Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back at 2013 and Setting Goals for 2014

It's that time of year again. Time to look back over 2013 and see what went well and what didn't. What goals were achieved and what goals fell a little short.

2013's Goals
  • Read and pray every day. I fell a little short on this one. There were days when I didn't open my Bible, didn't set aside that time to develop my relationship with Jesus.  
  • Be deliberate in spending time with my family. I did better with this one. I think Robb and I had a date night almost every month. I wasn't always deliberate about it, though. There were months when I didn't even think about date night until it was the last week. 
  • Declutter the storage areas in the house. Whoops! I'm not sure I even thought all year about this being a goal. They still are in serious need of decluttering.
  • Read at least 1 non-school related book a month. Another one I didn't quite reach. I did read a few non-school related books this year, though.
  • Start an Etsy shop. Nope, didn't happen. 
  • Finish Little Red's Christmas stocking. YES! This one I completely completed! I forgot to get a picture of it before I stored it away with our Christmas items, though.
  • Lose 30lbs. Nope, this didn't happen either. I am about the same weight now that I was at this time last year.
Okay, looking over this list could make me feel like a huge failure, but I'm not going to focus on not completing every goal. I made progress on almost all of them, though, and that is what I will remember.

Now that 2013 is behind me, I shall instead set my sights ahead of me. This new year begins with a blank slate. An opportunity to start again, to change things, to do things differently or to keep doing those things that work well. I'm learning that in order for goals to be effective and for me to be more likely to follow through with them, they need to be achievable and measurable.

Here are my goals for 2014:
Spiritual
Read my Bible and pray every day. I have quite a few character flaws. (Shocking, isn't it? LOL) I plan to focus on verses that address those character issues, to work on memorizing more Scripture.

Relational
Have a date night with Robb every month. This has been a goal for the past couple of years, and it's one that I don't want to get rid of. I enjoy our monthly date night.
Spend 1 evening a month with each of the small people. Our lives here can be so hectic between soccer practices, ballet rehearsals, church activities, etc. The small people are growing up so quickly, and I want to make sure that I maintain close relationships with them through this time.

Home
Declutter 15 minutes a day. While 15 minutes may not sound like a lot, over the course of a year it means that I will spend around 90 hours decluttering. I'm hoping that by the end of 2014, I will have reclaimed all of the storage areas of my house - every closet, shelf, cabinet, and the garage.
Make home-cooked dinners 5 times a week. We eat FAR more fast food than I would like us to. It's not good for us, and it's expensive. In order to reach this goal, I will need to be more organized. I need to have a meal plan each week and to utilize my crockpot more for those days that we have afternoon activities.

Personal
Participate in a reading challenge. I haven't chosen one yet. (I should probably hop on that.) By taking part in a reading challenge, I will not only increase my non-school related reading, but I will read books outside of my normal reading box.
Start an Etsy shop. I know this was my plan last year, and I didn't get it done. This year, I have more of an idea of what I want to do, and I definitely could use some extra income.
Get more than 1/2 way through with Sassy's Christmas stocking. I've learned that it takes me about 2 years to cross stitch the small people's stockings. I've started hers so I would like to be more than halfway done with it by the end of 2014.
Lose 30 lbs. I weigh a good bit more than I should for my height and structure. Losing 30 lbs would get me in the right weight range.

What are some of your goals for this year? 

New Year's Eve = Game Night

For the past few years, we've celebrated New Year's Eve by watching football and playing games. I love playing games. First, it gives us something to do together as a family. Second, it helps develop things like learning to take turns, being a good sport, and a healthy dose of being competitive.


Here are some ideas for games to incorporate into your New Year's Eve (or any other evening):

There are many family-friendly board games where everyone can get involved - Scattergories, Apples to Apples, Pictionary - just to name a few. Charades is also a fun game that everyone can play, regardless of age.

Board Games
Our Favorite Games - Tales of a Pee Dee Mama - A list of our 5 favorite board games

Winter Friends Place Race - Little Learning Lovies - This cute winter-themed place value game can be played by all ages. It's available as a PDF download that you can start playing right away.

Active Games
Snot Shot - Crystal's Tiny Treasures - This game with a cute name will be great for those with young small people. It's great for coordination and all you need are some pom-poms (or clothespins) and a can or jar

Cheesy Head - My Joy-Filled Life -This game involving shower caps, shaving cream, and cheese puffs can get a little messy so be prepared! :)

Other New Year's Ideas Posts
New Year's Activities for the Whole Family - My Joy-Filled Life - Several activities to help ring in the New Year

New Year's Eve Activity Unit - In All You Do - Lots of fun food ideas plus some printables

New Year's Sensory Bin - Mom's Heart - A great activity for really young small people

What are your New Year's Eve plans?
Do you have a favorite game?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Recap - Most Viewed Posts

2013 has been a great year, and I can't believe it's almost over. I wanted to go back and look at some of my posts from this past year.

Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2013 

1. Food on Friday - Pioneer Woman Enchiladas - I'm going to venture to guess that this one got the most views because it was one of my most pinned posts also.
2. Food on Friday - Tater Tot Casserole 
3. Creating a Homeschool Schedule - This post describes how I schedule our day.
4. Food on Friday - Chicken Roll-ups 
5. Orange Chicken Pasta Salad
6. 2013 Summer Fun List - A list of summertime fun activities to do with my small people.
7. Food on Friday - Taco Seasoning - Recipe for making homemade taco seasoning as opposed to the store bought packets.
8. Cheesy Hamburger Casserole
9. Food on Friday - One Pot Spaghetti
10. Welcome to Tales of a Pee Dee Mama! - An introduction post that explains a little bit about this blog for the Ultimate Blog Party.

