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.

Prettier Walls

In which I finally have photos from our last trip hung in the house (#13).

I’m excited to mark another completion off my list. The hubs and I traveled to the Netherlands, Belgium and Paris in August and September of this year. Since we got home, things have been moving fast for us.  I’ve not culled through our photos or posted them to Flickr, but I was excited to print a few to add to our spread in the dining room. We already have a poster from Sienna alongside photos from our trip to Italy in 2007, a poster from the Book of Kells with photos from Ireland in 2013, and prints from all the places we’ve moved away from together.

Things lined up over the past few weeks: I wanted to print for my over-the-crib nursery project and my yet-to-be-started Ireland scrapbook , so the hubs and I chose a few photos from the more recent trip. We didn’t have frames yet, so we mirrored the sizes from our Ireland photos so the walls would be balanced. Then I used a Target Cartwheel offer to save 15% on frames the same week as Michaels had all their frames buy one get one free. So one shopping trip with the hubs, and we were in business.

BeNeP_photosThe first photo is the one I’m most proud of. The hubs and I took a bunch of photos, each of us changing settings, until we could see all the details we wanted. This is the entrance to an awesome restaurant in an Antwerp cellar where we lingered over fantastic stroganoff. You get there through old alleys that feel completely cut off from the rest of the city. I love the memory of that night, the fact that we both worked to get this picture, and that the entrance is not completely blown out while you can see the cobbles outside.

The next photo is of fun statues right outside our hotel in Maastricht. We were surprised to coincide with the culmination of a competition within the Netherlands to be named the 2018 European Capital of Culture. (There are two each year, but the other isn’t in the Netherlands. Also, Maastricht did not win.) We were only there for a short time, so we saw them setting up at night and enjoyed a bit of the festival in the morning before catching our train. There were dancers, storytellers, artists and kids’ activities. It was a lot of fun, and literally on the square outside our hotel.

The next picture is obviously the Eiffel Tower. We knew that we might have a lull in our ability to travel, since we were planning and hoping for baby time, so we decided to add a night and day in Paris to our full itinerary. It definitely didn’t qualify as a France or Paris trip for us, but I loved it. We arrived in the evening and headed out for dinner and the tower after checking into our hotel. We didn’t time it perfectly, so we ended up arriving under the tower as it lit up at the turn of the hour. We spent a long time out there that night, and go a bunch of photos farther back, but these close ones ended up being my favorite perspective.

The last photo is from a canal in Delft. We sat beside it for a good time and watched the reflection change. (Plus, I got to use a fancy lens filter to cut the glare on the water so that the reflection popped — always fun.)

But my absolute favorite part of this set-up is the little Playmobile knight hanging with the photos. We went to a design museum in Ghent that had Playmobile characters hidden among the exhibits, linked to things thematically. A little Robin Hood next to an archery target, a spaceman in front of a rug inspired by the big bang, or a little princess at the base of a very regal chair. It was as much fun for us as I think it would be for any kid, and I think it must be a blast to curate. I got our little knight off Amazon when we got home. Lots of the medieval cities we visited had the lion as their traditional standard, so I felt he was appropriate.

I know that is a lot of information for one little wall of pictures, and that is exactly what I love about the direction we’ve taken with this house. Every time I think about a specific area or room, I’m convinced that it is my favorite part or room.  And then thinking about something different leads me to think that no, THAT’s my favorite… It’s really great. I can’t talk about it without getting sappy — but it is a huge help when I’m around the house all the time.