2017: Goals and Resolutions

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I like having the reminder to sit back, reevaluate your life, and have some sort of beginning to encourage you to start anew. The holidays can get crazy and I usually am craving a reset after it is over. I feel like resolutions seem so cliché, but whatever. I’m gonna continue making them. I found achieving my goal to read a certain number of books last year was really empowering, and I’d like to focus this year on having achievable goals like that. So, here is my attempt! 

1. Continue reading

I want to try to maintain my 24 books a year pace, since I think that was doable for me. I’d like to challenge myself to read some authors that I’ve never read before;  Agatha Christie and Jane Austin (gasp! I know!) are two on that list.

2. Write more

I’m not talking about Facebook posts here. I’d like to challenge myself to write more thoughtful content this year. IT doesn’t matter the medium – blog? Journal? Just as long as I’m writing. 

3. Be creative

And specifically, by doing something that uses my hands and is not on a screen. I might try to learn crochet this year. Or maybe I’ll find something else. Perhaps start sewing again? Or cross-stitch? In 2016 I did like one project only, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do “more” of this. ;-)

4. Build healthy habits

With this, I am referring to eating and exercising specifically. I want to end 2017 with some healthy habits in place that I’m not doing now. Making wise food choices. Finding a more consistent exercise routine. I have some baby steps in mind, but I won’t share since I don’t want unsolicited opinions. :-) (I know there is a huge range of opinions on what is healthy and good. I find that all those differing perspectives just make me shut down and do nothing.)

5. Make wise choices financially

I guess this one will be hard to quantify, unless I just celebrate every wise choice. But we are giving YNAB a try again, after several attempts to get in the habit last year failed. This time, I made Paul watch some videos with me and I think that’s going to help keep us on the same page. Of course, we’re one day in and I haven’t written down my purchases yet so… 

I hope these are achievable and a way for me to challenge myself instead of the same old resolutions I have every year. I might revisit them with some specific goals/milestones later.

Happy New Year to my 3 remaining readers! ;-) Thank you for not giving up on me, ha!


Happy New Year! 2016 recap

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I can’t believe we are in the final few hours of 2016! What a year it’s been. For many, it’s been a mostly negative year. I think I feel fairly neutral about the year as a whole, as it affects me personally. Good things and bad things happened. I’m nervous about some things in the future, and hopeful about others.

I wanted to revisit my goals that I wrote about here and see how I did. I’m pleased with how I challenged myself with #3 and that has made me feel really good about my year as a whole, even if it was just a small thing. I like the idea of setting achievable goals. I am ruminating on some for 2017, so I’ll be back with those. (Maybe. ;-) )

My 2016 goals, and my response to them:
1) Draw closer to Christ.
– This is always a journey and I won’t ever be able to check it off. For this year, I do think I was able to make some positive changes in this area. I have been more conscious about how external influences affect me, and made some changes with this in mind. Hopefully I can continue to do this even more in 2017.

2) Be more present with my kids.
– I completely failed on this one. Some days I do okay, but I still have a lot to work on.

3) Read for pleasure.
– This goal ended up being so empowering! I initially set a goal of 12 books, but when I hit that this summer, I decided to shoot for 24 books – and did it! A few of the books I read were really impactful in my life this year. I picked up several that I’ve always been meaning to read, and I’m so glad I did. I look forward to having this goal again for 2017.

4) Journal.
– I didn’t do very well at this. I did get a journal that encouraged creative writing – giving you just the first sentence, and you finish it. I enjoyed that for a little bit, but eventually it fell by the wayside.

5) Make a budget and stick to it.
– Ha! I have this goal every year, and every year I fail miserably. I did purchase YNAB and I got our budget all figured out, but then I did horrible about recording transactions and sticking to the categories. Last night, Paul and I watched a few YNAB videos and are committed to setting it up and holding to it this year. We’ll see. ;-)

6) Develop good habits with housekeeping.
– Another big fat nope. Ah, well.

7) Learn to crochet
– I actually bought a “how to” book and yarn and started teaching myself. I got the very basics, but then couldn’t figure it out when it got more complicated. I wanted to take a class, but I was basically a single parent for much of the year so that just wasn’t going to happen. But, I’ve a little bit lost my interest so we’ll see. I did pick up cross-stitching again! I enjoy that a lot.


