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Tuesday, 11 December 2012 10:00

Two Years Ago...

I can't believe 2 years have already gone by... and yet, it's only been 2 years? Some days I feel as though I've only been a mother for a 'minute' :P and other days I feel as though both of my daughters have already always been here.

Exactly two years ago today, I started my journey as a 'Mom'.  I believe there are two possibilities when a woman gives birth to a child - that she will be that child's mother, or that she will also be that baby's 'Mom'.  While I was pregnant, I was simply a mother, physically carrying the life of another human being - nothing more. When that child came into the world, I became (because I chose to be) a 'Mom'. I have had to choose each day to continue to be that baby's 'Mom', and I will continue to make that choice for the rest of my life.

Read Clara's Birth Story Here.

I really never expected to have a daughter, but as a girl who longed for a Mom, a daughter became the one thing I always desperately wanted.  When Clara was born, I cried tears of joy because she was a beautiful, healthy baby - but also because she was a girl.  She was the girl who would allow me to 'make it up to myself'. I would be the Mom she needed where my mother had failed me.  I would feel what it felt like to see your traits in another person and be frustrated, terrified and proud all at the same time.  I would be able to go to 'Mother-Daughter' events, without having to bring my Grandma (I always hated those events - thought they were discriminatory). I would be able to teach my daughter how to wear make-up, how to shop for a bra and what to expect from her first period. These were things I wanted as a child, and at least now I could see them from one perspective.

Clara has been something - someone - I never expected. Honestly, I expected an instant 'bond', but it took time for me to 'fall in love' with her. Each day and week of her existence, I loved her more and felt closer to her.  I expected to feel as though she was a 'part of me' - but she wasn't.  She was all her own, and that really surprised me.  There are days when I don't think I feel like her 'Mom', but more like an annoyed older sister - she can get under my skin like no one I've ever known - but really, I don't know what this is 'supposed to' feel like.

I see myself in her, and it terrifies me. I also see things in her that seem to have come from no where. She seems to be smart - she has an uncanny memory and can speak quite clearly already.  Today Brian broke a cupcake in half and offered her the smaller half (she is the smaller person, after all) and she said 'No! The bigger one!' - nothing gets past her.  She is also defiant - sometimes punishment is met with peals of evil laughter. Where does this come from?

She seems to be emotional too - some days her excitement becomes a sort of hyperactivity, and we frequently we have tantrums for seemingly no reason at all.

She adores her baby sister, and takes every opportunity to talk to her or somehow include her in what we are doing. She will tell me to 'pick Audrey up!' when she cries.  She declares 'My Audrey!' daily.

This post is kind of rambling - this was me just freely putting my thoughts on Clara down on paper.  She is everything I could have ever wanted, and she drives me crazy at the same time.  There is no event that has changed my life more completely, and no greater dream I have ever had fulfilled than the experience of having her.

I look forward to every year that I have with her, and for now - I will do my very best to look forward to each day as well.

Published in Blog
Saturday, 08 December 2012 20:02

Our Quotable Clara

In the last few months, Clara has gone from stringing a few words together to no sentence being too long for her.  She now says just about anything, and for the most part can communicate anything she needs to.  She still frustrates us with 'I want that' - What, Clara, WHAT??? - but other than a few things like that she actually has a pretty incredible vocabulary for a little girl who isn't yet two.  I think. But she's my daughter so I might just think she's awesome because I'm supposed to :)

In the process of potty training, we began to give her a chocolate chip every time she successfully peed in the potty.  One day she looked up at us and said "I have TWO chocolates???" (Note that in almost every Clara sentence, there is a dirty slide that ends in an inhumanly high-pitched note - I will capitalize the words that she does this to).  We just thought that this was so adorable, so that day she got 'TWO chocolates!'.  The next day it happened again, and from that day forward her chocolate intake doubled.  A few weeks ago, I made some Christmas chocolates out of white and red chocolate candy wafers (making pink chocolates), so I started giving her small pieces of this instead of her chocolate chips. I know - way to make peeing even more exciting...   Last night - she got out of bed - twice - saying she had to pee.  We almost always indulge this, because we really don't want to deal with the effects of being wrong if we call her bluff.  She's usually bluffing... Anyway, the first time she gets out of bed chattering... it sounded like this:

"I have to pee!... Don't pee your PANTS.... Don't pee your PANTIES.... I get a CHOCOLATE... I get TWO chocolates!!... I want a pink one"  I didn't say a word through this entire little conversation, but I was just about peeing myself laughing by the end of it.  Her statement about wanting a pink one was said with a deathly serious face.

