Giving Proofs of Love #thesearethedays #happinessproject

 

I know in the book that February’s main focus was on Marriage ~ Giving Proofs of Love to your spouse. And while I love that and continue to make the Captain my main focus, I’m also implementing the same effort into other people {and animals} in my life.

Give Proofs of Love happiness project cute like me these are the days

 

1. The Way to a Man’s Heart is Through His Stomach

*Really, the way to anyone’s heart I’d say! ;)

One of the biggest ways that I give proofs of love is through food. I LOVE to cook…for myself, my family, and our friends. I love creating a fun and healthy platter for the kids and their friends, having people over for dinner, trying a new meal, making a fun dessert, or recently, even making raw meals for my dogs. I’ve said it for a long time, but I mean it: The kitchen is my happy place. When I am there I am at my best. I’m not a chef by any stretch {the kids on Master Chef Junior put me to shame in a huge way}, but cooking is something I enjoy. I also happen to love grocery shopping because I get excited to have all the new and fresh food in my house. lol

baked garlic cheddar chicken kitchme these are the days cute like me

This delicious Baked Garlic Cheddar Chicken from Kitchme is our most recent favorite. Even the kids can’t get enough!

Another way that I give proofs of love with regards to the Captain, is by serving him. I mean physically serving him his meal. He’s never expected it and is always genuinely surprised when I hand him his plate, which is definitely part of the fun. Look, the man works hard..and for many years he was doing it so I could stay home with our kids {eating bonbons, of course}. I don’t take that lightly. When he would come home for lunch, I know it meant a lot to not only not have to prepare his own lunch, but also not have to plate it. He could sit down, relax and eat. And I LOVED having something prepared that just hit the spot. Same with dinner…I wasn’t always good about having it ready as soon as he got home, but I sure tried. Now, with him working away, these things aren’t as common. But the man still works hard {incredibly hard} and I know, after a long shift, the last thing he wants to do is try and figure out what to eat. As I’ve discussed previously, I send him with meals so once he’s done his shift he can shower, eat, and go to sleep. And I always try to have breakfast or leftovers ready for him when he returns home from his rotation, because otherwise he gets busy and doesn’t eat!

Okay, so we’ve established that I like to feed people.

2. Playtime

*I want more time to play. Less time of running to everything…and more just hanging out. As the weather gets warmer, I want us out riding our bikes, going for walks, and taking the dogs for a run in the field. This is a proof of love that, as I put the effort in, comes back. We all benefit because we all contribute. Plus, we’ll also be making memories, which is perhaps the best part of all!

bike ride cute like me these are the days happiness project

This kid loves to be outside all the time.

The Kids:

*I admit we are a home-cozy family, so it can be important to make sure there are fun activities to do so they aren’t just wasting away on ipods/ipads.

science experiment

Jonah BEGGED for a science experiment kit from the school book orders and I finally agreed to buy it, thinking it would just get forgotten. But they seriously do it nearly every day. It has been a great source of memories and fun. In this photo they made vampire blood.

*I plan to play more games with them. For Christmas they got The Game of Life and Operation, and we’ve had a lot of fun playing both of them. I love the time we put aside our other tasks, put down our phones, and just connect.

3. Snuggle Time

*I love snuggling. The kids love snuggling. I love when they curl up with me on the couch or even just come over for a hug and a kiss. And although sometimes there are other things to do, I {we} love ending every night laying with them, hearing about their day {do anyone else’s kids get super chatty at bedtime?}. It’s a pretty amazing time and we’ve had several honest and real conversations as a result.

snuggle session cute like me these are the days happiness project once upon a time

Late night snuggle sesh watching Once Upon a Time.

We’ve been known to have *family sleepovers* when the Captain is away, and often they will sneak up after bedtime because *they can’t sleep*! Sometimes if I wake up in the middle of the night I will go get one {or both} of them to snuggle with. It’s a real problem we have. ;)

4. Down Time

*We don’t always have to be going somewhere or doing something. Down time is just as important…we can all be doing something different, but as long as we’re in the same room or same house even, it counts. Some of our greatest memories come from the time we spend putzing around and relaxing.

rockband beatles these are the days cute like me the captain my happiness project

I came home from the gym to them jamming together, playing Rockband: The Beatles.

 5. Date Time

*I’m not talking about getting a sitter and going out date time, although that’s nice too. But honestly, I find we are more *family daters* than anything and love to take our kids on mini dates. Because the Captain is gone, it’s difficult to justify taking more time away from the kids, though of course we do for certain things. But we love all kinds of dates: slurpees, ice cream, candy store, restaurant, and even stay at home – popcorn, milkshake, snow cones and movies kind of dates.

candy store date cute like me these are the days my happiness project

After an emotional Celebration of life for a friend of mine, I found that I didn’t want to just go home and lose the rest of the day. So we took the kids to the local candy store to make memories instead.

