Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Break (or, Managing Expectations)

The kids had their Spring Break this past week. One of the hard things about being a working parent is the fact that when the kids have days off from school, you have to figure out what to do with them. One of us, or both of us, usually has to take time off work to take care of them; thankfully Mr. Fob has a flexible job so sometimes he doesn't even take time off and just has them hang out with him. Last year for Spring Break I took off part of the week and the kids and I went to Las Vegas to visit my parents. The year before that Mr. Fob took the older two to Disneyland, but left P. Bibby here because she was barely two years old. This year's Spring Break has been highly anticipated by everyone for several months. Mr. Fob took the week off work and drove all three kids down to California to spend a few days at Legoland. 

It was a weird week for me--the first time I've ever had all three kids gone for such a long period of time. Their dad picked them up last Sunday evening and they were gone until late Friday night. From what I can tell, it was a fabulous trip. We talked on the phone every night and I saw a lot of pictures on Facebook (the internet can be pretty awesome sometimes). They had smooth driving, nice weather, healthy kids, and tons of fun. I had actually been looking forward to this week for quite a while. I thought that a week by myself would be relaxing and productive. As usual, I had high expectations for all the things I could get done without having distractions around (lovely, adorable "distractions" that I missed all week, by the way). 

And, as is usual in life, my expectations of high productivity and general awesomeness didn't quite come true. First of all, it ended up being a crazy week at work. The previous Friday at 4:50 I had been approached by my supervisor with the question "what's your next week looking like?" There was a training session being held at my library, sponsored by the state library, on new standards for cataloging. That is not the area of the library I directly work in, but it's an area I want to be more involved in at some point in the future and an area that I already participate in slightly. Plus, the training was being offered by an expert in the field, was being held in my workplace, and had a few empty slots so I could easily attend. It was a great opportunity, but also made my life somewhat stressful all week. Despite the fact that the subject was fascinating, participating in 5 full days of computer-based training is just not relaxing. Add on top of that the fact that none of my regular job duties were getting done at all, and that I hadn't had time to plan ahead for being away from the office for a week. I spent a lot of last week feeling fairly stressed out. Of course, in my usual fashion I tried to logic my way out of things. But, telling myself that "this shouldn't be such a big deal" never really works to make the anxiety part of my brain stop freaking out "this isn't what I thought was going to happen. Where's my routine? Stuff isn't getting done right now!" Sigh.

It's actually probably good that the rest of my life outside work was fairly low-stress since last week could have been a lot worse. Having flexibility to go in to work earlier and stay a bit later was really nice, and it was good to be able to come home and just vegetate instead of having to cook dinner and put people in bed. I should have just accepted that fact instead of being disappointed that I didn't go to the eye doctor, deep clean my house, get my car repaired, write a research paper, hang out with friends, watch movies, cook healthy food, or most of the other ridiculous expectations I set for myself. Instead, I did some cleaning, got some homework done, exercised once, read the last two books I needed to finish for the Whitney Awards, and survived the week. Time went by really fast and the next thing I knew it was suddenly Friday night and my house was full of sleepy kids again. 

Yesterday we just hung out around the house. I completed some school assignments, did laundry, and spent a few hours in the afternoon cleaning out the garage. The kids spent most of the time playing with their new Lego sets that they bought at Legoland. Today we went to church, spent the afternoon hanging out (more Lego playing), and had a nice Family Home Evening about Holy Week. I think Spring Break was great and hope we can all do it again some other year; next time, though, I won't make too many plans. My dad always says that the key to happiness in life is not have any expectations. I think he might be right.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reading Roundup: March 2014

Most of the books I read this month were Whitney finalists, but I did manage to sneak in a few other books as well.

I, Spy and Spy for a Spy by Jordan McCollum

I decided to review these two books together, since they are pretty similar and one is just a sequel to the other. There were some things I really liked about the books--they were fun to read, the pacing was good, even towards the end with the final chase scenes, and the setting was unique. I didn't like the voice very much, but I think that was mostly just my personal preference. I don't like first-person that is overly familiar and sounds too much like someone just telling me a story; it tends to get annoying, especially after reading two-books' worth of it. I also had a hard time with the characterization of the protagonist; she often alluded to things in her back story that might have made some of her actions make sense, but I just got frustrated when more wasn't explained.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

You can always count on Anderson to tackle difficult social issues with beautiful writing, and this book was no exception. There were some parts that I thought worked better than others, but generally this was another great book by one of my favorite authors. 

