New Year, New Rules

Oh no! Another New Years resolution blog post! Yes! And no. 

Sure, I have goals, but this year I decided to set some new rules for myself. 

1) Be in bed, phone off, by 9:30. This ensures I get at least eight hours of sleep. I’ve been doing this for the past several days, and what a difference! I can think more clearly, I’m more focused, and I have more energy, but not in a manic, shakey, caffeine way.

2) No more caffeine. With getting more sleep, I’m finding I need less caffeine anyway, but the biggest motivation is the cost. We are a one-income family with two mortgages (anyone want to buy our beautiful lakefront house in Newport News, VA?), and my crippling Starbucks habit is NOT helping. I finished draining the money available in my app, then deleted it. 

Also, caffeinated beverages don’t really boost my energy anymore, and just kind of make me irritable. 

3) No more Facebook. It’s another crippling addiction. Since I deactivated my account a week ago, I’ve had more time to not just clean, but declutter and organize. Plus, I occasionally get angry about stuff, and I post it to Facebook, causing lots of butt hurt. Which brings me to…

4) Write it in a journal. When I post about how I really feel about things, people’s widdile feewings get hurt. Overly sensitive people can’t get their feelings hurt if I write how I feel in a journal. 

5) No more shopping from my phone. I buy a lot more crap than I need when I can jump on the app and hit “buy now.” You may remember I mentioned that we’re a one-income family with two mortgages. We can’t exactly afford for me to get whatever shiny catches my eye. So as soon as I get my last few books I ordered in, I’m deleting my Amazon and Ebates apps. 

Now don’t misunderstand, I plan to still shop online. It’s just now, I have to do it from my slow, frustrating computer. 
So there you have it, my rules for the rest of my life. I have other goals for the year in motion already, and I’ll post about them as I find motivation 😊

When your washer dies… 

Our washing machine has been making screeching noises for months now, but not every time we washed laundry. We thought we had more time with our machine. 

Yesterday, after the drum filled with dirty clothes, water, and laundry soap, the washer started to start agitating… and SCREECH! Then silence. Then black smoke. I immediately unplugged the washer, to HOPEFULLY keep my house from burning down. 
I’m screwed, right? We can’t call a repair person until Monday, but I can’t leave a load of laundry sitting in water either. Then I remembered my grandma and my great aunt (my grandma’s sister in law, who was like a blood sister, and they served in the Air Force together, and raised babies together. More on those amazing women another time) talking about washing clothes in the bathtub. What did I have to lose?  I jumped on YouTube for further instructions. 
Right off the bat, I ran into a problem. A couple problems, actually. We don’t own a plunger (we left ours at our previous house last summer), an our bathtub doesn’t plug. 
After running to Home Depot for a plunger (and a Christmas tree!), I set to work, um, this morning because I like my sleep, agitating the laundry IN the dead washer with my new plunger. 


Why yes, I am in my pajamas, and yes, that is bed hair. 
I plunged, and plunged, and stirred, and plunged, until the water was really dirty (probably about 20 minutes. Gonna have some big shoulders after this!). 

The bathtub may not plug, but it does have clean, hot water, and it can actually drain, unlike my dead washer. So, one by one, I pulled clothes out of the dirty water, squeezed out the excess water, then plopped them in a bucket for transport to my bathtub. 


Since the bucket wasn’t very big, I have to make two trips. I rinsed the first batch, then carried it back to the dryer. Then I repeated with the second batch. 


Fun times! 

The key here is to keep moving the item around and keep rinsing until the water runs clear. 
Once everything was rinsed, I threw it all in my (still working for now) dryer. Yay modern technology! 
I’m not sure if I’m going to wash laundry in this manner (after fixing the plug in the bathtub, of course), but it’s good to know that I can, and I know I saved the money and time of dragging it all to the laundry mat! 
Have you ever washed your clothes in a bathtub? 

I’m on FIRE!!

Yesterday I ran three miles. Okay, it was 60% walking, but the rest was running. It didn’t hurt. This is HUGE. 

Today I ran three miles. It was almost ten minutes faster, because I ran that much more! I still walked, but the improvement is there. 

I wanted to find my trainer and give him a gross, sweaty hug. His program, based on his physical therapy training, is WORKING. Fortunately for him, I didn’t find him. 

Stronger, faster, getting better every day. I want to cry, I’m so happy. 

My knees ache now, several hours after my run, but it’s bringing back memories of when I easily ran twice today’s distance. Yes, good memories are associated with my achy knees. 

For the first time in almost a year, I have hope. And it feels SO GOOD! 
Ice and oils tonight (yes, I jumped on the essential oils bandwagon), early to bed, easy walk and yoga tomorrow. 

