Archive for the ‘goals and habits’ Category


The Monthly KAL group is going get me into loads of trouble!  You don’t believe me?  New patterns, links to other knitter’s web sites, and constant talk of yarn– What thread connoisseur could resist? 

Considering all the patterns available to try out, I took advantage of being near a yarn shop this weekend and bought a new color: Shaded Brown.  I would have loved to bring home three or four new colors, but unfortunately, they had very little selection in the cotton yarn. 

Within 24 hours of being home, the new yarn tucked away for next months KAL, I came across a dish cloth knit in the waffle stitch…it looked so good, I followed the link to the pattern, and this morning I bound off the edge.  Now, the only problem is, three of my boys want this for their very own.  My husband likes it too.

I love the way the stitch worked up.  It is not reversible, but it is not bad from the back.  I know I will be using this pattern again.  I plan to make it in the other variegated yarns I have and in solid colors.  The original showed it with a stripe across the middle.  I think I would put the stripe off center, and crochet around the edge with the contrasting color. 

I am going to make my quota of Christmas cloths, several for my home, and some for the boxes for soldiers (we hope to send out a bakers dozen this year).  I also came across an organization that collects 7″ squares to make afghans from for children who undergo to correct their spinal disorders, in third world countries.  The boys and I would both like to help with that, so they will be honing their skills.  I hope to put together one afghan this winter.  It is not much, but one person is still something.


We all liked the tread so much that I decided to knit my husband a tie.  He does not wear a tie very often, so the need is questioned, but I am sick of his eagle tie.  He has worn it almost every time he has needed to dress up in the last fifteen years.  The other tie he owns is so 80ish; all I can think when I see it is Micheal J. Fox.  Yuck!  Gross!  Definitely time for something new.

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Order is not something that one finds an abundance of in my home.  It is not because I dislike order, quite the contrary.  I love a neat clean space, and everything set just so.  I like to decorate, using everyday objects as the stars of my home.  It is that I have trouble remembering what needs to be done. 

It is more than a case of ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.  It can be right in sight, and never occur to me that it needs to be done!  An illustration of this (the one that showed me what an issue I have with it), occurred about a week ago:  I was busy clearing the table, after supper, the kids were getting ready for bed, and my husband was doing some research on-line.  He called me to come look at something he had found.  I left the table, read several pages on-line, discussed it with him, and then looked at the clock, to see what I needed to be doing.  It was time to make sure everyone had their jammies on and that their teeth were properly brushed.  I completed that task, sending them to read the Bible with Dad, and went on to my next task: rating articles at Helium.com. 

I had been rating articles for half an hour, when I smelled something funny.  I turned to see what was behind me, and found that the table was still covered with supper dishes and left-overs.  YUCK!!! 

After correcting the problem, I looked at the clock, and realized it was time to knit.  As I was knitting, I realized the absurdity of what had happened:  I had walked by the table numerous times without ever ‘seeing’ the mess on it.  My time for clearing the table had expired, so I had assumed that the job was done. 

That is when it clicked for me, why picking up after myself had been a habit successfully acquired.  It had come with multiple time frames and triggers, as well as desire.

My desire for a neat, orderly home had kept me going and focused; but it was establishing triggers and time of the day that I would pick up after myself, that really made it a success.

I have always been very time oriented.  My parents almost confiscated my watch, for giving the exact time:  11:42:36 am.  When something happened is what sticks in my mind.  When, therefore, is a key word for me.  If something is going to get done, it must have a specific time set to it.  ‘Today’ is too general. 

I also realized that my ‘triggers’ are based on time.  Before, during, after, when and finished, are time words.  I pick up after myself–anything I used–When I am done with a craft.  Before I move onto another project.  Before we eat.  Before I go to bed.  I also do a check of the house at 5 pm, to make sure there is nothing that I have forgotten to pick up at an earlier time, before my husband gets home. 

Can you relate, or is this just me?  …another atypical moment…

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In order to learn a new skill, one must practice!  Practice is essential to becoming proficient at anything.  Practice is essential to staying proficient.

What are you proficient at?  What do you do, without even thinking?  What things ‘come naturally’?  Are these things that you ‘practice’ regularly?  When you act in certain manners, do you think of your behavior as ‘practicing’?  What am I really getting at?

We live our lives out of habit.  Habits are the things we practice regularly.  Do you habitually clean up after yourself?  Then it is something you practice, many times a day.  How about yelling, snapping or grumbling?  Do you practice that daily, also?  Why?  Is it how you want to be?

