2015 Goals Update: 2/12

Photo Credit: M_Strasser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: M_Strasser via Compfight cc

February is all about micro goals. This is the complete opposite of how I normally operate, which is to get really excited setting big goals for myself, plan it all out, then not follow through because [insert a million excuses here].

Inspired by several commenters from my Fitness Check-in post, I am going to use February as a baseline for tiny habits that are all about taking care of myself, so I can take care of all the people and stuff in my life.  I even found an email accountability buddy!  You guys are awesome.

Here are my micro goals for February.  I’m tracking them on the Coach.me app (formerly Lift) if you want to cheer me on!  (I really don’t need another app in my life, but the reminders work well for my Obliger nature.

  • Go to bed by 10:30 every night.  (Yes, sigh… even weekends.  The kids wake up just as early and I’m extra cranky if I’m tired.)
  • Exercise for 10 minutes a day.
  • Meditate/pray/journal for 5 minutes a day.
  • Pay a compliment to my husband every day.
  • Hug every family member every day.

I love setting goals, but sometimes I feel like constantly striving for self-improvement makes me lose sight of the good things I have already accomplished.  I decided I should try listing out some of the healthy habits that I have already established, and you know what?  Not too shabby.  Not too shabby, indeed.

  • I take vitamins every day.
  • I wear sunscreen on my face every day.
  • I drink a lot of water.
  • I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.
  • I read bedtime stories to my kids every night.

It’s the little things, right?  What micro-habits do you practice that make your life great?

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2015: Steady


What worked for you in 2014?  What didn’t work for you in 2014?  What do you want more of in 2015?  What do you want less of in 2015?

While mentally working through this planning/visioning exercise suggested to me by the very wise Tara of Family Sport Life, my word for 2015 just popped into my head.


It’s the exact opposite of how I’ve been feeling lately — down to the physical jitters from drinking too much coffee some mornings! — but it’s what I want my life to look like in 2015.  It’s not terribly exciting, I know, but honestly, after all the changes and ups and downs I had in 2014, I’m ready for some calm.

I’ve had quite an evolution in my goal-setting ways over the past year.  I have a tendency to burn myself out because I get so gung-ho over things in the short term, then I either get frustrated with myself that I haven’t accomplished my goals yet, or I just want to quit altogether.  Steady means getting enough sleep and feeding my body nourishing food so I don’t feel jittery or exhausted.  Steady means my kids and husband can count on me to be there for them — the real me, not a grumpy, snappy version of me.  Steady means I think long term, and celebrate the small steps forward just as much as the milestones.  Steady means I ground myself in God’s word each morning, instead of the facebook-drama-of-the-moment.

So, with that overarching theme in mind, what are my goals for the year?


  • Spend a few minutes in Bible study and prayer each morning.
  • Work on building the children’s and MOPS ministries at church.


  • Continue to eat healthy, homemade food most of the time.  Reduce sugar.  (See “jittery,” above.)
  • Run a half-marathon with my running buddy Amanda (Woo hoo!!!  Team Awesome is BACK.)
  • Generally take better care of myself — get enough sleep, wash my face before bed, wear sunscreen, put lotion on those lizard hands!


  • Husband: plan monthly “adventure” dates to explore our new town and the surrounding area
  • Kids: Incorporate reading into other parts of our day besides bedtime
  • Friends: Umm… make friends in my new town?  Yeah, that would be good!


  • Schedule an hour or two of personal time each week and a day each month for reading, crafting, and blogging.
  • Figure out a better system for getting the essential housework done while maximizing time spent focusing on my family
  • Spend time outdoors every day


  • Track expenses and budget using YNAB
  • Shop my closet to create capsule wardrobes and limit shopping to a few new items per season<, what I have been trying to do is to buy clothes, and John Henric ties UK once a year and get delivered with this shiply courier. /li>

I’ll pick a few of these things to focus on each month and report back.

How’s your new year going so far?  What do you want more of in 2015? 


