Partnering up this week with April from 100lb Countdown! I loved getting to know April better through Ask Away Friday. One of my favorite parts of this weekly link up is diving into my partner’s site to do a little “research” before writing my questions. I loved reading April’s story – she’s a mother with a law degree, but chooses to focus on her kids rather than law. Her story of what led her to that, as well as what led her to her weight loss challenge was so inspiring! I loved poking around her site and discovered she is a goal setter like me, and also chose a word for the year. Make sure you take some time to check her site out!
Let’s start this week with your drive for Happiness:
1. I love the idea of your Happiness Project. What has changed the most in your life since you started? I can honestly say I am happier since I started it, and I think that is partly due to the project and partly due to life. I think the biggest thing I have gotten out of doing my own Happiness Project is figuring out what makes me happy, and then coming to the realization that it is my responsibility to make myself happy. We can spend a whole lifetime thinking we’ll be happy when this happens or when that changes. But I realized instead of waiting for life to be perfect, I had to take responsibility for making it how I wanted it or choosing how I dealt with the things I couldn’t change. And figuring out what makes me happy has made it easier to say yes, and to say no, when I need to so I can be happy.
2. Your word of the year is Believe, mine is Consistency. How are you doing with sticking to that as your word for the year? Now that we’re a quarter through the year, would you keep the same word? If not, what would you choose? When I jumped on the “word for the year” bandwagon, I didn’t realize how much I would love this! As the months pass this year, I am more and more focused on my word. It has definitely become part of my daily thoughts. When I come up against challenges, I find myself thinking about my word – believe – and using that as a guide to get me through the challenge or to figure out a solution. Sometimes that means thinking about believing in myself and having confidence in my decisions or values, sometimes it means pushing that instinct to doubt away and believing in others, and sometimes it means letting go of some of my anxiety and worry and believing in God’s plan. I would definitely choose “believe” as my word again!
Now on to Organizing:
3. You seem like you’re an organizing queen. I used to be at one point in time, but when other people entered the picture (i.e., my family) I just kinda stopped. I’m not sure where the motivation went. When you organize, do you do it in big spurts, like the whole afternoon or just small increments. What do you recommend for a “beginner” like me? Thanks! Do I get a crown now, because I have always wanted one! Haha! I tend to do spurts. I will usually decide “something” needs organized – my desk, a closet, a whole room – and then work that project. Sometimes that means an hour, or sometimes it means a little every day for a week. Just depends on the area. I would suggest taking things one small step at a time. If you think about organizing your whole house, that can get overwhelming really quickly; especially because, like you said, other people are in the picture. I would just start small – one closet, one small area, or one room. Organize that, then think about the next project. If you start to get overwhelmed, make a list and prioritize it. I always have a “home” list going of projects I want to do and areas I want to pull together better. It helps me to not worry about it, because I know it’s on the list and I’ll eventually get to it.
4. What do you use to ultimately keep yourself organized? A book, journal, calendar, etc? Bonus for pictures. And explain pretty, pretty please! I’ve mentioned before that I am an extremely Type A person, so I couldn’t find a planner available that I really loved. So I made my own! I have a whole post about it here. Basically, I use monthly pages to keep track of our family schedule as well as my blog schedule. My personal monthly page has room for my monthly goals, and the blog monthly page has boxes to check off for posting and promoting on social media. Then I have weekly pages for all my to-do lists. I have a section for meal planning, a section to keep track of bills, a section for miscellaneous things like my home project list and my books I want to read list, and then a blogging section for ideas and tracking monthly stats. I keep it all in a three ring binder with a few page protector sheets in there for things like my Happiness Project items and my blogging checklist, and a couple pocket folders for loose items like stamps and the school lunch menu.
