Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 To Do List - And 2011 Report Card

I'm continuing my tradition of looking at the goals I set for myself over the past year and grading myself based on how well I stuck with them. I also came up with some new goals for this next year.

1. Lose weight. C 
I lost the 10 lbs that I'd been trying to lose for the last few years. My clothes felt looser, I felt fitter and had more energy. And then I gained 5 lbs back because I stopped being careful about my eating habits and slacked off with my running. Boo.
2. Decrease Internet time. B
My overall success with this was good. For the most part, I've been good about not mindlessly browsing the web when I should be doing other things (like losing weight). But there were a few weeks here and there that I wasted way too much time on the web.

3. Read the whole Bible again. B
I read the Bible just about every day, but didn't get through the whole thing again. I stopped doing my reading plan for a few months to try a few other methods of study. One method was to read the same portion of the Bible each day for a month. There are some great advantages to reading the Bible this way, but I really missed going through the whole story this year. 

4. Take part in a Photo-a-Day project. F
I dropped this back in January because it conflicted with goal #2.

5. Read more good books. A+
I was able to read lots and lots of good books over the past year. Some of my favorites are:
Raising Real MenThe Read-Aloud HandbookJust Do SomethingAdopted for LifeThinkHow to Read a BookPositive Discipline and Bossypants. Okay, so that last one wasn't really great literature, but it certainly was entertaining!

For 2012:

1. Run a 10K. I ran a 5K last July and am planning on running another one in March. If I do two more 5K races the few months after that, I think it's within the realm of possibilities to squeeze in a 10K by the end of this year. I've started doing training for 10K using an app on my phone, which will hopefully get me back in the groove of running and help me with my next 5K. I'm on Week 4 and it hasn't been too bad. It is longer than I'm used to because the run/walk cycles go for 50-70 minutes instead of 30-40 minutes that I was used to with the 5K training.

2. Spend at least 10 minutes one-on-one time with each of my kids every day. Something that I've been slacking off on the past half year is spending quality time with each of my kids. We have plenty of quality time all together, but not much with each of them personally. This is partly because we've been busy. But mostly it's because they love spending almost every minute of their day playing together, so there's hardly a time when I can get them alone. But since I've been thinking about this, I've noticed that there are actually small pockets of time when one boy is off doing something and the other one is still in the room with me. I want to be more purposeful about snatching up those moments and starting a conversation or do something fun with them. 

3. Commit to eating only real food. Using the 14-step plan from this website, I want to try to cut out all of the processed foods and extra junk from our diet. We generally eat healthy and we get most of our fruits and veggies from local organic farms. But there is still so much room for improvement. Some of the items on the 14-week plan will be easy (like giving up sugary juices - we only drink water and milk anyway), but some others will a lot harder, like Week 3: Eat Only Local Meat or Week 12 - No Extra Sweeteners: I wonder how my kids will eat their oatmeal when it's not drizzled with honey? Or how I'll eat my oatmeal without honey!

4. Read the whole Bible again. I plan to use my favorite reading plan, from Discipleship Journal and stick with it this time. :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

We had a very enjoyable Christmas weekend. On Christmas Eve we just hung around the house, visited family, and had a relaxing day. We went to church in the evening and took part in West Hills' beautiful Christmas Eve service.

We put our gifts out on Christmas eve 

 Christmas Eve pancakes: gingerbread pancakes with sprinkles (and others had crushed candy cane)

Christmas Day was a lot of fun. Mark's parents and grandma joined us for Christmas morning and enjoyed watching the boys open their presents. The boys loved having their grandparents over for Christmas morning.

 Present opening

One of the boys' favorite gifts was a pack of water guns which, I have to admit, we didn't even buy. Throughout the year, Mark's mom will give us thrift store and garage sale finds for the boys - stuff she finds that she knows the boys will love, and that she got at an incredible discount. Sometimes we'll give the stuff to them right away, and sometimes we'll tuck it away to save for later. These water guns were one of the things I tucked away and totally forgot about. I didn't remember them until I was doing some pre-Christmas purging and found them in the back of a closet. Tommy immediately filled his with water and headed outside to 'test' it. The boys played with them the rest of the day.

