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Goals for 2016: Update

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A while back I posted my goals for 2016.  It is quite the list!  I wanted to share an update with y’all and let you know that I have been trying to live intentionally.

And it’s so funny — when I decided to make “living intentionally” my goal for this year I was amazed at the amount of times I saw that phrase in my life.  Social media, friends, fellow bloggers, my Bible study… everything seems to lead me back to that.

yearly goals

Goals for 2016 with Update

Spiritual:
1. Read the whole Bible.
~ Incorporate daily morning Bible time.  {I still struggle with this but it’s getting easier.}
2. Complete at least three Bible studies this year.
~ Colossians (a BoldTurquoise study).  {Working through this one now.}
~ Intentionally Focused (WLW study).
~ War Room{Working through this one now in a group.  Powerful stuff!}
3. Write in my prayer journal two or three times each week.  {I’ve made it the beginning of my quiet time.}
~ Set up journaling pages in Homemaking Binder.  {DONE!}

Children:
1. Finish K5 program with C by June 30th.
2. Begin K4 program with J by February 1st {We started in the middle of January; just a few days a week right now.}
3. Begin 1st grade with C by August 8th.
4. Read at least 52 new chapter books. {We’ve read Hooray for the Golly Sisters and one other I can’t remember right now.  We need another library trip!}
5. Arrange monthly outings or field trips (to library, park, museums, etc.). {Crazy month but we managed to get to the library and a park.}

Marriage:
1. Monthly dates and regular time together.
~ Do something with just the two of us a few days each week. {We have been pretty good about this.}
2. Send him a love letter (via text, email, or whatever) each month.

Financial:
1. Save $4,000.
~ Get $20 cashback when I go to the store and set it aside.
2. Get my vehicle note balance down to $5000 or less by end of year.
~ Schedule about five extra $100 payments throughout the year. {Already scheduled one each for January and February.}
3. Sit down monthly to assess financial situation. {New budget in place for February!}
4. Plan England trip and set aside money.
~ Passports need to be completed by April 1st.
~ Tickets need to be purchased (or at least researched) by February 1st. {Tickets have been researched; we’re planning on purchasing soon.}

Self:
1. Read twelve books this year.
2. Spend one day a month researching genealogy. {Failed at this in January; hoping to have two afternoons this month to make up for it.}
3. Learn sign language.
4. Have an afternoon off for planning at least twice this year.

Health and Fitness:
1. Lose a total of 36 pounds this year.
~ That’s about three pounds a month.
:::: Weigh 190 by June 30th.
:::: Weigh 175 by December 31st.
2. 20,000 fitness minutes this year.
~ That’s about 385 minutes per week.
:::: 10,000 minutes by June 30th.
:::: Gym two or three days a week.
:::: ST at least twice a week.
3. Improve fitness test stats by 5% – 10% by year end.
~ Initial fitness test January 4th.  {Done.}
~ End of month assessments to check progress.
~ Mid-year test for check-up.

Homemaking:
1. Reinvent my Homemaking Binder. Make it functional and beautiful.
2. Establish working homemaking routines, one per month (except July).
~ Evening (before bed) routine is January’s routine.
:::: Line out new evening routine by January 1st and implement. {Done}
:::: Reassess on February 1st and tweak as necessary. {Done}
~ Morning routine is February’s routine.
:::: Line out new morning routine by February 1st and implement. {Done}
:::: Reassess on March 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Afternoon routine is March’s routine
:::: Line out new afternoon routine by March 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on April 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Meal planning is April’s routine.
:::: Make meal planning a priority and make it a weekly or monthly habit.
~ Making my calendar work for me is May’s routine.
:::: Read Make Over Your Calendar.
~ Decluttering is June’s routine.
~ School planning is August’s routine.
:::: Get a routine in place to keep me organized and ahead of the planning.
~ The rest are TBD later this year. (Also, any of these can be moved around as I see fit.) 
3. Set up school room/office by September 1st.
~ Declutter 15 minutes, twice a week. {I’ve been decluttering a few times a week and I love the results so far.}
~ Paint office by June 1st. {One wall is completed!  I’m taking it slow and steady.}
~ Hang white boards by August 1st.
~ Work out storage solutions by August 15th.

