Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Happiness Project--Monthly Themes

In the book The Happiness Project, Gretchen broke her year long "Happiness Project" into 11 focus areas (one each month) and used the last month as a "Bootcamp" to try out everything she had been working on.  I decided to follow the same set up for my own  "Happiness Project" but changed up the themes a bit to make them fit the things that I want to work on.  Here is my plan broken down by month :)





December--Friends and Family


February--Being The Best Mom I Can Be

March--Simplify Life


May--My Passion (Education??)


July--Month of Reflection

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Move to Montessori

In our state, the cut off for Kindergarten is September 30th.  All children who turn 5 by that day, should be enrolled in Kindergarten.   Z was born on September 26th and when I was in labor with him, I knew that no matter what sex the baby was, my child would be starting Kindergarten at age 6.  I had seen lots of kids in my days of teaching who August and September babies and were far behind either academically, socially or both.  I knew that the extra year would do my child a world of good and so from day one that was my plan.

My friend K feels the same way I do and her daughter A was born on September 1st.  A and Z attended preschool together and it was our plan to do 2 years of preschool, one year of private Kindergarten and then they would attend public Kindergarten the year they turned 6.  We ran this plan by the office at our elementary school were told that it was a fine plan.  K worked hard to find a private Kindergarten we could afford and everything was all set (or so we thought).

As a formality, I emailed the principal of the elementary school in April to see if there were any forms I had to fill out.  She informed me that Z would have to start Kindergarten this coming year and if I sent him to school next year at age 6, he would have to start first grade.  She said this was the law (well her interpretation) and that the only thing I could do would be to hide him for the next two years and then send him to first grade at age 7 (they wouldn't be able to force him into second grade without having first).  This news was like a blow to the stomach and K and I didn't know what to do.  We could fight it with the school board but I was not sure I wanted my son's education to hang on the decision of a group of strangers. The private Kindergarten he was signed up for was okay but not a place I wanted him to spend two years....what to do??

I had been hearing/reading a lot about Montessori and decided to do some research.  I had a few friends who sent their children there and I probably would have to if it had not been so much money.  I searched the internet, bought a book and fell in LOVE with what I read.  This truly was the perfect learning environment for Z.  I emailed the school in our area and there was a spot available for I just had to convince S, break the news to K and figure out how the heck we were going to pay for the next two years of Montessori.

S was not hard to convince, especially after I told him it was only going to be an additional $120 a month (only....).  We would make more cuts to the budget and figure out a way to make it work.  We both wanted (needed) Z's next school experience to be a positive one and this felt like the perfect place for him!  K was sad at first but my decision forced her to look closely at her situation as well.  The school we had picked was a bit of a drive and with an infant, it was a lot for her.  She decided to go with a more expensive school closer to home which she LOVES.  It all worked out.

In a few short days, Z will start school at the Montessori.  I have loved our time at home together and I am going to miss him so much.  He will go every afternoon for 3 hours so we will still have our mornings together :)  I am confident that this experience will be a good one and I LOVE the teacher he will have.  So back to school we go next week......let's hope there are not too many tears.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Making Memories....

Good Old Fashioned Summer Fun :)

The end of summer always makes me sad, I use to hate when those Country Time Lemonade commercials would come on about the end of summer (I think I mention this every year ;)) or the millions of back to school ads.  I realize that most of the country is already back in school and even some New England Schools are going back super early this year....but I am not ready.   I plan to soak up every last minute and enjoy the fun with my kids!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Family Journal

 Back in May we started a Family Journal.  We fill it in a couple of times a week at lunchtime and Z loves to have me reread the past entries.  It is a great little memory keeper and I hope to one day go back and add photos to it.