The Witnesses by Stephanie Black

I've read so many dystopian books with teenage protagonists that it was a little weird to read one with adult characters instead. This is the second book in a series and it took a bit of time to really get into the story and figure out who everyone was and sort out what was going on--though I do think the author did a better job of establishing what had happened previously than some authors I've read do. That being said, I still thought the book was a little boring; there were a lot of characters and I had a hard time really feeling like I got into their heads or caring about what happened to them.

My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead

I've only read Middlemarch once, and it was a few years ago so I'm not as familiar with it as some other classic books. I picked this book up mostly because I was interested in the premise--I really liked how Mead explored the ways the meaning of the book has changed for her personally at different times in her life and what it means to be a reader and to have a 'favorite' book as a touchstone. I actually, however, was most drawn in by the biographical details about George Eliot; I didn't know much about her before and think she was a fascinating person. Now I want to go read Middlemarch again.

Longing for Home by Sarah Eden

This book has some good things going for it--the historical setting is great and I liked all three of the main characters involved in the love triangle. However, the pacing and the plot were just not working for me. Some parts of the conflict seemed to drag on too much and others were resolved too quickly; in fact, the ending wasn't really a very satisfying one, which was annoying after reading a book that was 400 pages long. This book had potential that it just didn't live up to. 

Dark Memories by Jeffrey S. Savage

I'm not usually a fan of horror but I survived reading this book. I think its the strongest in the category, but it will probably still bother some people even though it's somewhat 'horror-lite' (and published by Covenant). The plot kept me guessing and had just enough suspense to keep my interesting going without freaking me out so much that I didn't want to keep reading. I thought the biggest weakness of the book was the characterization; most of the characters were too much of stock cliches for my taste.

Echo in Time by C.J. Hill 

I wasn't very excited about reading this book, but it surprised me by being one of my favorites in the speculative category. Even though it is a sequel, I felt like I was able to pick up the plot and understand who everyone was and how they all fit together. There were parts that felt somewhat derivative of other books like The Hunger Games and Matched, but I still had a lot of fun reading it. 

Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

The premise of this book was fascinating and I liked the idea of combining flashbacks of the past with an investigation in the present. Moore is particularly skilled at writing about ancient times and I always love the details she includes in her writing about life in Biblical times. However, I felt like this book was a bit of a mess when it came to plot and characterization; there were many different people doing many different things, and keeping them all straight while they all came together was difficult.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sick Day

I briefly mentioned in last week's post that Little Dude had been sick with strep throat and that last Sunday S-Boogie wasn't feeling very good either. Unfortunately she did not sleep well on Sunday night and woke up with a fever Monday morning. I decided to take a sick day from work (so grateful for a job with good benefits), dropped P-Bibby off for the morning with her babysitter, and took S-Boogie in to the doctor for a strep test. It was positive. We stopped by Target to fill the prescription and grab a few things, then came home to spend the rest of the day resting. 

This would have all been fairly normal and routine, but Monday was the day for the last two performances of the musical that she had been working on for nearly three months. They had a matinee and an evening performance; this was also the day for cast photos and professional videotaping of the show. I had planned to take the afternoon off work to watch the show with Little Dude and P. Bibby. It was the worst possible day to come down with strep throat. S-Boogie seemed OK with things in the morning, and in the afternoon I suggested that if she tried taking a nap she maybe could go to the evening performance. Instead, she woke up with a fever at 5:00 and I just couldn't feel good about letting her go. We all had a rough evening--as time progressed and she realized that she really wasn't going to magically get better and wouldn't be doing her play, she got more and more upset (being sick and feverish didn't help). She sobbed off and on for nearly two hours. It broke my heart--definitely one of my hardest days as a parent because I couldn't do much to help her but say that I was so sorry she couldn't go be in her play after all. And, of course, by the next morning her fever was gone and her throat was feeling a lot better so she went off to school. On Wednesday she told me that she understood why she couldn't do the play and that she was feeling a lot better about not going. I hope this is one of those experiences that is hard, but still results in growth and not resentment. I think she'll be fine and we're already looking forward to next year's play. 

