1. Reading. I am loathe to admit it, but I haven't read a book since last February. I assure you it wasn't from want of trying but everything I tried to pick up frustrated me or lost my interest and I couldn't bring myself to pick it up again. I considered rereading books I've liked, fiction, non-fiction, spiritual, theological, etc. all to get frustrated and quit or simply not find enough uninterrupted time. But this is simply not acceptable. So, in 2013, I'm committing to reading at least 1 book each month, though hopefully it will be more than that.I'm sorry to say this one is still a struggle. I have no shortage of books I want to read but finding the time to read, particularly uninterrupted time is still very difficult and slow going. I have come to realize though, that my approach to reading has to change if I'm going to read much. I used to fill a nice chunk of my spare time with reading. But as Teresa became a toddler and I became a mom to 4 and then 5 kids 7 and under, I had less and less spare time, and even that is rarely uninterrupted time. So whereas before I used to easily slide reading into my day, now it takes more effort.
For Mother's Day, James bought me an autographed copy of Rod Dreher's The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. I hadn't read a book since February, but I picked this one up two weeks ago, trying again to get back to reading. I finished it in about 10 days. I had to keep the book with me a lot of the time, just in case I got a bit of time to read. I had to specifically set time aside to read and tell Facebook to bug off. It takes more effort now for me to read given the demands of my day, but it is worth it. I also realized, I am not a fast reader. I don't speed read or skim books. I read every word. I suspect this might also make interruptions more irritating and discouraging since, when I read, I take my time and get into a book and being constantly and repeatedly pulled out of the book gets very frustrating very quickly. So I can do it, but I understand now why it has easily fallen by the wayside. Also, if you get a chance to read the book, it is a pleasurable read, with tears in the middle, that nicely reflects on the significance of family and community.
2. Health. Over the course of 5 pregnancies in 8 years, the pounds have stuck to me. So, I'm renewing my effort to ditch the extra weight, become healthier physically, and gain just a bit of that energy my kids have in spades. I also really want to expand and vary our meal options, *trim* our snacks (better quality, not quantity) and just overall improve our meals. I've been lazy on the subject but part of our lack of motivation has been how many foods the girls, and especially Felicity, refuse to eat. But I'm getting tired of them eating the same meals over and over again and can't help but wonder if just keeping the menu fresh, different and tasty might not be the best way to expand her horizons as well as improve the girls' overall tastes. This would include cooking more from scratch and improving the nutritional quality as well.I'm sorry to say this continues to be a significant problem. But it also it not entirely my fault. In May, my thyroid medication was recalled for super stupid reasons and I had to switch medications. I began feeling simply awful. I was always exhausted and my mind wouldn't work, as in I couldn't think. You know how you can walk into a room and forget why you were there? It felt like that but about everything, all day and every day. By the end of May, I had test results that confirmed my thyroid levels were off. Way off. But rather than just up my dosage, a doctor wanted me to take one extra pill one day a week. As a mom of 5 young children, I despise this set up more than I have words for. Whenever my dosage is off I get the 3rd degree of questions grilling me if I'm taking the meds correctly and yet they make it even more complicated for me to remember which 1 day a week I take 2 pills. I've stuck with it until I see my doctor, but this week I'm seeing my doctor again and I want a dosage increase. While I have felt a bit better, I still have not felt like I was running on all cylinders and some days my metabolism is clearly in the toilet. Even while the sole nourishment of a 6 month old, I could skip breakfast and still not be hungry for lunch. That just isn't normal.
That said, I have been trying to watch what I eat and how much. I've also cut out soda focusing on water and tea. I have also been going swimming a few times a week but just free swim. I tried doing laps once and did 20 laps in 30 minutes but oh boy was I red in the face, out of breath and tired. When I got out my legs were like jelly. So I know I'm really out of shape. I don't know if I'd be able to get to the pool regularly or not though. I could do it now, but James isn't teaching now and I don't know if I'd be able to do it once he is. I'm still working out the exercise end of this but hopefully getting my thyroid back in check soon will help the whole situation.
3. Prayer. Now, my prayer life isn't bad. In December I did two novenas and reconsecrated myself (according to St. Louis de Montfort). But, I really want more of a regular prayer schedule to our day, partially for me, but definitely for the kids. This is a Domestic Church and, dog gone it, it should feel like it. So I am going to work on adding routine prayer to our day. James actually already jump started this idea by leading a family rosary each afternoon... well, he began it, but the girls enjoy taking turns leading it and it helps keep them focused on the prayers too! Ideally I'll start doing my morning prayer with the kids and add the Angelus, Chaplet and Rosary at different points during the day and include a Litany of Family Saints before bedtime and hopefully some Scripture at some point but I suspect this will need feeling out with practice. I also want to get to Confession once a month. Confession is one of those things that I have to put on my errand list to get it done at all. So it becomes easy for weeks and months to pass before I get there. A few years ago I made the resolution to go once a month and I kept it until June, when Elizabeth was born. But it was a good one and worked well until I had a newborn so I'm renewing this one with the hopes it will only get easier this time around as our newborn gets older.Another work in progress. My prayer life isn't bad, but has room for improvement. Some days we do a family rosary, some days we don't. Some days I do morning prayer, some days I don't. I have been going to confession at least once a month, so that has been good. We haven't started the Angelus or Chaplet yet. James says a few prayers with the girls before bed but I generally vacate the room. (We have been trying to improve Teresa's sleep and she goes to bed much better with him and it is better if I am simply not present.)
