Category Archives: goals

Hand-Written Planners Make Me So Happy {and a few goals}

I was positively giddy when I spied this in Target (can Target do no wrong?) whilst last-minute Christmas shopping in Arizona. Side note: It was 70 and sunny there. Quite blissful. At the moment, New Hampshire is getting with a “Bombogenesis: the Perfect Storm of Cold, Gusting Wind, and Snow.” Did you know it’s colder than Mars? Isn’t that neat?

Back to the planner. I bought the Blue Sky Planner with the “daily planning sheets.”

The heart rate picks up just talking about this stuff.

Is this normal?

Daily sheets: I do best when I can plan the night before and write down what I’m going to do by the hour. Some events are scheduled, like the class I’m teaching and the gazillion drop offs and pick ups my children require. But there are A LOT of hours in the day that can be frittered away or USED FOR GREATNESS.

I thrive on *accountability. Hourly planners do that for me.

*Learn about yourself. Take the 4 Tendancies Quiz HERE.

I have a shared electronic Google calendar, but largely to only consult outside of the house (and to spy on my husband who does not like feeling tethered).

I’ve tried a dozen planner ideas, from simple notebooks to only electronic.

But year after year I come back to the physical handwritten planner. I make long lists, write using colored pens, draw happy faces, and cross tasks off daily, like “strength work out!,” and “keep your butt in the chair and write for one hour.” It makes me feel incredibly accomplished. It’s positive reinforcement, the key to getting things done.

This summer I bought an official bullet journal but was so paralyzed by doing it right that it still sits in my drawer. Oh dear (Nina, I hide my face in shame!)

Let’s move on to 2018 goals.

Every January we sit together as a family as I chirp about progress (I’m SO FUN 🙂 )

This year my goals have become more about maintenance (a sign of age?)

2018, in no particular order:

  • I will stop cutting my own hair. PUT DOWN THE SCISSORS, AMY!
  • I will stop drinking Diet Coke. JUST KIDDING! Have you tried Lime? Limit to 3/week.
  • Start every day by quietly reading the scriptures. Not social media or email.
  • Charmin toilet paper. After too many years of cheap, I’ve concluded that cheap actually requires much more usage. Quality, friends, QUALITY! Our backsides deserve better.
  • Finish novel. Pitch novel. Sell novel. WE CAN DO IT.
  • Read 50 books with the Goodreads Challenge.
  • Run at least two half-marathons. Maintenance. I just don’t want to get slower. Not yet.
  • House. Tidy daily. Stop dumping laundry on floor and leaving it there. Seriously. Come on.
  • One treat a day. NO MORE.
  • Strengthen the Family. Daily family scriptures, prayer, and kind voices. It works. I see it.
  • Austerity. No, Amy, you do not need that hair product.

“Reach” Goals I dream of…

  • Watercolor more with Brynne
  • Photography
  • Declutter entire house. Live total minimalism. Maybe live in a treehouse.

Comment please. What kind of calendar do you use? What are your goals? Do you make them?




My One-Word Theme For the Year


Last year my word was “Focus.” I quickly realized I couldn’t focus until I simplified some things. But what? I’m honestly not sure where to start with this. What do I cut out? What do I say No to?

It’s an exciting challenge!

My friend Megan’s word is: Reduce. I like that one. Haunani’s is: Lead. Glennon’s is: Resistance.

What’s your word?


Having the Best Year Ever {by setting & achieving goals}

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” -Henry David Thoreau

Oh yes, it is that time of year. When I feel absolutely giddy about GOALS.

But did you know? Only  8% of all people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions?

On Sunday, we had a family meeting, I excitedly gave each child their very own Goal Binder (yep, I know how to have FUN!)unnamed-13 We gathered round and made covers.unnamed-11

unnamed-10First, we reflected on 2015. What was great? What wasn’t so great?

We all agreed, Tenny getting hit by a car was a low point 🙁 Also, Paige did not achieve “cutting stuff.” I don’t know what to tell you. Except you can learn a lot about the people living under your roof…

unnamed-6Next, we wrote down what we wanted to accomplish in the next six months.

To make it a little easier, we divided our goals into categories: spiritual, educational, physical, and personal.

