Thursday, February 28, 2013

Church Chat with Sister O


My dumb back seems to have recovered from the great laundry injury of 2013, now it's just the usual moans and groans from me.

We had ward conference this week and the stake came to observe Primary. I was in charge of Sharing Time and I think it went really well. I have to say, I think the Lord had mercy on me, because the kids were all really reverent, so it was pretty easy to have a smooth Sharing Time.
We talked about how the Lord has a plan for us and we make choices in that plan, some choices lead us to safety and peace, others lead to danger and sorrow.
I posted a big fence on the board and around the fence we had rocks, a river, a pit and a wolf.
On another board I had lambs, each with a scenario.
Some kids were called up and picked a lamb and read it. We then posed the question :Is this a choice that brings safety and peace or one that brings sadness and danger?
If it brought peace, it went in the safe fence. If it brought danger, the child chose what dangerous thing it was by and stuck the lamb there.

With a few minutes left, the child I chose to pick a lamb in Jr. Primary was Ben. Ben has some special needs and struggles to communicate.
Ben chose his lamb, it was a lamb that went to a safe place. I thanked him and asked him to sit back down.
Ben didn't sit down.
He stood and looked at our board for a few minutes, and all of the kids waited to see what he was going to do. He took one of the lambs who was in danger, shook his head and put it in the fence and said "safe."
I said to him, and to everyone "Oh, that's very good! What can we do to help make the lambs who were in the wrong place go to the safe place?"
We read what the lamb said again and then said what could be done to repent and make the lamb safe again."
One by one Ben took each of the lost lambs and put them in the safe place.
When they were all safe, he happily turned and went back to his seat.

It was one of those moments where you get to be a part of something so much greater than you ever expected.
I'd planned to talk about helping the lambs safe again, focusing more on it in Sr. Primary, but Ben, in his quiet and loving way brought it about with a spirit I never could have.
He understood, and he wanted everyone to be safe.
 He wasn't going to stop until they were all where they needed to be and I got to see My Savior this Sunday, in the eyes of  Ben.

It was a good day.

Yesterday was a good day, too.
Romy turns 12 this summer and she will start Young Women's.
That totally freaks me out!

They had New Beginnings last night and it was great. She is going to be joining such a great group of girls, I adore the YW in this ward and the leaders are the very best. I am lucky to count them as friends and excited for Roe to spend time with women who have genuine testimonies, who love the Lord and who truly and honestly keep all of their covenants. They don't set a bad example and care more about being seen as cool, they love those girls and set an example. They inspire the girls to find joy in doing the right things, not just the fun or trendy things.
I trust them.


Romy was nervous and intimidated by everyone, but she also knows these leaders and knows that they will help her make choices that will lead her to happiness, safety and peace.


The older girls had to guess which of the new girls had certain likes and dislikes and pin them on the girls.
That's the look of a girl who knows she is the one who is good at origami and loves steak. :)


She will always have a choice, I will love my kids no matter what they do. I am thankful that she has good teachers and good examples who will show her a path that is very different from the one she will find in other places.  She'll make her own way, we all do. I am glad that she has the YW program to help, and if she chooses it, to lead her to places that are not in the rocks, or among the wolves, but to the safety and peace of her Father in Heaven.


In the meantime- you're not quite old enough yet, you are still small.
 I'll keep you with me, Little Roe, just as long as I can.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Back Off the Saddle Again

What have I done this week?
Absolutely nothing.
 
Well, except that on Monday I made this:
 
 
It's hanging in the family room, a map on canvas with little red hearts to mark places that are special to Matt and I. There are hearts in the towns we were born in and lived as kids and hearts in places we have taken trips to. Not every place we have been is marked, and many of these places have had multiple visits, but I love looking at it and seeing that we have taken our kids from coast to coast and we have really shown them a slice of what America has to offer. We love Salt Lake City, but the world is so big and at the same time so small. It's vast and amazing, but you can still step out onto the sidewalk and absorb it and find your own special places wherever you go.
 
On Tuesday, I was doing laundry, picked up a basket and felt a sharp pinch in my back.
Eh, my back always feels crummy, so I kept working. It rapidly started to hurt more and more and within an hour, even the slightest movement hurt like the dickens.
 
