Monday, June 20, 2011

losing it and gaining it

Losing weight and gaining work, I mean.

Tim and I are starting week 7 of the Couch to 5K plan that I mentioned in my last post. We would be on week 8 now, but we each had separate setbacks causing us to re-do a week. We haven't lost any weight yet, but that is dietary, so we're going to try to eat healthier now, like if we want some ice cream, just do the recommended 1/2 cup serving size (it's TINY!) instead of a big bowlful, and try to do more veggies instead of chips, etc. The workouts are hard, but doable. My main problem is that with nearly any type of exercise I do, I get bored. I even try to do my routine while watching TV and even that doesn't help the time go faster, even if it's one of my favorite series.

In regards to gaining work, Tim's pay still is not increasing at the rate we originally hoped it would. He did have his super weeks and had a "bonus" of sorts during those weeks b/c of a few days with some super sales, but now he's back to normal, and normal isn't much more than nothing. It would be nice if a better job for him would fall out of the sky, but I don't think that will happen, so I've accepted that the transcription that I do needs to be a permanent fixture in our lives. I can handle that.

I just need to finish getting my routine in line and the apartment organized so that instead of putting out fires all day, I can actually feel like I'm accomplishing things. It's a long, slow process, but I just need to make time daily to do SOMETHING towards that end goal. It will be so worth it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

spring moves on, some progress on some projects

Well, so much for my goal of wanting to blog at least every two weeks. Maybe I should write it on the calendar so I'll remember, or coordinate it with the Saturdays that Tim works (every other Saturday) or something.

Benjamin's continuing to add more words to his vocabulary, including "pray" and "amen." We are still doing elimination communication with him, and he's dry for almost every nap and while sleeping at night, now, and even stays dry while I take him to the kitchen for a drink of water first. He wakes up with a greater need to drink than a greater need to go potty, so I let him sip a bit first and then tend to his other needs. :) I don't have any high hopes of him being 100% potty trained early or anything, but it's been nice to have him go in the potty even on occasion, and hopefully when the time DOES come for him to be potty-independent, it will be a relatively smooth transition.

Lydia continues to read pretty much whatever she can get her hands on. Our trips to the library to refresh our supply of books are more and more frequent. Also, when Tim and I watch TV, we usually turn on the closed captioning so we can keep the volume low and don't bother the neighbors (or a sleeping Benjamin). And Lydia will occasionally read the closed captioning, too, or at least give a valiant effort. I got her a "preschool workbook" in her Easter basket this year and she's enjoyed going through that and learning how to follow instructions with a worksheet instead of just drawing whatever. She also had her first cut-and-paste experience and it went well. It didn't take her any time at all to learn how to use the scissors.

I did finally get some more done in decluttering. I still have to do the bathroom, my bedroom and my closet, but the kitchen, dining room and living room are about 95% done. It is a HUGE improvement over what it was before. Here are a couple of before/after pictures.

Dining room before:

Dining room after:

Play area/living room before:

Play area/living room after:

There is also a couch in the living room that was piled so high with yarn and coats and random stuff that you couldn't even really tell that there was a couch there. But now the couch only has pillows on it, and people can actually sit there. :) I don't want to relax too much because the bedroom and closet are going to be HUGE projects, but I feel a little more able to breathe now. I can sit in the living room or dining room and feel peace instead of getting stressed out because of the clutter.

Tim and I have started the Couch to 5K running plan this week. It builds up with gradually-increasing runs until you can run enough to run a 5K race straight through without walking. I was SUPER sore after the first workout, and the soreness lasted for three days, but I stretched properly after the other two workouts and feel better now. I'm looking forward to doing this program. I want to be able to play actively with my kids for longer than 10 minutes at a time before I get out of breath. And if I happen to lose a pound or two, then I won't complain. :)

Tim's sales at his job have not increased noticeably yet, and the backlog in my transcription is gone (so now I have to log in at just the right time to see if there is work available), but we are still making it. Just because I am a spreadsheet nerd, I started tracking Tim's sales, since he is on a 14-day rotation, so we could see if there were any trends on a particular day or not. So far, there haven't been, but he's only been on each new day for about 4-5 times, so it's still too early to really tell. He's been easily making the sales goals that the company has set for him each week, but those goals aren't quite high enough to be our personal sales goals. I believe the sales will still increase. He has a couple of "super weeks" coming up, and hopefully should have some great sales during that time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

march? it's march already?

