Archives For On a Personal Note…

Happy Friday, my friends. I hope this new year is treating you well so far. Despite a few curveballs, like a broken washing machine and a pukey toddler, I’m feeling pretty great. Temps are back up into the 60′s here in south Louisiana and it’s KING CAKE SEASON! Jack is feeling better and we’re getting a new washer and dryer this weekend (for a steal, btw!). Life is good.

I’m off for a weekend of spending time with friends and family, painting the kitchen, and binging on episodes of Breaking Bad. I’ll leave you with this quote that I came across recently (incorrectly attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald on Pinterest, it’s actually from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which I’ve never seen. Maybe I’ll see if it’s available on Netflix this weekend!). Take care, my loves!

coming home

I didn’t register for a video monitor when I was pregnant with Jack. I don’t know why I thought it was completely unnecessary, but the older he’s gotten the more I wished I had one! If I hear him fussing I want to be able to see whether he’s still sleepy and laying down or if he’s really ready to get up without really waking him up by going in there. And Nick and I are often tempted to check on him one last time before we go to bed, so we sneak in and peer at him and silently gesture to each other dramatically about how cute he is and then he wakes up and sees us and starts screaming. So that’s something I thought we could work on. Luckily, we got one for Christmas (thanks mom!). It’s this one which has keyholes on the back to attach it to the wall, but that put it at kind of an awkward angle for viewing the crib so I picked up a small shelf at Target. I don’t see it online but it was only $10 in the store. I also picked up a frame for $15, since I knew where I wanted to hang the shelf it would look better if I added something else underneath it. So here’s that side of Jack’s room before:

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And here it is now! I printed out the “let him sleep” art from here. The small chalkboard I purchased forever ago from here and painted the frame with black craft paint.

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Part of the reason I got the big frame was to run the monitor cord behind it to hopefully be less conspicuous. I don’t think my plan was all that successful but it does do the trick of making it less accessible to Jack while he’s in his crib. I could do something really fun like wrap it in twine and weave it playfully between the other items on the wall (inspired by this post on another blog) so that’s something to think about. Poor Jack has come down with his first ever stomach bug this week so we’ve been in survival mode. I feel like this is some sort of parenting rite of passage and am taking it in stride but it’s particularly unfortunate that this happened while we are without a functioning washing machine. Ours broke around New Year’s and we’ve been taking our time finding a good deal on a new one, relying upon the generosity of friends to get us through in the meantime!

Real life picture before I tidied up: books and toys all over the floor, towel in the crib in case he pukes again, etc.

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Notice that the green flannel blanket I made him is missing–it’s in the laundry pile. Do any of you have a genius tip for securing cords near a crib? I’m a little concerned that he’ll be able to grab it through the slats when his arms get just a little bit longer. So far my best idea is to install one of these cord shorteners to take up the slack, but based on the reviews I’m not sure it would fit the oversized plug.

I went back to work part time when Jack was three months old and have since been in awe of all the women who manage to work full time with tiny humans at home. It’s a lot of freaking work to manage the life of another person. Gender roles have come a long way and Nick and I divide household responsibilities pretty evenly, but in all but financial matters I am definitely the brains of this operation. I don’t mean that I’m smarter than him, I mean that the responsibility of remembering what needs to be done and when falls on me. This is partly because I’m just more inclined to the task (just as he is more inclined to be good at managing our finances) and partly because he works way more hours than me so it just makes sense. But I’d be lying if I said that I don’t get overwhelmed with the details of running a household and I often feel like my head is just barely above water. So when I read this article about running your family more like a business I was intrigued. I wasn’t really into the idea of mission statements or lists of core values, but in many places I’ve worked the weekly staff meeting has been a fixture and I thought–eureka!–why not implement that in our family?

After floating the idea to Nick I literally skipped straight to my computer to draw up a basic agenda to use every week. After using and tweaking it for a few weeks I can say that it’s working well! We sit down for maybe 15 minutes every Sunday night after Jack is in bed and go over what each of us has going on that week, plan our meals, and divide up the tasks that would normally just fall to whoever remembered (uh, me, or Nick after I reminded him 12 times).

free printable family meeting agenda

Like any good Seinfeld fans, we open our meetings with an airing of grievances. Followed by compliments because it seemed like the right thing to do. Then we review the action items from last week’s agenda to make sure everything got done before introducing new business–divided into topics based on the most common issues in our family. Then we quickly decide what we’ll be cooking that week before making a short to-do list and deciding who will do what. Here’s our agenda from last week (of course it got wrinkled before I could take a photo, proof that this is real life):

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After we’re done I put it in a page protector on the side of the refrigerator so we can reference it throughout the week.

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The key, I think, is to stay consistent. This last week we had plans on Sunday night so we actually had our “meeting” in the car on the way there. And as of this writing all but one item on the to-do list has been completed (Nick was supposed to mail a check to Jack’s college savings account and hasn’t to my knowledge). I feel so much less stressed after these little meetings–it makes total sense that Nick and I should have a formalized method of touching base on household happenings, but it’s not something I think most families think of. And here’s another idea from my friend Lauren and her husband Ryan: consider holding occasional strategy meetings with your partner. They often use long drives as an opportunity to discuss career plans and big life decisions, but they certainly don’t need a road trip as an excuse. They even used a whiteboard to map out all the tasks involved in planning their wedding. Lauren works a ton of hours at a Big Four accounting firm so this sort of planning is crucial for them. I love the idea of taking concepts from work into the home, but only if it’s a good fit. We won’t be drafting a family mission statement anytime soon because that’s just not us.

Click to download the free printable Family Meeting Agenda I created, or maybe get inspired to create your own! And have a great weekend, my friends!

I’m a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I’m a fan of self-discipline in general. Goals, lists, and the like help me get the most out of life. I am not into making sweeping proclamations about how I will be different in the new year, but I am into simple, attainable tasks. And looking back at my resolutions from last year and the year before I can see that I’ve got a pretty high success rate so yay me. I’ve got a lot planned for 2014 so I broke it up into sections:

Personal/Family/Home

  • Hold weekly family meetings (more on this in a future post!)
  • Help Jack wean from his pacifier
  • Finally tackle the mini-remodel of our kitchen that I’ve been planning since we moved in
  • Continue to lose weight at a modest rate of 1-2 pounds per month (this should put me at or below my goal by the end of the year)

Blog

  • Choose and install a new blog theme
  • Submit some of my projects and posts to be featured on bigger sites
  • Set up a workflow for invoicing and communicating with sponsors

Shop

  • Create downloadable art prints and holiday card templates
  • Maintain a minimum of 50 listings at all times (I’m giving myself until July to start on this one)
  • Have all of holiday inventory listed by Halloween (in the past I’ve aimed to have it up by Thanksgiving and not only do I miss out on some holiday shoppers, I’m also forced to wait until December to do my own holiday shopping because preparing my shop for the holidays is pretty all-encompassing)

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. (570x570)

There are many more things I’d like to do this year, of course, but these are the biggies, and since this list is longer than those of years’ past I’ll be happy to knock out even just 3/4 of them. What are your goals for 2014?