Sunday, August 2, 2015

How I keep (somewhat) sane...

I'd like to introduce you to one of my bestest friends in the entire world:

This is my Erin Condren Life Planner. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I would be a mess without it. John gave me my first one as a birthday gift last year (because the man gets me, people) and this is technically next year's planner. I went ahead and bought the 18-month, because I wanted the extra space, so it has the end of this year AND next year. July 2015 - December 2016. Brilliant. 

If you have a Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook account, or maybe you read blogs or are involved in online "mommy groups", you've probably heard people obsessing over the Life Planner (or ECLP for those in the know) for a few years now. The planner is about $50 (comparable to printing your own at home or at Staples, but much better quality) and has weekly layouts and monthly calendar pages, a notes section, and a handy little pocket and zipper pouch. Nobody can deny that the ECLP is a functional planner, but the real attraction for most devotees is that Erin Condren is all about style. 

The Life Planner is pretty darn customizable, all things considered. In fact, an entire cottage industry has sprung up with folks designing and creating stickers and planner accessories. For example, this is a set of fun stickers my BFF sent me:

In honor of Harry Potter's birthday, I used them the week of July, 31st. This year's planner leaves the columns untitled so that you can customize them
As you need. I really liked the previous years' "morning, day, night" titles, so that's what my stickers say. I've seen people use them for kids' appointments/scheduling, home tasks, and personal tasks, or etsy stores, blogs, pets, work, any number of things. The neat thing about having them blank is that they can change as the day, week, or month changes. Clever!

The other thing I really like about my ECLP is that the month blocks are big enough that I can really write all the event info in them. 

I purposefully used a month that I haven't written in yet (this is the internet, y'all don't need to know when I'm going to be doing what) but I usually will jot down my appointments with a contact phone number in case I need to call for any reason. I also list my goals along the side column, or what bills need to be paid, or even what projects I'm working on. Again, customization is awesome. 

The Life Planner is chock-full of bright colors, fun graphic elements and inspirational quotes. Before each month, there's a new quote. Here's the quote for August:

I have plans to crop the quotes and put them up in my home office when this year's planner is done. They're fun! 

I love my Erin Condren Life Planner, more than any other planner I've used in the last several years. I'm an office supplies and organizing dork, and always have been, so I have tried many planners... Not a single one of them has worked for me like the ECLP does. I work best with vertical columns since I think of my day in three sections: before lunch, during nap time, and after nap time. Mostly that's because I have a toddler and a preschooler, but when I was in college it was: morning classes, afternoon classes, work/study time. In high school: before school, during school, after school. When I saw the Erin Condren Life Planner was set up that way, I was sold. I know that not everybody works that way, and the Life Planner comes in a horizontal format too for those who prefer that style. 

All in all, the Erin Condren Life Planner is a solid organizational tool. I'm glad I have mine. I recommend them highly! You can find them at along with notebooks, stationery, and all sorts of awesome. 

****Disclaimer type blurb****
Nobody paid me or perked me to create this post. If they had, I would let you know right up front because that kind of stuff is important to me. The fact of the matter is, I just really like this planner. If you want one, and you want to save $10 on your order, you can always use my referral code. I get a thank you from Erin Condren, you get a thank you for making your first purchase, everybody goes home happy. But again, the review? All my own feelings and not influenced by anything.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The every-year-or-so update...

I am so good at making promises... I'm an expert promise maker! I craft these beautiful plans, hopes, dreams, goals... but then I just don't follow through. That's actually been an issue my whole life.  I bet you're not shocked. ;-)

Here's the thing: I really *meant* to be blogging for the last two years. I meant to blog all the cute things my children were doing and saying, I meant to be sharing our lives online in a way that family and friends could keep up, I meant to be using my blog as a platform to tell my own story.  I really did mean to!  Life is a funny animal you guys. I totally typed "aminal" and I almost left it. Aminal. The best childhood mispronunciation ever. Like "amemnomee" instead of anemone. So cute, but I digress!  I meant to. I always "mean to" and never DO. It's a sickness. I'm going to try to change that, and the first step is writing a new blog post.

I'm sitting here in my parents' house in Oregon, with a 20 month old little boy on my lap.  He's using my phone to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates so that I can type this post.  He has a cold, and he's really enjoying the extra lap time today.  Don't let it fool you, lap time is NOT his idea of a good time. The only reason he's parking here right now is because he's coughing a lot and is tired... well, that and there's Jake.  I would reeeeally like to be working towards completing my math course for school, but that is completely impossible with a 20 month old around. Especially when said 20 month old is quite honestly into everything.  EVERYTHING.  So, for now, I do my schoolwork when they're sleeping or when my family (mom, dad, brother, mom-in-law, and husband) are gracious enough to drop everything they need to do and watch our children.  It's a serious investment of time.

I'm going to school to complete my undergrad, a dual degree in elementary education and special education. It's an online school, so I will have to be licensed in Utah and then apply for an Oregon teacher's license. It is what it is, but at least I'm able to finish school online!  So very grateful for that, thank you technology!  I'm hoping to be finished sometime within the next three years. I could finish faster, I have that option... but I think that three years is good. I will also need to get my masters, and I'm considering getting that in secondary science ed. We'll see, I have a ways to go before I need to make that decision.

