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Archive for August, 2009

Boot Camp: Day One

countdown1

9:00 am – Arrived at Jim’s Gym

9:35 am – Threw up in Jim’s Gym bathroom

Note to self: Don’t eat breakfast – even if it is an hour and a half before.  But hey, at least my detour gave me a chance to take a break.

Bring on tomorrow.

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I am going to do it.  I have thought about it for a few months now, wanting to make sure I could commit to it before I took the plunge but I think I am ready.  Boot Camp.  I’m sure you’ve heard of them – intense exercise programs that meet 5 days a week for a certain number of weeks where they work you to death.

I think this is the way to go.  I need a jump start into getting myself fit again after having Cole and I have learned that right now I clearly lack the motivation to do it on my own.  So after much thought I am going to go for it.  4 weeks.  Then if I like the program and want to do more, I will….or maybe I’ll do something else.  But 4 weeks is a big initial commitment.  I will have to send Cole to the babysitter’s each morning for his morning nap while I head to Jim’s Gym (is that name for real?) to be exercised into submission.  Today’s download will be my mantra as I work through the program and since I love to cross things off my list, I made us a way to do just that for the next 20 days.

The payoff will be worth it.  This much I know.  I will feel better and stronger.  I will have more energy and increase my quality of life.  Those are just the natural effects of staying fit so who cares if I need some help to get the job done?  We all need a hand to pull us along sometimes.  For the next 4 weeks – I’ll use Jim’s.

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

So how about joining me?  Do some kind of exercise today.  Take a walk.  Do a few sit ups.  Just stand there and squat up and down a couple of times.  It doesn’t have to be Boot Camp – just do something.  And then do something tomorrow, too.  Why wait for a New Year’s resolution to start exercising?  This way we’ll look great in all of those photos that happen when we party for the holidays.

I’m in this Monday – Friday for the next 4 weeks.  Commit right now to do some kind of exercise each day with me for 20 days – 5 out of 7 days each week.  Seriously – stride to the mailbox instead of walking.  Or sit at your desk, put your hands on the seat at your sides and push yourself up and down out of the chair.  How about laying on the floor and using your baby as a barbell (my current personal favorite).  Exercise is easier than we think sometimes – share your manageable “get fit” ideas here – we’re all in this together.  Come on, don’t you want to do it just so you can cross off the numbers 1-20 and reach the crown on the download?  Now that is serious motivation.

Who’s with me?  Take my hand.  For the next 4 weeks I’ll do it with you – and it will all be worth it in the end.  See you on the treadmill!

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Cole at 7 Months

How is it possible?  You pray and hope for someone tiny and new to come into your life for so long and then all of the sudden they have been with you for seven months.  It doesn’t seem real yet at the same time, it is the most natural and lovely thing you have ever experienced.  Life before Cole seems thousands of years ago, just a blurry image that floats in the distant past.

Cole, you have had a crazy month.  It seems like you are learning new things daily and changing by the minute.  I keep finding myself saying things like, “Hey, how did you get over there?”  The word for August is “active” because you are a mover and shaker these days.  Here are some of the things you are doing now that you have reached the 7 month mark.

playgym

1.  You can sit up on your own but we still like to be there in case you get tired or unfocused and slowly fall to the side.  You like to sit in front of your playgym mirror and look at yourself.  Plus, you use the links and toys on the playgym to hold yourself steady.

2.  You have finally mastered rolling over both ways – thank goodness!  Now you don’t get frustrated when you are on your tummy because you can hold your head up so tall and strong and you are even able to play with a toy that way.  If you need a rest then you roll to your side and then back to your tummy.

nose to nose

3.  You can travel around the floor by scooting in a circle on your belly or pushing back with your arms.  Sometimes you just roll and roll till you are on the other side of the room.

4.  You love to stand up with a little help from someone holding your hands.  You stand straight and tall for longer and longer every day and are so proud of yourself.  We think you’ve gotten so strong because you love jumping like crazy in your jumparoo.

5.  You like to sleep on your side and as you get comfy in your bed you often end up there – still with the blanket up by your face, though.

