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):

family meeting agenda

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.

put family meeting notes in page protector on fridge

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?

Happy New Years Eve, my friends! I’ve got big plans to sit on the couch with a glass of wine before retiring well before midnight tonight, but today I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at what we did this year (accompanied by my favorite instagram photo from each month). Without further adieu:

2013-01-29 18.44.02 (570x570)

January

looked back at 2012 / DIY’d cute invites for my sister’s wedding showerreorganized our tiny master bath / painted the laundry room white

2013-02-17 13.41.13 (570x570)

February

got punked by the city sewer department / got a cushy new rug for the office/playroom / revamped a thrifted desk into a storage-packed dressing table / watched my lovely sister get married to a great guy

2013-03-21 11.21.25 (570x570)

March

turned the ugliest corner in our house into the cutest with a wood counter and a fabric skirt / made yarn-block cafe curtains for the kitchen / knocked out the door to our front porch (should’ve done that sooner!) / confessed that I’m far from perfect

2013-04-21 15.30.19 (570x570)

April

put our pet food into pretty jars / planted a veggie garden / celebrated three years in our house / dished about our unconventional approach to baby food / traveled to Amarillo and Austin, TX / made a new compost bin for only $9 / mounted bamboo shades in the laundry room / hung a swing for Jack in the front yard

2013-05-13 13.00.23 (570x570)

May

moved some plants into my front yard flower bed (they’ve done surprisingly well!) / restored some rusty outdoor furniture with spray paint / hosted a baby shower for my friend Cassie / added some meaningful items to Jack’s nursery / planted some succulents (still alive!) / spruced up our laundry room shelves with fake “art” and diaper boxes painted to look pretty / updated our house tour page / petted a baby goatplanted an herb garden / gushed about my vacuum cleaner

2013-06-28 16.40.25-2 (570x570)

June

shared what a day in my life looks like / wrote on some sticks / talked about how I obsess over the colors of our clothes / created a tea towel decorated with a recipe written in my late grandmother’s handwriting / showed how I hide our modem and router / took our first ever family photos / celebrated four years of marriage / tried my hand at macrame / celebrated Jack’s first birthday

2013-07-25 10.33.44-2 (570x570)

July

we made a road trip to Atlanta / we said hello to one pawpaw as he moved back to Louisiana after eight years away and goodbye to my other pawpaw when he passed away after a brief illness / I painted our front door navy

2013-08-19 17.00.01 HDR (570x570)

August

I painted an old nightstand to be a play table for Jack (and talked a bit about how I’ve learned to accept criticism in that post) / reorganized the pantry / became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker / took Jack to the beach for the first time / replaced the old sofa in our dining room with a sewing table and two chairs / shared photos of a friend’s home that’s fun and super kid-friendly

2013-09-29 13.08.33 (570x570)

September

shared a glimpse behind the scenes of blogging /  added another old chair to my collection / turned some tacky thrift store art into an antiqued mirror / shared my ideas for creative babyproofing / opened up about my struggled with weight loss / began working on a frame wall in the dining room

2013-10-20 20.25.33 HDR (570x570)

October

whipped up some DIY closet dividers for Jack’s room / made Jack an adorable shark costume for Halloween / used inexpensive shelves to create some Montessori-style toy storage / bought my first pair of glasses in probably ten years / shared some of my tips for shopping estate sales / became a contributor to the brand-new Red Stick Moms Blog with my very first post about Louisiana themed children’s books / shared ten things you may not have known about me

2013-11-13 13.13.41-2 (570x570)

November

figured out that I could repair scratches in my wood floor with olive oil / taught myself embroidery / made some adorable notecards for my shop / created an awesome wood and copper nightstand with the help of a friend who knows how to weld / shared about my experience with pain during pregnancy on Red Stick Moms Blogcreated some cool chalkboard clipboards / shared about how I rotate toys to preserve my sanity / made several little things to sell out of mother of pearl buttons / made a wreath out of rolled paper flowers

2013-12-21 09.39.57-2 (570x570)

December

got a bunch of fun items listed in my shop just in time for the holiday season / finally finished the frame wall in my dining room / got our Christmas tree and made a moravian star topper and finger-knit garland to decorate it / shared about my favorite toys for babies and toddlers / posted about embracing simplicity during the holidays on Red Stick Moms BlogDIY’d our holiday photo and card / shared about Jack’s delay in learning to walk

2013 has been good to us. I’ll be taking tomorrow off to spend some time with my guys, but I’ll be back Thursday to share my plans and goals for the new year–I’ve got some good ones!