I have been on by back ever since. Ergh.
 
On the bright side, I've been catching up on shows I wanted to watch. I'm finally finishing Heroes and realizing why such a great show was cancelled.
 
 
 It really just went in a weird place in Season 3 and stopped being entertaining. As a former comic book nerd, I can see what they were trying to do, but it didn't work for a TV show. Usually when a comic book starts to have the alternate universe doomsday story lines, they spin off into their own stories and comics. That's why there have been  over 70 different, stand alone comics telling the Batman story alone. You get a whole team of characters, like the X men and there are hundreds of spin off comics. Go to your local comic store and you will see at least half a dozen current comics of each of the more popular characters, all in alternate time/story lines- not all in the same comic. It muddies the waters too much and leaves too many holes in the story. Heroes tried to put 10 different story lines into a 1 hour episode and it just jumped the shark.
 
Yeah....that's what my week has been like. 
 
I also watched a series called "Whisker Wars" about the competitive 'sport' of facial hair growing and the catty men who participate in it.
 
 
It wasn't a good series, but I couldn't stop watching these petty, squabbling men who thought that the act of growing hair on their face made them a superior person. 
I'm not a girl who likes facial hair on a guy, I don't care how luxurious and shiny their whiskers are. It's fine for those who like them, but I'm really glad that my husband is and always will be clean shaven with short hair.
 
 
 
So it's been pretty awesome around here, lots of bad TV, delivery dinners and the smell of icy hot.
Good times.
 
 
I have done some sewing while laying here, I finished another CTR pillowcase and re-did the lettering on one that I had finished before I learned how to do lettering better.
 
 The lettering was fine, but that child has a twin sister, they are both getting baptized the same day and her lettering was done the new way, and his the old. I just felt like when you held them up together, his looked crummy, so I re-did it.
 
 
Much better.
 
I've also been indexing and my Downton Abbey Nerd heart smiled to come across this name..Dora Deborah Grantham, coming from England through  New York to visit someone in California  so many years ago....
 
 
I'm still going to be resting my back as much as I can next week, I have 4 more days of steroid to take, but I have to do Sharing Time tomorrow.
I saw this idea on Pinterest, and I remember the chorister doing it in our old ward and how much the kids loved it. Matt thinks it's too much like training a dog and that Magic Sharing Spray is weird and will offend parents.
 
Magic Singing Spray. Use a clear spray bottle with lemonade. Label the bottle. Use it to lubricate vocal chords and improve singing. Ingredients should be kept secret. When the primary needs a little incentive to sing out this is a great motivator. Practice squirting into mouths at home and be careful not to soil clothing.
 
What do you think?
I know the kids would love it and it's way better than candy or food incentives, but yeah, I don't want to do something that is going to cause any parent to be freaked out or annoyed.
 
Magic Sharing Spray, yes or no?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Color of the Skies Above Me

 
My friend Jeff made a comment today and referenced this song:
 
 
 
Ignoring the awesomeness that music videos were in the late 80's......this song is pretty perfect for how I've felt much of this winter.
 
I'm not depressed, I just look out that window every day and I shiver deep within my bones and want to just stay under the covers and avoid the grey skies.
 
It's silly.
 
Winter comes every year, I don't mind winter at all.
 It's beautiful, even with the grey and the cold. The air has a bite to it when you breathe it in you can bake and get super fat and use winter as the excuse. It gets you out of doing things you don't want to do and you get to stay warm by the heart fires of the home and family.
 
But when the sun comes up, reflecting grey off the snow and pavement and you hear the wind blowing......no part of my soul wants to get moving.
 
I remind myself that in a month, green leaves will invade these New Jersey skies and soon I'll feel like I live in a forest again.
-
Did you know that this is the greenest place I have ever been?
-
Never in my life have I lived near so many trees, trees as old as our country. Trees that were planted as a nation was begun, to bless new lives and new people.
 
We have a new life and we're new people and I love the trees.
But right now, they are a mess of branches, still showing breaks and pain from that terrible storm.
 
When you look through the tangles they weave across the sky, it's dreary.
 
It's not a silent cold like they show in the movies. It's not romantic and Poe-like. It's just there, it's watercolor black and it's eating at us all.
 