Christmas Wrap-up

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas. Ours was wonderful!
Our Clemson tree
The family tree in the front room
The girls' tree in the entry way
 Our Christmas celebration started on the Saturday before Christmas when Robb's brother and his family came. They live in Texas so we don't get to see them very often. The small people enjoyed getting to see their cousins again.
Sassy with AP
Little C
The last time we saw Little C was last Christmas. She's grown up SO much!
The Boy got a Clemson hoodie from his aunt and uncle
 
I love the look on Little C's face here. She looks excited at what she sees in the bag.
 
 
 We have a tradition on Christmas Eve. We go to the Christmas Eve service at our church, and then we come home and each of the small people get to open one gift. It's always pajamas, and the small people look forward to their new Christmas pj's every year. After the small people go to bed, Robb and I start setting out their loot. We've learned that it's easier to put their stuff on the couch. Everyone gets their own "space." 
Sassy Pants got Friend legos and a Doc McStuffins dress-up outfit
Little Red only asked for 1 thing and she asked for it all year long - Saige, the American Girl of the Year doll.
Ballerina got a radio and some ballerina Barbies.
Soccer Girl got an art easel, paint brushes, and some canvases. She also got some other craft kits.
The Boy had a very camo Christmas. He's into air soft and hunting, so he got an air soft tactical vest and a nice camo jacket.
When the small people came downstairs on Christmas morning, everyone seemed super excited over the gifts they were given. That is one of  my favorite parts of Christmas - seeing the happiness of the rest of my family.
Here's Little Red when she saw Saige sitting out.
 



Sassy Pants dressed as Doc McStuffins. She wore this outfit the rest of the day.
Little Red with Saige
Sassy fell in love with this hoodie when she went shopping with Robb and The Boy, so The Boy got it for her for Christmas.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Food on Friday - Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies


I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was incredible, and I know I ate WAY too much. I cook our big meal (turkey, mac & cheese, herb dressing, mashed potatoes, Italian green beans, and rolls) on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, I make lasagna. I'm sure that will be a Food on Friday share eventually.

We didn't make a lot of sweets before Christmas. I'm planning to do more baking between now and New Year's Eve. The weather was warm (in the 80's) for a few days leading up to Christmas, and I had no desire to heat up my kitchen.

Soccer Girl made some cookies, though. I found the original recipe here. The original recipe called for them to be made into sandwich cookies, but we decided not to do that.

Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies
Ingredients:
2/3 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sprinkles

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix well until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour. Refrigerate dough for about 15 minutes to make it easier to handle.

Fill a small bowl with sprinkles. Roll dough into small (1-inch) balls and roll in sprinkles until coated. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Do you have a recipe you want to share? Link up below!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you have a wonderful day surrounded by friends and family.

Do you have a wordless (or not-so wordless) post you want to share? Link up below!

What Christmas Is All About

I'm sure this won't come as a shock to any of you, but tomorrow is Christmas. It seems like it was just Thanksgiving yesterday, and now it's time to stuff stockings. It's even harder to believe since the weather here has been unseasonably warm. It's really hard for me to get into the spirit of the season when it's not feeling like winter. Today it has finally started to cool down, so it's truly beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

(These pics are from decorating the trees the day after Thanksgiving.)


 
In spite of not really feeling like it's Christmas time, I HAVE been spending some time thinking about Christmas. Sure I've thought about what we would eat for Christmas dinner and what I wanted to buy Robb and the small people, but it's more than that. I've been thinking about what Christmas is all about.

In today's society, any news more than 30 minutes old is old news, so I'm sure you've heard all about the billboards in New York, the ones put up by atheists declaring that "nobody" needs Christ during Christmas. This makes me so sad. You see, for me, Christmas is all about Christ. It's a celebration of the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

It's not about Santa or an elf on a shelf. It's not about fancy meals, cookies, or candy. It's not about spending time with family. All of those things are nice, and I enjoy them all during the Christmas season.

I'm not perfect (far from it), so I'm not going to be all pious and say that every moment of every part of Christmas is spent reflecting on Jesus. We do try to incorporate Jesus as our reason for celebrating Christmas as much as possible. When we decorate the trees, the first ornament that goes on is a nail. This nail represents the nails that were driven into Jesus' hands as he was nailed to the cross. We go to church on Christmas Eve for a wonderful service where we sing about Jesus' birth and listen to the Christmas story from Luke.

I can't imagine Christmas without Christ.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Nutcracker Ballet

It's been a week, and I can't believe that the Nutcracker is over for this year. The weeks leading up to it are a lot of work for my girls, especially Theater Week - the week before the performances with rehearsals every night that week. It wears me out, and all I am is the chauffeur. Ballerina and Little Red end up absolutely exhausted. It's all worth it, though, when I get to see the final result.

Here's your warning - this is a picture heavy post. :) I'm super proud of my girls.

This year, Little Red was a mouse and a gingersnap.

Ballerina was a party boy (one of Fritz's friends), a soldier, and part of the Arabian corps.



One of my favorite things is helping backstage. One - I get to take pics of my beautiful girls in costume, up close. Two - I get to watch my girls hang out with their ballet friends.
Little Red is the mouse standing up in the back
Party boys goofing around backstage
Little Red (on left) and one of her best friends
While I enjoy getting to see what happens backstage, the real magic is on stage.








 Now that the Nutcracker is over, and classes are over until after the New Year, we can all relax. We'll start all over again January 6th with ballet classes. Then the girls will dance in a spring show. This year's is called Dance Extravaganza. I can't wait.

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