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!

 

 

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!

The Declutter Project

I’m not Catholic, but I love participating in Lent every year. In the past I’ve given up coffee (hard), caffeine (even harder), and decluttered forty bags of random stuff in forty days (not as hard, but way more rewarding).

Fast forward to now, I no longer drink coffee, I’m still a caffeine addict (I love you Red Bull, even though you are horrible for me!), aaaaaannnnd I still have loads of clutter. The Red Bull thing is sorting itself out since I’m on a 30-day no spend challenge (and what a challenge it is! I’ll blog about it some other time), and energy drinks are most decidedly NOT an essential item. So this year I’m focusing on the clutter again.

Recently I’ve read, and reread, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which is not so much about “getting rid of stuff you don’t need” as it is “only keeping what you love.” She works by categories, not rooms or spaces. I’ve already gone through my clothes and my books, and when you gather up everything in your house that belongs in your current category, it’s overwhelming, if not a little horrifying. You don’t truly know how much you have until it’s all piled on your bed or in the middle of the kids’ playroom floor.

I’ll be honest, the next category on the KonMari method list is papers, and I’ve been procrastinating for a couple weeks on this. With Lent coming up, and my goal to complete another 40 bags in 40 days, I should be tackling those huge stacks and boxes soon. And until I get the courage to attack the paper, I’ll be working on the rest of the stuff in the house.

My secondary goal is to post 40 blog posts during that time. Ha ha! Wish me luck on that one!

What are you giving up/doing for Lent (which starts this coming Wednesday)? Let me know in the comment section!

I’m back, kind of? Maybe?

So I’ve been working on my fit project, which I tried to turn into a blog, but ended up doing a Facebook page instead.

Lately I’ve had a few things floating around in my head and I thought, “I should write a few blog posts about this stuff!”

So, I’m not going to promise amazing, informative content seven days a week, but I would like to make blogging a habit over the month of December. Until then, I’ll post a few things here sporadically, like the art projects and food crafts we have planned over the next couple weeks, with plenty of links back to the original source (I’m not *that* creative on my own!).

Ms. Fix-It!

Sadly I didn’t get any pictures, but several months ago I had a “do as I say, not as I do” moment and threw a toy in the house, into the playroom. Well, it hit the wall and made a small hole (my boys have lots of metal cars and airplanes which are pretty heavy for their size). Of course I am a bit of procrastinator, especially when it comes to stuff I don’t know how to do (in this case, patch up a hole in the drywall), so it wasn’t until I began to seriously consider moving to a new rental within our neighborhood that I got off my tail-end and fix the hole.

A couple days ago, while the big boys were making their little wood-working project at Lowe’s (we attend every event because it’s free, and my boys are learning valuable skills in following directions, using tools, and all that other manly stuff), I wandered over to the paint area where, HOORAY, I found a patch kit. I plugged up the hole that night, and this morning I went back to get paint to cover the patch.

Considering we live in a ramshackle dump owned by a slumlord (things we did not know at the time we decided to rent this place), my not-as-pretty-as-I-hoped patch job actually matched other patches the slumlord’s brother-in-law or cousin or whoever she calls her “handy man” did before we moved in. So yay!

I’m excited that I learned a new skill! With practice (and there are other holes the slumlord didn’t fix before we moved in), I think I could get pretty good. Well, maybe not.

And now, we pray hard about the two houses we’re thinking about renting. Moving is hard, even if it is just a block over, but then again, I’m not sure I want to stay in a house where, shortly after we moved in we discovered the refrigerator didn’t work properly and instead of investing in a new refrigerator, the slumlord moved the fridge from her other rental into our house. And now, less than a year later, this one is slowly warming up, even with both the fridge and freezer set to maximum cold and the doors not being opened frequently. That’s only the tippy-top of the iceberg of everything wrong with this house, but I don’t want to list everything. I want to move, but it has to be in the Lord’s timing (and Dave kind of has to be willing to move too, boo).

Sorry for the huge gap, but we have been busy so far this summer! Between church/VBS and homeschooling, I’ve hardly had time to sleep, let alone write blog posts! But I will write more on homeschooling later (it has been a blast and I pray daily that I can convince my husband to let me do it officially next year).

Looong Day!

