Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sleep Success...?

Do I even dare hope that there will be a new normal around here? Brielle has finally started sleeping better at night. I can hardly believe it's even happening. We've had about 3 good sleeps out of the last 5. I am almost scared to even report progress in case things revert back to the way they were. Last night I only got up once (briefly with Nathanael). Brielle woke up, but only for 10 minutes or so and then fell back asleep on her own (I didn't get up). It was like a dream. A very, very good dream. I cannot even describe how wonderful it is to wake up without feeling like you've been hit in the head with a sledgehammer. This is the best way to describe how I had felt every single day for 364 days.Quite honestly, the sleep deprivation was starting to have some very serious effects on my health, including my mental health. I feel the least healthy I have felt in my whole life. For everyone's sake, things had to change.

I ended up attending a free sleep clinic just over a week ago, which did not teach me anything really new, per say. However, what it did do was help me realize and admit to myself what a terrible state I was in, the toll this sleep deprivation was taking on everyone, and how it didn't have to be this way. It helped get me motivated again, which was what I really needed. I ended up going home, reread the sleep sense book (which has a similar strategy to the sleep clinic) and started on a plan. There have been setbacks and things, but overall, I immediately started seeing small (and now large...really large) improvements. The toughest challenge is that I'm sticking to an incredibly strict napping/sleeping routine and schedule (within 15 minutes). I have noticed that the days where things are not exactly the same (Sundays), it does not go well. Sticking to this strict schedule, though it has its drawbacks, is worth it. Oh yes, it's worth it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's on the Menu

February is almost over, and we have not spent a single penny on going out to eat this month. Woohoo!

Monday: Tacos

Tuesday: Asian Salmon & Rice
(I bought a GIANT bag of jasmine rice a few weeks ago, and I tried a new method of cooking it. Well, that new method turned the rice into rice mush. It was not that great. We ate it anyway. I thought, well it's going in the garbage, but the insanely frugal me thought there must be some way to use up super mushy rice. It's almost too mushy for fried rice, sadly. Well, lo and behold, there is a recipe for mushy rice's even kind of fancy...the Arancini. Also known as....Rice Balls. Perrrrfect. These little fried rice balls look pretty crazy tasty.

Wednesday: You guessed it...Arancini (sounds so much tastier than Rice Balls), marinara sauce, veggies on the side

Thursday: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Beef Borscht (using leftover roast beef)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Good Things

Good things lately....

Our littlest sweetheart turned 1.

She hates anything on her head and refuses to keep her toque on or any clip or headband. The night after her party, I slept for 6 hours (in a row, even!) for the first time in a year. It was amazing. I felt like a new person. Last next night was horrific again, however, and she cried an awful lot in the night. I still have no clue what the deal is with her, but we will keep at it. I have her on a fairly strict sleeping/nap schedule in hopes of improving her sleep. I have seen small progress overall, so I am feeling encouraged (especially after experiencing that one night of sleep! ahhhhhh....)

A genius no-heat way to get curls. I tried this on a whim (and didn't even try very hard at it), and it worked SO well. Love, love, love this method! I especially love that you can put your hair up like this, have it look cute as an updo, and then take it out to get these awesome curls. Probably the easiest and most awesome hair thing I've discovered. I will try it a few more times to see how it goes, but I am excited!

I scored a big bag of girls clothes for $30....super pumped about that. (I think there were like 13 pairs of jeans in it! Plus capris, shorts, shirts, dresses, and a jacket). Probably close to 50 items. Pictures to come later...

It was 50 cent week at our local thrift shop a few weeks ago, and I got some fantastic deals for Nathanael for next year. Pictures to come of that, too...

I also bought myself an early birthday present that has made a world of difference in daily upkeep of my house so far. daughter can use it to (that was a big part of the reason I purchased it). Will share more about that later :-). I mainly use it in my kitchen and entry way, and it cost less than $20 to buy. Can you guess what it is??

