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I have to say that I’m a little proud of myself for sticking with One Bite at a Time for 11 whole weeks already. ¬†Blogging about it hasn’t gone quite as well, but at least I’m doing the work! ūüôā

Last week was Week #10 and it was a difficult concept for me — trying to Establish a Morning Routine (#3). ¬†The reason it was hard (besides dealing with “springing forward” and losing a precious hour of sleep), is that Tsh wanted the focus on things for ME. ¬†Things that would help start the day in a nice way for ME. ¬†This was not about chores, household organization or being a good mom. ¬†This felt like it needed to really be sort of a “spa moment” in the day.

So the first thing I came up with was painting my nails. ¬†At MOPS a few weeks ago, we had a “nail station” and I realized that I NEVER paint my nails any more. ¬†Mostly because I then never can be bothered to REMOVE the chipping, peeling paint. ¬†And 900 years ago in Mrs. Brizendine’s 7th grade class, we were told by a guest speaker that we should NEVER have chipping nail polish. ¬†For some crazy reason that stuck with me. ¬†But a lot stuck with me from that school year including a love of Louis L’Amour and my a strangely enlightening conversation during girl’s PE one day about Kegels. ¬†But I digress…

I had just bought some new fingernail polish on sale/with coupons at CVS and so I decided to add that to my morning routine.  Painting on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, removing on Friday and Monday mornings.

But that didn’t seem like enough.

It took me all week to realize that I wanted to incorporate something into my morning routine that I wish I had time to do.  That I always PLAN to do but never GET to do because the necessities always get in the way.  There are two things right now that fall into that category (well, there are millions, but two on the top of my list):  Project Life (my new non-scrapbooker-scrapbooking attempt) and Blogging.

So, I’m excited to say those items have been added into the schedule for Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday mornings.

The basic morning routine is: ¬†BIG glass of water (realized I prefer to take my coffee in my new big coffee travel mug in the car in the morning), devotional time/prayer, nails/blog/PL, Daily Plan and off and running for the day…

Week #11: ¬†I was still processing/working through the idea of last week’s bite during most of this week. ¬†So I’m cheating this week and doing #28: ¬†Creating a Monthly Budget. ¬†We have been doing this faithfully for about four years based on Dave Ramsey’s stuff, and so I can cross this one out without hesitation. ¬†I have also designed a better plan for picking up our cash at payday from the bank — just dragging the kids with me (because for some reason they always have a kid’s movie playing in NFCU!).

Not sure what I’ll do for next week… have a few days to decide.

Quinn’s final acting class was this week and we were invited to join in for the last 15 minutes of class for a little performance and to see what they’ve worked on during this session. ¬†It was SO fun. ¬†We have not been able to observe the class before so it was really great to see what Quinn has been up to! ¬†I took lots of video and Brent took lots of pictures (which I haven’t seen yet — will add later)… so if you aren’t a grandparent, this might be too much!

The “performance” started with a discussion of the “Actor’s Stance” that the students were all taught: ¬†focused attention, no talking or wiggling. ¬†The students demonstrated for us very well! ¬†But anytime the teacher would turn away, they’d get all wiggly and silly — but snap back to attention when he looked their way. ¬†It was super cute — this video catches just the end of it…

Quinn’s Dino Performance I from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

Next the students introduced their dinosaurs. ¬†Quinn’s is named Trona and he tells about him here…

Quinn’s Dino Performance II from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

Next it was time for the book. ¬†They had learned to act out a bedtime story, “How Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.” ¬†I took lots of video — but here’s just one from the performance…

Quinn’s Dino Performance III from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

After the book, they showed us the Dinosaur Hunts they went on each week.  This might have been my favorite part because Quinn really gets into it and I love seeing him express himself so joyfully! (3 videos here)

This one begins with what Quinn would like to take in his backpack for the hunt…

Sorry about the sound on this one — I think I was covering the mic…

Quinn’s Dino Performance IV from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

Quinn’s Dino Performance V from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

Quinn’s Dino Performance VI from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

I’m so glad we chose to put Quinn in these classes. ¬†If possibly, I think his imaginative play at home has even increased (it was already pretty great) since taking this class. ¬†We are excited to start the new session next week!

Yeah Quinn!  Great job, Buddy!  We are so proud of you!

Oops.

