Tuesday, March 31, 2015

HADA 2015: Day -2

John Wallace took it upon himself to wake me up an hour early this morning, to make sure I had time to do my daily Bible reading. Wasn't that thoughtful of him? I even had time to make oatmeal for breakfast!

It actually was really nice to be up and moving before the daily battle with my never-wants-to-get-up eldest daughter. And that battle went a bit more smoothly than usual today, because I had promised her that we would put our new betta in his tank first thing in the morning, once his water was the same temperature. I let Valerie buy lunch today, so that was one less thing to worry about, too. All in all, it was a pretty smooth morning. Then, John Wallace, determined to help me meet my goals, went down for an unprecedented morning nap, and I was able to clean the entire living room, strain the broth I had made overnight, and do two loads of laundry. Woot!

Then John Wallace woke up, we had lunch, and I started wondering whether we would have time to go shopping today after all. I had been planning to go tomorrow, but a morning nap is such a rarity, I wasn't sure what I would do if I didn't have to spend the entire afternoon wrestling an over-tired baby. I looked at the rough draft menu that our family had brainstormed the night before and tried to decide if I had time to sit down and hammer it out properly by days and make a list of what we would need for each meal. But cooperating kids are a ticking time-bomb, and ignoring them long enough to make a list seemed unwise, so I threw caution to the wind and went shopping without a list. (Aside: I pulled together the menu for the first week of April when I got home, and I think I did okay. I have enough meals for the first week, and then some, and I only went a tiny bit overboard in the beef department when I changed my mind about making burgers tonight from scratch, and bought frozen ones, but forgot to put back the fresh beef. Oh well, maybe I will just make double tacos on Tuesday, and freeze the extra until next week. Does taco meat reheat well?)

Drove to Aldi's for groceries (it's half an hour away, but worth every minute!), then to the farm for milk and eggs (and peanut butter eggs!) then home again. John Wallace fell asleep on the ride home, so I was able to unload the car uninterrupted, but he woke up before I got to put everything away. But then he shocked me, for the third time today, when he decided to help me work towards my goals by playing quietly by himself and looking out the window at the construction workers, until I was able to finish putting everything away. This task took slightly longer than it should have, because I had to clean out the fridge to make room for the new stuff. But I was able to get it done, and I even had time to fold another load of laundry and transport the folded clothes up to the clothes room!

Then I crashed. There comes a point in every day when I just can't do anymore. Today, it came at 4:30. That's a common time for it. Right when I should be getting up and making dinner. That's why crockpot days are usually better days than oven/stove days. I let myself crash on the couch for a little while (while the littles climbed on me and didn't really let me rest). Today had been pretty productive, and I hadn't really had much down time. And I had been up early, too. Then Valerie annoyed me into action at around 5, bugging me for a snack. I got up and made burgers for dinner.

After dinner, I told Jer I needed to lie down for a few minutes. I fell asleep for over an hour. I woke up to my kids banging on my door telling me it was time to come read them stories for bedtime.

(Heh, I had myself convinced that I would mostly just do list updates this year. Apparently, I have too much fun rambling on needlessly.)

I put away dinner, and made Jeremy's lunch. I filled four bins with recyclables to go to the curb tomorrow, and I can finally see the floor of my side porch! (Along with the broken glass that I never cleaned up that was the reason I fell behind on recyclables in the first place.) I have dishes soaking in the sink, and I promised myself I would go do them when I got to the point in my blog post where I was about to mention the dishes. I guess I'm there, now.

Phew, okay. I'm back. The table is cleared and wiped. The floor is swept. The high chair is wiped down. Valerie's lunch is made. The sink is empty. (The counters may still be overflowing with dishes, but at least every dish involved in preparing and/or eating tonight's dinner is clean.) It is well past my bedtime, but I just heard the dryer finish, so I'm going to fold one more load of laundry, then flop into bed.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hour-a-Day April: Day -3, "The List"

April is threatening to start out (and end (and middle)) on a very busy note, so I thought I might try to get a jump on HADA a few days early. I have been making The List. And let me tell you, it's a bit daunting. Because, in addition to this list, I will also be preparing a Passover seder for my church, celebrating Easter with my family, doing a Badge ceremony for my Girl Scout troop, having a sleepover with my Girl Scout troop, and going on an overnight Girl Scout training (wow, this really is a Girl-Scout-heavy month!)