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December Goals, and November Goals in Review

Monthly Goals // Beauty School Dropout

Photo Credit: caljuggler via Compfight cc

We’re a few days into December but it’s never too late to set goals and try to plan out what I would like to get accomplished for the month.  But first, I am so excited to show you how I did on my November goal of unpacking a box a day!
Awesome, right?  20 boxes.  I am so proud of myself!  And our basement floors have been refinished so now we can start using that part of our house.  Don’t they look great?
wpid-IMG_4283.jpg wpid5734-IMG_4284.jpg
December’s theme for the Choose Your Own Adventure link-up is Simplify.
I love this theme.  Everything about the Christmas season seems to compel me to do more, more, more.  Thus, I am forever trying to keep it simple.  A few simple gifts for family members, a few simple holiday activities with the kids, and spending time preparing for Jesus’ birthday and spending time with people who are truly important to me.  I could set a million goals related to this theme … isn’t that ironic? … but for me the key is just continually reminding myself that what I am doing is enough.  My kids will have a wonderful Christmas even if I don’t make them that handmade Advent calendar I keep thinking about.  The store-bought gingerbread house kit is fine.  The fact that my house isn’t decorated the way I want it to be really doesn’t matter.
Since this goal is kind of squishy and hard to measure, I’m going to try to stay on track by spending at least 5 minutes a day in meditation/prayer on this subject.  I have a severe case of monkey mind, so this will be quite a challenge for me.
Do you ever spend time meditating? How do you stay focused and not start making lists in your head or humming some annoying pop song?  (Maybe that last part is just me?)
More fun stuff:  I was featured in Kathleen’s “Working Mama Files” series here, and don’t forget to enter my Favorite Things giveaway here.
Life According to Steph



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thankful pumpkins

Happy early Thanksgiving!  This post is a little bit silly and a little bit serious.  I’m thankful for…

  • Two little boys who are full of energy
  • Antibiotics.
  • Coffee.  (Coffee coffee coffee)
  • A warm, dry place to live.
  • A husband who’s recently rediscovered his love of cooking.
  • Nights that both kids go to sleep on time.
  • Somehow getting used to waking up at 5:20am.
  • Tea time in the afternoon.
  • Boot camp at work (Relax… NEVER!)
  • Hot cocoa on cold days.
  • Handknit wool socks.
  • The Zen of knitting
  • Gas prices dropping.
  • My boss and co-workers.
  • Hugs from my boys
  • Being a government employee so I get days off that no one else in the family does, and I can nerd out at home by reorganizing, knitting, reading, watching girly TV shows, and cooking up a storm.
  • Great friends in real life and online (like you!)

What are you thankful for this year?

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November goals, and October goals in review

Monthly Goals // Beauty School Dropout

Photo Credit: caljuggler via Compfight cc

It’s monthly goals time again! I have to tell you, I’m loving just having ONE goal to focus on at a time. I think it’s really helped me make a habit out of some things that I’ve been trying to do regularly for years.  I’ve been following along with Steph’s monthly goal setting challenge, and the theme for October was food.  I set one main goal, don’t eat after 8pm, and a side goal to blog more about food.  I give myself an A on both!

I used the Lift app to track my goal of not eating past 8.  Check these stats out:  (green dots mean I did it!)


Woo hoo!  I’ve gotten to where I’m not craving sugar every night at 9pm anymore, which I consider a major accomplishment.  I eat plenty for dinner, so I know it was just an emotional eating thing — looking for a “reward” for surviving the nightly marathon that is my kids’ bedtime routine.  (Yes, I know that it’s ridiculous, but I don’t know how to make it any faster.)

I did pretty well with food-blogging, too!  One new Cooking School post (Back-Pocket Recipes) and two recipe posts (pumpkin spice steel-cut oats & choose-your-own-adventure enchiladas).  I think I’m going to try to get back in the habit of doing at least one Cooking School a month for a while.

And for November, the theme is getting organized. There are so many things that need organizing in my life.  How to choose…?

After a lot of thought, I finally decided that I should deal with the boxes.  We moved in August, so of course we still have tons of unpacked boxes in the garage and basement.  My goal is to unpack 30 boxes — or one box a day.  I don’t think I’ll run out!


(This barely scratches the surface of all the boxes in various places in our house.  I’m hoping to have lots of good before & after pics to show you next month!)