I didn’t do anything for week 9 and forgot to post about week 8. ¬†Oh well. ¬†Moving on. ¬†ūüôā

During Week #8 of my walk through One Bite at a Time, I focused on #16 – Schedule regular date nights. ¬†As I mentioned, we are swapping date night babysitting with some friends and it is working fantastically! ¬†That means we only get to go out every other week, but it seems more frequent than that because it’s at least a regular thing! ¬†We went last week to The Linkery, a local food restaurant I’d wanted to go to for over a year. ¬†They make their own sausage and have a great collection of cheeses and other yumminess as well. ¬†We loved our dinner and had fun just enjoying each other, knowing that we wouldn’t have to spend half our date night budget on the babysitter! ¬†So BIG success with this one.

This week, I’m going to try to “complete” what I’ve have already begun with #18 (Get more Sleep), #19 (Dump your brain), #39 (Create a daily to-do list), & #47 (Wake up earlier) by attempting to work out #3: Establish a Morning Routine.

When I read Tsh’s thoughts on this, the thing that struck me is that she’s not talking about the chores I will do first thing in the morning. ¬†She’s talking about how I want to start my day for me. ¬†What is it that I can do first thing every day that will set a nice tone for the day? ¬†Things related to me and not others. ¬†In other words, I will Eat My Frog (#1) after the morning routine — not as part of it. ¬†She had a number of suggestions — some of which apply to me, some don’t. ¬†So I need to give this some thought. ¬†I know that a devotional time will be included because I’m already doing that now, but then I often get sucked into stupid FaceBook or something like that and don’t really have a nice start to the day. ¬†SO. ¬†Going to mull a bit and come up with something that sounds warm and inviting to me. ¬†Maybe that will help me get out of bed.

Make sure these five tasks focus on you, and not others. Don‚Äôt check your e-mail or Twitter, don‚Äôt make your kids‚Äô lunches just yet, and don‚Äôt return a phone call. Those things will come in just a few minutes‚ÄĒ first, do these other things that feed your soul. Discover a sweet morning routine that fills your cup.

Will keep you posted.

Missed posting last week — so have a bit to update here:

During Week 6 I tackled #39 from One Bite at a Time: ¬†Creating a Daily To-Do List. ¬†I have to say this has probably been the most transformative Bite thus far. ¬†I’ve been doing it for two weeks now and I feel so efficient. ¬†I have to say that simultaneously I am also exhausted at the end of each day. ¬†But I’m exhausted AND accomplished — which makes it ok.

The most interesting part of this exercise has been that it has taken me back to my pre-electronics days. ¬†I started using DayPlanners in high school and continued those into college. ¬†At one point ¬†in college, I developed a system based on my own “week at a glance” charts that I would custom make in Paint on the earliest Macs housed at my Communications Department job. ¬†These were color coded and “textured” to indicate work hours, study hours, classes, exercise time, etc, and were kept in my three-ring binder. ¬†I kept to those schedules religiously. ¬†In fact, I’ve still got boxes of the old ones in the garage! ¬†Later I fell in love with the Lonely Planet yearly calendars that gave me just enough space to jot down any details I needed too while entertaining me with travelogue shots…

Yet, since the first Palm Pilots and other gadgets, I’ve tried to be hip and cool and keep my schedules “paperless.” ¬†I’ve had an iPhone for a couple years now and have purchased app after app to try and organize everything from appointments to chores to housecleaning to worm medication for the dog. ¬†I’ve used a lot of them. ¬†And many of them are very, very nice, but in the end, there is something that my brain really likes about a physical list that can be scribbled on and altered and touched. ¬†I think part of it is that I’m very visual (taking tests I could always picture where the answer was on the page in the book — not photographic memory at all, but just very much on the visual end of the spectrum). ¬†And I think inputing a meeting into an app that organizes it so beautifully into the whole loses some of that visual “pop.” ¬†For instance, I write things bigger when tasks are a bigger deal or underline or CAPITALIZE or write a note sideways that is just a secondary thought. ¬†That kind of thing is hard to translate into a computer program.