4. Personal. It has become such that, if I'm not going out, I'm in pajamas almost every day. And I don't remember the last week when I got a shower each day of the week. Whatever sense of fashion or the feminine I had flew out the window a while ago but I'm not unaware of how often I've had to answer the door in my pajamas, so I'd like to regain a sense of personal fashion and proper self maintenance. Hopefully #2 will make this easier and more pleasant too.I've definitely been getting to shower more often, though the chlorine is definitely a strong motivator for that. Frankly, Getting #2 better on track would help with this one.
5. Projects. I made very good progress creating our home atrium last year, but it isn't done yet. In fact, I have a huge half a sea shell and a 2 1/2 foot tall Easter Candle just waiting to be put into a Baptism work and a few other works that need to be completed. I want to finish our home atrium this year (though I admit I'm not completely sure how that will work with my Teresa on the loose :) ). I also am determined to learn how to thoroughly use my sewing machine. Up until now, I've sewn everything by hand, which is find for a popped seam on a stuffed animal or sewing back on a button, but I have other projects I want to get to that would be much easier with that machine up and running and someone using it who has a clue.I did create and complete the City of Jerusalem work and add it to our atrium. I have not completed the Baptism work for the simple reason that I have no where to keep it at the moment where Teresa wouldn't destroy it. I haven't dealt with learning the sewing machine yet, but I've picked back up a project I began over 4 years ago and I will probably take a gander at the sewing machine soon so it can help me complete that project.
6. The husband. James and I went by ourselves to see "Les Miserables" on December 27th. It was the first film in theaters we had seen together without the kids since we saw The Island in 2005. Our only other outing since Cecilia was born without any kids, when I wasn't in labor, was when we went to dinner together a week or so before Felicity was born, in 2007. Now, I admit, I have limited enjoyment being out without the kids - I'm very much a mama bear and worry or at least wonder what and how they are doing when I'm not with them, but that doesn't mean James and I have to wait until they are teenagers for some quality alone time. I admit I haven't quite worked out the logistics of this resolution, but I'd like to try to have a nice, quiet date night with just the two of us once a month, even if we don't leave the house and just plan our own special meal, movie, etc.What constitutes a "date night" at home? Sometimes we play the Wii. Sometimes we watch a movie. Sometimes we talk. We don't have anything scheduled in the calendar as a "date night" but we do spend several evenings a week together. I'd like to be able to plan a bit more together, but it is a bit impractical at the moment as we work on Teresa's and Brigid's sleep.
7. The Kids. The girls' bedtime routine went from okay to the most basic. By December we were down to no books and often no prayers. I want to revamp their bedtime routine to include both. It is hard to do more than absolutely necessary when you are exhausted, but I think we can do better including some bedtime reading and family bedtime prayers (and I have to wonder if more of a routine wouldn't help Teresa at bedtime, when she fights sleep as though it were the devil). I've also gotten away from reading to the girls much. Cecilia reads to herself now and sometimes she reads to Felicity, but it is more sporadic when I read to any of them and it is really bothering me. Reading at bedtime would definitely help, but I'm hoping to block in specifically some reading time into our schedule. Of course #3 would also apply to the kids as well as #2. I also want to teach Cecilia, Felicity and Elizabeth how to swim. It is one of the few "extracurricular activities" I consider a life and safety skill. Cecilia and Felicity took swimming lessons two years ago, but they need more practice beyond the kiddie pool and Elizabeth is old enough to start learning as well. (It wouldn't be bad exercise for me either.)The kids' bedtime routine is improved. Used to be one of us (read: James) had to lay down with Teresa to get her asleep and it could take a while. He has actually gotten her to going to sleep on her own. She still comes to our bed during the night sometimes, but she is getting better. He does say a few prayers with them. We did try to have Cecilia and Felicity each read a book to Elizabeth and Teresa but Felicity still needs more practice and it frustrated her to not be able to read any book she wanted in the allotted time to her sister. So now she and Cecilia read quietly in their beds. Elizabeth usually falls asleep so fast, I don't think she misses a bedtime story. I have not been reading to the girls as much as I'd like yet, but I have been practicing Felicity's reading with her. She is getting much better. She has read through 5 sets of BOB Books. The three oldest girls have also been taking swimming lessons this summer. In the last 4 weeks they have taken 14 lessons and they'll have another 7 in the next two weeks. They've already improved a great deal in how comfortable they are in the water. Cecilia doesn't require any float and will dive under the water to get rings off the bottom. Felicity likes to a hold a pool noodle but loves swimming around with it and enjoys practicing sitting dives. Elizabeth wears a float vest but tells me to "go somewhere" so she can chase me. So far so good and I'm hoping for still more improvement.