Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I only have one resolution for 2014. It is this. SIMPLIFY.

What does this mean? I started with just the word Simplify, then I brainstormed a list of other words that described what I want to accomplish this year.


Then I expanded this to phrases.

live with less
minimize procrastination
maintain what we do have
don't accumulate more
get rid of what we don't need
stay on schedule
embrace adulthood
live our priorities
have a family plan
let go of the old

Sounds easy, right? I have some specific projects in mind - like pairing down my wardrobe to fit in the space I have, and getting rid of a lot of the sentimental stuff jammed away into crawl spaces. But, I want it to be more than just projects. We will see how it goes! I have already used the idea of simplifying to make buying decisions this year (for example, in the post-Christmas sales, only buying a handful of items that I know what I am going to do with, not stuff just because its cheap and we could use it). So my goal for the year is to really just try to change the way I approach problems and life and apply the rule of simplicity to it. That is the resolution!


Goals - Past and Present

Here are the goals I had for 2013, and how I did on them:
1. READ -  Read 48 Books - of which, 10 should be books I already own, 10 should be published in 2013, and 5 should be books that were recommended to me in 2011 that I failed to tackle.
Yeah.... not so much. I don't think I read ANY books that were published this year, or ones that were recommended to me. Overall, I read 35 books. Not bad, not my goal.

2. HEALTH - Do not drink soda. Period. Only exception I can think of is extreme illness like I had two weeks ago where Soda was the only thing giving me calories. Otherwise, no Soda. At all. Start to walk at work 20-30 minutes a day. Train for the inline marathon (we will see if I can do it). Eat more varied dinners and get out of the ground beef rut. I want to feel strong again. Get a physical and go to the dentist. Cut back on or even eliminate caffeine (should be easier now that I won't be having soda!)

I did OK on this, didn't get everything done, but I did some of it. I did pretty good on the Soda ban, I really hardly drank any until about November, and then I caved, but now I view soda as a treat, not a daily habit, so I would say mission accomplished. I did walk at work a lot... but haven't recently and should start it back up (especially since my Dr just reminded me how important it is). I also did the In Line marathon. I did not cut back on caffeine and I did not really improve the variety/nature of our dinners.

3. COMMUNICATE - Get skype set up with the ILs. Send out appropriate greeting cards (Sorry no Xmas card this past year...). Re-connect to some people from Cbus I have failed to chat with this year. Go on more date nights with DH. Make some new connections here in Duluth. 
I did get Skype going w the ILs there for awhile, but broke the habit when we went and visited them at Christmas! The rest of these, I fail.

Besides these goals, I of course had the 30x30 list to be getting on with. As time has passed, they pretty much have broken down into a few categories...

DONE (27%)
- Buy a home that may be our forever home
- Inline Skate a Marathon
- Go shopping at the mall of America
- Read War and Peace
- Dye my Hair Red
- Do a long trail ride with a "scary" hill
- Learn to Like Mushrooms
- Hike a specific section of the Superior Hiking Trail

- Have a second child - you guys would know if I was going to have a baby by May
- Do 100 Hrs of Community Service. It would have had to be spread out, I can't cram that into 5 months.
- Go Out on Lake Superior in a Boat. Its under ice... don't think it will be a pleasant experience by the end of May/
- Learn to Snowboard
- Get to the Bottom of Palisade
- Ride in a Fast Car with Max
- Ride a motorcycle
- Go Off Roading

-  Go to Midnight Showing in Costume - I had opportunities to do this and just didn't care to. It would have to be for the right movie.
- Be Rainbow Brite for Halloween. - I might still do this someday, but the last two years it has been more important to me to make a family theme than to go all out for my own costume.
- Figure Out/ Visit a State Park - I figured out what park it was, discovered I couldn't access it in the way I want (hiking in a certain place in a certain picture. Its prohibited due to erosion), so since I can't do that hike, I sort of lost interest.
- Cake Decorating. - You know, I would like to be better at this, but its just not THAT important to me compared to many other things.
- Learn to cook pancakes, poach an egg, and cook souffle.  - DH is in charge of pancakes, and the other two no longer appeal to me I learned about French Toast already)