6.  You are eating Stage 2 foods (and there are some weird combinations of food out there for you, by the way).  We think it’s so funny to watch you chew your apple sweet potatoes – what’s there to chew in pureed food?  You must be working on the grainy-ness of the applesauce.

7.  I am teaching you how to drink from a cup and you like a little water after you eat.  You understand how to put a sippy cup in your mouth but haven’t figured out how to drink from it yet.  We’ll try some more later so you are ready to give up your bottle by the time you are 1 year old – just like the doctor told us you should.

8.  You are sleeping through the night like a champ.  You travel around your crib until we don’t know which position we will find you in when you wake up.  But for some reason you yell like mad when I put your PJs on.  What’s up with that?

red birdie

9.  You still wake up happy and like to watch your mobile for a while before getting up in the morning.  Your red birdie is still your favorite, too but you also like to play with your soft book that crinkles, measuring cups and grosgrain ribbon.  And you think it’s hilarious when we touch noses.

10.  You are growing out of your bathtub but you like stretching out and putting your feet up on the end like a lounge lizard kickin’ back.  Bathtime lasts about 20 minutes these days.

11.  You have discovered Dad’s controller on his wheelchair and the elevator button – both off-limits to your little hands!

12.  Your favorite sound is a high-pitched “ahhh….” that goes too high for any of us to mimic.  You have also started saying “da, da, da, da” and Dad hopes that is a sign of what your first word will be.

13.  We think you look different because you are getting so strong.  Being able to sit up makes you not look so squished down and we think we can even see your neck somewhere under those cheeks!

14.  You like to play with wooden spoons so I keep them by your high chair to play with after you eat.  You are a serious rock star as you bang them on the tray and the counter next to you.  You’ll give Dad a run for his money on Rock Band.

Skype

15.  I call Grandma and Grandpa Coleman all the time on Skype so they can see you do all of your tricks even while they are across the world.  That way they don’t have to miss anything.  I think they see you more this way than when they live nearby.  Skype is our friend.

16.  You have always been a calm and happy baby but you are moving and grooving so much these days as you figure out how to get where you want to go.  We hear you grunt as you make your way around the room.

Aunt Kendra

17.  We love your belly laugh and your high pitched squeal laugh and even your courtesy giggle that you give us sometimes to make us feel good about ourselves.  But when we pull out the camera or Flip you just stare at them in fascination.  I have to come out from behind the camera and just click the button, or use my zoom lens to sneak up on you instead.

18.  And speaking of your ability to focus, our 9-year-old neighbor, Brytin thinks that you would win a talent contest for staring.   You definitely dominate in any stare-down.

19.  Your eyelashes still curl all the way up to your eyebrows and your eyes are chocolatey brown – so much darker than mine.  Where do you get those?

brown eyes

20.  Cole, you are the love of our lives.  Even when it’s a work day and you are at the babysitter’s we want to visit you because we miss having you around.  We wonder what you will look like when you grow up, what you will think about and what choices you will make.  We are beginning to understand how a parent can give up their whole lives for their child – we would do that for you.

We love you,

Mom

PS – See what his dad says about the little guy here.

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Triumphant at Last

Ready

Roll


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Teaching 4th Grade

Teaching 4th Grade

I was looking through the Back to School issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine and came across an idea from Becky Higgins that struck a chord with me.  When I taught elementary school I always received many thank yous from students and parents at the end of the year and that felt great.  But Becky put a spin on that idea and decided to give her children’s teachers a thank you note at the beginning of the year – thanks in advance for a great year.

I have thought a lot about that since I read the magazine and have decided that it is a far more effective tool of building positive relationships with a teacher than one might first imagine.  Setting an expectation that you are going to have a great year with a teacher can actually help you get closer to achieving that great year than anything else.  By giving a thank you like this in the beginning, you are telling yourself, your child and the teacher that what is to come will be positive.  You are telling the teacher that you support them and recognize what they are doing for your child.

All in all, this idea of “thanks in advance” becomes of tool for building the kind of relationship that each parent hopes for with their child’s teacher.

So that is my download today – a “thank you in advance” label in traditional school colors that you can use on a card for a teacher.  Or simply trim around it and it becomes a flat card on it’s own with no other work involved.  Jot a note on the back and you’re done.

