April 2016: Goals progress

I am over April, which is great because April is also over April.

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Nope. Let’s do this later.

2. Lose 20 pounds. I have three pounds to go. I hoped to be done this month, but making any sort of progress is a feat at this point.

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. I spend $23 on shoes and made no clothes in April.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. ALMOST DONE. Our house is in the middle of its work and all my stuff is in storage. We move May 8, and will continue improvements for years, I’m sure.

5. Read 35 books. 2/35. Might not be the year for reading.

6. KonMari my house. No stuff here! Have to wait.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. Still could be better at this. Might need to delete FB account. I have FOMO about it, though. And I’ve noticed that friends who delete FB swap in other sites. I really just need some mindless downtime.

March 2016: Goals progress

March has been a month, my friends.

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Nope. We’re moving in late April or early May, so this will probably be a June thing.

2. Lose 20 pounds. I’m really, really doing it! I’ve been following the eating part of the 21-day fix since the end of January, and I’m down 15 pounds total since Thanksgiving, and within a stone’s throw of goal.

I’ve been finding it more challenging throughout March, but I’ve also been less strict with my eating. So. Hopefully I’ll accomplish this in April, though I might set a new goal to lose a bit more?? Because why wouldn’t I, if I’m already on a roll…

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. I spend $0 on clothes and made no clothes in March. I’m definitely making use of my old clothes fitting. I also am purging things for the move, so that might play into the whole “not buying” mentality.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. ALMOST DONE. We offered for a house at the end of February that needs some work, but has some great bones and good space and we’re getting a good deal. We’re throwing some cash at some work upfront (bye, popcorn ceilings. hello, paint and refinished flooring.), and I’ll be doing home projects until FOREVER. But we’ll have a pool and we’re in great school districts, so I’m never, ever, ever leaving.

5. Read 35 books. 1/35. I still don’t remember what book I read in January. No books in Feb. I started the Red Rising trilogy, but I didn’t find it exciting and petered out. I also started The Alechemist’s Daughter, and stopped about 1/4 in. I’ve been listening to H is for Hawk for my book club and have really been enjoying it.

6. KonMari my house. I still STILL haven’t gotten started. Although I am making some very brutal decisions about what stays and what goes for the new house. So, there we are.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. Josh and I had a brutal fight where he brought this issue up. Now, keep in mind that he’s not any better. Still, it cut me deep because it’s something I want to be better at. (I don’t think he actually wants to be better, and I’m not being a dick about it to him because HELLO KETTLE, I SEE YOU THERE. So.) And so I deleted a bunch of apps. Things I didn’t look at, games I didn’t play, Facebook. I figured if I’m that desperate for FB, I can use the mobile site. And I have. I still think it’s made a difference in my phone time, though. AND it’s made a huge difference in my battery life.

February 2016: Goals progress

My year has an extra day to be productive! Thanks Leap Day.

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Nope. I’ve collected the majority of my documentation, but I don’t want to move anything financial around until we buy a new house. Otherwise, I have to explain all that, and I’m not interested.

2. Lose 20 pounds. I’m doing it! At the end of January, I started doing the food portion control part of the 21-day fix. It’s pretty good, you guys. I’ve been sticking to it hard during the week and relaxing my standards a bit on the weekend. Since I started at the end of January, I’ve lost 7 pounds. Yup. In slightly more than a month. Since Thanksgiving, I’m down (as of today, March 2) 12 pounds. I’m currently wearing a skirt that hasn’t fit since before I was pregnant.

I’m going to keep doing this for awhile. I’m hoping to hit goal by the end of March. Or April. No pressure. Only 8 pounds, people!

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. I spend $0 on clothes and made no clothes in February. The lack of spending could be because more of my old clothes are fitting… but I’ll take it.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. In February, we offered for several homes that we didn’t get, and our house is in escrow on the sale. We offered for another house on Feb. 29, and we’re hopeful. It needs work, but it’s a good house, and the price is right.

5. Read 35 books. 1/35. I still don’t remember what book I read in January. No books in Feb. I started the Red Rising trilogy, but I didn’t find it exciting and petered out.

6. KonMari my house. I still haven’t gotten started. Whatever. Is there an app for this?

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. Saturday, Feb. 27, I spent less than an hour on my phone throughout the day. Every other day of February was abysmal.

January 2016: Goals progress

Already 1/12 of the way through 2016.

