Ever find yourself really wishing you had more time to get ready for Christmas... December just seems to SNEAK up on you? Well, maybe we can make a difference... together!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's time to pull out the CHRISTMAS calendar!

Do you realize that Christmas is just around the corner?
Have you noticed the "JOLLY-LITTLE-FELLA" over to the right???? YIKES!!!!!
Pull out that calendar people!  We've got some work to do!!!!!!

I have found that one thing for me is to have a holiday calendar available... only my calendar consists of the entire year!  :)  I know that we are about half way through the year - and then some - so hurry and grab a calendar and get ready to get organized and enjoy a STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS!!!!!

My holiday calendar is pretty much the most important part of my holiday planning.  It is really my BRAIN of the season!  (Because if you know me... you know my brain is no longer storing - it just has "auto-delete" anymore!)  There are a lot of software programs available to print out and customize your calendar and I would highly suggest using one if  that works for you, or an online calendar like Google or Outlook calendars, but I also keep a small one in my purse - just in case I'm out and about and need to add something when I get home.... 

One of my favorite sites.... 
(but be careful as well - it can be a bit overwhelming!)
 Just remember, baby steps..... is

Even though I personally love my computer calendars that I can print out - whatever type of calendar you have will work as long as there is space to add your events. Another tip is to use colored pencils and give different activities or people a particular color.
There are five main steps to making your Holiday Calendar. The first step is to write in all birthdays, anniversaries and other dates that are set in stone like when the kids get out of school, any birthdays and anniversaries. These are the dates that never ever change - if you know you always have a get-together at your in-laws the Saturday before Christmas put it down - chances are it is not going to change.

The second step is to evaluate where you are in your Christmas projects. Projects would include things like making handcrafted Christmas gifts, ornaments and other items that require before thought to get them done. You need to schedule time on your calendar to work on these plus mark the “due date” for these projects to be done. Do not forget things like wrapping gifts because that is a big project!  (I am really going to try REALLY super hard this year to wrap as I go.... meaning - I'm wrappin' the day it's purchased.... but don't forget to make your "gift list" and write it down where you have it - just in case you are like "me" and forget where you put them.... I just found a container of gifts a few weeks ago that I couldn't find for the life of me at Christmas last year! I thought I was DREAMING about the purchase of those items... My list is tucked away and just so I don't forget where I put the list - I told my hubby - and his list is located in the lid of that container ... ya gotta be sneaky still! :))

The third step in preparing your Holiday Calendar deals with your activities during the holiday season. Does your family always go to a certain special event every year no matter what? Well go ahead and call now and find out what the date and time is for this year (you might even want to ask them if it is already scheduled for next year too!). Most places have big events scheduled months in advance. Do not worry about seeming silly calling this early - just explain to them you are preparing your Holiday Calendar and they will most likely marvel at how much you have it all together!  TRUST ME! They will!!!!
online advent calendar
The fourth step to your Holiday Calendar is marking all your Christmas related items. Make yourself a list of all the things that need to be done during the holiday season and make sure they get a date on your calendar not only to work on it but also for completion. This includes things like decorating your tree, mail Christmas cards, mail Christmas packages, due date for the Angel Tree gifts, getting the kids Christmas clothes bought and pictures scheduled. All these little things creep up on you and will make the holidays seem much more stressful if you have not planned ahead.

The last step in preparing your Holiday Calendar is to look and see what dates are left and plan your parties and get-together’s. Wouldn't your friends be surprised if you called them in October and asked them to mark their calendars for a cookie exchange in December? Of course you will still have to send out formal invitations several weeks before the event (and do not forget to mark on your calendar the date to buy and send those invitations!)

By this time you will know if you will even have the energy during the holiday’s to plan a fun get-together or just accept invitations from others and sit back and relax! (just putting this together is making me feel exhausted... yet excited at the same time - is that possible??) 