Monday, February 9, 2015

Menu Plan & Taking All the Toys Away

Here are the meals I've planned for this week:

Chicken Noodle Soup - Mennonite Style - & Biscuits

Asian Salmon, Rice, & Mixed Veggies

Copy-cat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets, Fries, Veggies & Dip

Creamy Mushrooms over Rice with Mixed Veggies

Breakfast for Dinner

Coconut Curried Lentils & Rice, Mixed Veggies

Crockpot BBQ Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies

Yes, I did take away all my kids toys. Toys, books, puzzles, and stuffies...they are put away. I cleared off the bookshelves, crafty/puzzle closet, toy boxes, everything. I have been at war with the toys in this house for far too long. One day, I had just "had it." It's a bit of a story that includes crayon on walls, unexpected hair cuts, and toys everywhere. I have noticed my kids are pretty obsessed with "stuff". I realize it's more of a heart issue than anything, and taking everything away isn't going to "fix" it, per say. It doesn't solve the root of the problem, I know.

This decision was mostly for my own sanity. As I joked to my husband, I had two options. 1) Hop on a plane to Bermuda or 2) Put every single toy, book, game, puzzle, movie away. Being the responsible and mature adult that I am (Ha!), I chose option 2.

For the past 4 days, things around here have gone so much better. Our kids loved going outside to play, making up their own games, making blanket forts, giving each other rides in the laundry basket, and tons of make-believe-games with their few (as in 4 or 5) toys I have let them have for now. In fact, the change has been so fantastic that I'm thinking about selling 75 percent of the toys once we get back to earning the toys back. Sure, some won't agree with our decision, but it has been the right decision for our family for now. Inspirational reading regarding this topic includes Why I Took My Kids' Toys Away  and Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids.

I pass no judgement on to other families who love toys and have many. Every family is different. This is just the right direction for ours. My husband is completely on board with this. Our goal is not zero toys. The goal is fewer toys. Actually, no. The goal is eventually addressing the heart issues that go along with our consumer-driven, entitled, keeping-up-with-the-Jones society.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Middle of the Week Randoms & Goals

  •  My life has been extremely chaotic for the past year and a half
    • I hope 2015 will be my year to catch up and get it together...or at least improve.
  • Brielle is still up many times a night.
  • Nathanael has also been getting up in the night lately
  • The last time I slept for 4 hours in a row was 10 months ago...and only once or twice. 
  • All I want for Christmas, my birthday, anniversary, holiday....etc. is sleep. Uninterrupted 5 or 6 hours of sleep. This is my dream. I hope dreams really do come true. I'm dog-tired.
Meals for this week include tacos, bbq chicken salad, and Moroccan chicken lentil soup. I need to get back to real-deal menu planning. Most nights are throw-it-together nights. Lots of pancakes. Lots of tacos. Lots of simple meatless pasta dishes. That's okay for now but not forever.

I have several goals for 2015. Some of these include...

Wean Brielle....get this kid sleeping through the night! (within a month)
Potty train Nathanael completely (he is partly trained)....get this kid sleeping through the night! (within 6 weeks)
Lose 25 pounds (by summer)
Get back in shape and exercising again
Take better care of myself in every way...get back to feeling "me" again.
Catch up on pictures
Catch up on baby books
Purge and organize every nook and cranny of this house. Minimalism people, minimalism!
Start piano lesson planning (So I have a solid plan in place for September). This is with the goal of teaching Elianna lessons and also teaching myself how to be a piano teacher...Something I'm considering dabbling in, but I need a plan! 
Get a solid routine in place for the kids & home schooling
Have Elianna reading well by summer
Get a chore system in place for the kids
Consider finding a way to make a little extra income (maybe a part time or casual job, maybe babysitting/child care, blogging for income, piano lessons...these are a few of my ideas)

First surprise here...sleep! This will likely go hand in hand with weaning Brielle. This process is beginning today and will hopefully be completed by her 1st birthday. 

The likelihood of getting all this accomplished is slim....but I'm hopeful once I get sleeping better and start exercising, my productivity and energy during the day will sky-rocket.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When Life Is Loud - Family Update

Wow, this blog has been quiet lately! I suppose that is because real life has been rather loud. We have a lot going on these days, and it has been a very busy season of life for us. Here`s just a short update on our life. (More for my memory`s sake than yours!)