After all the reading and listening I’ve done this year, I’ve learned:

The best way to keep a goal:

  1. Be specific (“be healthy” is not specific. “Eat 5 fruits and vegetables every day” is better)
  2. Set a deadline
  3. Write down the “next action step”
  4. Be accountable to someone other than yourself

The “next action step”

Writing down the next action step is crucial. For instance, you want to run a 1/2-marathon in May? Then maybe your next action step is to download a 1/2-marathon program. Maybe it’s driving to the Runner’s Ally to buy a pair of shoes. Maybe you need to ask a friend if she’ll be your running buddy every Saturday for the long run.

Want to eat 5-7 fruits and vegetables a day? Perhaps the next action step is to write down some fruits and vegetables that you will actually eat, on your grocery list.

If your goal is to hang family pictures on the wall, then your next action step might be: “Go to Lowe’s and buy nails” or “Gather pictures I want to hang.”

The point is: break big goals up into small, easy steps. Post in a place you will see them.

Wisdom says it’s best to only have 5-7 goals at one time. Otherwise we get overwhelmed. But hey, even 1 or 2 goals is great.

Being accountable to someone else

I have to have running buddies – not every day – but at least once a week. It’s huge for my progress. We text each other, check in, sign up for races together.

My friend, Kelly, wants to run her first 1/2-marathon this June. She schedules her run in her calendar. This appointment cannot be broken! We also email throughout the week to talk about any issues and to keep her pumped up! Accountability, my friends, works.

I should probably have a “cleaning-the-house” accountability buddy. But. Nah.

After the six month goals, we made a list of the goals  to accomplish in one year:unnamed-3I encouraged specificity and next action items (working on that 🙂

Next came some fun speculation. We looked into the future. Where do you want to be in life? Who do you want to be? We wrote goals down for:

  •  the next six months
  •  the coming year
  •  the next five years
  •  the next ten years
  •  the next twenty years unnamed-8 In five years, Paige wants to start her Personal Progress Program (our church’s fantastic youth program), play on her mama’s soccer team(!), and make high honor roll. Her mama approves!

unnamed-2unnamed-7 In twenty years, when she is 28, Paige plans on having eight children. Hey, I said be specific!

unnamed-5   In 20 years, this darling hopes to be “low-key” wealthy. “Enough to be comfortable, but not mad rich.” Made me laugh.

unnamed  It was great to see Brynne wants to be brushing her teeth 2 x a day in 20 years 🙂

And it’s good to know I’m going to be a grandmother surrounded by many many little tots.

Thank you, darlings, for giving us a small peek into your personal goals!

And for you? I highly recommend Michael Hyatt‘s free three-part video series:



There are tons of goal-setting methods out there, countless “how-to” posts and articles. But however you want to improve, I suggest just starting. See where it takes you. Find a method that works and begin, even if you’ve failed before. Procrastination fosters big dreams but kills big goals.

Did you know? A person will set the same New Year’s resolution 10 different times without getting it done?

I love goals, but I’m also reminded that there is a time and place to JUST STOP. To BE STILL. To be happy right where we are right at this moment. I have struggled with contentment for a long time, always wanting to be better at being me. All this “becoming” and growing up has led me to a good place, but now? Stop. Breathe. Say thank you.

We are doing a wonderful job being. Just being. It’s a form of gratitude to sit still and say “thank you for this. And that’s all.”

There are a thousand ways to be a good mother, even if it’s different from everyone else around you. Be happy with that. We don’t always need to be a “BETTER” version of yesterday. Sometimes, we just need to BE.

Maybe that’s a goal for 2016.

Goals shouldn’t make us more busy. No, instead, writing out goals should help us focus on the things that matter most. Goals help me not drift or become too driven by my own ambitions.


Some favorite resources:

“I’m a full-time believer in writing habits . . . You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away. . . .” -Flannery O’Connor

Happy New Year – to your best year!

The End.

And of course I’d like to know – do you write out goals for New Year’s?


Getting Organized: How to Get to Inbox Zero Every Day

Did you know we spend an average of 55 minutes a day looking for stuff we can’t find? On average, that’s about a year of our lifetime. What a waste.

Even though I get a lot of stuff done, I am seeking greater peace of mind. Meaning: getting my life organized. I’ve finally realized that the best way for me to do that is to ASK FOR HELP, to learn from a coach or a mentor.

I took the plunge and signed up for this FREE on-line course called “Mind Organization for Moms,” written by my organizational hero, April Perry. And no, you don’t have to be a mom to benefit from this course! The first lesson is getting your email to zero.

