Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Goals 2010

Posted by Betsy

Last year I wrote a post about making New Year's goals as opposed to New Year's resolutions. This year, I thought I'd post some of my personal goals for this year (and the goals of our family). I like to keep it simple: 1-3 goals per category. We focus on the most important/desired outcomes.

A Key Theme for me here is to use what I have, keep it simple, and focus on the important stuff. We could reorganize our house and buy lots of new organizing stuff in the process... or use what we have. I could buy new clothes, or lose 5 pounds and gain an existing closet-ful of stuff I already like. I could reinvent the wheel with a new Bible-reading plan, but I'm going to stick to the homework for my group Bible study for now (since it gets me into the Word 6 days a week!). Etc.

  • pray DAILY
  • read Westminster Confession and study guide with my friend Sarah D.
  • keep up with my group Bible study (this spring, we're doing Esther and then James)
  • exercise 2x a week
  • lose 5 pounds (last year, I lost 7. Surely I can lose the last 5 this year!!!)
  • Basic chores done weekly: trash emptied, bathrooms cleaned, floors swept/vacuumed
  • Key surfaces kept clear (dresser, dining room table, desk, kitchen counters, entry way table). This is a biggie for me, folks.
  • Maintain habits begun in 2009: kitchen completely cleaned every night (all dishes put away, etc.), laundry day, etc.
  • Schedule all bills/pay everything in full by due date (no minimum payments here!)
  • Pay off one of the two remaining loans we have (one is a student loan and one a car loan)
  • Acquire better life insurance
  • Simplify: work on having only what we like/enjoy and getting rid of the rest!
  • Figure out school plans for me (and get applications in/gain acceptance if appropriate)*
  • Read 10 new books--all from my own bookshelves (we have lots I've never read)
  • activity/event once a month (this can be raking leaves together; we're not talking about a big trip)
  • get outside (all of us) every day that weather permits!
  • all of us sitting through church together by year-end (boys are still in nursery)
  • Work on memory! (review catechism, learn some new ones, and memorize verses from Sunday School and Bible study)
  • 1 art/creative activity a week
  • get outside!!
  • Photo books for 2009 and 2010
  • Finish sewing projects I've already committed to.... (ahem...)
  • Keep it simple.... (i.e. look in my own cookbooks for recipes before spending forever browsing online for the perfect recipe... plant only what I really want to eat/harvest in the garden--and not feel the need to fill up the entire gardening space.... )

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Relevant Past Posts

It might be too late for these suggestions, but here are some ideas (and reminders) of good ideas for kid-gifts, teacher gifts, and just plain ol' Christmas/holiday reminders.

Finally, consider some alternative gifts for children and their parents this year: give a Children's Catechism, a children's Bible, a family devotional guide, or other spiritually enriching gifts that bring the parents and children together. Gifts which enable parents to nurture their children spiritually, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, are some of the best things you can give!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

These Ornaments are for the Birds!

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that every little craft for kids this time of year involves food, tacky ornaments, more stickers, and so on.

If you want to do something a little bit different, something that is accessible even to fairly young children, try some birdseed ornaments. These will be hung outside, the birds will enjoy them, and you won't be stuck with more clutter inside your house. They'd make great gifts for gardeners, bird watchers, or teachers.

This "recipe" is from Birds and Blooms magazine (which is a very fun little magazine, by the way). The website gives two different methods of making these; I confess I haven't tried them yet, so I'm not sure which way works better. It seems to me that pressing the mixture in the cookie cutters might work better and/or be easier on little hands? I'll give you an update after we make these tomorrow.

Here are the ingredients/cooking method:
  • 1/3 c. gelatin
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 8 c. birdseed
Combine gelatin and water in a pot over low heat. Stir until gelatin is melted and clear. Remove from heat and stir in birdseed, making sure all seeds are coated with gelatin mixture. Fill cookie cutters with seed mixture or pat mixture into jelly roll pan. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until firm. Cut shapes, if needed, out of the big flat mixture or pop them out of the cookie cutters if you went that route. Let dry on a baking rack for 3 days.

Enjoy! The magazine link above has other ideas as well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Different Perspective

Christmas is FAST approaching! Many of us are focusing on celebrating Christ's birth, and teaching our kids about it. However, I also challenge you to remember something else. Two years ago, my husband and I lost a little baby boy at 16 weeks on Christmas Day. It was a very gut wrenching process. At the time I was faced with two perspectives. One was "come quickly Lord!". The other was as Paul puts it so well in Philippians, "for me to live is Christ, to die is gain." My work on earth was not finished. I had two boys at home who needed guidance still in their Christian life.