Jack

Sometimes you just see things coming. When I was a teenager I had a feeling that I was going to get into a bad car accident for six months before it finally happened (thankfully no one was hurt). In the summer of 2006 I swore off casual dating and met Nick a month later. And when I became a mother I was careful not to allow Jack to spend much time in what I called contraptions–bouncers, jumpers, walkers, and the like. I wanted him to spend most of his play time on the floor to encourage gross motor development. And wouldn’t you know that even with all that floor time my baby didn’t roll over until almost six months, didn’t sit unassisted until almost eight, and didn’t even army crawl until ten? He was almost one before he started crawling on hands and knees and pulling up to cruise along furniture and six months later that’s still as far as we’ve gotten. I anticipated that he would be a late walker but even I am surprised by how long it’s taken. The last time I mentioned it here he was 15 months and I was sure that his doctor would say it was nothing to worry about. I was wrong. She made a huge deal of it. I’d already told the nurse that he wasn’t walking yet, so I was surprised when the doctor breezed in and picked him up, saying that she wanted to see him walk to me from her. Uhhh, he doesn’t walk, I said. She told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted me to spend the next few weeks pushing him pretty aggressively to walk and call her if it didn’t work. She said, “He really should be walking by 15 months but I’ll give you a pass for 30 days.” She didn’t say what she would do if he wasn’t walking at the end of her grace period–maybe trade him in for a new baby? She also said that at our next appointment we’d discuss a game plan for dropping the pacifier because it needs to be gone by two. I smiled politely but inside I was quietly resolving to never see her again. We’ve disagreed on several issues before and what it all boils down to is that I don’t like being bossed around, which is what it felt like she was doing. Had she taken the time to tell me what could potentially cause a delay in walking, what her concerns were, and what she would suggest doing about it things may have gone differently, but I interviewed new pediatricians the next week and found one in the same practice that I took to immediately. She told me that some babies she would refer to our state’s early intervention program at 15 months and others she would wait on. Watching Jack move around the room she said that she would wait. I appreciated her individualized approach and the fact that she left the decision up to me. So we waited, but after a few more weeks I decided to have him assessed just for peace of mind. I figured it couldn’t hurt anything and we had nothing to lose–it was free. Just after Jack turned seventeen months a physical therapist came to our house and assessed him for developmental delay. As a social worker who assesses kids in their homes for behavioral health services all the time it was so weird to be on the other side of it as a recipient. The PT’s verdict: it’s not lack of confidence, skill, or motivation that’s keeping him from walking–it’s low muscle tone. He’s just not strong enough to stand on his own two feet without something to hold onto. Any number of things could cause it, from neurological conditions to nutritional deficits, but some kids are just born with it and we don’t know why (known as benign congenital hypotonia). It explains why he was slow to hit all of his gross motor milestones. It could even be related to the hip dysplasia that he had at birth. The good news is that it’s treatable. A physical therapist is going to start seeing him weekly at home after the holidays and in the meantime we’re doing lots of fun things to help him build muscle, like climbing the stairs (under supervision!), crawling over couch cushions on the floor, and bouncing on toys that he has to sit and balance on. We’re waiting to see a pediatric neurologist who will rule out all the scary stuff and let us know if there’s a cause we can treat (like a nutritional deficiency). Luckily, Jack isn’t showing any cognitive or social delays so hopefully with a little bit of PT he won’t have any lasting impact. I tell ya, this parenting gig is not always easy. I am so worried about him but I know we’re doing the best we know how.

In other news, we weaned from breastfeeding recently. He was down to just twice a day anyway and around 15.5 months I decided I was over it and stopped offering and by 16 months he was weaned! Breastfeeding is one of the only aspects of this whole pregnancy/parenting thing that has actually gone according to plan. I could not be more pleased with the experience.

Jack playing

Jack’s vocabulary has also been steadily increasing over the last few months and he now says about 15 words and understands many more. And, AND, I could never get the kid to sit still for a book when he was younger but he’s recently developed a love of literature. He even says book! Well, he says “booh-booh.” And he has a favorite, Rockabye Farm. My undergraduate degree is in English so you can understand how thrilled I am with this turn of events. Other favorite things include phones, balls, remotes, and food (the kid loves to eat, wonder where he got that from).

Jack 18 months

The last three months have been pretty stressful as anxiety over his lack of bipedal movement slowly mounted, but it’s nice to finally have something to do about it other than watching and waiting. The exercises are fun and it’s plain to see that he’s getting stronger every day. Hypotonic or not, I still think he’s a pretty amazing kid. He’s sweet, affectionate, funny, and smart. We are so lucky to be his parents.