Who cares about email, you say? Well, who knew that having an “Inbox Zero” at the end of the day would take away so much stress – but it has. Boy howdy, it just makes me giddy.

This is how it happens: every email gets filed into an email folder.

This is based on using Gmail, which I highly recommend.

First, you’re going to make five folders by scrolling down to the very bottom on the left hand side of your Google email to where it says, “Create Label.” (you may need to click “more” and it will scroll further down.)

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After you click “Create new label,” this box pops up:Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.34.56 PM

Create five emails folders in the left hand column of your inbox (they will not “nest” under anything). Label them as follows:

@Action, @Immediate Action, @Someday, @Incubation, @Waiting.

@Action is for emails that require you to do something, but it’s not urgent.

@Immediate Action is what you work with all day. Everything in this folders means you need to take care of it within 1-3 days. You check it at the end of every day.

@Incubation is for things you are thinking about but don’t want to get rid of, like a coupon.

@Someday are emails that have ideas you really want to get to…someday. An example is an amazing bread recipe or a photography class.

@Waiting is for emails that require a response from another person. An example is emailing a query to a magazine and you’re waiting for a response. You’ve also emailed yourself so you have a copy of the email.

The reason you put the @ in front is because Google organizes the labels alphabetically and you want those to be the first options you see on the left hand side of your email.

It will look like this on the left hand side of your email now:

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.38.43 PM

Now, all the emails you get won’t fit exactly into those folders which is why you can create all the folders you want after these five! By the time you’re done with this you’ll feel like one snazzy organizational guru!

Now, every time you get an email, you PUT that email into the folder. Caveat: if you can take care of the email within two minutes, just take care of it quickly. Everything else? File!

How to move an email into a folder? Click on the email you want to read or have read, and then click on that little envelope at the top of your inbox. It looks like this (to the right of the trash can:

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 5.35.33 PMOh, goody! Another manuscript rejection! I’m going to move that OUT of my inbox and into my “rejected manuscripts” folder. Or maybe I’ll just delete it 🙂

Here’s some examples of other folders I’ve created:

I get a lot of family emails so one of my folders is “Family.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.36.44 PM

I have a “School” label and put all of my children’s “Kid’s Activities” under that Parent “School” Label.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.36.17 PM

Here is what the side of my email looks like with some of my folders (I make a lot!) I try to make general “big” labels and then add subcategories to those labels.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.39.01 PM

The Password label sure is handy – I’ve saved a TON of time quickly looking up a password instead of guessing wrong ten times.

I like to make other labels to “nest” under big labels. For instance, “Schools” has sub-labels based on the schools we attend. School emails “nest” under “Better Teaching,” and “Employment” for contracts.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 3.40.39 PM

Other labels include Church, Journal (which nests under “Family”), Great Quotes, and Receipts (very helpful.) I’m always tweaking.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.10.41 PM

My “Writing” label has the most sub-labels as I try to keep helpful articles, contracts, manuscripts, and writing opportunities very organized. This fall I was in a huge panic as I could NOT find an important contract buried somewhere in the 3000 emails piled up. I had to write to the editor (embarrassing and unprofessional) for info. It shall never happen again!

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.11.18 PM

What I love most about this system is that it FORCES me to take action. I ended up unsubscribing to a lot of websites and newsletters  (like Rugs, USA – how did I get on that subscriber list???) because I had to deal with it instead of just ignoring it.

Filing everything somewhere forces me to make a decision about what I want to do with an email – will I really read it or will it just hang out in my inbox forever?

It makes me feel more in control of my whole life – which may sound a little dramatic – but it’s really how I feel.

Clearing your whole inbox takes time. When I started I had over 3000 emails! It’s taken many hours, but I’ve actually enjoyed the process. You can file in batches or make another label called @Sort and file in half hour batches. I bet you’ll end up deleting almost ALL of them.

Now, this system scared me at first because what if I put things in @Immediate Action and then didn’t look in that folder? Guess what? You have to look at the folder and look at it often! I try to do this every morning and every night. If I’m procrastinating doing something with the email, then it doesn’t belong in that folder.

I’m not a perfectionist and I’m not OCD, but I want to get better at managing my life so that I’m not so stressed out and overwhelmed. I believe it will help me be a better mother, writer, and give me more energy for the really important stuff.

