2014 Goals

If 2013 was a year of change for us, then 2014 is even more so. We are excited to be imminently expecting the arrival of our second child in late January and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for us this year especially since it’s kicking off with such a bang.

I’ve set goals a little differently this year in hopes of accomplishing a few more of them, and rounding things out a little bit more so that life is a bit more balanced. Again my thinking here is that I will hopefully have a better chance of success with more of my goals.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is set a deadline and/or come up with an action plan for each goal again to try and help myself succeed.

Professional Goals

  • Continue to work for Curtis 2 mornings/week after the baby arrives (or at least 2 x 2 1/2 hour chunks of time /week)
  • Provide regular accountability for his business goals – we’re still working out whether this will be monthly or quarterly, but we are making it a priority!
  • Read Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership

Personal Goals

I’ve been told numerous times by multiple people this year that I don’t take enough time for myself. This message hit home hardest when my Mom recently asked a few pointed questions about the time I am taking for myself and came right out and said I was starving myself of personal time. It was one of those days when we’d been struggling around here and I called her after E was in bed crying because I felt like such a failure. Her kind encouragement, and gentle reminders of the things she did for herself while we were growing up were eye opening for me. She also helped me to see more clearly that if I am not refueling myself then I won’t be able to pour into my family and friends the way that I would want to. So, here we go;

  • Go away with friends 1 weekend this year
  • Loose baby weight by June 2014
  • Run 1/2 Marathon – I am registered for the Run For Water in Abbotsford BC on May 25/2014. This goal has been my Unicorn for a couple of years now so this IS happening this year.
  • Run the Round The Lake trail race in Cultus Lake in October this year (as long as it doesn’t fall on E’s B-day, then we’ll see)
  • Run a 5K charity race in December (like the Santa Shuffle)
  • Continue to Run 5-10K 2-3x/week Oct-Dec 2014 (these are the months that I get lazy!)
  • Do 1 Strength work out/week
  • Spend 1 night/month out FOR ME (I’ve already done this in January, I was at the movies with some friends this week, so we are off to a good start!)
  • Revisit goals monthly – w/ Curtis as possible
  • Make 1 post per week on this blog

Parenting Goals

I know that all parents struggle with their kids along the way, but I want to be the BEST parent that I can be to my kids. I want them to know that they are the most amazing things I’ve done EVER and that they are unconditionally loved and cherished. I want to build a relationship with them that they VALUE deeply. There are a lot of days right now that I fail with E and I want to change that. That means I need to make a concentrated effort to bring about change in this area of my life and so here are my goals:

  • Give E 1/2 hour of my undivided attention every day
  • Attend 1 parenting seminar or class on setting boundaries and effective discipline – or something of the sort. I need a few more tools in my tool box.
  • Read 2 parenting books (I am already reading “You Can’t Make Me [but I can be persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, so far it is very eye opening)
  • Work continually on responding more kindly and having more patience – these are things I often struggle with. I hear myself speak and then think “Well that wasn’t very loving”. I MUST IMPROVE THIS! I have put some gentle reminders by the kitchen sink to help me keep this in mind.

Marriage

Having an awesome marriage takes work. I have a great man, I love him dearly and don’t know how I would ever survive without him. I also think we have an awesome marriage but why not work at making it better? I certainly don’t want to wake up in 10 years and question who this person next to me is. We’ve watched too many quality marriages crumble over the last few years to be naieve enough to assume that we can just sail through without effort. Having a quality marriage is a lot of work, but I know it’s worthwhile so I want to invest in it and make sure that our marriage continues to thrive.

  • Go on 1 date/ month after March – even if it’s free (we’ve averaged about 3-4 a year since having kids so one a month would be a big step up).
  • Go away ALONE for 1 weekend by Nov 2014 (we spent our first night home alone since having E in December so again, if we can do this it’s huge for us).
  • Read 1 marriage/relationship building book that will help us grow. Right now I’m thinking of re-reading the 5 Love Languages as I found it monumentally helpful a few years back, but my book choice may change.

Financial

Family finance has been a huge thing for us over the past couple of years and it’s still extremely important. We had a number of big “set backs” in 2013 as we worked towards building an emergency fund of 6 months worth of income and so we are still working towards this goal.

  • Complete our 6 month emergency fund – hopefully by June but at the very least by the end of the year.
  • Read Rabbi Lapin’s Thou Shall Prosper – by March
  • Read Total Money Makeover in January – This is becoming an annual thing and I think it’s a great way to start the year. It reminds us of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Also, we are once again running a small group at our church based on the book starting in February.

So there you have it. This and a few more things that I have chosen not to share publicly will be what I use as my compass to guide my decisions this year. Will I accomplish all of them? No. Is my life better for trying? YES. If we strive for nothing we will hit it every time. If we strive for something then we have moved the needle regardless of whether we achieve the goal or not. Setting goals for our life last year made 2013 a stellar year. I can only anticipate that 2014 will be better. Why not try to make it the best one yet?