Many times we wait until it's almost too late to minister/evangelize with someone. This also hit Betsy recently with someone they are close too. Faced with an impending death, they needed to speed up the evangelistic process with their friends before it was too late.

SO-I challenge you to #1: Remember Christ was born so he could die-we should almost be celebrating the resurrection at this time of year too-instead of waiting for Easter. And #2: Think of those friends or loved ones who you could minister too as well. Make sure they know not only that Christ was born on Christmas (or the day we have set aside for it), but that the reason he came was to die to forgive sin, once and for all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Supporting Your Husband: a Dose of Perspective

Perhaps you have a number of items on your "to do" list this time of year that revolve about creating the perfect Christmas for people, whether that be buying gifts, making gifts, sending out the perfect Christmas card photo, or decorating your house to the max. I know many women who, like myself, enjoy making things for people and are also on a budget. For us, Christmas "to do" lists seem larger than life: make Christmas stockings for the kids next week, make candy for Johnny's Sunday School teacher this weekend, buy the Christmas tree TONIGHT because it's on sale, decorate said Christmas tree TOMORROW because Christmas party is THIS WEEKEND, wrap secret Santa present for hubby's work TODAY, order photo cards THIS WEEK so they'll get in the mail on time, and on and on and on....

Where are our families in all this mess? Specifically, where is your husband? It's easy at any time of the year to start grumbling and complaining about being a stay at home mom, watching enviously as hubby drives off to work BY HIMSELF in that car with a glorious commute to work that doesn't involve any little voices whining, saying "Mommy," and pointing out every single last dump truck on the way. But think about it for a minute: yes, your husband may get more "alone time" than you. Yes, he can run in the store for something quick and not have to load/unload children. Yes, he gets to work out on his way home from work. Yes, he gets to have adult conversation any time he wants it.

BUT, we stay-at-home moms have some things that are just as good--and probably which our husbands envy. Instead of complaining this season about all that you have to do, think about the following:

  • Is your to do list full of things YOU have decided and/or want to do? How many of them can you farm out to others or... just not do? What is really essential for your family's celebration of our Lord's birth? (If you need a reality check here, go read Little House on the Prairie).
  • Your mental to do list is rarely created by outside deadlines. If you don't get the laundry done today, who's really going to care? In contrast, if your husband doesn't meet his work deadlines on time, there can be real issues. I can guarantee that you and your hard-working husband both have stress and his is probably worse--his is put on by outside forces whereas ours is often self-created.
  • When you're "stuck at home" all day long, do you sit down and check your email? Read a blog? Call a friend? Work on a sewing project here and there? Plan your garden for next year? Work on a craft with your child? Bake some cookies for the fun of it? Go outside to play with your kids? All of those things are not only optional, but usually they are for the sake of enjoyment. How many times does your husband, while at work, get to talk on the phone to a friend? Take a quick walk for some fresh air? Have some freshly baked cookies? Spend quality time with a family member? Probably not very often.
  • Are you still "working" when your husband gets home? If so, then I'd suggest that you cross off some items from that to do list without doing them. I try very hard not to keep working after my husband gets home from work. I make sure the kitchen is cleaned up (often doing as many dishes before we eat as possible) and the kids are in bed. That is it. Sometimes, I'll fold laundry if we're watching a TV show. If I work on a crafty project, my Bible study, or something like that in the evening, I try my hardest to make sure it's a night when he'll be home late or he has to work from home (he used to work from home more when he was a professor; thankfully he doesn't bring much work home anymore). I do not stay up late baking cookies, writing thank you notes, doing housework, etc. in lieu of spending time with my husband.
Ladies, don't let your Christmas wishes/hopes/to do lists take away from your time with your husband. Don't you think he's feeling the stress of working hard in order to pay for the perfect Christmas? Make sure you include him in things if he's interested. Save decorating the tree or making that gingerbread house with the kids until the weekend so he can take part. RELAX about all of your personal deadlines. If the Christmas cards are late, so what. Making Christmas meaningful and "fun" for our families includes making it that way for our husbands as well as making it that way for our kids.