Anyhow, I decided to post The List here on my blog this year. It's a long list. I highly doubt that I will get through it all. But it all needs to be done, so I will do my best and plug away at it. I will probably come back and edit The List as I go, as a visual reminder of my progress (or lack thereof).

Jule Ann's HADA List 2015

Updated: April 8, 2015
*do before April if possible

  • menu plan* (half done)
  • grocery shopping* (half done)
  • multi-meal prep
  • catch up on laundry* (almost done)
  • catch up on dishes*
  • clutter hot spots:
    • metro shelves
    • game shelves
    • kitchen desk
    • kitchen island
    • third floor girl scout stuff
  • clean my room
  • sort outgrown/winter clothes
  • get guest room ready for Grandma*
  • sew couch cushions
  • repair broken books
  • get garden ready:
    • make drainage trench
    • turn soil in front garden
    • transplant seedlings
    • create backyard garden area
    • plant shady grass seed in side yard
    • mix sandy soil for carrot pots
  • scrub and fill sandbox
  • fix roman shades (tried one trick, didn't work, back to the drawing board)
  • weather-proof kitchen door
  • make photo books
  • make measuring stick
  • purge third floor toys
  • take down Christmas lights
  • replace light bulb in hallway
  • replace smoke detector batteries
  • clean stove
    • inside
    • outside/top
    • under
  • level stove legs
  • organize/purge Valerie's kindergarten papers
  • make compost sifter
  • sift compost for garden
  • move composters
  • take out ALL the recyclables
  • clean side porch
  • tidy and sweep front porch
  • make a household budget
  • track all spending for the month

Things to work into my everyday life:
  • eat breakfast
  • make bed
  • clean kitchen table after eating (instead of right before the next meal)
  • empty sink before bed
  • read Bible
  • go swimming (2-3x/week)
  • get on Wii Fit
  • make lunch before bed
  • prep breakfast before bed

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hour-a-Day April 2015

Well, look at that, it's almost April already! I've been doing Hour-a-Day April for five years, now. I have almost forgotten what it's like to not do it!

For those of you new to the concept of Hour-a-Day April (HADA, for short), it's a productivity challenge that I started doing a few years ago when I realized just how much you can get done in an hour if you really put your mind to it. It might feel like trying to squeeze blood from a stone, sometimes. There really aren't any extra hours in the day, no matter how you slice it. But it's only for a month, and when it's short-term, it's easier to give a few precious minutes to making your life a bit nicer/simpler/cleaner in the long run.

My original post is here, but here are the updated rules for 2015:

