Another New Year’s post: it’s never too late until it is…

I always start each new year thinking I’m finally going to start regularly writing to y’all about the joys of keto, diet tips, recipe secrets, and funny life anecdotes of 9 kids, chickens and a falling apart house, and then the year just happens and before I know it it’s time for another New Year’s post. So here we are. How was your year? Did you keep your resolutions? Achieve all of your goals? Yeah, me neither.

I’ve finally given up on my annual “no swearing” goal – I’m sick of handing out quarters to my kids and then having them gather around every Bills game waiting for me to start cursing after a bad call. I’m embracing that I can still be a great mother and not be perfectly wholesome – or even anything close to perfect. My kids are lucky to have parents who provide (so much) food, clothing, shelter, who work way past the point of exhaustion to make sure that their billion activities are paid for, and who still find time to play silly games at dinner, lose gracefully at Mario Kart, and talk freely and often about the mundane, hard and awkward stuff that comes with 7 boys and 2 teenage girls (the 7 boys are way easier).

This year, my goals revolve around health, wealth and happiness. I want all three – no, I need all three – of these areas to improve, so if my resolutions lead me in that direction why wouldn’t I keep them this time around? In the same way that I’ve successfully given up even a single Dorito for 4 years in order to shed 80 pounds, I should be able to add 64 ounces of water, a phone call to my siblings, or $100 to my savings account, right? It boils down to making a decision and sticking with it, plain and simple. When I was 250 pounds, no amount of concern, pep talks or even shame could make me lose the weight. I had to reach the point of wanting it, needing it, for my own personal health and happiness to make it happen.

So here I am, announcing my 2023 goals publicly to thousands of family members, friends, acquaintances and clients so that you know I’m ready to be called out, asked about my water intake, reminded that I haven’t made time to talk on the phone in a month. And if you know me at all, you know that I work well from a list and that I HATE to fall short of any goal, especially in public.

  1. Lose 20 pounds. I know, I know, everybody has some kind of weight loss goal in January. I’ve gotten so close to where I want to be and at the end of each year I go into such holiday survival mode that I always end up drinking another 5 pounds onto the scale. How can I reverse 11 months of effort with 30 days of extra tape and wrapping paper? 20 pounds would allow me to enter keto maintenance, fit into that last pair of jeans, and look and feel more confident out in the world, not to mention set a good example for my daughter, who has been working her tail off to reach her own weight loss goals and looks to me as the example. My very specific plan is to: 1) Drink no less than 80 oz of water per day, 2) fast between 9pm-1pm every day, and 3) designate 5 days each month to a cleanse to make sure I’m not developing any bad habits and to keep me disciplined. 20 pounds is less than 2 pounds a month. I can do this, and I will do this.
  2. Say I love you to each of my children every day. Does it sound awful that I don’t? They know I love them, imperfectly but fiercely. Some of them say I love you multiple times every day, and get an “I love you have a great day at school,” or “I love you good night” on the regular. My husband and I say I love you to each other dozens of times each day without any effort. It’s our kids who are busy playing and screeching and wrestling and whining who get shortchanged. They don’t take the time to stop and say it, think it, or even grab a quick hug before climbing onto the bus, and I’m usually so busy working, packing lunches, doing laundry, emptying the f%&$ing dishwasher, that I forget too. It’s on my list now, kids. Get ready to hear it until you’re sick of it.
  3. Call my family every month. Even though part of my heart will always be in New York, I have married a full-blooded Texan, I have birthed Texan babies, and we are here for the long haul. My siblings and parents, however, are scattered through the Northeast and Midwest. Phone calls sound simple enough, but when you add in 9 kids, 2 jobs, 3 loads of laundry, the neverending motherf%&*ing dishwasher, and 4 hours of sleep, a phone call honestly seems like a chore, or a luxury I can’t afford. But what I really can’t afford, especially as we all get older, is to fall out of touch with my family, to be more separated than we already are, or to have our last conversation ever be six months ago. One day it will be too late to make that phone call, and you never know what that day will be. I’m making a Google calendar with my free spots and sharing it with all of them – a scheduled call might be less romantic or spontaneous, but the calls will happen. You heard it here first.
  4. Put money back into the bank. Let me first start by saying that our little business is still thriving, in fact we’re doing great, and I am so grateful for the continued and growing support month after month during pandemics, inflation and economic upheaval. However, as a small business peddling very expensive healthy lifestyle products, the money is sometimes flowing out almost as fast as it’s coming in. Cream in 2021 was $1.79 per quart, we pay over $5 for the same exact quart today. Eggs, $7.99 per case, now over $15. Butter was $2 per pound, now over $4 per pound. And don’t even get me started on cheese… If you eat keto you know these are basic cooking staples to many recipes, and while we have raised our prices a dollar here and there we have tried to shoulder a lot of the price increases, which is hurting our already slim profit margins. Add to that the ever increasing cost of groceries for an 11 person household, rising employee costs, unexpected home repairs and a very large monthly gymnastics and violin tab and you might wonder how we have any money at all. My general goal is to cut costs and right the ship so that there is more money coming in than going out. Simple but not specific enough – do I cut down on help and work overnight? Do I cut back on going out to dinner twice a month and put that money away? Do I switch brands, stores and suppliers to save a few dollars? By the end of the year I would like to have doubled my savings account without canceling any kids’ activities and without sacrificing the quality on any of my ingredients.
  5. Post once a month. What would this post be without a business goal? If you are one of our valued clients, here’s the part you can nag me about freely and often. The whole website is in desperate need of updating but we are (luckily) so busy that there never seems to be the time. Our regular customers know that I have so many ideas, recipe hacks, and product recommendations after years and years of keto trial and error (but overall success) and I want to document it, share it, and ultimately connect better with my customers, who, like phone calls to my family, will only benefit from the extra effort.

That’s the short list. I want to spend more time with my kids, start working out again, go on a trip with my husband, clean, empty out and organize the house, fix the leaky roof (another one) and maybe even replace the pool heater. I also want to swear less and win the lottery.

Get ready guys. The holidays are over. I’m relieved, I’m grateful to have survived and I’m motivated to do it all bigger and better this year. How about you?

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Published by Michaela Ingram

Michaela Ingram, creator of thefoorce.com, thecentralparkzoo.com and abckitchentexas.com, is a music teacher and keto chef with a wonderfully supportive husband and 9 amazing children, ages 1-22. Her writing has been featured in Special Parent and Big Apple magazines as well as on childmind.org, mommypoppins.com and nymetroparents.com. Her keto and gluten free treats can be found at Marinas Bakery in League City, Funky Monkey in Friendswood, and multiple Luigi's Pizzeria locations. She also enjoys working as a music ambassador for Daniel's Music Foundation. Michaela left her fast-paced life in NYC for an even more exciting adventure in Texas, where she works a lot, plays a lot and sleeps a little. She loves cooking, music, writing, chickens, anything outdoors, homeschooling, and crazy big family life. To check availability for catering, events, in store products, writing and speaking engagements, please email mingram1122@gmail.com.

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