I tell you, when I see this a couple times a day:

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.09.52 PM

I feel really, really good. It’s like a shot of adrenaline.

Questions? Let me know! And good luck!

As I go on this organizational journey (sorry for using that word), I’d like to take you along, filing each post under the tab that says “Habits” on the top of this website. (wait, am I getting organized?)

Next time: Using a digital calendar (love it!) and how to keep track of all those birthdays! Isn’t this fun?

P.S. Here’s the link again in case you’re interested in checking a free e-course Mind Organization course. It’s based on David Allen’s #1 best-selling book GETTING THINGS DONE. The Mind Organization course is a simplified, hand-holding course with eight lessons. I need hand-holding. Managing email is just the first step. Imagine what I’ll feel like after eight lessons…



A Month of Not Raising My Voice: Fail

September was the third month of a Year of Living Without.  

In July there was no nail biting (I’m still pretty good except when I feel stressed and I bring that hang nail to my lips.)  August there was no television (I rarely watch it now – there’s no time!  But once or twice a week I’ll watch a show with my husband.)

These were good experiments of will power.

September was far harder:  A Month Without Raising My Voice.

I failed.  Many, many times.

Part of my failure was simply fatigue. We are all trying to juggle so very much. We are often trying to fun faster than we have strength.  When I’m tired I’m much less patient.  And part of my failure is that raising my voice is a deeply engrained habit.  

Realizing this was a surprise to even me.  I’m a pretty chill person; I don’t scream and yell; throw tantrums, plates, or children.  I don’t like drama unless it’s in novels.  I’m constantly saying, “lower your voice” and “speak kindly.”

So why was not raising my voice so hard?

Because I need an intercom system.  Or a cowbell.  Or a dog training collar for the four children under my care.  I yell up the stairs for kids to come.  I yell down the stairs for children to come.  I yell out the front door, the back door, and the side windows for children to come.  

This is usually not done out of anger, rather, necessity.  Or because I’m lazy. 

The first few days I was pretty good.  I caught myself just before opening my mouth.  

A few times I asked a child to go get their brother and sister for me.  They would return half an hour later to ask what I wanted them to do again or with the message, “They won’t come.”

I would look up at all those stairs I was going to have to climb one more time to ask a child to come pick up their towel from the middle of the kitchen floor, or to come practice the piano, or to come do their homework, or to COME NOW before the train pulls out and you miss your ride to school!

Sometimes it was just too hard.  Or I was just to lazy to do it.

And sometimes I was already on my soapbox about that wet towel that I didn’t want to stop.  I had to make my point.  But do I need to do it with a raised voice?

I failed this month.  Even the very last night of September I had a very bad moment with my son.  Night time is where I have all my bad Mommy Moments. I’m just so tired.  I am frustrated and snappy and don’t see why brushing teeth is such a foreign concept.  

But that night I felt particularly terrible.

I got down on my knees that night, put my head in my hands, and prayed that I could get up the next day and do a little bit better.  I had to apologize.

He left for school the next morning, still salty, without saying good-bye.  I felt devastated.  Did he still love me?  Does he still need me?  Or am I just a nag who is always griping about dirty shoes and wet towels?  

I never meant to be a witch, you know. 

Charles Duhigg of The Power of Habit reminded me that it’s not always easy, but he rejects the idea that even the worst of habits, the worst addictions cannot be changed. Age doesn’t matter.  A deep engrained behavior doesn’t matter, because “once you understand how to take a habit apart, you can then reconstruct it any way you want.” 

I love that!  So how do we take raising my voice apart?  First, we must look at the triggers.  Eliminate or manage the triggers, and the habit isn’t triggered.  I’m considering getting a night nurse.  That would eliminate many of my triggers. 

Home was not the only place where I raised my voice.

I’m practically living on the soccer field right now.  With five different soccer schedules, it’s a bit nutty (and fun!)  I’m coaching thirty 7th and 8th graders by myself (with my two sidekicks, Brynne and Paige, in tow.)

I’m not sure you can coach soccer without raising your voice.  The field is just too big.  Of course, calling out a drill with a loud voice is far different than yelling at a kid.  Which I don’t do.  I’m nicer to them than my own children.