- Learn to Drive a Manual Transmission. This seems unlikely because the weather, but I hope I can at least get a couple lessons in.
- Drive to Thunder Bay. Again Unlikely due to weather/time, but it could happen!
- See the Big Spoon. I should be able to do this if I prioritize it!
- Write Something Good Enough to Have my Friends Read. Might have to shoot for a poem or essay rather than a story...
- Go Fishing. Might be able to squeeze this in in May?
- Make a quilt that has more than 90 degree angles. I am IN PROGRESS on this.
- Bake 10 Different Kinds of Bread. I have done two so far. I could make it!

OK This post has gotten long enough. Those are the status of all of my past and present goals... now to add on 2014 Resolutions....

Sunday, January 19, 2014

NEW YEARS Questions

I am going to have difficulty finding these next years... I am going to forget I did it late and be looking in December wondering where they all are... oh well.

I have done these three "surveys" for the last several years so I want to keep it up, even if I am late.

Exercise #1

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before? I am really struggling with the very first question! Nothing much pops out. I learned what coolant was in a car? I parented a toddler? I got it! I hosted a PLAYDATE. ROLLERBLADED A MARATHON (now I am on a roll...) haha

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I will write another post about this. I didn't really do a very good job with my resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes! Welcome Belle to the world! And a cousin, welcome Jackson! both in December too... squeaking in under the wire...

4. Did anyone close to you die? My Grandma

5. What countries did you spend time in this year? Just America.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? More of a plan for the future? I don't know, to be happy with what we have!

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?  I am not really a "date" person I guess. The new big anniversary is my SIL's wedding!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Finding a new job that works better for me.

9. What was your biggest failure? Bad diet, and bad diet for Benjamin

10. Did you suffer any serious injury or illness? No (lets have it stay that way...)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A car that DH likes!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
DH for being an great husband/father.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and/or depressed? the media and politicians

14. Where did most of your money go? Daycare, mortgage, eating

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The release of "Catching Fire" movie, our big trip to Arizona and seeing the Grand Canyon, Benjamin's first Christmas that he was aware of what was going on. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2013? Royals (its prolific)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) thinner or fatter? about the same I think
c) richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? organizing

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? miscommunicating

20. How did you spend Christmas? In Wichita w/the ILs

21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Stayed in love!

22. What are the main websites you used? Zetaboards, Facebook, Pinterest

23. Did you write anything worth reading this year? no. I don't think I wrote anything at all actually....

24. What was your favorite TV program? How I Met Your Mother (on Netflix)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I try not to hate people in general.

26. What was the best book you read? Looking at Good Reads, I read a lot of  4 star books! I guess my favorite two were Fault In Our Stars and Casual Vacancy

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? nothing new

28. What did you want and get? A new job, and other things

29. What did you want and not get? lottery win

30. What was your favorite film of this year? Catching Fire

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
29. On my actual birthday we did a low-key night out at Noodles&Co with my mom. There was a bigger family party the weekend before it.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Winning the lottery.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Started out as "dress slightly nicer then everyone else in the office"... ended up as "I hate most my clothes and don't care what I wear".

34. What kept you sane?
The help and support of my family and friends.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? No one pops to mind... I enjoyed all of the coverage that Jennifer Lawrence got.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? The Government shutdown was pretty ridiculous. I was pleased with the gains made for equal rights.

37. Who did you miss? My Graduate School Friends, my ILs

38. Who was the best new person you met?
a couple of work people (from both my old job and new job actually)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013? You never know what is going to happen next, just keep swimming!!