So when I started with Tsh’s Daily Docket, I decided to do it sort of in a weekly fashion. ¬†I printed five of the single sheet Daily Dockets and one of the two-to-a-page Dockets. ¬†I stapled them together and labelled them Monday-Friday (single) and Sat-Sun (double). ¬†I then added in all the appointments for the week (from my iPhone & iCal — which means these are still very necessary to keep the “whole”). ¬†From our calendar (Brent’s Duty days, my Weight Watcher hours). ¬†And from my brain that had not yet been dumped into iCal (Jake’s costume prep, Valentine’s cookies, etc.). ¬†Next I added in the meal plan and made any notes necessary (crock pots that needed to be started in the morning).

At that point I just waited. ¬†I did my Brain Dump (#19) at night before bed, and then the next morning I used it to fill in that day’s Daily Docket after my devotional time. ¬†The most empowering part was picking the three MITs (Most Important Things). ¬†Because I knew if the long list of 10 didn’t get done, I’d still feel good accomplishing the MITs. ¬†I also love that she’s got a specific spot for “blog and/or work” because then I can remember that blogging is a priority for me and can keep my Okinawa Hai to-do’s separate from the “life” list.

And it has been VERY successful. ¬†I even bought a new clipboard/notebook thingy at Target that allows me to clip the Daily Dockets on the front, and use the notepad inside for my nightly Brain Dump. ¬†I’m also storing old “weeks” behind the notepad so that I can refer back if necessary. ¬†It’s really going great!

For Week 7, I chose #47: ¬†Wake Up Earlier (and use Kaizen). ¬†This has been only mildly successful. ¬†I am not a morning person, never have been — so this is very difficult for me. ¬†But I’m finally willing to admit how much smoother the universe runs when I am ready for the day. ¬†When I’m not late before I even get started. ¬†Being up BEFORE the kids is like my worst nightmare, but I’m truly able to say that it’s a good thing. ¬†And I’m striving towards that.

I started the week just trying to get up on “time” — which is 6-6:15am. ¬†That gives me nearly a half hour before the kids get up and allows me to have devotional time and get my daily docket ready. ¬†BUT, I’m realizing that another half hour to do somethings around the house — start laundry, get Jake’s lunch ready, straighten things a bit, do an Oki Hai post — would really lighten the load of my day. ¬†And it would also mean I’d get to actually see Brent for a few minutes each day before he leaves for work. ¬†However, after consulting my handy sunrise/sunset app, I found that 5:30am will be dark about 80% of the year. ¬†That is rough for me.

So, I managed to make it between 6-6:15am this week, but I’m going to back it up a bit more for this coming week and see how things go.

And for that reason, I chose an “easy” Bite for this coming week: ¬†#16 — Schedule Regular Date Nights. ¬†Thought it was a great thing to start right after Valentine’s Day and our lovely Valentine’s massage date. ¬†I’m always reminded how important date nights are when we have them. ¬†And now that we have a great babysitter on the hook, I told Brent that we need to make Date Nights a bigger priority in our budget when we are finally out of debt next month. ¬†BUT, then I realized we shouldn’t put it off til then. ¬†So I called a friend of mine, who very unfairly has only ONE child, and said, “Hey, wanna trade kids for date night?” ¬†She had been trying to prioritize the same thing and oddly thinks it’s fun to have ALL of my children to play with her daughter. ¬†So she said she is IN.

We had her daughter over on Saturday afternoon/evening and they were able to have a lovely date enjoying yummy Italian food at a local restaurant. ¬†The kids totally entertained themselves and I fed them orange dye #14 with cheap Mac N Cheese (and oranges and edamame – I’m not a total loser!). ¬†It’ll be Brent’s and my turn to go out this weekend. ¬†I’m thrilled to have a regular plan for spending time together without the kids. ¬†Because as Tsh said,

We like movies that aren’t always animated. We like to play cards, drink wine and beer, and not cut up each other’s food. We also like to stay up later than 8 p.m.

Here’s to time with the most important person in my life.

The Mitten

Along with teaching all the varied tenets of Kindergarten curriculum like adding and subtracting and READING (!), Jake’s teachers also teach him the days of the week, months of the year, Presidential facts, Chinese, and in their spare time, throw together whole ENTIRE plays for the parents to rejoice and ooooh and ahhhh over. ¬†This week we were honored to attend Jake’s play, The Mitten, where he was convincing and terrifying as… The Bear.


Program Back

Unfortunately there is no money in the school budget for professional costume designs, and so The Bear costume fell to me. ¬†This is not my gift. ¬†Designing, decorating, sewing… really anything related to being a good Kindergarten mom! ¬†But, it had to be done.