 

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7 Ways to Find Time for Bible Study

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As part of my goals for this year I’ve decided to get more intentional about my life and the things I do.  One of the big things I wanted to change was to become more intentional about daily Bible study.

I used to spend hours in God’s Word, soaking up everything I could and writing pages and pages of journal notes about my experience.  And oh, how I long for those days!  But at this point in my life it is hard to find that kind of time.  I’ve gone for far too long with little to no Bible study because I’m waiting for the “perfect” time of the day to do it.  I’ve tried getting up at that mythical hour before the rest of my family gets up.  It’s pretty much impossible right now.  My daughter is a rise-with-the-dawn kind of child while my son is generally up for a time in the 4 – 5 am hours.  That just makes for a cranky mama.  And nobody likes a cranky mama.

So while I would love to have my quiet time consistently before the kids get up, that usually doesn’t happen.  And that’s ok.  I’m telling you now that there is no perfect time for Bible study.  You don’t have to do it first thing in the morning.  You don’t have to spend an hour a day on it.  You don’t have to wait until you have that perfectly quiet and uninterrupted time.

Because how often does that actually work out, right?

The main thing is to have a yearning and a desire for Bible study and time talking to Jesus.  To set aside what time you can to learn more about Him and to grow closer to Him.  

So here are a few practical tips for taking time for Bible study and getting more out of your quiet time with God.  Some of them may work for you and some of them may not.  Keep trying until you find something that works for you.

  • Set aside a specific time each day for it.  If twenty minutes is all the time you have today, use it.  And remember, it doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning.  Utilize the baby’s nap time (cleaning can wait 20 minutes) or another block of time you have.  Just go into the day knowing that at a certain time you have to stop what you’re doing and get into the Word.
  • It doesn’t have to happen all at one time.  Only have 10 minutes right now?  That’s ok.  Read some now and come back to it when you have another 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Keep your Bible open in a conspicuous place.  Every time you walk by throughout the day, stop to read for a moment.  Meditate on what you read between times.
  • Try listening to the Bible instead of reading it.  There are several apps and websites to go to where you can listen to the Bible.  Pop in your ear buds and listen while you wash dishes, fold clothes, take a bath… whenever.
  • Use sticky notes for Scripture memorization.  Are you trying to learn a particular verse or passage?  Write it down on several sticky notes and post them around the house.  No, it’s not chapters of reading at a time.  But on those days when that’s all you can do, at least you have had some meditation on God’s Word.  And don’t forget to switch out your sticky notes every week or so.
  • Wake up 30 minutes early.  Yeah, I know it won’t always work.  But (in my case) my day seems to go better if I’ve started it off in the presence of God.  And if you do get interrupted?  At least you tried.  And maybe it’ll be easier to get back to it during the day if you start it off that way.
  • Have accountability.  Join a Bible study (online, with a church or elsewhere).  Call an accountability partner each day to discuss what you’ve read.  I know I’m way more apt to do something if someone is counting on me.

While I was writing this a question came to me.  What if you don’t have that yearning for daily Bible study anymore?  What happens when you’ve been gone for so long you’ve forgotten what daily fellowship with God feels like?

Friend, I’ve been there.  And I’m not going to lie and tell you an easy answer.  It’s something you’ll have to deal with yourself.  But making the time and the effort to talk and listen to Jesus daily is a step in the right direction.  It’s a habit like any other — the more you cultivate it the easier it is to do. 

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How To: Start an Evening Routine

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I’ve been focusing this month on implementing and sticking with a new evening routine.  I’ve written before on my morning routine (and how to build one), but I haven’t really spoken about my evening (or before bed) routine.

If you’re familiar with the teachings of Flylady at all you know how much she stresses having a Before Bed Routine (or BBR).  For a long time I would get hung up on the words “Before Bed” and start my BBR… well… right before bed.  But that was too late in the day for me!  I was too tired to care what my kitchen looked like by that point and didn’t want to mess with it then.  And pick out clothes?  Wasn’t happening.