Just like last month, I also have a little blogging side goal.  I’d like to get a bit more organized so I can write posts in advance and respond to comments in a timely manner.  (Sorry about that, by the way!  I read all my comments and I love hearing from you.  Sometimes I just get distracted before I respond, then a week goes by, then I feel like I’ve missed the chance to respond.  Argh.)

So yay — it’s November!  Let’s get organized.

Do you try to get organized in November so you can relax and enjoy the holidays?  Or do you love the hustle-bustle of last-minute preparations?  

Life According to Steph
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October Goals, and September Goals in Review

Photo Credit: Geomangio via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Geomangio via Compfight cc

I kept my goals last month really basic – walk or run for 30 minutes every day, and do Mutu (ab rehab) exercises every day.  I even made a nifty little chart I could use to track my progress.  Here’s how it went:

  • Running/walking.  B+.  I didn’t do it every single day but I definitely made getting out for walks a priority when I needed to take breaks at work or in the evenings at home.  I also walked a TON when I was in Baltimore.  I’d really like to start running in the mornings but until my kids sleep through the night, I just can’t do it.
  • Mutu.  C-.  I did these less than a third the days last month.  Workout videos are a pain.  I like having a written out workout plan much better than following along with a video.
  • Lessons learned.  I suck a keeping track of things on paper.  I am a digital girl!  For next month, I’m switching to the Lift app to track my progress.  (It gives me reminders, too!)

Since I’m keeping things simple around here, I’m going to just set one goal for October, following along with Steph’s Choose Your Own Adventure Goal Setting challenge.  The theme for October is FOOD.  My goal for the month is to blog more about food!  Once upon a time, I had a blog series that I loved working on called Cooking School.  I want to try to write at least two new posts for it, as well as sharing a recipe or two.

Okay, I lied.  I’ve got one more tiny goal related to healthier eating — no eating after 8pm.

If you have any ideas of what you’d like me to write about (anything from meal planning or grocery shopping to cooking techniques or what to make when you were too lazy to go grocery shopping) please tell me in the comments!

Life According to Steph


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September Goals

Goals button

This summer was all about survival mode, but I am tentatively dipping my toes back into the water here at my beloved little blog, and of course that includes my monthly goals post. In the first draft of this post, I started by brainstorming all the goals that I might want to work on for the month, and I came up with over 15!  Umm…. that’s not good.  Apparently I’m a bit of a jack-rabbit when it comes to setting goals.  (You know, those runners that start out super fast, but they’re walking by the halfway point?)

I don’t want to set myself up for failure, so I’m forcing myself to pick one area and really focus on it for the month.  My blog-friend Steph is hosting a Choose your Own Adventure goals challenge, so I decided to pick a simple goal that goes along with their theme for the month (September — fitness), and actually try to do it for 30 days, instead of letting my jack-rabbit brain go off in a million directions.

So here it is: a simple fitness goal for September. I want to walk or run for 30 minutes a day, and do Mutu ab exercises every day.  (There may be a sticker chart involved.)

I’ll report back at the beginning of October to let you know how I did!

Life According to Steph
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June Goals, and May Goals in Review