Lately Clara has been watching a LOT of TV - Mary Poppins, to be precise. This is a picture of the 'dance floor' I built in the hallway, and this is Clara dancing back and forth on it singing along to some Mary Poppins song or another.  Probably 'Step in Time.  We repeatedly hear her singing 'Chim-chimeny' which actually sounds like 'Doo-doo-me!' when Clara says it, or 'Stay Awake' which Clara actually knows more of the words to than I do...

Randomly she'll also up and say 'Snap! The job's a game!' or 'Spit spot!' - both quotes from Mary Poppins.

Lately Clara is very concerned about comparing what she is doing to what everyone else is doing.  If she is eating, she wants everyone else to be eating too.  We will have a conversation that sounds a little bit like this:

Clara: "I EATING!"       

Mommy or Daddy: "Yes, you are eating."

Clara: "Mommy (or Daddy) eating TOO?"

Mommy or Daddy: "Yes, Mommy is eating too..."

Clara: "Everybody eating!" (which sounds more like 'elly-body eating!' when she says it).

Clara has also gotten very possessive about 'her' things, and very concerned with which things are hers, and which belong to other people.  She will pick up random objects she knows belong to us and present them to us throughout the day as if we always have to have every item that belongs to us on our person at all times. "Thank you, Clara, I don't need a breast pad right now..."

She will say 'That's MINE' very sternly about everything that is hers, and everything she thinks is hers.  She has also decided lately to be very possessive about people.  She will say 'That's MY Daddy' or 'That's MY Mommy' or 'That's MY Audrey'.  She's not trying to keep anyone else away from these people, she just makes these statements.

This picture was taken when she elected to have a nap in the middle of the day, but she only ever wants to nap if it's her idea.  Most of the time she says 'I don't want to nap!' And she says each of these five little words very clearly - I don't want to nap! The adorable thing about this, is that she will wake up after a nap, or in the morning saying 'I don't want to nap' or 'I don't like a nap' as if she doesn't realize she has already slept...

She will sigh exasperatedly and say 'Oh, Audrey' whenever Audrey cries.

She will exclaim that 'Audrey's CRYING!' when Audrey cries - except when Clara says it, it sounds like 'Audrey's DYING!', which is pretty funny... I usually respond with 'she thinks she is!'

When she has choices (or thinks she has choices) about anything, she will declare 'I don't like that one!' about any choice that isn't her favourite at that moment. It sounds a bit more like 'I don't wike dat bun!'

She will get pretty stressed if she has accidents and her panties get wet, but she has to announce the state of her panties and pants regardless. "Panties are WET! Pants are OK!" This is if she has a small drop of pee on her panties but her pants are still dry.

This is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to journal my kids' childhoods - the crazy things they say.  I'm looking forward to sharing these things with them (because I wouldn't have remembered them otherwise, I know that!) when they are older, and comparing the things each girl says.  So far maybe Clara says things that 'all kids say', but I wouldn't know because I only know her. 

What crazy things do your kids say?

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 22:45

Embarrass Your Children

It is my job to embarrass my children.  I'm pretty sure that's what my Dad was thinking when he got our car stuck in the parkade when I was a teenager in the backseat trying to hide so that no one saw me.  I should clarify this - the car was not exactly 'in' the parkade, it was stuck at the parkade entrance (or exit, I really can't remember) with the barricade arm (you know the ones with the big red and white stripes?) stuck INSIDE his window so the car couldn't move forward or backward.  Don't ask me how he did it...

I always wanted to be the 'cool' Mom.  The Mom that my kids WANT to be seen in public with, and the Mom that my kids talk to about personal things, and the Mom that my kids invite to hang out with them while they're watching a movie with their friends... k, that last one might be pushing it.

Maybe I still will be, but it seems I am already embarrassing Clara. I mentioned a few posts ago how I love to sing and dance around the living room/house/garage/public places - and Clara has started responding by giving me this blank stare:

And saying 'No, Mommy!'.  Every time I start singing. 'No, Mommy! Don't! Sing!'