Go away, Winter.
 
It's not you, it's me.
 
Well, it's you but I want us to end as friends- but it has to end.

The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lips as if I might cry.

Well by the force of will my lungs are filled and so I breathe.
Lately it seems this big bed is where I never leave.
Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
Quiver in my voice as I cry,

"What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away."

I hear the sound of a noon bell chime.
Now I'm far behind.
You've put in 'bout half a day
while here I lie
with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lip as if I might cry,

"What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away?"

Do I need someone here to scold me
or do I need someone who'll grab and pull me out of this four poster dull torpor pulling downward.
For it is such a long time since my better days.
I say my prayers nightly this will pass away.

The color of the sky is grey as I can see through the blinds.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again
with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my voice as I cry,

"What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away?"
I shiver, quiver, and try to wake.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Things We Won't Talk About

Tales from the Primary pews:
Junior Primary

Sister P. was leading the music and drew some stick figures to help the kids learn a part of a new song. The song was about what Heavenly Father does for his children- illustrated by the stick figure drawing.
Cute and the kids could understand it easily.

As she started to lead the kids in singing, one child seemed to get very nervous and a little upset. She raised her hand, with a freaked out look on her face. Sister P. called on her and in a rather timid and frightened voice, the child said "Um.....why don't the children have eyes?"



That moment made all of the rest of a tough Sunday worth it, the Stuff that we won't talk about.

We won't talk about the mosh pit the kids created as they did a lesson on being kind to others and respecting the differences in our bodies. 
We also won't talk about the child who loudly announced that "there are just too many Asians in this ward!" 
We won't talk about the child who decided to randomly just start crying and when I went to go comfort her, did the melted sack of potato act so that gravity was going to be 10 times as strong as I needed to carry her out of the room
. Don't worry, she started to feel happier when I asked her if Perry the Platypus was in the picture of Jesus blessing the children that was hanging in the hall. 
We won't talk about when Sister N. passed out drawings of parts of our body that we use like hands and eyes that without thinking it, when she said "What do we use brains for?" that I said "Zombie food" just a little too loudly and got all of the boys laughing. 
We won't talk about the fact that I was still cleaning playdough out of the carpet from my brilliant idea to use it in Sharing time last week.
We won't talk about how one child was explaining to another child about his Polynesian heritage and he loudly announced "Polys in da house y'a'll!!" and how even though I probably should have pulled out my tranquilizer gun, I just started laughing instead.


SH Primary kids 1 , Sister Olson 0.
Not to worry, I'm teaching Sharing Time next week.
Rematch.

(I love love love this calling and these kids. They make my heart soar and I never would have dreamed how much I'd love working in the Primary.)



Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentimes

 
Yesterday was a pretty good one.
 Some years we put a lot of thought into it, and other years we just swap cards and call it good. We're kind of super dorky in love all of the time anyway.

Our first Valentine's Day together- we were dating and had actually only met a few weeks before. We were super twitterpated, but it was out first real holiday as a couple.
I made him a super sappy mix CD and put a lot of time and energy into finding him the perfect gift. I got him a watch from Fossil. It's really gorgeous watch and he actually gets compliments on it all of the time.
 
 (Thank you internets for having a picture of everything I ever have purchased and ever will purchase.)
 
I was proud of that gift because it was romantic and also practical. He needed a grown up man watch. He'd been wearing one that was insane.
 It was not appropriate for his work environment and he hated it, but because he's a guy, he was too lazy to go and buy a new one as long as the old one worked.
 It had a face the size of a dinner plate and was secured with green velcro.
I love velcro but grown up men who work in banks don't wear velcro.
It had a compass built in it, you know, in case he got lost in Salt Lake City- a town that it is nearly impossible to get lost in.
The man needed a new watch.
He loved it.
He gave the old one to Emma who took about 45 minutes to completely lose it.
 
 
 
I was really excited about giving that gift.
 
When we exchanged Valentine gifts, he was excited for the gift he gave me as well.
I opened it up and it was....a webcam.
 
I tried to act happy, but what the heck?
 
