentional! This also has the potential to be the most difficult goal I've set. I am so tired of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mothering. But I'm also well-aware of the challenges that come with raising four babies so close together. One area that I'd like to get back into is character development. My MOPS leader recommended the pamphlet Wise Words for Moms (it's only $4 on Amazon). I'm excited to start implementing more scripture into my parenting and to provide some solid reasoning to my older kids (rather than just "because Mommy said so.")

Also, I want to become a more peaceful and self-controlled mother, especially since this is an area I'm trying to address in one of my kids in particular. I'm going to be honest, the past 18 months of raising four kids has been especially stressful for me. I've found that while having babies gets easier, the actual mothering does not. I'm often being pulled in four (sometimes more) different directions at the same time and it's certainly uncovered more of my sinful nature. At the same time, I need Jesus more than ever before! My children know I'm not perfect, but I want them to also know that there's a Savior who is!

Home Management
And now, towards the bottom of the list, is home management. Because messy hearts are way more important than messy bathrooms! I've re-done my cleaning schedule. It's beautiful and laminated so I can cross off things with a dry erase marker... in an ideal world. I realize that I will probably never keep up with this schedule (at least not while I have kids living at home) but it is my ultimate target. And now that Joci is getting a little older, I'm hoping that's a target that will be easier and easier to hit.

Now if you'll notice, that's my home management binder. Another one of those things I've been meaning to do for years now. I'm still working out exactly what I want it to look like, but for now it contains my cleaning schedule, my Bible reading plan, a check-off grocery list, my weekly meal plan, a freezer and pantry inventory sheet, seasonal produce guide, budget sheets, a family packing list for road trips, a babysitter list, my Wise Words for Moms chart, and Jack and Jude's school calendars and paperwork. This is also where I'm putting my 2015 goals, front and center, so I'm forced to look at them and evaluate how I'm doing on a regular basis.

Check out that new mug! "Bischwind" is German for "gentle breeze" because that's exactly how Saturday mornings should begin this house!

And finally, let's chat finances. My husband is the budget guy. He pretty much runs that show, but the one area of money that I handle is the grocery shopping. I've set a monthly grocery budget and I'm sticking to it. I've already went over last week's goal so this coming week is going to be rather lean. But I want to get serious because there is a tantalizing end goal in mind!

I also want to cut back on eating out. Did you know, eating out is my other love language? So if you really want to woo me, take me on a walk out to dinner. Because most days, nothing sounds quite so appealing as (a) getting out of the house (b) not having to plan, prep, cook, or clean-up dinner. But seriously, when was the last time you went out to eat with 4 kids ages 6 and under? Trust me, we try it all the time, and 9 times out of 10 it's a big failure. So in an effort to save money and our sanity, we're just going to stop. I still would like the occasional free pass on dinner, so perhaps this means more simple meals or take-out pizza is in our future!

Can we just talk about Target for a minute? I *heart* that place. (I should add here that it's a very good thing that I can't walk to our Target because then I'd really be in trouble.) As much as I hate running errands with four kids, I also get antsy being stuck in the house. I mean, there's always walks or the park, but they just don't come with the same high as shopping at Target. They also don't impact my budget in the same way either. So I'm resolving to not only cut back on Target runs, but to cut back on mindless trips to Target. This also means staying on top of our home inventory so I'm not "forced" to make an unintentional trip when the toothpaste runs out. Hold me to it, guys!

Now saving money certainly has it's rewards, but one of my biggest motivations for cutting back comes in the form of our 10 year anniversary in 15 months. We have our hearts set on something big (*cough, cough* Germany). I mean, not only are we celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss, but that whole we-survived-4-babies-in-5-years thing. It would be amazing, and I'm still a little skeptical that it will work out, but we're going to keep dreaming about and working towards it and staying away from Target and restaurants all in the name of the Mutterland.

And now, I think you've heard enough from me. The happiest of new years to your and yours. And enjoy your mild weekend, because this girl is praying for lots of snow this winter!

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