Tag Archives: Goals & Challenges

Summer To Do List 2013

Summer to do list 2013

School’s out for summer!

That’s what Warren’s school played over the P.A. system as the kids ran out of their classrooms on the last day of school. Summer vacation has officially started here and true to Pacific Northwest form it is raining. A ton.

But that didn’t stop us from compiling our annual Summer Fun List. We scaled it way back this year. We didn’t even get to half of our activities last time thanks to our great big move to Seattle.

This summer, I want the kids to come up with their own adventures. Our neighborhood is crawling with kids and nothing says summer vacation like endless afternoons of making up games, riding bikes, climbing trees, and spontaneous water fights.

So, we’ll get to these items when we can. Or maybe not. It’s just nice to have options, especially as we wait for the weather to improve. Everyone knows the season doesn’t officially begin here until July 5th.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to pass out Otter Pops to the neighborhood kids and pretend that it’s over 60 degrees as we wear our shorts and flip flops.

Enjoy the summer!

P.S. You can download a blank version of this list here.

Eager Reader

Eager Reader

1,620 minutes. That’s how long Warren read total during his school’s Eager Reader program that lasted over a month.

And he’s really gotten into it, too. Reading has not always come easily for him. He’s taken off in the last few months. You can often find him curled up on the couch with a book in hand. Most likely, it will be one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Sometimes we’d have to drag him away from his story to do something pesky like eat dinner. He hardly ever wanted to put the book down to be bothered.

We’re so grateful that he took this challenge seriously and worked hard to fit reading into his daily schedule. More than that, we’re grateful that he actually likes to read now. It’s inspiring others in our household to spend hours pouring over books, as well.

Reading on the couch

Grand Ridge Trail Run 5 Miler

Get ready to run!

I have caught the racing bug.

Colin decided that after his Tough Mudder experience he needed another motivator to keep him running. He found a local race that we could do together before Thanksgiving. He invited Tami and Joe to train and run the race, too. We all signed up for the challenge.

What we didn’t realize was how insane the course would be. “Five miles,” you say, “how hard can that be?” When the first mile is straight uphill and full of switchbacks, you’d think again.

The mountain kicked my butt. I foolhardily made the goal to run the whole race without walking. I did no such thing. But although Colin ran the entire 500 feet elevation gain, he also had moments of walking, so I don’t feel so bad. Thank goodness for the downhill portions of the race!

Trail-running is beautiful, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings, even though it was quite chilly and a bit drizzly.

It was a great challenge. I’m so glad we did this, tough as it was to complete. We’re going to make it an annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition.

Any locals want to join in?

Tough Mudder

Colin meets the Tough Mudder

Joe talked Colin into participating in one of the most insane-sounding events around: the Tough Mudder. That’s 13 miles of army-like obstacles taken to the extreme. We’re talking ice water tanks, electrical wires, tubes, barbed wire and, of course, mud. All of it is meant to play on your fears and weed out the tough from the wuss.

Colin was up for the challenge. He trained hard in the month’s time he had to prepare, once we moved to Washington.

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The boys did a great job. Teamwork is the motto behind the event, which they took to heart. They worked together to complete the course, but not without injuries. Joe broke his nose and Colin bruised his rib. But they finished strong. Tough.

I couldn’t be there to witness the thing. Besides having four wiggly kids, they charged admission to be a spectator. So, Tami took these amazing pictures to capture the day.

Way to go Colin, Joe, Luke, and Aaron!

My First Triathlon

I’m happy to report that I completed my first triathlon and I didn’t keel over. I finished strong, in fact. It was a great feeling.

I finished in 1 hour and 30 minutes. I didn’t run the entire way (the hills were a bit much for me at the end and I did not want to puke) but I jogged across the finish line.

Open swimming in a lake full of people is not what I would call easy. Neither is racing 11 miles on a mountain bike, with grandmas passing you when you’re giving it all you’ve got. But I did it, and that’s all that matters to me.

I’m so thankful that my friend Esther invited me to compete in this race. What a thrill to be able to say I finished.

This won’t be my last.

Note: Colin and the kids didn’t end up coming with me to San Jose. Joey was still sick and spending the night away from home would have been a disaster. So they made me these signs and sent them virtually to cheer me on. It worked.

Summer To Do List 2012

100 items for Summer 2012. This list is ambitious, I know. I was perfectly fine stopping at 70 but Warren insisted we keep going. Some of the ideas are a bit of a stretch, but I’m not going to argue with “sleep in” and “do nothing” if that makes them happy. Many of them we got straight off my “Ideas for Kids” Pinterest board I’ve been collecting for months.

We’ve taped this list to the kitchen pantry door. So far, we’ve already checked off two items. I imagine we’ll get through about half but at least we’ll have plenty of options.

I decided to follow a sort of schedule for the week, so that we can maximize some of these ideas. It’s not hard and fast, but it will make sure that we don’t get stuck in a rut. You can find the printable here, but the gist is this:

Monday – make something
Tuesday – time to read
Wednesday – what’s cooking
Thursday – be thoughtful (service projects)
Friday – somewhere fun

I still want them to have plenty of time to play and just be kids enjoying the freedoms of summer, but this way we can take advantage of the all that the season has to offer.


What are your plans for summer?

UPDATE: I’ve added a printable blank version of our Summer Fun List 2012 that you can download here, in case you needed something to get you started. Enjoy!

