In April

In which I quickly talk about last month’s progress (#19, #21, #32, #39, #54, #59, #64, #77).

headspaceOn-going streaks or lack thereof: I meditated every day (#19) with no make-ups, bringing my streak to 158/365 days with 1/5 makeups. I’ve completed my 60 total singles sessions in Headspace (#21). Most of these were repetitive SOS sessions. I’ll continue to repeat the ones I’ve done as needed, and I’d like to work on completing the remaining new singles sessions that are applicable to me over the course of the 1001: classic guided, walking, and eating. I have kept up with my monthly photo books (#39). I have been working on my morning and evening routines (#54), but I have no streak going. I read three more young adult books before bed each month (#59), bringing my total to 18. We visited and Skyped with both sets of grandparents (#77), making a streak of four months.

I also scheduled my outstanding doctor’s appointments (#96).

I enjoyed a declutter challenge with Katie this month. A lot of the items I got out of the house were plain trash and regular recycling, but I also sorted through the things I’d previously designated as donations, identified new things to donate, and took recycling to Best Buy. I even found a blue-tailed skink that I worked hard to capture and reintroduce to the outside world. I really focused on looking critically at the mess around me and taking action immediately when I saw something that needed to go. I scheduled a pick-up for the bulk of our things and contacted a harder-to-donate to local organization. I’d planned to drop those things off at the end of the month, but I couldn’t justify spending my time that way when…

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… life threw me a curve ball courtesy of my long-faithful car. I had created a new budget to increase my routine saving for a car (#32). Our last occupational therapy appointment for a while was April 28, which allowed me to redistribute some of that money starting in May. While I had designated some of our windfall money (from tax returns and inheritance), I was hoping that I could increase our savings ahead of time to lessen the amount and shock of a car payment. Alas, the faithful car didn’t pass inspection and required more costly work than the worth of the car. So I bought a new one a few months earlier than I’d hoped. It also presented another opportunity to ask for help in significant ways (#64), as our money wasn’t liquid enough to make the end-of-month promotions and there was no way to go car shopping with a preschooler. My mother-in-law came to babysit and get us over the two-day wait for our own money to hit, and my parents visited and babysat while I practiced driving the new van so that I would be more comfortable with it when I needed to drive my son around.

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Feb/March Progress

In which I do a quick run-through of the last two months’ progress (#4, #7, #11, #17, #19, #21, #39, #44, #49, #51, #52, #53, #54, #58, #59, #64, #66, #73, #75, #76, #77, #79, #82, #84, #85, #87, #95, #100). Yowza!

First off, my on-going streaks or lack thereof: I meditated every day (#19) with no make-ups, bringing my streak to 128/365 days with 1/5 makeups. I’ve done over 50 total singles sessions in Headspace (#21) and I tried a few new ones in March. I have been working on my morning and evening routines (#54), but I have no streak going. I read five more young adult books before bed each month (#59), bringing my total to 15. We visited and Skyped with both sets of grandparents both months (#77), making a streak of three months. In February, I read two non-fiction parenting books (#85), bringing my total non-fiction to four. In March, I listened to one audiobook (#84), my first completed in this 1001.

I purchased new navy linen pants for spring and summer and recycled a pair of jeans (#4). I started a wardrobe challenge online (#7), but it didn’t quite fit the bill as setting a challenge for myself.

In February, I purchased a new fern to live in our bathroom and am trying to keep it alive for at least six months (#17). (Things are not looking promising.) My biggest purchase was three types of loose tea (#79), with which I’ve been making special treat lattes on the weekends. I already had the tea strainer, but I got two canisters to keep the bulk of the tea fresh. I’m hoping that the increased ritual of making a loose tea latte will be a good self-care exercise.

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My most exciting purchases was the first books in a year’s series of monthly photo books (#39). I was disappointed that I couldn’t use the app I was originally excited about, but it is only available on iPhone. Due to a combination of space issues, we couldn’t make it work on the hubs’ phone. So we are using Chatbooks through my phone instead. I like them fine, and the price point is the same. I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be by including lots of non-phone photos and doing basic editing on all the photos included. While that makes it a little harder to put together for the monthly book, I should be able to compile a better-quality book at the end of the year pretty easily. I am not saving the monthly books as keepsakes, so we are going to look at them and let the toddler look at them on his own. And for that, the square Chatbook is the perfect size. I think it will be fun to have the collection of them grow each month from now on. Plus, if I can keep up with them, I’ll be able to easily post a lot more photos each month to my family blog (#75).

