February 8, 2016

Dealing with Wintertime Blues

I've started dreading this time of year. It's not for any concrete reason, just that for the past seven or eight years, I always seem to end up in a funk towards the middle of February on into late March. I know there's such a thing as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but I'm not going to say that's what it is. I don't know if it's so much the season itself, dread of things I've come to associate with the latter part of the school year plaguing my subconscious mind, backlash from the creative high during the holidays, or a combination of things. I just know it's a pain to deal with every late winter.

Making sure I get plenty vitamins and minerals helps. Opening the curtains and blinds all over the house to let in as much sunshine as possible helps too unless it's one of those odd days where a migraine looms. (Then all that light just hurts, but those are thankfully few and far between these days.) Upbeat music can help a too if the girls have finished their schoolwork.

January 21, 2016

New Year Frustration

So, I wrote about how I wanted to increase focus in 2016 at the first of the year. Here I am just three weeks later writing about my frustration in keeping that goal.

Okay, so it's not like I've given up. I haven't. I'm still trying, but the new schedule is proving harder to keep to than I'd like. When it's working, it runs like a dream. However, if you get even the slightest bit behind on one of the chores, everything starts falling apart.

This would be the schedule in question.
Of course, that may just be my personality. I enjoy schedules and routines, and I abhor when they get out of sync. It just ruins my day, and I feel like I'm playing catch up all day if not all week.

I had a few days last week where I was just exhausted after doing way too much the day before, and some of the housework piled up. Because of trying to get caught up on that, no writing at all was done last week aside from one lonely little blog post. But, we took advantage of the holiday Monday to get all caught up and reset ourselves. Here's hoping we can keep chugging along and being more productive in the weeks to come.

January 18, 2016

Homeschooling Chat: Cross Curricular Projects

Now that the girls are approaching ten and have the attention spans to match, we've decided to swap from doing a whole slew of small projects throughout the year to one big, cross curricular project. This isn't to say they won't still do some small, short single subject projects. They'll always have short essays, papers, and experiments going on. No, we're talking about a group of smaller projects grouped together covering a range of skills and subjects, all under the same theme.

Here's the girls' finished food pyramid poster.

We decided to start with one of the five basic needs as the basis of our first cross curricular project: food. No matter who you are, you have to eat. Shouldn't you know something about what you're putting in your body well before you're out of elementary school? We think so.

January 11, 2016

The Amazing Time We Live In

Nothing will make you feel old faster than sharing a childhood memory and have a teenager or child laugh thinking your joking because it seems impossible to them someone lived so long ago. Yet, considering how quickly technology has changed and is continuing to change, is it so surprising? Advancements that used to take decades or centuries are happening in just years, months, or even weeks these days as technologies compound exponentially.

Think about it. In your lifetime, what changes have you witnessed?

January 4, 2016

Starting Fresh with the New Year

Hello again. I hope you and yours had a merry holiday season and are having a happy new year thus far.

It's a time for new beginnings, and I thought I'd bring up a few of our fresh start goals for 2016. Some we technically started at the end of 2015, because why wait? Others we only started today, the first Monday of the year. Some may become new habits. Many are likely to morph or fall by the wayside. There's really no way to tell this early in the game, but still we try.

I have a horrible track record at keeping up with resolutions, so this year I'm trying picking a word keep at the forefront of my mind throughout the year. It's no secret I'm more than a bit scatterbrained, so I figure "focus" is a word I can use more of anytime. Therefore, it is my 2016 word of the year, and I intend to implement it in multiple areas of my life and the girls.

December 19, 2015

DIY Poinsettia Ornaments

I've been stitching these time consuming but inexpensive and easy poinsettia ornaments for years. I love the look of poinsettias, but I'm bad about remembering to water plants and didn't like the thought of having poisonous flowers around with small children. So these felt beauties were a way to bring them into our home for the holidays with minimal cost, fuss, and worry.
The materials are simple. For every two ornaments you want to make, you need one 8.5x11 inch sheet of felt in green and whatever color you want your poinsettia to be. You'll need a pack of acrylic gems, a roll of thin ribbon, a needle and thread, and a hot glue gun with plenty of glue sticks.