I'm still wondering what happened to February. I'm still keeping up on Facebook, but I will try to pop in here twice a month to make an update, maybe with pictures, maybe with videos, since there's really only so much that can be said in the 420-character limit that Facebook imposes on status updates.

Benjamin is walking all over the place now. He started walking slightly later than Lydia did (at 16 months instead of 15), but like her, he took only a very short time to go from 100% crawling to 100% walking. He is also talking quite a bit, saying "words" like amen, cup, diaper, potty, and banana.

He also had surgery a few days ago to remove the cyst under his eyebrow which had been there since birth. He looked great right after surgery (he woke up MAD but calmed down once we were in the car), but then over the following couple of days, his poor eye got bruised and swollen.

The swelling is gone now, but the bruising remains and is working its way out. I had no idea that eye surgery would cause that much bruising and swelling. He was such a trooper though and didn't let it slow him down at all.

The daily Bible devotional that someone passed along to me has been helpful. I have skipped a few days, but try to read every day during naptime, while it's quiet. And since the quarter is new, I've also gotten on the ball with doing Lydia's daily readings as well. I do hers with her at bedtime, in between her prayer and her other story.

She is turning into quite the reader herself, though, and I have to hold the Bible away from her while I read it, or else she will get distracted looking for words on the page that she knows instead of listening to the story. She loves going to the library and getting new books. Here she is reading one of them (and hubby and I had not read this one to her before this video at all - it was completely new to her).

And here she is reading some out of her children's Bible.

She is also into writing. She wrote this note for a friend of hers. It says, "Happy birthday to my friend Aaliyah and Lydia."

Since she's so into reading and writing, I am going to get her a dry-erase writing practice tablet for Easter, along with a fat preschool workbook that I'll do with her. The workbook also includes cutting and pasting, which she hasn't done at all, and coloring specific colors, which she hasn't done (she has colored freely, which is good, but I think it's time for her to also be able to follow instructions).

She continues to amaze me with the way her mind works and the things she says and does. I am part of an e-mail list for Christian ladies, where we take turns sharing some spiritual e-mails that we write. I wrote one when Benjamin was a newborn, outlining how we should be like a newborn, but then since then, I've been stuck on topics. I sent an e-mail to the organizer and she sent back some suggestions, one of which was to take some of the things that Lydia says and find a spiritual application for them. So I am doing that, and less than a week later, already have several ideas to outline.

I have gotten very, very little done on the decluttering front. It's just so hard to do with two little kids running around all day. I am trying to still do some every day, but sometimes a week goes by and I've done nothing, and the clutter grows during that time, which just further demotivates me. The last time we had people in our home was right after Benjamin was born, when people brought us some meals, and since I was newly postpartum, I had a reason for the mess. But before that, I can't remember the last time we had people over. I want to be able to have people over again, but not if walking through our apartment is going to be hazardous.

Hubby has taken it upon himself to lose some weight, and he's been making slow but sure progress in that arena. It helps that I pack his lunch every day now instead of him grabbing some random fast food wherever he's at (and this is also helping our checkbook as well). I, on the other hand, have gained weight and am now at my highest non-pregnant weight that I've ever been. I've been stress-eating and need to stop.

I mentioned some possible changes for hubby's job last time, and those changes have started this past week. And yes, it DOES mean a pay cut for us - and quite a substantial one. The company changed the commission structure and they pay a tiered commission on daily sales now instead of weekly sales. Overall, they pay out more commission now than before, but the base is significantly lower now as well. The pay cut will remain until hubby builds up his route. A couple of days are already built up to a good level, but others lack a good $500 in sales before it will meet our needs. And his new salary, by itself, is now not enough for us to live on.

We've cut our budget where we can, but I am stepping up working now as well. My play food sales are flatlining, but I am still doing transcription. The company that pays me better rates has actually been backed up for weeks. When I log in, there are pages and pages of jobs available, whereas before, sometimes I could log in and there be either nothing or just a job or two. So I've been taking advantage of this backlog (since I don't know how long it will last) and doing what I can to help make up the difference coming from hubby's lost pay.