This is my first full day without my husband (who is on a trip visiting several libraries and the National Archive for his graduate thesis). This is not my first time taking care of everything while he’s gone (he’s been in the Army since before we got married, so between a year-long deployment and several trainings ranging from one week to six months, I’m used to “holding down the fort”), and I have my routines preset and ready for me to rock after he leaves.

One of those routines is getting up early (5:20 a.m.) so I can shower and dress before the kids get up. This morning, the baby decided to wake up at 4:50. After nursing and changing him, he was ready to go back to bed at 5:15. Joy.

While the baby had his morning nap, I worked on a big project of mine, clearing out and reorganizing my older boys’ room. It was nuts how much junk accumulated in their room! When I sent them in to pick up their room a few days ago, they threw toys in the trash bag along with trash simply because they didn’t want to play with them any more (why they have THAT many toys is another, mother-in-law related story that I will tell another time, ugh). Since I didn’t want them throwing away functional, non-broken toys, I took it upon myself to clear out their room for them.

I had a planned nap at 1p.m., but the baby fought going down. I decided for sanity’s sake I would put him in his crib, hope he went to sleep, and take a quick 30 minute nap myself. No nap for me, ha ha! My three-year-old, who is potty-training, decided that he had to go potty every five minutes. So just as I would start to doze off, “Mama, I have to go potty.” Finally, after the 5th trip to the potty, the baby started crying so I gave up on a nap and got him out of bed.

Now, the baby isn’t so much a baby as he is a young toddler (just started walking about two weeks ago), so between keeping him out of EVERYTHING (I’m working on dejunking his room too… it’s our storage for boxes we have yet to unpack), and jumping up to help my rambunctious potty-training preschooler (who kept asking for something to drink ALL THE TIME), I was feeling run-down to the point of wanting to cry by 2 p.m.

Fortunately then rest of the day ran fairly smooth, but cooking for and caring for four children by yourself is a lot of work (I wouldn’t trade it for the world), and it definitely compounded my weariness. (Oh, and the older kids and I made cake pops. We finished our chores early, and I like to give them a project to keep them from running around the house like wild animals).

It is now just after 8 p.m. and the baby is wide awake, and I still have stuff to do like water outside plants (I can’t take him with me), and call my husband and try to come up with something interesting to say (I really don’t have anything), and drag it out for 30 minutes, then feel guilty when I get off the phone after such a short amount of time. I just want sleep! Am I so selfish for wanting a little sleep?

Ok, whining done. I’m going to put the baby down whether he likes it or not. Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Cleaning/Organizing Projects

Since deciding that going primal for me and gluten-free/casein-free/soy-free for the kids would be beneficial for our health, I realized step one would be cleaning out the pantry. If it’s not there, we can’t eat it. I started this project this morning, but decided to hold off until I could get a picture of the mess that is my pantry, plus I need to wait until the baby goes down for a nap.

Then I thought, why stop at the pantry? So I decided that I will clear out my desk, my dresser/closet, my kids’ rooms, and eventually my garage. And you, my lucky readers, get to see the progress! Ha ha! Actually, putting my goals on my blog help keep me accountable, so really, you all are helping me! Thank you! Oh, and this will help fulfill a couple of my 101/1001 goals (getting organized, owning less than I do now, and by selling off the excess, starting the emergency savings fund. Oh, and blogging about my projects, i should be able to complete the write a blog every day for 30 days goal. Much accomplishment all around!).

So here we are, a few days into the new year. I trust you’ve written out your goals? What steps are you taking to accomplish them?

OMGosh! New Year’s Resolutions!!

 

 

YES!!!! It’s that time again, time to make our New Year’s Resolutions (NYR).

I love beginnings. I admit I like starting projects on Mondays, and the first day of the month, and I get downright giddy when the first of the month falls on a Monday. Sadly, the new year and the new month fall on a Sunday, but it doesn’t change the fact that I love the first day of a new month, and the beginning of a new year is just a bonus.My excitement for the new year is less about the year and more about the month.

That said, my NYRs include completing half my 101/1001 list, and going Paleo/Primal (and at least getting my kids gluten-free since from what I read, GF can help children with difficulties focusing). And, ok, I admit it, my other NYR is also the number one NYR in the country, lose weight (about 10 lbs, and I will be talking about it here, yay for you LOL!). Oh, and finish decluttering and getting organized (Christmas didn’t set back my progress as much as I feared).