Monthly Goals // Beauty School Dropout

Photo Credit: caljuggler via Compfight cc

June!  What a happy month.  It’s warm and summery but not so hot and humid outside that you can’t enjoy it.  For me, June holds the anticipation of all the good things of summer — playing in the sprinkler, lemonade on the back porch, catching fireflies — before they are tempered by the summer realities of oppressive heat, mosquitoes, and that greasy sunscreen feeling. I also have some fun activities to look forward to this month, like a family reunion, a visit to my hometown, and my husband starting work at his new church.
I like to use my first post of each month to set my intentions for the month, and help steer my busy brain towards a few key goals to accomplish during the month.  But first I like to look back and see how I did on last month’s goals.
May Goals in Review
Wardrobe refresh.  B.  I still feel like I don’t have anything to wear about half the time, but between a shopping trip with my mom and a Stitch Fix shipment, I have a few new spring clothes!  I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal style and I feel sort of schizophrenic – I tend to like either really classic styles or sort of a bohemian look.  I think I can work with it though — classic styles for work, and more relaxed hippie-wear on the weekends.
Also, I am not afraid of colors and patterns, so I am trying to take advantage of that and actually wear them.  If you follow me on Instagram, you got the first look at my “crazypants” from Stitch Fix.  (Referral link.)  Yes, I was actually brave enough to wear them out of the house several times last month.  (The right shoes are essential…wear the wrong shoes and these things look like pj pants!)
Keep working on the budget A.  I can’t say I’ve completely got a handle on budgeting yet, but I’m still sticking with it and doing well.  Matt and I actually sat down ahead of time and figured out what we thought our trip to Lexington/Louisville would cost, and we stuck to it!  (Referral/discount link to YNAB.)
Plan my workouts.  B.  I wrote down workouts from the Hal Higdon 10K Intermediate plan in my planner, and I found this resistance band workout to do on my non-running days, BUT… I’ve been a little lacking on the follow-through!  I exercise on my lunch hour, and I had a lot more lunch meetings than usual last month, so despite my best-laid plans I didn’t actually work out that much.  I’m planning to stick with my plans as best I can next month, though… I’ve got a family reunion 2 mile race to compete in!
Moving planning.  B+.  I am still hiding my head in the sand about the number of boxes that need to be packed, but we’ve got movers coming to give us a quote and we mostly have our Antiques World furniture allocation figured out.  I think everyone has a bed in both locations except the baby… hopefully the pack-n-play will work for a while!
June goals
Packing.  We still don’t have a firm moving date, but we really need to be 99% packed by the end of June.
Keep working on exercise & diet.  I love eating healthy in the summer because there are so many great fruit and veggie choices, so this is a logical time for me to clean up my eating.  And from everything I’ve read, diet makes a big difference in diastasis recti recovery.  I’m tracking on My Fitness Pal if you want to friend me there!
Figure out a blog writing schedule.  I tried to chart out my posts for June only posting once a month, and I couldn’t do it!  I really do enjoy writing here, I just need to find the right time to work on it.
Take more pictures.  I’ve really slacked on taking pictures recently, even snapping pics with my phone!  I am not going to worry about learning more about photography at this point, I just want to get back into the habit of taking pictures of our every day life.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the way things are today is the way they’ll always be, but of course I can look back at pictures from just 6 months ago, not to mention 6 years, and of course that’s not true!  Photography is a way for me to capture these moments while I’m living in them, since I don’t always remember all the details.
Did you catch that about the 2 mile race at my family reunion?  It’s pretty intense — we have trophies and age divisions and everything.  If your family had a competition when you got together, what would it be?
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May Goals, and April Goals in Review

Photo Credit: Geomangio via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Geomangio via Compfight cc

Time is moving so fast for me these days – I can’t believe it’s May already.  In less than two months we will be packing up half our stuff and moving it to a new house!  With that in mind, my goals for May will be related to getting ready for the move, or building on my goals from April.  Speaking of them,  I’ll start by looking back to see how I did on last month’s goals.

April Goals

Start running again.  A.  I’ve been running a couple of times a week, and the Superhero 5K is tomorrow morning!  My Phoenix costume is ready to go.  Josiah will be Spider-Man (of course) and my mom is dressing up as Wonder Woman!  Follow me on twitter or instagram to see photos on race day.

Plant the garden.  Incomplete.  I haven’t touched the garden, and even though the last week has been cold, we had enough warm days in April that I could have gotten this done.  Hopefully I’ll recruit my parents into helping out with this when they visit this weekend.

Closets.  A-.  My closet reorg has been a big success, since we’ve managed to maintain it and not start piling stuff on the floor again.  I love that I can tell my son to hang up his coat and he can actually reach the hooks to do it!  I got the winter clothes packed away (too soon apparently… it is May, can I turn the heat off yet?) and got out size- & season-appropriate clothes for the kids.  (I love hand-me-downs.  A big thanks to my friend Kristy for passing on her son’s clothes and keeping J in preschooler-approved t-shirts!)

