Monday, November 19, 2012

The Big 53 Challenge

Each year as I approach my birthday I set up a challenge for my year ahead. On my 52nd birthday I had a 52@52 challenge which consisted of a list of 52 things to do while I'm 52. I had fun trying to keep up with each item but as expected I didn't get everything completed.

In October I welcomed my 53rd birthday and with that started a new challenge for the year. This year I've decided to set challenges based on the numbers 5 and 3. I'm repeating a few of the challenges I did at 52 because they were quite fun and something I'd like to repeat. I plan to do five "53" lists and three bigger goals for the year. Each of the 53 lists have a five and three stipulation on them. First I will read 53 books this year; five of these have to be non-fiction and 3 have to have been written before I was born (anything written before 1959). As was my rule last year, 53 chapters from the bible will equal 1 book. I was glad to have that rule last year because it helped me form a good bible reading habit as well as took the guilt away from reading fiction if I am also spending equal time in bible reading. Second I will try 53 new recipes; five have to be soups and three have to be appetizers. I totally enjoyed all the new recipes I tried last year and so I am also repeating this challenge again. I picked soups and appetizers for my 5 and 3 because these areas are thinner in my cookbook. Third I will do 53 scrapbook pages. I have so many supplies and a ton of pictures to scrap and it's about time I get my focus back onto my favorite hobby and spend less time playing on the computer. Five of these pages have to be heritage pages and three have to be digital pages.  Fourth I plan to send 53 pieces of happy mail. I love getting letters and mail and so it will be my goal to start a letter writing habit again and concentrate on more fun packages for my grandsons and kids. Five of the 53 have to be packages and three have to be to someone local.  The fifth challenge is to try 53 new things; five have to be to new places and three have to challenge my comfort zone (like rock climbing did last year). This completes my list of five 53's.

For my three bigger goals I plan to read the bible through from where I left off last year and complete the New Testament again. Second I plan to complete one theme scrapbook from start to finish. I'm thinking either a Japan album or our New England trip. And the third goal is to make five things with a needle....either crochet, knit, embroider or sew and fill three journals with writing or artwork (art journal).  I also plan to complete one smash book to commemorate the year. The plan is more doable than last years was so I hope I can complete it all. I've already bought yarn to start an afghan with and have a few cross-stitch kits to start working on. Reading is always a part of my life as is cooking so those 53 lists should fill up quickly. Setting goals for myself helps to keep me focused on my year ahead and it keeps me busy. I highly recommend the birthday goal plan for all. The years start meshing together and if you're not careful you'll forget to enjoy your time here. Make a plan and get to work. Having fun in my 50's is the way to go.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reflections on 52 Things

My 53rd year is coming to a close and my 53rd birthday will arrive in October. As I hit the 52nd birthday I made a list of 52 things to accomplish at 52. I knew that I would most likely not finish all of them because life tends to get in the way sometimes with the best laid plans.....but.....I wanted to challenge myself to have a plan...something to be focused on the year rather than watching it rush by like many others and wondering what I did. I decided to start the challenge on October 1 of 2011 and go until my birthday in October of 2012 so I've almost hit the full year mark.

I started with a journal that I recorded all the items that had "52" in them and did a page for each numbering the pages to 52. Some of them I recorded faithfully like the books I was reading and others I quit writing down. This was partly due to the fact that as I started writing them, it felt like I was forcing them more just to write them down such as "do 52 things to show love to Russ and the kids".  Some of them were such random things which in my mind counted but looked rather contrived when recorded. So I quit recording those. Others like "watch 52 sunrises" were hit and miss because I wouldn't always write down every time I saw a sunrise or sunset. So in looking at my journal it may seem empty on some pages where I actually did a lot. It was quite fun though on the ones that I have been recording to see the pages fill up. I've completely finished reading the 52 books and writing the 52 journal entries. I'm almost done with 52 new recipes. It was motivating to see those lists fill up.

What have I learned? For one thing, having goals keeps me moving forward. There were times when I could have very easily last days of mindlessness on the computer but I would tell myself that I needed to finish my book so I didn't get behind.  Another thing I learned was that new habits can be formed by setting goals. I started the challenge with the goal to read 52 books. I made a rule along with that goal that 52 chapters in the bible would count as 1 book. I wanted to be reading my bible more and I knew that with a goal of 52 books I would end up putting casual reading over my bible reading. I decided that every morning with my breakfast, I would read my bible with a goal to read it entirely all the way through. I kept a pen with me while reading to find verses to underline that stood out to me in the chapters. I was amazed at how fast I was making my way through the bible. I would sometimes sit and read 10 chapters at a time. I gradually started seeing a habit forming to where I wanted to make sure I had my bible on trips with me so I wouldn't miss any days of reading. Now, I feel incomplete if I start my day without reading.

I've gone for an entire year without a cola and I really haven't missed them at all. I will probably allow myself to have them occasionally after my birthday but I think I will be fine without them. I went rock climbing with the kids and had a great time doing it. I hosted a Japanese dinner, visited two new states, and found many new recipes that will be family favorites for many years ahead.  I've written more letters, blogged more, journaled more and took more pictures. All have been items on which I needed to put more focus. I concentrated on learning new things and trying new things and forming good habits for things I really want to do more of.