So that working is part of the reason I've been absent on this blog and absent from doing decluttering, but other stuff keeping me from it is Facebook and other online things and various games and stuff. I just need to cut WAY WAY back on those things and concentrate on what's important - God and family.

Monday, January 24, 2011

a new year full of changes

Apparently one of the major changes that I'm making this year is to stop writing in this blog, haha. No, really, I didn't intend to do that. But about two years ago, the hubby introduced me to Facebook, so I've been keeping up there more than here, with little one-liners of what's happening. But there's really nothing like a good blog post, so I made some time today to come back with some updates and some new info.

Benjamin turned one in October '10 with no big fanfare. I made the same type of cake for him that I did for Lydia's birthday, but he was not interested in eating it, or even touching it. Poor little guy was a little sleepy by that time, though, so I blame his lack of enthusiasm on being tired. He is very much into solids now, though, eating whatever we eat. He has three molars partway in, and the last one will break the skin any day now.

He is still not walking independently, nor does he really want to. He likes to cruise, though. He has been cruising since late September (although when he started out, it was more like grabbing randomly at the furniture and stomping his feet, and accidentally moving a couple of inches) and his favorite spot to cruise now is on my office chair. He'll hold onto it and walk around and around and around. I've given him a few haircuts, and it's hard to do that because he's very interested in the scissors and wants to turn around and look at them instead of being still, so usually I either have to be very fast, or have to wait until hubby can help me hold his head still.

I've been trying to sign with him and he did "drink" finally, and just in the past couple of days did "more," but those are the only two he's really done. I'm going to keep working with him though because he still doesn't say much, either. His first word was "cup" which he said at about 15 months old, and he can say "hair" as well (but he leaves off the H and the R so it sounds more like "aaah," lol). I'm still nursing him about 3-5 times a day. I'm also still "teaching him to read." In my last entry, I mentioned the YBCR videos, and we do watch those every so often, but I didn't follow the plan as instructed. I found the Doman method, though, and started that around the time of his first birthday. He loves looking at his words. And I put "teaching him to read" in quotes because maybe he'll learn to read with this, or maybe he won't, but the goal isn't to get him to read early - it's just to help build extra brain connections so that later in life, he will have an easier time learning whatever he wants to.

Lydia turned four in December and is great to have around. She's helpful to me and it's nice that she's getting to be so tall, because I can send her to get things for me that she couldn't have reached a year prior (like socks for Benjamin). She talks a ton. I'll share some of the interesting things she'd said later in this post. But speaking of reading, I've put aside the 100 Easy Lessons for her. They stopped being easy. I think she was too young for something so structured and rigid. So I started up the Doman method with her as well (and still show her the YBCR videos occasionally as well, when I want to show some to Benjamin). And I've also gotten better about reading to her. Every couple of months or so, I go out to the library and get a big stack of early reading books, then at bedtime, I have her go pick one out and read it to her (this was a new habit for me to get into, reading to her, because usually I would have just put her to bed). After I read her a book a couple of times, she starts to memorize it and/or recognize the words, and can read it most of the way by herself. She also plays with her foam letters in the bathtub and makes words that way, some real, some not so real, haha.

Re: reading my Bible more. This goal is still in progress (and always will be), but I shared some struggles that I've been having in this area in my current season in life with a friend of mine, and she passed along a daily devotional book to me that I've been finding helpful. It really is just what I need - something daily and directed. So often, I may sit down to read but not have any plan, and not have any idea what to read on that particular day. So having something that already tells me what to read is helpful. I still need to work harder on doing Lydia's Bible lessons with her, though.

Re: saving for a house. The house is not happening this spring. :( We looked into renting a house (just to get out of this tiny apartment), but even that would be more than we can afford right now. I am still doing transcription, but one of my jobs lost their big contract, so that cut down my typing opportunities. I am still making play food (and other items) to sell, though, and finally stocked my Etsy store, and also continually update my Facebook Fan Page.

Re: housework. Since we are going to be in this apartment for a while, I finally lit a fire under myself to do some massive decluttering. I've done a little bit so far, but there is still a ton of work left to do. I try to do something every day, even if it's just something tiny like removing the unneeded items from a single drawer. My end goal to have everything done is May-ish. Hubby is also attempting to get in shape by May as well.