 

6. Getaway Time

*Several years ago, while talking about our parenting/family vision, we both felt that making getaways a priority was important to building and maintaining strong relationships with our kids. It doesn’t have to be an airplane to Mexico every time, though we wouldn’t complain, but every kind of getaway: Camping {even in the backyard}, the condo {whitefish}, our recent getaway to Canmore, or even quick day trips ~ date and getaway all in one!

canmore cute like me these are the days making memories happiness project

For Christmas we decided to take the kids on a short getaway instead of buying several little presents. It was our best idea yet and we had such an amazing time!

7. Dog Time

*Yes, Malibu and Axel deserve our love and attention too. It can be a lot sometimes, caring for them in addition to everything else. But I am glad they are a part of our family and I love the days I make the time to spend playing with them. I try to every day, but it doesn’t always work. And there is a noticeable difference in how antsy Malibu, in particular, is on the days I don’t. They are big dogs and, despite having a big backyard, it’s not enough just being on their own. So they have really become a focus of mine/ours since the beginning of the year.

playtime with the dogs malibu axel these are the days cute like me

Malibu is nuts. That is all.

Now, there is one more person on my list that I need to make sure also gets proofs of love: ME! But that is a whole different blog post. It might seem silly, but it’s true. We need to take care of ourselves as well and I have been really making myself an additional focus since starting this Happiness Project. This quote from Buddha that I shared a while back on Instagram for a #SundaySays sums it up perfectly.

How do you show proofs of love? 

compassion cute like me these are the days buddha

 

{My}Happiness Project ~ March #thesearethedays #happinessproject #aimhigher

Aren’t you proud of me ~ getting this post up at the beginning of the month!? I know, I’m impressed too ;)

Update: No need to be too impressed….I wrote the post but didn’t publish it until now. oops.

I’m really excited for the focus this month and can’t wait to implement it.

AIM HIGHER

I know, pretty broad right? Aim Higher ~ what does that mean? In her book, My Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin narrowed it down to these 5 areas:

* Launch a Blog

* Enjoy the fun of failure

* Ask for help

* Work Smart

* Enjoy now

These were the 5 areas that Gretchen felt needed the most focus for aiming higher. As you know, I’ve decided to follow along on HER plan for my own project, modifying along the way as needed. So many times throughout the book I found myself nodding in agreement, seeing so many similarities between her and I.

As an example, Gretchen says that when she’s feeling blue, working cheers her. In fact, sometimes when she’s in a bad mood, her husband will suggest she go into her office for a while.

I totally understand. I have a few *happy places* in my life, and writing/blogging is certainly one of them. Which leads me to the first on the list:

Launch a Blog ~ Obviously I don’t need to start one, but I do want to improve it. I want to write more frequently, and like Gretchen, spending time doing that, cheers me. I LOVE it! Some of you may remember when I ordered my new laptop last year. After dealing with repeated laptop issues and ultimately not having one that worked, I had had enough. So I ordered a new one from Amazon and awaited our next Condo trip to meet my new friend. Because my needs are fairly minimal {ie. I need it just for basic browsing and blogging, not gaming or anything like that} I didn’t have to look for anything too high-tech. I decided on a Lenovo Chromebook with touch screen. And it’s good, but I have to be honest and say that I didn’t realize how much I would miss Microsoft Office and the ability to save and crop photos the way I’m used to.

Then, for the second time in the past couple of months, it stopped letting me log in under my account and would only let me browse as a guest. Which is *fine* except it doesn’t remember anything. *UGH* I have a blog post waiting in the queue but I have some photos in it that I want to crop before I publish it, and being frustrated at not being able to resulted in me browsing laptops on Amazon again. And then I ordered this beauty and I once again awaited my upcoming Condo trip to get my hands on her.

She's as awesome as I hoped she'd be

Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful.

My blogging world is finally complete…or at least just a whole lot easier.

Enjoy the fun in failure ~ I think for me personally, it makes more sense to label this *Enjoy the fun in trying*. Failure isn’t something that necessarily worries or scares me, so I don’t have difficulty accepting it as an option. But, while it can be difficult to find/make the time, trying something new energizes and excites me.

I will have more details in the coming weeks and months on the first task on my list.

Ask for Help ~ Oh my, this one is difficult for me. I’m not good at it at all and would rather just find a way to get things done myself. This is also why I know my limits when it comes to volunteering for things or committing to attending things…if I can’t reasonably do it myself with minimal conflict or hassle, then I don’t. And I don’t feel guilty for it honestly. As I’ve discussed before, my main focus is the kids and work {and the Captain when he’s home of course}…and at the heart of it all, my sanity. I know when to say no and I know when I need to step back and *hibernate* for a while.

moustache pyjama pants pattern from my cotton creations

I finally got some sewing done

Work Smart ~ I don’t believe in multi-tasking, but I do believe in effective prioritizing. I’m fairly decent at doing this with the house chores ~ switching the laundry first, then unloading, loading and starting the dishwasher, and then making lunch or sitting down to fold the load I took out from the dryer. Essentially a few things are going on at once, but only as a result of proper prioritizing. I need to get better about this with my blog. Sometimes I just browse and don’t make any real progress. But that is going to change. I’ve been googling like crazy {as I always do}, looking things up on Pinterest {that site is a gem} and making sure I spend my time actually blogging. I always have numerous posts crafted in my head but I have difficulty transferring them to here. It may seem strange, but having my new laptop will also help with this. I can organize my files and create the quality I want to.