I just bought the book The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson, as well as his cookbook The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, but my real first step will be throwing out the processed stuff and only eating real food. Processed stuff masquerades as “healthy” with its low-fat and low-calorie label, so don’t think that just because you cut out your Chips Ahoy and switched to organic low-fat cookies that you’re really doing your self a favor, it’s still junk.

As for the fitness aspect, of course I plan on teaching Turbo Kick (and I’m going to get certified to teach PiYo as well), and even though it goes against Mark’s teachings, I also have a half marathon lined up a couple months from now (I don’t expect to lose a pound while training for that). What Mark DOES suggest is sprinting, or some other High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which my favorite DVD series, Turbo Fire, has. I plan on using the shorter HIIT workouts when I don’t feel like sprinting outside (it gets really, REALLY HOT in the summer here).

So what are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions?

 

Building My Routines Part Two

Yesterday I talked about why I wanted to start building daily routines both for myself and for my children. Today, I want to give you a rough idea of how I’ve been building. Please note that I am using both Fly Lady‘s system, and www.titus2.com‘s “Manager’s Of Their Chores” book, and I did not come up with all of this on my own.

First thing Fly Lady asks us to do is shine our sinks. I admit I didn’t start doing that until last week, and I found Fly Lady several years ago! I’m not just building my routines, I’m training my children, so shining my sink became a priority. Here’s why: My oldest son’s job is to empty the dishwasher. When he would give me attitude (he has since adjusted it) I would point out that I can’t do my job (washing dishes, loading dishwasher) if he doesn’t do his. It hit me about a week ago, that by not keeping my sink cleaned out, I’m not showing my son that I do mean it when I say that we are a team. I’m not doing my part if I’m not keeping up on the dishes. I have since committed to (and following through with) washing dishes/loading the dishwasher as dishes are dirtied. A bonus to this is by keeping my sink clear, dishes don’t pile up on my counters, helping keep those clear, which helps my kitchen at least *look* neater.

Another thing Fly Lady asks is that we “swish and swipe,” doing a quick wipe down of the bathroom every morning. Fast wipe of the counter and sink, swift swirl of the toilet brush in the bowl (I also wipe the rest of the toilet). This is not a deep cleaning, this is a literally for me a two minute job. And I do it after I get dressed for the gym first thing in the morning, or at the latest, after I get out of the shower and I’m dressed and made up and still in the bathroom. I have started having my five-year-old do the same in the front bathroom, and it was easier to get him to do it without complaint when I explained that I do this every morning too. Because I strive to always tell my children the truth (even if it is the kid-friendly, sanitized version), I realized I just made myself accountable.

And it’s this accountability that has spurred more effort in keeping up the house. If I’m going to tell my children that they need to help out around the house, well, I better be helping out around the house too. So I also set aside time in the morning, after everyone is at school and I’m home from the gym to do a quick pickup of the house. As simplistic as this sounds, I have found that if I continually pick up items that are not in their correct places, the bigger cleaning tasks, such as vacuuming or mopping, aren’t so overwhelming (having to stop vacuuming before you start because of toys, random papers, etc makes a relatively simple task that much bigger. Much easier to take care of things as you see them).

So I have my morning “swish and swipe,” check Facebook over breakfast, dress the little boys, check on the older two’s chores, and then we’re out the door.

After I get home from the gym and shower, it’s really fast pick up the house #1, feed everyone at home, and during nap time I catch up on FB (I like to offer up advice on fitness, ESPECIALLY to pregnant women, and weight loss, preaching the good word of clean eating and weight lifting, smacking down the idea that 1,200 calories a day is enough to fuel the exercising person desiring weight loss), listen to or view business motivational calls and webinars, and do laundry.

The only change to this is on the days that the younger two are at our church’s “Mother’s Day Out” program, where I get four hours to do vacuuming, mopping, and my ongoing declutter project in the baby’s room.

I just realized how long this is! I guess I’m going to turn this into a three part series! Join me tomorrow for the “exciting” (ha ha!) conclusion of where I am now, and where I want to be!

But real quick, what are some of the things that you MUST do every day (besides shower and brush your teeth!)?