And so eventually (never mind how long it took before I finally had the epiphany) I decided to change the wording and change when I did things.

And that was when my Evening Routine was born.

If you’re just starting on an Evening Routine, don’t forget to start small.  Pick out just a few things — just two to four things — that you want to get done every night.  Start with those.  Give it a few weeks of consistency (don’t worry if you have a few off days — it happens) and then add something else.

For example, at this point in my life my bare bones Evening Routine would be:
1) Clean the kitchen (dishes, stove, counters and sink).
2) Pick out clothes for tomorrow (for myself and my children).
3) Check calendar for tomorrow’s activities and get necessary things together in one place.

On those crazy days when I’m running out of time that’s all I try to get done.  At the very least I “hit a lick at a snake” in the kitchen and check the calendar to make sure we don’t have to be anywhere early.

And on those nights, that’s ok.  Don’t give up when you have a few nights that don’t go according to plan.  Keep at it. 

On those awesome nights when everything goes according to schedule, my Evening Routine is a bit more involved.  I’m still very hesitant to add too much to it or it will overwhelm me.  (And then I just shut down and don’t get anything done.  And we don’t want that.)

My full Evening Routine goes something like this:
1) Quick tidy of the main living areas.
2) Clean the kitchen.
3) Set out morning items (cereal, bowls, coffee mugs, juice cups, etc.).
4) Make sure I’m prepared for school tomorrow (if I haven’t already done this; usually I have).
5) Pick out clothes for tomorrow.
6) Check calendar for tomorrow’s activities and get necessary things together in one place.
7) Make a quick To Do List for tomorrow.

As you can see, the majority of the things I do in the evening directly affect how my morning will start.  When I don’t do my Evening Routine, the next day is generally a write off.  I start the day cranky and have trouble finding my peace.

And you know what else?  My children notice.  They crave routine as well.  My whole house is happier when we follow a routine.

So what happens if you consistently are having trouble getting your Evening Routine done?  You probably need to step back and ask yourself a few questions.
Are you trying to do too much?
Are there some things you can try and do earlier in the day?
Are you waiting too late to get started?
Can you delegate some things to others in your household?

My husband and I work together to get the Evening Routine done (although I can guarantee you that he doesn’t know we have a “routine”).  While I’m cleaning up the kitchen after supper he is making sure the kids get a bath.  When I was trying to “do it all” (like clean the kitchen and bathe the kids) I would go to bed far too many times with a dirty kitchen.  There just wasn’t enough time in the evenings!

Do you have a “bare bones” evening routine in place?  Is it working for you?  What else can you do to make your mornings run more smoothly?

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This post is linked up at:

A Pinch of Joy
Tips and Tricks Linky Party
Titus 2sday Link Up Party
Roses of Inspiration
Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party
Wholehearted Home
Raising Homemakers
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Homemaking Party
Hearts for Home
I Heart Naptime

Goals for 2016: The Year of Being Intentional

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So hi there.   Long time, no see.  Yeah… sorry about that.  I really meant to post more last year but time just slipped away.

Which leads me to my word for 2016: intentional.

I want to be intentional in my spiritual life.  I want to be intentional with my children.  I want to be intentional with my husband.  I want to be intentional with my own health.  I want to be intentional in every area of my life.

I’ve prayed and thought (a lot) over the past few weeks about my goals for 2016.  God has showed me that I’ve not been intentional like I should.  I’ve not been purposeful with my quiet time or deliberate with the time spent with my children.  I’ve not planned time to be with and talk to my husband.  I’ve just been kind of flying by the seat of my pants.  And that really doesn’t work well for me.  I’m not that kinda gal.

So with that being said, I’ve set some pretty lofty goals for this year.  This is quite a long list so bear with me.

yearly goals

 

Goals for 2016

Spiritual:
1. Read the whole Bible.
~ Incorporate daily morning Bible time.
2. Complete at least three Bible studies this year.
~ Colossians (a BoldTurquoise study).
~ Intentionally Focused (WLW study).
~ One other TBD later.
3. Write in my prayer journal two or three times each week.
~ Set up journaling pages in Homemaking Binder.

