January Challenges

It is always a challenge to jump back into our daily rhythm of chores and homeschool after the Christmas holiday. It seems as if our celebrations last longer because of traveling to visit family and celebrations lasting well into January. My best way at getting back into a formation of learning is to just add a little bit at a time and focus on what I need to accomplish first in order to feel ready to start homeschool. The organizing, decluttering and redecorating after Christmas has been daunting but even though six months pregnant I have found energy to be productive so that we can get back into our rhythm.

Ryan has been part of an Exodus 90 day Challenge with a group of friends. He has had to give up a number of things that have helped not only him find more time in his day but me as well. One of the things that he gave up was unnecessary screen time. We no longer watch a show or two before bed. We have been getting to bed earlier and I more energy throughout the day for things I really need to accomplish. It has given us more time to pray together and talk in the evenings. The other things that he has given up is snacking between meals, sweets (which he doesn’t care for), alcohol (he only drinks on weekends), giving up meat on Wednesdays and Fridays and hot showers (probably biggest inconvenience). He has also added an hour of prayer to his routine, fasting on Fridays and regular exercise. He jogs three times a week after work and takes the girls with him, all of them! He has been going strong since the first of the year and has managed to stay faithful to his challenge. His dedication has motivated me to create a challenge of my own. I am updating my blog every week, journaling daily and meal planning. I have given up shopping for items that are not consumable products unless they are second hand. I can only buy groceries, household necessities for hygiene and cleaning and supplies for work and homeschool. The only exception is gifts. I am also making sure I take long walks with the girls three times a week and avoiding unnecessary screen time. I am not taking cold showers or as Ryan refers to it “creature comforts.” I am growing a creature and I will be comfortable in the shower. I snack with the girls and haven’t managed to kick the sugar. Maybe I’ll start that in February. Or maybe after Valentine’s Day. Regardless the challenge has been a struggle but the rewards with time and energy have kept us motivated. It has allowed us to enjoy another amazing week of joy and blessings.

We started our week with joining friends after Mass for lunch. Norah’s godparents sat behind us during church, we had not seen them since before Christmas. Our lunch conversations were all about catching up and sharing our recent camping escapade at Inks Lake. Before our world in Texas was turned upside down we enjoyed one of the best camping trips with them and a few other families at Lake Houston Wilderness Park in March 2020. I love that we are able to take trips with a family that is helping to raise our daughter in her faith.

Madelyn and Mia with Norah’s godparent’s youngest son.

I was so impressed at how long our girls stuck with us painting the garage. I am so excited about this extra space. We have been working on it here and there for months. It is more about the journey of working together as a family and not the finished room. There will always be projects that need to be finished. My idea for the room is an entertainment space for dinner parties and a place to craft and homeschool the rest of the time. The girls are in agreement about the craft area but vote for a gymnastics area with beam, floor mat and bars. Pretty sure they will get outvoted.

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, we went to visit a dear friend and her kiddos. Jamie and I met about six years ago during the summer at the pool. I almost entered with underwear because a mom of a baby and a toddler forgets things. I discovered my error when I left the pool to lay my coverup in the pool chair. I sat down and realized I had two options: go home and forget the pool or make the best of it. So I put my swim coverup back on and hung out with the other mommas in the pool which lead to me over explaining to strangers about what happened and then becoming close friends with a few of them. We spent a lot of time together on play dates, working out and eating all the sweets. We both moved away from the neighborhood we first met, but still get together a few times a year to catch up.

When we left my friend’s house we had a grocery pickup and I noticed that the lights around the waterway and pavilion were still up! I messaged Ryan and asked if we could take a walk to see the lights. I didn’t have the energy to take the girls during the Christmas season. I was so happy that we were able to enjoy the lights with Norah. Her excitement is the best. We danced around the lights, the girls did cartwheels on the green space and we showed daddy the new art structures around the park. It drizzled for a few minutes but it just forced us to sit and watch the lights and rain dance in the water.

My niece is taking gymnastics and we decided to surprise her and play at the park outside her class.

Tuesday: Homeschool, Park with cousins and gymnastics.

The promise of an afternoon park date with friends is wonderful motivation to keep your kiddos on task with homeschool and chores. We celebrating a friends eighth birthday with cupcakes in the park. It was an amazing time.

Rainy days are welcome here because it forces us to slow down and enjoy things that we wouldn’t normally. After a morning of homeschool, I curled Madelyn’s hair, baked cookies and enjoyed a hot cocoa party with the big girls.

Friday we went to the zoo with my sister and her family. It was drizzling when we left the house and I was a bit hesitant on going. The day turned out to be perfect. The rain scared away patrons and made the zoo more enjoyable with cool weather and cloudy skies. Norah has been to the zoo several times as an infant but now almost two years old, it was so fun to experience the animals with her. My two nieces are four and eighteen months and I love how the zoo is a different experience at every age. Even my big girls who are nine and seven enjoy the zoo differently than when they were toddlers.

Saturday we surprised the girls with a last minute trip to the Lake to join some of their best friends. They played along the shore collecting everything from turtle bones to shells. The tromped through the forest with walkie talkies and played games on a fallen tree. The girls enjoyed s’mores and swinging in hammocks. We almost didn’t go because we wanted to finish painting the garage. Ryan reminded me that there would always be a wall to paint and a project to complete, we don’t need to miss out on an opportunity to have fun. Norah loved trying to keep up with the big girls.

Our idea of a New Years resolution is to recreate moments similar to the ones that brought us inspiration, happiness and joy from the year before. We also want to fill our year with challenges that force us to grow in our marriage, as parents and in our faith. We want to remove ourselves from situations that may not be serving our mission of recreating a year of beautiful moments and valued life lessons. The Exodus challenge has been transforming not only our daily routines but also my attitude as well. It has only been three weeks since the challenge started and I pray that we continue these new habits throughout our lives.

Blessings,

Venice

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