Now that I have given you 5 steps to preparing your Holiday Calendar there is one thing you should not over look in order to help your stress during this holiday season - you must actually do what is on your calendar! (This is a lot HARDER than it seems!  Well, for me anyway.... I seem to write it down - and then it leaves my mind.... I have to keep it somewhere where I will look through it each day... that is why the "Outlook" calendar works really well for me - it pops up my reminders of crucial items.... )  Even by accomplishing one or two of your tasks on your calendar will help the stress of the holiday. 
One word of advise....For "ME", I am a big dreamer!  I envision things going smooth and simple and everything perfect - in my MARY-POPPINS world.... In the "reality" world... it just doesn't ALWAYS work that way.  This past December - I had fun things planned for nearly every night during the month - It was exhausting and overwhelming to think about how much I "wanted" to do and how much I "WANTED" everything to go perfect.... it quickly turned to frustration as it seemed that NOTHING was going according to "MY" plan.  I found about one week into the month that I was frustrated, angry, not enjoying the month at all because it wasn't working out like my MARY POPPINS mind had planned.   I then took the rest of the month and started "crossing things off".... that was DEEEE-PRESSSSSSING!!!!!! to say the least! I then found that I had upset my children as well - they were looking forward to the month "I" had planned.... So this year, I've decided to "stretch" it out a little.  We will start in November with a few different things each week rather than trying to "SQUEEZE" it all into one month - I hope it goes better - OH! And... unfortunately I have decided to take out a few things as well.  And it's ok!  I'm OK with it.  One thing that I think will help is rather than placing it on the calendar for my children to see, I'm going to get up each morning and place the "activity" in the "advent calendar" based upon the "outlooks" of the day - so if the weather is going to be CRUMBY then I know not to put Temple Square Lights on that day.... Or if I know that only the youngest will be home because the others are working, we will do something like a Christmas show or make a treat rather than "Night in Bethlehem" when it is something I want/need all the family together for.... I'm hoping that this will help with my "MARY POPPINS" magical month of plans.....
But, do what you think will work for you....
But one thing I would HIGHLY suggest for all....
(Oh! I'm getting so excited!) 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What I LOVE about Christmas!

I hope that you were able to find another small book of some sort - a journal, extra spiral notebook, anything will work.  Maybe I should have told you this up front... I do apologize.  I surely hope you were able to find one on such short notice.....

I have a problem with "lists"...(remember this LIST post...)  and I love tracking things... so having notebooks in every room is a must, every purse, bag and even in my car - is a MUST!  I don't leave home without some sort of "notebook" in tote!  I know... I'm a bit crazy! BUT they are my saving grace! :)   So, this is probably one of my most favorite "after Christmas" things I like to do and usually it is on New Years Eve, or New Years day, when I really just want to "chill!".... "RELAX!"   but since we are a little behind, there is no better time to start than the present - so humor me a little and play along - who knows!  You might just enjoy it too!  

I like to sit down and review


I start by writing the "questions" on the top of my page - then I go to town! 

(this makes me so excited!!) 

Question 1:  

What I LOVED about Christmas!  

Christmas is a special time of year and should be celebrated and not dreaded. We need to remember that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ and we should be joyous during this time (and all year) and not let the world get us caught up in how we should celebrate this special time.  This is one of the times during the year we take time time to really remember and lift up all the important people and things in our life. The goal is to take a few minutes and write out all the things you love about Christmas.  Think about things you do, things you see, how you celebrate, activities you attend, people you spend time with, traditions in your family, songs you love to listen to, family you celebrate with, giving gifts, sending cards, foods you enjoy, and anything else you think make the holiday season special for you.  We want to make sure we enJOY the season by filling it with the things we love doing and mean the most to us.

Question #2

What I did not like about Christmas this year.

Every year there are things that we wish we had not done.  This does not only refer to that dreaded party but also to actions we did or did not do.  For example,  did you get your cards out later than you wanted or maybe you forgot to make the picture appointment early so all the good times were already taken?  
Take time to sit down and make a list of these dislikes, this will then become a punch list to help you restructure your holiday plans. You will refer back to this list as we work on planning the upcoming holiday season – the goal is to make sure we enJOY the season removing as many dislikes as we can.

Question #3

What I want to do this Christmas! 