Children:
1. Finish K5 program with C by June 30th.
2. Begin K4 program with J by February 1st.
3. Begin 1st grade with C by August 8th.
4. Read at least 52 new books.
5. Arrange monthly outings or field trips (to library, park, museums, etc.).

Marriage:
1. Monthly dates and regular time together.
~ Do something with just the two of us a few days each week.
2. Send him a love letter (via text, email, or whatever) each month.

Financial:
1. Save $4,000.
~ Get $20 cashback when I go to the store and set it aside.
2. Get my vehicle note balance down to $5000 or less by end of year.
~ Schedule about five extra $100 payments throughout the year.
3. Sit down monthly to assess financial situation.
4. Plan England trip and set aside money.
~ Passports need to be completed by April 1st.
~ Tickets need to be purchased (or at least researched) by February 1st.

Self:
1. Read twelve books this year.
2. Spend one day a month researching genealogy.
3. Learn sign language.
4. Have an afternoon off for planning at least twice this year.

Health and Fitness:
1. Lose a total of 36 pounds this year.
~ That’s about three pounds a month.
:::: Weigh 190 by June 30th.
:::: Weigh 175 by December 31st.
2. 20,000 fitness minutes this year.
~ That’s about 385 minutes per week.
:::: 10,000 minutes by June 30th.
:::: Gym two or three days a week.
:::: ST at least twice a week.
3. Improve fitness test stats by 5% – 10% by year end.
~ Initial fitness test January 4th.
~ End of month assessments to check progress.
~ Mid-year test for check-up.

Homemaking:
1. Reinvent my Homemaking Binder. Make it functional and beautiful.
2. Establish working homemaking routines, one per month (except July).
~ Evening (before bed) routine is January’s routine.
:::: Line out new evening routine by January 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on February 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Morning routine is February’s routine.
:::: Line out new morning routine by February 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on March 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Afternoon routine is March’s routine
:::: Line out new afternoon routine by March 1st and implement.
:::: Reassess on April 1st and tweak as necessary.
~ Meal planning is April’s routine.
:::: Make meal planning a priority and make it a weekly or monthly habit.
~ Making my calendar work for me is May’s routine.
:::: Read Make Over Your Calendar.
~ Decluttering is June’s routine.
~ School planning is August’s routine.
:::: Get a routine in place to keep me organized and ahead of the planning.
~ The rest are TBD later this year. (Also, any of these can be moved around as I see fit.) 
3. Set up school room/office by September 1st.
~ Declutter 15 minutes, twice a week.
~ Paint office by June 1st.
~ Hang white boards by August 1st.
~ Work out storage solutions by August 15th.

So there they are.  All neatly typed out for the world to see.  I will try to update a few times this year to keep myself accountable.  I would say I’ll update monthly… but I know better than to set a goal I have no hope in achieving.  😉

Have you made goals for 2016?  What is your focus?  Do you have a “one word” for the year?

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This post is linked up at:

heartsforhome

Ducks in a Row

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Hello, happy homemakers!  How’ve you been?

Me?  Like all of you, I’ve been busy.  And in order to accomplish everything on my ever growing list of things to do I had to give something up.  That something was this blog.  I had hoped that over the course of a few months I’d be able to pick it back up again, and maybe I can again soon.  But right now it’s just not feasible.

On average I was spending at least an hour a day here writing, editing or promoting… and instead of using that time here I’ve been doing things like reading more often to my kids.  I’ve volunteered.  I also joined a gym.  I’ve tried out new recipes.  I sit and snuggle on the couch with my babies and watch a Veggie Tales.  I’ve been preparing for the next school year (C will be in K4!).  I joined a local home school group.  We’ve had a Thanksgiving supper with friends in June.  I’ve started Christmas shopping.  I planned a Hello Kitty birthday party for my sweet four year old.  I’ve enjoyed time with my in laws.  We’ve taken a few day trips to visit new (to us) areas in our state.  I’d like to say I’ve been cleaning more as well but that hasn’t really happened much. 😉

The blog wasn’t the only thing I cut out.  I’ve also cut down on the amount I spend on the internet in general.  Facebook, emails, the whole she-bang.  I have 972 unread email messages right now and I don’t even care.  I read the important ones and get around to the rest (or delete them) when I have a chance.

