April Goals Update

by Wendy Copley on May 5, 2011

Another month has passed and I’ve crossed a few more goals off my list for the year. When I sat down to write this post, I didn’t think I’d done much in March but I actually got a few of my bigger goals taken care of. Yay me!

I also had a lot to say about my various projects, apparently, because this turned out to be a really long post! If you’re not interested in hearing all the fascinating details, here is the short version:

  • I planted our garden.
  • I restocked our emergency kit.
  • I made 4 scrapbook pages.
  • I was a more responsible parent.
  • I read three books.

If you do want to hear the fascinating details, read on:

Goals Completed:


#10 Have another go at a square foot garden.

I wrote my goal list at our old house where we had two nice raised beds to grow veggies in. We considered bringing the frames and trellises with us when we moved, but eventually came to the conclusion that that was completely crazy. At some point we’d like to build raised beds here too, but it wasn’t going to happen before we needed to put plants in the ground so I improvised. There’s a nice strip of soil between the garage and the walkway in our back yard though, so I dug out a few scraggly plants that the previous residents left behind, amended the soil with a bunch of compost and planted seedlings. I still need to get some trellises or cages for the tomatoes, but we’re on our way!


#13 Plan our veggie garden in advance.

Normally when we plant our veggie garden it goes something like this:

  • Go to the nursery.
  • Get really excited by all the cool sounding plants there.
  • Grab everything in sight.
  • Spend too much money.
  • Come home and realize we don’t have space or the right light or trellises for everything.
  • A bunch a plants either don’t get planted or fail to thrive.

This year, I was determined to buy plants that fit our space and only those that we wanted to eat. I polled my family about what they wanted to grow the most and we came up with only three things: strawberries (my children have very strong feelings about growing strawberries!), herbs and tomatoes. Zach and I also decided that if we have space, we’ll try to grow some cucumbers because we would like to have some to make pickles with. When I went to the nursery I was very good. I bought 6 tomato plants, 12 strawberries and some basil. The herbs were really picked over and what was left didn’t look very healthy, so I’ll buy some parsley, cilantro and thyme later.

I did make one impulse purchase — a corn plant. Can you believe that this Iowa girl has never grown corn? I’m not expecting a bounty of corn from one plant, but I’ve heard that corn is really dramatic and exciting for kids because it grows so fast and so tall, so I think it will be fun. the plant has only been in the ground a week and it’s already doubled in size. Cool!

Emergancy Kits

#41 Pack emergency “go-bags” for each member of our family.

The Japanese earthquake was shocking to everyone, but for me it was also a big wake-up call. Living in the San Francisco bay area, I feel small earthquakes every few months. We also live less than a mile from the Hayward fault which is due for a major earthquake any time now. We are high enough up in the hills and far enough inland that we probably don’t need to worry about tsunamis, but it’s still nerve-wracking when our area gets a tsunami warning!

Zach and I have put a little effort into emergency preparedness over the past few years so we weren’t in terrible shape as far as emergency supplies go, but our supplies needed organizing and supplementing.

I sorted through our bags and took an inventory of what we had and then packed individual “go-bags” for each of us. (You can get more information about go-bags at 72 Hours.) These backpacks are designed to hold the bare minimum of emergency supplies so you can grab them quickly and leave your home on foot or by car. Ours hold first aid supplies, crank radios/flashlights, emergency food blocks, drinking water, lighters and sanitation supplies among other items. Even if you don’t live in earthquake country, these bags are a really good thing to have on hand. After all, you never know when the zombie apocalypse might start!

Emergancy Kits

#42 Pack up a bigger emergency kit for the basement.

I also took the time to beef up our bigger emergency kit. I checked the very small amount of canned food we had stored away to make sure none of it had expired or was about to expire and then I heavily supplemented it on a big grocery store run. You are supposed to store three days worth of food for an emergency so I made a spreadsheet and calculated how much we would need for nine meals worth of food for the four of us. I also stocked up on drinking water and purchased an extra propane tank for our grill so we can still cook in case our gas or electricity goes out for an extended period of time. Then I put everything together on a couple of shelves in the garage next to our camping gear so we can grab it and load it all into the car very quickly if necessary.

We also refreshed our emergency plan and let the kids know where our meeting spots are now that we’re in a different house and we touched base with family in the area so that they know too.

There are still a bunch of things I would like to add to our kit, but I’ll be purchasing them gradually over the next few months. Preparing an emergency kit all at once can be really expensive so I’m trying to spread that money out over time. Some of the things I’d still like to add are: a warm change of clothes for all of us, comfort items like photos and toys, a few big covered buckets of water for sanitation, and spare inhalers for Wyatt.

Goals In Progress:

#7 Make 40 scrapbook pages

I got another four pages done! Topics were: Wyatt walking to school by himself, seven days of self-portraits, Augie’s love of scooters, Augie’s love of pickles. I’ve been trying to concentrate on layouts about Augie because he is very under represented in my albums as compared to Wyatt.

#17 Spend less time online when the kids are home/awake

This goal is one of those ones that’s really hard to quantify, but I think I’ve made a lot of improvement here. Know how I know? When I sit down at the computer at night after the boys have gone to bed I have more Facebook and Twitter updates in my streams than I can read. Since I always, always used to be up-to-date on these sites, this shows me that I’ve spent really long stretches of time away from my computer.

Another thing I did is I went on a major unsubscribing binge.  I unsubscribed from a bunch of blogs I don’t read very often and people I don’t know well on Twitter and Facebook in order to decrease the amount of content that’s fed to me when I’m online. This has helped a lot too, I think

#43 Read 12 books

I made excellent progress on my reading goal for the year in April. Nothing like being exhausted all the time while you recover from pneumonia to make you curl up on the couch with a good book. This month I finished three books which is pretty amazing for me.

The first book I read was Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. It’s a series of essays about parenting with a thread of guilt running through them all. Waldman lives just down the road from me in Berkeley, so we swirl around in the same parenting culture and that made the book really relatable for me. I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite a while because I’ve read a lot of Waldman’s other writing and I’ve always really enjoyed it. The big reason though was that the author had an experience during one of her pregnancies that was very similar to one I had when I was pregnant with Augie. Like me, her baby was diagnosed with a serious chromosomal abnormality. Though Augie’s diagnosis was a false alarm (thankfully), we lived through six very sad and tense weeks before we found out he was OK. I haven’t found very many descriptions of similar experiences online or in print and it was cathartic and also very sad for me to read about Waldman’s experience, particularly because her baby’s diagnosis was not a false alarm.

After Waldman’s book I needed something a little lighter to dig into, so I chose Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo. I don’t find craft-themed novels that I like very often, so this one was a treat. It follows the stories of three women who come together via a sewing class and how their lives begin to twine together. The best part? One of the women is a blogger! Yay for blogger novels! It’s not the sort of story that will win a Pulitzer prize for fiction but it was a nice book to zip through over a weekend.

Finally, I read almost all of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. (I only have one chapter to go.) I have a lot of thoughts about this book, so I think I’m going to dedicate an entire post to it, but for now I’ll say that if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

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