40. What word or phrase sums up this year? "Happily Ever After"

Exercise #2

1 minute ago... I was watching a guy's knee bend the entirely wrong way on the NFC Championship Game
1 hour ago... I was reading Benjamin his bedtime books, current favorite is "Good Night Construction Site"
1 day ago... I was watching Top Gear with DH
1 month ago... Rushing to get the last of DS's Christmas gifts together so we could celebrate early.
1 year ago... I was sleep training Benjamin, trying to get him sleeping better and in his own room
1 decade ago... I was a Sophomore in College, probably home for Chritmas, missing DH terribly
1 lifetime ago... I think I was in revolutionary in Russia

5 minutes ago... I was talking to DH about how I hadn't seen the Knee injury...
5 hours ago... I was watching Payton Manning play Tom Brady in the AFC Championship, and feeling very queezy
5 days ago... I had book club for a book about the Comanche
5 months ago... I had just started my new job with the county
5 years ago... I was teaching the one and only college course I ever taught.

Exercise #3

The rule is simply: Post the first line of each month of my blog from the last year.

JANUARY: This is going to be a good year.
FEBRUARY:  One of the hard things about setting a sleep schedule is that its hard to be able to sleep in on weekends or do stuff in the evenings.
MARCH: Benjamin slept really well last night again! He woke up around 10:30pm and needed comforting.
APRIL:  On Sunday we had our normal family holiday - lots of food and good company.
MAY:  Its been a long time since I posted a sleep update, over a month actually.
JUNE:  Yesterday Benjamin turned 17 months old!
JULY: We had a fabulous 4th of July. First, we took a long walk as a family, with Benjamin in the stroller. It was very pleasant.
AUGUST:  My paternal Grandmother was laid to rest today. I was not able to attend the funeral, so I wanted to take a minute to write about her.
SEPTEMBER: Friday Night 8/30/13 - After work we headed out to my parent's house for pizza night. It got off to a really late start because my BIL and Bro had to work late, but that was OK because we planned to stay up for a campfire anyways!
OCTOBER:  I want to post and tell you about the awesome hike I took up the shore as part of my 30x30 list. It was beautiful, gave me a new bucket list goal (as in lifetime bucket list), and taught me something about hobbies and efforts.
NOVEMBER:  FRIDAY  Halloween Carnival!! We went to the elementary school Halloween Carnival (now called the Fall Festival).
DECEMBER:  The Best Advice for New (and Not-So-New) Moms

Monday, January 13, 2014

2 Years Old!

 So what is Benjamin like as a two-year old?

His strength is problem solving and verbal. He talks very well and we get a lot of comments on his vocabulary and language. Of course, a lot of it is only intelligible to us, or in context, but tats common for kids his age. I am not even good at giving examples of how well he talks because its every minute of every day. Some anecdotes from the past month.

Here is one that was facebook worthy: 
Ben: The moon! Me found the moon!
Me: Yeah the moon is out! Did you find it?
Ben: Yeah! Full Moon
Me: Do you know what a full moon is? What makes a moon full?
Ben:  Circle Moon!!
Me: Good job! Thats impressive!
Ben: Silly Moon (laughing/silly voice)
Me: Why is it silly? Because its out in the morning?
Ben: Yeah. Silly moon out in morning. 

There is also the time he told my ILs - "Thats a semi truck pulling a trailer" (this boy knows his vehicles...). Or the time Grandpa Y asked him what a picture in his book was and got the answer "Alaskan Brown Bear"

When DH's car was in the shop - 
Ben: "Dada's car broken?"
Me: Yes, we took it to the shop to get it fixed"
Ben: "Fix it with Hammer?" 
Me: "well, no, I don't think they fix cars with hammers, maybe a wrench? Hammers are used on things like houses."
Ben "me fix house with hammer" (repeat this last phrase incessantly)

