Friday, January 18, 2013

a look at NYR

So, to kick off this New Year, what's more appropriate than New Year's Resolutions (NYR)? This past year was the first time that I have been consistent from beginning to end about keeping tabs on these goals. Probably because they were taped right next to my bed. :]

Here is our list of 2012 NYR.

I did not complete #5 Get Degree. It was possible, but not realluy feasible with Jon completing his last semester and job hunting. I had enough on my plate, and to be honest, I have never slacked so much before. It got to the point where I was saying, "Eh, so not doing this paper will drop me from 100% to an 85%? Ah well, such is life." I've been in school for 2 and a half years, almost exlusively full time. I was burnt out. Since I didn't have a career or major life change waiting for me at the end of completing my degree, the motivation was sorely lacking.

#7: Getting the Family Baptized, also did not happen. True, it was hard to find the time. But more than that, the only baptisms that my church offers (as far as I know) is the too impersonal one every year in Spring, when people file up on stage and have the blessing said. There is a program with peoples names and pictures, but this is primarily for new babies. And it is just at the start of the service. Other than that, there is a Believer's Baptism in the Fall, where you are dunked, fully clothed, and you share your story which is recorded and played for everyone. It's emotional and on the opposite end of the spectrum. Neither are fitting what I'm looking for, so yet again, this has taken a back burner.

and #12. Pay Off Half of My School Loans. I think this one could have been accomplished. But at the end of  the year, I had some larger expenses (bought a Tablet, got a Smartphone, and my Premier Annual Fee) which Jon preferred I pay off before paying down school debt. Since I had already payed off the portion of loans that were accruing interest, I agreed. I was $1300 shy of my goal and I'm rolling it over into this year's goals.

Which brings us to:

2013 NYR

1. Learn how to be punctual - This is something Jon and I both struggle with. Part of it is lifestyle. We are always crunched for time because we have too much crammed into life. But part of it is preference. I don't like to be early. This means I'm hanging out somewhere by myself, or with two unruly children. If it's the morning, it means I've lost sleep. Even if it's only ten minutes. Those ten minutes are precious to me. If I'm early, I  feel like Im wasting time. But being late or just barely on time makes me stressed out en route. And when you add the unexpected (courtesy of kids), a lot of times, we end up seriously late. We are ready and wanting to make a change. Our goal is to aim for 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and get comfortable with the concept of being early, of being awkwardly alone or managing our mischievous girls.

2. Learn Patience (Lyssa)- This is an area I really struggle with. I've always been an impatient person by nature. I think it would be better for everyone, myself included if I could be aware of it in the moment and make a conscious effort to change. My brilliant hubby informs me that being aware and acknowledging is not enough; if I want to change, I need a game plan. So my plan is to silently count to 5 (or 10) before responding in irritation with sarcasm. Apart from impatient comments, I need help with always expecting instant gratification (and extreme frustration when it doesn't happen). I don't really have a game plan for this one, aside from attempting to distract myself. Life kind of forces you to learn patience by keeping its own immovable pace. Anyway, while I'm glad that my daughters have learned to appreciate the art of sarcasm at the tender ages of 4 and 6, I think I need patience. It will help me to be kinder (that was a hard fact to face) and should lower my blood pressure, ha ha.

3. Pay off remaining school loan (Lyssa) - I'm really excited about this one, because I get a weird level of satisfaction from paying off debts. Seriously, I LOVE it. I have about 5K left in my own school loans. Since I graduate this spring, and should have a 6 month grace period, if I pull this off, I will be paying it off before any interest starts accruing. *pause for happy dance*

4. Keep home "company ready"- I stole this from a neighbor's NYR. I like this better than "Keep the house clean" because I think the tone is better than the details. The first one speaks (to me) of candles, yummy snacks, general cleanliness, making myself presentable (I have an attachment to PJs) at a reasonable hour of the day (read: before eleven am), and a welcoming attitude. The latter turns me off with visions of bleaching, deep cleaning, never ending scrubbing etc. Which, of course, does need to be done, but if I'm honest, it's not gonna happen every day. Or every other day. And makes me feel set up for failure. As with most things in life, it's all about your perception. And I like the company-ready feel. :]

5. Drink more water - I'm horrible at this, and that's super unhealthy. Most days I don't drink any at all. I'm gonna start with a goal of 2 water bottles a day and see how it goes.

6. Blog more than last year - this should be do-able, since I promptly stopped blogging the last 1/3 of the year. I'd also like to spice the blog up with more pictures. So I'm going to try to remember to take them.

7. Read the Bible at night together - This is a plan for Jon and I. I've studied random portions as they applied to my various Bible studies. And I've heard many bits and pieces over the years at church. And I actually retain a fair amount of the context and message. But I have a hard time reading straight through. In fact, I usually stop right after Noah. Jon has the time to read with me every night and I think the idea of talking about every thing each step of the way is appealing to him, so this is something he wants to do. I'm glad he's pushing me. It's about time I get fully submerged in this.

8. Read the Bible to the Girls (Jon) - The girls have several kids bibles that we've read to them. But Jon wants to implement this routine with them as well.

9. Read 50 books this year (Lyssa) - I think I read something like 60-75 books this past year. That may sound great, but my goal was 25. And I way over indulged and blew off a lot more important things because I have zero self-discipline. So while I expect that I will have a lot more free time this year, I have other things (and people!) I'd rather spend my time on. I think a book a week is plenty so this goal may be necessary to keep me from going over rather than falling short.