Basically I’m trying to get my priorities in order.  Get all of my ducks in a row, if you will.

Do I miss blogging?  Yes!  I didn’t realize how much until I sat down to write this post.  But for right now, I need to concentrate on other things in my life.  I plan on posting occasionally, just not a few times a week like I had been doing.

So I hope you all have a great summer and I’ll see you when I see you!  Be blessed!

12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge: Week 6 Update

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12-Months-to-a-Healthier-You-5-500x800Last month Crystal over at Money Saving Mom issued a challenge:  complete twelve healthy habits, spaced over the course of the year, which would help bring about a new, improved and healthier you.

And since I’m not doing my own habits this year I thought this would be an awesome challenge to take part of.  A few of my 2014 goals center around becoming more healthy.  Plus this challenge has built in accountability!  What’s not to love?

February’s Challenge:  eat more fresh fruits and vegetables 

My Goals for February:  

  • 1,750 (or more) fitness minutes (I’m keeping up with January’s challenge)
  • at least seven servings of fruit each week
  • eat a salad every day
  • try a new fruit or veggie (“freggie”) this month

This Week’s Progress:

So far during February I have exercised 380 fitness minutes.  Not bad, but I need to average more minutes per day if I want to hit my (quite lofty) goal of 1,750 fitness minutes this month.  (Why did I decide on such a high number during the shortest month of the year?  I guess I like to torture myself.  :))

Eating enough fruit has always been hard for me.  I enjoy eating veggies a lot more than I enjoy fruit.  (I know, I’m weird.)  I mean, I like fruit; I just prefer vegetables.  Plus if I want to eat fruit I have to do it while the kids are napping.  If I get out any type of fruit they stick to me like glue.  Maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to eat fruit…

But anyway, I did eat at least seven servings of fruit this week.  Woohoo!  I also ate at least one salad every day.  My favorite go to salad to eat (when I’m tired of lettuce) is a concoction my father in law came up with a few years ago.  You chop up some cucumber, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red/purple onion, celery, carrots and radishes and stir in a bit of EVOO and cracked black pepper.  Yum, yum!!  I could eat it all the time.  It’s especially good with fresh, homegrown vegetables straight out of the garden.  (Come on, spring!!)  I also enjoy it mixed with some baby spinach or mixed lettuces.

And now that I’ve made myself hungry, I guess that concludes this week’s update.  😀

Being Intentionally Focused: Part One

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How often do you intentionally focus on the task at hand?  Take a second to think about it.  I’ll wait. 🙂

For me, it’s rare.  While I’m cooking supper I’m thinking about what I need to get done before bed.  While I’m reading a book I’m easily distracted by whatever is going on around me.  During prayer my mind is prone to wander.  While I’m listening to my daughter sometimes I’m trying to check my email as well.  While I read blog posts — that would certainly bless me — I skim over them, just trying to glean the “important stuff” from them.

Life throws so many distractions at us.  We get so busy doing everything that we end up just being busy for the sake of being busy.   We thrive on it.  For a little while.  But the busyness always seems to lead to stress, frazzled nerves, unhappiness, loss of relationships and a whole host of other things.

What would your life be like if you were intentionally focused?

intentionally focused

Good Morning Girls began a new Bible study this week called “Intentionally Focused”.  {P.S. There is still time to get into it.  Just head on over to their site to find out more if you’re interested.  They have study materials, videos, virtual study groups and related blog posts — all for free.}  When I signed up I really wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.  I’m in my own study on the Proverbs 31 woman and wasn’t sure I wanted to give that up.

I was wrong.  I needed this one so much more.

I have learned so much about myself this week.  Some of it was hard to admit.  But you can’t change if you have a proud heart and an unwilling spirit.  Between this study and a book I’m reading, Christianish (affiliate link), God has really been dealing with me.