Common expressions heard ALL of the time: 
"I need help" 
 "That my ____" (Mama, Dada, Dog, Cat, truck)
"I no like ___" (Monday, Daycare, baths, eating)
"close the door" 
"Clean up, clean up" (they might have a cleanup at daycare"
"where's my ___" (billy beats, big yellow truck, orange car, cup)
"I ride in ____" (mommy or daddy's car)
"The ___ on the bus" (seriously this kid thing EVERYTHING rides on the bus and he breaks into this song at random all the time)
And the ones to melt your heart - 
"Ben sit by mama and dada"
 "I love Mama, Dada, Grandma, Grandpa, TWO grandma grandpa, ..." (and he goes on to list aunts and uncles in whatever order he think of them)

Benjamin is getting really good at puzzles. He has a 24 piece floor puzzle that he got in mid-December (an early Christmas gift) which he can do mostly on his own now. I think he could do it entirely on his own, but he likes us to help him and he wants us to "play" with him. We certainly trying to encourage him to work on it on his own. 

It seems like he knows where we are when we are in the car. He will ask "Me go in tunnel?" before we get to the tunnels on the highway, or that we are going over a bridge before we get to it. 

He is able to sit and entertain himself with a book, puzzle, or toys for quite some time. Other parents have commented on "how nicely he sits and eats" and "how he focuses on one activity".

He can count... well, how high depend son his mood. Always to Four... sometimes up to ten with some prodding. 

If you tell him you don't have something you need, like a paper towel to clean up a mess, or other similar things, he will problem solve and figure out how or where to get one. 

For a long time we have been giving him "Two minute warnings" before transitioning to a new activity, and now he bargains back - if we try to switch activities too fast he will ask for two minutes. 

This evening when I asked DH "what Day is it?" (referring to an event), Benjamin answered "Monday!"

What are his weaknesses? Well, he still doesn't jump or climb like his friends. He does a sorta hop/skip thing, and he loves to dance these days. He does a rousing version of Ring Around the Rosie or Wheels on the Bus, or dances to Billy Beats, but he doesn't actually jump and shows only limited interest in climbing. He is a total klutz. He has what will be a permanent scar on his forehead from running into a corner, and last week he ran into another wall, getting an epic bruise and scrape on his right cheek.

He is already a know-it-all like his mama and we got the note from daycare that he knows his colors really well! So well he answers when it is other kids turns. 

Interests: Anything and everything vehicles (we have so many different toys and books about these and he loves them all, I think Good Night Construction Site has been read every night since we got home from our Holiday travels.), Books, puzzles, "home" (he frequently says he wants to "go home" when he means "stay home"), swimming lessons, singing and dancing, dogs and cats, my parents new puppy Sherpa, Thomas the Train videos, brushing his teeth

What he will eat changes day to day, but these are always favorites it seems: Olives, tomatoes, oranges, pizza (with olives, sausage, and pineapple is his favorite), fish sticks, cinnamon rolls/cinnamon toast, cheerios, candy (preferably chocolate).

As for terrible twos? Yes he is more demanding now then he used to be. He will start to freak out over many things a day (not having presents to open, not being able to start a rowdy activity shortly before bedtime, being told no to a food he wants or an activity he wants in general), but usually these do not escalate. Usually they can be controlled with a bit of reasoning, soothing, or distraction. Sometimes they are comical (the presents one kinda made us both laugh) We will see if that lasts. 

He seems resistant to potty training, so we have not pushed it much. 

He has gotten pretty decent at sharing. Sharing is a KEYWORD. You can ask him to give someone something six times and he will say no, then say "can you SHARE it with him?" and he smiles and hands it over. At the Children's Museum last weekend a boy took his train, he started to squawk, but as soon as DH or I would say "Ben, you need to share" he would calm down. Not that he is always nice, because he is NOT. Over Christmas he hit a 6 day old baby in the head with a toy, and has hit some other kids in a similar manner. At the Children's museum he also walked up to another toddler and stuffed a stick of plastic celery in her face. Not so nice. We also have trouble at the end of mealtimes at home (despite being told he eats nice by other parents), where he decides to start throwing food, or pouring his sippy cup out onto his plate. 