April Wallet Watch.  A-.  We didn’t necessarily cut spending this month (April is a big birthday month in our family, and my husband was traveling so we had higher gas & restaurant spending than normal), but I did start budgeting/tracking our money using You Need A Budget (you can save 10% by using that affiliate link) which has totally changed the way I view our money.  It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I’ve always just sized up the current bank balance to see if we could afford something, which often leaves us short at the end of the pay period since it doesn’t really account for upcoming bills.  YNAB forces you to spend out of what you’ve earned (no more going into debt on accident when you buy using the credit card or incurring “overdraft protection” fees) and ideally to spend out of the money you’ve budgeted in each category.  Since we’ve not really budgeted in the past, I made a lot of adjustments to make the budget match our spending this month, but it’s giving me a much better picture of how to budget for upcoming months.

 Life According to Steph

May Goals

Wardrobe refresh.  I plan to set aside a little extra money this month to update my spring/summer wardrobe.  I want to do a little thinking about what my personal style is, and try to buy things that fit in with that rather than just a bunch of stuff that I don’t really like (which happens about half the time when I try to go clothes shopping!)
Keep working on the budget.  The “wallet watch” is officially over, but I am geekishly excited about this whole budgeting thing, so I want to keep working on that.  We’ve got a mini-vacation coming up towards the end of the month and I’d love not to have to “charge it” without knowing how we’re going to pay for it.  I’ve always been a saver, but it makes no sense to put money into savings and carry a credit card balance at the same time.  Gotta get that straightened out.
Plan my workouts.  With my running/workout buddy on the disabled list, and no big races on the horizon, I’ve been really haphazard about my workouts lately.  I want to make a plan to keep myself on track until my drill sergeant is back in action!  Ideally that would be 2-3 days of running and 2-3 days of strength training per week.  I’m really focusing on my core right now, too, so I need to figure out a way to get those exercises in every day.
Moving planning.  I need to figure out what we need for the new house, and see if someone is willing to give or loan it to us before going out to buy anything. Go to source or ocal facebook friends, consider yourselves warned: I will be asking for stuff soon!
How would you define your personal style?  Do you follow a workout plan or just go with how you’re feeling on any particular day?
Linking up with Ginger at Just One of the Boys.
The Tiny Twig
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Would you like some kindness with your Saturday coffee?

coffee and kindness

Each spring during the 40 days leading up to Easter, my friend Kelli practices Calculated Acts of Kindness and encourages others to do the same.  Way back in February, I promised her I would write a post about it, but those 40 days slipped away without me ever sitting down to write the kind of thoughtful post that the subject matter deserves.  (That kind of post — “real” writing — takes me hours, as opposed to a few minutes here and there to slap together a silly post about manicures.)  But since Easter is tomorrow, and spreading kindness is always worth talking about, I’m here on a Saturday morning with a few words for you.  (And coffee.  We have to have coffee, right?)

I have to admit, I didn’t manage to send out any gifts or cards to friends, or make cookies for firefighters, or leave quarters at a laundromat, like a good CAOK-er probably would.  But one of my goals lately is working on being a more patient person, specifically a more patient parent to my 4 year old.  (Kids that age are crazymaking, I tell ya!)  I have successes and I have failures, and I’m a work in progress to be sure.  This is hard work for me, especially since I’ve always considered myself a fairly patient person.  Despite my failures, I am proud of myself for the effort I’ve made.  And I know making the effort is making me a better parent.

The other big kindness I’m extending is to myself — people keep asking me if I’m dyeing Easter eggs with Josiah, or if I’ve gotten matching Easter outfits for my boys, or make some suggestion about an Easter craft or recipe they saw on Pinterest, and I usually answer with some wishy-washy version of “Yeah, we’ll probably do that this weekend…”  But I’m going to be honest: We’re not dyeing eggs because I forgot to buy the little dye tablets.  And I haven’t gotten any new Easter outfits for the kids.  At this point, it’s just not happening.  But Easter will be juuuuust fine without any of that.  We are going to church, then we’ll have Easter lunch at my grandma’s house, hide eggs in her front yard, enjoy some nice spring weather, and I even remembered to buy a chocolate bunny for Josiah.


We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled lighter topics next week.  Happy Easter, friends!

What would you tell me if we were having coffee this morning?  How are you extending kindness to yourself these days?

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