Elianna  - LOVES to draw pictures and tell stories to go along with her pictures. Her pictures are just the best and really crack me up. She definitely seems like an artistic, imaginative, free-spirited type of kid. She loves animals. She is very social and outgoing...definitely NOT shy. Her favourite subject right now is math. She is also starting to enjoy reading a bit more, so reading lessons are also a fun time for her rather than a chore. I have been quite laid back about the reading and not pushing her too much, which I think has been a good idea. My goal is to finish our phonics book this year (Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons). I have about a third or so left of the book to go through. Some weeks we do a few lessons, some weeks we skip a lesson. I`ve been pretty unorganized this year, which I hope to change soon. Still, she is learning all the basic Kindergarten-type stuff she needs to learn. She recently learned how to write her first and last name with proper upper-case and lower-case letters. She has workbooks for printing that we are also going through, and she has really improved her printing lately.

Nathanael - He is almost 3 and is quite the character. He loves to build things with blocks...especially towers. He is a bit of a goof-ball and a jokester. He wants rice crispies for breakfast every single day. He can eat 3-4 pieces of pizza already! His age brings its own set of challenges... One of his favourite things to do is play in the bathtub. He loves to surprise me. For example, he will build a tower or draw a picture and then come find me with a twinkle in his eyes...close your eyes, Mom. Close your eyes. SURPRISE! It`s super cute. We are still working on potty training him...oy.

Brielle - Still doesn`t sleep at night. Started taking her first steps at 9 months old. She is walking like a champ at 10 and a half months old and prefers to walk instead of crawl now. She can even stand up on her own from the middle of a room and start walking without any help. Earliest walker....worst sleeper. Favourite word these days is Mum. Trying to get her into her high chair or car seat is like wrestling a wet fish. Her stubbornness and get-er-done attitude is interesting and a bit frightening. Loves to drink out of a straw. Eating mostly table food these days. Favourite baby food is peaches. Loves to clap and play peek-a-boo.

We have struggled with a lot of illness this year. Colds, flus, and stomach bugs have seemed to plague our family ever since I gave birth to Brielle. We were sick over Christmas and then sick again 2 weeks later with a stomach bug. We were also sick with a stomach bug the week after Thanksgiving. (No, it`s not food poisoning! Haha). Now, my kids just got over some other sort of flu that included sore throats and a fever for Brielle. All this sickness has been frustrating, but we try to count our blessings that it is not worse.

It has been a hard year for many people in our circle of friends, church, and family who have gone through tremendous hardships this year. Accidents, loss of infants, heartbreaking diagnoses, tough decisions. It has been a really difficult year for many people we know. It has also been a difficult year for us in many ways. Being an adult changes your perspective, for sure. You realize how much difficulty and heartache there is in life. All this just makes me long even more for my heavenly home and reminds me to try to live my life for the Lord while still here. This is the theme of my life and blog....homemaking pilgrim. who journeys in a foreign land. This world is feeling more foreign all the time. We just can`t get too comfortable here. Life can`t be taken for granted. Make each day count for the Lord. This world is not our forever home.

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim though this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand;

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5 Things You Didn't Need to Know About Me

1) I cannot live without hazelnut chocolate in my life.  *Cue country song, "How do I Live" by Trisha Yearwood.* I am obsessed with any kind of chocolate, for that matter. Except chocolate cake. I can live without chocolate cake in my life. Given the choice, 9 times outta 10 I'll choose vanilla or white cake. I still don't understand it.

2) I get crazy ideas in my head that are completely unrealistic. For awhile I was dreaming about getting my master's degree and becoming a speech language pathologist. Then, I was thinking about advancing my piano training and going for my ARCT. Next thing you know I'm thinking about taking up the violin. Or cello. Or tuba. Or becoming a circus clown that plays the tuba. The last one might be feasible....minus the tuba.

3) I absolutely stink at wrapping presents. If you want to know which gift was wrapped by yours truly, just pick the ugly one.

4) Lately I cannot live without horseradish. I've been putting it on and in everything these days. In fact, I just excused myself from this blog post to go to the fridge and eat a spoonful of it. It is just so delicious.

5) No, I'm not pregnant.

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