Family Goal Night

Goals Board2

There is nothing that makes me more anxious or feel more like a kid pretending to be a grown up than “goal-setting.” Am I right? For a recovering perfectionist like me, setting goals has become one of my most difficult tasks. In the past, setting a goal meant I had to accomplish said goal (in record time, with pizazz and sparklers) or else the whole practice was a total bust. Not achieving my goals equaled failure, which was obviously not an option. So when I decided to change my life, and become someone who is more satisfied with what she has and who she is, instead of what she wants and who she wants to be…well, goal-setting became a bit of a challenge. How was I supposed to have goals, but also be satisfied with where I am right now? Am I complacent? Am I passive?

One book that really helped me move forward and get to a place where I wasn’t asking myself hypothetical questions all day was The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. This book has been recommended to me a zillion times, but this summer I finally picked it up from my local library. I loved it. The way that Ms. Rubin breaks down goals into monthly mini-goals, and also changes the language around goal-setting (calling them “resolutions” instead of goals, as resolutions are something you are continuously working toward, while goals are something you check off your to-do list), which helped me immensely. After reading The Happiness Project and downloading some of the materials of Rubin’s website, I felt ready to move ahead.

Thus entered Family Goal Night! Trent is a huge fan of goals and goal-measurement, so he was thrilled I was finally on-board with the idea of “family goals.” We both did research on the best ways to present and create goals as a family and as individuals, then we scheduled a night for us all to work on the project as a family. We all went to our local craft store and picked up poster board, a million stickers, glitter glue, and anything else that got the kids excited to work on this project. We ended up creating a crazy goal board, which was designed mostly by the kids and is completely nuts and wonderful. Sure, it’s no Martha Stewart creation, but that wasn’t the point! We wanted the kids to have ownership over the board and be excited about it, and by letting them go to town with the glitter glue, we got just that. We hung the board right by our garage door, where we leave the house every day and can see it.

Each of us decided to take on three goals and to work toward them for the next three months. Trent fixed whiteboard calendars to the Goal Board, where we can track our progress. All of our goals are different, but reflect who we are and our level of understanding. For example, my three goals are:

1. Declutter the House
2. More Date Nights with Trent
3. Revamp and Organize the Blog

Tate’s three goals are:

1. Poop and Pee in the Potty
2. Sleep in His Own Bed All Night
3. Play More Golf with Daddy

Obviously, the goals relate to the age of the person setting them!

We also created Family Goals for us to all work on together. These include doing charity work and spending more time together as a family. Whenever we do something that moves us closer to our goals, we mark it on the whiteboard calendar, and each month we plan on having a family meeting where we can talk about where we are with our goals, get help, and ask questions.

We are so excited about this process, but we are sure it will change as we go. What about you? Does your family set goals together? How to do you work toward them? How do you get your kids excited to participate? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Goals Board1

Friday Kitchen Dance Par-tay!!!

Because it’s Friday and what’s a blog for if not for dancing around like a doofus for the whole wide Internet to see?

The world has seemed like a scary place, lately. I know that dancing around my kitchen won’t change the world, but I feel like finding the fun when you’re afraid could maybe help, even just a little bit. Dancing when you’re scared, laughing when you’re angry, helping others when you are hurting…I really do believe this can change our world for the better. So find the fun today, friends! Dance and laugh and love. It really is the easier, softer way.

Growing Up Mobile: 4 Ways to Manage Screentime with Small Kids

BFF FaceTime on your birthday is the perfect cure for a little homesickness ❤️ #facetime #ipod #birthday #happy #fun

For the past few months I’ve been lucky to work with Pixelkin.org, a website dedicated to helping techy parents (or parents who want to be more techy) navigate the world of technology and kids. My recent post is up now, and it’s all about managing screen time with small kids.

Managing screentime in the summer can be so difficult, especially when you’re a work-at-home parent like I am. I struggle with needing peace and quiet so I can finish a project or an email, and it’s so easy to turn on a device to get the kids out of my hair. But the more time they seem to spend on the iPod and iPad, the more moody and cranky they tend to be!

Learn how we are dealing with the screentime issues by clicking here and reading the rest of my post on Pixelkin!

CB Reads : David and Goliath + I Am Malala

Pretty good haul for mama at the library too! #johnsoncountylibrary #librariesrule #malala #malcomgladwell #read

During the past few months I’ve turned into a bit of a bookworm. Our open summer schedule meant many, MANY trips to our local library to beat the heat and gather up some new reading material. Lucy is a speed-reader who goes through several chapter books at a time, so we ended up spending A LOT of our summer hours curled up with our stories. Not only does my local library have an amazing selection, it also offers ebooks, which I can download on my iPad. I’m such a nerd-face, you should’ve seen me when I realized I could get books for FREE! It’s like I forgot how libraries work in this land of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I ended up mirroring my daughter, going through a ton of books, and staying up all night reading. It was pretty awesome.