November 23, 2015

Creating Memories

We instituted a weekly "family night" just over a year ago, and it's been a rousing success. The girls look forward to it each week, and not just because that's the night we have our weekly sweet treat. They're still at that age where they want to hang out with their parents. Even when we've been together all week, they still crave time and connection with Hubby and me, and they see more as more.

Family watching Lord of the Rings
From our Lord of the Rings Marathon Christmas 2013

I have a confession to make though. I've been getting lazy with planning our family nights. It's so easy to fall into a routine of popcorn and a movie. I only managed to participate in the first retro game night a time or two before the controller that worked with our Nintendo emulator got to where the rumble was a constant thing. That'd freeze my hands up inside five minutes, so we tried using our hand-me-down Wii, but then one of the controllers stopped working back in the summer. And our balance board died sometime last month, so video games are pretty much out. The girls have usually used up their focus for the day before Hubby gets home from work, so the board games and puzzles we have get frustrating for them late in the evening, relegating them to a weekend and holiday only thing. So, what's a mama to do?

November 3, 2015

What is Productivity?

With the job search going poorly, Hubby and I have made the decision to switch focus to growing the store. We lost a lot of momentum when I went to work on site full time in late 2013, and it is going to take a lot of work to get back to the point we were at then and keep growing. Experience and research has taught us what needs to be done, but knowing what to do and remembering to do it when you're years out of practice are two different things.

That's why I spent almost the entire morning yesterday planning. I found several conventions in the area we've never attended and reached out to them about obtaining a table or booth. I set up reminders about our scheduled and tentative shows, days I need to start making, release, and remove seasonal and holiday items, sales dates, writing and editing deadlines, and any other task I must remember to complete by specific days for the next eighteen months.

October 27, 2015

Blog Update: Contented Comfort Updates are Moving

For the past couple of years I've been updating my writing work and what is going on with my store here. This is changing. From now on, most if not all of my writing and store updates will be separated onto their own blogs again now that I have dedicated websites for them. This blog will revert to what it originally was, a place to write about being a work-at-home-mom without the nitty gritty details of the work I do.

If you're interested in either of those topics, please check out the other blogs, A. B. England's Blog and Contented Comfort Blog.

Also, as soon as I am able to track down the RSS feed of my writer's blog, I will be changing my Goodreads and Amazon Author's Page's feeds to match up with it instead of this one. If you didn't know, Mac OS makes it much more difficult to locate the RSS feeds of blogs than Windows. On the whole, I've been frustrated but okay with Hubby's insistence on swapping to Mac a couple of years back, but little things like this are irritating. Things which should be simple and easy are made difficult if you don't want to nickel and dime yourself to death.

August 19, 2015

Sharing is Caring

No, this isn't an article on teaching your children to share their toys, but it is about how sharing can and is a form of caring for one another. What I'm talking about here is work and responsibility sharing. Perhaps not the most fun form of sharing, at least at first, but it's one of the most important ones we as parents have to teach our children.

I've made no secret about the fact we expect our girls to help out around the house. They've been putting their toys away since they were two, and they've learned how to do a couple of new things each year. It's my job as their mother and Hubby's as their father to teach them how to take care of themselves spiritually, physically, financially, and domestically. If we didn't teach them how to cook and clean for themselves along with how to read, handle mathematics in all its applications, and think critically, we'd be failing them as parents. But that in and of itself isn't what I'm getting at.

It's something I've come to realize as my "bad" joints have started getting worse and even my "good" hip and knee have started giving me trouble. Sharing the work and responsibilities involved in tending hearth and home is a powerful way to show one another how much we love and trust them.