It seems that our “to do” list for the holidays never seems complete and at times it can feel like it doesn’t even get shorter. Think about things last Christmas that you really wanted to do, but maybe you just ran out of time, or you thought about it a little too late in the season - whatever it was - it is important to try again! DO NOT just let it go without trying... :)  Make a list in your notebook of these items and then ranked them by importance. Because it IS important!

Question #4

Things that I HAVE to do this Christmas season.

Examples of this would include annual family get-togethers, church services, mailing Christmas cards, entertaining you do, decorating, Christmas pictures, etc. This list may be long – but that is o.k. as this list is what we will use when we get to the calendar section.

Question #5

Five things I want to do this Christmas that I did not do last Christmas 

Make a list of 5 things that you really want to try to do this Christmas.  Place the list in your Christmas Notebook. The items you list can be things you have never done before or things you have done but just did not get around to last Christmas.  Rank your list and then try to incorporate at least ONE item in your holiday season this year.  Your goal is 5, but if you do not reach this goal you have not failed – you already have ideas for next year!  Each Christmas will get easier and you will be more organized so do not fret!

Question #6

Activity Journaling Questions
Activities play an important part of most people's holiday celebrations.  In your Christmas Notebook journal take a few minutes and write about the following: 
  • Write down all the holiday activities you and your family did last year outside of your home – be sure to include church, school, community, and family activities.
  • What activities are a must do for our family every year?
  • Are there church related activities that I would really like to do this year that I have not done in the past?
  • Ask every member of your immediate family what their 3 favorite activities that you attend outside of the home are during the holiday season and write it in your notebook.  Incorporate at least one thing from everyone's list into your holiday planning.  Remember this is their Christmas too!  (This is really another of my FAVORITE things to do - I just LOVE finding out what my kids REALLY enjoyed and LOVED about Christmas as well.... I was quite surprised when this year my youngest (10 yr old) replied with, "I was happy that mom didn't sleep through Christmas this year."  Sure turned the lights on for me!) **I like to do this for a Family Home Evening activity, usually the first one of the year.  
  • What things from your childhood do you remember doing?  Is this something you could do today? 
  • Are there activities you would like to add to your holiday season?  Write them down – maybe when you work on scheduling you will have time for one or two new activities.. 

Coming up: Calendars and Activities/Traditions.... oh so excited!!!!! 
OH! Be sure to swing on over to visit DEBBIE at  Debbie-Dabble Christmas.... tell her I sent you over to visit with her!!!! She'll enjoy your visit as well!

***Note: Some of the ideas above, were taken from a homemade book that I received some 25 years ago - "How to have a Stress free Christmas", little did I know then, as a young newly married gal and a couple kids that it would come in so handy through the years. - I don't know WHO to give the credit to - or I surely would.... but I do THANK them for being so smart~even clear....back.....then....*** 

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Christmas in July

    (A little late in posting... we had some unexpected events that have emotionally wore me out.... but I'm back on track and ready to focus on Christmas in July!) 

    A Christmas Organizing Notebook (or books) serves as the foundation of your holiday organization year after year.  By creating a notebook, you will have EVERYTHING at your fingertips and you can continuously reference it for reminders and direction concerning you holiday plans. ( refer to min ALL THE TIME! - I keep the past years as well - amazing how much that helps me!!)  After the holidays have settled down, I LOVE going through my books and begin working on the pages for the next year - I keep a extra sheet or two in each section as well and make notes as to what went well, and what didn't go so swell, any new ideas and traditions that I'd like to add (or do away with) etc., and this give me excitement for the next year!
     See why I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!!  All year long!!! 

    (Now remember, since most of us do not live exactly "identical" lives, well, I'm pretty sure no-one's lives are near "identical" your notebook will be uniqut to you and your family -  After all - it is about YOU and YOUR family - I just want to help you RELAX and ENJOY the holiday season... you know... Make Christmas Count - all year long! That's all.)

    Now down to business!
    You have your 3 ring binder, right?
    We are READY to roll!! 
    OHH!!! Are you SO excited??? 
    I SURE AM!!!! 

