Friday, December 21, 2012

13 new skills in 2013

Recently I began listening to a podcast a friend recommended to me known as The Survivalist Podcast by Jack Spirko. In one of the first episodes I listened to he mentioned his idea of having a group of families that worked on developing 13 skills in 2013. This idea stuck with me, perhaps because it lines up with our family theme for the year--Excelsior.

The goal with this list of 13 things is to drastically develop your personal skills on an individual and a family level. These things must challenge you to grow as a person. Anything can be added to the list, from learning a new programming language to becoming a beekeeper. It doesn't have to be a new skill either, if it drastically grows an existing skill. The sky is the limit! The important thing is that these skills must be things that will actually used. It shouldn't just be a checklist--this project should change or improve your quality of life, and that of your family and those around you.

 Some of the areas I've chosen to focus on are newer things, others are walking in the ancient paths. Both are good. Ancient skills are important to learn because they are being lost. If we don't make a conscious effort to go out of our way to learn these skills they will be lost forever. But it is possible to be so focused on the past that we don't take advantage of modern advancements. I want to have a skill set that  reflects both ancient wisdom and modern learning.

 At this point my husband and I are planning on completing this challenge as a family--13 goals between the two of us. Many of the areas overlap, but we have our own personal goals within each area. Here are the areas we are planning on working on--my personal goals are in pink, his are in blue, and goals we share are in purple.

1. Nutrition--I want to move our family to more local, grassfed, and/or organic foods. This is not a specific diet or eating plan, but instead a shift to more healthy choices. By the end of the year I want to have phased out most conventional foods.

2. Fitness--I want to complete the couch to 5K program. Once the program is complete I want to run two or three 5Ks each week to stay in good shape. I may add other fitness goals after I accomplish this one, but (for a girl who has never run a mile in her life) just running 5K seems impossibly huge.


3. Writing--I want to improve in both quality and quantity, particularly in the area of creative writing. I'm going to start by spending a month writing off an assigned writing prompt every day for 15 minutes. Once I've done that I'll evaluate the changes and work from there.

4. Painting--I have zero experience in this area, but plan to take a week of acrylic from my grandmother, MamaDoll. She is quite a skilled painter, and I'm really excited to expose myself to a new skill!

5. Photojournalism--I am starting a LifeJournal album, and document the year for our family. This includes both taking pictures and journaling about our life. A second skill I'm hoping to add in this category is a smartphone photography class. I'm not even sure if such a thing exists, but if it doesn't it should.

6. Fishing--One of hubby's hand-print goals.

7. Sewing--Sewing in one skill I'm already quite proficient in, however I would like to add diaper making to my repertoire. We have switched to almost entirely cloth diapering, but those babies are expensive! I want to learn how to sew my own, although there is a fee for the sewing class. While I could just purchase already made diapers instead of paying a class fee, developing a skill will be something I can use for the rest of my life. It will allow me to be independent and is therefore a more effective use of our money than purchasing an already made product. I will also be learning how to design my own patterns.


 Training in this area will be non optional for all of my children. However, I can't expect my children to be required to learn a skillset that their mother isn't familiar with herself. That is why "self defense" is a category rather than a single skill for me this year--there are several areas that I feel need work. 

8. Hand-to-hand--This will be striking, boxing, Krav or something along those lines. Self defense when I don't have access to a traditional weapon. I will be taking at least three months of training, starting in January.

9. Handgun--This is a prime example of different goals for my hubby and me within the same skillset. By the end of the year he hopes to be the first certified Combat Focus Shooting Instructor in the state of Texas. I want to have a basic understanding of terminology, be comfortable with a handful of different handguns, and have a high level of competency with my (one) self-defense weapon of choice.

10. knife fighting--This is one of hubby's goals. I may join him, but I'm only highlighting the skills I'm committing to do this year. If I add this skill to my own list it won't be till later in the year.

11. Holster making--I'm excited hubby is going to be learning this skill! It could come in super handy considering the difficulty I've had in finding a holster that works for me.


While we trust the Lord as the one who will guard and defend us, we also believe that it is our responsibility to look to the future and be prepared for what may come. “A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3)

12. first aid--I have never taken a first aid class, and this is a hole in my skill set that needs to be filled. I want to have a good understanding of first aid in general, with a strong focus in any skills likely to be needed for children and in emergency situations.

