Monday, January 30, 2012

Kindergarden Rocks!

Josie has had a wonderful year in kindergarden so far. I wanted to take a few minutes to just record some of her experiences.

This year, she has a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Brown. Mrs. Brown has been the reading specialist for kindergarden and 1st grade for a while at Mt. Comfort, but she has not ever taught a kindergarden class. She told me she was so excited to teach a class this year! I think that makes a perfect combination for a teacher - experienced in the classroom with five and six year olds (AKA - not fresh out of school) but with the enthusiasm of a fresh out of school teacher. She has done a fantastic job!

Josie has done well in school and is getting pretty good at making her way through the Easy Readers. She got a few level 2 easy readers for her birthday and has been enjoying those. She is also surprising me everyday with what she picks up. She'll tell me about the morning announcements and what's going on in the school along with the weather report she hears on the radio in the morning.

She really seems to like all of her classmates and was worried about inviting only a few to her birthday party because she didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Delaney and Keira are two little girls she seems to talk about a lot and she invited them to her party. Luke is her friend that is a boy. She makes it very clear that she likes him but doesn't love him. He's asked her to be his boyfriend but she told him he had to ask her dad. Love it!

Back to Mrs. Brown - she really makes an effort to share the happenings of the classroom with parents. She posts a newsletter every week with photos and has sent a few emails to me with funny and cute stories about Josie. Here are two excerpts we received recently...

- Also, you should have seen her when Mrs. Whitaker (the principal) came last week!  She was so excited.  At one point during the book Mrs. Whitaker was reading, she was talking about how "No one knows everything" and Josie pops up with, "except God, right?, he knows everything."  Mrs. Whitaker was a little taken aback and had a huge smile as she looked at Josie.  So sweet.

- Hope you have a great weekend.  I am certain that Josie made the days of several Conner Prairie Volunteers when she declared, "This is the Best Day Ever!" - the kind of moment moms (and teachers:)  live for!!

And, my favorite email we've received so far was sent out to all of the parents of her class.

- Have I told you all lately how much I love being your child's teacher!?  I am so lucky.  I know it every single day.

She's been just having a wonderful year and I feel so lucky that she has a wonderful teacher. It is really reaffirming our choice to move to this district. The first year of public education can really shape a young learners thoughts about school so I'm happy she has had such a positive experience!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Testing a Theory

The day started out rough today and hasn't gotten much better for Tessa. She has been in some form of a fit or another since 4:30 this morning. She's finally given up and is passed out on her bed.

Now, don't get me wrong, Tessa has always been our "spirited" child. This magnitude of a fit is like none I have seen though. As a mother, I'm always worried I'm doing the right thing. When this happens, I never know whether to cuddle and tell her everything will be alright, or to ride it out. Today, I tried some of both. In the end, neither worked, she just had to give up.

Here's my theory though. This girl has lived on Ovaltine since she was two, probably two sippy cups a day at least. Last week, all week, we were out. So, no chocolate milk, at home. She probably had one or two glasses at the sitter or out, but for the most part, no milk. We were just remarking last week that her behavior was improving. Now, yesterday was the first day we had Ovaltine in the house. I can't think of a specific issue yesterday, but today obviously takes the cake.

I remembered a "crunchy" teacher of Josie's mentioning that she eliminated dairy with wonderful results. A quick Google search affirmed by curiosity. Milk and dairy products can cause behavior problems in some children. This particular article really describes a lot of things Tessa does, including the forgetfulness and constant crying, though not to the same degree as this little girl.

So, we will be cutting out chocolate milk at this house and others for Tessa. It won't be hard to cut out the rest of the obvious dairy products too as she doesn't particularly care for them. However, I'm not sure I'm ready to take it to the next level and truly scrutinize labels for every stitch of dairy. I think we'll see how eliminating the milk does and go from there.

I would love your thoughts and recommendations. Have you heard of this? Any anecdotal stories? Am I crazy? Is it enough to start with basic dairy, or do I really need to diligently read labels. Please weigh in...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is It Really January?

Check out my car thermometer today! It's rainy and nasty but not cold. I'll take it.