One of my favorites was David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. I had heard about this book from a few people, and had even attended a seminar where the speaker based his argument on stories included in this collection. The book is a series of essays by Gladwell, a New Yorker columnist and author of a ton of other incredible reads (more here), focusing on the underdogs of society and how they overcame adversity. More specifically, it hones in on how underdogs, in reality, are sometimes nothing of the sort. In the titular essay, Gladwell writes about David, the young shepherd boy who slayed the giant Goliath in the famous Bible story. But was David really an underdog? Or was he smarter, faster and more prepared than Goliath? Did his size work for him, instead of against him? Gladwell is a wonderful writer, and this book was no exception. The section on the Civil Rights Era and the Irish-Catholic resistance against the British are both very intriguing and relate very much to what’s happening in the news right now. I highly recommend it for underdogs (and giants) everywhere.

I also recently finished the autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai. It tells the story of Malala, who was 15 when her school bus was pulled over by Taliban fighters, who climbed aboard and shot her. Malala was the writer of an online journal for the BBC, which told of her struggles in trying to continue attending school after the Taliban took over her home in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Her story is definitely worth reading. This book reminded me a bit of Anne Frank, the journals and memories of a young girl living thru a war, with stories about fights with friends and being angry at her brothers mixed in with tales of Taliban fighters roaming her town and threats against any girls attending school. It is heartbreaking and uplifting, as Malala continues to fight for education for girls, even after surviving such a terrifying ordeal.

The world is a scary place today. I watch the news and see the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri and Mosul, Iraq. I don’t know what to make of a world where an unarmed boy is shot by police or children are murdered for their religious beliefs. I don’t know how I can help or what I can do. But books like these make me think a better world is possible, and there are people that are working to get us there. When I read, I am growing, and with growth, I believe I can be inspired to find a way to help. Let’s keep learning, friends. Let’s keep growing.

We May Contribute a Verse

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The other day I was at a restaurant opening with my friend Lane of Missalaneyus and we were chatting about blogging. I was just about to come back from my self-imposed hiatus, and I mentioned how I’d had this silly, little blog for 10 years. It’s been a long time, guys. A really long time. The blog has gone through so many changes, redesigns and directions in those 10 years, evolving as all things must. But especially this past year, I have found blogging to be a difficult, tedious task. There has been so much going on in my life personally this past year and a half, and while in the past, blogging about difficulties in my life was therapeutic, it just wasn’t an option this time. That made blogging really, really hard, because at the heart of it all, this blog is for sharing my life. I’d post here about a cute outfit or photoshoot, and I felt like a fraud, because I was putting on a happy face while my universe was spinning out of control.

A very positive change that has occurred in the past year is I am no longer very good at “putting on a happy face.” This was my go-to mode for dealing with stress or any other negative emotion in the past. I’d pretend it was all okay and stuff all the yucky stuff deep down inside. While I do believe that positive thinking and gratitude can change lives, pretending like is all rainbows and unicorns when it simply ISN’T just doesn’t work for me anymore. Around the time I realized this phenomenon, blogging became impossible. I’d sit in front of my desktop, willing myself to type out something (ANYTHING!), but nothing would come out. Blogging became a chore, something I hated to even think about, let alone a way to spend my free time. I became anxious and irritable whenever I felt I “needed” to write something. Blogging was once a hobby that I loved…now it was just another item on my endless to-do list. I needed a change.

I spent the last month of the summer really thinking about my life. What do I need on a daily basis to feel generally happy, fulfilled and good about my existence? I asked myself this question often, and spent a lot of time testing out new and old activities, trying to find a healthy balance. I am still not sure of all the answers, but I realized a few things:

- I need time to myself on a daily basis to pray or meditate (or both, if possible!)
- I need a good night’s sleep, which for me means 7 to 8 hours
- I need to get up at least an hour before my kids in the morning to get my day started
- I need to spend time reading a book every day
- I need to do something for fun with my kids
- I need to be grateful and write down what I’m thankful for
- I need to show kindness and love to my husband
- I need to move my body
- I need to reach out to supportive people in my life
- I need to do something kind for someone else

Notice a few items missing? Me too! I always assumed watching TV or movies would be at the top of my list, since I enjoy those things so much, but I found on the days I skipped that activity, I didn’t feel any worse for it. Also, blogging? Not on the list. Taking photos? Not on the list. Now, I’m not sure if it will stay this way, but for now, those activities aren’t making me happy, just stressing me out. I need to fall in love with them again, before they are a daily necessity.

This is a first step. When I started this blog, it was just to write. To write because my life and my experience on this earth are of value. To write because maybe something that I have gone thru may help someone else in the same position. To write so my kids can read this one day and know me as a person, instead of just their mom. To write because writing is how I understand the world around me. Horrible things are happening in our world, and while I may not be able to write about all of them, I have my own life experiences, and writing them down and sharing them is a service. All of our voices are worthy. We all have stories to tell. I am lucky to have this space and these words. I am going to try and not take that for granted.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering…these are noble pursuits, necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love…these are what we stay alive for! To quote from Whitman,

‘Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists and identity.
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.’”

- Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

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