So I found brown pants, a tan shirt and gloves on sale at Target and then headed off to Michael’s and was happy to find cardboard “bear mask” forms. ¬†Bought a bunch of colored felt and went home to cut and piece together. ¬†Luckily, my seamstress friend, Karen, said I could come over to finish the details. ¬†She helped sew things on (fast, like lightening) and stitch the felt more permanently onto the mask. ¬†It turned out pretty well and I was not embarrassed to compare his costume with his classmates (which was really all I was going for)!

It was a little hard to get pictures because, as luck would have it, we chose the wrong side to sit on. ¬†So in the pictures of the whole class, you’ll find Jake on the front row, next to the last on the far left. ¬†Brown pants/shirt/mask.

And the snowflakes begin to fall… making it hard to see the lost white mitten…

Jake’s best friend, C, is the raccoon pointing into the audience…

And then a star is born! ¬†Jake comes to the stage with the Hedgehog (another best friend) and the eagle…

They ask for a space in the mitten because they are sooooooo cold…

The animals let one last mouse inside, but then they sneeze and the mitten breaks open scattering them every which way…

See videos below for some of the fabulous singing! ¬†Here’s me and my wonderful boy!

The bff’s…

We had a great night and I continue to be so happy with the wonderful teachers and experience Jake is having at school this year!

And for the grandparents… ¬†some videos of the songs & exceptional acting!

The Mitten, pt 1 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt 2 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt 3 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt. 4 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt 5 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

Couponing

I started couponing in the fall. ¬†It’s been a very interesting journey and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned:

1. ¬†It’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you save. ¬†Wrong. ¬†The temptation was strong to buy ANYTHING just because it was on super sale. ¬†This meant that one week I ended up with three packages of Klondike bars. ¬†Not a problem for everyone, but I ended up eating them all myself. ¬†And that is a problem. ¬†Solution: ¬†I don’t clip ALL coupons anymore. ¬†I only cut ones that are things I normally buy and will use.

2. ¬†I’ll just get one for now. ¬†Wrong. ¬†If it’s really that great of a deal, buy ’em up. ¬†(Unless it’s a perishable item, of course!) ¬†Solution: The way to do this is by ordering multiple newspapers to be delivered. ¬†At this moment I’m getting six (that cost me $1.15 per week total). ¬†To be honest, it’s probably too many simply because so many coupons are for buying two (meaning I’d get 12 of the items). ¬†But I’ll plan to keep getting at least four each Sunday. ¬†And for me in SD, the LA Times is totally the way to go since it gets all the inserts (Smart Source, Red Plum & PG&E periodicals).

3. ¬†It’s easy. ¬†Wrong. ¬†It might be simple, but it’s not easy. ¬†Not only does it take forever to cut the coupons and put them in my binder, but the process of making my list from the blog I use (Southern Calif Saver), pulling the coupons back up and transferring them to my mini-file, and then shopping (usually 1.5-2 hrs) is very VERY time consuming. ¬†I have a big binder filled with plastic baseball card pages and the coupons go in there. ¬†I have them loosely organized as dry/bottled/canned foods, dairy/refrig/freezer items, paper/household goods. ¬†I also have a section for the organic or “Sprouts-like” items because many of those items I can’t find at my local Albertson’s. ¬†A big problem is when you’ve missed the expiration date. ¬†This happens to me a lot closer to payday if I’ve run out of grocery money. ¬†Solution needed: ¬†I need to figure out a better way to know what is almost out of date instead of having to look at each coupon individually.

4. ¬†It can all fit in your kitchen. ¬†Wrong. ¬†Solution: ¬†I’m very lucky to have a pantry in the garage. ¬†I’ve taken it over with my couponing treasures. ¬†The funny thing is that it’s very organized. ¬†Kind of hysterically so given the way the rest of my house usually looks. ¬†But after my last big grocery trip where I spent $287 and saved $293 (which, btw, means they have to call a manager to override the sale — I know I’ve done GOOD if that happens!) I realized that we are SO ready for some crazy disaster. ¬†We could live out of our house for easily a month. And much longer if all we needed to do was shower. ¬†Granted, it would be a lot of pasta and soup, but hey — I’ve never complained about those foods!