We had tried this last year and drew little pictures with each entry.  I could not keep up with the pictures so the journal fizzled after about three weeks.  This time around I bought a blank journal at the bookstore, decorated the front and have kept it really simple....just words :)  We don't write about every day but try to make sure we write about the important events that happen.  It has been a great model for Z in the purpose and joy of writing and he was inspired to start his own journal :)  Lil' C has even gotten in the action and I gave her a blank composition book which she works to fill with her own "writing".

It has been a great thing for our family and it really gets the conversation flowing around the lunch table....lunch is often the meal that is the quietest around here.  We have even had S write a few of the entries when he is with us on the weekend.  I hope that this is the start of a long lasting tradition :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

My 10 Commandments :)

For my Happiness Project, I wanted to have my own set of Commandments to live by for the year.  Gretchen Rubin had 12 in her book but I felt 12 was too many for me :)  So 10 it is and here they are in no particular order:

1.  Keep it Simple

2.  Be ME

3.  Do it Now

4.  Just Say "NO"

5.  Let it Go!

6.  Act the Way I want to Feel

7.  Spread Joy

8.  Give Thanks

9.  Be Present

10.  Own Less, Experience More

Some of these were taken from Gretchen, others from her readers and some were things that I already try to do.  I have this list typed out and hope to post it in a few places.  Throughout this journey I hope use this list to help me be a better and happier person.   Last year's journey was all about Simplifying Life.  I want to continue that journey and weave it into this one and thus commandments one, four and 10 were born :)   I am very excited about this list and hope that someday soon they will all become apart of me so that I will no longer need to refer to the list.  Happy Day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Memories....

Lazy Days of Summer!  Happy Weekend :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Harvest Time

See the one radish in there??   Oh well.  I really tried this year but between the animals (Chip and Chuck), the hot weather, my back going out and being a super novice.....I am lucky we got this :)  We have TONS of beans and cukes and some great lettuce.  I am hopeful for the mini pumpkins and carrots and would have had a great arugula and escarole crop had I not pulled my back out :(  Each year I learn a little more and each year I harvest a little more.  I just thank my lucky stars for my CSA :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Happiness Project

As I said last week, one of the best parts of my back going out was the opportunity to READ :)  This book was one of the many I read (I have a problem with reading too many books at once) and the only book I finished.  I LOVED it and it has truly inspired me to start my own Happiness Project.

I had heard about this book a long time ago but after reading reviews on Amazon I wasn't sure I wanted to read it.  I won a copy in a Simple Mom giveaway and I am so blessed that I did, this book has made a huge impact on me.  The reviews that I read had said that Gretchen Rubin was an upper middle class woman who had everything going for her and so it was ridiculous for her to seek out "happiness".  These types of reviews kept me from buying the book but could not have been more wrong.  It doesn't matter who you are or what your situation in life is, everyone could benefit from a "Happiness Project".  Gretchen found through doing hers that it is best to work on your own happiness when things in life are going pretty well.  That way when disaster strikes (and it will strike) you are better prepared to deal with it.  I was able to easily relate to Gretchen and appreciated her honesty and openness with her readers.  I have just started to dive into her blog and I am so excited to start my own "Happiness Project".

My plan is to attempt a year, just like Gretchen did in her book.  I was going to start in September (must be the teacher in me) but after planning out my areas to focus on, I decided that now was the time to start.  Vacation with my family in August can be challenging with all of the different personalities, parenting styles, views of the world etc.  That is why I am choosing this month to focus on ATTITUDE :)  I feel it will help me to better prepare for any squabbles that might arise and help me to act like a bigger person.  I am a sensitive soul, who's feelings are easily hurt.  I hope that the work that I do this month will help me to let things go, not regress into my childhood ways and appreciate all of the good that is around me :)

So here is what I am focusing on this month:

-Good Manners
-Letting Things Go (like water off a duck's back)
-Start a Gratitude Journal
-No Regression
-Finish Reading Raising Happiness'

 Later on I will share with you my 10 commandments, my focus themes for the year and the books I hope to read during this journey.  This book has already changed my outlook about life for the better and has called attention to many of the negative things that I do.  I hope to use this next year to grow and work on my own happiness which will then help the happiness of my children, husband and those around me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Making Memories.....