(And, yes, that is my cell phone case in the mirror. It gets a lot of comments!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is it really that time already?

I am a little sad to say that I think Jack is done with his pacifier. I've always been hesitant to believe (OK - honestly, I thought they were liars) those moms that say, "Oh, little Johnny just stopped taking his binky all on his own." Or, "I told Suzy another baby wanted their binky and she just gave it up and never knew the difference." Now, it seems I have my own unbelievable story.

On Friday, Jack was seeming a little under the weather. He had a slight fever and was just sad and fussy. Against my best judgement, I took him to the gym anyway and sent him into the kids area. He really did seem fine and I thought it was probably just a reaction to the flu shot. Anyway, when I went to pick him up, they couldn't find his binky. We left anyway but I knew we didn't have one at home. I don't know how we got down to just one.

Tom and I searched the house up and down and couldn't find one. At this point, Jack was deliriously tired and really just jumped into bed. He slept in our bed for part of the night (not uncommon at all) but made it all night without a binky. I couldn't believe it but here we are, Sunday night, and he has gone down for the third night in a row.

It's funny because he has been calling it his "uh-oh" for a while now. He picked it up because whenever he dropped it, someone would say "uh-oh!" It's just too cute. So, we all got in that habit too. He's really only asked for it once or twice. He's still not feeling 100% so it's interesting to me that he hasn't been asking for it all the time. But, I'm thinking that we're done. Surely, he won't remember it after three days?

Something about a baby with a pacifier just warms my heart. Jack had a super cute way that he liked to prop up the holder and leave it under his nose. He never moved past the infant sizes because the little handle wouldn't fit under his now. So sweet.

So, I'm happy it was uneventful, but really sad he's growing up so fast. It really is just no time at all. Like sand, just slipping through my fingers.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Four Hour Body Update

Well folks, once the holidays were over, I was craving routine. It was important to get into a daily routine for our family's activities, but more importantly for my eating. Just like 99.9% of America, I took a break from all things healthy over Christmas and New Years. I don't know how bad it got because I refused to weigh myself until I had a few days of healthy eating under the proverbial belt.

To catch you up, I had lost about 8 pounds before Christmas following the Four Hour Body starting in October. (Here's a link to my first post about Four Hour Body. For those wondering, my blood work came back great with no mention about how much meat I was consuming.) Now, I had also previously lost those 8 pounds before our trip to Mexico last year while counting calories and doing Insanity. But, they crept back up over the summer. So, I wasn't at a new low or anything. In fact, I kind of plateaued at the weight I was before Christmas.

Truly, I think I gained every one of those 8 pounds back over the break. But, the good news is, when I got on the scale after the first week of getting back on track, five of them were gone again. So, I only had three to go to get back to pre-Christmas levels. I think I've lost another pound or so this week too.

I do worry a little that I'll hit that number again though and not go anywhere. Again, like a lot of people, I think I will always want to lose five to seven pounds. I'm hoping that between the diet and beginning to train for the Indy Mini next week (!!!!!), I may be able to banish those five to seven pounds and be back to a weight I was before I had kids at all.

I will say though that this diet definitely works. It's very simple (basically meat, beans, vegetables six days a week and anything you want on day seven) but not easy. Tom started this week too and will officially weigh in tomorrow, but as of today, he has lost 4.5 pounds this week. Impressive to say the least. I'm hoping for an round five pounds for him by tomorrow. It's particularly difficult for him since he is allergic to fruits and vegetables, so I'm very proud of him for lasting this long. Results are making it worth it for him.

The rest of the routine I implemented worked great this week. I found myself under a blanket this afternoon with Tessa watching "cook shows" (Food Network) at her request. Even kids like those shows! I read a lot and just enjoyed being caught up on all things domestic. I must remember that I'm a sucker for a plan and perform so much better when planning in advance to have a plan. :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

We're Building a House! - Construction Update - 1/8/12

Oh no! Has it really been a month?!?! Well, a lot has happened and most of this I will document in photos. Tom has done a great job of documenting everything through photos on his phone. I'll group some of these again in collages and separate some of them for specifics as well.