 
He explained the gift- that since he was moving to Chicago (something that already was becoming too hard to face) that it would help us stay connected during out long distance relationship (another thing I struggled to be okay with.)
 
His heart was in the right place, it really was. In his mind, he was giving the gift of us being able to see each other every day.
 In my mind, it was office equipment.
 
I smiled and thanked him and we went to Fuddrucker's and smooched the rest of the evening.
 
 
 
I told Sunnie about the gift the next day and she said the words that I wasn't going to say. She said "That's a terrible gift." I explained where he was coming from and she was a good sister who agreed that while the gift was a dud, Matt was an amazing guy.
 
Little did I know that she didn't just hug me and feel bad for me- she did something about it. She knew Matt was "The One" and that he probably had no idea that his gift kind of made me feel bad. Without telling me she called him and together, they planned a Valentine's re-do.
The next weekend, Matt took me on a double date with Sunnie and he gave me flowers and a pair of diamond studs. We had dinner at The Roof in Salt Lake and it was a super fun and fancy date. He told me that Sunnie had called and helped him. I loved that he was the kind of guy who was totally up for a re-do,  and that he didn't take credit for the things that he got help with. he was the kind of guy that truly with all of his heart wanted to show his love and make me feel good and he was grateful that I had a sister who loved us both as a couple so much that she was willing to let him know things that I wasn't very good at expressing.
 
I loved Matt even with the webcam gift, I knew then and I know now where his heart was.
We both learned a lot about each other when that happened, primarily, that we need to just have a quick conversation before each holiday and be on the same page. That way nobody feels dumb if they go overboard and nobody feels like they aren't cared for if a gift is practical and budget friendly.
 
And lest anyone think I am being unfairly critical of the webcam valentine, the truth is that I hold the title for the worst Valentine's gift ever.
One year, I gave Matt a bell.
Nothing has ever been as stupid as that bell.
 
Oh look, we still have the stupid thing!
 
 
 I can't even explain what I was thinking or any great romantic thought behind it. I was running out of time and trying to think outside the box and I was at Ross.
That's it.
 
 
This year, we agreed on a super modest budget. We're trying to get out of debt in 2013 and we just had Christmas, there isn't anything we are really needing and we'd rather just spend time together than go and shop for presents. I have many sparkly things and we both still have Christmas gifts we haven't had time to use. We agreed that we'd so something small and simple from the heart this year. The gift of no stress or pressure was perfect. It made for a really relaxing feeling and energy was spent sharing the love with others. I made and delivered sugar cookies with the kids, we mailed off Valentines to the Elders serving from and in our ward and we even left a Valentine for the mailman.
 
 
I woke up yesterday and found my house had been attacked with dozens of post-it notes, all with words of love from Matt. I smiled all day as I would find another little note from my Sweetie.
He also got me some nice new embroidery needles, a huge pack of good embroidery floss and a book on needle painting embroidery- much more advanced stuff than I am doing now. I loved them all.
 
I got him a new geek game- a card game called Redshirts and we played that three times last night. It's fun. I also made him a mix CD, just like I did for our first Valentine's day, but I didn't obsesses over hidden meanings and the perfect lyrics this time.
(I once had a boyfriend who made me a mix tape, and one of the songs was U2's "with or Without You" that he had added because he loved the song, but I took as a hint that he wanted to break up and I cried my 17 year old eyes out with a broken heart because that's what girls do.)
 I wanted it to just be a good mix he could listen to during his commute with songs or covers that he wasn't familiar with, but would like.
 
 
 
I have to say, this was one of my best Valentine's Days yet.
Thanks, Matt.
I forgive you for the webcam, but I will never stop giving you grief about it.
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The first time I saw you, felt like I'd seen you before.

I'm still doing the LOAD challenge.


Mostly.

It's hard to scrapbook on weekends- one would think it was easier, but I want to spend my time with my handsome husband and kids. The crafting is good for my soul and good for my mind, but it is very rare that I need it as isolated alone time. Sometimes I do, but not as often as I did when the kids were small and life was about marker on the walls and potty training. There are a lot of crafts I can do while spending time with my family,but scrapbooking is not one of them.