    The first thing that you may want to do is start our by setting up your "sections".  
    Here is what I have, but remember - YOUR book is for YOU and I know it will differ.... 
    (PLUS, I have 2 binders - I probably should have told you that...oops... I have one for "GIVING" and one for "ENTERTAINING and SUCH" - mostly because my GIVING book contains my Santa list and with a large family - it is a LOT of information...:)) 

    As you assemble your book(s), here are just a "few" ideas of things you may want to have on hand or nearby as you do so.... to save you some time in hunting or having to "stop" - we want to be productive and accomplish this task rather quickly so we can get to the "heart" of the fun! :)

    1 to 3 inch 3-ring binder (one or two of them)
    3 hole punch
    Index dividers for 3 ring binder
    Slash pocket folders or page protectors for keeping loose items in (example: recipe or craft ideas from magazines, receipts from gifts you purchase, etc.)
    Notebook paper
    Zippered pouch to hold pens, pencils and other loose items
    Calendar for the whole year (can be a store bought one, or printed from a computer program - I like to make my own... mostly because I like BIG squares to write in!)
    Pages designed with photo pockets on them (usually 4 to a page) where you can put recipe cards and/or address cards
    Colored Pencils (for marking on your calendar)
    Are you set now????  
    Here we go - Let's CREATE some fun!!! 
    (Oh! I'm getting so excited just thinking about it!) 
    In book one, I have dividers for:

    Calendar - this is the very first thing I put in - I mark it with all the "EVENTS" and when things need to ship out by as well - keeps me on my toes - since my "memory" seems to be overloaded and I can't remember anything anymore ..... 

    Greetings - or otherwise known as "Cards & Letters"  (this includes my address list etc)  I try to make it as current as possible, I also put a extra sheet protector in this section (or punch a manilla envelope) so I can slip the envelope with the return address on it to update my list for the next year - but as I send out my cards (and they are usually LATE I admit it) I have it right there... this way, I don't have to stop my production right then to update my list, but do it after the holidays when things slow down.
    Traditions - I also keep the calender from the previous years in here - this way I can go back and see if maybe it is time to bring back some traditions or maybe we need to try some new ones too!

    Menus - This is where I put my menu for the month, along with the recipes and grocery shopping list.

    Baking - This is for my HOLIDAY baking.... and CANDY making!  I keep the recipes and a grocery shopping list in here as well.

    Entertainment - This is a section that sometimes gets used... and sometimes just not.... I like to put "ideas" in this section for parties, games, decorations etc.  Someday I hope that we are "entertainment" people again.  I really love Christmas Parties and having fun with friends - just as much as I do with my family - but I suppose that there is just a season for everything....

    Decorating - This is where I keep a list of things that need to be replaced - so at the end of the previous Christmas, I make a list as I put things away of what needs replacing, or if I want to "add" to my decor - or just you know - notes- then when it comes time to "prepare" I know what I need - it is also helpful as a shopping guide to get things after Christmas when on clearance for the following year - It sure saves money!

    In book 2, (which is my most FAVORITE book!) consists of the FUN! 
    Family GIVING - this is a big section - I have dividers for each family member with a few sheet protectors and list papers - I make a list of the things that I would like to do for them, things that they like and things that they want - I make sure I note the budget for each person on the top - and then I start checking my list.... I LOVE this!  (I also have a section for "MY FAVORITE THINGS" gift - this is my FAVORITE part of Christmas! but we'll get to that later...) 
    Then I have a section for Neighbor gifts, Work gifts, Friend gifts and other... I keep several papers and sheet protectors in this section as well - I print ideas and then once I pick the idea - say for neighbor gifts - then I pull out what I need and on we go :)


    So - There you have it...
    Now, you either have some work to do - and quickly :)
    OR you are well on your way to a stress free Christmas!

    Either way - you will be making a difference and

    See you on Monday!

    Oh - wait - there is a little "homework" assignment for Monday...
    Grab a extra notebook or a journal....
    This is going to be one of my OTHER Favorite things about Christmas!
    (In case you haven't noticed.... pretty much EVERYTHING about Christmas is my FAVORITE!)
    just sayin'....

    Coming up on Monday...

      What I LOVE about Christmas!

