Resolved.

Every year I struggle with the issue of New Year’s resolutions. Some years I don’t even bother because I know I’m going to fail to keep them. Other years I have a brief enthusiasm for one idea or another that fizzles before the end of the month. In truth, I know very few people who make a New Year’s resolution that affects their life in a lasting manner. The problem is that I am married to one of those few. Five years ago, my husband resolved to lose weight. And then he did. And continues to do so. The man weighs something like 120 pounds less than he did when we were first married. (In this, as in so many other ways, he continues to impress me). So, this year I’ve decided to give resolutions another go. But I’m going to approach the issue a little differently, based on what I’ve learned about myself in the past. I have found that a change that you plan to make at a certain date in the future has far less chance of success than one you begin right away: the diet that you plan to begin next week is always less successful than not eating a cookie this afternoon. I have also found that changes cannot be an all-or-nothing affair: if you do eat the cookie, you cannot use that as an excuse to have the brownie and the lemon square too. Really caring about something means that you are willing to pursue it imperfectly and to try again each time you fail.

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about what it is that I really care about and which I would like to do differently. The list was initially quite long and I quickly deduced that I needed to take a this-for-that approach. A mother with a toddler, a baby, and a household to take care of cannot simply start adding more to her life. So, things like “take more photos” and “make more art” were set aside for now in favor of things I deemed more important. Also, some things that I do now need to be dropped to make room for others. In the end, I came up with the list below. I am making it public in hopes that some of you will ask me from time to time how I am doing and that I might remember to comment about my success or failure.

(1) To lose weight. Yup, the classic. Specifically, I would like to get down to 135 lbs and a definite size 8 by my 32nd birthday on April 29. Before you get up in arms about breastfeeding women trying to diet, let me say that just trying to eat healthier usually tips me in the right direction. If I drink a green smoothie in the morning, eat salad sometime during the day, snacks on fruit or veggies, save the sweets for special occasions, and just apply self control in general, I usually very slowly drop some weight. I am currently about five pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight, even after having eaten like a pig for about four months after Beatrice was born. Unfortunately, I got in the habit of eating way too many carbs and quick meals and have been trying to get back on track, so this is a continuation of something I have already begun. I have something like 8 pounds to go, so I think I can do it. And then I can spend birthday money on some new clothes. :)

(2) To exercise most days. I started walking again a few days after Beatrice was born and progressed to jogging when she was about 3 months old. I felt great, but it proved unsustainable. There is just no good time of day to run by myself, and there is no zen to huffing behind a double jogger with a chatty toddler and a fat baby who wants to grab her sister’s stuff. (Let’s just say that they don’t call it a “double sprinter” for a reason.) Plus, I have weird scalp/hair issues and if I have to wash my hair every day then I need to cut it short. And I kinda like having long hair again. So, jogging is out. I scaled it back to a daily walk of 1 to 2.5 miles but got lazy when the weather cooled off and getting the girls ready took practically as long as the actual exercise. But husband and I have been taking little afternoon walks and I can get back in the habit of doing some sit ups and stretches before I shower in the morning.

(3) To read more books and less computer screens. I used to be a  big reader when I was younger, but sometime in the past few years I fell off the horse. I can say in all honesty that I rarely read pages anymore and that most of my reading is on a screen. I really want to change that. Since my free time is (very) limited, I decided that I want to read more than I want to draw or sew or batch edit great photos of my kids.  And, I specifically want to read old/classic books. Husband and I started The Brothers Karamazov at the beginning of break, so I want to finish that and then start on some other great gift books (really, the topic of reading deserves its own post). I also started a new commonplace book, which I am excited to fill up. To make book reading possible, I know that I need to cut back on my computer time. I never sit down and think “now I’m going to spend 5 minutes on facebook, 10 minutes blog-hopping, and then 10 minutes looking at expensive sweaters,” it just seems to happen. So, I am pondering ways to curtail my online time (only in the evening? set a timer?) so that I hopefully get in the habit of reaching for a book instead of the laptop if I get a quiet minute to sit down. Any suggestions to this end are greatly appreciated!

(4) To shop in person rather than online. I wish this was out of some sort of “shop local” conviction, but it’s really a continuation of no. 3. I have a Goodwill budget but J.Crew aspirations, and I find that I can spend a lot of time cruising the internet for items that I never actually purchase. Plus, I’m really picky about fit and almost never take a chance on something non-returnable. So, I think I just need to quit. Whether it’s clothes or shoes or fabric, I need to see it in person to make a purchase. We have pretty good sources for a lot of things in Pensacola and I mostly shop at the thrift store anyway, so online shopping is rarely necessary for something other than books or the occasional obscure baby item. Bye bye, Boden and Piperlime and Lands End Canvas. Now to find a way to stop looking at potential craft/sewing projects that never happen either!

Are you making resolutions this year? If so, what are they?

 

Christmas.

It was great.

I have a few photos, which I am posting late from my (……drumroll, please……) new laptop!  Thanks, mom & dad!

Here’s how our day went down.

Naturally, Camilla woke up at the crack of dawn.

She was just so terribly excited about the whole stocking thing (which turned out very nicely).

Our early morning stockings.

Then we got ready for church and tried to take our usual photo in front of the tree, but it turned out that the backlighting was too strong. So we improvised.

A squirmy Christmas family photo.

(As you can tell, this year will be remembered as a very squirmy Christmas. You can see past photos herehere, and here.)

Christmas morning at church.

We tried again at church and got a few photos with our priest and some of our godparents.

Me and my godmother.

Beatrice and her godmother.

After naptime came the long-awaited Feast!

The Christmas beef.

The Christmas feast.

And then we got to skype and open a few gifts with my family.