I know it is not how I want to be.  I want to speak kindly and  with wisdom.  I want my words to be a blessing… so why do I ‘speak loudly’?   Why do I make so much noise… especially at home, with those I love most?

Understanding the Problem

I could blame it on my upbringing:  I grew up in a loud house.  My dad is loud…  We once took a decibel meter to him, while he was on the phone, and from a room away, he registered as loud as a rock concert!

We drove noisy vehicles…one had to speak very loudly to be heard.  We shouted up the stairs and down the hall to announce meals, or anything else, of importance.  We liked our music.  We worked cattle, and needed to be heard…

It was not cruel.  Mean things were not said.  It was just loud!

I could blame it on my own family:  This is a house full of boys and noise!  They are not calm and quiet…why should I be? 

The older relatives are mostly deaf…   My conversational tone does not carry…  The dog doesn’t listen… 

The excuses could go on and on, but the real reason I yell is because I practice yelling.  I practice shouting, instead of going to where my family is, and speaking to them.  I practice yelling, instead of calmly directing my children.   I practice yelling, instead of buying a muzzle for my noisy dog.

Change:  How to be Different

The simple answer is to stop practicing, since practice is needed to maintain any skill. 

Two years ago, we bought a piano.  I had played some, growing up, as we had a little keyboard, and I had learned what I could on its 44 keys.  I was eager to learn more, and to teach my children to play, so set to practicing daily.  I was progressing quite well, until the day I got a phone call while playing, informing me that one of my friends had died. 

Her sudden death was suddenly linked to playing the piano, in my mind.  For over a year, I was almost unable to play.  Because I quit practicing, all the skill I had gained was lost.

Form New Habits

How does one change? 

  • First, one needs have a reason for changing. 
  • Second, one needs to know how they would like to be different. 
  • Third, one needs to reprogram their thinking.  –Decide what the outcome will be and find inspiration!

To begin playing again, I needed to remember all the reasons I had started, in the first place:  The joy of music in the home and the ability to be a blessing to others, amongst others.  Then, I needed to reassociate my feelings about playing the piano. 

For me, that meant remembering the good things about my friend, not just her death.  Now, when I play, I remember how beautifully she played.  This has not only helped to heal the hurt, but inspired me to really perfect each piece as I learn it.  It has inspired me to not be haphazard or lazy in my learning.  Playing the piano, is once more a joy!

How does this apply to other habits? 

This is how I have applied it to  my ‘loud speaking’.   

  1. I have realized that my yelling has trained the children to only listen to loud noises.  This is evident in the way they listen to stories on CD and in the way they speak to each other: loudly! 
  2. I have determined that it would be best if I spoke in a conversational tone, kindly and directly. 
  3. To change my thinking (and theirs), I need to expect to be heard at a conversational tone. 

This means I will have walk up to the person I am speaking to, instead of yelling across the room.  It also means that I will not continue repeating myself, louder and louder, until I am responded to.  I will get the person’s attention, before I begin speaking.

I will expect (and train for) obedience upon the first command.  This is a kind thing to do for my children:  It will make them most pleasant to be around and could save their lives in an emergency situation, because they will be able to listen to the quiet sounds as well as the loud noises.

By forming this new habit of speech, I will become a more respected individual. 

“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

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There are so many things I want to do with my life!  It is hard to keep a focus. So, with that in mind, I have chosen the 13 habits and 13 skills that I believe are most needed to move me forward in this next year. 

The habits list is based according to my values.  Some are habits of the heart, some of the mind, and some are there, just to stretch me and take me beyond my comfort zone. 

The skills list is based on areas of weakness or ignorance, where I currently have an interest.  My interests do not come and go quickly, so to have made it on this list, they have been interests for more than a year.  As I read it over again, I see only one that has been an interest for less than five years, and it is the one that I am most proficient at.  Hmm…impulsiveness can be good.

So, why 13? 

  • I have read all the advice about choosing only a few things to work on at a time, but I find that my focus can become so narrow, I forget everything else.
  • I don’t plan on tackling everything at once. 
  • These are not a “New Years Resolution;” they are things that I want to be part of my life, regardless of the work and effort they may take to achieve.
  • And 13?  It is a baker’s dozen.  It correlates with the number of moons in a year.  It leaves no room for procrastination, and I don’t believe in bad luck!