Here is the framing of the garage going into the mudroom.

Stairs down to the basement and up to the second story.

More interior framing of our great room - this is the fireplace wall - fireplace in the middle and a door on either side. The doors lead out to a covered porch.

This is a view of the great room looking into the dining area, hearth room and kitchen. If you look at the horizontal header, that is the floor of one of the upstairs bedrooms.

This is the screened porch in it's early stages.

The window on the left and center will be in the dining nook and the window on the left is for the hearth room. This is the view from the deck.

 This is an exterior, front view. They are framing in the front porch. There will eventually be a decorative truss in that peak as well.

One of favorite pictures of construction! She just loves these white boots!

The next two photos are from the second story and the temporary balconies the framers build. This is looking into the great room. 

And, this is looking down the staircase.

These are some exterior framing photos - mainly of the decking. 

These are just two fun pictures of the interior framing. It always blows my mind to see all these things coming together!

The windows were a very exciting thing for us. Tom spent a lot of time picking just the right windows and I think he hit a home run! We went with Marvin Integrity - in black! (They're white on the inside.) We're so excited to see how these look when everything comes together.

Here is the final, framed view of the great room.

Again, looking from the great room into the dining, hearth and kitchen.

This is the first of two big changes we made on location. We added this fireplace! We had designed in a hearth room but decided a while ago not to have a fireplace because the great room is so close to this room. But, when it was actually framed, we changed our mind. I am SO glad we decided to do this. I'm really digging this area!

We also changed this ceiling in the dining nook. It was originally going to be flat, but when it was framed, we could see the vault and really thought it was cool. So, instead of having them finish the framing to make it flat, we finished it out vaulted.

Tom went out one day before we left for Christmas and took some photos of the back of the house. It truly is designed to be enjoyed from the back. Another decorative truss will go in on the screen-in porch. In the last photo, you can see the Board & Batten siding. We'll likely paint both the board and batten the same color.

And then there are the shots of the front. It's all coming together!

Finally, this last week, the garage doors were installed! Tom also spent a long time researching doors. He's really happy with the choice and I am too!

The other thing that happened this week is the plumbing and HVAC. The furnaces are in as is the duct work. The tub surrounds are in and all of the toilets and sinks on the upper two stories are roughed in as well. 

The upcoming week will bring some exciting changes. I'm thinking the siding will be finished up. The roof will be started tomorrow and the electricians will box out for our electrical walk through on Wednesday. Then, all of the wires will be run and we'll be close to drywall! 

We are enjoying the process so much and only minimally stressed. We have some big decisions this week like finalizing cabinets and the electrical walk. All is exciting and I wouldn't change a thing!

Back In the Game!

After my last, pitiful post, I bucked up, went out for dinner with a friend, had a nice planning session with Tom and got my act in gear. I'm doing so much better. I really start to lose it when I start to lose control. So, I made a few lists, started with small tasks and really made a dent in what I needed to get done last week. Sometimes, I just have so many un-fun things on my list, it gets me down. Getting some of those things done, realizing they weren't so bad, was very therapeutic.

So, my newest goal is to get more organized around the house. I am in the office three days a week and I'm home with the kids two days and the weekend. I've fallen into the habit of considering my days at home my days "off." That really gets us out of sorts. Laundry doesn't get done, toys are everywhere and dishes just sit. I even find myself irritated at the kids when I'm trying to surf the internet. This just doesn't work.

To remedy the situation, I've started working on a household binder. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while, but just haven't gotten around to doing it. I keep my lists in a small notebook that goes everywhere with me, but this will have to be larger. It will hold all of our important information eventually - routines, schedules, grocery lists, financial information and even a household inventory list. Maybe once I'm done with it I'll post about it. For now, it's definitely a work in progress.