So, I will not win the grand prize, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I love making something pretty with stickers and paste and pictures of my sweethearts. I'll keep at the challenge, but when I have to choose between it and family time- right now- I choose my little bunch of weirdos.
----


Did you see all of that snow we got over the weekend?


It was absolutely the most snow I have ever seen in my life. We had some great storms in Utah, but nothing like this. I know they have had a winter that has seen more snow than they have in years, but that didn't happen any of the years I lived there. Most of the snow we got would last a few days and then it was gone. 
That's how it has been here in New Jersey, too.
Until this weekend, when we got a good foot of snow.
I played outside with the younger kids while Zane went sledding with braver souls than I.

When we were done playing in the mountains of white stuff, we drank hot cocoa and watched Joe Vs. the Volcano as a family.



Joe: You love me?
Patricia: Yes, I love you. I can feel my heart...I feel like I'm going crazy. You can't just die and leave me alone on this stinking earth without you.


It is such a great movie.
The kids loved it, too. Even the ones who want me to think they are bored with everything.
The theme of our wedding reception was Joe Vs. The Volcano- that's how much we love this movie.

 I am completely untrustworthy... I'm a flibbertigibbet..

When we first realized we were in love, Matt had already accepted a transfer to Chicago. 
We had the "I love you, but the timing stinks." conversation.


Do you think I feel good? Nobody feels good. After childhood, it's a fact of life. I feel rotten. So what? I don't let it bother me. I don't let it interfere with my job.



We decided to just do it- to jump into the volcano and see.
We had a super fun wedding reception and have had a super fun adventure together.
Not without scary things and mistakes, but oh, our life...

Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how big... thank you. Thank you for my life.

Constant amazement.


What is wrong with you?

 Not a week goes by that we don't manage to squeeze a quote into conversation.




As I snuggled my Schmoop Matt, I worked on some embroidery. 


I promised 5 friends on FB that I'd make them something handmade and I'm nearly done with my little dish towels. Two are ready to mail to Utah, two are finished for friends here in New Jersey and I'm almost done with the gift for my friend in Indiana.



 I smile when I realize that the span of these friendships goes from high school clear up to people I have only known a couple of months, yet all of them are people I love and can't imagine life without having them in it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

May Cause Regretful Blog Posting

Day three of LOAD- the prompt was "an important but often overlooked item."
I made Matt these socks a couple of years ago. 
They took forever.
Tall guy has big feet. 
He didn't seem too thrilled and I shrugged it off and told myself it wasn't that cool to him.
So be it, not every gift is a hit.
One day I was sick home from church and he texted me this picture with a note that said "whenever I wear these, it makes me feel loved."
And I cried and that was why I knitted them. 
I didn't need them to be his favorite fashion statement, just to know I loved him.



One more dose of antibiotic.


What a pain this was. 
I'll take the flu anytime. 
I spent all yesterday just cleaning my sickness filled house, especially our bedroom.
It tends to be one of the big dumping grounds for stuff in the house. Matt and I always think we'll just feel like sorting junk and folding laundry when we go to our room in the evening- and we NEVER  have done that.
Time to let go of the dream, Folks.
New goal- I will always have clutter and junk I need to find a place for or get rid of. No more storing that junk in our room. 
I'm serious, it's so much nicer, even though all the junk is just in a room downstairs, we need to get back to having our bedroom be a place of rest and sanctuary and making out.
Oooh, got ya with the stealth TMI there, didn't I?
 Eh- count your blessings, I've made everyone I know listen to me talk about my pee for the past 4 days, you got off easy.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saving the Date

Today I managed to leave my room. 
I went with Matt to go to Target and help get some Superbowl snacks and after about 15 minutes, I realized it was a bad idea. 
We made our purchases and I came home and took a 2 hour nap.
Sigh.
I have become one of those old people who does nothing but complain about how wrecked her body feels. 
I think I have been one for a long time.
I did finish my second layout for the challenge:


I am much happier with this one. 
I think I have done at least one if not two layouts with this picture, but it's one of my favorites, and it's kind of day one of our new little life here in New Jersey.

The other day, I saw something I had saved that was another reminder of the beginnings of a new life.
In January, Matt and I usually celebrate out "dateaversary," the anniversary of our first date. 
We usually forget exactly what day it is, though.
I found the calendar I had been using at the time and snapped a picture of the page that showed when it was and smiled at how different things were then. I had no idea that dinner with "Matt Olson" was going to be the first day of the rest of my forever life. 


