Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Year-in-Review

So, I did this year and thought it might be nice to do it again.  A lot happened in 2011 and even more happened in 2012.  So, enjoy my 2012 Year-in-Review.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
The biggest thing we did was buy a house!  Our first home was purchased in July.  After a very long search (you can read about it in previous posts) we finally found the perfect home for us.  A great size for our family, convenient location, fairly quiet neighborhood, and in our price range!  That was by far the biggest thing but I also did my first industrial film (click here to see my clip), I entered a few more new entries in to the Oklahoma State Fair, and made lots of new recipes.  Yum!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
You can check out my 2012 New Year's Resolutions/Goals here.  I was able to check off a few things from the list but still had a large number left to accomplish.  Some things that were on the list were:
*Read the Bible - I didn't say I needed to read the whole Bible.  Just start reading it.  I found a great app to use that helps me stay on track.  I am a tad bit behind but I'm reading it.  So that's a start.
*Lose weight - Well, I accomplished part of it.  I did lose all of my baby weight, so I'm counting at least 20 lbs for weight loss.  Let's see if I can get lower though. 
*Rid my house of 300 lbs of clutter - Well, I did that AND more!  I think I'll need to add that to the list again.  It's amazing how quickly things accumulate.
*Finish Ezra's One Year Collage - Umm...yeah, I didn't do that.  Okay, he's only four.  I promise I will get it finished before he turns five!!

I did make goals for 2013.  You can check them out here.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
YES!  I welcomed a little boy in October.  He is ADORABLE!  We are blessed to have him in our life and now I have two wonderful boys that keep me busy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Peter's aunt just recently passed away.

5. What countries did you visit?  One could only wish.  Our travels this year kept us in the Midwest.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Will power and a job that will help pay off our student loans!  (I cheated and used the same answer last year.  I think it still works though.)

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Peter graduating with his Ph.D., buying our first home, and welcoming our new boy in to our lives.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
By far giving birth to my son was the biggest achievement (do you see a trend here).  I also won "Grand Champion" in the Oklahoma Photo Shoot Out at the State Fair.  I was proud of that :)

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting a teaching job.   (Again, I cheated and used the same answer from last year.)  This year was extremely difficult in regards to the job hunt.  You can read about some of the adventures here.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In March I went to the ER for hyperemesis gravidarum.  It is a severe morning sickness.  I also had major hip pain with my latest pregnancy and a minor complication at the birth.  However, the severe sickness went away, hip pain is now gone, and I have no problems from the birth.  Amen!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The best thing we bought this year was our house!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, student loans, credit cards, and Lowes.

13. What did you get really excited about?
This year I was excited about having another baby, seeing Ezra off to his first day of school, finding a home that fit our exact needs, and finally building a shed in our backyard!

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I was better about listening to "popular music" this year.  I listen to the radio on my to and from school.  I cheated a tad bit by looking at the top 25 songs of 2012, but the songs that will always remind me of 2012 (for better or worse) are:  Gangnam Style by Psy (NOOOOO!), We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift, and Some Nights by fun.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
--happier or sadder?  Happier
--thinner or fatter? About the same...not too shabby after giving birth though.
--richer or poorer? Currently the same

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exercise, spend more time outside with my family, and sing.  I miss singing :(

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spend countless hours on Facebook and spend countless hours in front of the TV.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
This year we made a quick trip up to Illinois to visit family.  We then drove back just in time for Christmas Eve.  We went to a Christmas Eve service, where they don't sing the right "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and then we had a pizza picnic at home.  I woke up at 5:00a to take care of the baby and answered the door at 6:00a to see my mom.  She drove all night to make it in time for Christmas morning!  After a brief nap; we woke up and ate yummy cinnamon rolls and opened presents.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Hmmm...I think How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory are still my favorites. 

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
This was the year of Hunger Games.  I read the books over the course of the week.  A bit much for a tween (in regards to the blood and gore) but I did enjoy them.  I had to read through them quickly though because I was getting nightmares.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
My favorite song this year was "Some Nights" by fun.  Loved it!!!

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
We went to the movie theater quite a bit this year.  It definitely helps having a $2.00 theater in town!  I think the favorite was "Les Miserables" and "The Avengers."  Some other movies we enjoyed were:  "Brave," "The Band of Misfit Pirates," and the new Batman movie.  We did NOT like "Snow White and the Huntsman."  Kristen Stewart...ugh!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ummm...I can't remember that far back.  Seriously, my brain is fried from sleep deprivation.  I can say for a fact that I turned 30!  I have a good guess that I had a family dinner at home.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
That's a hard one.  Life is pretty good.  I have my basic needs covered.  My family is healthy.  I guess if I had to pick something, I would say having my student loans paid off would make the year more satisfying :)  That would be one less stress in my life.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
So, I looked at my answer last year and chuckled because nothing has changed!  I still love the video too! 

Try and get a bra on before lunch time :) Okay, it isn't THAT bad, but this commercial springs to mind.

26. What kept you sane?
Peter, Ezra, Henry, and TiVo.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Make sure your family knows how much you love them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Goals for 2013

Just a few more days before the new year begins.  So of course it is time to make resolutions, or goals as I like to call them, for the upcoming year.  Last year I had 30 goals and accomplished 12 of them.  That's a 40% success rate.  It was better than the year before at 34%.  When I first started to think about my goals I didn't think I would do 31 goals for turning 31.  It was hard enough last year to think of 30.  It gets a bit hard to think of things that I might actually accomplish.  I started typing though, and I was able to come up with 31.  Some of them are repeats, but maybe I'll actually cross them off this year!

No judging and in no particular order:

31 Goals for 2013

1. Read the Bible.
-I used to say I wanted to read through the whole Bible in a year and while I think that is a GREAT goal, I also want to make it realistic for me. So, I just want to read my Bible. That's it. Just read it.

2. Lose 10 pounds.

3. Lose 10 pounds.

4. Lose 10 pounds.

5. Lose 10 pounds.

6. Lose 10 pounds.

7. Lose 10 pounds.
-Okay so maybe it is cheating by dividing this up in to so many goals, but I see it as a way to make it easier to attain my goal, rather than just say "well, I guess I didn't lose those 60 pounds that I wanted."

8. Pay off our credit cards.
-We did it once and then we decided to build a fence, get a shed, buy cloth diapers, and other life events.  It would be nice to pay all that off and start fresh again. 

9. Maintain this blog with a minimum of one post per week.
-An average will count too!  I didn't do too bad last year.  I just need to figure out more things to write about.  I'm sure not everyone is interested in my Influenster reviews.

10. Get at least 20 followers on my blog.
-Come on people, this one is up to you! I got the 10 I asked for last year.  Now I just need a few more to get to 20.  I know 20 isn't really all that much in the grand scheme of things, but I'm so close!

11. Complete my Alphabet Photography Project.
-Grrr.  I am so close with this one.  I just have one more letter!

12. Run a 5K without stopping.
-Yeah, I know a 5K isn't all that long, but for someone who hates running it is a good start. 

13. Complete "Mom" book for Ezra.
-I got this great book that let's you fill in things about your childhood to give to your own child. I want to complete that for Ezra. I'm not expecting anything bad to happen, but I'm also not expecting anything bad to happen. I would love for Ezra to get to read some things about me that I have control over the wording. :)

14. Get Ezra's baby book to a current status!
-I can't believe he is four already...I need to get on top of things!

15. Finish the Disney Scrapbook.
-All I have to do is put it together.  I already have everything I need.  Just do it Julie!!!

16. Photo book for 2011.

17. Photo book for 2010
-I love having pictures on the computer, but there is just something about flipping pages of a photo album. Maybe it is cheating for making each year a different resolution, but I think it will help my odds!

18. Organize computer documents.

19. Make a new recipe each month.
-Again, I'll take the average here.  As long as I get 12 new recipes in the year I get to mark it off!  Have any good recipe suggestions?  Check back in future posts and I'll let you know how some of these new dishes go.

20. Find a job OR go back to school.
-I have been teaching Kindermusik now for over a year.  I only have one class a week, but it has been a lot of fun.  I am, however, ready to find a bigger job.  Part-time?  Full-time?  I'll take it!  The job hunt this year was extremely painful.  I had multiple interviews, one, "oh, well you were our second choice, but we opted to go with a transfer from in the district, one, "cricket, cricket" (aka no response but then I found out the job was filled because of another in district transfer because I was then asked to interview for that job), and one, "great, you're hired...oh wait, you have to wait for approval from the, the superintendent...oh, we decided to postpone that position."  So, if I am not able to find a teaching position, or any other job, then I need to go back to school.  Any suggestions on what I should be when I grow up?

21. Finish Ezra's dinosaur quilt. 
-My first attempt at a MAJOR project.  Luckily my mom has been a HUGE help so far.  Now I just need to do everything else. 

22. Submit my children's book.

23. Save up for a Hawaiian vacation!
-It actually sounds better than what it kind of is.  My brother and his family were just stationed in Hawaii...literally, they just got there this morning.  Anyway, I would love to go back and why not plan something for the next year or so while we have a free place to sleep!  Plus, if we go before Henry turns two then we don't have to pay for his plane ticket. 

24. Finish Ezra's One Year Collage.
-Yeah, I'm a bit behind on that one.

25. Finish Henry's One Year Collage.
-As long as I actually stay on top of things this year; I can do this one.

26. Get rid of 300 pounds of clutter.
-I did this last year AND exceeded the amount.  Moving to a new house helped.  Now that Christmas is over though, I see more and more clutter.  Do I really need four complete sets of dishes of varying designs?  Do I still need to keep my dance shoes that no longer fit because my feet got fat from baby #2?  Uh, no. 

27. Hang pictures up on the wall.
-We have been in our new house for six months now and the walls are still bare.

28. Read three new books.
-I used to LOVE to read.  Then life and TiVo got in the way.  I would love to discover three new books this year.

29. Plant a garden.
-Now that we have our own place I would love to plant a garden with Ezra. 

30. Organize the attic room.
-We have a great space upstairs that is currently a catch-all.  I would love to have it be an organized room where the kids can play, I can sew, or Peter could play video games.

31. Catch those darn cats.
-Some of you may not like this last goal, but it has to be done.  We have feral cats EVERYWHERE in our neighborhood.  The lovely neighbor one house down has decided to feed them and now they won't go away.  They use my porch as their bed and my yard as their litter box.  I hate it.  They are mean; growling and hissing.  I can't stand them.  I want to enjoy my yard!  So, I'm going to catch those darn cats.  Even if I get one it will be considered a success.

Whew! There are my 31 goals! I'll keep you updated on them. What are some of your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dino Lingo Language Learning Programs for Kids

So today I was introduced to Dino Lingo.  It is a language learning program for kids.  There are 30 languages to choose!  There is English, Japanese, German, Tagalog, French, and many, MANY more.  According to the Dino Lingo website

"Dino Lingo for Kids is a language set where cartoon dinosaurs introduce the most
common 200 words of a target language. This language set consists of 5 DVDs, each
DVD focused on specific learning topics. Colors, numbers, family, animals, food, fruit
and vegetables, vehicles, body parts, clothes, nature and verbs and actions After
watching our videos several times, most small children can easily name everyday
objects and understand basic phrases such as "Hello", "What is this?" in their target
language. Dino Lingo is ideal for fostering a toddler's cognitive development and has
won the 'Influential Parents Award' in 2010 and 2011 in education category. Dino
Lingo language learning programs are most effective for children up to 7 years of age and
anybody interested in learning the basics of a new language."
Their website also describes the science behind the "Dino Lingo Method."
My son and I watched a few of the videos.  The first video we watched was in French.  Watch below to see the video or click here to watch the video on the Dino Lingo website.
We also watched the same video in Italian.  Again, see below or click here.
They are obviously identical videos with different voice overs.  
This was the last video we watched. I listened to the "song" and thought it was quite annoying, however, my son loved it. As a parent, I don't think I could listen to it more than a few times. As a teacher, I think it is a great resource for ESL students. I would imagine this would be a fun activity choice for students to do in the classroom WITH headphones :)
Here is my son's review.  He loved it.  His only complaint was the dinosaurs weren't around enough!
I would love to see a longer clip to get a better understanding of how the language development works.  It did catch my eye though.  I spent a little bit more time on the website and there are two different sets.  For $99.95 you can purchase the "Kids Basic Set" which includes:  5 DVDs, 150 flash cards, dinosaurs poster, and a parents guide.  For $148.95 you can purchase the "Full Home Education Set" which includes:  5 DVDs, 150 flash cards, 10 posters, a vocabulary book, a coloring book, world map, a flag,  parents guide, and a dinosaur plush toy.
*I viewed this clip complimentary through Influenster.