FryDaddy and I swear we're going to get a solid week in next year) served as a break from start-of-school madness. (But not totally. Seriously, this semester has gotten off to a rocky, weird start punctuated with all manner of schedule changes and curve balls. It'll settle and a rhythm will be found; it always does, but it's been a wee bit odder than most.) So I'm off my routines, but still wanted to check in once before the very end of the month.
Oh, and that's the lesson I learned this month - the term "routine" has a different meaning than "straitjacket." The idea behind routines is that I do those things way more often than I don't do them, and it helps keep the house running more smoothly as a result, but you just can't do everything every day. Sometimes work needs you a little extra, sometimes you have houseguests, and sometimes you need ice cream more than you need a fruit smoothie (it's true) - half a hundred things can happen and that's all okay. You just get back on it as soon as you can and, if you've been basically keeping up, it's not a big deal to get caught up. So zone cleaning (and healthy eating choices) are both ongoing goals, but there's progress.
So let's see -
I've signed up for my next official 5K race - I had the Color Run back in April (click here for details!) and I've done two "virtual" 5K races over the summer (you run your own race and post your time and other people in other parts of the country do the same thing), but this next race is local, so I figured it was time to run against the clock and see how I do. Today FryDaddy and I drove over the course and wow! are there hills! I won't be especially fast and I'm pretty sure there will be some walking involved, but I'll finish and that's way more than I could've said in January.
I'm working my way through Faulkner's Light in August for the book challenge and quite liking it. I'd been tearing through it - the language is so compelling and it's a great story - but I put it down to read this month's book club book (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler - fantastic read!) so I'm not done with Faulkner quite yet.
Speaking of which, Faulkner worked as a Hollywood screenwriter for a bit in the 40s and he co-wrote the script of Howard Hawks' To Have and Have Not which was (very loosely) adapted from Hemingway's novel of the same name. This month, FryDaddy and I started writing a twice-a-month column for the pop culture website BiffBamPop.com. My first contribution was on that very movie and Lauren Bacall, who made her stunning screen debut in it. Check out the column here! Not exactly part of my film challenge (I'd seen To Have and Have Not before; it gets better with subsequent viewings), but hey - that's where I am for now.
Budgeting is going pretty well, actually. We're both working on that and working off a single budget instead of two separate ones is much easier! Sure, we still have work to do (groceries are always more than we seem to think they will be), but again - progress.
So here I am, at the very end of summer - a season which beats you into submission with heat, humidity, and the siren call of hammocks and shade trees. I hope you'll understand if I remove myself from the Internet to go enjoy a few of those last golden hours. Just tell me, and I'll write a note for you to do the same!
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Friday, August 1, 2014
OK - time to check in. As regular readers know, at the start of this year, I set five goals for myself, with the intention of making 2014 a true "makeover year" and I post these "check ins" once a month (generally on the very last day of the month or the very first day of the month) to both show how things are going and to keep myself accountable for these goals I set. And make no mistake, these were some LARGE goals. The road hasn't always been smooth, but looking back, I can see progress, often in some unexpected ways. So - the goals were:
- Believing that a sense of calm would come from a neater house, I wanted to get organized and stop doing "crisis cleaning" on the weekends. FlyLady had helped me get rid of (maybe literally) a ton of clutter, so I decided to take that system a little deeper and add "zone cleaning."
- Money's tight, but I wanted to stop using credit cards and live frugally, with the idea of whittling away at the household debt.
- I decided to watch 24 "good movies" that I really should have already seen, from a variety of genres, ranging from foreign classics to comedies.
- I wanted to read six "good books" that had slipped by me.
- I wanted to feel stronger, so I decided to train to participate in a 5K race this year. Thus, the "Dancing Sloth" was born.
Whew! Taken all at once, these goals were intimidating. But I've stuck to it (mostly) and can report the following as we head into the "dog days" of August:
July was interesting, since I was back in the classroom with my summer school classes. They're fun classes (at least I think so) and they went well, but boy howdy! do they take time. (I had two sections to teach, each of which met for three days a week for just over three hours a session - yike!) Now that FryDaddy is home from graduate school for good, we're working through our "delayed honeymoon" period, which is an occasion for much YAY! but it also means we've been sorting through things that most couples would have sorted out at the beginning of the marriage. One thing I can thoroughly recommend for those in such situations (although I think this might be a good general rule) is to schedule "date time." We've been doing that, but we took it to a new level today and made all of today "date day" and it's been just lovely. We ran on our own schedules, ate out so no one had to cook or clean, saw a matinee (we chose Guardians of the Galaxy, which we loved, but pick whatever suits you), and took advantage of a rainy, unseasonably-cold day to lounge and snooze. It doesn't really matter what you do, it matters that you make time to do it together.
- As to the housework routines, we're nearly there. I have a few things I do every morning and a few things in the evening to get things ready for the next day, pretty much without fail. I'm working to add just 15 minutes to that on the weekdays, usually just after I get home. I spend those few minutes in the "zone room" for that week, using the FlyLady "daily mission" and zone checklist for that day as a starting point. Hey - the living room windows got cleaned this week, which has to count for something!
- We're back on the budget horse this month, making a strict budget using the Dave Ramsey system. (Yeah, he shoots his mouth off about the poor and makes some downright dumb statements, but his "debt snowball" system is sound. Take what works, leave the rest.) We'd used it before, but we were running off two budgets, since FryDaddy was at school and I was here. Now we're consolidated, which should make things easier. Fewer meals out, though - that's for sure!
- The movie challenge - I marked one off my list in July; the amazing classic Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. If you haven't seen this one - even if you're not a fan of Westerns - you owe it to yourself to see it. Incredible performances from Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne and a story that'll just yank you in.
- The book challenge - well, I picked heavy books for that list and I sort of fell into a crevasse about it. I've been reading (I actually finished five books this month, all nonfiction, ranging from a short series of vignettes about women explorers to a fascinating examination of the origin on modern forensic science), and I'm determined to start Faulkner's Light in August since it's, well, August. Check back in a few weeks to see how I'm doing on that.
- As for the 5K challenge - I've had surgery to clear my airway (read about that in my previous post) and am back to running. A good thing, since I agreed with a friend - we'll call her "Bawlmer Hon" here at the Nest - to participate in next summer's Ramblin' Rose mini-triathlon. It'll be a hoot getting ready for that, let me tell you!
Huh. Looking back, I'd say it's been a good month. It hasn't always felt like that (surgery, school, chores, uncertainty), which is why these posts matter. There are days that are great, days that are good, and some days that are pretty much meh. The trick is to look at the overall pattern.
And hey - it's still summer! Go enjoy it!