And as I have thought about this principle of pre-thanking, I have decided that there are many other situations that would also benefit from establishing a foundation of gratitude.  Any time we work with someone else toward a common goal we are more effective.  Why not thank your spouse or partner in advance for something they will do that is important to your family?  How about thanking your children before they clean their room or make good choices as a way to encourage them to make it happen?  What about thanking a neighbor for the support and memories that you will share in the future?  So I am also giving you other color versions of this download so that you can have one for any situation.

Pre-thanks.  It’s an interesting concept that can help create powerful results toward a positive relationship.  I would love to hear your thoughts about this idea so feel free to share your comments, thoughts and experiences about “thanks in advance” here.

We can never be too grateful so why not give generous gratitude a try?

Here’s to a great school year.  Enjoy!

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

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Jason went to the grocery store for me again the other day.  He does this a lot.  I don’t like shopping in general and although he can do many things to help me with Cole, he can’t lift him in and out of his crib or up off the ground or make his bottle or change his diaper or get him dressed…all the things that require use of your hands.

But he can go shopping for me.

So, now that he has his new van (finally!) Jason has become the errand-runner in our family again.  I think that is what I missed most when he was vanless – his ability to go places independently.  But going to the grocery store is different for him than it is for the rest of us.  He can’t grab things off the shelf and so he has to ask other customers or employees to help him load his basket or grab his credit card from his wallet or take his bags to the car.  Armed with the list I have given him Jason conquers his task with the help of half a dozen people along the way.

He often will have me on the phone, asking me questions over his bluetooth headset.  Not only does this ensure he is getting the right items but it is a bonus for me as well.  I get to hear the conversation of each person who helps him get a particular item in that aisle.

“Excuse me – can you help me grab this?”

“Oh!  Sure!  Which one?  Oh, ok.  Here you go.  Anything else I can get for you?”

“No that’s all.  Thanks.”

Then more often than not, I’ll hear some sort of motherly love from the helper as they tell him how impressed they are that he is going shopping on his own.  It’s usually a tender little moment for them – I can tell.  As women, we just can’t help ourselves.

Of course, there is the random person who when asked to help just look at him like he is a crazy quadriplegic stalker and hurry away – but those are few and far between and make us laugh in the process so it’s ok.

So, Jason went to the grocery store and this time he hadn’t called me to ask many questions.  He was confident with his own knowledge of the list and buzzed through the store taking one employee with him through the baby aisle and another one to round up all the rest of items in the store.  When he got home I unloaded all of the grocery bags and saw that he had gotten bananas, just like the list said.  There were three sets – all in varying shades of ripeness.

bananas

I hadn’t told him to do this.  Jason knows, after all of his shopping expeditions, that I like to get bananas this way.  Some for now, some for a few days from now, and some for after that, each set turning ripe when we are ready to eat them.  Along with the fact that he was being a huge help to me by going to the grocery store, that day I was grateful for so much more than just an errand run.

Jason knows me.  He knows me and cares enough about me to do this task in the way that I would have done it because he understands that it makes me happy.  These are my favorite bananas simply because of how they came to be sitting on my counter – chosen with care, hard work and thoughts of me in mind.

This week I’m grateful for bananas and all they represent – and along with those bananas, I’m grateful for you, errand boy.  We make a good team.

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I am so glad that I did the Cathy Zielske workshop giveaway this week.  I have loved reading your comments.  They are diverse and random – just like the project as a whole.  I kept thinking that every journal entry idea that you posted is the perfect thing to be writing about…and that’s the point of the “Me: the Abridged Version” project.  Anything goes.  Whatever is important or interesting to you in any way is what should be included.  Thank you for your comments and your excitement for the class.  I encourage you to use your nickles and dimes and take this workshop with Cathy and then let us know how it goes.

I thought I would share an actual journal entry from my album today but first I’ll tell you the lucky duck winner of the spot in Cathy’s class.

Congratulations….

#87: Stephanie

I really feel like I need this class at this point in my life. It’s so crazy busy and I don’t want to forget a moment of it! My letter would be B for Balance. I’m 35 and trying to balance my 4 kids, my church work, working a job and supporting a husband. I love it all, but it’s a balancing act. Thanks for inspiring me! I can’t wait out to get my inspiration notebook and start writing down the letters and ideas that come!