The rest of the week was fine; thankfully things were mostly uneventful. Little Dude and S-Boogie have been taking their antibiotics faithfully and so far P-Bibby hasn't been sick. I completed a big assignment for one class and have been keeping up with my group project for the other. Yesterday and today we watched General Conference, and the kids and I mostly enjoyed it. I bought a new jigsaw puzzle and we all worked on putting it together while we watched and listened. Yesterday between sessions we ran a few quick errands to pick up some things the kids needed for their spring break trip this coming week, and I bought us some yummy treats at Costco. I used to be a strict homemade treat purist, but now that I'm working with limited time and energy I am willing to let others do the baking instead. Conference is a lot more fun with treats. I also made sure that we had plenty of outside time between and after the sessions so we didn't go too crazy from sitting around inside watching TV so much. 

Conference was really good this year--I heard most of the talks and can't wait to go back and re-read them all. I wasn't sure if we were going to keep doing them for Family Home Evenings, but the kids are excited about it and already have some ideas. There were a lot of good talks that I think will work well for lessons. S-Boogie has already stated that for her next lesson she wants to make the Filipino candy from this month's Friend and study the talk by Elder Teh. For me, the most powerful session was this morning. There were several talks in a row about developing gratitude, learning from our trials, and moving forward with faith. Those were all things I really needed to hear and gave me some great ideas of how to keep going and find more joy in my life. I'm grateful for a good, restorative weekend that made up for the bad start to this week.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Where did March go?

Remember how in February I really got into exercise and made some great progress? Well, then in March I totally fell off the wagon. I haven't exercised at all since then. School and work and everything just got overwhelming and I've been kind of down all month. I know that exercise would probably help with that feeling, and probably fix some of the sleep issues that have been creeping back into my life. I should try again to get back in the habit. Obviously I totally fell off the blogging bandwagon as well.

Looking back over my calendar I don't see anything too out of the ordinary that would make this month feel so stressful. Well, actually I only really ended up with one kid-free weekend instead of my usual two. Out of the past five weekends, only one has been completely without the kids. This weekend they were mostly with Mr. Fob, but my dad came into town on Friday evening to watch S-Boogie's play, so yesterday I picked them up for lunch with their Grandpa and then kept them all afternoon before dropping the younger two back with Mr. Fob so I could take S-Boogie to the women's broadcast. I love the kids and love spending time with them, but also love the chance to get a bit of alone time to refresh myself, take care of school stuff, and run errands without a bunch of extra people. I try not to complain too much because I really have a lot of support and I know plenty of single parents who do things totally alone.

This month I also started working on a group project for one of my classes. Group projects are tricky enough as it is, but trying to work together with people who live all over the country adds an extra layer of crazy. Thankfully everyone in my group (there are 4 of us) is really enthusiastic and cooperative so we'll get things done. It just takes time to do it--we've been meeting weekly using Google Chat so I've had a 90-minute online meeting each week, generally starting at 7 PM which is not a great time for me (one of my group members lives on the east coast and can't meet later than that). I just keep reminding myself that the semester is halfway done, this is a good experience, the class is interesting, and some day I'll have a degree and my life back. This is only temporary.

The kids have also been really busy this past month too, especially S-Boogie. Her school has many great extra-curricular activities and she wants to do all of them. This month she's been on her school's Knowledge Bowl team, participated in a storytelling festival, done Battle of the Books, and this past week and tomorrow is performing in her school's production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (yes, the school does a full musical with fourth, fifth and sixth graders--we have some very gung-ho parents here). Even if I'm not as directly involved as I would like to be, all the extra things add stress to everybody and S-Boogie spend most of this afternoon and yesterday afternoon on the couch resting and complaining about how tired and yucky she felt (hopefully it's not the strep throat that Little Dude has had). Thankfully next week will be spring break and we can all relax and have some fun.

P.Bibby has also been going through a difficult phase lately. Most of her behavior is pretty normal for a four-year-old, but sometimes by the end of the day on Sunday I am totally spent. Of course, by the time I get to work on Monday I miss her and wish I were home. Preschoolers can be so difficult. This child is sweet and cute most of the time, and so insanely stubborn the rest of the time that it drives me bonkers. She's going through the phase where she can't make up her mind about stuff and will just stubbornly sit and whine instead of doing things like eating her dinner or putting on her shoes, but then if I make a decision for her she totally flips out. Potty training has devolved into total chaos and I feel like everything went wrong and were worse off physically and psychologically than we were before we tried training her. She won't, and can't, poop in the toilet. Going potty in general freaks her out and takes a lot of coaxing and bribing and coercion, and most of the time she is so tense and upset by the time I actually get her on the toilet that nothing will come out at all. I know that holding everything in long-term can seriously mess up your muscles and I know that's part of the problem she's having, but getting her to relax and just go is not happening. Sigh--we need a reset button or maybe I should just put her back in pull-ups for a while. She seems awfully old to do that though and I need her to go to preschool in the fall so she needs to be potty-trained for real. This is an issue I need to think about and consider some more so I can come up with a workable action plan.