Happy Thanksgiving! And more books :-)

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Thanksgiving is in two days!

I pulled out our Thanksgiving books today (we’ve been traveling, which is why I’m so late with this) and read them to the girls. I thought I’d share. (Next week I plan to do an update for my Christmas books now that it’s been a few years.)

(All italic descriptions from Amazon.com, and asterisks mark my own thoughts on the book.)

1621: A New Lok at Thanksgiving

I got these two books from the library after seeing recommendations for them in one of my Facebook groups…

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac with Plimoth Plantation

Countering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.
** We have visited Plimoth Plantation several times since my in-laws live fairly close, and this book covers a lot of what is talked about when you visit Plimoth. It’s a bit more informative of a book, so I mostly skimmed it with the girls. It’s a really good look at the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag people, and the actual facts of the traditional “First Thanksgiving”. I am glad to be able to talk about these things with my kids.

Sarah Gives Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday
by Mike Allegra

During the nineteenth century, Sarah Josepha Hale dedicated her life to making Thanksgiving a national holiday, all while raising a family and becoming a groundbreaking writer and women’s magazine editor. Sarah Hale’s inspiring story, accompanied by luscious watercolor illustrations, tells the tale of one woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
** A great story that talks about how Thanksgiving became a national holiday, without it being about Pilgrims. I enjoyed this story of a widow who was persistent in her quests for her passions. Also, a good reminder to be thankful for what you have even in times of little.

Saying Grace

These are a few of the Thanksgiving-themed books we own. (The others I think are more twaddle-ish, which is why I didn’t include them here.)

Saying Grace: A Prayer of Thanksgiving
by Virginia Kroll

Find special mealtime prayers and Thanksgiving activities inside! Grace’s mind was racing. What was that spelling word that meant ‘great generosity in giving’? She squeezed her eyes shut, and it came to her. Bounty. That was the word! Journey back in time with Grace and relive both the hardships and blessings along with her pioneer family. Saying Grace tells the story of one girl and her discovery of the value of mealtime prayer at her family’s first Thanksgiving.
** Another nice story of one family’s Thanksgiving celebration without it being about the Pilgrims. My favorite part of this book are the beautiful illustrations. This is a Christian book about giving thanks and praying before mealtimes.

Pilgrim Cat
by Carol Antoinette Peacock

When young Pilgrim Faith Barrett discovers a stray cat on the Mayflower, she names her new friend Pounce. Together they face the long, cramped voyage and the perils of the first winter at the Plymouth colony.
** I picked this up this past summer when we visited Plimoth because it was about a cat (of course). It’s a cute little story that follows a little girl and her mouser cat on the Mayflower and their first year in the New World and the first Thanksgiving.

One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims
by B.G. Hennessy

The activities of ten Pilgrims and ten Wampanoag Indian children as they prepare for a splendid harvest feast at Plimoth (now Plymouth Plantation) are described using the familiar childhood rhyme.
** I was suspicious of this book when I first saw it, but I actually ended up liking it. It’s very simple for the littlest ones in your house, but adorable illustrations and tell a bit of a story of Pilgrim and Wampanoag children getting ready for a Thanksgiving feast.


What I’m into these days

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It’s September. After a busy summer where we traveled a bunch and played and overall enjoyed our summer break, we are settling into our fall routines. The end of summer marks birthday season for us: Caroline turned 4 on July 18, Savannah turned 7 on August 22, and Elizabeth turned 2 on September 1st.

We started school again around the beginning of August. We did take the summer off from school, but we read a ton thanks to the Give Your Child the World reading challenge. Now we’re shifting our focus to more academic things. Savannah is in 2nd grade this year, and Caroline is in Pre-K.

The weather is getting a little less hot, which is so nice. I have decided the air conditioning doesn’t really work in our car (it only blows cold air when we’re driving 55+), so I’m really ready to not be sweltering when stuck in traffic. I have a few of our annual fun things lined up… apple picking, Greek festival…

On my mind… Finally I have the desire to put effort into the home decor in our house. We’ve lived here 7 years and still haven’t hung pictures. I have been dissatisfied with the living room layout the whole time, but only in the past few days have I finally come up with a solution. I need to ponder it a bit longer, but I am excited to get it working.

