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Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you to WordPress for a beautiful (and easy to read) annual review.

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My Aunt teased me today. “I haven’t seen a post on your blog about how you manage to write and parent and do all the things you do for Christmas.”

Yeah. I told her that’s because I’m failing miserably at finding the time to do anything. After all my advice about writing here and there and keeping post-its and pens handy…I have nothing to show for the last four days. (Shh! This post is honestly the only thing I’ve written this week.)

Part of the blame goes to my two-and-a-half year old son, who discovered the joy of peeling post-its apart; which was much like having my brain scattered all over the dining room wall. The other is simply the season. Christmas is time for family and I’m happy to give that time. Here’s the post-it culprit!
Christmas Eve 2012 033

There are moments when I retreat to my corner to write and try desparately to ignore the sounds around me. But a part of me wonders about that… Am I missing too much of my childrens’ growing experiences when I do that? I try to do a majority of my writing while the youngest is asleep, leaving my older children the privledge to find their own corners to read, draw, and play board games – moments they truly appreciate and need.

So, I decided that the two hours I schedule to write each day during naps are worth it. I do miss a little time with family here and there, but writing feeds my soul. When my soul is fed, I’m happy. When I’m happy, I’m a better mom and wife.

Here you go, Aunt Arlene! A post about how I do what I do. The truth is out – sometimes I don’t :)

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When people learn that I have four children, they smile. It’s more than the average two kids and far less than the typical Catholic family of ten. When they learn that I homeschool my children, they are impressed (or worried that my kids will be social freaks). And then when they discover that I also write, they slap their forehead and walk away. “How can you possibly do all that?”

Easy! The same way anyone else manages to do the things they love. I make time for it.

Step #1 – Set Weekly Goals.
Know what you want to accomplish. Personally speaking, I include writing, exercise and household chores into one list. My favorite part of accomplishing the goals is crossing them off. It’s a little thing to do, but it means that my time has been well-spent and I have something to show for it.

Step #2 – Schedule Time to Achieve Those Goals
I can’t tell you how many people will tell me that they want to do this or that, but they don’t have the time. I want to lose ten pounds…I want to be a writer…I want to homeschool…I want to train for a 5K…but I work full-time, I get home too late, I can’t afford it, I can’t.
Bah! I say! Those are lame excuses and they need to be tossed out like last year’s trash.
Wake up 20 minutes earlier and read or write. 20 minutes isn’t going to completely deprive anyone of sleep, but using that time effectively can bring about great results.
Have an hour for lunch? Walk for 30 minutes or write for 45 minutes.
Do you watch 2-3 hours of TV every night? Quit. Work toward your goals instead.

Step #3 – Accomplish tasks/goals in ‘Chunks’ of Time.
There are times when little snippets of time are all you have. (see Post-it writing for more). To truly make progress toward your goals, you will need to invest time.
I’m very good at planning meals and I can grocery shop on a dime, but when it comes to actually making the meals I fail. The solution for this came to mind as I looked at how I schedule several hours a week to write; therefore I should do the same for meals. I now plan a week’s worth of meals based on the sales at our local grocery store and shop. When I come home, instead of putting the meat in the freezer (because at 4:00pm on any given night everything will still be frozen) I put the meals together then freeze them. Luckily for me, my family loves casseroles and crock pot dinners, but mostly, I think they are just happy to have regular meals. I spend hours planning, shopping and preparing meals, but making the meals ahead of time keeps my afternoons free. It takes a few minutes to turn on the oven and slid a 9×13 in than to start from scratch.

Step #4 – Professionalize Your Goals
Every professional has business hours. Writers, parents, homeschoolers, and any one striving to accomplish a goal needs the same. I have every Thursday afternoon to write. It’s a guarenteed 3-4 hours of uninterrupted writing time. When I set my goals for the week, Monday through Wednesday include writing tasks that will make Thursday more efficient.

Step #5 – Have Fun!
If writing is your goal, then keep it fun. If you are a parent, it’s not like you can quit. Just find the ways to keep it fun. Same with exercise. Change up your workout. Jog on Monday, lift weights on Tuesday, swim on Wednesday, yoga on Thursday…you get the idea.
The enjoyment-factor of any task helps keep motivation high. For example, one of my least favorite tasks is changing out summer clothes for winter clothes. To put much of the work on my children (it’s their clothing!) and to keep it fun, I pull out the new season of clothing and set up a store in the living room. They all ‘shop’ for what they want, but have to turn in clothing for GoodWill – a one-for-one exchange. They shop, the closets are cleaned out, everyone is happy.
In writing, the enjoyment comes when I schedule in weeks to not write, but to read as many books as possible. My record is 8 books in one week.
When I’m trying to keep my writing fun, I will switch up stories, read something I wrote years ago (and laugh), or find a new place to try writing – libraries and coffee shops are great, parks are more interesting, in the middle of the mall during Christmas is a blast! So much drama :)

And remember, there are 24 hours in each day. Minus 8 hours of sleep, that leaves 16 hours of productive time. Use it well!

tick-tock...this is only a caption. Stop reading and start working on your goals!

tick-tock…this is only a caption. Stop reading and start working on your goals!

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Just like every other human being, I am stunned by the violence of last Friday’s school shooting. As a writer, I’m supposed to have an endless supply of words, but… I’ve got nothing!

But I will not yet embrace the political issues that surround the debates of mental health, gun control, and school safety – they have been tossed around freely on Facebook, Twitter, and the news, and so I need not add another log to that fire.

I just want to cry for those parents.

If I were them, I would unplug from everything, grab my photo albums and cry.

Remember when he was born? All those nights she crawled into our bed and slept so soundly? His first word was ‘puppy’. That was her favorite outfit…what do I do with it now? I should have saved his baby teeth.

There are greater issues behind this violence, but let’s just wait on that for a time. First, let’s support the parents and families of all who died. Let’s embrace our children a little longer before they leave the house. Let’s send our teachers a message of thanks for all they do for children at such a low salary. Let’s find ways to support families with children who suffer from uncontrollable rage.

Let’s united under this tragedy. Light a candle for those little ones. Say a prayer. Spend 26 minutes in silence.

In our home, we cut out 27 snowflakes for all the victims and said a prayer over each one.
snowflakes

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blogger

A huge shout of thanks to http://beatredundancyblues.wordpress.com for including my blog in this award! I’m humbled and extremely happy. The hopes for my blogging have been to share a few thoughts and the road to writing that so many of us are on.

For the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ The rules are:

1. I should display the award logo somewhere on my blog. Done.

2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated me. Done.

3. State 7 things about myself. Done.

4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs. Done.

5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the award’s requirements. (Will do)

Here are 7 things I would like to share about myself:
1. I ran 5 miles the other day and felt pretty good.
2. My favorite dinner is one I don’t have to make.
3. I love, love, love the Catholic Church!
4. A perfect day for me would include a book, quiet time and a bottle of wine.
5. I know it’s cliche, but my husband really is my best friend.
6. I homeschool our four children.
7. Three of those children were born of my womb, the fourth was born of my heart. Love them all!

I now need to nominate 15 people to receive this award:

http://thecatholicrealist.com/category/catholic-realist/

http://camerashoot365.wordpress.com/

http://mrsgoresdiary.com/

http://nhwn.wordpress.com/

(I can only include 4 blogs for this award as these are the only 4 that I consistently read. Please forgive the bending of rules.)

Thank you to these bloggers for inspiring me, for sharing their thoughts, their faith, their writing journies.

Jessica

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