 

 

Why Dad’s deserve more credit than they get

I’ve been gone a while, life has been busy and crazy, and I have so many posts swirling around in my head that need to be written. Hopefully over the next little while I can get them out, but today I need to respond to something that’s been bothering me for a while.

Dad’s deserve more credit than they get! A lot more. Done.

Really I could leave it there, but that would be boring and I’m too opinionated to just leave it at that. There have been a ton of posts lately going around Facebook and various other blogs and forums written mostly by women, but even by some men that completely discredit the things that the Dad’s in our lives do for our families.  This is just wrong.

Daddy & E shortly after her arrival
Daddy & E shortly after her arrival

I think we do ourselves, our children and our society harm when we minimize the important rolls that Dad’s play in the lives of our kids. Spend an hour reading on-line, watching tv or a movie and it doesn’t take long to realize that the general opinion of most Dad’s is that they’re some goofy figure in their kids lives that goes to work, drinks beer, and can hardly handle getting their kids dressed. This needs to change, it does no one any good.

Daddy & E a few months old
Daddy & E a few months old

Maybe we’re unusually different, but in our church, and our circle of friends both local and spread out all over the world I know far more amazing, active and participative Dad’s than I do the goofy incapable of keeping the kids alive type. I am fortunate enough to be married to a man that has a very real desire to be involved in our daughter’s life and he acts on it regularly.

Daddy & E snuggles
Daddy & E snuggles

We know more Dad’s that regularly take over the full time care giver roll for large chunks of time so that their wives can go away with friends, out for an evening, or just for a run than we do ones that sit on the sidelines.  We look around us at church and see tons of Dad’s actively participating in the care of their kids. Let’s acknowledge that rather than minimize their roll by drawing attention to the times that they take the kids out with two left shoes on.

"Fishing" with Daddy
“Fishing” with Daddy

If I’m honest with you the “goofy” parenting moments at our house happen WAY more often when I am the primary care giver than when my hubby is. Grilled cheese sandwiches are burned – almost every time I make them which is a lot – I leave the house and realize that E has two left shoes on, or that all her clothes are on backwards (yup even her shirt with the big Minnie Mouse face on the front). I spill the whole jug of milk on the floor while trying to fill the milk cup, or turn the white laundry pink by accident when I miss that one red sock. No one draws attention to those moments when Mom does it unless it’s Mom herself, and yet for some reason when Dad does it that’s all anyone talks about.

 

Let me put this in perspective a little bit. When we teach our kids that Dad’s are incompetent goofy household figures that are capable of nothing more than going to work and coming home to veg on the couch we give our daughters very low expectations of the men they will one day marry. We are teaching our sons that it’s ok not to learn to cook for themselves, never to see their kids, and to expect their wives to be little more than household slaves. Is that really the picture of family life that you want to paint for your kids? It’s definitely not what I want for mine. I am thankful every day for the amazing Dad that E has in her life. He is the type of man that I would want her to someday marry.

I’m definitely not minimizing the rolls that the stay-at-home parent plays, or the work that it is to be home full time. It’s a lot of work to work full time and care for your family too though. Our culture is very unaccommodating to family life in general regardless of the work/home split that you have going in your life. Parenting is hard work no matter your situation but rather than put one parent on a pedistool for their sacrifice, competence, or domestic abilities let’s give equal credit to both parents. We need to acknowledge the important rolls that Mom’s and Dad’s play in their kids lives. Everyone needs a break sometimes whether they’re the primary caregiver in their child’s life or the burnt out parent burning the candle at both ends working full time and caring for your family. Let’s not paint the picture that one parent is a silent partner. Lets model for our kids that regardless of the work/parenting split you’ve got going on in your house BOTH parents are an important part of your kids lives.

Parenting Failure 101

Need some tips as to how to be a complete parenting failure? Keep reading. Yesterday I think I won the medal.  Not so much because I lost my patience, yelled, or was just unreasonable but because I was completely incapable of instilling the need/desire to behave in a positive manner in my child. Yup, it went from bad to worse. It was one of those days that would have completely cured a single or newly married friend of any desire to ever reproduce if they’d been visiting.

For the most part E is a happy and well behaved little kid. Keeping in mind that she’s 2 she really does quite well. 99% of the time I would tell you without hesitation that I am lucky to have such a unique, spunky and fabulous child. She is also an all or nothing kind of kid so it’s all good or it’s all bad. We have an all bad day once every few weeks, and yesterday it was all bad from about 7 am on.

She’s been in the habit of making frequent clothing changes lately. As cute as it is when she disappears upstairs only to return a few minutes later dressed from head to toe in Purple to announce “I’m wearing Pupo” it’s also a lot of work discerning what is actually laundry and what isn’t.

One of the things E enjoys most - Bikes in the parking lot!
One of the things E enjoys most – Bikes in the parking lot!