Enough with the venting! Here are some of the positive things in March:

I decided to take a very quick trip up to Portland to go to my sister's graduation with a doctorate in nursing practice. The graduation is on a Monday afternoon, so I'm flying up Sunday afternoon and coming back here on Tuesday afternoon. It will be only about 48 hours total because I don't want to use up too much of my vacation time. Thankfully I got a great deal on my plane ticket. I'm already looking forward to the break--it's been way too long since I last traveled.

My other big travel news is that I found a good deal on a beach house rental in Hawaii and booked it for the week of Christmas. Now I just have to try and find a decent price on plane tickets. Normally I don't like traveling for Christmas, but felt like doing something different this year. I have to take the week off to care for the kids anyways so we might as well travel. It's been a few years since we've been over there to see everyone and I'm looking forward to a break. 

Although we have our moments, the kids really do get along together pretty well most of the time. Little Dude has been a great big brother lately and I've made sure to compliment him a lot when he helps P. Bibby. Last week while I was making dinner he patiently explained how to play a game in her coloring book and did it with her. Today during sacrament meeting he spend almost thirty minutes doing Mad Libs with her--he had some pretty clever ways of explaining what kinds of words he needed. Like, if he was asking for an adjective, he'd ask her to think of a thing, then asked her what it looked like (big? soft? small? brown?). I love it when the kids are so sweet with each other--one of my biggest goals as a parent is to encourage my kids to really love and support their siblings.

We did some fun things during the month. For Saint Patrick's Day the kids all wore green and we had green food for dinner--pasta with pesto sauce, green salad, fruit, and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. One Saturday we went to The Lego Movie and another time we just went to the library to get more books and movies. I love that they are still in the phase where simple things like that are a lot of fun. Today S-Boogie helped me make our Family Home Evening treat and decided to make dirt pudding cups as a surprise treat for Little Dude and P.Bibby. We had a lot of fun 'eating dirt'. Last week P.Bibby helped me make a chocolate cake and still talks about what fun it was to cook together. I don't get as much time with the kids as I used to because I'm working and they spend time with their dad. I have, however, learned to really make my time with them count. I don't know if they seem more fun and easy now that they are getting older (possible) or that I'm becoming more comfortable as a parent (also possible). Either way, we do have a lot of good times mixed in with all the other craziness around here.

So, that was March. In like a lion and out like a lion this year. Kind of like every month in my life lately. Maybe I will produce more than one post in April but I can't promise anything.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Reading Roundup: February 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was the only book I read this month that was not a Whitney finalist, and I totally loved it. This has been my latest 'favorite' book that I tell everyone about and insist that they read. I loved the layered aspects of the story--some reviews I read hated the 'fan fiction' parts, but I love it when authors create a world within the story that ties into the rest of the story. I love reading the characters' writing and figuring out how that helps tell their story and how it fits in with what's going on in the book. Although Cath's freshman year is very different from how mine was, I still could relate to her experiences as an anxious, geeky girl trying to find her way in the world for the first time on her own (heck, I'm almost 36 and I still feel like an anxious, socially-awkward nerd). This is a great coming of age book and I think most people would like it.

Deep Cover by Traci Hunter Abramson

I've read several of Abramson's Saint Squad books over the last few years for the Whitneys and at first I thought this was part of this series. It's not, but revisits a lot of the themes that Abramson has dealt with in previous books. I thought that some of the pacing in the book was a little off and some parts felt rushed, but generally I liked it. I particularly liked the main character and how her questions about her job and her life decisions were handled. Now I just want to know how I can get a handsome, LDS, genuinely nice, smart FBI agent to move in next door to me...

Ruby's Secret by Heather Moore

I really like this author and I enjoyed the other book from this series that I read last year, but I didn't like this book as much as I would like to. Too much of the action was telling rather than showing and it too often felt like events were just happening in order to move the book forward instead of creating actual change in the characters. Despite the fact that so much of the book took place in the main character's head I still felt like I didn't really get to know her very well. I had to force myself to keep reading because I had a hard time really caring about the protagonist.

