Friday, August 29, 2014

8 Reasons to start your Christmas Shopping early.

Yes, people, Christmas is well under way over at my house. I have purchased several gifts for my family already. I can’t name any names or tell you about anything specific. But just know this ~ the gifts are awesome!
And yes, I usually do start shopping before October. This tradition started for me in 1992 when I was pregnant with my son and due on Dec. 30th. I already had a toddler, or baby really. They are 15 months apart. I figured if she was going to have a wonderful Christmas and a new baby brother I had better be ready for both. So all the gifts were purchased and wrapped before Thanksgiving.  He came early on December 23rd, and we went home on Christmas day with him in a stocking from the hospital.

So, on to that list of reasons why you should be thinking about your holiday shopping well before December 24th.

1: Tax Free Weekend ~ Maybe you live on one of the many states that offers a tax free weekend during early August. Here in lovely Missouri, we do have such a thing.
No taxes are charged on a long list of items. Not every city or municipality participates so check your local listings.

2: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale ~ This is held in July. And the sale is on their new fall line that is coming out later that month! Unheard of! And it is worth going to again and again. And shopping on line too. If you are a Nordstrom cardholder you have Early Access days and can shop the amazing prices before the general public. This is helpful because some things will sell out quickly.

3: Nordstrom 40% off Clearance Sale ~ This sale is held in August. None of the new fall items are included, but there are amazing deals on scarves, jewelry, shoes, housewares and accessories. I got some adorable dishes today for $7.00!

4: Back to school specials ~ Obviously there are good deals around the time you are getting your kids ready to go back to school. Pick up some stocking stuffers while you are getting their school supplies. Their markers and other stuff will need to be replenished after the holiday break anyway. Let Santa take care of that.

5: Labor Day Specials ~ Lots of sales on outdoor lawn furniture and equipment. I wouldn’t put a lawnmower under the tree for anyone, but you might find some cute outdoor accessories that someone would love. Also this weekend there are great deals on luxury clothing and boots.

6: Shop early and often ~ Getting an early start just means that you will have a better selection than the person who waits until December. Some of the seasons hot ticket items will be gone before Black Friday.

7: Speaking of Black Friday ~ I don’t get what all the hub bub is about. My daughter and I have gone to a very popular mall near our house on Black Friday and rolled right up to an amazing parking spot. We walked right in, found what we were looking for and even made two trips to the car. We had all of our teeth, hair and limbs when we left. It’s not a bad day to shop if you want to get some great deals.

8: Avoid the crazy buys shopping malls ~ Seriously when the local news station is covering the crowded malls during the busy holiday season I am sitting on the couch by a crackling fire with a glass of wine. Thinking about wrapping the very thoughtful and perfect gifts I have already purchased.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Erin Condren Life Planner Joy!

This great big box of Happiness and Joy came today!
The unveiling went something like this...

Oh how I love my Erin Condren Life Planner!

I am an old-fashioned paper planner kind of gal. Putting things together with pencil and paper makes me remember them better. And for what it's worth, I am a kinesthetic learner.
Going to Barnes and Noble or Target and picking out the perfect planner used to be a major event for me. Then along came the amazing Erin Condren Life Planner. And when they say life, they mean life.
This thing has everything you would want in a daily planner and more.
It's just so colorful and wonderful when you open the cover!
Two things that I love about the changes made to the 2015 planner are the new forget me not perpetual calendar and the clear ruler!! I haven't used the ruler in my last two planners because I didn't like that it completely covered up either Wednesday or Thursday of the week, depending on where it was positioned.

There is a yearly calendar in the front for reference.

There are colored tabs for each month. Each week is a two-page spread. Like this...

And the monthly section has large enough squares for the amazing stickers and anything else you may need to write!

Speaking of the amazing stickers, there are several sheets included with the planner. But this year I ordered some special ones printed with things that I do often. Like Dog Groomer, Lunch Date, Team Job and my sons band gigs. Very excited to use these stickers too!

Then at the beginning of each month there is a large two-page calendar with dates big enough for stickers and other important things. In the margins of each page there is room to write goal and notes for the week. I use this space for writing calls to return and addresses of places I am going that week.
There is even space at the bottom of each day to write meal plans, thoughts, daily to do’s.
This 2015 planner is my third Life Planner. They just keep getting better with the changes that they are making each year. I'm not trying to wish away 2014, hell it's only August, but I do love to put all of the things in my planner for the entire school year. So I am setting aside some time this weekend to do just that. Eeeekkk! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moving your College Freshman into a Dorm? Here's a list of things NOT to bring

1: Comforter set ~ Let’s face it; they never made their bed while they were at home. What makes them think they will make it at school? Comforters are just so bulky and awful. If they need something to throw on top of their bed to make it look nice, get a coverlet, duvet cover or just a nice blanket. Walk right past that nicely packaged comforter set, they don’t need it.