John is working toward getting school in play again as well.  He's going to enroll in a CNA program this fall and begin working as a CNA so that he can apply to nursing school within the next year or so.  He really wants to get through school, and I'm so proud of him for that. I think we both agree that non-traditional studenthood is rough. We really should have done this years ago, and before we had kids. I'm very proud of us for doing it at all at this point.

The kids are growing fast. Maddie is 3, Remy is 20 months... they're pretty typical kids, but they're both sharp as tacks. Maddie picks up on everything!  She has a pretty broad vocabulary, more words than most 4 year olds, and can carry on pretty involved conversations when she stays on task. Remy is still working on words, but has quite an arm!  He can throw fast, hard, and far. It's both awesome and awful... ask me about the time he through a piece of chicken into my mouth in mid-sentence at the dinner table. Ha!

At any rate... we're still here. We're still growing, and we're still working towards goals.  I do hope to blog more, but we'll have to see what happens.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hello, sad little neglected blog... It's been... almost a year? Is that possible? I am so sorry.

Last night, I talked about this blog a little with my new friend Spencer (hi Spencer! If you're reading this!) at the Apple Store in Littleton, CO.  Since he mentioned he may find and read this... I figured I'd better throw another update post up. :)

Soooo what have we missed? *scrolls through blog, which is open in another browser tab*

  • I never blogged Remy's birth. Ever. Whoops.
  • I didn't *really* blog our move... just glossed over it in a mention.
  • I neglected to mention that WE MOVED AGAIN (hence the Apple Store in Colorado, and not Utah).
  • Missed blogging Remy's 1st birthday...
And those are just the HUGE things... Whoops!  Well... looks like a few posts are in order.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

We're moving. There, I said it... Rip it off like a band-aid. Ouch. We're moving to Logan, Utah for work and to gain residency so we can go to Utah State without having to pay and arm and a leg... Just an arm. ;-) the blessing of in-state tuition. We're leaving in twelve DAYS. which means ish got real for me this morning. 

Now, here's the thing... I have always thought I loved moving. Always. In my first marriage, I moved every six months on average. I thought I loved adventure and new places and all that blah, blah, blah bullcrap. No, actually, I'm finding out that THAT was (yet again) me Pollyanna-ing a really crummy situation because I will find the happy goshdarnit if it kills me. It's a great part of my personality, but it didn't help things for me then, and it's actually leading to some PTSD triggers now. 

Here's the thing about recovering from abuse: nobody can ever explain to you how much it creeps into your everyday life and your psyche. It's like roots, in a way. It snakes it's way around every little memory and detail and you have to separate it gently so as not to dislodge the good things alongside the crummy things. It is a PROCESS people, and not a very pleasant one at that. So when I started looking around at all the stuff I have to figure out what to do with (keep/move, sell, or toss) a LOT of old hurts came sneaking in like scary fog. (Have you read Catching Fire? That fog is the BEST analogy for PTSD ever. I digress, sorry.)

I am SO. EXCITED. to get our lives moving in a progressive direction. I still can't say I'm 100% excited to move to Utah, because I've never, ever, thought I'd live in Utah... But in excited to live in Logan. I'm excited to be around treasured friends and family. I'm excited about our super-cute apartment and our jobs. I am excited about new adventures. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Of toast and tantrums...

I want to share something from our morning, especially for parents of "whiny" and "fit-throwing" independently minded toddlers. This is my *very* independent, 21 month old daughter, happily eating a new-ish food. 

That's actually really hard sometimes, getting Madeleine to eat new things. "Stuff" on toast has been a battle. (Weird, I know. Jam on toast is awesome.) She's had it on and off, but never very successfully. Today, after much prodding and careful questioning, she decided she would like toast for breakfast. I asked her if she wanted to try jam on her toast. She enthusiastically said yes. When I brought her her toast, she had a small fit. Whining, flapping her little hands, yelling "no no no!!!" I asked again, "Madeleine, you said you wanted toast, with jam. This is toast. Would you like toast?" She tearfully replied, "YES!" I sat down next to her and offered the toast again. She hesitantly reached for it, getting jam on her fingers and began to cry. I put two and two together at that point. She didn't want sticky fingers, can you blame her? I wiped her hands and explained that I would be happy to wipe them whenever she liked, if she'd eat her toast please. I again asked her to "try bites". She finally did, and she loved it!

Frequently, I read articles and blog posts about not letting children "manipulate" with tantrums. I hear to punish this behavior, or ignore her when she behaves that way. I submit another way. Perhaps, and I know I'm not the first to suggest this, tantrums are frustration at the inability to explain. Let's look at it another way. Many of us have tried to learn a new language, for example I speak very limited Spanish. Whenever I try to explain something, I frequently can't find the right words. I'm still learning. Sometimes, I get flustered and frustrated. Now if I, as an adult, get frustrated when I can't express what I'm trying to say, can you imagine what it might feel like for a toddler?  If we keep that feeling in mind, and attempt patience in dealing with tantrums, our little ones will learn that we hear them and are willing to help them. If we punish, ignore, or lose our tempers with them, what are they learning? Not love, patience, or nurturing.

Breakfast today was not a quick event. It took us probably 20 minutes to work through it all before we ate. Seeing the look of trust and happiness on Madeleine's face made it all worth it. I know that it can be hard. I know that frustrated, bubbly-anger feeling that can boil up when your sweet angel is thrashing around like a little demon. If we can just remember to look at it through our child's eyes, it may be easier to get through the tantrum and back to the happy.