1. Move 401ks to IRAs at my bank. Nada on this. I’m collecting the documentation to do it, but I haven’t actually made any phone calls or anything.

2. Lose 20 pounds. Right at the end of January, I started doing the 21-day fix — just the food part. Goodness. I lost three pounds in the final week of the month. So I’m going to keep doing that for awhile.

3. Clothing budget of $500. Make 5 items of clothing. I spend $0 on clothes and made no clothes in January.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. So…. we went to an open house on Jan. 30 and decided to make an offer. Which means we are listing our house, like, yesterday. So we’ll see what happens with that. I’ve been doing some projects and so has Josh. Cleaning, patching paint, etc. But he’ll start to do a lot more of that this week and it’ll kind of take over.

5. Read 35 books. I read one book in January. I’ll update when I remember what it was.

6. KonMari my house. So, this is going to happen more as the packing happens. I’m going to do clothes tonight, though. I just really need to make my house/life neat for all the potential changes.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. I’ve been using Moment to track my phone usage (which also means my internet usage, because that’s about the only device I use, ever, these days). During the week I average 2-3 hours/day. On the weekend, that’s up to 4-5 hours/day. Keep in mind I’m house hunting, using social media, playing games, Thomas is stealing my phone and breaking in (yes, he’s smart enough to type my code in and find the apps he likes to play), ordering groceries, on and on. I’m thinking about deleting FB from my phone because I really don’t need it. But I’m afraid I’ll miss out on things. I’ve also asked Thomas to help me, and he’s great at reminding. “Momma, put down your phone and play with me.”

 

2015 recap

I really, really had a good 2015.

One of my goals was being less negative, and I worked hard to change things about my life and self to make my attitude better. I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I changed jobs mid-year to find more freedom and time in my life when the commute/job/life got too overwhelming. It was a great change, and I feel really content with my work and career direction.

I did some craft projects. I did the ones that made me happy until they didn’t and then I put them aside.

I read books. More than I thought I would be able to. And while my life doesn’t allow the endless Saturday hours of holing up and getting lost in a book, finding the time for fiction in audio form has made life better.

I was less rigid with myself and the goal-setting. When my clothing budget goal didn’t work anymore because of the new job, I suspended it.

A lot of the year was spent focusing on me and making life better/easier, and yet, I still didn’t have much time for myself. I find myself challenged by knowing just how fleeting the time Thomas will be a toddler is — just how little time I have with him, overall — and needing an hour, an effing hour, with no one talking to me, touching me, climbing on me, holding my hand, needing pet (I’m looking at you, cats). I’m sure that finding that balance will me the struggle of the rest of my adulthood.

 

2016 goals

Whaaaat, two posts in one day? That’s right! (Am I still putting off packing up my apartment? Maybe!)

My 2015 goals were kind of a wash, and I think that comes down to a few things. First, I was busy—like, really busy—at work. I hate when people say that because it sounds as if they’re trying to sound important, but dudes. So busy. The end. Second, I had some kind of mushy goals that were hard to measure, and I also had a lot of goals that I didn’t check in on.

At the end of this year, when I’ve taken some time to breathe and to recuperate a little, I’ve repeatedly caught myself saying that I like “vacation me.” This is the kinder, gentler version of myself who has time to breathe and who makes things.

With all of these things in mind, I’ve decided to go with a different plan this year. I will measure the things! I will take tiny first steps! I will make some time for myself!

resolutions.jpg

Image courtesy ASAP Science.

CRAFTY THINGS:

  • Knit a pair of socks. Remember this sock cuff? I started it alllll the way back in 2013, and I’m still not done with the damn thing, let alone its mate. I want more squishy handknit socks, and I want them to be made by me.
  • Knit a pair of mittens. I’ve started on these striped mittens, and because they’re made with worsted weight yarn, they’ll go a lot more quickly than socks. The yarn feels huge compared to sock yarn!
  • Get better at calligraphy. Yeah, I know: remember that time I said I’d measure my goals, a whole three paragraphs ago? Not sure how to do that with this one, but I can:
  • Do something creative for at least 30 min. a week. That really seems like a pitifully small amount of time, but I haven’t been giving myself that, and I think I suffer as a result. I can always crank up the minimum time if I like.