The Christmas skype.

I don’t have tons of present-opening pics because, after thinking things over, we decided to spread this year’s gifts out over the 12 Days of Christmas. (I don’t think we have a full 12 days’ worth, but that’s the general idea.) When Camilla gets a lot of presents, we’ve noticed that all she wants to know is what’s in the next box and she doesn’t stop to appreciate what she has just received. Plus, she gets overstimulated in general and melts down very easily. One solution is, of course, to just not give her very many presents, but since we have such generous and loving grandparents who work really hard to choose things she’ll like, we’d built up quite a stash under the bed. Camilla got to open one gift on Christmas Eve, her stocking on Christmas morning, one small gift after church, and one in the evening. And you know what? It was a great day! She was happy, took a nice afternoon nap, and played with everything she received for a good long time. Beatrice got to open the same number of gifts and has enjoyed her new toys just as much. Josh and I are spacing ours out as well, and it has been really nice. Christmas just keeps on going! I did make sure we opened the smallest packages right away so we could go shopping on Monday. J.Crew outlet, I love you. :)

So, we are continuing to enjoy Christmas today. It is strange to walk into stores and find everything holiday-related squeezed into the back corner with a 50% off sign while we’re still celebrating. Of course, we’re not eating roast with mashed potatoes every night. But the joy of the feast is in our hearts, the tree is still proudly displayed in the living room, and we are enjoying a little more vacation with Daddy. Although we’ve missed our families very much, both husband and I agreed that this has been one of our favorite Christmases ever.

I hope yours was as well.

Advent was busy.

Now that it is almost over, I have a moment to sit down and tell you why I haven’t been blogging. There’s just no time when you are busy with:

…learning to dress yourself.

More dressing herself.

…(in a variety of ways.)

Picking out her own clothes...

…admiring the tree with sister.

Posing with the tree.

…dressing (and dancing) like a little ballerina.

The little ballerina.

…making Christmas ornaments.

DSC_0013

Painting.

Our homemade ornaments.

…making wrapping paper.

Our handmade wrapping paper.

…making felted sweater stockings.

Felted sweater stockings.

…making other stuff that can’t be shown yet.

xxx

…making delicious lemon curd and candied lemon peels.

Candied lemon peel.

…taking your first bite of food (you trembled with excitement and grabbed the spoon out of mama’s hand before she even got close!).

First bite!

…finding new uses for the Bumbo.

…keeping up with that weekly photo project.

(week 24)

Week 24.

(week 25)

Week 26.

The gleeful hair-puller.

(week 26)

Week 26.

(week 27)

Week 27.

…taking some other photos because you’re just so darn cute.

…not managing to take photos of our other fun Advent activities, which included going to see the Nutcracker with Daddy, making pillow forts, baking and frosting gingerbread cookies with friends, singing Christmas carols (over and over and over), playing with The Big Girls, putting coins in the Salvation Army bucket, eating a few little candy treats, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, making spicy popcorn, drinking hot apple cider, and all sorts of other things that delight the hearts of two-year-olds and babies and parents alike.

And tonight and tomorrow: going to church and celebrating the glorious birth of Jesus.

Christ is born!

Glorify Him!

Sweet Bea.

I couldn’t choose just one (or two or three) photos, so here are lots. She is such a joy these days — so happy, especially in the morning. Oh, how I love a six-month-old baby! They can do so much but still aren’t mobile and will sit contentedly in one place for a long time.

I am looking forward to her first Christmas so much.

Sweet six months.

Advent continues…

…but the blog posts do not.

It seems that, every year, a few wild cards come along to trump my plan to have The ____ ____ Christmas Ever. (In years past it’s been The Most Handmade Christmas Ever or The Best Decorated Christmas Ever, but this year I was thinking more along the lines of The Least Stressful Christmas Ever.) Advent books are still being read, activities are still being acted, and photos still taken, but all sorts of other things have left no room for sharing them on this here blog. I’ve got some catching up to do one day, but not in the near future. The school play is this weekend and my tiny part in it (costume assistant/poster creator) has a little bit left to go. Then, our Christmas boxes need to be packed up, our stockings made, some cooking done, some cards given. Some sick children also need some extra loving, and I suppose the bathroom should be cleaned sometime as well.

Until then, I am unlikely to return here.

See you again when we are closer to the great celebration of the Nativity!

Advent Day 16.

We put up the tree!

I had wanted to wait until December 1st but there’s too much going on that night so we went ahead and did it a day early. It was so much fun. As soon as we pulled out the tree box (I have heard too many scary Florida insect stories to want a real tree), Camilla started shouting “The Christmas! The Christmas!” It took us a few minutes to explain to her that the presence of the Christmas tree did not, in fact, mean that Christmas had arrived. Poor little kid. She took it quite well though and had a great time decorating with us. We let her put up a number of ornaments herself and she did really well. Then she realized that they were also fun to play with and two snowmen lost their arms, but we have  since sorted out the playables from the non-playables. There is one pink and white snowgirl that she has taken quite a liking to. She spent the half hour before nap cradling it in her hands and saying “It’s okay, it’s okay” over and over. Then the snowgirl received some medicine, was commended for her courage, and was put down for a nap on Bitsy the Blanket. I let Camilla take it to bed with her at naptime and I could hear her talking to the snowgirl for at least 15 minutes.

*Melt*

Anyhow, here are a few pics from our night of tree decoration. It’s fun to compare them to the ones from last year, which are here.

Kissing snowman.

Snowman has an ornament on his nose.

Putting up ornaments by herself.

Putting up ornaments with Daddy.

Today’s book: One Winter’s Night, John Herman, ill. by Leo and Diane Dillon
Today’s activity: Decorate the tree