I'm not sure yet what I will do for my 54th year. I'm leaning towards just a life at 53 smashbook in which I will post pictures, ticket stubs and record all the little things in life. I may set a small list of goals and continue pursuing the goals I accomplished this year with more writing, reading and focus on others. I'd highly recommend giving yourself a birthday goal once in awhile and see what you can accomplish. Who knows, I might just try again at 62.

You can see the "52" lists and blog I kept to record the year here

Thursday, September 06, 2012

...Another Little Man in My Life

Our lives were blessed with a second grandson, Mr. Ryan Clinton Barnhart on August 9, 2012. Cory woke me up with a phone call that they had gone to the hospital because Stephanie was in labor. We talked briefly and then he texted me about an hour later that she was progressing quickly. I barely had time to get dressed and he was here.  He didn't want to waste any time getting here. Her labor ended up being about 5 hours and she had a very quick recovery time. I didn't get to meet my newest love until he was two weeks old.  I made a ten day trip to Colorado on August 21 and stayed with them to help out with both boys and help to ease her into parenting two little guys. Everyone ended up sick the first week I was there and Liam was cutting his two upper front teeth so I had a busy week trying to keep noses wiped and everyone eating well.

Ryan is such a good baby.  Very calm and content. Rarely cries and has no problem burping after meals.  The first week went pretty smoothly and then he began throwing up with just about every feeding.  We tried everything we could to help him keep his food down from feeding smaller amounts at a time, burping more frequently and changing formulas. Nothing seemed to work and each day he was vomiting more frequently. I had to leave them on September 1 but they gave me regular reports that he wasn't urinating or having bowel movements. They finally took him to the emergency room early this morning and they found that he had a condition called Pyloric Stenosis. It's basically a blockage in the stomach flap that leads to the intestines (or something like that). He had to have surgery yesterday afternoon and is spending the night in the hospital recovering. I know it was a rough day for Cory and Stephanie watching their little man with IV's and wheeled off to surgery. I am thankful to God for his watchful care over Ryan and am happy to report that the surgery was a success and he will be back to normal soon. Big brother Liam isn't sure what to think of his new baby brother who is capturing some of Mom and Dad's attention away.  He's doing well with the adjustment though and I'm sure before too long they will be good buddies.  Welcome to our world Baby Ryan and may your recovery from surgery be speedy and painfree.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Catching Up Once Again

Wow, it's hard to believe it's been 8 months since I've updated this blog. I've been trying to concentrate on journal writing this year so my blogs have suffered as a result of that.

This year has been a very eventful year and so I will try to do a quick update with pictures.  Just last week my grandson turned one and decided to start walking the evening before his birthday.  Liam is such a beautiful baby.  I love his blue eyes and dimples.  He makes me smile everytime I see him because it is like looking at a carbon copy of his daddy when he was a baby.  I wasn't able to be there for his birthday party because of a business trip with my husband but we plan to celebrate his 14 month birthday with him in July. We will have our own little party when we arrive.  I did get to skype with him the day after his birthday and watch him walk around with all his new skills.  He's at such a cute stage right now with all the learning he is doing.

In the first of the year I was in full wedding planning mode.  Hannah got engaged the first week of January when we went to Dantrell's boot camp graduation. Because the military has their own time schedules, we had to wait for them to tell us when we could hold the wedding so that gave me about a month to plan the whole event.  We found her dress at the $99 David's Bridal sale and were very excited about that.  I did all the flowers for the wedding and did her invitations myself as well.  We held the wedding at a place called Pristine Chapel.  It was an all-inclusive place and we could select the services we wanted to pay for.  This picture was taken by their resident photographer, Joanna Henderson. We paid her to take the ceremony pictures and we had about five other cameras there taking pictures of everything else.  The wedding turned out beautifully and I shed a few tears as I watched her daddy walk her down the aisle.  He was brave until he got seated and then he broke down with a few tears as well.  She is our baby girl and it was hard to let her go but I think she found a good man who will cherish her and take good care of her.  A week after the wedding we were packing up their furniture into a Ryder truck and watched them drive away to their new home in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  I didn't think it would hit me so hard to have her move away but I sure do miss my little girl coming in for late night talks and leaving me little messes to clean up in the kitchen.
In April Russ and I took our annual trip to Jekyll of our favorite beaches in Georgia.  We always rent a cottage and Russ takes his bike along to do some riding.  I enjoy the time on the beach to read and write and just relax. We also took a long weekend trip to Jacksonville, Florida to enjoy some of our free hotel points.  We took another trip to Jacksonville this month for a 10 day contract negotiation conference Russ had to attend.  We leave this week for another business trip to Kentucky and then I will make my first visit to Hannah's new home in North Carolina so I can do a car exchange.  I've been driving her lime green VW bug and they've had my car until they could get another vehicle.  She didn't want to ruin his "man-points" on his first days at the new job by making him drive a lime green beetle to work.  They have purchased a car for him now and I will soon be heading that way to make the exchange.