The Eusta Bee

There’s this annoying insect that buzzes around my brain. I call it “the Eusta Bee.”

The Eusta Bee keeps you focused on what you used to be.

“I used to be strong.”

“I used to be tough.”

“I used to not complain.”

“I used to dig deeper.”

My poor trainer. Unfortunately he had to listen to the noise of the Eusta Bee during our session today. Despite lifting heavier than when I started working with him almost a month ago, despite having a LOT more strength and stability in my knee, the Eusta Bee’s buzzing prevented me from focusing on what I’m accomplishing NOW.

Shut up, Eusta Bee. I’m strong now. I’m tough now. I dig deep now.

 

The Beginning, Again

Once upon a time, there was a mom.

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She was a martial artist.

 

 

She was a runner, and an athlete.

 

 

She amazed herself more every day with what her body and mind could do.

 

One night, during her tae kwon do class, she got injured. To be fair, the flip looked amazing, and it was pretty darn cool that at her age and size, she was able to flips in the first place. But a wrong landing was about to rock her world, and destroy everything she worked for.

After fighting with military medical personnel, she finally got the surgery to repair her torn ACL.

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Surprisingly, the surgery wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was everything after. Using the bathroom was hard. Bathing was hard. Trusting her knee enough to put weight on it, walking with crutches, walking without crutches, physical therapy, all difficult.

But the most difficult thing of all, was the toll it took on her mind and spirit. From softball in middle school, cross country in high school, joining the army at 17, getting out at 25 and getting certified as a personal trainer, all those races, the miles, the hours, the obstacles, she was always an athlete. A fat athlete, but an athlete. Struggling with things that used to come easy quickly wore her spirit down. Not being able to do tae kwon do and not being able to run, nearly destroyed any hope she had left of having a life worth living (as opposed to just existing).

Fast-forward to almost a year after the injury, and nine months since surgery, and that former athlete is finally seeing some tiny glimmer of hope that she can be an athlete again.

“You’re not broken,” her trainer, who was helping her further her rehabilitation, said one session, when the mom started to wonder why she was still doing this. “Why try?” she said, “I’m broken and these workouts aren’t getting any easier. I feel like I’m not progressing.”

Her trainer assured her she was, but it wasn’t until last week that she realized she really was getting stronger. She was getting so strong, and improving so much that her trainer encouraged her to start training for a race. Not a marathon, obviously, not yet anyway, but a 5K fun run.

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So here we are, 11 months after the night I failed at a flip, and 9 months after surgery, and I am publicly proclaiming my intention to run a half-marathon by my birthday next April. It will be a million times harder this time around than the last couple times, but I need something to work toward to keep my spirits up. Someone hold me to this.

Oh, and yes I’m aware my pictures are sideways. I have no idea how to fix it in the limited time I have. Since moving to the boonies, my internet is spotty at best, so I’m actually writing this blog in a Starbucks at 8:30 at night (when I should be at home getting the kids in bed). Eventually, I’ll have a good internet day and I will fix my pictures then. If I didn’t hammer out this post before I start training tomorrow, I wasn’t going to get this post posted at all (see: the last year where I broke my knee, had surgery, watched my oldest get his black belt, went on a cross-country road trip by myself and another with my kids, and a cross-country move and me getting a trainer, and none of it was blogged about).

If you read this whole post, thanks! My blog and its posts will get more polished, and SHORTER as I get better at this 🙂

 

A Couple Things I’ve Accomplished, Plus How I Plan To Go Forward

This year has been a pretty awesome year for me. I earned my black belt in March, ran my second half-marathon (which was also part of a three-day series including a 5k on Friday, an 8k on Saturday, and the half on Sunday), and my Damsel in Defense business exploded (I have a team, and my parties and vendor events are consistent, finally!)

I had people in one of my Facebook groups ask me how I did it. Answer, schedules, routines, and priorities.

First, I worked the minimum on my business while I was earning my black belt. Then I slowed down on Tae Kwon Do while training for my races, while building my business by pointing out my credibility as a person who could teach you about self-defense because I earned my black belt (plus I’m former military law enforcement, so I have that going for me as well).

Did I mention that I homeschool my four children as well? This is where the importance of a schedule comes into play.

Everyone has their preference as far as how to schedule, and I’m no different. I based my schedule on the “Managers Of Their Homes” from Titus2.com. Basically, list the things you need to do (meal prep, basic housekeeping, school time with the kids) and how much time it takes, list the things you’d like to get done (hobbies, a set declutter time, working out, quiet reading time) and how much time it takes, then transfer the must-dos to little bits of paper and stick them to your schedule board. Repeat with like-to-dos, then do the same thing for each child (you could try to schedule your husband’s time, but I don’t).