I’m on long bus rides where I have to turn around every 30 seconds to tell someone to get their head back inside the window, pick up their wrapper, turn around, stop taking phone pictures, stop poking, and for heaven’s sake, where in the world is your jersey?  And middle school buses are a bit noisy.  To be heard, voice volume must be elevated.

Oh yes, I raised my voice – sometimes out of necessity and sometimes because I was too lazy to do otherwise, and sometimes because I knew it would be effective.

A word of caution:  If you’re going to raise your voice to be effective, then it better be in moments that are few and far between.  Otherwise, it is not effective; it actually has the opposite effect.

I’ve noticed that kids don’t respect adults who yell all the time, whether it’s a parent, a teacher, or a coach.  Use the loud voice sparingly.  

Here are some lessons learned from the soccer field and home life:

1.  Lower your voice.  Whisper.  Children AND adults LEAN IN to hear a soft voice.  Soft spoken doesn’t have to be timid and shy.  Be confident when you speak and your audience will shush themselves, and those around them, so they can hear you.

2.  Wait.  Imagine this:  A coach walks onto a soccer field.  She blows her whistle. She waves her hand for players to come.  They dribble towards her.  She points her finger down.  They sit.  Some listen and stop.  Most of them don’t.  They wrestle each other to the ground.  They bounce soccer balls.  They talk.  She waits. and she waits. and she waits.  They realize she is waiting for THEM.  She doesn’t have to say a word.  The kids will start to govern themselves and their teammates – “Listen to coach!”  Coach waits until there is not one sound.  When she speaks she has the whole team in her hand.

And if that doesn’t work:

3.  The Hairy Eyeball.  My mother-in-law is the master of the hairy eyeball. You wait and wait, but occasionally there is still that one kid who is bouncing the soccer ball.  Wait until that kid catches your eye, and then lower your head like a bull, raise your eyebrow, and give him THE LOOK.  He’ll stop. Works every single time. Home or the soccer field.

3.  Tone is far more important than Volume. Sarcasm is a relationship killer.  Condescension builds resentment.  Mimicry enrages.

4.  Less in More.  Nina wrote a fantastic article for Brain, Child on how we moms enable our children’s helplessness.  Moms, stop doing so much!  Kids can get their own breakfast, make a peanut butter sandwich, put away their own clothes, make their beds…

When I am constantly trying to micromanage my children, I get angrier more easily.  My voices rises.  I resent being the family slave.  SO STOP.  ENABLE your children to succeed in life without you.  Remember that we are trying to work ourselves OUT of a job.

5.  Love is spoken in quiet spaces.  Saturday and Sunday we listened to some fantastic talks  geared toward one thing:  Finding joy in family life through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that soft voices is where the spirit lives, where we can hear God, and our own thoughts. The quiet is where we can discern what our brothers, sisters, husband, wife, and children are needing.

And so we shall keep on trying.  I’m mulling the muzzle option.

Next Month:  Not checking email before noon.  Oh man, this is going to be another hard one because I am an addict.  

It’s only been a few days, but I can already tell you it’s been a life changer.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it next month.


Did You Know What You Wanted?

This is me being indecisive….waaaah!

My therapy sessions are pretty cheap.

I howl and husband listens.  I am Speaker.  He is Listener.

Once, when I was howling he said, “Do you want me to chime in here or just listen?”

“Just listen!”

He then says, “I hear you.  I see you.”  If you’ve ever seen Parenthood, you can thank Zeke for teaching my husband that line.  It’s used often.  Thanks, Zeke.  

My howling is due to a personal trait I find intensely annoying.  I’m the second-guesser, the decision-making agonizer, the hemming-and-hawing wringing-your-hands kind of gal.  I attribute this fact to my personality, which is sometimes bossypants, but most times easy-going.  Overall, this easy-going personality has served me well.  I was never prone to many tantrums. I liked hand-me-downs. I wore jeans to soccer practice.  I’ve never been diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder.  

Even-keel can be a blessed state to live in.

Growing up, my twin had the stubborn streak; I was the peacemaker.  I was an obedient child and cried if you looked at me cross-eyed.  I only snuck out of the house a handful of times and that was because I wanted cousin Clin to be happy toilet-papering.  (Alright, perhaps I wasn’t so innocent.)

I still like everyone to be happy.  I really don’t care which restaurant husband chooses, as long as he smiles through dinner. 