I also hung the photos I printed last month (#44). I replaced one sunrise print downstairs with a better picture I took a year later. (I’d like to claim that it was the year’s worth of practice that made it a more interesting image, but really it was just better cloud coverage.) Upstairs I hung two photos I’m really proud of over my desk. I used reusable magnetic hangers so that I can easily switch images out as I print new ones.

I started working up to doing yoga with Theo (#49). I’ve read a textbook about yoga therapy for special needs kiddos and developed a plan because introducing new activities into our routine is not simple. We started working on belly breathing using plastic ocean animals (we were waves, obviously, and it was adorable). I have a few children’s books with some good sequences and we’ve been doing a few poses at a time. It will be a while before we’re ready to run through a full sequence of poses together, but this is a good foundation.

2017-03-24 10.26.59I asked my sister to support a feel-good indulgence (#53) by buying me large glitter nail polishes for my birthday. I am trying to live it up with playful nails. I started experimenting with my at-home (#51) and my low-cost away-from-home  (#52) breaks. I took a solo museum trip (#82) for my birthday, which was a lovely long away-from-home break.

I think a key to the at-home breaks will be to get the whole house squared away–clean, reduced, and decluttered–so that I can effectively use my time for myself. I’ve been attempting to focus on one area of the house (#11), but it hasn’t been going too well. But I think still I’m in a better place now: all the areas in my house except for the master bedroom are ready for cleaning/improvement/guests. We’ve gotten one load out to the thrift store, and lots of other piles are back in my bedroom. That room is atrocious now, but I’m making peace with it. This way, I can work on small, steady progress uninterrupted by how I’m using the rest of the house.

2017-03-10 08.34.00I am pleased to say that I asked for help in a significant way twice over the last months (#64). I asked a friend to interrupt her very busy life in the middle of a fast-turnaround house move to come and watch Theo for a morning so that the hubs and I could tour a preschool. It was hard to ask, knowing how much she had going on, even though I also knew she’d be willing. It allowed us to really focus on the school tour without worrying about wrangling him, or having it be his first experience of the school. (First experiences matter a ton when you have a crazy-good memory and obsessive tendencies coupled together like Theo does.) And I asked my in-laws to come for a few days and watch Theo when the hubs was at work so that I could go spend some time with my best friend and her new baby (#66).

I cooked a new recipe with my husband (#76), a whole chicken in his grandmother’s cast iron skillet.

In February, I made a big at-home date with special snacky foods, cocktails, a homemade dessert, and a documentary (#95). It was so much fun to eat in front of the movie and then discuss it over dessert. And in March, the hubs discovered Crash Courses on YouTube, which has been a great thing for us to do together while I work up to choosing my Great Courses (#58). We’ve been watching Astronomy and Mythology and dabbling in others. I love it!

In working my way up to fully abstain from Facebook (#73), I removed the app from my phone menu, and freed up a lot of time that I’d spent putzing there. Some of it I spent cleaning and straightening, but some of it I still wanted to use my phone and think about the world outside my messy, loud house. So I have followed several new blogs (#100), all focusing on things I’m interested in now. I have a few on minimalism, photography, and one new one on creating art with kids.

Routines Around Here

In which I enjoy a sunset (#82) thanks to a new set of routines (#15, #21, #38, #44, #49).

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I didn’t sit on my deck with a cocktail until one month before my 1001 ended. When I did, the experience was much sweeter than the unimpressive sunset. The cocktail represented a weaned baby, a pleasant and reasonably-timed bedtime, and having time to sit with my husband and be adults. That’s what I intended when I put this on my list. Though I didn’t specify it in the goal, we’d also eaten dinner, washed dishes, cleaned the counters. I’d completed my laundry, we were prepped for dinner the next night, and the house wasn’t a disaster I was avoiding.