My first step was to put together a grocery list for Walmart. I don't know about you, but I only shop at Walmart. I'm not happy about it, but I just don't have time to run all over town. And, we are not creative eaters. We are always eating the same things and I always manage to forget something when I'm making my list or at the store. So, I spent some time putting together a list based on the order I browse the aisles and all of the things we like to have on hand at home. I've used it twice and easily cut 10-15 minutes off my trip in the store. That place can be like a big, black hole if you're not careful! I did our weekly shopping today in 40 minutes, which included 20 minutes worth of driving to and from the store! Now that I've tested the list, I plan to print off a bunch of lists to keep in my notebook.

The second step was to outline each of my days, with the exception of my true "day off" - Saturday. I outlined exactly what I needed to do in each chunk of my day. I have it down to the smallest of detail including loading, running and unloading the dishwasher, starting each load of laundry, wiping down counters, and even sorting mail. Five minutes a day of sorting mail is so much easier than allowing a huge pile to accumulate all week. And, double bonus, you don't have a huge pile of mail accumulating during the week. :)

This was an important exercise for me. I didn't realize how much of a routine I already follow. The key thing is that I'm kind of busy and don't have a ton of free time. So, if I just decide to blow off laundry on Tuesday, it's really hard to get caught back up. This just causes undue stress on me and the family. If I do a little bit at a time, I have more time to spend with the kids doing fun stuff. I was also careful to work in specific times when I'm home with the girls to do projects together during Jack's naps. Just as sometimes I forget that I'm not really "off" when I'm at home, I also forget WHY I stay home during those two days. It's not to keep a perfect house. It's to spend time with the kids.

I also set a few goals for January -

1. Remember birthdays (always seems to make the New Year's Resolution list)
2. Follow Four Hour Body - Tom's going to try this too!
3. Follow Binder Routine
4. Read 1 Book - Would I like to read more? Yes. Considering I think I only read two books last year, I think this is a lofty goal. :)

I've said for a long time that I feel like I have the perfect work-life balance. I am very blessed to be self-employed and have the flexibility that I do. I am hopeful that this method of organization will help make my time at home less stressful and more enjoyable. After all, that's why I'm here!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mojo, Oh Mojo. Wherefore art thou, Mojo?

Come back. Please. Pretty, pretty please?

{Prepare for a pitiful post. Feel free to skip if you don't want to hear me whine.}

This happens every year. The holiday hustle and bustle is over, the skies turn gray, the thermometer plunges, and all things appear blah. Not to mention, winter is not exactly busy season in the construction and real estate season. If this happens every year, then why is it so hard to get over? I'm finding it harder to get and stay motivated each day. I hate to be a downer and I hate to post negativity but I also feel like I need an outlet, so I'm putting it out here.

I'll start by saying, and I can't stress this enough, I know I'll get over these feelings and I certainly don't really have any real reason to be down. We are truly blessed in so many ways - we have a healthy, strong family (both immediate and extended), God has continually provided for us both with necessities and luxuries, and we're building a wonderful new house. So, why can't I see all of that and be blissfully happy?

I'm listless and aimless and feel a bit like I'm wandering through life day by day. I have nervous energy but no where to put it to good use. I need a new and exciting project that will pump me up and get me going in the morning and keep me up late at night. When we first started Timber Run, I would stay up late preparing emails to all of ten customers and newsletters for the same. When I first found out I was pregnant, I scour the internet for tools and information. Vacation planning is the same way. What do I do in my free time right now? Play solitaire on my phone. Real productive.

Right now, I just feel stuck. I can't go forward because I don't have a plan or a project or a vision. Unfortunately, opportunities don't just fall in your lap, you have to seek them out. I just can't get started! And, I certainly don't feel like finishing any projects right now. Before the holidays, I started working on our new Joyner Homes website and there it sits. I haven't blogged since mid-December about our house or the wonderful holiday we had.

I'll pull out of this rut, and most likely before the end of winter. In fact, something shiny will probably grab my attention, at least for the short term, by the end of this week. But, man, this has been a rough week. I know I just need to put my nose to the grindstone and start cranking out some productivity and I'm trying to do just that.

OK. I'm starting to feel better already. Getting it down in writing is cathartic, but I'm always open to more suggestions. How do you get your Mojo back when it takes a hiatus? What do you do to motivate yourself in down seasons? I'll try anything these days!