Triathlon Training

Being completely healed from surgery, I figured it was high time to get back into the old running game. I hadn’t really exercised in close to a year. Nothing good was coming from that hiatus.

My friend, Esther, asked me if I wanted to participate in a Tri-for-Fun Triathlon race in June. It was the perfect incentive for getting my butt in gear.

It’s low key: 400 meter swim, 11 mile bike ride, 5k run. I’ve been training for over four weeks now, and so far so good. I wish I weren’t such a wannabe huffing and puffing down sidewalks and slowly pedaling along the roads. Even swimming isn’t as easy as it was back on the high school swim team. But I’m still going, so that’s something.

I can do this. My only goal is to complete the thing. That’s it. If I happen to cross the finish line running then more power to me. But I’ll just be glad to finish on two feet and not crawling on hands and knees.

June 16th, here I come.

Any and all triathlon advice is now being accepted.

My Happiness Project

Back in high school, my friend, Nicole, gave me a book called 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. In it, the author recorded all of the little things, sometimes just one word or a picture, that she could think of that made her happy. I’m sure the list was not exhaustive.

I remember reading through and relating to some of the things she listed, and some I had never experienced so they were glossed over. But it prompted me to start my own list which I kept in a little notebook and added to whenever it crossed my mind. I fell out of the habit and years later I have no idea what happened to that notebook. What a shame since I would love to see what made my teenage self happy then and how I’ve changed.

Last week, I read a blog post about a recent TED Talk that left me inspired. The gist is, “Happiness does not come from success. Success comes from being happy.” Coupled with my friend Jodi’s recent efforts, I wanted to find more ways to recognize the happiness in my life. I felt certain that the findings were true: recording your blessings would lead to a greater sense of gratitude which, in turn, leads to happiness.

The speaker in the TED Talk stated that writing 3 things down that you were grateful for over the course of 21 days would make a difference in your attitude. I decided to give the challenge a try.

I started a blog I’m calling The Happiness Project (though I’ve yet to read the book) because I’m convinced that recording my blessings daily can only lead to a greater sense of happiness. I hope it inspires you to write down your own blessings. Like President Thomas S. Monson so beautifully said,

” …to express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven.”

We can be happy in this life, despite whatever may come our way. It’s a choice that begins with recognizing what we already have.


Who else is up for the challenge?


February 2012 Spending Fast Recap

Well, I wouldn’t say this was a failed attempt, but the Spending Fast ended up being more of a “spending diet” than a true fast. Without posting a complete breakdown (I’ll spare you the boredom), it suffices to say that we spent money in February.

We did keep our grocery budget down which I think is an absolutely huge success for us since we always go over. And we stayed within or under budget in all of our other categories. But I cannot proudly say that we stopped ourselves from buying things we didn’t genuinely need. Unless you count dark chocolate M&M’s as a necessity. Just one of the many examples.

And do you know who the main spending culprit was? Colin! He who has most expressed desire to live frugally was spending like money was burning a hole in his pocket! But I can’t blame him entirely. It was, after all, his birth month. He was never committed to restricting our finances when there were birthday goodies to buy and he planned on going snowboarding.

Lessons learned:

  • Your spouse must be on board to do a full spending fast. I never asked Colin if he wanted to participate! I just assumed he’d want to and you know what they say about assuming things…
  • The idea is fantastic and is a great way to determine if you’re spending frivolously. But you have to have a plan and stick to it! If you want to be adventurous and give it a try during a month when you have family birthdays or holidays and feel inspired to make everything from scratch, more power to you. I just know now that’s not going to work for me.
  • Even though I think I am spending frugally overall, there are many times when I hop on Amazon and buy things out of convenience. I didn’t realize it until I noticed that the UPS truck was not stopping by our house as much this month. I have room to improve.

So, although I had high hopes for success we didn’t make it this month. Sorry, Cami. Maybe next year will be better. I just can’t do it in February! Maybe something safe like May where we have no major gift-giving holidays or any birthdays to celebrate.

Spending Fast Recap: Week 1

Well, I wouldn’t call it stellar, but the first week wasn’t so bad.

We were only slightly over the food budget I set for this month. That was the area I thought we’d struggle with the most, so props to us. For our family of six, we normally budget for $160/week (which includes eating out) so for the spending fast, I was hoping for around $120/week. We came in at $138. Sticking to our monthly menu apparently helps, but we could do better.

We had an unforeseen purchase: Drano. Sorry, but I’m not going to wait a month as the shower water pools around my ankles. With a backup supply it totaled $22. Worth it, in my mind.

We fell apart on the “gifts given” category. Not that it’s bad, necessarily, to overspend there, but maybe we could have been a bit more frugal. One purchase was desperately needed glue sticks for Warren’s classroom (2 packs of 24 for $12 total at Costco, no guilt there), another was the lollipop Valentines (maybe they could have been more cheaply produced at $4.76 for the pictures and $4 for the lollipops), and the last was a package of Thank You cards (I definitely could have made those myself for the $8 spent).

The first thing I’ve noticed about doing this is I really want to spend when I know I can’t! It must be that psychological appeal of the forbidden. How many times did I crave In-n-Out, just because? The other is that spending becomes too easy to justify for the sake of convenience. It’s just easier sometimes to buy a meal instead of planning ahead, especially when on an errand. Staying prepared and one step ahead is always a wise move when it comes to saving moola.

Next week, I aim to do better! Even though it’s Colin’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. Oy vey!


How did you fare the first week?