Maybe it's a good thing to embarrass your children... it gives them a sense of humour about life, doesn't it? Maybe not... but I think there's no way around it for me.  I WILL embarrass my kids.

Published in Blog
Friday, 30 November 2012 14:53

TV is my Babysitter

I seem to have become one of 'those' parents (who I will never again judge) who put their children in front of the tv to 'babysit' them.

Is it a cop-out to put your children in front of the tv for this reason? I guess, because it certainly is easier than trying to find an exciting way to entertain your toddler so you can put some laundry away, and it's a lot easier than diligently making sure your child is disciplined enough to play by themselves (if this isn't something your child does naturally) in order to get the dishes washed. 

I don't think this is necessarily a problem on my end, because life has definitely changed for us lately - having a new baby, and all that - so I can reasonably assume that any extra 'babysitting' I need right now will not be permanent.  I won't always feel the need to stick Clara in front of the tv because Audrey will not be quite as needy as she is now forever. Also, Clara has seemed a bit unwell lately, and what better way to spend a few sick days than by sitting on the couch with a blanket in front of the tv?

However, I'm concerned that the damage has already been done with Clara, and that she has developed an obsession.  The first thing she does when she gets up in the morning is ask to watch TV.  She also asks to watch TV after her nap, and after every meal.  Today she even refused lunch in favour of remaining in front of the television - I didn't indulge this, just so you know.

So, I'm wondering how to deal with this.

One way to deal with it, would be to end all TV watching until she forgets about it.  This is difficult, however, because there is at least 30 minutes each week when I am teaching piano and I really need to be sure she is occupied - TV is the best way to do this.  Also, right now I kind of feel like I need the TV babysitter at least a little bit each day - for my own sanity. 

I was always so proud of our lack of TV watching.  Brian and I don't pay for cable or satelite television, and any TV we do watch is either purchased or on Netflicks. We do watch movies, but other than that we aren't really big TV watchers.  We don't have a TV in our main living room, and have to make a 'special trip' downstairs in order to watch anything. 

Lately though, I've resorted to watching on the computer and borrowed a portable DVD player from my Mom so Clara can watch upstairs where I am.

Am I a failure as a parent (today she's pretty much watched TV all day... )? Can I break her of this obsession? Is it ok to let her watch TV a lot for the next month or two as I figure out how to be a parent of 2, or will I just be allowing myself a crutch that I won't be able to get rid of later?

Did your kids ever become obsessed with TV? How did you deal with it?

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 13:09

T-G-I-Naptime!!!!

This is not my best day ever.

There were monkeys.

Terrifying space monkeys, perhaps...

Today started with a temper tantrum about going to the potty.  Clara has this obnoxious way of curling herself up into a ball if you try to pick her up when she's having a fit, so that you can't put her down - or do anything else with her.  She has been having a lot of accidents lately, so I didn't really want to trust her 'I don't have to go pee' statement, and wanted her to at least TRY.

I managed to wrestle her onto the potty, but by then she was so worked up that there was no way she was going to go and kept throwing herself onto the floor anyway. By this time Audrey had also decided she was starving (or something) and was screaming violently from the other room.

Ok, fine.

Ten minutes later, Clara was sitting at the table eating cereal when I hear a stream of liquid hitting the floor.

Me: "Clara, are you peeing?"

Clara: "No"

She continued eating her cereal.  This one was strange to me for two reasons - first, she has never before acted like she didn't care about being wet and normally gets really stressed out when she pees herself. Second, she lied to me and normally even though she knows she's done something wrong she will tell me the truth.

I know she hasn't been feeling well lately - this one brought her total accident tally for the last 24 hours up to 6. Maybe she has a bladder infection, I'm not sure, but I pretty much flipped out.

Brian and I were talking last night about how my fuse with Clara is so much shorter because I feel like 'she should know better.'

That moment, when there was pee all over the floor and Clara didn't seem to care and lied to my face, I fell apart. Suddenly I felt completely defeated.  I hate the concept of yelling, but I have to admit that I yelled at her.  I was angry.  I used my 'angry voice' and told her repeatedly (as I was cleaning up pee from the kitchen floor) that it was bad to pee on her chair, and that she needs to pee in the potty, and blah, blah, blah...