10. Make a Will - Believe it or not, this is something we still haven't done. It didn't seem super important, because I guess I just figured if anything happened to me, obviously everything of mine would be Jon's and vice versa. And if anything happened to both of us, everything would go to our girls. No brainer right? Apparently not in the court systems. And there's the issue of who would be named guardian of our girls. These are things that should be documented and kept safe so that we have peace of mind to know that we have done everything  we could do by our girls.

11. Get Life Insurance - This has been on our to do list post graduation for quite a while, and we've had several friends and family members insist that do this ASAP. No worries, we know. It's like a 6-8 week process, but we're on it. ;]

12. Complete my Degree - This should take it's natural course. I only need 9 more credits, all of which I'm scheduled to start in a week's time. I will graduate in May. So this isn't really a goal. Like something I need a game plan and constant motivation for. But it will feel really good to cross this one off. :]

13. Start a Retirement Plan - I have been itching to get this done for quite some time. My dad instilled this value in me when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure I was the only 19 year old at Starbucks making contributions into my 401K. I did the same when I was a medical receptionist, though the amounts were very very small. My dad recommends depositing 10% of our income into our IRA, but we're just not ready for that. We still have a relatively small starter income, we're saving for a house and we have Jon's 70K worth of school debt to start paying on. Plus funding two growing girls' wardrobes? Breaking my bank even with my thrifty-ness. We've decided instead to save 5% this year. I'm pretty pleased with that. And my dad got me a Motley Fool subscription for my birthday (Yay!) so I'm going to be more involved again when it comes to investing our money.

So there are our goals for 2013. Cheers to a productive year!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Twice Loved Review

Twice Loved (Belles of Timber Creek #1)

Twice Loved

Willow Madison and her friends Copper and Audrey taught school in neighboring Texas towns until the Yankees rode in and burned them out. In the midst of fear and chaos, survivors banded together to fight for what remained of their homes. Then word reached the people that the terrible war was over.

Now penniless but still hopeful, Willow vows she will take care of her friends, and her ailing uncle, in Thunder Ridge, Texas, even if it means having to marry wealthy Silas Sterling, a man thirty years her senior. But standing in her way is sawmill owner Tucker Gray, with his enticing eyes and infuriating headstrong manner--the man Willow cannot get out of her head . . . or her heart. Even though her friends beg her not to give up her dream of happiness, Willow is determined to do the right thing for those who are dearest to her. But which path does God want Willow to take: a life of duty and commitment . . . or a life of everlasting love?

My Review: 2/10

Two stars for a pretty cover... and that's about it.  

I was really disappointed with this book. I didnt feel that any of the characters were true to their time period. I dont understand why every period piece I read lately seems to think that the only women worth writing about are firey, feisty women, with a soft side just waiting to be revealed.  

But my bigger pet peeve was the idea regarding marriage, that you can choose 'wrong' and then any chance at happiness, love and a successful marriage are just shot. The bible does not say that you must marry for love or that if you choose the 'wrong' person God wont support your choice. What it DOES say is that if you are faithful to God and follow His word, He will bless your marriage. You cant choose wrong if Christ is at the center. I felt like this book really sent the wrong message. And please, her rejected suitor just decides to pay an outrageous sum out of the goodness of his heart? Totally unrealistic,not to mention it cheapens her choice. Life isnt that easy- she ended up making no sacrifices, having no struggles and no challenges.

And I dont think 49 is that old. Its certainly not decrepit, with brittle, achey bones, baldness and indigestion.

Why bother to read the following books? The author made it perfectly clear who ends up with whom. And based on this, i would imagine there wont be any character development.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Change of Fortune Review

A Change of Fortune (Ladies of Distinction, #1)

A Change of Fortune 

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiancé, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society—all the female ones, at least—are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone.

Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces and, before she knows it, Eliza has a whole retinue of people helping her. Eliza's determination not to trust anyone weakens when everyone's antics and bumbling efforts to assist her make her wonder if there might be more important things than her fortune and independence.

When all of Hamilton's and Eliza's best-laid plans fall by the wayside, it will take a riot of complications for them to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

My Review:  3/10

I really wanted to like this book. The cover is great, and i actually enjoyed the silly and predictable novella prequel. But i didnt find much, if any, of the plot believable. None of the characters fit the attitudes or prejudices of the time period with the exception of the detective. And for a secret that her whole life depends on, eliza does nothing to protect it. In fact, she practically goes shouting it from the rooftops. Murder, converting prostitutes, catfights, everybodys conveniently wealthy, female journalists, etc. This was just such a sad attempt at Christian historical fiction.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Popping in for a quick Hello!

So, after I completed my goal of more posts than last year, I pretty much stopped blogging. It's been a whirlwind of crazy but I'm back! This is going to be a VERY brief post because it is 2 am and I have to be up with Ella at 7 for school. Christmas vacation cultivated some very bad sleeping habits over the last two weeks- to the point where I can go to bed in 20 minutes and still say that I'm getting on a better sleep schedule (by hours). Initially this was due to time crunching with finals and holiday things, but then I spent the last week just completely vegging out. I mean it, pjs all day, skipping meals in favor of not leaving my heated blanket and books, and not venturing out of the house because of the foot of heavy, crunchy snow that dropped the day after Christmas and has fought to keep it's turf. The girls enjoyed their new toys/games/books and I enjoyed a much needed rest.

But now that break is over and I am ready to rejoin the functional. :]

I've got much to update on and much to look forward to blogging about so, more to come soon!