Here are some of the things God has shown me this week:

  1. I am an imitator.  We have a desire to imitate those we admire.  Some teens want to be like the latest big hit celebrity; some adults imitate their boss.  We were made to imitate the One who created us.  He is the only one who will never let us down. 
  2. I need to evaluate my time.  How do I spend my time?  Is it on things that truly matter or do I waste it on unimportant frivolities?  I’m not saying that I should be busy all the time.  In fact, I’m saying the exact opposite.  I should weed out the things that don’t matter so I can be more intentional about the things that do:  studying God’s Word, serving Him, serving my family, and doing His will.
  3. Doing what is right is hard; stop whining and suck it up.  It’s easy to get off track and to want to quit.  It’s easy to get lazy.  But we are called to persevere (Hebrews 12:1).  It’s not easy.  It’s not pretty.  It’s a wearying, grueling, and definitely not always fun.  But if we keep our eyes where they should be — on Jesus — we can finish the race.
  4. The past doesn’t matter.  Sure, you should learn from it.  But the sins that you have done and have already been forgiven for —  just let.them.go.  On the flip side, past virtuous deeds, accomplishments or achievements in the ministry need to be let go as well.  What matters is how you live your life from this moment forward.

Being intentionally focused isn’t something we just do in our spiritual lives.  We should be intentionally focused in all areas of our lives.  I should be intentionally focused on my husband, my children, my friendships, my family, my housework, my service to others, homeschooling, or anything else that I am called (or need) to do.

Ooh, how I wish it were easy.  But there really are no shortcuts in this.  I will fail.  Miserably at times, I’m sure.  But like it says in Hebrews 12, I must “run with perseverance the race marked out” for me.

So really, I didn’t give up the study on the Proverbs 31 woman.  I think she is intentionally focused in her life, and maybe being intentional is a good foundation for becoming more like the Proverbs 31 woman.

This is linked up at:

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My Journey to a More Disciplined Life

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One of my favorite bloggers, Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom, wrote an ebook last year called 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life.

I’ve had the book for a while but I hadn’t had (or made) the time to start on it.  Since recently adding homeschooling to the list of things that I have to do each day, I decided that now was probably the best time to learn to be more disciplined.

Because oh, how I need it.

Everyone has 24 hours in a day.  How I choose to use those hours is up to me.  And I don’t make very good choices sometimes.  In fact, my lack of self-discipline is sometimes quite appalling.

Making weekly goals does help me tremendously to stay on task (which is something else I learned from Money Saving Mom) but I need… more.

So the first thing I did was put a block on certain websites that seem to eat up my time without any real gain (sorry, Facebook).  I love the StayFocusd app available on Google Chrome.  I only allow myself a handful of minutes each day for these websites.  If I go over that the StayFocusd app shuts me down.  I love it.  And hate it.  But mostly love it.

And now I’m ready to actually read the book.

I know the book says it takes 21 days, but I’m giving myself more time than that.  I know  at this point in my life that it’ll be next to impossible to complete the assignments every day.  My aim is to complete five steps each week.  That way if I miss a day or two I won’t start beating myself up and just stop reading it altogether.

Yeah, that’s happened before.

Have you read the book?  How do you stay disciplined?

This post is linked at:

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One More Week…

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If you’ll bear with me one more week I promise I’ll be back.  A lot going on in this homemaker’s home lately (like every homemaker everywhere all the time!) like a sick child (with a fever we can.not.get.to.go.away) and day trips and overnight mini vacations while the in-laws are here.

I’m going to need a vacation to recover from my vacation!

But the in-laws will be leaving in a week, and we (thankfully) have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for my little one in a few hours.

So maybe my life will be back to “normal” in a week.

… Maybe.

But I’ll be back by then anyway because I miss this!

Some Time Off

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I have been taking a small break from blogging, as you may have noticed.  My in-laws are visiting us for a few more weeks and between them and the children I’ve had my hands full.  Some days I don’t even get to check my email!

So instead of staying up late trying to fit everything in I’ve decided to back off of my blogging and internet time for the duration of their visit.  There may still be an occasional post — I’m sure I’ll still do my end of the month “reality check” on my yearly goals — but my main priority right now is my family.

I’m still trying new recipes, working on DIY projects, and other tidbits that I’m sure I’ll be blogging about soon… but that’ll keep.

So until then enjoy life and make someone happy.