Friday, January 28, 2011

Chore Chart

So my husband and I have recently switched places, with me returning to work and him staying home with the kids. We're having a hard time finding our footing as far as keeping the house clean, and who's doing what job. He told me the other day that he wants to clean during the day, he just gets overwhelmed and doesn't know what to start with. Well, you all know I love schedules and lists, so he didn't have to ask me twice! When I stayed home, I always did better with a daily chronological schedule, and I've missed having one.

This is made on a whiteboard with strips of laminated paper - purple for me, green for him, and striped for both of us. I need to put these on magnet tape, but right now they're just taped on there with Scotch tape.

Each day we have a room to focus on for 15 minutes, either together or separately, whatever works better in our schedule, and then we'll try to do a deep-clean on one room on Saturday. I'd really like to do our daily room cleaning between 7 and 8pm, after our baby goes to bed but before our other kids go to bed, so that they can be involved, and we haven't yet done our nightly "tired flop," but so far we've done it at 10pm, after we turn off the TV and internet (see below). Then at the top, there's a spot for which load of laundry I start in the morning. My husband flips it to dry, and then we try to both spend time putting it away at the end of the day. And then I left a place for our weekly menu. Made sure to get our exercise in there too, so it's not a nightly decision of who gets to go.

Once you add daily clutter/toy pick-up, this works for us. We've got a small home and neither of us are super-obsessed with cleanliness. I find that if I set my mind to it and work fast, 15 minutes a week in each room is enough to get my chores done and do some decluttering. Adding an additional 15 minutes from my husband and we're good! I know others like to clean more, but if you're having trouble getting started, try one batch of laundry a day, and cleaning/decluttering in one room for 15 minutes a day - you'll be amazed at how much progress you can make!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How-Tuesday: How to Get Started Sewing

So I'm certainly no expert on sewing! But I did get a sewing machine for Christmas, and can't wait to get started using it. Someone pointed me toward this series of tutorials that has tons of pictures and is written in a way that's really easy to understand. She has tutorials on The Supplies You Need, Fabrics, Threading Your Machine, Winding and Threading a Bobbin, and more! You should have seen me scratching my head and staring at my owner's manual, not understanding one bit - these pictures help a TON for people who are new to sewing. She even has some tutorials on ruffles and shirring for those who are a little more advanced. That'll be me in a week, I'm sure!

So go check out Ruffles and Stuff! And then click around on her blog for some inspiration!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Surviving Unplugged?

So I made it a goal this week for us to be "unplugged" by 10pm. Meaning, no TV or internet.Normally we're up until midnight, so it's turning into such a time-sucker in our home, and I don't think it's doing my marriage any favors. In my ideal world I imagine us happily cleaning the house side-by-side, studying scriptures, organizing old photos, etc. Ha ha. I'm sure that won't actually happen, but then I thought.... You know, even if all we do is sit and talk to each other, or even go to bed, that's STILL better than just mindless TV and internet.

So we've been giving it a try this week, and so far it's going well! Monday, we cleaned in the kitchen, Tuesday we cleaned the bathroom, Wednesday we cleaned the front room and visited with family, and Thursday and Friday I even busted out my new sewing machine to start learning how to use it! Wish me luck in continuing my goal! Anyone want to join me?

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How-Tuesday! How to Get Started Running

I'm no expert runner, but maybe that's why people feel comfortable asking me how to get started. I actually consider myself an expert at getting started since I take so many breaks. :)

But here's how to do it:
1. Invest in some good gear. Two areas where it's truly worth it to spend the money is with running shoes and sports bras. If possible, go to running store near you. They won't laugh at you, I promise. Many running stores have a treadmill where you run barefoot and they get images of your stride and point you toward the appropriate shoes. Even if yours isn't so high-tech, the employees will watch you walk and tell you whether you over-pronate, under-pronate, or are just a boring normal person. Try on several different pairs, even ones that aren't so cute. But the ones that feel the best, not that are the cheapest, or the pinkest, or a brand you thought you liked. Also, invest in a heavy-duty sports bra if that's something you might need. I tend to buy shoes and sports bras at running specialty stores, and then I'm not as picky about my shirts and shorts - I'll buy those at Target, Old Navy, the running store, or wherever.

2. If your skin chafes together when you try to run, particularly on your inner thighs, you may need some Body Glide. This is kind of like vaseline in deodorant form, and you rub it on the places that chafe before you leave the house. Don't be embarrassed to buy it - most runners I know own this stuff, and it's fabulous.