And I'm ashamed to admit that I stayed mad at her - and continued lecturing her - until she cried.  And I felt ok about this in the moment, because I WANTED her to be upset about what had happened.  And yes, I realize that I just made her upset about something else, but for that moment it made me feel better anyway.

I feel like a terrible mother.

I'm ashamed of how often I've gotten short tempered and irritable with Clara.  How often I've told her 'don't' to things that aren't bad, but just annoy me for some reason.  I feel more like I've become more like an older sister somehow than a mother... and she just gets on my nerves.

I have this voice in the back of my head telling me that she desperately just wants my approval, and to know her Mommy loves her, but then another voice pops in and says 'Then why is she being so belligerent???'.

I love her immensely - I know that, but sometimes by the time I've finished dealing with her tantrums or cleaning up her accidents, I'm physically exhausted and too overwhelmed to just BE with her...

Does anyone else know what I mean? Or am I just a terrible person..

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 09:37

The Bond Between Sisters

Calling all sisters of sisters! I need your input...

Watching my daughters interact - or, realistically, watching Clara continuously get in Audrey's face - has made me wonder about the nature of their relationship.  My sibling relationships were either distant, or began later in life and so I never felt what I would call a 'bond' between myself and my siblings.  I have heard of such a thing, however, and I wonder where it comes from and when it begins.

As we watch Clara become increasingly obsessed with her sister, we find ourselves in awe of her devotion and wondering 'Why?'.

So far Audrey has barely hinted at a reaction to Clara, and is certainly not able to 'play' in any way, and yet Clara is enamored with her.  If Audrey is crying, Clara will tell us and ask us to pick Audrey up. 

This morning Audrey and Clara were both on our bed, and Clara lay down right next to Audrey with their faces millimeters away from each other and 'baby talked' to her in the high-pitched voice she uses when she is talking to or about Audrey.

I'm curious - what is this 'Bond between Sisters'? Does it begin this young? Do they have a 'sixth sense' about each other, or could they?

Published in Blog
Sunday, 18 November 2012 10:32

Schedules, Naps and Potty Training

Last week I did a post on how Clara is adjusting to the upheaval in our home with the arrival of Audrey, and outlined my plan to create a schedule for her to at least be a general framework for creating a routine for her, as well as to keep me 'on task' as it were.  Being new to the Mom-of-2 'thing', I know it will take me awhile to really figure this out (hopefully less than 18 years???), but here I begin..

This past week wasn't really typical in a lot of ways, because although Brian and I were both back at work (he was out of the house, and I was back to teaching piano), my Mom spent the week with us which made it way too easy for me to slack off. Thanks Mom :)

So, anyway, my Mom and I got a lot of 'prep' work done - meals made, etc. - for the upcoming few weeks, which will help tremendously when I'm trying to reorganize my life, but the schedule for Clara was almost completely non existent. I did manage to actively sit down with her to do at least one activity each day that required my supervision - on Thursday we strung red, green and gold beads onto pipe cleaners and made 'candy canes' to hang on the Christmas tree!

I will keep trying though - keep ya posted!

Over the weeks Brian was off work, we began to experiment with Clara's nap schedule. I had always put her down for a nap in the afternoon, but Brian began to suspect she didn't need a nap.  The trade-off was that if she napped in the afternoon, she seemed to spend that amount of time playing and singing to herself in her bedroom before falling asleep at night.  If she did NOT nap, she fell asleep instantly at bedtime, but we may or may not have to deal with a really fussy toddler from about 5pm until bedtime (finally) came. 

So, I decided that I would rather NOT deal with that fussy toddler time, and considering my situation would really appreciate the hour or two in the afternoon to either rest or get some house work done. So, I will start encouraging Clara to nap again on weekdays.  I will not, however, necessarily push her to sleep from now on.  I will let her stay in her room for awhile, and if she doesn't actually 'nap', that will be ok.  We will also not stress about her having a nap on weekends if there are things going on. 

This chair faces away from my desk in the Living Room regularly, I just spin it around to use - and I was just quickly getting something when Clara crawled up behind me and stood there.  Brian managed to snap a picture to show me.