Yesterday when I walked in and found the entire contents of her dresser on the floor for about the millionth time that was the last straw. I followed through on our threat to put child locks on all her dresser drawers and now she has to ask if she wants clothes out. Seems small, but at 7am that kind of set the tone for the day.

It was a beautiful day here yesterday and the rest of the week is looking dismal (though really the weatherman couldn’t correctly predict the score of last weekend’s hockey game around here so who really knows) and I really wanted to take E to the park. I also had a small list of things that NEEDED to get done before we could go anywhere. Usually first thing in the morning is a great time for me to do a few chores and E will entertain herself happily while I do. Yesterday was a different story.

By the end of the day, not a single one of those things was finished. I spent my day disciplining, removing privileges, supervising time outs, and doing the best I could not to completely loose my cool. I tried EVERYTHING, but no matter what I did the situation just continued to escalate. I even tried rewards. I promised a trip to the park for x good behaviour, and the park trip was won, however when I sent someone to put on their shoes – a task she usually relishes because really who doesn’t love shoes – it resulted in every pair of shoes on the shoe rack being thrown down the hallway while I was in the bathroom. Why? They were the wrong ones. Needless to say that park trip did not happen.

Finally with me on the verge of a nervous breakdown (not quite but tears were imminent) my Knight in Shining armor stepped in and shut down the office a little early. Somehow Daddy was the magic and life became pretty harmonious afterwards.

What did I learn? Well, E is 2 and I keep having to remind myself of that because she always seems more mature. She is developing normally and part of that development is testing boundaries. Yesterday She needed me to be consistent. She got the same answer every time, and consequences followed. Do I wish that the day had gone differently? Absolutely. Do I think my child hates me? No, in fact I’m sure she loves me deeply. Was this a personal attack on me as a parent? Though it may have felt like it I know it definitely was not.

On the bright side, today is a new day! The sun will shine or the rain will fall, but we get to start again. Hopefully it goes better. If not, Wednesday is yet another new day. When it’s all said and done, she may be 2 years old but this whole parenting thing is still kinda new for me because she grows and changes with each passing day. Yesterday I failed, today hopefully I’ll succeed and we’ll keep figuring it out along the way.

Patience

Sometimes being patient is SO difficult.  It’s such an important life lesson for little ones and I find that I constantly have to remind myself that if I want E to learn patience I have to model patience for her. She’s a great little kid, but still gives me many opportunities to practice this skill as I’m sure any child would. Truthfully I usually feel like I fail. Today has had its ups and downs but I actually feel like I have been wining the battle with patience. So often I feel like I’ve lost the battle so I have to ask myself what was different about today?

The only difference between today and any other day is that I’ve just come home from yet another weekend away and I guess that’s given me just a little bit more patience for her today. I have been away for work 3 out of the last four weekends throwing everyone’s normal routine out the door. I can only assume that to E when Mommy is gone over night Mommy is just gone and this is (or can be) traumatic. The sad thing is that once I come back I feel like for a few days she is SO desperate for my attention that she misbehaves constantly testing my patience to the limits. That seems to be the case today.

I left Friday to work at an event in Gibsons on Saturday  and despite my best efforts I didn’t get back until after she was in bed Saturday night.  I made sure that I picked up a little gift for her (a “Fairy Princess” dress) and stayed home from my run this morning so that I would be there when she woke up.  She was VERY happy to see me.  However after the initial excitement of Mommy being home wore off the naughties started and continued until we went to church.  Throughout her misbehaviours I found myself thinking – be extra patient, she’s a bit out of whack because I’ve been away.

Nooooooo Mommy

Around nap time this afternoon that extra helping of patience really became necessary.  I think she was afraid that I would put her down for her nap and then leave – as in go out and be gone when she woke up – I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but she was obviously tired from a busy morning and very upset by the thought of being put in her bed.  Usually she goes down no problem, and if she cries it’s not for very long. We long ago developed our “system” for dealing with nap/bedtime melt downs and it’s usually very effective but today was different. Today the meltdown started as we were heading up to bed and lasted for over an hour. We rocked, I sang songs, we read books, we silently rocked some more and FINALLY she pooped out and fell asleep.  All the while I just kept reminding myself that this precious little person has just missed her Mommy and wanted me to play.

A much improved mood for the “fairy princess” after nap time!

In the midst of the meltdown I definitely considered just bringing her back downstairs to play but she was so evidently exhausted.  She just couldn’t calm herself down, she had herself so wound up that she couldn’t settle.  Finally after about 100 rounds of Jesus Loves Me she fell asleep and I was able to put her to bed. When she woke up it was like a whole new day had started.  She was happy, we played, washed dishes, vacuumed the floor, ran around outside, and all was good. As I sit here typing this I’m thankful for the opportunity to be patient with her, to love on her, and to teach and mold her into a beautiful little person. I hope that tomorrow I can continue to model patience and help teach her a vital life skill.