Road to Bountiful by Donald Smurthwaite

This was the closest thing to an inspirational book in this year's group of finalists and I worried as I started it that I would feel preached to or that the characters would just be stereotypes. It surprised me by being a rather fun (and quick) read that was quirky and lovingly written. I particularly liked the characterization of Loyal, the older man--he did have a lot of wisdom to share, but he also grew and changed along with Levi.

Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist

 Reading this book was an experience in falling into another reality for several hours; I didn't want it to end because I felt like I was getting to know the world, and two particular people, in new and intimate ways. There were so many beautiful passages that left me nodding with agreement at their insight into life--family relationships, marriage, and the tiny details that bind us together. This is the kind of writing I love--layered details that keep my brain working to make connections throughout the book, realistic characters that feel like friends, and a feeling like I am really living in someone else's life for a time.

Where the River Once Flowed by Jennie Hansen

This book was OK, but had the problem of doing too much telling and not enough showing. It seemed to just move through the plot and not really get into the characters' heads much, and I found some of the action to kind of confusing, especially since a lot of different things happened that were all passed through rather quickly.

Esther the Queen by H. B. Moore

 I have really enjoyed all of Moore's novels that are based on scripture stories. She manages to add complexity to characters that aren't described in much detail in the scriptures, but still keeps their actions understandable given what we know from the scriptures. I like that she doesn't shy away from some of the more difficult details or update things so much that the stories don't fit into a historical context anymore. I enjoyed reading about Esther and feel a greater appreciation for her story now after reading this book.

The Mounds Anomaly by Phyllis Gunderson

I'm not sure why this book is in the historical fiction category in the Whitneys; I kept waiting for some kind of flashback or events set in the past, but there aren't any. I really liked the main character and thought she was quirky and interesting, but felt like there wasn't a lot of clearly developed conflict in the book and it ended abruptly just when I thought the action was getting started. 

Hearth Fires by Dorothy Keddington

I had more fun that I expected when reading this book. I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical before starting it and I did poke fun at the 'rugged cowboy attorney' that is the love interest. However, if you are in the mood for a fun romance and ready to suspend disbelief for a few hours, this is a great book. I thought the romance seemed a bit rushed, the ending particularly, but it was still a lot of fun. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Titles are Hard

I just did a search through old blog posts and discovered that my favorite word to use in describing posts that contain a number of unrelated ideas is "random". I have a number of posts titled things like "random brain dump" or "random stuff". I used to blog a lot more about focused, specific things. Apparently I have opinions anymore about anything and am now just using the blog as a public journal to keep track of what's been happening in my life. I think part of the problem is the fact that I don't have a lot of time to sit and think about stuff, I don't have a lot of time to write it out, and some of the stuff I have opinions about has to do with sensitive things like my job and my divorce that I don't want to talk about publicly. Well, things change, and I guess after nearly 8 1/2 years of blogging I should be happy that I still have a few friends out there reading what I write. 

The last two weeks have been normal--busy, tiring, and pretty much just the usual controlled chaos of work and school and church stuff. I have been continuing to squeeze in some rides on the exercise bike, and the other day I noticed that it was starting to feel easier and I could actually turn up the intensity a bit more. That was pretty cool--I've rarely ever exercised consistently enough to feel like it had any effect. Even more importantly, now that I've forced myself to do it for a while, I've started to enjoy the feeling of working out and actually look forward to it. This is also a big, new development in my life. I wish I had a little more time to fit in exercise but I will get there some day. 

This semester in school is still really kicking my butt. The work isn't that hard, but both my classes have a lot of reading every week and there are a lot of little things to keep track of. I also haven't done as a good a job of cutting out other stuff in my life to make more room for school either; I need to just have more self-control in that area and remind myself that I don't have to do everything or read everything. For most of my life I've had a lot of drive to learn and be involved in things (and sometimes, unhealthily, be involved in everyone's business). I know that going back to school means I need to spend less time on things like blogs and Facebook, but I'm having a hard time just walking away. 

And, to finish up, a few random things that make me happy lately:

I like it when I make food that the kids enjoy eating, even when it's just simple stuff like canned alphabet soup and cheese sandwiches. I've always loved food and it just makes me feel really satisfied when we can sit around the table and all have good time together eating and talking. 