    And don't forget to visit DEBBIE over at Debbie-Dabble Christmas! She has some fun things happening for Christmas in July - and some other great sites to visit as well!

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    On your MARK.... GET SET ....... GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I often wonder, just how many people are like myself...
    or rather how many would admit to being like me....

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas! I love just about EVERYTHING there is associated with Christmas.... except for one thing! And that ONE thing I honestly just despise  .. MR. MONEY!  Every year I say to myself... "MR. MONEY, you are NOT going to break my Christmas spirit!" And every year, I find myself sitting in my chair stressing out because of MR. MONEY!  It simply does not matter how much money I "budget"  for Christmas...it just NEVER is enough!
    But this past January, as we knew that our "life" was going to change and the uncertainty of not really knowing just how much it would be changed - I decided I had to set a budget with a PLAN!  It really wasn't rocket science or anything, but heaven only knows WHY I have not had that red light come on in the past! I always BUDGET ... I write it in my fancy-schmancy Christmas notebook that is tucked in my purse.... so what is the problem??? WELL - I'll tell you!  I only wrote down my budget - I didn't create a PLAN on how to REACH my budget! I know... I know.... ROCKET SCIENCE!  (I have always dis-liked science.)  So, this year - I put on my scientist cap and went to work: I devised a plan in January of just HOW to actually "HAVE" the money needed by the time my shopping would begin... (ok, I'll admit... I'm not quite there - but I am a lot closer than I was last year!... baby steps... that's what this is all about.... baby steps)
    So, do you find that when you want to work on your Christmas Organizing plans - that your time is taken up by finding all the other THINGS that need work on as well?  I do.  My list just NEVER ends.  No wonder Mr. Grinch and I are such good friends come December.....
     Through the past few years that I've "decided" I was going to "ENJOY" the season (which, I'm here to tell you - it doesn't happen in one year - at least for me it didn't...) I realized that the things I need to help me get and stay organized, well, they extend well beyond my Christmas Organizing book!

    I would find that I was surrounded by files, catalogs, idea books, projects, more books, ideas, ideas, and more ideas... and then lists, lists LISTS that I was "working" on for not just the holiday season - but for every day life. And I wanted them ALL done! RIGHT NOW!  I would "mentally note" that if they were not done, I simply could NOT enjoy the season!  (Can  you relate?? Am I all alone on this one??)  This is when the light FINALLY went on!  I figured it out! I needed to have 2 separate "organization" books.  One - for every day life and one for Christmas - or specifically for August - January.  I realized that I had to make a CUT OFF date for my "every-day" life.... and not let it interfere with my Christmas Plan.... otherwise, no-one and nothing gets the better side of me.... and that just isn't fair.  So, this year - we are trying it!

    Two books. 
    Two plans. 
    One WILL be put away Aug. 1 - and not come back until Mid January,
    so I can start planning for Feb.
    The other will become my MAIN focus from August - January.
    (May I add, well, I'm adding,  I have purchased a large 3 ring 3" binder that I put dividers in for each family member and sheet protectors in each section as well, so that when I'm browsing around and find something that I think would be PERFECT for a specific person, I have a place to put it... and guess what else I did - I labeled it BILLS down the binding edge and on the front. No-one wants to even PEAK in it! LOL!!!  I'm really sneaky!!! I have found that this is really handy especially when through the year they mention "something" I tuck it in the binder and then when I'm ready to get SERIOUS about it - I have "reminders" - because this brain is getting really USED and I'm still working on how to increase my memory from a 2GB to a 20GB - or something like that.... and it is really helpful for the next year when I can't remember if I already gave them "that".)  

    So, here is what we are going to do... (well, that is if you want to join me...) I was asked to participate in CHRISTMAS IN JULY - BLOG STYLE by DEBBIE - over at a debbie-dabblechristmas.blogspot.com - she is so on top of it! And of COURSE I said YES! I mean, I LOVE CHRISTMAS - have I told you that??? AND I'm getting VERY excited about it as well.... BUT, I'm rather behind because of the curve balls we have been dodging lately, BUT I decided that this was the perfect way to get me back on my toes, sharing with you (it's just something about being "accountable" to someone other than myself) - AND of course, I hope you will share with me - because I can use all the help I can get!!!!