2: An Extra set of sheets ~ They are just going to wash the ones they have and put them right back on the bed.

3: TV ~ Kids watch Netflix on their laptops. And honestly, you hope they get involved on campus and are just too busy to sit around playing video games or catching up on House of Cards.

4: Microwave ~ All common areas of dorms should have one.  And they take up so much prime real estate in a small dorm room. And FYI, popcorn bags rarely fit in the smaller dorm size recommended microwaves.

5: Room decorations ~ What was cool in high school is so very not cool on a college campus. Don’t get too caught up in being all matchy matchy and cute. Buy one or two things for the wall and see what interests them in a few months.

6: Anything from Sam’s or Costco ~ I know what you are thinking. I will send you with a gallon of shampoo and body wash, who knows when or how you will get to the store again. Then you get to their dorm room and realize you have nowhere to put these giant things! Same rule applies to huge boxes of snacks or Ramen Noodles. They just aren’t necessary.

7: Car ~ They will just end up being the sober driver. Or worse.

8: School Supplies ~ These are easily purchased as needed at the campus bookstore.

9. Printer ~ Students can print things at the Student Center for small change. In fact, things are rarely printed anyway.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Three Favorite Words. Back.To.School.

As I get ready to send my youngest off to her senior year of high school. It is with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat that I get to say my three favorite words for the last time. Back. To. School. I have been thinking about the many reasons why I just love this time of year, and the fact that is going to be a year of lasts for us. #yearoflasts will be another blog post, so here are my back to school favs.

1. Having a schedule and sticking to it.
I love getting all of the school, sports and band schedules and putting them in my planner. I am an organizer. It never gets old.

2. School Supplies!!
I know there are plenty of moms out there who hate the task of taking their kids shopping for back to school supplies. I LOVE IT!! Call me up and I will take your kid for you. I love new pencils, pens, notebooks and binders. Hell, I even get excited about new Post-Its.

3. The smell of crayons.
Seriously, do I need to say any more? You may have seen me lurking in the office supply isle with my nose buried in a box of crayons. It has been a long time since my kids have had to buy crayons for school and I miss them.

4. The return of our favorite TV shows for a new season.
Since I can remember, I have looked forward to the start of the fall TV season. When my shows and my people are back, then all is right with the world. Hello Sheldon. Hello Bravermans. Hello Ron Swanson.

5. A bedtime and morning routine.
We were "those" parents who put our kids to bed at the same time every night. I remember my daughter saying one night "Why do I have to go to bed when the neighbors are still jumping on their trampoline?" My response to her was "Well honey, you get straight A's and they don't. Good Night."
There is a lot to be said for a good morning routine as well. When things flow like clockwork, kids are more likely to start their day on a good note and in a good mood.

6. More ME time.
After working full time outside the home for 11 years, last year I started my own business. I do it part time, from home mostly, when ever I feel like it and I couldn't be happier!! I have had the most amazing year so far, and it can only get better from here! I have time for lunch with friends, trips to the outlet mall and time with my dogs. It has really improved my personality. Ask anyone.

7. Back to school means Fall is just around the corner.
I don't want to wish away summer. I mean there are a lot of great things about summer. But fall, oh how I love you. The colors, the weather, the clothes. All of it.

8. The return of the thing that I am so very, very good at. Packing a lunch!
Next to laundry, packing a lunch is right up there with one of the things I do best. I will pack lunch for my kids up until the last day of their senior year of high school. I am good at it and I take pride in it!

9. Getting to see people without having to plan something.
The lazy days of summer also mean to me that there are no concrete plans for anything. And unless your kids play sports or do some other activity with their friends, you will never see them or their parents. Well, maybe you don't want to see their parents. Anyway, I enjoy going to Friday night football games and concerts and seeing all of the people I haven't seen since last school year.