Enjoy Now ~ Carpe Diem ~ Seize the Day ~ Live the Moment….it’s all the same right? I try to do this in my life for sure, but it’s always a good reminder. Recently I’ve been trying to have an even greater awareness by staying off my phone in certain situations: when friends come for dinner and games, when I’m at a lunch date, while spending time with the kids {except taking photos}, etc. I’m faaaaaaar from perfect, but these are a few ways I have felt like I can be more IN the moment. Sometimes when we are doing something as a family, I’ll take a few photos at the beginning to document and then put it away so I can really be a part of the action.

Swimming at Ptarmigan  Village

This kid LOVES to swim {Photo taken by my cousin, so  I can’t take credit}

Last week, while at the condo, my cousin and I took the 11 kids swimming, while our other two cousins were at the gym. With 11 kids ages 2-10, you might think it was a recipe for disaster, but it was honestly a fun and easy task. The biggest reason: We were IN the moment. We weren’t sitting on the sidelines, busy on our phones. We were IN the water. The oldest kids could swim, so that helped. The two middle aged kids {5) stayed close to the shallow platform {the pool at Ptarmigan Village is MADE for families with small children and is the #1 reason our kids learned how to swim!}. And of the 4 littles, 3 were in life jackets and I stayed in the water with the one who wasn’t. It was such a fun way to pass the time and the kids had a blast. And we both enjoyed bonding with our nieces and nephews {first cousins once removed if we want to get specific}.

So now the plan for March is to aim even higher. As I’m finishing up this blog post I’m planning to spend some time with the kids, WITHOUT my phone. It’s much too easy to get caught up with the relaxing world of iPads and computers, non? I’m also working on a bit of a personal project that fits right into my personal declaration that this is the *Year of Me*. As mentioned, I’ll update more as it goes along. Two things that are involved are tanning and massages, so just yesterday I went for a water massage {to try it out} and spent some time at the tanning salon. Both were divine and soon to be repeated. :)

I can’t make any promises that I’ll get better at asking for help, but I can commit to my efforts to working smarter. And of course to *enjoying the now*.

What things would you add to your list to Aim Higher?

 

 

Yellow Pepper Salsa #thesearethedays #makeyummyfood

I just made this and I can’t wait to try it on top of my chicken with it! Mmmmmm

I have posted this recipe before but after looking through my old post I realized it was not great, so I’ve deleted that post and I’m doing it again. This recipe is intended to be cooked and canned, but I love it fresh as well, which as a former tomato hater is HUGE! 

Yellow Pepper Salsa Cute Like Me Blog

Yellow Pepper Salsa {Recipe came from a friend, so I can’t even take credit!}

2 cups chopped yellow peppers

2 cups chopped peeled tomatoes {no need to peel them if you are eating it fresh}

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup lime juice

1 Tbsp white vinegar

Mild: 3 jalapenos and 1/4 cup green or red pepper

Medium: 3 jalapenos and 2 Anaheim peppers

Hot: 3 jalapenos, 2 Anaheim peppers and 1 habanero peppers

**Make sure the hot peppers are seeded**

1/2 tsp coarse pickling salt {skip this for fresh}

2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

 

Add all the ingredients {except Cilantro} and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cilantro and cook for 2 minutes. Ladle into hot jars and process for 20 minutes {I always skip this step}. Makes about 4x250mL

 

For fresh I just mix everything up and a bit of Lawry’s seasoning salt. ENJOY!!!!

 

Feeding the Captain #thesearethedays #makeyummyfood

Usually when the kids and I go away without the Captain, I like to leave prepared meals for him in the fridge. So while we are here enjoying the condo, I left meals for him as usual, but also some food in the freezer for his next rotation ~ Here’s what I made:

1. Lasagna  ~ I don’t have a recipe or a photo, but I should get both. It doesn’t seem to matter how many lasagna’s I try, this one remains my favorite. Pretty basic and simple but hits all the points of YUM! ;)

Okay, I can give you a bit of a recipe….I make pretty basic meat sauce with ground beef and Prego {with mushrooms} sauce. I add garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese to the sauce for added flavour. I sort of eyeball it and just sprinkle it around, so I don’t have exact measurements. I also add about a cup of water to add some more moisture for the *oven ready* noodles I’ve become a huge fan of! In a separate bowl I mix a large Cottage Cheese with 1- 2 eggs and about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

In a casserole dish I layer, starting with a small amount of meat sauce. The noodles are next (3), then half of the meat sauce and half of the cottage cheese mixture. 3 more noodles, and remaining meat sauce and cottage cheese mixture. Top with 3-4 noodles (depends on the width of your dish). I add a bit of water to the top (to help the top noodles cook) and bake for about 40 minutes at 350, covered with tin foil. Then I top with mozzarella and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is delicious and bubbly ~ I even like to overcook it a bit so the noodles get a bit crispy. Mmmmmm This was the perfect meal to pop in the freezer for his next work rotation.

2. Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Photo from website

Photo from website

Know Kitchen really hit the mark with this delicious recipe. Because of the ham, I didn’t want to freeze it for Brent to take, so it went in the fridge for him to eat while we are gone. But I always take a bite ~ Baker’s Bite ~ and I LOVED it! Definitely worth trying and add a salad and a side veggie and you’ve got a great dish to serve company.

3. Funeral Potatoes {aka Hashbrown Casserole}

Photo from website

Photo from website

This recipe, from Lil’ Luna, is the closest one to mine I can find online. But this time I had to make a few alterations based on my ingredients. I had a couple leftover chicken breasts so I cubed them up and added them to the hashbrowns. I also didn’t have cream of chicken soup on hand {outrageous}, so I used two cans of cream of mushroom. I like the sauciness using two cans gives, so I usually use one cream of chicken and one cream of mushroom. I bought some Corn Flake crumbs so I used those for the topping…the only difference there is the size of the flakes/crumbs. I took one small bite before packing it away for the freezer and I was definitely happy. This will make a great meal for the Captain!

4. Daddy’s Hamburgers

Oh sweet mercy. I’ve made these about 5 times since the first time and they are just as delicious each time. I love me a good burger and have been searching for the perfect homemade recipe for years now. I am absolutely taken with this one and couldn’t help but make it for the Captain as well. It’s so incredibly fast ~ prep and cooking ~ and so ridiculously delicious. Great, now I want one. It’s after midnight and I want to whip up a batch of burgers! oy.

Photo from website

Photo from website

I do a few things differently, but the secret remains the same. First I add bread crumbs and an egg to the hamburger. I also add the garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce TO the mixture instead of just on each patty afterwards. I follow the rest and wait impatiently while they cook. The secret of course is the X drizzled with a small amount of Worcestershire and sprinkled with garlic salt…..THEN topped with a small chunk of butter/margarine {I think the Worcestershire and margarine is the REAL secret}. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350, top with cheese and put back in until melted…and then DEVOUR! Oh also, I did not bake mine on the bun.

I’m not kidding. They are THAT good! I will be a Foodie Crush regular as a direct result of finding THIS recipe on Pinterest.

There were 3 other things I had planned on making but just didn’t get to. I’ll make sure to try them soon so I can pass on any more winners! Hopefully this helps take out some of the guess work when you are wanting to try a new recipe. Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed you like them as much as I do!

Happy Cooking!

 

 

{My} Happiness Project ~ February #thesearethedays #happinessproject #rememberlove

Considering February is the month with Valentine’s Day, it seems fitting that the theme or goal for this month is *Remember Love* {Marriage}

The things listed to help achieve this are:

*Quit nagging

*Don’t expect praise or appreciation

*Fight right

*No dumping

*Give proofs of love

Happiness is arriving at your holiday – Barcelo Maya Beach, April 2011

I have always felt like we fell into married life with ease. We rarely fought and seemed to often be on the same page with plans, decisions, etc. We were good at taking care of each other. Even adding Brooklyn to our family, and then Jonah, didn’t upset our dynamic. Fast forward to now, 12 years in, and I can tell you that we pretty much have that same ease. BUT I have noticed in the last few years, as the kids are older and life is busier outside of the house, that some things have started to slip. And I’ve realized that just because we haven’t needed to put in effort, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

I have felt the danger in becoming complacent and the importance of making the time to put in that extra effort. It has made a world of difference ~ because at the end of the day I love and adore him. I chose him 12 years ago and every day I choose him again. So now it comes down to making sure that I behave in a way that shows that.

Never a dull moment… (also Barcelo Maya Beach, 2011)

Lucky for the Captain, I am a stellar wife. Lucky for me, he would agree. And he is truly an incredible husband. There have been short periods where additional effort has been required, but on the whole our marriage has not required work. It is something I am genuinely aware of and grateful for. We have a pretty good gig here.

So, to the list….I honestly don’t think most of the items on the list apply to us. Because this is my happiness project, I’ll focus just on me and the things I’m doing. I am not the nagging sort, so it’s not something I need to work on really. I don’t do things for the recognition, though I’m not ashamed to announce that I am the best wife ever if I’ve done something specific. haha {On that note, the Captain is always good about expressing gratitude for the things I do, so I’m certain that helps}. Fight right ~ We aren’t big fighters, and usually if we do is either me being a little on edge and picking a fight as a result, OR simply a matter of miscommunication. But I have learned to recognize these times for what they are. We hate fighting and are not good at keeping one going. Don’t get me wrong, the man can make me A-N-G-R-Y! But I learned early on the benefit of self talk and working through my thoughts and feelings so that I could better address the actual problem. It has really made a huge difference and has really helped me in every other area of my life.