5. ¬†You can shop with your kids. ¬†Wrong. ¬†I have had people recommend that I send the kids off to find the different coupon items, but they just aren’t old enough yet. ¬†I have taken them with me to Target a few times to coupon and we’ve been lucky to all escape alive, I tell ya. ¬†Solution: ¬†I’ve actually started going to the grocery store late at night (10pm last weekend) because I have the whole place to myself and I don’t feel guilty about Brent stuck home with the kids, etc.

6. ¬†Buy if it’s on sale. ¬†Wrong. ¬†For me, I am not interested in “Extreme Couponing” where you have 100 tubes of toothpaste and you give them away to homeless people or whatever. ¬†That’s nice for people who are into that, but it’s not my goal. ¬†I have had a couple of situations (shampoo) where I just kept buying and buying and realized, heck, it’ll take us more than a year to use all this shampoo. ¬†Solution: ¬†That, to me, is a point where I need to stop. ¬†The up side is that now I can just ignore all the shampoo coupons and shorten my clipping time.

7. ¬†Organic couponing. ¬†Rough. ¬†There are definitely a lot of organic/natural companies who offer coupons for their items, but it’s very time-consuming to track them down. ¬†You’ve got to go to each website individually and print their coupons each month. ¬†There are a few places who specialize in organic couponing (Mambo Sprouts), but it’s not like there is an “organic foods insert” in your weekly newspaper. ¬†So, it can definitely be done, but it’s harder work. ¬†Solution: ¬†Around here, Sprouts offers both sets of their weekly specials each Wednesday (the overlap day). ¬†So that’s a great day to shop at Sprouts and take the few coupons you’ve been able to collect for those kinds of foods.

8. ¬†Smaller food budget. ¬†Wrong. ¬†Or at least, so far. ¬†There is no question I’m saving a TON, but it seems each time I go I find more great sales and so end up spending about the same amount of money. ¬†What I am finding though is that with the full pantry, I’m able to start taking a week off of shopping entirely. ¬†And if I go to the farmer’s market for all my fresh produce, I don’t need any staples — because they are already in the pantry! ¬†Also, I know I’ve been spending a lot less on toiletry items because I now have enough of them to last us well into the summer.

Will add to this list as I think of more things, but that’s it for now.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve been meaning to do this for several years and just never bit the bullet and did it. ¬†But yesterday when I went into the garage pantry to get another jug of laundry detergent, I found there was none there. ¬†Ooops. ¬†Thought I had one more. ¬†Sooooo, no time like the present, right? ¬†So I quickly emailed Heather who started doing this last year and she said (or at least I heard), “It’s a cinch!” ¬†She explained it was just 3-4 ingredients and easy to prepare.

I needed a regular bar of soap (anything without moisturizers can work — but always nice to use something more “pure” like castile soap or Fels Naptha), Borax and Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (also known as Sodium Carbonate/soda ash).

My sister-in-law, Julie, had given me a bar of rose-scented Dr Bronner’s castile soap for Christmas, so I had that on hand (*free!). ¬†And then I stopped by Vons on the way home to buy the Borax & washing soda. ¬†Borax, check. ¬†$4.50. ¬†Washing soda, nope.

I dropped the kids off at home with Brent, spent four minutes talking to him while¬†grating the castile soap on the small side of a box grater and¬†then I went to Albertson’s to get the washing soda. ¬†Nope.

Target.  Nope.

Standing frustrated in my third store, I pulled out my phone, went to Heather’s post and clicked through to the other recipes she had linked and found THIS one that uses baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) instead of washing soda. ¬†I said, “Heck yeah,” knowing I have that huge Costco bag of baking soda (*free!) and headed home.

I dumped all the soap flakes into the “dry ingredients” pitcher for my Vitamix, added a cup of Borax and a cup of baking soda and set it to spinning for a bit. ¬†At that point Brent said, “So what was that stuff?”

I said, “The soap I was grating while talking to you?”

He started laughing and said, “No wonder Kira was so upset when she tasted it.” ¬†HA. ¬†That’ll teach that girl to ask before she eats the grated “cheese.” ¬†Or maybe not.

And laundry detergent made!  This recipe makes about 3 cups and you use 1-2 Tablespoons per load.

I decided to run hot water into the washer first and added the detergent.  As soon as it looked dissolved, I switched to cold and then threw in a load of towels.  At that point, things got funnier.