Stephanie, send me your full name and email address (kolette@kolettehall.com) and I’ll pass it along to Kayce at Big Picture Scrapbooking.  She’ll put you in the class!

Now here is an entry from my album.  I chose this one because it is a topic that is totally trivial and random but is something unique about me.  I also chose it to show you how the title of your journaling entries can be creative and interesting – not just using what might be obvious.  Think of the title as being a way to entice the reader to keep reading just to find out what you mean.  So here you go – a journal entry from the Letter “B.”

B: Back-talking

I talk to the radio.  You know how the DJ offers you information, asks rhetorical questions, and tries to make listening interesting during the workday?  When I am focused on my work – especially designing something or working on a project – I listen to the DJ like he is my low-maintenance friend there to keep me company.  I don’t have to look at him, I can stay focused on my project and no one gets offended.  As I listen, I find myself making comments of my own – out loud – when I have something to say regarding what I am hearing.  Kent and Chris (my co-workers when I owned my company at the time I wrote this) wonder why I suddenly burst out with a random comment – thinking that it was directed at them.  No, I assure them.  I was just talking to the radio.  Hmmm….they wonder as they slowly go back to their own tasks.  Hmmm….is right, Kolette.

See?  Random.  Trivial.  But oh so meaningful as a way to shed light on the real me.  I’m so glad I have stuff like this written down.

Enjoy the journey of writing “Me: the Abridged Version.”

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From the very beginning of my pregnancy I decided that I wanted to try and savor the experience for the simple reason that  I’m not sure if I will have the chance again to go through each step and phase of motherhood.

But savoring the experience doesn’t make me have any less of a need to be a typical mother, either.  I still need to set boundaries for my child.  I still need to establish a routine and work on discipline as time passes.  Although Cole is too little to know what it means to interrupt, there will come a day in the near future where I will have to teach him manners and when it is appropriate to speak.  As a mother, it won’t do him any favors to simply be at his beck-and-call, dropping everything to run to his side whenever he wants.  He will need to learn how to handle things himself sometimes in order to become independent.  He will have to learn that although I will always love him and take care of him, that doesn’t mean I will always cater to his every whim.  I will still have to be a mother and that’s what mothers do.

The thing is, in the midst of motherhood and getting things done and running a household, I don’t want to forget how to savor him either.  I don’t want to lose sight of embracing the little funny moments and tender minutes that I can share with Cole.  I don’t want to be so focused on being a mother that I forget to pause and really experience this miracle in our lives.

Grandma Judy & Cole at 2 months

Grandma Judy & Cole at 6 weeks old

My parents have just moved to the Dominican Republic and we’re not sure how long they will live there.  It has never been very difficult for me to have them go live internationally – until now.  Now I have Cole and I want him to be near his grandparents.  I want my mom to be able to watch him grow and to build the kind of relationship where he knows and loves them just as much as they love him.  We use video conferencing and my parents aren’t very interested in talking to me if Cole is asleep – they just want to see what new tricks he has and call his name as he looks into the computer screen.  They just soak him up.

sophia

The other day Jason’s mom Sophia came over.  She does that a lot just to hang out with Coleman while I work.  Each time I went into the family room I saw them together.  One time she was lying on the floor next to his play gym while he grabbed for the hanging toys.  The next time they were dancing in the middle of the room.  After that she was tickling him while he squealed and giggled his deep laugh.  Next they were looking out the window with their heads close together and Cole’s hand on Sophia’s cheek.  then of course, there were many moments where she was playing with him while he jumped in his jumparoo as well.

I have been thinking a lot about this idea of balancing the tasks of motherhood with the ability to savor motherhood at the same time.  Is it possible to do both?  I’ve decided that it is and I think that the way to remember to do it is to follow the example of Cole’s two Grandmas.  Grandmas usually don’t have the day-to-day weight of the tasks of motherhood to deal with – they get to just savor and spoil their grandchild then send them home to Mom.