Yep, this is the man I choose. haha

No dumping – Gah, not something I really do either. So let’s just make this entire month about the last (and incredibly important) one listed:

GIVE PROOFS OF LOVE

In the first sentence of this section, Gretchen quotes Pierre Reverdy, “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.” And she goes on to explain saying, “Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only in my actions.” Man, I love that. 

So that is my focus for the month of February – to give proofs of love. Because I’m already a stellar wife (ha!), I have to admit showing love and affection is something we do consistently ~ with each other and with our kids. But I wanted to use this month as an opportunity to go above and beyond the things we already do to show love. What’s so great about this, for me in particular, is that it’s allowing me to really stop and slow down – focusing more on Brent. Life is busy…and he is gone a lot of the time, so it can be difficult sometimes to *fit* him back into life. But this month I am working on putting him back on the priority list and making sure I’m not *forgetting* him in the process of tackling all the other things on my list. 

My heart belongs in Mexico…with him of course {Puerto Vallarta, November 2013)

I’ll be posting a few more times this month specifically about this, to share with you the ways I give proofs of love. The things I already do and the new things I’ve added. 

What are some ways you give proofs of love to your significant other? 

Feeding Our Dogs Raw #thesearethedays #dogsgoraw

It all started with THIS ~ hundreds of complaints from the last 4 months of people whose pets either got sick or even died as a result of their food….the same brand of food our dogs are on. WERE on, but I’ll get to that.

I do honestly believe it was more than likely a bad batch, but it was enough for me to reconsider what we’ve been feeding our dogs. So, being halfway through our last bag of dog food, I started my research. On a facebook pet group I’m a part of I asked everyone what food they were using. I got some great advice, but was still worried about choosing the right and best store bought food…quality and price. I found that the suggestion that appealed to me the most was going raw – homemade raw. But because it is something pretty foreign to me I’ve been googling my butt off. I was surprised to read just how many foods dogs are able to have and have been having a blast trying them out ~ I’m so excited about this in every nerdy way possible. Plus, since our dogs don’t seem to have any allergies I’m not really limited in what I can offer them. *hooray*

When I’m researching something like this I like to look at multiple sites and make note of the common suggestions. Here are a few of the sites I’ve referenced:

BARF Diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)

The I Love Dogs Site (Foods to avoid)

The Whole Dog Journal 

One of the first meals….Venison, potatoes, and carrots.

As a result I have given the dogs meals consisting of any variety of the following:

Venison {Ground or in strips} – Hunting season has turned out to be beneficial for more than just my human children :)

Beef Fat 

Bones (they LOVE)

Organs (haven’t yet, but will be in the very near future)

Raw Egg – they each get one a day in their dinner. I’ve read the shell is excellent for them as well, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes – a couple of sites said to avoid them, one said to avoid them with their skin on, and a couple of sites said they were good. Having not noticed an issue when they’ve had potatoes before, I decided to offer them every once in a while, without skin.

Carrots

Celery (haven’t tried yet)

Brussel Sprouts

Green Beans

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Spinach (haven’t tried yet)

Felt like new, washable dishes were in order considering the raw meat and egg. Also, getting more adventurous in the mixes – venison, raw egg, pears, carrots, and brussel sprouts.

Strawberries

Blueberries

Pears

Watermelon (no rinds)

Cantaloupe

Apples – They each get a whole apple as a snack in the afternoon. It’s recommended, particularly for smaller dogs, that you cut out the seeds to protect from choking. Since our dogs have eaten bone since we first got them, I was pretty sure an apple seed was not going to be their undoing. 

Kidney Beans

And about two times a week they enjoy their Kong filled with peanut butter. 

{I will also be adding Flax Seed Oil and Cod Liver Oil at some point for their health benefits}

Ground Venison, Carrots, Green Beans, Cantaloupe, and Strawberries. Skipped the Raw Egg this time

Seriously – can you see why this is so fun?! I love mixing it up every day and seeing them devour it up. Actually, Axel DEVOURS ~ INHALES ~ his dish in about 2 bites, while Malibu daintily nibbles away. It’s really funny to watch. But I am happy that we’ve made this switch and even more happy that I was able to convince the Captain to *try it* for a time. I’m pretty sure he’s sold. 

Within the first week we noticed two improvements: The first (we were told to expect) was smaller poops. Sorry to go there, but really, because their diet is all raw now their bodies absorb most of it. Awesome!!! And secondly, something neither of us anticipated but are thrilled about is the decrease in shedding. HUGE decrease…from a cats amount of hair swept up daily to barely even a skiff after even 3 days (I so wish I had photos to show you). I have read and been told that the raw egg is so good for their fur, but I had no idea it could/would impact their shedding. 

I’m just tickled. #nerdalert

Comes in handy when I spill all the blueberries…no complaints from these two!