I wanted to add in vinegar because several sites had mentioned it as a fabric softener and overall cleaner for your washing machine. ¬†I have a very old washing machine and I texted Heather to see if I just put that into “the hole” for the rinse cycle. ¬†She said yes. ¬†But when I was putting in the load, I noticed that the “hole” I was thinking of said bleach only. ¬†Hmm. ¬†I texted. ¬†She said, oh. ¬†Hmm. ¬†Well, it’s usually in the agitator, maybe you don’t have one. ¬†I said OH, THIS FILTHY THING???

Ha.

Evidently, I’ve never used fabric softener. ¬†Evidently, my mother never used fabric softener. ¬†Evidently, no one I’ve ever met uses fabric softener, because I was clueless that this cup shaped thingy was supposed to be used for some actual purpose. ¬†I cleaned it out, dumped the vinegar in and shut the lid.

By the end of these exchanges, I was pretty much ROFL.

It seems to have worked well. ¬†I’ve got two loads through at this point and things smell good. ¬†I’m going to do my bathmats next — one of them is white and so a good test about how clean things will be. ¬†And then a kid’s sleeping bag that smells like… ¬†well… ¬†unshowered kids.

Bottom line, it was a cinch.  And it makes me feel a bit like Wonder Woman.  Always nice.  Will report back in soon.

UPDATE 2/17: ¬†I’ve just finished the last of my first batch of laundry detergent (used it all in 9 days). ¬†I certainly didn’t notice any problems with it. ¬†I wasn’t overly thrilled with the whiteness of the bathmat, though. ¬†But other than that, everything smelled and looked good. ¬†And I’m pretty sure everything was a bit softer, using the vinegar for a rinse.

So I finally made it up to WalMart today and SURE ENOUGH they had the soda ash (A&H Super Washing Soda)! ¬†YIPEE!!! ¬†They also had bars of Fels Naptha for 97 cents. ¬†So figured I’d try that this time.

Interestingly, the Fels is much waxier. ¬†It made curly-ques as I grated it and that should been a big warning to me, but it wasn’t.

So I dumped everything in my dry VitaMix blender again and started it spinning. ¬†But it got really clogged up and soft and yuck. ¬†FAIL. ¬†When I went back to various blogs, everyone describes “stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring some more” to break up the grated Fels Naptha. ¬†I’m guessing that’s what needed to happen and that the VitaMix got things too warm and therefore sticky. ¬†So I’ve got kind of a clumpy batch this time, but I’m going to give it a shot to see how it goes.

I used 1 bar Fels Naptha, 1 cup borax & 1 cup soda ash (washing soda).

I have one concern: ¬†The ingredient list for the Fels Naptha was decidedly vague. ¬†It gives the impression of being relatively “simple” and “natural” and yet while I was working with it my eyes even stung a bit and the warnings on the package clearly indicate some strong stuff in there. ¬†So am wondering if I’m doing this at all to save the earth, if Dr Bonner’s isn’t just the better way to go. ¬†Though I know those bars cost a lot more than $1. ¬†It will be interesting to see if I notice any difference in the clothes since Fels Naptha claims to be a stain remover. ¬†I also just read something about using warm water. ¬†I hate to do that because that ruins all of the money saved by making my own detergent, but I may put the detergent in a bit of initially run hot water to dissolve it first… ¬†we will see.

Head is still above water. ¬†I wouldn’t say I’ve ARRIVED yet, but I’m managing to keep moving forward. ¬†Laundry went a little better this week than last. ¬†Slacked a bit on the water drinking, but not horribly. ¬†Spent lots of time working out details with Brent last week. ¬†Withdrew all our cash for envelopes on payday this week.

And the Brain Dump (#19) from One Bite at a Time was this week’s new task. ¬†It was an interesting exercise. ¬†Lately, I feel like so many of my thoughts end up flying out of my brain and into the stratosphere never to be heard of again. ¬†The brain dump idea gives me a time/place (bedtime/in bed) to just sit and mull and write down everything that is on my mind that needs to be done. ¬†I’ve never really been one to struggle falling asleep, but I feel an even greater peace laying my head down when I’ve sort of flopped everything out on the paper.