13 Habits–make/maintain

  1. Read Bible, daily.
  2. Pray about the important things, daily.
    1. Family
    2. Finances
    3. Friends
    4. Government
  3. Make bed, daily.
  4. Inspect the entire house, including food stores, daily.
  5. Make deposits and pay bills as they come in.
  6. Pick up/clean up after myself.
  7. Spend time with each member of my home, daily.
  8. Speak Kindly!
  9. Make meals a joyful time.
  10. School, five days a week, September through May (except holidays).
  11. Read with the children, from some ‘extra’ (non school) book, daily.
  12. De-clutter for 15 minutes each day.
  13. Practice the Piano.

13 Skills–to learn or improve

  1. Fars-isle knitting–Tyger’s afghan.
  2. Cable knitting–Manny’s sweater.
  3. Tatting!
  4. Piano–practice daily, for 15 minutes.
  5. Improve my spelling and punctuation–practice daily and read more.
  6. Tanning!
  7. Spinning wool!
  8. Processing Flax!
  9. Spinning Flax!
  10. Dying…from natural materials!
  11. Weaving on a loom–start by building one.
  12. Letter writing–write to at least one person each month.
  13. Article writing–tackle one new subject each month, and work out a well written, informative piece…essay, research, directive, etc., as will be needed for writing books.

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themed gifts


Today I finally got a bunch of gifts wrapped and ready to give.  This is the first time I have actually seen some of the gifts laid out.  I knew what they would look like, in my mind, but it is nice to see them come together as planned.

This gift is a pampering set for a friend.  It has a pillow case, a knit wash clothe, hair-pins, bath salts and a bar of oatmeal soap.  Hope she enjoys!

I love making themed gifts.  They are simple to coordinate, and fun to collect for.  Another friend is getting a red gift set… The only draw-back is not going overboard.  It is easy to  spend too much without a budget.

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Dear Readers:

I would like to invite you to take part in a drawing that will be held right here, on this site!  For Christmas, I would like to give away three copies of  this wonderful four book set:  ‘To Train up a Child,’ and ‘No Greater Joy,’ volumes 1, 2, & 3, by Micheal and Debi Pearl; published by No Greater Joy Ministries

These books came to my family, as a gift, four years ago.  Implementing the wisdom found within totally transformed the way we raise our children, and live our life. 

Friends and strangers alike, constantly let us know what a delight our children are.  Acquaintances and frustrated parents ask our advice.  One lady, in a restaurant, pulled us aside, and said, with tears in her eyes, “I have finally seen a Godly family.  Today, I am blessed.”  I am not telling you this to brag, but to encourage you that there is hope for your family.  You can have a joyful home and obedient, happy children.

I thought of offering these to you, when my charge’s dad asked me if I could give him some advise–any advise, on how not to raise a brat!  He has a sweet little girl, but he sees things in her he does not like, and he knows it is his parenting that needs to change.   He is getting a set of these books for Christmas.

If you too would like to receive a set for Christmas, leave a comment here by the 15th of December (2008), when I will hold the drawing.  Winners will be announced on the 16th.

Merry Christmas,


* * *

The Winner:  Shawna Palmer Matthews! 

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Scraping the deer hide.  Removing the muscle, membranes and hair; preparing it for tanning.  That was school today.  My boys and I worked together to learn this new skill. 

We experimented, to see which tools we liked best, for these different jobs.  Sharp rocks and the putty knife became our favorites for removing the gunk, while careful pulling seemed to do the best job of removing the hair. 

While we worked, we talked.  I told the boys what I have learned so far about hide tanning, and the different methods used.  They wanted to know how the Indians had managed to tan hides, without having knives, so we discussed how sharp arrow heads are, and how well the rocks we were using worked.  We discussed the anatomy of the deer, and tried to guess what part of the hide might have gone where.  They wondered what made the holes in the hide, and what the deer had been through as we found scares on the skin. 

Benjamin showed us the way he had learned to pull the hair out of the hide–from an Indian, at Mountain Days (the local rendezvous).  The Indian had shown him how to smooth the hair, so he could see the roots, then carefully pull, focusing, as not to tear the hide.  He had been instructed not to talk as he worked, as that would ruin his focus.  

Benjamin had helped this man to strip a fox hide, so moccasins could be made.  As we worked, he wanted to know if we could make moccasins for him.  I would love to try!  To be able to make some of our own foot wear would be a dream come true.

I have never tanned a hide before, so all of this is an experiment.   I am excited to see how it turns out, and as for school, just ask them what they learned today!

These are the resources I have been using to learn hide tanning:

My husband’s socks are finally finished, and they fit him well.  He is extremely pleased.  When I make him another pair, I will change a few things in order to make them fit even better.

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