    So, today I'm going to give you an assignment.... are you ready?

    Go purchase or dig through an old drawer or cupboard and find yourself 2 notebooks - big enough that you can write in them and understand what you have written (or am "I" the only one hat has that problem too? :)) - but at least one that will fit in your purse.... so, HURRY!  And I'll see you back here tomorrow night!
    Oh, and if you want - grab yourself a 3 ring binder and sheet protectors or manilla folders.

    On your MARK....

    GET SET!



    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

    Baby it's getting HOT in here.....

    I am finding it really HARD to get my Christmas Spirit on... when there are so many FIRES burning around us....
    Last Friday afternoon, one of our agents was looking out his office window and I heard him say "Well, looks like we have some mighty dirt devils funneling around the south end of the valley"....(I find him quite funny as every phone call he takes, he usually gives a "weather" update, so I never really have to wonder what is happening on the outside world, he keeps me informed as well :)), and he continues, "oh, and it looks like there is another fire on the Rose Canyon Mountain."   I rushed to his window (and yes! I had to look out. and YES I was getting rather nauseous..16 floors up! I tried REALLY hard not to think about it! I have avoided these windows for 6 months now!) but there it was some 40 miles away - a fire! 

     I watched for a few minutes and soon it was a HUGE fire!  I tried calling home. No answer.  5 times!  COME ON PEOPLE! ANSWER THE PHONE!.... agh! FINALLY someone called me back - and yes - there was fear in my children and my husband as well - as the fire "seemed" closer to them, than the fire we experienced nearly 2 years ago - and it was started lower in the valley this time, not along the mountain ridge as it was last time.  Needless to say - I FLEW out of work! 
     (I hope I put everything away.... oh well - too late if I didn't)

    These photos, just break my heart. 
    I can't EVEN imagine what I would do, if in their shoes.
    Cry.  Very hard I'm sure.

    OH. MY. HEART. 
    This makes my stomach hurt. 
    My heart ache.
    I just can't even fathom.
    We are safe.  Although nearly 900 homes were evacuated - most as a "pre-caution" in case the winds decide to pick up and change direction - overall 11 structures/cars were destroyed in all .... 350 acres burned thus far...SO SAD!  My heart just goes out to them.

    Then, 4 days later - another fire breaks out - just across the other side of the valley - and 500 MORE homes evacuated! MORE families displaced!  More homes in danger... it is becoming very hard to be excited for FIREWORKS! It's actually terrifying me... 

    (This is the Draper Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Draper Ut.0
     (The fire is just on the other side of the mountain - but trying the sneak it's way over the ridge....)

    Fire. It has it's place. And it's time. Now, well it is just not the time, nor the place. I prefer it in a fireplace.... controlled..... when it is snowing outside and keeping me warm inside. Not now. Not in the HOT HEAT. Not out of control. NOT THREATENING people, homes, livestock, and wildlife. So sad. 
     This is when a FIRE is NOT welcome!  I'm sorry.
     Here is  a "small" aerial shot of "after" effect.
    Firefighters did an AMAZING job at containing the fire.
    Hard to imagine we only lost 4 homes with this OUT OF CONTROL fire.

    My heart goes out to all those that lost their homes, cars, livestock, fences.... 
    My prayers go out to all those involved.  
    INCLUDING the firefighters!

    They have been working NON-STOP for what seems like months. They are exhausted. They are tired. They are HOT! Their families are missing them. THEY are truly hero's who put their life on the line of duty every single minute.  I thank you and pray for you all! 
    Praying for...
     No wind. 
    Rest for the firefighters. 
    People to be SMART about FLAMES
    . And mostly praying for the safety of all involved.... 
    Families, emergency personnel, animals.... 
    and for GOD to bless the USA! 
    There is tragedy all around.... 
    Please, bless us all. Everyone. Everywhere. 

     Pictures from Herriman City, KSL News and friends.... 
    (I would post MY pictures - but someone, somewhere, somehow
     has borrowed, mis-placed or stolen my camera cord! GRR!)...