Next let’s talk about your sons (who are absolutely adorable):
5. I had dreamed of having a house full of boys, but I ended up with two girls. Do your boys get along? What’s the best thing about raising two boys, and the worst? Like most siblings, they have their moments of getting along great and their moments of fighting like, well, brothers. I know they really adore each other, because those unguarded moments are so sweet between them. Those times when they can’t wait to tell each other something, or they make sure they get a surprise for the other one, or they show they are worried about one another when someone gets hurt or is upset. I think the best part about raising boys is their straight-forwardness and lack of drama. I have friends with girls and even when they are young it seems there is so much more drama with friendships and saying one thing and meaning another. My boys say what they think and don’t let a lot of stuff with friends get to them; they just sort of roll with that kind of stuff. The worst is probably the noise. I love quiet and don’t think I’ve had much of it since my oldest was born! They always seem to making some kind of noise whether is dribbling a basketball in the house, or making shooting sounds with their Army guys, or making construction noises with trucks, or wrestling with each other, it all seems to require a high volume!!
6. You’ve made New Year’s Resolutions for your boys. Did you share the resolutions with them? Have they even attempted to make it their resolution for the year? I did not share them with them – but I think I should have now that you mention it! I wrote them as kind of joke, but they were things that actually drive me a bit bonkers with my kiddos. I will say, they have gotten a bit better with the sleeping later, and they have been getting along with one fairly well lately. The making messes depends on the day. However, they still think McDonald’s is fabulous and whine much more than I would like!
7. You mentioned that you are a strict parent. I consider myself one too. What’s one thing that you find that others are the most vocal in objecting to in your parenting style? I think we get the most criticism for having high expectations for behavior when our kids are young. We believe the expectation should always be set, and the consequences of meeting or not meeting it should be adjusted for age. For example, we have never given our kids the impression that acting up in a restaurant is acceptable. And while many people have thought it was fine to let their kids crawl under tables or run around between other diners, because their kids were little, we have never allowed that. Because while it is somewhat understandable when a kid is two, it’s really not so cute when that kid is six. And we don’t want to confuse our kids about what behavior is allowed and what is not. So while we were far more lenient with the consequences when the kids were toddlers, the expectations are always the same, regardless of age.
About meal planning:
8. I find meal planning completely overwhelming, which is odd considering I buy almost the same thing every time I go to Costco, but I digress. When planning for the week, do you base it on what you have or do you go shopping with the intent to fill a preplanned menu? Give me some pointers please! I do both. I first think about (or look at) what I have in my freezer or cupboards. If there was a meal I didn’t get to for some reason the week before, I start by plugging that in on the plan, because I know I have what I need for it. Then if I have something in the freezer – usually something I had made in a large batch at one point and frozen for future meals – I’ll plug that in. Then I add in the rest of the meals. Then I make my grocery list, based on my meal plan. For a Type A Gal like me, the easiest way to get started is to just think of it in steps. Step One – plug in meals you already have. Step 2 – add meals to fill the rest of the plan. Step 3 – make your grocery list.
9. How often do you vary your meals? I find that pretty much every week, we have baked chicken, spaghetti and some other random dish that I pulled off Pinterest. Do you have any other simple go-to meals that you prepare for your family? We usually have some kind of pasta once a week because everyone likes it and it’s easy (and cheap). I mix it up with different sauces, but basically a rotation of a tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, or pesto sauce. In the summer we have hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill once a week. In the winter we usually have soup once a week. I sometimes feel like we get in a rut and don’t have a lot of variety, but I just browse Pinterest for awhile and gather up some ideas and start throwing those in the mix!
On to your blog:
10. Where do you see your blog going in the next five years? I’ve never really made a five year plan or anything. I sometimes have trouble just working out a month at a time for the blog! But I would like to get more efficient at blogging and all the tasks that go with it – social media, networking, link ups, etc. Kind of learn to work smarter rather than harder. I also still hope to use my blog as a spring board into a career in writing and social media management. I’m gaining valuable experience through the blog and would like to eventually be able to transfer that into more career opportunities. And I would like to really refine my niche and kind of nail down better what my blog is all about. Along those lines, I’d like to do a redesign, maybe this summer, so possibly do some rebranding with that, as well.