Hour-a-Day April 2015 Rules

  1. Think of something that you normally have a hard time finding time for. Sewing, cleaning, painting, organizing, playing basketball, crossing things off your honey-do list, it's up to you! It can be one big project, or a bunch of little projects. I have a fairly diverse list of HADA projects this year, but a lot of my focus will be on things that I can do today that will make tomorrow better. My typical cleaning, sorting, and organizing projects all fall into that category, but I'm also looking at things like fixing the shades so they don't pop off their brackets every day when I raise and lower them. I'm also going to spend part of my hour every day doing things that I should be doing every day, already, but I'm not. Like eating breakfast.
  2. Spend an hour every day working on your chosen project(s). Set a timer and stick to it. Kids need your attention? Stop the timer and give them your attention. You have all day to squeeze in that hour, and if your kids are anything like mine, it might happen five or ten minutes at a time. But by the end of the day, make sure you've clocked that hour. Know yourself. If the best way for you to get in your hour is to get up early, get up early. If you clean best after everyone else goes to bed, skip CSI. It's only for a month.
  3. Take one day off a week. If you're religious, you may already have a set sabbath, if not, just pick a day to be your "break" day. Or don't pick a day, and let it be a floating day off, so if you miss a day, you can just say, "Oh well, that was my day off." (I tend to do this last one.)
  4. Keep others updated on your progress. Comment on this blog. Blog about it yourself, and send me the link. Join our HADA Facebook group, and come chat about what you're working on. Phone up your mom. Put a gold star on a chart.
  5. Don't give up. Missed a day? Just brush it off and get back on the proverbial horse the next day. Even if you only do half the days, that's still 15 hours more productivity than your April would have otherwise had.
  6. Don't let HADA set you back on all the stuff you normally do find time for. If you're having a hard time keeping up with the daily stuff, count some of it towards your hour (but not all of it, or the point of HADA is lost).
  7. Don't let anyone or anything steal your joy and sense of accomplishment for the things you have done. HADA isn't about becoming perfect, it's about deliberately spending an hour every day tackling the projects you rarely get to. If you did your hour today, YOU WIN. Period. It doesn't matter if someone else did two hours, or if the sink is still full of dirty dishes, or if there are still 17 more hours of organizing to do. If you managed to squeeze a whole extra hour of blood from the stone of your already-busy day, be proud of yourself.
  8. Celebrate when it's all over! If you live near me, let's go out to dinner together and order gooey chocolatey desserts. If you live far away, have your own celebration and tell me about it. Go ahead and splurge, you've earned it!


Apparently, it is trendy these days to pick a word as a theme for the year, instead of making New Year's Resolutions. I don't tend to do things simply because they are trendy, but I also try not to reject good ideas simply because they are trendy, either. So I decided to give this "word of the year" thing a try.

Yes, I know it's March. I did pick my word back in December, but I wanted to mull it over in the solitude of my own mind, first, before going public with it. Gotta be sure I really want to be there before I announce my presence of the trend bandwagon.

But, now it's March, and here I am. I have decided that I really like this "word of the year" thing.

My word for 2015 is "balance". Balance is the one thing I struggle the most with as a mom. Knowing when to be firm, and when to be gentle. When to wash the dishes and when to read a story. When to cook healthy meals and when to have a treat.

I want to be perfect. But I don't think you can be "perfect" at being balanced. Inherent in the concept of balance is finding a middle ground between two extremes. Maybe you could do one of the extremes perfectly, but finding the middle is a continuous process of constantly weighing shifting winds. And when you live in a house with three adorable tornadoes, those winds shift a LOT.

Everything in my life seems to come down to balance these days. Maybe it's just that I'm looking for it, now, because it's my "word", but it really does feel that way. I tried to keep my living room clean for a whole week, recently. And one day, as I was putting the same toy away for the seventh time that day, I threw my arms up and said, "Forget it!" My kids need a clean living room to play. They dance more when they have a clear space to dance in. They fight less when they don't have to trip over things. Toys get more use when they are in the places they belong. But following my kids around and trying to keep it constantly clean was exhausting, inefficient, and pointless. So I'm looking for that balance. How often do I need to put the toys away in order to keep the room clean enough to be a healthy play space? Once a day? A few times a day? Before each meal? I haven't nailed it yet, but I'm getting closer. Balance.

(Yes, I know my kids should be cleaning up after themselves. They are, to a certain extent, but they are still young, and they need help. We're working on it. If I don't give them enough help/direction, they get frustrated and overwhelmed, but if I do it all myself, they start to think they don't have to do it. They do need to see me do it to model the proper methods, but they also need to try things for themselves. Looking for that perfect balance here, too.)

It is almost April, and I am starting to get excited about doing Hour-a-Day April again. And HADA is all about balance. Finding the time to work on long-term goals, while still meeting short-term goals. Finding the time to work on deep-cleaning projects without neglecting the daily upkeep. Balance.

I will put up a more HADA-focused post soon, but I wanted to get a few of these jumbled thoughts about balance out there first, because I will inevitably be seeing the "balance" thread running through everything I do for HADA, and I might start to sound like a broken record. Now you'll know why.