But sometimes, it’s time for gumption, no?  Sometimes I think my even state is laziness.  Perhaps I just don’t like to make decisions.  

I want to be more like the rock and less like the kite, less like the pebble you watch skittering down the street.

Because when it comes to making decisions, I can be terribly indecisive.

Should I sign up for that class or not?
Should I learn photography?
Am I a good mother?
Am I supposed to be scrap booking instead of writing?
Should I guest post or not?
Should I write that article or work on the novel?
Cookies or brownies?
Is my blog header perfect?
Should I potty train now or is later better?  (okay, hallelujah, we are hopefully past that stage…)

Perhaps this is very common.  Perhaps this is “weighing the options.”  But I’m tired of agonizing.  Rock, I say! Be the rock.

I also have to talk out loud, going around in circles like a corralled horse. I stew and fret until I finally just GO.  But it takes me soooo long to get there.

Do you think this is more of a female trait?

For days I’ve been mulling my “life plan.”  Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?  Am I destined for something that I haven’t found yet?

My Paige is leaving me for this lame thing called, school.  The end of days is coming, I can feel it.  I’ve tried rolling over and playing dead, but whatever. It’s not really working. We are now on Plan B.

I am on the verge of something.  I can feel it.  But I’m not sure which path to take.  I’m standing in front of many paths.  Maybe I’m just on the verge of craziness, which is entirely plausible.  I’m thinking Frost, two roads diverged in a yellow wood...except there’s about four paths.  Could Frost have written a poem with four paths?   

So I said to Dear Husband, aka Mr. Darcy, aka The Professor who uses big words,

“I wish I was one of those people who just knew what they were supposed to do!”

He looked at me as I became more and more animated.  I continued.  Speaker.  Listener.

“You know, like those kids who know their junior year of high school exactly what they want to be in life and then they just go do it!”

The professor opened mouth.  And his arms folded (He’s a brilliant non-verbal communicator.)  He cocked his head to the side with his stern, furrowed brow.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he began.

“No, really,” I said, charging forward.  “I was never one of those people!  I always wanted to DO so many things and was always changing my mind about what I wanted to be!”  

And I think about all those agonizing days and weeks and deciding and the classes and prerequisites and I’m still that same person…over-thinking and discussing and second-guessing and balancing.

He opened mouth again and I kept talking.  Listener, just listen.

“Like in college I never knew what I wanted to be and was always changing my major and then I just had to pick…”

Listener interrupted.  Bad Listener.

“Ame,” he said.  Arms still folded, brow furrowed deeper.  “What did you want to be?”

“I wanted so many different things.”

“What did you want?”  Arms still folded tightly, stern-voiced questions.

“I was going to be an actress!” I said, throwing up my hands.  “I mean, seriously.”

“That’s not what I’m asking.”

“And after that it was English and after that I…”

“No.  You’re not listening (wasn’t he supposed to be the listener?)  What did you want to be?”

“What did I want?” I repeated.  

And then it suddenly occurred to me that he wasn’t asking about my major or my indecisions or how I wanted to be an actress or an english major or a doctor or a coach or a runner or any of those things we DO.

He was talking about our family.  

I always knew what I wanted to be.

Of all the things I was going to do, there was one thing that was clear as day:  Come hell or high water – I was going to be a mother.


Lisa talks about “catchlights” when taking a picture; the reflection of light in the eyes which is really just a reflection of your light source.  The catchlight must have been in my eyes because The Professor started nodding.

This is me again.  Catchlight moment….Ohhhhhh.

He was right.  I always knew what I wanted to be.

Therapy was successful this time.  Subject was smiling and nodding, too.

I held up my hand.  “High Five!”  And he rolled his eyes because The Professor hates to high five.  It reminds him of our first date when I awkwardly held up my hand at the doorstep for a high five.  I mean, what was he expecting???

Wait, The Professor was dating his student?

Anyway, I guess he decided he’s been a pretty good Listener after all because Speaker was smiling and offering a high five.  He humored Speaker and gave his hand up.  

“Thanks!” I said. “You’re so good at this.” (insert valley girl inflection)  And I clapped my hands, reminding him that I really have not grown up in the slightest. 


I’m still on a catchlight high.

I knew what I wanted to be.