After present opening, we played with our gifts (the boys played with their guns, I played with the ice cream maker Mark gave me and made some strawberry ice cream ;). We took a walk through our local vineyard - the boys brought their water guns and shot everything in sight with water. In the evening we had dinner with Mark's family. It was a relaxed, low-key day, but still very full and a lot of fun.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Doing Christmas Things

For some reason, I haven't been able to get into the "holiday spirit" this year. All month it hasn't bothered me too much; I think I was hoping that the closer we got to Christmas, the more I'd get in the spirit of things. But so far, it feels like a normal month, just with more stuff to do. Since I've got kids who are old enough to remember doing fun things last year at Christmastime, I haven't been able to get away with actually pretending it's a normal month (not that I would actually do that. Ahem.)

So, here are some of the fun Christmas things we've been up to:

Cutting down our Christmas tree at a local tree farm.

Decorating our Christmas tree. This year we let the boys have full autonomy with decking it with ornaments. So what if all the ornaments ended up in the bottom four feet of the tree?

Fast forward two weeks. The tree in the above photos died. It was really depressing having a completely dead tree with two weeks left until Christmas, so we got a cheap replacement from Home Depot. That'll teach us to keep a closer eye on the tree's water level! Sidenote: Don't these LED lights make our living room look like a disco?

Making Christmas cards for family.

Rolling molasses cookies. I love that the boys are old enough to be able to help with useful (and tedious) things like rolling cookie balls. 

 Frosted and sprinkled molasses cookie. Not sure why the cookie maker was so somber.

Glitter snowflakes. 

One night we surprised the boys with driving around looking at Christmas lights. Mark researched all the good spots in San Jose. As you can see, some of the houses were just incredible.

I'm thankful that the real reason we celebrate Christmas isn't about cookies or twinkle lights or presents. When I think about it, much of the 'Christmas feelings' that I'm missing out on are just associated with cultural traditions. The real purpose of Christmas is to celebrate and be thankful that God sent us his only son, in the humble form of an infant, who would grow up to be our savior. It's about more than being in 'the holiday spirit'; it's remembering every day throughout the year that Christ has saved us. When I think of Christmas in that way, it doesn't bother me so much that I'm not feeling so holly-jolly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Licensed for Foster Care!

As of November 30, we are officially licensed as foster parents! This means that we can start taking in children, however, our licensing social worker recommended that we hold off on accepting kids until our adoption home study is complete and approved, so we probably won't get The Call for a child until after the new year. Thinking about all the unknowns can be overwhelming - we have no idea of the age, sex, health conditions, or emotional temperament, let alone that we don't know when we'll get that call. We're praying that God would give us what we can handle, and that he would give us the grace to handle whatever he gives us. It's both really exciting and a little scary waiting for that first placement.

This whole process has been confusing as we have gone through it, but it makes sense now that we're done with it. When we started, I don't think we realized how involved it would be. To get a bigger picture of the process, here's a complete list of all the steps we've gone through to complete this process:

1. Attend foster parent orientation (August 23)
2. Complete 10-week long PRIDE classes (October 18)
3. Hand in applications for foster care and adoption (November 8)
(This step included many appointments for fingerprinting, TB testing, physical examinations, CPR training, and other things that are too many to list!)
4. Home inspection for foster care (November 16)
5. Foster care license issued (November 30)
6. Joint interview with Mark and I for adoption home study (November 29)
7. Two-hour long interview with me (December 6)
8. Two-hour long interview with Mark (December 7)
9. Home visit for adoption home study (December 9)
10. Homestudy submitted and approved (Hopefully sometime in the next two weeks)

 We've been getting the house ready for a new little one. The Baby Room furniture was ready a while ago, but now things are really ready. The closet is filled with cleaned baby gear and boys' and girls' clothing sorted by size from 0 to 24 months (which are the ages we're accepting). Everything is organized so that we can grab what we need at a moment's notice. When we get the call to go pick up a new little one, we'll only have hours to scramble to get ready for his or her arrival. 

Baby toys sorted and sanitized. 

 Baby and toddler books - I'm looking forward to re-reading these favorites.

 Our new baby crazy son who played baby all morning after I reattached the side to the crib.