However, what I found was some frustration at what happened with the Brain Dump. ¬†Which was… ¬†nothing. ¬†Because I don’t have a method for organizing that stuff, it just sat there in my notebook. ¬†I did refer to it a couple times to see what I’d hoped to do, but that was about it. ¬†SO, have decided to tackle #39 for this coming week:

Create a Daily To-Do List!!!

I absolutely love what she says about this:

“But I‚Äôd say the number one enemy of productivity in a mom‚Äôs life, especially when she has very small children at home, is trying to do too much.

Don‚Äôt get me wrong‚ÄĒwe have more than tons to do, and I for one have never accomplished everything I‚Äôd ever needed to do in one day. But that‚Äôs the very reason why trying to do too much will set us up for failure. To put it bluntly, if we think we‚Äôll successfully check off a 20-item to-do list within 24 hours, we‚Äôre kidding ourselves.”

SO true. ¬†And as a Planner at heart, I love making lists but they invariably lead me to my number one nemesis: ¬†FAILURE. ¬†When I have a list of 903 things to do, I obviously will fail and that’s never good.

Tsh also mentions that she has tried every organizational system under the sun but that they are always too rigid. ¬†I have found the same problem with all my lovely iPhone apps. ¬†My most recent failures have related to setting LITERALLY about 23 alarm/reminders per day on my iPhone. ¬†Instead of them helping to structure my day, they just become another thing that I basically hit “snooze” on. ¬†Rather than being helped to keep a schedule, I find myself going to the app just to clear my overdue reminders. ¬†FAILURE again.

The main suggestions that Tsh makes is to take your Brain Dump and pick 10 things to do. ¬†And then choose three of those to make your MITS (most important tasks). ¬†Then if all you get done is the three, you’ll still feel you accomplished the biggies. ¬†And if you get to more or all of the 10, you’ll just feel like a genius! ¬†And THAT’S what I like.

I’m going to dry her downloadable form this week and see how it works for me. ¬†You can find it HERE if you wanna join me (there is the full Daily Docket and the Pocket Docket).

And so here we go.

This last week went better but it’s getting tough keeping all the balls in the air. ¬†In general, the 52 Bites aren’t things you do once. ¬†They are tasks that you are attempting to incorporate into your everyday life. ¬†So now, having completed week four, I should have four new weekly tasks that I’m maintaining. ¬†At this point, since I doubled up one week, I should have:

1.  Envelope system Рcheck

2.  Drink more water Рcheck (and truly making a difference in my life, I think)

3.  Weekly meetings with your husband Рcheck-ish (was done over dinner last night РI think better as a sit down just the two of us)

4.  Earlier bedtime Рcheck-ish (somewhat successfully this week Рprobably 11pm, not quite back to 10:30pm as hoped)

5. ¬†Eating my frog – check-ish (did better this week, but still can’t figure out when “first thing in the morning” is… is that really before my devotional time, before waking up the kids, before getting ready for the day? ¬†Or is it the first thing I do once I’m home from taking Jake to school, which is often not til 11am after going to the gym… ¬†I think it should probably be first thing after my devotional time — before waking the kids, but then that plays into #47: Wake up earlier, which I have NOT started yet. ¬†So. ¬†Like I said, check-ish. ¬†Better than last week.)

So, will continue to work on these and add…. drumroll please…

#19:  Dump Your Brain

I think this is a perfect one for me to try this week because lately I just feel like I’m soooo full of info. ¬†So full of things to do. ¬†And I keep forgetting things too. ¬†I’ve tried to use my iPhone app called Awesome Note, which I really like, but if I don’t take the time to set a “due date” and just throw the item in there, it tends to get buried and I forget about it.

The idea with dump your brain is to just get it all down on paper and then allow that paper to dictate your daily to-do list (#39).  I know we all try so hard to be paperless and to just use our gadgets, but maybe sometimes, the ole paper and pen is the best.  I think I must have already been feeling this way because I purchased this cool notebook at the end of December.

I decided to use it for everything — my morning devotionals, all the “getting kicked out of the Navy ERB” note taking, my notes for my Weight Watchers training, meal planning… ¬†Everything. ¬†I like it because it has a date you can circle at the top which allows me to feel a bit of organization.

She mentions that some people could do this in the morning, but that she’s too sleepy then. ¬†I think I agree that doing it just before bed is best for me. ¬†Dump all the info and then maybe organize it a bit in the morning to get an idea of things to do that day. ¬†SO. ¬†Will give that a shot this week.