On my nightstand… I finished “Prairie Girl”, the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Fascinating book and I highly recommend any Little House fans to read it. I started “The House That Cleans Itself”, in hopes to help me come up with a solution to keeping my house neater. I need desperate help in that area! I also have 3 other books that may or may not get read before I have to return the to the library… 

On my tv… I have been enjoying the Dick Van Clark Show, surprise surprise! I needed a new sitcom, and I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I do. It’s amazing how relevant some of the story lines are, despite them being from the 60s.

On my phone… I’ve been playing around with the app Duolingo. I got as far as I could go with Spanish pretty quickly, so I switched to Italian. It’s pretty fun, though I’m not sure how much I’m retaining.

On my computer… I’ll tell you what’s not on my computer, and that’s Facebook. I took a little break from it… for at least a month, maybe longer. All the political stuff was getting to me, and it was causing more stress than it should have. I still am not used to not being on Facebook… I feel restless and miss that connection with my friends. But I also feel it’s a bit freeing. If you miss me, I’m still active on Instagram and Google Hangouts. :-)

On my radio… Okay, not really radio, but I didn’t want to repeat phone. ;-) I’ve been really into podcasts recently. My favorites are Stuff You Missed in History Class, Young House Love, and Read Aloud Revival. I probably will add more but right now those three are a good balance. I need to get some headphones so I can listen when I’m doing chores around the house. Right now, I mostly listen at night before bed or when I’m alone in the car. Which is almost never, ha!

I think that’s good for now. I do miss blogging… Though it’s hard to make time for it these days. Ah, well, such is life. 


Growing up in Atlanta

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Written by Savannah

Hi! My name is Savannah and today is my 7th birthday! I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my mom, my dad, my two younger sisters, and my cat. I love where I live! I have lived here all my life.

First day of school

We live just outside Atlanta in a house that is 55 years old! There are lots of big trees in my neighborhood, and the roads are a little hilly. I have my own room, but my two sisters share a room. My next door neighbor is named Maya. We play together a lot. Maya goes to a public school that is in our neighborhood, where most of the kids go. I am homeschooled, though. I have a desk down in our den for school, but we do school all over the house. We read a lot of books together. This year my middle sister, Caroline, is doing school with me for pre-k.

Homeschool room

I like to draw and play and watch tv. I like horses, unicorns, mermaids, and dolphins the most! I take swimming class at the Y and my sister is just starting martial arts. I really like swimming and pretending I’m a mermaid. My class doesn’t start again until September so I’m having to wait.

Savannah swimming

My Daddy works in downtown Atlanta and sometimes we go visit him. It’s really fun. He works next to a park that they built when the Olympics were in my city 20 years ago. Mommy likes to tell me all about that because she was living here and she remembers them. There is a fountain in the park that is fun to play in. The fountain is made out of the Olympics rings!

Visiting Daddy at work

There are a lot of people who live in my city who are from other countries and speak other languages. The area of Atlanta where I live is especially diverse! There are lots of restaurants near my house that are food from other countries – mostly different countries in Asia and in Latin America. We go to a church near my house that is in Spanish and English. I am trying to learn Spanish but I have a hard time remembering the words. I love my church and my friends there!

Friends

Atlanta gets very hot in the summer, so we stay inside where it is cool. But it is very nice in the spring and the fall. Sometimes in the winter it snows! I have never gotten to build a snowman though. We so rarely get snow that we always have to take pictures when it does happen!

Snow!

We like to go camping in Georgia. We are close to the mountains, where I have gone camping a lot of times. I share a name with the city of Savannah, and we have been camping there too.

Camping girls

My one set of grandparents lives in Florida and my other grandparents live in Massachusetts, so we drive a long ways to go visit them. They both live near the ocean and I like that we can go to the beach when we visit them.

Beach

My state, Georgia, is known as the peach state. I love eating peaches! They are so yummy. Also, in the fall my family always goes apple picking, and in the spring we go strawberry picking. I am glad we live close enough to do things like that.

Georgia Peach

One book about my state that I like is called P Is For Peach: A Georgia Alphabet.

9781585360468_l

I like living in Atlanta! You should come visit sometime. I bet you would like it too.

(Read all about our Summer Book Club books around the world here!)