Heaven knows I am not a perfect mother, but most days I am trying awfully hard.  Remember that one time I swept the floor?  I’m trying not to be Speaker all the time, to be the Listener.  I hug and kiss.  I say “I love you” everyday.  I’m fond of chore charts.  I’m not even trying to be perfect, just good. Enough.  Strong enough.  

I know you’re trying, too.  Maybe there are days we are less deliberate than other days, but a part of us has to recognize that without us “keeping the family,” we lose that thing we knew we always wanted.

The realization that I’m livin’ a piece of the dream?   

Man, that makes me so happy.

Sometimes I feel apologetic for being happy, like I shouldn’t ever talk about it, as if being happy will make someone else feel badly.  So I keep it carefully hidden, shhhh!  we’re happy, but don’t tell anyone!  Because I know very well, that there are unhappy families.  There are terribly unhappy mothers, who through no fault of their own, wanted to be exactly what I wanted to be.  And I love those mamas.  

But today I’m going to be happy about what I am and what I have.

I’m on the catchlight high, remember?  The light source is present. The evidence of what I wanted to be is sitting in my lap.  Sometimes licking my neck and biting my ears. Not everyone gets that lucky.

What I do is so secondary, so inconsequential to what I am.  It’s completely second-rate to what God so generously placed in my lap.  And I can almost hear him saying…they are yours to keep for just a little while…take good care of them…remember what you are here to be…


Goals – Yahoo!

I think most people love new years and new starts.  

I certainly love the idea of a clean slate.

My parents were big on goals, and thus, I’m wired to make and keep them.  Or at least try.  Summer goals, school goals, career goals…

And I love New Year’s Goals.  We always sit down together and write a slew of new year’s resolutions.  I then feel buoyant and hopeful for a good few days.  

And then it’s really January and I’m sooo cold and it’s hard to run and did I mention how cold it is?  Everything it seems, correlates with one another.

But persist we must.  Time is going to pass anyway. 

I break goals into these categories:
Family (Be a better listener.  Stop and actually look my children in the eyes when they are telling me about duct tape bows and arrows and why they hated what they ate for lunch.  By golly, I’m gonna stop and listen)

Spiritual (Daily scripture reading/uplifting articles)

Physical (Upper body help(!) PR in two half-marathons)

Personal (Learn how to use my camera, organization (double help), and grow herbs – don’t laugh)

And of course, Writing.

I have the most trouble with writing because I don’t know what color my parachute is yet.  Blog focus?  Freelance articles?  Novel?  This is the year I must find out.
Guess how much writing I did in December?  That’s just the way it has to go for me, at Christmastime.  But I’m revving to go…
This is my large (I won’t say overwhelming because I’m going to tackle it and not feel afraid of the big bad wolf) writing project. These cards are all the chapters of my novel that I shelved months ago.  And yet, can’t seem to let go of.  I guess I know what color I want my parachute to be.  But where will that parachute take me?  Somewhere?  Nowhere?

Isn’t that a great quote?

As for all my other goals, I’ve decided to break up everything into months and then weeks and write in on my planner.

Do you write out your goals?  Do you make new year resolutions?

The motivation is still high!  Good luck to us all.


Ten Years

It wasn’t until I read Lindsey’s post that I realized that a decade had just gone by.  Amazing how life has changed in ten years.  I thought about significant events:

2 1/2 years of marriage turned into 13 1/2

Understood how you could love someone more than yourself

A new mother of one to a more “seasoned” mother of 4

Had four healthy pregnancies

No major illnesses

Understood why 12 teenage boys were good birth control

Apparently I’m a slow learner

Stayed up way too late every Saturday night waiting for the last kid to come in, praying there was no alcohol on his breathe or glazed pot eyes.

Potty-trained 4 children

Read a whole lot of parenting books

And People magazines

Only had 1 ER visit for a child and 1 for the husband

Traveled to Utah, Idaho, Nebraska, Florida, Maine, Vermont, NYC, Rhode Island, Boston

Changed a million diapers

Nursed 4 babies

Gave away all the baby stuff.  And was sad.

Saw three children go to kindergarten and one to middle school

Had a child yell, “I hate you.”

Had children say, “I love you,” more.

Said good-bye to being a dorm parent for nine years!

Got a job teaching biology, then anatomy & physiology, then strength & conditioning

Many pig dissections 🙂

Just said good-bye to all those jobs but swore I’d be back

Bought our first home!