So, I’ve had self-imposed sleep issues with each of my kids. ¬†The self-imposed part simply means that instead of doing what I KNOW how to do and nipping in the bud all bad sleep habits, I am lazy. ¬†I want to go have my ME-TIME (i.e., watching DVR’d shows and eating popcorn ALONE) and so instead of just sticking with a sleep-training plan for 4-5 nights knowing all problems will probably be solved (though those nights would be hellish), I don’t. ¬†Instead I do whatever FEELS at the moment to be the fastest way to get them to sleep. ¬†Currently it is sitting on her bed. ¬†Rubbing her back. ¬†Putting on music. ¬†Laying down with her. ¬†Whatever I think will work fastest.

Of course, it’s never fast. ¬†Always takes at least 30 minutes and I’m usually mad by the time I finally leave her room.

It’s ridiculous really. ¬†I was one of the few people I knew who never breastfed my kids to sleep. ¬†I fed them when they first woke up and then swaddled them and put them down to sleep (which meant we could actually go on a date now and then cuz someone else could successfully put them to sleep). ¬†However, the moment they could stand (Jake & Quinn) and the moment they moved to a big kid bed (Kira), the nightmare began.

With Jake & Quinn, whose difficulties were with being mobile in their cribs, I FINALLY used the Baby Whisperer’s Pick Up Put Down method, which worked like a charm after 4-5 nights.

Kira was a GREAT sleeper, even once she could stand. ¬†I’d put her in her crib, I’d walk out, she’d fall asleep.

And then the big girl bed.

Sigh.

I’m so embarrassed that we are going on 10 months of this now. ¬†I can use the excuse that we spent all summer traveling and then Brent (and the ensuing adjustment period) returned from deployment, but even if I do that, we’ve still been dealing with this for a good four months. ¬†Too long.

So, tonight it begins.

My friend, Evonne, gave me a sleep book the other night and luckily I only needed to read about one chapter of it (towards the end of the book where he finally gets to older kids) to get his recommendations for preschooler sleep problems (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth). ¬†It’s a pretty simple concept that starts with making a sign together that lists the four “Sleep Rules” and then discussing before bedtime what is going to happen. Namely, that she needs to follow the rules. ¬†If she does not, I will pick her up without talking to or looking at her and will put her back in bed. ¬†I will do this over and over and over and over again. ¬†Until she follows the rules.

And the kicker is, I will do this in the middle of the night as well. ¬†This is where it gets really tough for me because I’m great at having self-control and sticking to a plan (once I set my mind on it) while I’m alert. ¬†Doing so while in the twilight world of sleep is another thing. ¬†Firstly, I like being warm in bed and don’t WANT to get up and put her back to bed. ¬†Secondly, it’s just so EASY not to move. ¬†Thirdly, I don’t even remember half the time letting her in bed.

But, if she follows the rules, she will get a treat in the morning and a dollar (fake money that I’ve just started using on our 143,598,389th attempt at having a successful chore plan).

While we were talking about it mid-rule-poster-making, she got very upset and cried until she heard the word TREAT and suddenly the tears stopped and a smile appeared.  What a little manipulator.

So wish me luck.

 

UPDATE:  

Night 1 – She screamed and yelled for me and DAAAAAD (like the pissed off, I am NOT getting my way and I DON’T like it kind of yelling) for about 45 minutes. ¬†During that time, I took her back to bed (no eye contact, no speaking) five times. ¬†She then stopped and went to sleep. ¬†At 12:45pm she woke crying and came into our room. ¬†I took her back to her room. ¬†She made sniffling noises for about 40 more minutes and then came in a second time to BRENT’S side of the bed. ¬†I took her back to her room. ¬†She slept til 6:45am. ¬†Woke to MUCH praise.

Night 2 — She cried (not as pissed off) for about 15 minutes. ¬†Did not come out of her room. ¬†She then slept ALLLL NIGHT!

Night 3 — She yelled (pissed) for about 5 minutes. ¬†Did not come out of her room. ¬†Woke at 1am and cried for a few minutes, but didn’t come into our room. ¬†Slept the rest of the night.

Haven’t LOVED the experience. ¬†However, the fact that I was sitting on the couch alone in a quiet house at 8:15pm last night has got to be worth BOATLOADS of gold and happiness. ¬†ūüôā