FOR ME:

  • Send 1 card/month. This will force me to practice calligraphy, and I’ll end up taking some time to reconnect with others.
  • Reduce procrastination and time spent on the internet. I’ve gotten better at both of these, but I like to have the reminder. This goal is very tightly coupled with all the others: you don’t get stuff done and you can’t be connected with others if you’re staring at a screen and passively consuming.
  • Go to the Margaret Mitchell house.
  • Go to Fernbank Museum. (I has a car now! I think this will make it easier to just get in the car and go to places).
  • Go take photos in the country. I like to drive out of the city and see what there is to see. This is how I ended up stuck wayyyyy the hell out in the middle of nowhere with a dead transmission a few years ago, but it’s also how I got some good photos and got to pet some donkeys.
  • Save $3,500.
  • Get credit card balances to zero—and keep them there.

This is a longer list of items, but it’s much more clear and outlines actual goals. I think 2016 is gonna be good!

2015 goals check-in

Goodbye, 2015. And good damned riddance. The last half of the year was fraught with family stuff, and work was ridiculous because I was the entirety of my department for most of the year. Here’s how my goals progress went down.

CRAFTY THINGS:

  • 10 projects. I made jewelry dishes and worked on some knitting. Um, that knitting is a single sock. The hell, me? I am learning pointed pen calligraphy, though, and I enjoy that.

PHYSICAL HEALTH:

  • Lose 40 lbs. Nope! As I mentioned last time, it’s hard to lose weight when you aren’t taking care of yourself.
    • Go to the gym twice a week. I did really well on this, actually. I went more often than I thought I would, and really only slacked off in December—I knew it would be nuts with end-of-year things, holidays and finding a new apartment.
    • Run a mile without stopping. Hit 120 lbs. on the lat pulldown. Hit 96 lbs. on the rowing machine. Scrapped ’em in favor of riding the bike in the gym. It’s much more enjoyable.

MENTAL HEALTH:

  • Reduce procrastination. I’m doing pretty well with this, I think, though I’m definitely writing this post in order to put off packing.
  • Send one card a month. Nope! I may just have a pile of still-unwritten Christmas cards on my desk as we speak. I definitely am learning calligraphy so I can send pretty mail, so hopefully I’ll do better about this next year.
  • Cut down on wasting time on the internet. Hard to measure, but I think I did pretty well on this.
  • Write two pages/day, two days/week. I actually found this to be kind of a burden. I think it helps, but not if I feel obligated to do it.

FINANCIAL HEALTH:

  • Finish paying off credit cards. I paid off the big balance transfer I did, and have charged about $2k more. That’s only 4.75% of my available credit limit, though, and I’ll be paying that off in 2015 ASAP. Again, automatic transfers are perfect for me.
  • Save $3000. Already done! I saved $3400, which has come in handy for this season of moving house.😛
  • All in all, I’ve paid $13K on debt, savings and student loans. Pretty happy about that one!

TO DO:

  • Read 15 books this year. Done!
  • Go to four museums or Atlanta things. I went to Atlanta History Center and theMuseum of Design Atlanta. I also went to a craft fair and a festival, which weren’t exactly what I had in mind, but they were still fun. I’m calling it done!

All in all, my goals progress this year was a mixed bag. It’s not everything, and this isn’t how I define who I am, but I will say that I kicked ass at work this year. I just pulled together info for my review, and this year, I not only was the marketing department for most of the time, I pulled off a lot of things: website traffic is up 40% to 1.73 million visits, and the blog (my baby) accounts for three-quarters of that traffic. We’re writing on-brand, timely, informative posts that are SEO-friendly, so blog posts are hitting the front page of Google search within a day of being published. The blog has gotten 1.6 million pageviews this year, an increase of 81%. So yeah, I’m super proud of that.

I’m also proud that I learned a lot about advertising, strategic planning and the nuances of the different platforms we work on—I’m able to converse with our internal web teams on our projects and, say, the Android team about what’s new in their updated book with some authority.

And you know what? Screw just recapping progress on my goals. I did some great things this year. I had a lot of wonderful times with friends and family, I visited four beaches and got to pet a whole lot of dogs. I didn’t forget to look up and see the sunset.

2015 collage

Stephanie’s 2016 Goals

1. 401ks. Move all my old 401(k) accounts into an accessible IRA at my bank, linked to my online dashboard.

2. Lose 20 pounds. For serious. At least make some significant progress. I lost six pounds between Thanksgiving and leaving Dec. 21 for the Florida Keys. I’m ready to do this.

3. Clothing budget of $500. I’m going back to this because it’s been really effective in helping me really weigh my purchases and have a closet full of clothes I love. On top of that, I want to make 5 items of clothing this year. I spend a lot of time planning clothing to sew, and not a lot of time doing it.

4. Buy a new house; sell my old house. This consists of project after project at my current house. But I hope to be in a new place by summer-ish.

5. Read 35 books. This is about what I read in 2015, so I’d like to challenge myself to set this as my minimum and build from there.

6. KonMari my house. I spent a significant portion of 2015 decluttering, but I need to go further. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last year, and I think this could work for me. I already practice many of the “tidy” principals in my daily life, but I need more.

7. Spend less time surfing on my phone and pay more attention to my kid. In 2009, Josh and I went to Hawaii for a week. I suggested we turn off our phones for the entire week and just be present with each other. It was one of the most amazing times, partly because of that. After that, I spent the better part of the next three years carrying around a dead phone and a charger (just in case I did need to contact someone). When I got pregnant in 2012, Josh insisted (rightly) that I get waaaaaay better about keeping my phone charged and responding to calls/texts. But what happened was that I became a phone zombie. And I hate it every day of my life. I’d like to find an app that will turn off particular iPhone apps after a certain amount of time… ideas? I have Moment, but that seems pretty Big Brother (monitoring location) along without having the ability to limit some apps and leaving others on.

 

December 2015: Goals progress

It’s a few days before the end of the year, but I’m going to go ahead and sum up December.

1. Being less negative. Still about 10% negative.

2. Projects. Two in December.

So far this year:
Play for Thomas
Completed
-Felt board
-Playdough (it only worked for a day, then I bought some)
-Cardboard house
Curtains
Train layouts

Clothes for me
Completed
-Kimono
-Mending (three sweaters, a black shirt, a running jacket and slimming a kimono)
-T-shirt upcycle
-Shirt
-Fascinator (hair accessory)
In progress
-Pants (I just need to sew them)
-Skirt for work (I just need to sew it)
-Dress (I just need to sew it)

Christmas decorations

Home decor
Completed
-Gallery wall progress (I found free pics online, printed them through Shutterfly, bought frames at Michaels and hung them up.)

Others
Completed
-Clay jewelry holders
-Nail polish swatches

3. Track my food on my Fitbit app. Didn’t happen.

4. Back health. Did some yoga, bought new shock pads for my device, which makes it better.

5. Clothing budget. Still suspended.

6. Read 25 books. 37/25. I am constantly not remembering what I’ve read/listened to.

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Giraffe by J. M. Ledgard
Room by Emma Donoghue
Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
The Magicians King by Lev Grossman
The Magicians Land by Lev Grossman
That Summer by Lauren Willig
–Four re-reads–
The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
My Own Miraculous by Joshilyn Jackson
The Martian by Andy Weir
Armada by Ernest Cline
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Finding Fraser by kc dyer
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

7. Declutter. Sold some clothing items to ThredUp, gave some stuff away, sold some stuff.

Trains and Advent Calendars

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice to do an advent calendar with Thomas this year?” I looked at Target, but I didn’t really see any I thought were any good.

On Friday, as we were setting up our Christmas stuff, I had to marvel, because 2014 Stephanie just KNEW that 2015 Stephanie would want to do that. She’d bought me a calendar and put it in the Christmas boxes and it was everything I was looking for.

 Except, we’re going to Florida for Christmas. So we won’t be here to do the whole calendar. Rather than forego it, Josh and I opted to start the calendar early and countdown to leaving for Florida instead of Christmas. While means we’re basically a few days behind.

Because I hadn’t found a calendar, I hadn’t put in much thought to what I’d want to put in it.

My requirements:
-Things that won’t clutter my house
-Things that bring Thomas joy
-Things that are little and not really “presents”

This could be food stuffs, etc., but I also wanted to make little experiences for him. Something he really, really loves are his trains. We bought him the IKEA wooden railway for his 2nd birthday, and it’s been a big hit. We bought more track a few months ago, and it came with a paper of track layouts. T loves pointing at one for us to help him build.

So, I scoured the internet (Pinterest) for more track layouts and made a couple PDFs of just the images. I printed them out, folded the pages and tucked each one into a different day.

Wooden train track layout #1
Wooden train track layout #2

(Sources: This. This. This. and This.)

(Note: Part of the picture is missing on the top of train layout #1. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get that photo to show up right in Photoshop. Sorry, people.)