Learned how to garden, paint walls, fix a few things, install a tiled floor

Survived two flooded basements

Cried a lot

Laughed more

Had Nelson teach me how to play chess

Cope tried to teach me to knit

Brynne taught me how to like the spunkiest of children

Paige showed me why youngest children are spoiled

Learned that childhood won’t last and having a child sneak into my bed at night is the least of my worries.

Taught 3 children piano lessons

Learned how to cook, make bread

Learned how to grocery shop with four children in tow – happily 🙂

Began making chore charts

Phased out of newlywed to wife and mother for the long haul

Ran a lot of 5ks

Ran a marathon and a couple halfs

Saw my hair morph into many different styles

Tried many a hair gel 🙂

Frowned at many stubborn white hairs

Said good-bye to too many friends

Said hello to new ones

All of my siblings married.  And I’m the luckiest sister-in-law in the world.

All my brothers and Gregor’s brothers served missions

Became a mini-van mom.  Oh my gosh.

Went from a church branch to ward.  Served in many callings.

Filled 10 scrapbooks

Gregor’s family was sealed for time and all eternity

Got a fish, chickens, and a dog

Parents moved from childhood home

Got a cell phone, a personal computer, started a blog

Began to really write

Had many a confidence crises’

Became more confident

Was part of a real birth

Coached many athletes and conditioned many sports teams

Saw Gregor coach, teach, work in admissions, and now director of athletics

Discovered Forbidden Chocolate

Nurtured children and began to see what my most fulfilling job in this life will be

The next ten: 


Middle school

Dating.  Oh my gosh.

Boys.  Girls.

Out of control homework.



More piano lessons and violin and soccer and karate and skiing and…


Separation (no!)

Another kindergarten

Twin boys.  that one’s for you G.

High school


Money.  Hopefully earned.

A job outside of children.  What it will be I have no idea.  But I have a hope.

A finished basement

A Proctor sabbatical (better happen buster!)

Young Women

Young Men

Travel to foreign lands:  Spain, Venice, and Israel.  Maybe Iowa too.

In ten years I will be 45 (gasp!)  Gregor will be 47 (bigger gasp!)  Cope will be 21 (falling over now) Nelson will be 19 (mission?) Brynne will be 16 (dating!) and Paige will 13 (oh boy.)

It goes at warp speed when you look back, doesn’t it?

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you -John DePaola


Persist in Doing

The alarm sounds at 5:11 a.m.

It is pitch black outside.

It is pouring rain.

It is doubtful the sun will make an appearance at all; it’s that foreboding.

My eyes open to look at the clock.  I quickly scoot out of bed as to not wake husband and sleeping child next to me.

I dress in the dark.

I let the dog out but he doesn’t want to go.  It’s too wet.

I put some food in my mouth.  Lace up my running shoes.  Wonder if I’m dressed for the weather:  a long sleeve white shirt and black running tights.

I wait by the door.

The headlights come around the corner like I know they will.  She doesn’t ever skip.  Sarah always comes, rain or shine.

It’s been a year a half since I started this 5 a.m. running.  Just Wednesdays and Fridays.

It used to be painful.  I’d wake up hourly, look at the clock, and be so thankful for a few more hours, a few more minutes.  Oh, it was so hard to get up.

The other day it struck me.  It’s just something I do now.  I don’t dread it anymore.  My mind and my body has been trained.

I need someone outside waiting for me, but still, I can do it.

Before, there were times I wished I could get out of it.  Some days I wished she’d accidentally sleep in so  I could crawl back to bed even though I wouldn’t sleep very well.  Some days I had to pray for help; I wasn’t strong enough.

I stepped outside this morning.  It was like taking a shower it was so wet.  Sarah had to wear the head lamp the entire run it was so dark.

We went 6.2.  Up that dreaded hill.  But running hills in the dark is better than during the day; you can’t see what’s ahead of you.

I screamed twice when Sarah’s arm went through her headlamp and I thought the shadow was a monster.

My shoes sloshed.

We got on the rail trail to head home.  It was still black as night.  Our feet hit hundreds of fallen leaves.

It was an unusually warm rain.

And I felt so good.

I was running in the rain and nothing hurt.  Everything felt right.

I stood on my porch afterward wondering if the sun was going to make an appearance.  I stretched my hands high and I smiled.

I remembered a quote I have always loved.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson