Let’s Set Some Mostly Measurable, Manageable Goals for January

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I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, because, for example, let’s say you resolve to fit into that size smaller jeans and find out two weeks later that you’re pregnant–celebratory fail! Let’s say it’s super important to you to quit watching television, but then your grandfather invites you to spend every Saturday, Sunday, Monday and sometimes Thursday of football season watching games with him. Are you really going to say no? And why are there so many game days anyway? You just don’t know what the day is going to bring, much less the year.

I’ve tried resolutions. I’ve tried no resolutions. At the end of the year, there’s no difference. This year, I’m trying a new tactic. I’m setting mostly measurable, manageable monthly goals. Care to join me?

Since year-long resolutions to work for me (or most mere mortals), I'm setting mostly measurable, manageable monthly goals. Join me!

Here are the ridiculously obvious rules for my mostly measurable, manageable monthly goals:

  1. They should be mostly measurable, so “smile more” really doesn’t follow this rule…although I’m putting it on there anyway. Walk three times a week is measurable. See? Make more pie–not measurable; make a pie–totally measurable…and edible…hopefully.
  2. It’s manageable. No stressing…which would be a goal in and of itself if it were more measurable.
  3. It’s a monthly goal.

Don’t freak out when you see the length of this list. Most of the items are small things that I need to be more consistent about. Others are general areas of my life that need a little refocusing now that we’re heading back out on the road. Some are bigger tasks. None are radical. They are all written down or else, bam, I forget.

Here are my mostly measurable manageable monthly goals for January:

Family Habits

  • Breakfast Bible: finish reading Matthew aloud and begin Mark.
  • Monthly family manner: eye contact. There’s a post coming about this.
  • Monthly family home care habit: keeping our trailer entry clear–that means shoes must be put away and the hot spot on the coffee bar constantly extinguished or preferably never ignited.
  • Monthly character trait: practice finding the positives–something we began last year casually, but it needs to be a front-and-center practice. I’ll post on it, so ya get it, ‘kay?
  • Aim for two days a week that Hannah can eat every meal we eat with no changes. (Hannah has Crohn’s and is on a doctor-assisted healing diet. She loves days when she doesn’t have to cook a single meal for herself.)
  • Bedtime: Reinstate my beloved brush, Bible, books, blessings, and bed routine.
  • Continue annoying the world by starting everything in a list with the same letter–personally, this is my favorite goal. In fact, I almost made these mostly measurable manageable monthly milestones instead of goals, but I thought that was annoying the universe instead of just the world, so I backed off.
  • Prayer: somehow while stationary we got out of the habit of praying before meals, bed, and trips.

Family Fun

  • Have two game nights focused on the older group.
  • Have one game night focused on the younger group.
  • Have a party on my Grandpa’s birthday, January 29. Grandpa and I always celebrated our birthdays together. I loved having him for a birthday buddy. (Miss you, Grandpa!)
  • Take Judah’s five-month picture before he’s five months and 30 days old. Ahem.
  • Bake a lemon meringue pie. What?! Don’t judge.


  • Learn 15 Spanish verbs. What?! Only 15? Yes, but learning means using, and by using 15 extra verbs regularly over the next month, we’ll be quite fluent…in 15 verbs.
  • Learn 15 new signs.
  • Write two letters each…including mama!
  • Read aloud The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain.
  • Teach two core cooking techniques. Blue checkmark
  • Begin one embroidery project with all interested double-digit kiddos–finish in February.
  • Work on one sewing project with Rebecca.
  • Reinstate weekly goal sessions and reviews with Hannah (19)–I love these one-on-one sessions and watching her grow as a writer in her writing business!
  • Find a testing center for Marissa’s CLEP on the road–I think we’ll be in Kansas when she’s ready for her next test. She’s aiming to have her bachelor’s shortly after turning 19; she is currently 17 and has 15 credits. More on that later.
  • Start new math levels with Elisabeth (15), Emily (12), and Elijah (10). (Like, hand them the new book–no biggie here.)
  • Focus daily on math for five minutes with Rebecca (7).
  • Select a fun course from SchoolhouseTeachers.com to enjoy with my four middles–Elisabeth, Emily, Elijah, and Rebecca. (See my review.)
  • Focus twice weekly on Schoolhouse Teacher’s Charlotte Mason preschool with Eliana (4)…just so I remember to focus on her.
  • Begin Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready with Judah (5 months) twice weekly…again, so I remember to focus on him.

Music Mission

  • Write January 2016 newsletter.
  • Finish 2015 thank you notes.
  • Hit the open road again on January 7–we were partially stationary to have our babyBlue checkmark
  • Update subscriber list.


  • Walk dog and self 15-20 minutes 3 days per week–not enough, you say? Better than nothing, I reply!
  • Start doing push-ups again as a family–I do them against the van instead of the ground to protect my sensitive joints, but hey, it’s better than nothing! I will do between one and three after walking. I know that’s not much, but I have joint issues and need my wrists to carry an 18-pound five-month old tub o’ love.
  • Reinstate the two-a-week treat limit in churches–church people love to spoil my kids, but they aren’t aware that the next church and the next and the next will do the same thing. Sometimes we hit four or five churches/special events a week, and it’s literally “spoiling” my kids’ and my hubby’s health and waistlines. Not mine, however, because I don’t eat them, thanks to being perpetually pregnant or nursing sensitive babies–ha ha! Blue checkmark
  • Add seven foods back into my diet. I’m on a total elimination diet for my nursing baby, and I’m currently up to five foods I can eat.
  • Find a supplement that works for my baby.
  • Make two family dessert night treats that Hannah can eat. (No dairy, grains, sugar, processed anything.) Blue checkmark
  • Continue food/symptom journal–ugh. Blue checkmark


  • Write four non-sponsored, non-review posts here…for you lovely people! This counts as one. Hooray!
  • Write three posts at The Travel Bags since our temporary stint as The Stationary Bags ends this week.
  • Find interview sources and rough out my article assignment for Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
  • Send one pitch–to really rock the writing world I need to send out about one or two a day…but I’m good with one this month. Oh, look. I already sent it. Check!
  • Edit one chapter in my book–this is the biggie, since I have to delete a lot, and I’m not good at deleting…thus the length of this list. Wink wink.


  • Read Proverbs again.
  • Journal weekly. It’s a good start–nothing epic…just the little things.
  • Smile more. Totally measurable, right?
  • Practice finding the positives. (More about this later.)
  • Master three core cooking techniques from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook.
  • Scrap social media as often as possible. (I know, that’s blogger suicide, but it’s better for my family, thumb, brain, and eyes.)
  • Listen to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and see if she’s got anything on the Flylady, who rocks, by the way! Blue checkmark
  • Read Silas Marner by George Eliot. It’s one of my mom’s favorites, and, even though I was an English major back in the day, I’ve never read it.
  • Keep my computer and phone off from 9 to 9, unless it’s for school or people are sleeping or studying…or my sister-in-law or mom text me–hey, I’m human, and those gals are fun-to-me!
  • Check email daily, delete all new “unimportant” emails (after reading), and unsubscribe from all no-longer-valuable-to-me subscriptions that come in that day.
  • Take fewer pictures. Yup, fewer. This is, unfortunately, measurable, and I do have an accountability partner on this one. Hi, Honey! Nice dimples!

What are some of your goals for January?

My Four Favorite Family New Year’s Traditions

Sixteen years ago I was in labor with my firstborn on New Year’s Eve and gave birth to a very loud, but beautiful New Year’s baby. Every New Year’s Eve since has paled in comparison. Still, we try to send off the old year with a bang, so this is what we do.


Every New Year’s Eve we have a family party. I schedule different simple activities for different times throughout the evening (as well as massive amounts of food to keep Mama awake). I write each activity on a note and place it in a paper bag or envelope, or roll it up like a scroll. I indicate the time it should be opened either by writing the time on the note or bag, or by attaching a paper clock showing the time. Throughout the night, we open the bags or unroll the notes and eat the cookies enjoy the activity. Over the years, these four have become my favorite:

My Four Favorite Family New Year's Traditions (www.TheSimpleHomemaker.com)

ny1   Out With the Old

We each write down something we do not want to repeat in the new year. It’s generally a bad habit or negative personality trait, although one year my young, less-than-coordinated son wrote “I don’t want to fall next year.” More introspective children (or mamas) may write things like impatience, disrespect, or laziness. Sharing our work is optional. We toss the notes in the fireplace and say a prayer as we watch our old habits burn up. It doesn’t miraculously take our bad habits away (Rats!), but it does make us conscious of a need to grow in that area. And it makes a neat little bonfire–who doesn’t love fire! Okay, Smokey the Bear, maybe, but besides him.

My Four Favorite Family New Year's Traditions (www.TheSimpleHomemaker.com)

ny2  Time Capsule

Each year we toss something into our family time capsule, a five gallon bucket with a lid which we decorated as one year’s activity. It doesn’t matter what it is–a lonely sock from a favorite pair, a photo, a card from a relative, a lost tooth. Someone tried to talk me into saving the baby’s umbilical cord last year, but I don’t think that made it in. We may or may not jot down a note about the significance of the item…like the sock. On New Year’s Eve we sort through the contents and add more.

NY3  Predictions and Memories.

I print out a worksheet for each family member to record predictions for the upcoming year, and a second for recording memories from the previous year. We read predictions from the year before and laugh over them. Sometimes we’re amazed at how close our guesses came to reality. We save all the papers inside our time capsule, although a binder would work just as well.

If you wish to do this, the printable sheets we use are here.

NY4  Come as You Are Family Photo

We take a quick annual family photo in which nobody gets dressed up (or dressed, in some cases). Some people are in PJs, some in holey jeans or aprons, some in ballerina outfits or cowboy hats. It’s a true-to-life, just-as-we-are, someday-we’ll-look-back-and-laugh family photo, complete with some random portion of the dog in the shot.

My Four Favorite Family New Year's Traditions (www.TheSimpleHomemaker.com)

(No, I don’t have a gold tooth, no, I have not slept in 16 years, and no, they are not twins. Did I miss anything? Oh, yes, there is only one boy.)

For more fun and simple New Year’s Eve ideas, read this idea-filled post from last year.
If you’re on Pinterest, visit my New Year’s board.

What are your favorite family New Year’s traditions?

Simple New Year’s Eve Celebrations That Keep (Almost) Everyone Awake

I’m excited to be guest posting at The Humbled Homemaker today, where I am talking about making our New Year’s Eve celebrations meaningful, including some of my favorite New Year’s Eve activities. Head on over.  But wait!  First read on to learn what we do to keep everyone awake and involved until the wee hours of the morn.

New Year's Eve Celebrations

Normally, having to stay awake past 10 at night (okay, 8:30) is barely on the legal side of torture for me.  Nevertheless, for the sake of my celebration-lovin’ children, I have become a New Year’s Eve party animal.  Okay, not quite, but we have instilled a number of traditions that have made our New Year’s Eve celebrations memorable and fun.

Because our family consists of a mixture of night owls as well as morning people, with ages ranging from very young to…slightly less young, we need a variety of activities to keep everyone alert (or at least conscious) and interested throughout the evening.  Dinner and a movie would have half of us sound asleep by midnight three time zones east of us.

New Year's Eve 2008 002

100_8030To make the evening fun, memorable, and doable, and to slap Mama awake every 20-30 minutes, we schedule different treats, games, or activities for various times throughout the night.  A piece of paper or scroll describing each activity is contained in either a brown paper bag or a manila envelope (any container will do). The time at which the bag or envelope should be opened is represented on each container by a paper clock or a hand-written time.

When the time comes, the bag is opened and the activity is performed.

Here are some of our keep-your-eyes-open activities:

  • 100_8576Make your own pizza. (Ingredients are prepped ahead of time; this doubles as dinner, so less work for you-know-who.  Taco bars work well, too.)
  • Record heights on the wall.
  • Cookie decorating. (Again, everything is prepped ahead, or it can be something as simple as dipping Oreos in chocolate.  We’re making these melted snowman cookies.)
  • Fondue fun (This can also double as dinner.)
  • Simple and inexpensive gifts that double as activities, such as balloon racers, punch ball balloons, or ramp walkers. Race or bop for half an hour.
  • 100_8009Play games. (I resurrect games from my childhood such as Charades or new-to-us classic ideas from a book we love called Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato, and Ha Ha HaFamily Fun (magazine or site) is another great resource for games.  Noisy group from the game closet, such as Bop-It, Loopz, or Freeze Up, keep the ol’ eyes open.)
  • Make a favorite snack or treat.  (We make my grandfather’s famous, world-class, tastes-like-home, calories-don’t-count-on-old-family-recipes chocolate malts.)
  • Make noise makers or open some store-bought bargains. (Popcorn and rice in toilet paper tubes with the ends covered work great.  We once sent everyone on a hunt to find something loud to shake or pound on – little brother’s don’t count as noise makers.)
  • New Year's Eve Party HatMake your own party hats. (You could make nice hats out of craft supplies, or do what we do – set a timer and have everyone fabricate a hat out of whatever they can fine around the house…and then model them in a fashion show. Paris designers will have nothing on you!)
  • Record memories using a video camera or memory pages.  (Print our memory pages out here.)
  • Create scrapbook pages from the previous year.  (Nothing fancy!)
  • Watch the ball drop in New York or the fireworks in Las Vegas…or both. Go online if you don’t have a television. Or…if you live out in the middle of the desert in Zanyville, you could watch the distant neighbors launch bottle rockets at each other – it’s hard to fall asleep while watching people try to douse a tumbleweed fire. (If you have very young children, consider ending their portion of the celebration when it is New Year’s day in some other time zone. We westerners can send kiddos to bed when it hits midnight in New York…although we don’t.)
  • Ring in the new year with hugs, noise, and a prayer.

Some of my favorite activities are those with the most meaning or which serve to record memories from the previous year.  I elaborate on those over at The Humbled Homemaker today.   Hop over there to read about our memory pages, how we focus on improving character in the new year, our family time capsule, and more.

From our home to yours, happy New Year!

New Year's Eve Celebrations

(This picture is from New Year’s Eve 2010, so, yes, we are short one little party animal.)

How do you keep everyone awake during your family’s New Year’s Eve celebrations?

Linked up to Weekend Whatever at Your Thriving Family and Homemaking Link-up at Raising Homemaker.

TSHM Disclosure statement: Some, not all, of the above links are my affiliate links.  If you purchase something (anything) through those links, I will receive a small commission.  All TSHM proceeds currently go toward homeschool books for our children.  So, really, by purchasing through my link you’re ensuring the education and productivity of the next generation, the future leaders of this great country of ours.  Wow!