 

 

 

{My} Happiness Project ~ January Wrap Up #happinessproject #thesearethedays

It’s already February – how did that happen?!

Before I can get into the goals and plans for February, I need to do a bit of a January wrap up. So let’s get to it.

January’s Goals were to increase energy by:

Going to Sleep Earlier

Exercising Better

Tossing, Restoring, Organizing

Tackling a nagging task

Acting more energetic

1. Going to Sleep Earlier – I sure had good intentions, and most of the time was really good about crawling into bed between 9-10pm, but for a good two weeks I did not sleep well. Keeping our dogs separate was exhausting (Malibu was in heat…or their behaviours were such that I was much too chicken to take any chances). I also had both dogs in bed with me a lot, which meant minimal room to stretch out and fighting to pull my blankets. Nevertheless, I’ve continued to tuck myself into bed early to give myself time to unwind.

2. Exercising Better – Going in I knew this would be the most difficult aspect for me, and it proved to be in every way. So to avoid setting myself up for failure, I decided to use my exercise time a little differently and instead of doing an actual workout, I spent time outside with the dogs. Luckily, it also doubled as one of my nagging tasks so it helped boost my energy simply because I felt like I was accomplishing something.

The dogs did not complain about the increase in exercise

Or about the increase in love and attention

3. Tossing, Restoring, and Organizing – Ah yes…do you find the chaos of stuff can bring you down? And yet, the weekends seem so short that there’s hardly enough time to simply maintain, nevermind make progress. But I’ve sure been trying. I’m planning to go room by room, either donating or throwing away anything that we don’t use or need. And either making a home for it in the room it’s in or finding a new place elsewhere in the house. I tackled my bedroom corner and jewelry collection this past weekend, and am thrilled with the results. We also have an elliptical and treadmill in our basement that just don’t get used. So I want them out of here. The treadmill (my sister in law’s) has gone to my mother in law’s for her to try and the treadmill is going back to my parents’ to get some love. This will open up our basement tv room a bit, so I can get one more space organized. 

BEFORE {I know, total chaos}

AFTER {Soooo much better}

4. Tackle a nagging task – As mentioned, the dogs have been on my mind a lot. I’ve been so happy to spend more time with them, but this winter weather simply ruins my life. I enjoy having them in the house, but I don’t love that I HAVE to have them in the house. Once their dog house and dog run is completed in the spring we’ll be able to have them outside again more even once winter comes again. Anyway, going out daily has been really fun and I’ve enjoyed the time with them.

I’ve also tackled a few other tasks – sorting my individual spice packages (it doesn’t take long for it to get out of control), putting together a family home evening binder for myself and two cousins (have one done…finally picked up the additional page protectors to complete them this weekend), sending a few things in the mail, blogging, and completing some sewing projects that are over a year old! To honor one of my ten commandments to *do it now* I have also really made an effort to do things as I think of them, when I have a window of time to do it. This too has made a huge difference and I can attest that tackling these things definitely boosts my energy.

For my sister in law – I’ve had these for almost 2 years I think. Eep! 

For my other sister in law {over a year}, a friend {recent}, and Brooklyn {recent}.

5. Acting more energetic – Pretty sure I’ve failed miserably at this. haha I blame poor sleeping completely though because it has definitely had an impact on my energy. Luckily I am naturally wired to be happy and energetic, so I don’t really have to *act* that way…but I also don’t fake energy when I’m dragging my way through a day. lol

All in all I think January was enough of a success. It’s not so much a matter of not being happy and therefore needing to find ways to be moreso. But rather, finding and doing things that help maintain and/or improve that happiness. Getting things done and more organized is huge for me, so January has been especially to great to spend more time focusing on those things. 

Now, onto February! 

I Want To LOVE My Dogs #thesearethedays

I’ve always loved animals. As a child I dreamed of owning 3 homes, side by side; one for me and my family, one to house people who needed help, and one for all my animals. {And of course an underground tunnel connecting my house with my best friend’s, but who didn’t have that dream?!}. Early in 2013 we finally decided we were ready for both the time and financial commitment. Our ultimate plan was to have two, so we first planned to get a puppy from our friends’ litter (Axel) in the fall. But a few months before he was born, we learned my cousin’s dog was having puppies and got one of hers too (Malibu).

Before picking up Malibu and then a few months later, Axel, we discussed our plans and expectations for having pets. I was very determined that we were not getting dogs to forget about them. I wanted to make sure we took them for walks daily and gave them love and attention, etc.

We had Malibu by herself for a few months and we were so good about playing and going on evening family walks with her.  We loved having her around, but as soon as Axel came along, we sort of booted them outside {lovingly of course} to play together. Which was great, except we sort of *forgot* they still needed us, you know?! We still took good care of them, but as time went on and life got busier, they fell to the bottom of the priority list. And I hated it. They are great dogs and are somewhat trained, but still are in a need of a lot more. Malibu specifically is jumpy and hyperactive and that can be soooo annoying. But interestingly, in all my reading, the most common suggestion to combat that is spending time with them. Imagine ;)

I always had plans to, but never seemed to HAVE the time ~ which is precisely how we ended up with puppies. During an especially busy time, I did not notice that Malibu was in heat ~ and Axel did. But one thing those puppies taught me was this:

Nobody HAS the time

So once the puppies were thriving with their new families, I resolved to use at least half of the previously devoted puppy time, on Malibu and Axel.