Re: exercising. I took a break from walking outside for the winter, but haven't done any additional exercises. I need to make time to do even the 1-mile walking video that we have, since that would probably be better than nothing. Lydia probably would enjoy doing it with me.

Hubby is still working at Schwan's. Some big changes are coming to it, though, which he'll find out more about on Thursday. It could end up meaning a pay cut for us, though, if he doesn't continue building his route appropriately. But he's gotten a fire lit under him as well and had a decent day on Saturday, doing some route-building. Two weeks ago, he also applied for Safety-Kleen (where my brother-in-law works, but he works up in Utah), but the only thing we've heard from there is that they've received our application. As each day passes with no further contact from them, I keep thinking that that is not the right path for us.

Now, here are just a few of the hilarious things that Lydia has done/said:

8/1/09 - I opened a can of biscuits this morning and arranged them on a baking stone. Then I turned my back briefly to wash off the "essence of biscuit." When I turned back around, I saw that Lydia had made off with one of the raw biscuits and taken a bite out of it. And she liked it.

9/24/09 - Benjamin wasn't due until 10/5, but this was at the "any time now" phase. I asked Lydia if she thought the baby would come in September or October. She said, "October. Just a little bitty October, okay?"

11/19/09 - I was checking Lydia's emerging molars, and she asked me what's in her mouth. I told her "teeth" and then she said, "My teeth are growing up." Meanwhile, Benjamin spit up a tiny bit while he was laying around, and Lydia said that he "spilled."

1/23/10 - Tim (while eating trail mix): "Here, Lydia. Try a Craisin."
Lydia: "Mmm. Can I have another crazy one?"

3/2/10 - You know the song "If You're Happy and You Know It." You also know the song "Oh Be Careful." Lydia combined the two, and was singing, "Oh, be careful little Amen what you do." She then followed that verse up with "Oh be careful little claps what you do" and "Oh be careful little stomps what you do."

4/29/10 - "That's the screamer, see? That's where the sound comes out, right there." We were at the mall and Lydia was talking about a speaker in the ceiling.

5/25/10 - I went to get Lydia out of her room (she had not slept at all) and found that she gained some weight during her naptime. She'd opened up her dresser and donned 4 shirts - 3 long-sleeve and one short-sleeve - all at once.

7/24/10 - Sometimes I bring Lydia on my early-morning walks. She likes to look at the roly polies (or pill bugs) with great interest. But if I suggest that she hold one so it can tickle her hand, she is all "no, thank you." She's afraid of them. On our walk yesterday, she found one and I picked it up and asked her again if she would like to hold it. She said no, and walked a few steps ahead of me. I knew she wouldn't change her mind, so I tossed it into the grass (which Lydia did not see me do). Lydia walked a few more steps and then stopped and looked at me and said, "Can you put it down?" I guess she wanted to make sure I wouldn't sneak up with it and trick her into holding it, lol.

7/28/10 - I've been teaching Lydia to say "excuse me" if someone is blocking her path. Just now, she said, "Excuse me. I have to get in your way." Um, not quite the lesson objective that I had in mind.

8/18/10 - 8/18 - Lydia noticed tonight that my phone shows a picture of my mom (who the grandkids call Rae Rae) when in a call with her. We were coming in after church tonight, and I had a bag of clothes for Benjamin with me. Lydia looked at Rae Rae on the phone, then at the bag of clothes. Then she held the phone over the bag and told Rae Rae to "Look!"

10/5/10 - We were at the store. I was looking at the dry-erase markers and Lydia was looking at the pencils. Then she takes a pack of them off the rack and turns around and says, "Here you go!" and offers them to a random customer who was walking by, lol.

11/8/10 - I was teasing Lydia while filling up her milk cup. First I said that the pitcher of water was milk. She said, "No, that's water." Then I grabbed out a little baggie of coffee grounds. She said, "No, that's ... that's ... that's dirt for coffee." LOL

12/2/10 - Lydia's first Bible reading of the new quarter is Exodus 1. I got about halfway through verse 2 when she suddenly interrupted me and then went on to name the rest of the 12 tribes of Israel by herself, lol.

Here are a few pictures and videos:

What do you MEAN the food is gone already?

Expressive Benjamin

Lydia reads Eddie the Racoon

Lydia crochets some "sausage" balls