3. Start with a beginning running program that combines lots of walking with minimal running and moves up from there. Many, many people get injured from starting out too fast (myself included, several times). A program that's widely used is called Couch to 5K. Couch to 5K takes you from being a non-runner to running 3.1 miles in 9 weeks. When you're done with that, set your sights even higher!

4. The best way to stay motivated is to sign up for a race, preferably with a friend. Paying the entry fee will hopefully keep you accountable! One thing I wish I'd known in the beginning is how popular walking is, for any distance from a 5K to a full marathon. I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination, and I am always in the middle of the back, trailed by hundreds of slower runners, joggers, and walkers. Races aren't just for runners, and I promise you won't be last.

5. Start slowly and stay with it. Yes, the first week or so you'll feel like you want to die. But it gets better. And there's nothing more empowering than proving to yourself that you can conquer something new!

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fitness Challenge

Recently my family did a fitness challenge that worked out really well, and I wanted to share the details! It was based upon incorporating healthy habits into our daily routine, and hopefully losing a little weight along the way!

Here's a copy of our rules:
Daily Points
5 servings of fruits/veggies: 2 pts.
No eating within 2 hours of bedtime: 1 pt.
48 oz. water: 2 pts.
No treats: 2 pts. (No points on Sunday – “Free day”)
*You are allowed 1 SMALL treat (the size of your thumb or smaller) per day without losing your 2 points
*A treat is defined as candy, cake, cookies, chocolate, pastries, ice cream/frozen yogurt. You may have a reasonably-sized piece of cake on a family member’s birthday without it counting against your points. Whole fruit popsicles and jello are allowed and not counted as “treats.”
Check in with partner via call, text, or Facebook: 1 pt.

Weekly Points
Minimum 100 min. of exercise during the week: 10 pts.
Each additional 30 minutes of exercise: 1 pt. (up to 5 additional points)
Pounds lost: 10 pts. per pound
Maintain: 2 pts.

Other Points
Inches lost: 10 points per inch around the waist and hips, taken on Nov. 14th and Dec. 19th
Percentage lost: Bonus points at the end of the competition for the percentage of weight lost, 10 points for each percent

We each paid in $35, and then had winners for both Men and Women, along with a Healthy Habits winner, who was the person with the highest number of points that did not include weight loss, for some of our participants who didn't have weight loss as a primary goal.

We had a weekly tracking sheet, and then I had an Excel spreadsheet where I kept track of all the points. I've included the links to those docs at the bottom if anyone would like to download and use them, or look at them to get ideas.

One thing that we're changing with the next round is the winning. We found that pretty much everyone who wasn't a serious contender dropped out quickly. This time around we are doing two separate competitions, one for Healthy Habits and one for Weight Loss, and each of them will have a target (probably 95% of the Healthy Habits points and 10 lbs. in the weight loss challenge). Whoever meets the target splits the pot at the end. Worst case scenario is that everyone succeeds and everyone gets their money back. But really, what we really want is for more people in the family to become healthier, so that "worst case scenario" would still be pretty great.

Overall, the challenge was a great experience. I was amazed to find out for the first time how much better I felt when I drank a lot of water and ate fruits and vegetables. While I've tried to incorporate those things before, I was never able to make it stick. The best side benefit is that I was finally able to cut out drinking soda, a habit I've been trying to kick for years. It wasn't a rule of the competition, but I had to focus so much on drinking water that I didn't drink soda very much at home, and then when I finally did, it just tasted strange to me. We started the competition in October, and I've only had one soda at home since then (although I do still have it at restaurants). But we all agreed that whether or not we won money, it was a good experience, and everyone was happy they participated.

I lost more weight consistently doing this challenge than I have ever had with anything else, including Weight Watchers. And I can honestly say I was hardly ever hungry, trying to get in all the fruits, veggies, and water. It was a very fun and relatively painless way to lose weight, and I'm excited to start the next round!

Anyway, I know there are a lot of people out there with fitness resolutions for New Years, so I thought I'd throw this out there and hopefully someone else will give it a try!

Google Docs:
Weekly Participant Tracking Sheet

Rules Sheet

Administrator Tracking Sheet

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I was thinking last night about this blog, and how I've neglected it for the past year or so. I've been hesitant to post, because now that we've moved to a 2-bedroom apartment and I'm working full-time, my cleaning routine is shot, and my organizational skills basically just consist of "somehow fit the family into this place."

But I'm going to pick this blog up again, and just include a large variety of topics: fitness, cooking, parenting, and still some household stuff when I feel like it. Won't be addressing grammar, or admitting to the fact that I'm a teacher after writing that last sentence.

So hopefully I'm really back in action!

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