It takes time to set up, but it is so worth it! I may do a more detailed post about Managers Of Their Homes another time.

Now I’m in a new transition. I’d like to start lifting weights again, plus I’m training for a Marathon that’s happening in March 2016. Also, I’d be lying to you and to myself if I didn’t admit I’d like to lose 40 pounds as well, partially for vanity, but mostly so it’s easier to do Tae Kwon Do and run! As a black belt, I have a lot more jump kicks in my forms and fighting combinations, and hauling all that weight into the air is hard! I’d also like to get my run time down, and I know from past experience that its easier to be faster when you’re not dragging an extra 20-30-40 pounds.

Also, my kids are involved with more activities since they’re older, including swim lessons for the younger boys, Scouts for the older boys, and my nine-year-old recently got into rock wall climbing. And of course I still have two in Tae Kwon Do. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not.

It all comes down to scheduling and priorities. I have a set time every afternoon after lunch, after my youngest goes down for a nap, where the big kids read quietly and rest for an hour, and I make all my business phone calls, check in on my business-related Facebook groups, and answer business-related emails and Facebook messages. Some people refer to this as a “power hour,” and yes, intense focus for an hour can do some crazy things for you home business! I’ll write a post on the Power Hour later.

What have you accomplished this year, and how do plan on ending this year with a bang?

31 Days of Spending Zero– Day 2

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Day two of 31 Days Of Living Well And Spending Zero has us cleaning out our pantries and cupboards and inventorying our freezers. Makes sense! This month we’re going to use up what we have, but how can we use up what have if we don’t know what we have?

Since my husband is retiring from the Army next spring, I’ve been using more of our food storage so we have less to take with us when the time comes. This project was actually really easy!

 

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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And here’s my pantry inventory. Please don’t judge harshly!

 

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I put the inventory sheet into a page protector so I can easily wipe off stuff as we use it. Aaaannd, you can see that I did already!

 

 

31 Days Of Spending Zero– Day One

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My husband is retiring from the Army next year. Oh, yes, he’s actively looking for employment for when he gets out, but we have been so spoiled! In addition to his base pay, we also get housing allowance, and health, dental and vision insurance. Short of a job in D. C. (shudder), there is really no job out there that can match what he gets in the Army.

Before everyone starts jumping all over me (why don’t you get a job!), I feel I must point out that I homeschool our four children. I also run a small party-plan business that at this point is not replacing his income. Since home educating our children is a priority for both of us, I will not be able to get a job outside the home (well, I could go back to bartending a few nights a week, if we were that desperate).

As I’m sure those of you who are also stay-at-home-moms know, one of the best ways we can help with the family finances is to be frugal. I’m no spendthrift, we don’t hit the drive-throughs, we try to mainly make food from scratch, we shop the grocery sales and buy generic, we hand down clothes and shoes until they’re falling apart, we shop thrift stores and clearance racks (sometimes I find clothing on a clearance rack that costs less than the same thing used from a thrift store), we outright own our older used vehicles, and we don’t have cable.

BUT, I am guilty of almost daily Starbucks beverages. And not the $2 cup of plain coffee, the $5.83 grande pumpkin spice latte type coffee. That’s *gasp* about $30 a WEEK before tips! That’s $120 a month! And don’t get me started on the ice cream runs, and the couponing (uh, that will be the end of me). “I thought couponing saves you money?” No, not always. Sometimes it tempts you to spend a whole lot, a dollar or two at a time.

So when I saw this “31 Days of living well and spending zero” challenge hosted by Ruth Soukup at Living Well Spending Less, I decided now was as good a time as any to cut out the extra spending. I think it would be a great kickoff to a new habit of overall spending less than I do now.

With pledge signed, I’m ready to embark on this fun challenge!

Blog I’m loving right now

Several years ago, while visiting my in-laws in California, I found a Sunset magazine amongst the stacks of reading material my in-laws displayed on their coffee table.

One particular story really grabbed my attention, and it has been on my mind ever since. It’s about a zero-waste family, yes, family, with kids and a dog. They bring their own jars and bags to the grocery store, only buy clothes from a thrift store, and compost everything. They end up with only about two handfuls of actual trash A YEAR. The clean, minimalist look of their home both took my breath away and made me a little envious.

This morning, as I was thinking about how I’d love to own even less than I do, I thought about that article. After a quick search, I was delighted to discover that yes, the magazine actually posted this story online!

 

Even better, it turns out the female head of the household has a blog!! Check it out for a little zero waste/minimalist inspiration!