He has one VERY good friend at daycare (Dino), and it just makes us all laugh every time they see each other, because they both get so excited. Ben immediately starts dancing or skipping around, and they laugh and run off. Ben will say "Dino very funny" and laugh his head off. 

That is Benjamin at two years! I might come back later and add some thoughts... but I think I hit on most everything. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Benjamin's Birthday Party (2 yrs!)

Its hard to believe, but little Benjamin is now two years old!

We celebrated his birthday on Sunday the 4th in grand style, with lots of family and a few friends. His paternal grandparents ventured up into the tundra from their normally warmer haunts, and my entire family was able to be there. His two partners in crime, hence forth known as Dino and Bear, were also able to come with their families.

We didn't really have a "theme", but primary colors is always my child "thing" (see his nursery, or his first birthday party), and we got a Thomas Train Cake from the local grocery store. ( I originally planned to bake one, but my one and only New Years Resolution is to simplify, which means not stressing that I don't have time to make a Birthday Cake and just buying one).

Everyone showed up around ten, and chaos ensued. There were only three toddlers and one (crawling) baby. I can't imagine how crazy it would have gotten if the other two toddlers (or few kids) showed up. They danced to Billy Beats. They raced a dump truck around. They did puzzles. They read books. They jumped off our two-step-high landing. There were a couple of less-then desired moments. Like the time my sister, trying to be helpful and stop Benjamin from ramming his dump truck into the wall, actually made him flip over and face plant into the floor. But mostly it was fun. We opened presents, which were all great. Bear was being super helpful and bringing them to Benjamin from the other room. Then we all ate pizza, and cake and icecream, played a bit more with the new toys that had come as gifts (including a very popular pop-up tent with a tunnel attached), and then it was all over. It was pretty much perfect in my opinion, perhaps besides the fact I forgot to get Candles!! But, other than that, perfect, and that is a pretty minor thing.

Testing if the frosting tastes good...

Billy Beats Dance Party!!!


The next day, his actual Birthday, was nice too. We had a nice pancake breakfast and hung out with G&G Yates, played with all his new toys (from both Christmas and his Birthday).

ACTUAL Birthday:
Playing with his new "zoo" Duplo's, I built the tree so the giraffe would have something to eat, and DH crashed the blue car into it, making a Harry Potter reference!! Makes for one happy wife....

I was going to fold into this an update on his development and such, but he is begging me to come play, so off I go!!

The Obligatory "Haven't Been Posting" Post

I have a lot of catch up to do, and some fun stuff moving forward.

The main reason I have not been posting is because I got a Kindle. I know, weird reason, right? The thing is, that is now my main internet device, and its awful for typing. Now, instead of just getting board surfing the internet and clicking open a new window to type up a blog post, I have to put away the Kindle, get out the laptop (which may or may not be charged, may or may not be under a cat, etc), and get it started and fired up (which is doesn't usually like) and then I can post. On the plus size, the Kindle has gotten me to reaChd more because its so easy to flip from getting bored surfing the net to reading an e-book.

 But the reason doesn't matter, I have missed some major stuff getting on here and I need to get it up since I use my blog as a "life record". (... If I find myself asking "what did we do for Christmas three years ago?" or "when did Ben start solids?" or anything of that nature). So, here are some upcoming posts you will be seeing:

- Christmas Vacation 2013
- 2013 Recap and "Memes"
- Benjamin's Second Birthday
- 30x30 Revisited and Revised
- 2014 Resolutions
- Maybe some book/movie reviews?

These won't necessarily be in order, because some are more important. For example, I plan to tackle Benjamin's Birthday post first, because its the most important thing for me to document (in my opinion).

So, thanks for reading. Hopefully I can pull out the old laptop a bit more often and get'er done.