Hot days call for desperate measures :)  I bought this pool for them back when it was Hazy, Hot and Humid.  I felt it was worth my $30 to have them have a little fun in the heat.  They LOVE it and it was definitely worth the money.

Happy Weekend!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Birthday S and Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!

Today is a big day :)  It is not only S's 34th birthday (yes he finally caught up to me) but it is my parents 37th  anniversary (I think) :) 

We celebrated S's birthday last night because it worked better with his schedule.  Z and I planned a   fun filled Mexican Dino Fiesta.  He was showered in Margaritas, Chips, Brachiosaurus', Carrot Cake and Tacos :)  It was a lot of fun to plan and we all really enjoyed it.   We gave him his grill again (the one that he got for Father's Day) and the kids got him this really cool game called Rollors for the lake (Z can't wait to play it with him).

Happy Birthday S, We love you so very much!!

Mom and Dad, I hope you have a wonderful anniversary and that you treat yourselves to a delicious dinner tonight! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Top 5 Good Things About Pulling My Back Out

I am happy to report that my back is feeling a lot better.  It has been almost two weeks since I pulled it out and almost 5 years since I first pulled it out after having Z.  After 5 years and 6 or 7 episodes, I finally went to the doctor.  They did back X-rays and found that I have mild arthritis.  I will start PT this week and hopefully that will help me.  I really miss working out, have gained back a few pounds and lived in a bit of a disaster of a house for a bit but despite all this....pulling my back out was a bit of a vacation for me.

So here are My Top 5 Good Things About Pulling My Back Out (Pollyanna Style).

5.  I was relaxed.  This injury forced me to SLOW down and actually relax.  No cleaning, exercise or work of any kind was able to get done and it was nice to take a break. This was my view as I rested on the couch during our weekend at the lake :)

4.  My Village was there for me :)  It truly does take a village to raise children, especially when you are not able to do the job yourself.   My friends, family and S jumped in to do all that they could.  It was so nice to have all of this support.

3.  Lot's of One On One Time with Z during naps.  Naptime is usually workout time and while Z is a part of that it is not the same as just sitting down to read or play together.  It was nice to have this break together. 

2.  I got to READ!!!  I finally started (and finished) the Happiness Project which I won from Simple Mom.  It was WONDERFUL!!!  I also read parts of  Understanding Montessori, Raising Happiness, The Unschooling Unmanual and reread parts of Anne of Green Gables.  I LOVE to read but usually only have a few minutes to do so before bed or wait for vacations.  It was so nice to have time during naps or while the kids played. 

1.  I got watch my children.  They are fascinating animals and it was so nice to have an excuse to just lay and look at them.  I watched them play, fight, giggle, cry, laugh and live in a whole other world.  They are so amazing and it was such a blessing to have this time to watch them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Making Memories.....

Wow, I have not been around at all this week!  Sorry about that.  Between my back, Caroline getting sick (fever again) and helping a friend.....we have been super busy.  The photos I am about to share are a few weeks old and I am sorry to be so delayed. 

Happy weekend and "see" you next week!!!  And as long as I am sharing birthday photos, I need to give a shout out to my Aunt L.  I am so sorry I haven't sent you an email to properly thank you for the beautiful birthday card!  I love it and want you to know how much it meant to me.  Miss you!!!

Beautiful Anniversary Flowers S's Parents Sent (Our Wedding Flowers)

My Birthday Cake (Z picked the theme)

Great photo in the dark :)

My Mom's Birthday Banner

Neene's Penguin Cake (She had her own)

Birthday Trip to the Children's Museum

My Nephew Jiggy

Scary Doll in the Salon!!!

Truck Room

We LOVE Arthur!!!  They are C's favorite books :)

My Niece G and Z at the Museum