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Thank heaven that’s over!

I know I am not alone in feeling like 2016 was like an awful, dastardly  cousin (twice-removed) who is never mentioned in polite company.  I am pleased to shed the year-that-was and feel somehow lighter now that I am faced with a blank slate new year.

2016 definitely had some great happenings, but I had a dreadful flare-up of my autoimmune disease which left me with little energy and a pile of unwanted weight. Yesterday, on New Year’s Eve I handed in my resignation at work.  I greatly enjoyed the job – and my colleagues – but my little family has 3 tricky years ahead and it felt like the right thing to do.

This year D will be taking two papers a semester to complete his theology degree, and working enough hours to support us financially.  It may seem counter-intuitive to quit a job, when our income will drop (more on that later) but it is a sensible decision for me.  D will swamped with assignments and exams, and won’t be able to be as hands-on with the children.  I am happy to pick up the slack, but being an HSP I need breaks, which my little job cut into.  Like many jobs in the non-profit sphere, I worked much more than my paid hours in order to deliver a first-class programme.  So this year I find myself instead with a few child-free mornings to myself as Chip is starting kindy, meaning it will be much easier for me to be ‘on’ the kids in the afternoons and evenings thanks to those breaks.

In 2018-19 D will begin an internship with a church and then be ordained as a minister.  Our income will drop significantly, but if you make mega-bucks as a church leader then there’s something wrong!  In anticipation of leaner times ahead we’ve decided to live off what D will make as an intern this year, and save the extra money he makes at his current IT job.  This will leave us with a good cushion.  In this spirit I will be resurrecting the Dollar Diet, so expect weekly updates on my frugal efforts.  These updates really do help to keep me accountable.

One thing I aim to stick to resolutely is throwing my hat in the No New Clothes for a Year ring.  As the main clothing buyer for our family, this means everyone.  I’m quite confident that my tots will have plenty of great clothes to see them through 2017, thanks to hand-me-downs and savvy bargains I nabbed last year.  I have a closet of great clothes I aim to fit back into, and I know I have plenty of outfits for any occasion.  And D?  He’s already got a hefty collection of novelty print t-shirts to keep him clothed until the next decade so he’ll be fine too.  If you want to use your resources more wisely or stop a shopping habit, the Facebook group you will find at the link above is a great source of support and encouragement.

Towards the end of the year I started to get a bit more vroom again, and I aim to stick to the Trim Healthy Mama plan to shed the weight I gained last year, and more hopefully!  I know the plan works.  I can’t really explain why I drifted off it last year other than my AI flare-up sapping my motivation, but I’m back in the saddle again.  I’ll also be using some of my free time to exercise by doing a mix of walking, running and HIIT.

We ended up ringing in 2017 with an impromptu, low-key BBQ.  It was lovely. Great weather, great food, superb company.  We had a toddler disco, complete with a countdown at the respectable time of 9pm.

backyard-tots-in-tawhero

All set to party (note D’s famous ginger beer on the deck)

toddler-table-tots-in-tawhero

Toddler chow (I can say with complete confidence that the wine did not belong to a toddler)

toddler-disco-tots-in-tawhero

J and Sausage invent a new type of lying down dance

I guess you could call my plans for 2017 resolutions, but to me it feels more like getting back into a good groove.  I’ve done all these things before.  I enjoy living this way.  2017 is going to be a great year!

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I like to move it, move it…

Last year I shared my resolutions for 2015 and how I was going to keep them.  For the record, I kept two out of three, which I reckon is pretty darn good seeing as the majority of people fail within the first few weeks of the year!

The resolution I failed to keep was to do with writing regularly.  I blogged away quite contentedly over 2015 but probably only wrote a few hundred words of the novel I need to get out of my head.  And I’m okay with that.  The truth is that writing my novel required the sort of mental energy I simply didn’t have after a day spent running around after my two tots (who are only 18 months apart in age).

This year I couldn’t be faffed with any of that resolution malarkey.  Sure, I will try to bash out that novel this year, but if that doesn’t happen again, well there’s always time when my kids have left home, right?

I do however, love the clean slate that the new year brings, and I like to be very intentional about how I live my life.  Before 2015 came to an end I toyed with the idea some bright spark had of having one word to describe how I would like 2016 to unfold.  Many people do this, using words like ‘passion’ or ‘travel’ or ‘breathe’ etc.  I couldn’t narrow it down to one word, so I am greedily using two.

Outside and Move.

They kind of relate to each other in a way, but aren’t quite the same, if you follow me.

I am not a naturally outdoorsy sort of person, but being a stay-at-home-mum means I suffer frequent bouts of cabin fever.  After spending far too many sunny days indoors at various playgroups I decided last year I had had enough of INSIDE.  I wanted OUTSIDE more than Michael Schofield.  Outside is still my mantra for 2016.

This year I will continue on with only turning up to certain playgroups if the weather is really rotten, or if there is something special going on.

I also want my kids to know that the world doesn’t stop just because it’s raining.  This year I will buy rain trousers like my tots have so I have no excuse to not be outside in all sorts of weather too.  We have wetlands  and reserves around Whanganui that are perfect for exploring any time of year, no matter the weather.

Sausage will be attending a Forest Kindy one day a week this year, which I hope will help her learn her own physical boundaries (she’s not a high energy kid) and instill respect for our environment.  And I want her to have a grand old time just playing!

Anyway, the upshot of it is, I want my kids and I to be outside as much as possible this year.  Now, it’s all very well to have good intentions, but I need to take certain steps to make sure they happen.  One was coming up with a list of outside things to do as a family.  This grew into sort of a ‘family fun day’ list so I drew up this:

bucket list 2016

Not all of these things are outside, but most of them are.  And most of them are free.  We have already ticked one off (which funnily enough, was one of the inside things to do, har har.).  I’ve put the list in a prominent place in our kitchen where it calls to me like the Sirens calling to Odysseus.  ‘Come on Angela, have fun Angela.  Let’s do all the fun things NOW’.

Having it in my face is the perfect recipe to get me to actually schedule all these things.  By schedule, I don’t mean I will sit down an assign specific dates to x, y and z, but rather if we are at a loose end I can see what’s left on the list to do, or if we have a free weekend and the weather cooperates we can choose what to do.

MOVE is related to how we do things.

We finally bought a bike trailer, so I can take the kids on the myriad of little trips needed each week, and I get some incidental exercise.  It means we can finally sell the second car we don’t need.  Our ‘outside’ family trips will get us moving, and hopefully our kids will get the message that moving and challenging our bodies  is a natural part of life.

D and I are going to take a dance class (rock and roll) this year.  D has excellent rhythm for a bloke and he didn’t run screaming when I made the suggestion, so this bodes well.

D kindly bought me a Fitbit, which after reading Gretchen Rubin’s book on habit formation, Better than Before, I decided would suit my personality as a way to monitor my exercise.  And flippin’ heck, does it what!  I LOVE it.  I have friends who also have Fitbits and beating their number of steps everyday is so much fun.  My Fitbit has made me aware of how sedentary I can be at times (like when sitting down to write a blog post), and I can use it to track my daily exercise sessions, my sleep and my eating too.  At any given time you may now see me marching as I cut up veges for dinner, or dancing around like a loon with my tots, singing “Must beat J, must beat J”.

In fact, I need to get my steps in now, so see ya!