10. My kids love school and love to learn.
We have somehow managed to raise three kids who love school and love to learn. It helps that we are in one of the best public school systems in our state. That was by no accident either, my husband and I both attended this same school district and knew it would be a perfect fit for our kids. On a few occasions last year after noticing that school was really starting to wear my daughter down, I offered to let her stay home. She declined and said she really didn't want to miss out on anything.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Transformation of my storage closet

I am a professional organizer with a dirty little secret. My very own storage closet was a complete disaster. I don't have much storage space and what little I have was becoming harder and harder to manage. Everyone would open the door and just throw stuff in there. I was guilty of doing this too!
It was impossible to get anything out. Every Christmas when we got out the 12 or so boxes of decor and things, I would promise myself that I would put it all back and organize the whole closet at the same time. Well I finally did something about it. I did have to hire a professional contractor, but I had an idea in mind of how I wanted it all to look. This is the mess I was dealing with!

It didn't take me long to move everything out. I set up some tables in my basement to sort everything. I brought it all out and put everything in a category for easier entry back into the closet later.

 Then I hired College Hunks Hauling Junk to come and take away some junk. I would have had to pay extra for our trash company to take it away, or borrowed someone's truck. Then where would I even take it? The process was just so much quicker once I decided to hire them. This is what I had them take away.

My contractor friend came and built exactly what I wanted! And then I loaded them up with everything and I couldn't be happier with how my storage closet turned out. We can actually walk in there now and see exactly what is on the shelf or in a bin. I just love it! I no longer get frustrated when I need to look for something in there. Being organized really does bring down your stress level!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Manage Expectations

The definition of Manage Expectations ~ Seek to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can be realistically achieved or delivered by a project, undertaking or course of action.

When I started my Professional Organizing business last year this was one statement that kept coming up. When talking with the more experienced organizers and different career coaches, they always mentioned this. When relating to customers you need to manage their expectations. I have thought a lot about this simple statement and how it resonates across many different aspects of life. Raising kids, relating to family, health issues and jobs.  

It’s amazing how if you explain to someone, even a very small child that “This is what you can expect from me in this situation. If you behave in a certain way, expect me to behave this way” they will actually understand!

When our kids were little my husband and I always explained to them exactly what we expected of them in any situation. When we would go out to eat ~ which wasn’t often when the kids were little, we explained that the other people eating around us wouldn’t like sitting next to a table where the kids were loud and obnoxious. Instead of just saying “Don’t do that”, we explained exactly what we meant by “that” and what we expected.

Some other things I told the kids BEFORE a situation would come up. When I come to get you at a friend’s house, don’t whine that you want to stay longer. That makes us both look bad. If I don’t like the way your friend behaves while at our house, he may not be welcome here again. We had rules and my kids knew them.
While I was raising my kids I babysat in my home. I explained to my kids, especially my daughter, because I only ever babysat for boys (not sure why) that they didn’t have to share every one of their toys. Each day before the kids came over, they would put away a few toys that were off limits to the babysitting kids. They loved the power they had! We were all learning about managing expectations and didn’t even realize it.

Another small thing that we did that a lot of people seemed to notice and comment on is that we often had candy in our house. Out in the open for anyone to eat. Our friends would often say that they could never do that with candy because their kids would eat it all when they weren’t watching. I bet they wouldn’t have if they had managed expectations. If you don’t use candy as a tool for behavior or a reward of any kind then candy becomes a no brainer. I don’t remember once ever having to tell one of my kids that they shouldn’t be eating candy right before dinner. Ever. And I never had to deal with a temper tantrum in a store because of some candy they had to have. They knew we had some at home, they could have it when they wanted it, the expectations were already set.
And we also taught our kids the meaning of the word “NO”. Kids don’t always need to be told, “YES”. Yes you can have that toy, yes I will make what you want for lunch, and yes you can have so-and-so over to play. I seriously don’t even like so-and-so.
If they understand that sometimes they might hear the word no, you have managed their expectations. 

As far as family goes, you need to manage expectations early on. If you go into each day expecting that there will be universal acceptance of your ideas and thoughts then you have set yourself up for disappointment. This goes for anything, how and when to celebrate a holiday, or a birthday, take a vacation or give and receive a gift.

Recently when I was facing some major medical issues and major life altering surgeries I had to learn very quickly what I expected of my medical staff.  I knew what level of care I should be receiving. I asked a lot of questions and did a lot of research. And I know what they expected of me during my recovery and in the years following the surgeries.

Some of the jobs I have had over the years have not been ideal. The normal things you would expect of the people you worked for just weren’t there. Things like guidance, trust and acceptance, to mention a few. When I realized the structures and values that I expected and needed weren’t available to me, I moved on from that job.

I feel like I can manage expectations better now than I could in my 20’s. I am able to take a step back and realize what parts of my life were causing me frustration and upset. All I hope is that I have taught my kids how to manage expectations.