My new routines were paying off. I’ve been working on doing at least one load of laundry each weekday off and on for pretty much the entire list, and I’ve recently decided to do the laundry on a schedule. Now I don’t have to figure out what load is the most pressing and I have the weekend to do things that come up less often — an extra load of guest sheets and/or towels, jeans, bath mats, etc. (Admittedly, being out of the GI-challenged baby stage helps a lot with this. The GI-challenged toddler produces much less emergency laundry.)

Then I started really thinking about how I can make the most of my time and very limited mental and physical energy. I’ve got decision fatigue in full force by lunchtime. (Do I really want to fight the small dictator on this? This? Sigh.) I read through this Energy is Everything series and changed things again. I added a schedule to our meals so that I didn’t waste time every week thinking “ok, we have pasta, chicken, Mexican, so I could probably do a stir-fry…” and then I created a list of go-to meals in Evernote for each of our categories. Now we can just look down the list, pop it into the meal plan, and check it off so that even if we are always eating “meat with sauce”on Tuesday, we don’t get stuck in a picatta rut.

Realistically, we eat a lot of the same foods each week. Yogurt. Chicken. Cheese. That kind of repetition makes online grocery ordering so fast. I’ve decided that my time is worth the $5 pickup fee. (Not to mention that I’m sure I pick up way more than $5 in impulse buys while I walk around the store.) So we go to the rather far away grocery store and have the groceries delivered to the car. Which means that we might as well go to the library in that direction first to give the toddler a little something before frustrating him by neither GETTING OUT OF THE CAR RIGHT NOW, THANK YOU nor JUST KEEP DRIVING, MAMA. Which means I don’t have to figure out what to do for one morning!

And then it was an easy jump to doing a lot of prep for the rest of the week during Sunday’s nap time. We are eating better because cooking doesn’t take as long. We are wasting less food. And we’re getting all the trash out before our main trash pickup.

I’ve been working hard to have a better cleaning baseline, and while it’s certainly better, I have a long way to on that. Right now I’m focusing more on getting clutter out of my house than on regularly mopping the floors. But once a surface is clear, I am working hard to keep it clear. So we’re getting better about nightly kitchen clears and taking things back upstairs. And when that doesn’t quite happen, that’s the priority before moving on to the next project area. Same goes for my email inbox. I gave myself more leeway on that goal — 50 items rather than 25 — because I’ve signed up for a number of newsletters that arrive by email.

I created the routines prompted by my list. When I realized that thinking about this kind of never-ending work was a small-but-constant drain, I scheduled them so that I don’t have to think about them. Then I changed the schedule so that the week began on Saturday. Shifting the weekend to the start of my mental week has been surprisingly great. Just between us, I feel like I could market a whole line of specialty planners based on this concept. (Don’t steal my idea, right?) Starting on Sunday breaks the weekend in half, and suddenly Sunday isn’t so much weekend as it is day-of-dread-before-Monday. And Monday start? Obviously puts the focus more on the work week, even for my stay-at-home-mom self. But the Saturday start, ah, the Saturday start is a kind of magic. Suddenly the week starts with the life you’ve been working for. Family, home, adventures. I spend the ‘beginning’ of the week enjoying my family time, recharging, and prepping to get through the week ahead as easily as possible. I don’t have to slog through the week to be “rewarded” with a weekend and feel cheated when it’s full of work, too! Even though the days are obviously the same, the mental trick works for me. I’m either really gullible or on to something.

Here’s my working plan:

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But what am I doing with the time and energy that this frees up? More on that later. (Spoiler: there are more routines!)

Weekly Meal Plans

In which I try to get back on track with meal plans and grocery lists (#21).

I am trying to think of ways to maximize my time and energy, both mental and physical. Starting tomorrow,  I’ll be making weekly meal plans off of a general template. One cookbook recipe a week,  one big meal on the weekend that will go for multiple lunches or a second dinner, extras into the freezer when we can… that sort of thing. But I’m most interested in making meal plans that will limit our food waste.  I’m terrible at using up ingredients or even eating up leftovers. So I’m really going to be focusing on common threads through meals to make the most of the food we buy.

We have a rare fairly clean slate to start with here,  so this is the perfect opportunity to launch a new regime. Hopefully I can keep it up for the seven months of this goal.  What an amazing amount of money I can save,  mental power I can conserve,  and time I can use elsewhere if this works how I hope.