Potty Training Update. 

Having 'potty trained' Clara so soon before Audrey was born, I knew we were risking some serious reverting after Audrey was born.  For the three weeks before Audrey was born, we were having occasional accidents - and often they seemed to happen all at once.  It would seem as though suddenly - for half a day - she was no longer potty trained, which could be really frustrating because more often than not it happened when we were busy.  On the day Clara met Audrey, she had two accidents - one in the hospital as she was leaving, and the other in the restaurant her Grandparents took her to for supper afterwards.

So we thought, maybe, we would have to watch her a lot more closely for awhile.

This wasn't the case, though.  It must have just been a minor setback, which she had experienced before Audrey was born, and possibly had less to do with Audrey, and more to do with the excitement and busy-ness of life at the moment.  We still have accidents occasionally, but rarely any puddles on the floor and usually we take some responsibility for not hearing her request to go potty, or not responding fast enough. 

She is really doing great for a little girl who is not yet 2 years old!

Published in Blog
Thursday, 15 November 2012 21:08

Which Baby is Which?

When Audrey was born three weeks ago, we were a bit stunned when we saw her face and realized how much she looks like her sister. Almost exactly at times, and if our photos weren't dated, I think we might struggle to figure out which girl was which.  Here are some photos of the two girls in the first two weeks of their lives - can you tell which baby is Clara, and which is Audrey?  Brian said even he couldn't do this...

Just a note: there are 5 each of Clara and Audrey, and I chose photos that were deliberately similar so in #1 and #2, one is Clara and one is Audrey and in #3 and #4, there is one of each also, and so on...

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.Can you tell?

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 21:37

I Don't Want to Nap!!!

Where did our naptime go?

Over the past two weeks, when Clara's schedule was completely destroyed - Mommy and Daddy were BOTH home, there is now a new little person in the house, people were coming over to visit all the time, but not the people who normally come to visit, like the little girl Mommy babysits or the super-awesome teenaged babysitters who come to play while Mommy is teaching piano and Daddy is still at work...

Amongst all of the chaos that had become Clara's life, she seemed to suddenly no longer need a nap. 

Some days, we would put her into bed at the usual time shortly after lunch and we would hear her playing and talking to herself for up to an hour before finally falling asleep. I didn't really question this, because I had always been the sort of kid who took forever to fall asleep.  I remember getting stacks of books out of the library (chapter books, too), to keep beside my bed because just a chapter or two wouldn't cut it - I would fly through 4-5 or even more volumes of the Sweet Valley Twins books before finally nodding off.  I just assumed my daughter would be the same.

When Brian was home, however, he asked questions.  And after a couple days of skipped naps just because that was how our schedule worked out those days, and then returning to a few days of naptime, Brian noticed a pattern in her sleeping. 

If Clara took a nap during the day, it seemed to guarantee 1-2 (or even more) hours of play time in her room after lights out at night.  This meant she wasn't falling asleep until 10pm sometimes.  However, if Clara skipped her afternoon nap, she seemed to fall asleep within 5-10 minutes.

Yikes. I wasn't ready to be skipping that afternoon quiet time...

Brian informed me of his theory (that I had not noticed, because I had never questioned why she was staying up so late - she was just being like her Mommy, wasn't she?), and we spent a few days experimenting.  We allowed her to skip a nap one day, and then put her down for a nap the next afternoon.  The pattern held - the first day, she fell asleep nearly immediately and the second day she was up for hours.

This Monday was a holiday, but today (Wednesday) and yesterday, I have been home without Brian continuing the 'No More Naps' experiment. (Not to make my children into lab rats or anything, but that's often what parenting is, isn't it? Just one big experiment...?) Yesterday worked out pretty well, although I didn't do a very good job of keeping Clara occupied so she was a bit more fussy than I'd like by the end of the day. 

Today, was ridiculous. She definitely should have had a nap, which we realized at supper time when she threw a tantrum about not being allowed to stir her water with a fork, and then immediately forgot when she looked down at her plate and started happily eating, and then saw her water cup and started tantruming again, and then forgot when she looked down at her plate...

Anyway, I'm not really sure how to handle this.  I would like to try to schedule her day a little bit more predictably for her - but if she doesn't need a nap every day, this seems to just make our lives less predictable... how does this work for toddlers?