Did you know he had a back up date planned that night?
I know!
He says it wasn't a back up date, it was just a "I'm out here anyway, wanna get together after my dinner with this girl with four kids..." thing- but I consider that a date. He didn't go because he and I were having such a great time together and fate was doing what fate does best.  
She was a crazy girl, too. Matt was her "plan B" until she was no longer in his plan at all, then she wanted him to be her "plan A."  
Sorry, Whackadoodle Krystelle.... Matt went with "Plan C."

Wait, that sounds sad, I'm plan A- but my name is Chris and it starts with a C......

Oh nevermind.

I was seeing two other guys when we met as well, and another guy was really trying to go out with me, but I think back on the conversations I had with that guy and I realize he probably had his previous girlfriend in the trunk of his car. I was going out on a lot of first dates back then.  One of the guys I was dating was really nice to me and really funny, but he was as dumb as a bag of wet bread. Sunnie hated him. I was seeing one guy who was dating was actually a pretty big jerk. He liked me a lot, but needed to let me know that I'd be perfect if I just lost 40 pounds. I think I put up with him because I liked him more than he liked me, but I knew he wasn't ever going to be the right guy- for me or any girl until he made some changes in how he treated people.  He also didn't want me to see anyone else, but he was still finding out what he wanted, so of course he could date other women.

Maybe he ended up marrying Krystelle. 

I can look at that calendar page and smile because after January 23rd, that 'dinner with Matt Olson' there were never any more dinners or dates with anyone else- for either of us. I had some lined up and bailed on them, he bailed on future dates with that crazy girl, who suddenly wanted to date Matt seriously once she realized he was in love with someone else. 
Chicks be crazy, Yo.

I have never regretted that Monday dinner date with the freakishly tall guy who wore wool pants to our date. He has probably regretted wearing those pants because I still give him grief about it, but I think we both agree that it was the best thing we ever did. 







I love you Matthew Olson.
Wool Pants.
Seriously, Babe?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bleah

I still feel crummy. 
I did my layout in bed, I am not happy with it, but I'm not happy with anything today. 


I don't feel like I made any progress in getting better today. 
Sunnie says I need to give the antibiotic 48 hours before I go back to the doctor. 
Bleah.
My visiting teacher was going to bring us dinner, but when she went to pick it up she locked her keys in the car. She was so sweet that she had already called Domino's and arranged for them to bring us some pizzas before letting me know she was having troubles of her own. 
Tomorrow we have a baptism in Primary that I was really looking forward to, but I just can't do it. 
I finished the pillowcase for Sonasi just in time, I'm happy with how it turned out.


I hope the Primary kids see these and know that they are loved and that it reminds them about their special day. 
Back to bed. 
Bleah.

Scrap Happy

Disclaimer:
I am loopy right now.
I spent yesterday at the hospital, I have a really severe bladder and kidney infection.
So...that's awesome. It was an all around crummy experience because it hurt so much I about punched a wall, but the staff at the medical center we have been going to is consistently crappy.
Thankfully, we now know enough people here that I have some referrals for better doctors and I am not going to deal with the staff at Overlook Family Practice any longer. I'm tired of being treated poorly in offices that are filthy and have a revolving door of doctors that do not communicate.
End rant.
So, I'm on heavy painkillers today.
Good thing I'm on the internet.....

But I had to post because today is day one of the LOAD (Layout a Day) challenge that Lain Ehmann has been running for years!!
 It is hands down my favorite scrapping event and I am excited to be doing it again.



I didn't do most of them last year because we did that whole 'uproot your family and move to the East Coast" thing, but I'm settled in and excited to do the challenge.




I'm excited to make some new friends and I'm excited to have the excuse to give myself some serious 'me' time every day. I have a family that is happy to let me take the time I need, but I am an expert at Momguilt, so I rarely give myself permission to do the crafts that can't be done in the family room.
LOAD helps me with that and it's just such a super fun challenge- even when I don't finish it. 
In spite of the rough beginning-- February is going to be a great month!