13. Meals-in-a-jar--We have food storage, that's worked into the budget. Now I want to learn some practical ways to store the ingredients (as meals), and work them into our regular food rotation.  I am already proficient in freezer cooking, but I want another option that does not require electricity for storage. 

Many of these skills will allow us to be more self reliant--whether in creating our own items instead of buying them, being more confident of our own abilities in an emergency situation, or being able to survive longer without being dependent on the grocery store. This independence is important not only for our own family, but also so that when a crisis comes we will be in a position to aid others as well as ourselves.

These are not the ONLY goals that I have for the new year. There are other things I'll be working on as a wife, a mother, and a Christian that don't fall into the above categories. However, the things above will enable me to become more independent, more self-sufficient, and more competent at all my roles. By purposefully developing myself I will be a better, more skillful woman and that will help me be a better wife and mother.

If you are interested in joining me in this journey to greater self sufficiency, I'd encourage you to check out the website, My profile can be found here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This is a time of year when many of us are choosing to both review the previous year and look forward to the future. It is important to look back, because it is in the looking back that we can see our growth and progress. We remember where we came from, and evaluate whether the course we have set is the course we want to remain on.

 The last two years of marriage my husband and I have made some pretty big accomplishments in every area. We have met some major financial goals, we have become parents, we have grown as people and spouses. We have also set some major long-term goals that are going to take us years to accomplish.  We're dreaming big, but we're also taking each one of those small steps to make those dreams more than just a castle in the sky.

Looking back, however, isn't the first thing that comes to mind in a new year. Looking forward is what is most natural. We want to consider what changes to make in the new year, set goals, chooe a new direction--or simply make slight course adjustments. That is what has been on my mind.

This coming year is going to be a big year for our family. In the last year we've set our course, but this coming year will be when we begin taking measurable steps toward making those goals reality. Not all the steps are going to be fun or convenient, but we have to move forward anyway. We have set a good foundation so far--now it is time to build on it.

A word that keeps coming up is Excelsior. It is a Latin word that  means "higher." Excelsior means that we are ever striving to move forward, to improve on the past. We are setting the bar ever higher. It is making a conscious choice to not rest on the laurels of yesterday, but to make new accomplishments today. Recently a sister asked me what my goal was for the coming year--I told her it was Excelsior. In every area of my life I wish to become a better, more rounded person. Last year was not a bad year--but this year I want to improve.

What kind of a parent do I want to be?
What kind of a wife do I want to be?
What kind of woman?
What kind of Christian?

By the grace of God, a better one.


In the next few days I hope to share some more specific goals I have for the coming year, but first I wanted to share the overarching theme. While specific steps are necessary, if I can look back on 2013 and say I improved on 2012, I will have accomplished my goal--even if the steps I take to get there end up being a bit different than the ones planned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

23 things I love about you

Today is my husband's birthday, and in honor of his special day here are 23 things I love about him (in no particular order).

I love: 

1.Your sense of humor--our home is a home of laughter and joy
2. Your strength
3. Your sense of responsibility--you are a father, a husband, a man, a Christian, and you live these parts every day, not secretly wishing for a "day off"
4. That you live love daily in hundreds of ways.
5.  that I've never seen you angry, not when we were friends, engaged, or now after more than two years of marriage.

6. Your wide variety of interests--seriously. I've never met ANYONE with as many interests as you! Life will never, ever be boring around here.
7. how romantic you are. You often surprise me with something sweet and unexpected.
8. Your balance--for a man with so many interests, hobbies and passions you do a remarkable job of keeping your priorities in order (God, family, other stuff)
9. Your steaks. Yum!
10. Your wisdom--I know when I ask counsel you will have valuable input

11. Your height. I love me my tall man.
12. Your passion for the Lord
13. That even after marriage you're involved with your family and seamlessly a part of mine. Extended family still has a place in our hearts.
14. The amazing letters you write me.
15. That you are an awesome daddy. You are so in love with your little girl, and it warms my heart to see you interact together.

16. Your ability as a provider. I know as long as you are physically able to put food on the table you will be our breadwinner.
 17. Your ability to put things in perspective when I DON'T have ANY perspective. Nuff said.
18. That you are a dreamer, and you never dream halfway.
19. that wherever you are you are ALL THERE.

20. That you are a writer. The bookworm in me fell in love with the writer in you many years ago.
21. our weekly dates to the range
22. that you practice what you preach.
23. That your highest priority is our immediate family. Even though you have so many interests and demands on your time, you protect your time with your wife and daughter.

**Picture credit: Lexi Quinn