I decided to MAKE the time.

Caring for Chewbarka, who became my sweet and snuggly shadow for an additional month, reminded me what I want with Malibu and Axel. Because while I love my dogs, I want to LOVE my dogs. I don’t want them to just be pets, but rather a part of our family. A part of everything we do ~ camping, paddleboarding (on our list of things to buy this summer), daily walks, bike riding, etc.

More time together in the front room

Thanks to fireworks, they’ve even weasled their way into my bed

More time outside together – AT LEAST once a day

So in the past several weeks I’ve really spent my extra time focused on them, and honestly the impact of this effort has been awesome and immediate. Malibu loves being a part of everything, being where the action is…and although she’s still jumpy and excitable when someone comes to the door, she has calmed down a ton mostly in the last couple of weeks. The kids too have started interacting more with her now that she isn’t quite as hyperactive. It’s been a lot of fun, though our house is certainly boasting more dog hair than before.

Strangely I’m okay with it. It means they are here…a part of our family..a part of us.

Way more snuggles

And I can honestly say I LOVE them

WE LOVE them!

 

I Cancelled Real Life For The Weekend #thesearethedays #hibernatingweekend #happinessproject

I mentioned in my last post that if it doesn’t help pay the bills or raise my children, I’ve had to let it fall to the wayside. The weight of responsibilities is real, and as a result, I have had to seriously take a step back and re-evaluate what I spend my time on.

I also mentioned that there is a third category that has squeaked it’s way onto my priority list ~ the things that fulfill me and make me tick.

**Disclaimer: Taking care of my family is something that truly makes me tick and is often when I’m at my best. BUT there are still things that I enjoy doing and things I want to accomplish on a personal level. And when neglected, there is a noticeable void.**

I realized in November that I was drowning and had some serious potential of being flat out overwhelmed. I know a lot of it was likely due to my role as Litter mom of 8 puppies  (a role I absolutely LOVED), and the resulting lack of sleep. But even still, I felt like I was on the verge of something not pretty ~ haha. I was simply surviving (and honestly had been since even before the puppies came), which as someone who is used to thriving, was difficult. I decided that if I could make that kind of time to care for the puppies, I could devote at least half as much once they were gone, to the things that make me tick. The things that are easy to neglect when life gets busy. 

It was so busy but I loved every minute…and I sure miss these sweet little ones

I had already simplified most things to really focus on my kids, but there were a lot of things on my personal to do list that just weren’t getting done. So I decided to change that.

I started doing even less and spent even more time organizing my life so I could tackle the list ~ but first I had to figure out what I was missing and make one.

Here’s what I came up with:

*Sewing {so much fabric~so many projects~so little progress}

*Blogging {Oh how I’ve missed it}

*Listening to music (Strange perhaps, but it’s something I miss)

*Doing even more things with our kids

*Training and building better relationships with the pooches

*Trying more recipes

*{My} Happiness Project: I know that finding and buying that book was no accident.

*And basic tackling of a few nagging projects {not just a January goal} to help in the house organization

The biggest one glaring at me was sewing, because there are so many projects on my to do list.  So I got my sewing room organized and got to work.

I couldn’t believe how rejuvenating it was. Immediately I could feel myself improving – in fact fast forward to the night before the kids’ Christmas concert when I decided to whip up a pair of comfy pants and a tank for Brooklyn’s costume. Both items took me about an hour to complete and afterwards, despite it being 1130pm and having to work the next day, I was WIDE AWAKE! I was beaming, feeling accomplished and rejuvenated, and just plain happy. 

I impressed even myself lol

Anyways, as the last weekend of November approached I could feel myself needing a major break. From everything. The nagging feeling would not let up, so I made a major decision and cancelled the weekend. Friday I was supposed to go to Tara’s for an American Thanksgiving dinner (she’s American), but I cancelled. Saturday the kids and I were invited to a morning Grinch party, but I cancelled. Sunday was church (3 hours because we’re crazy lol), but I cancelled for us. And Sunday evening was dinner at my parents, but once again I cancelled. If I had kept it as planned, Monday morning would have arrived before I had time to breathe. So to keep it simple, I cancelled everything and declared it #hibernatingweekend without any plan to leave the house, not even once. Luckily there was a huge snowstorm and it was FREEZING so staying inside was not difficult. 

Here’s what we did:

I had the time to just sit and enjoy some puppy snuggles

We decorated for Christmas

Ah yes, the sewing!!!!

The lounge pants that weren’t…huge flop!

The Redemption Skirt ~ this fabric was pricier than I normally buy, but I had to have it!