I feel happy when I get things done and have a productive day. It's nice to have an evening when I get home and dinner and bedtime go smoothly. I love the evenings where we eat dinner, get the kitchen cleaned up, read stories and scriptures, I get the kids in bed, and then have some time to get homework done or get caught up on my budget. I also like days when I get to work and knock some things off my to-do list or resolve a few lingering problems. 

The weather is warming up a bit and we've had a lot more sunshine. It's a bit troubling because it's only February and we could use more snow, but I've also been enjoying the chance to just wear a hoodie outside instead of bundling up in my coat. 

Yesterday I spent some time hanging out with a few friends from my mission. Two weeks ago I was leaving work at the same time as a friend of mine and we spontaneously decided to go out for dinner together. We've also had lunch together once since then and plan to do it again in the near future. I'm not always very good at having friends and figuring out how to relate to people, but I love it when I have good friends that I can just relax and talk with.

And, finally, I like blogging. Sometimes I get tired from too much drama and hysteria online and feel like I just want to go back to the good old days without so much information and interconnectedness. Most of the time, though, I find more good than bad and am happy to be online. If I'm tired of angst and drama, the best I can do is just not contribute to it myself. My posts might be a little boring but at least they aren't going to go viral any time soon.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

An Auspicious Beginning

The first week of February went surprisingly well. The weather has been cold and either snowy or rainy, which I actually like since it clears out the air and makes winter a little more normal. Last Saturday night I took S-Boogie to see the ballet Swan Lake on campus; I've never gone to a ballet other than The Nutcracker so it was an interesting, new experience. I really liked enjoyed the performance a lot, though S-Boogie was a bit tired by the end and wasn't sure if she had fun or not.

Monday was P. Bibby's birthday--I feel like the last four years have flown by, despite the fact that life is so different from how I imagined it would be back then. We started celebrating on Sunday with a family party that evening. I also invited the kids' summertime nanny since she is one of P. Bibby's favorite people. The party went well and she got a lot of great presents that she's been playing with all week. My attempt at making homemade pizza for dinner was an unfortunate flop since I haven't done it for a while. Thankfully the pink kitty cake I made was a big hit and actually pretty tasty too. When I dropped her off at her babysitter's house on Monday I felt a little bad that I wasn't spending her birthday with her, but they went to the dinosaur museum that day and P. Bibby's little friend gave her a new coloring book and crayons that she's been using all week. I think she had a great birthday and still feel a bit of shock that my youngest child is now four years old. I'm rapidly moving out of the 'little kid' phase of life; in eighteen months I'm going to have a child in Young Women at church!

My other big accomplishment this past week was exercising four different times. That's the most days in one week that I've ever worked out. First, I set a goal to try and exercise every day, knowing that it wasn't going to happen. I also 'splurged' and bought myself a few new songs for my exercise playlist so I had that to look forward to. Monday night and Tuesday night I rode the exercise bike; Wednesday I was a little sore, the kids went to bed late, and my mom called, so I skipped working out. Then I rode again on Thursday night and Saturday morning. This week is a little more busy so I'm not sure how things will go. Tomorrow night and Tuesday night I have friends in town promoting books and I'd like to go to both events. Friday is Valentine's Day and I'm not sure what the kids still need to do to get ready for that. Then I have the kids on Saturday so that makes things more busy too. I still have a goal to try and exercise as many days as I can; we'll see what happens.

School is going along fine. I've passed the beginning of the semester panic phase where I don't feel like I know what's going on and now I'm just in the overwhelmed phase where I don't want to think about everything I need to do. This semester I've also realized that I absolutely have to practice the strategy of doing a little bit each day. Both classes I'm taking have fairly heavy loads of reading as well as one hour of recorded lecture to watch per week. That's just the regular stuff and doesn't include extra assignments and projects. There is no way I could get everything done in one or two nights of work or even a Saturday. I try to log on each night and do a little bit of something--watch a lecture or part of one at least, read an article, respond to a discussion posting. Hopefully I will get through the semester with decent grades and my sanity. Blogging will probably mostly be on Sundays since I don't do school on those days.

And, finally, today was another lovely Sunday at home with the kids. We finally finished the 1,000 piece puzzle we started several weeks ago. We also had a family home evening about loving other people and made a valentine wreath where we wrote things on hearts that we loved about everyone in our family. For our treat tonight we tried these little cheesecakes and they were super tasty--the kids all devoured theirs. (I cut the recipe in half and it still made enough for six custard cups full). I hope that Sunday continues to be a day of rest for all of us because the weeks are just crazy, crazy, crazy.