For those of you whose toddlers only have a few naps a week - do they nap on certain days, or only when they show signs of being sleepy? My daughter often seems sleepy when she really doesn't need a nap, so this could be difficult for us.  Our 'telltale sign' (Bo on the nose, and soother in her mouth) has become a much more frequent necessity, and certainly doesn't indicate a need for sleep... I don't think...

How can you tell if a toddler is ready to start skipping naps, or to eliminate them completely? Is it acceptable to ask your toddler to have quiet time in their room with the door closed - partly for you to get a rest, and partly to see if they might actually need to sleep?

Published in Blog
Sunday, 11 November 2012 20:51

Daily Schedule for a Toddler

Lately we've been seeing some (minor) behavioral changes in Clara.  Nothing huge, and nothing we're panicked about, but enough that makes us realize that she's quickly getting to the point where 'if we let that behavior slide, she's eventually going to be a really difficult kid!'.  So, we've had to think about ways to deal with this, and both Brian and I have been spending time online looking for ideas on how to raise an obedient toddler.

Largely, we've come across a lot of the same thoughts repeated over and over, so when I recently came across the concept of scheduling a child's day in order to encourage good behavior, I was a bit surprised.  The theory being that a child whose daily routine is regular and predictable, at least to some degree, will be easier to manage and will all around be a happier child.  It makes sense to me, especially since I assume Clara's struggles right now have a lot to do with the fact that any amount of 'routine' she had before Audrey was born was thrown out the window on October 26th.

This was a little bit hard for me, because I think I had abstractly assumed that teaching a child to be well behaved would require work on the child's part - not on mine.  So seriously, I have to work for this? Would this come as a shock to anyone else? :P

I am seriously bad at keeping a routine, and I'm not overly good at 'the toddler years' as far as planning activities and such - I'll have to do a lot of research and get a lot of help!

But ok, I'll give it a try. With Brian returning to work this week, it's a good time to start figuring out some kind of routine for Clara and I, and it would probably help me get through the day also.  Here is what I have done so far.

  1. A lot of internet research - I've perused every 'daily toddler schedule' and 'daily activity list for toddlers' that I can find online, and using some of these ideas I have made one of my own.
  2. Created the basic schedule - basically, I listed the day in half-hour segments and filled in each activity one at a time. I began with things like snacks and lunches, which usually (and should) fall at a predictable time. 
  3. Made a list of Activities - after considering Clara's typical list of activities, I sorted these things into 4 categories: 1. Activities I don't have to even be in the room for - like when she looks at books by herself - I called this 'Free Play'. 2. Activities I need to supervise, like stickers and colouring - to make sure she doesn't sticker or colour the house. 3. Activities I need to be involved in, like craft projects and baking ('Hands on' activities), and 4. Activities that involve leaving the house (and a vehicle, which we typically don't have during the day on weekdays).
  4. I then filled in the remaining time spots with either 1,2,3 or 4 depending on what made sense to me at that moment. 

Here's a basic idea of what my schedule (for Clara) looks like:

8:00 - wake up, pee, make bed, eat breakfast & get dressed

8:30 - Free play (1)

9:00 - Supervised Activity (2)

9:30 - Free play, after Supervised activity ends

10:00 - Snack time

10:30 - Hands-on activity (3)

11:00 - Free play, whenever Hands-on activity ends

11:30 - Clean up toys, read a book or sing songs together until lunch?

12:00 - Lunch time

12:30 - Quiet activity, maybe read books together?

1:00 - Nap time, quiet time in room, or watch a movie time?

2:30 - Read stories together, cuddle on the couch

3:00 - Snack time

3:30 - Supervised play

4:00 - Free play/ help with chores (must learn to be creative getting her to help with things)

5:00 - Independent Playtime while Mom & Dad have some chat time, and/or make supper

5:30 - Eat supper

...

7:30 - Bathtime/story time, brush teeth & hair

8:00 - Bedtime

This is all I've got so far, and I have to figure out how to actually stick each activity into each area.  Also, every recommendation I've read encourages you to have a schedule, but not to be really strict about it, and let things fall where they will after you've basically set the routine.

We'll see how this works for me... I'll check in again in a week!

 

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