Cole & Grandma Hall dancing

Cole & Grandma Hall dancing

So for me, when I feel myself starting to allow the nuts and bolts and rigors of motherhood take over, I want to conjure up the visual picture of Sophia dancing with Cole in our family room and remember to take a moment to be like his Grandmas.  Grandmas know how to savor.  They love to just spend time without an agenda.  They linger over tucking a child into bed just so they can have a few extra minutes together.  They can be coaxed into one more story or one more hug or one more cookie.

Grandmas know how to savor – and I want to remember that sometimes it’s good for Mom to be a little like Grandma.

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encyclopedia

One of my all-time favorite scrapbooking projects that I have done was actually shown to me by its creator, Cathy Zielske.  The year was 2006 and Cathy and I were both teaching classes at CKU (Creating Keepsakes University).  Cathy’s class was called “Encyclopedia of My Ordinary Life” and was inspired by the book with the same title.  Even though I was teaching my own classes at the same time, Cathy’s project intrigued me.  The idea was that you would take each letter of the alphabet and write two different journaling segments that started with each letter.  Paired with a photo that represented each segment, the album showcased different snapshots of your life through these random journal entries.

The project itself was simple – with each page’s format the same as she devoted one page to each letter of the alphabet.  The hard part about this project was the writing.   There was so much of it.  Story after story, paragraph after paragraph, thought after thought about different, random aspects of your life was the meat of it all and the primary focus of this project.  The photos were almost an afterthought, giving way to the words and thoughts you had instead.

It was a daunting task to decide to tackle all of that journaling during a busy time in my life but I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head.  I really wanted to do this project and it seemed like it was all I could think about.  Since I would be teaching classes myself I had to do this project on my own.  After talking with Cathy about how the album was put together I sat down with a notepad and listed each letter of the alphabet down the margin, leaving two spaces for each letter.  I then began to fill in the blanks with titles of stories and thoughts that I wanted to write about.

I carried this notepad around with me and as new ideas came to me I would find a place for each one on my list.  As I continued, sometimes I would change the title of one thought in order to move it to another letter, leaving room for something better in its place.  Then I started to write the actual journaling segments.  Some were long.  Some were short.  Some were serious.  Some were funny.  Some were life-changing and others were seemingly insignificant memories that are a part of who I am.

I became obsessed.  I couldn’t help myself.  I just kept writing and writing and writing.  I would be doing my hair in the morning or watching television or folding the laundry when a story would come to me and I would grab my notepad and start writing.  Page after page of journaling began to accumulate in my notepad until I had 52 memories written – two segments per letter of the alphabet.

letter c

Then, of course, I gathered the photos for each segment and scrapbooked the album itself.  What I ended up with is the most amazing compilation of my life that I have ever created.  The simple thoughts, the huge memories, the empowering moments and even some tragic trials.  A variety of topics that create a tapestry of who I am, what I think about, what’s important to me and where I am headed.  It is truly an encyclopedia of my ordinary – yet, oh so extraordinary – life.

Thank you, Cathy, for developing this project and now offering it through Big Picture Scrapbooking.  It’s a new look but the same idea and is called “Me: the Abridged Version.” I can’t wait for a whole new batch of scrapbookers to experience the journey that compiling this project will become for them.  The format of the project is very simple so even if you have never done a scrapbooking project in your life, consider this being the first one.  Let Cathy guide you on a fun but meaningful quest to record your life.  Take the challenge.  Sign up now and dedicate yourself to writing about your life.  You won’t be sorry that you did.

Me logo

And just to make it even more enticing, I am actually giving away a seat in Cathy’s upcoming workshop so you have the chance to learn how to do this album from Cathy for free!  To win, write a comment here about what one of your journal entries would be called and a quick phrase of what it would be about.  See, I’m getting you started already!

Take this class and experience the journey that Cathy has in store for you.  I hope you love this project as much as I do and that you find parts of yourself that you didn’t even realize were in you.  This may be patterned after the book “An Encyclopedia of My Ordinary Life” but once you finish you’ll find that it is anything but ordinary – rather extraordinary instead.

Enjoy!

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click on image to download pdf

click on image to download pdf

kolette camera

sunshine + otter pops + a good book + poolside = contentment

What’s your summertime recipe for the good life?

Enjoy your week, friends – and soak up the richness of summer.

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