Because, why not?!

The second skirt…still needs some modifications 

We successfully stayed in the entire weekend ~ not going out even once. Oh wait, I lied…I had to run out to start the vehicle on Sunday just to make sure it would start for work Monday morning ~ yes it was THAT cold! 

The kids were happy, I was happy, the dogs and puppies (Zoe and Chewbarka) were happy and got lots of extra attention. We played, snuggled, decorated, got some things done, and did nothing all in the same weekend. It was perfection. 

It’s precisely why we’ve *hibernated* several times since then. Not necessarily to the same degree, but enough where we get to spend some time refocusing and being together. 

What would you spend your time doing if you cancelled the weekend? 

 

What Gives? #thesearethedays #findingthebalance #happinessproject

For years I have had a bad habit of double (and even triple) booking myself. Enjoying so many things coupled with my desire to help people, I often committed to things without really thinking it through. Sometimes this resulted in being unable to really do my best and other times it resulted in me feeling frenzied like a chicken with my head cut off. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s that.

While I enjoy a certain level of busy, I’m not the type of person who enjoys being busy every day. Or being so busy I get lost and am unable to enjoy the moment ~ always thinking 10 steps ahead of where I am. So I’ve made a change…actually several over the past few years, but especially recently. 

Early last year (March) the Captain got a job working away. What this means is that for a lot of the time, I am the only one I can rely on, which adds a different dynamic than we’re used to. I am certainly capable and not complaining, but life got noticeably more complicated. It isn’t simply double the work, but really more like quadruple. And trying to find ways to compensate so the kids don’t feel the absence so deeply is a huge weight to bear. 

The Captain was bummed to miss their Christmas concert

Truly, if I didn’t love my job so much, and if I felt it specifically had a negative impact on the kids (they are in school full time so my working really doesn’t impact their lives), I would have more than likely walked away from it. But I do love it and I haven’t noticed an impact on the kids – but it does add one more complication ~ plus getting ready for work while getting kids ready for school can be NUTS! 

What I found was the most important was to balance the after work/school time to their benefit. The summer was easier for several reasons – no school  or extra activities and because I work part time, LOTS of play! But the school year is certainly busy with activities dance, gymnastics, and now basketball for Jonah plus household responsibilities, nevermind church responsibilities. 

In order to balance life, to make sure I was still able to be the kind of mom I strive to be, there were certain things that had to *give*. Since March, I have missed every church function with our Relief Society. Not because I don’t enjoy them (I actually love them), but because it was one more complication I didn’t need ~ finding a sitter, kids being up late, me being up late and tired for work, etc. were all things I didn’t feel I should put my time and energy towards. My responsibilities in the youth program (Young Women’s) also took a major back seat. My commitment level was minimal, for many of the same reasons. I love the youth and love serving with them, but it was a commitment that simply weighed me down. I was released at the end of the year, and while I miss the girls dearly, I have been relieved of a lot of guilt. 

At the end of the day I had to shift my focus to those things that helped either pay my bills or raise my children.

I now have a new church calling which I love, that allows me the freedom to do it as it fits into my life. I’m making sure to get adequate rest so I’m alert at work, though I still sometimes fail miserably. I’m working hard to keep up on the housework (using one of my 10 commandments to *do it now*) as well as make progress in de-cluttering and removing the things we just don’t use (and never will). I’m making sure the kids get to their activities each week (3 days, plus Saturday now), get their homework and reading done. Luckily, one of my closest friends takes the kids to school when the Captain is away and I can’t tell you what a huge blessing that is! (HUGE…trust me, at the end of the last school year I didn’t have that, and it was a little nuts for sure).

Malibu

Axel

I also try to make sure they have healthy meals, though if you knew how many times we’ve had fast food the past few months you’d likely gasp in horror, but it, too has it’s place (survival). I also have two big dogs needing attention ~  as you know I also helped Malibu while birthing her 11 puppies, dealt with the loss of 3 of them, and helped care for the remaining 8 for 2 months until they went to their new homes (one until 3 months). If you wanna know BUSY, have puppies. So fun but also slightly insane. 

8 sweet hungry puppies

And of course, I’m doing my best to mantain focus on the importance of Making Memories.

One of the best things about our recent getaway to Canmore (the kids’ Christmas present) was making memories with this guy: the Captain!

I’m not saying my life is any busier than anyone else’s, and in fact quite the opposite. I’m sure your life is just as busy, if not moreso. That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to know *What Gives* for you?! What are the things you have to let fall by the wayside? What are the things that just cannot be given priority status in your life? Do you find that dynamic difficult to maintain? Or do you find that you have it organized all wrong? 

Again, for me it has been anything that doesn’t pay the bills or raise my children (there’s also a small portion of this reserved for things that fulfill me and make me tick, but there is a whole post coming about that). And being able to *say no* and *miss things* (two of my Secrets of Adulthood), and focus on these has quite simply been the biggest reason I have been able to (mostly) keep from being overwhelmed. 

So, what gives?