Random December

Ok.  I know we are well into January.  And who wants to see Christmas pictures in January?  But I’m behind.  So very behind on posting pictures that mean a lot to me.  Pictures that I want to always remember.  This blog is a lot of things to me and one of them is what it started out as – my personal family scrapbook.  So yes.  Christmas pictures in January.  Kenny is asleep on the couch and I’m watching one HGTV home improvement show after another.  It’s catch up time.  :)

We spent a lot of December evenings taking the kids to look at lights and especially loved visiting the San Diego temple.  It is always beautiful, but at Christmas time it’s simply breathtaking.  We visit several times each December and talk about why we celebrate Christmas.  It has become a favorite tradition.  Clearly my kids love the nativity.  So do “Softie” and “McKena” – the stuffed animals that accompanied us on every trip.  :)
Love this picture.  
 I also love that El is wearing a coat and a skirt.  Winter in San Diego!  

Don’t love that Kenny was at the bottom of a hill looking up to take this picture, but I don’t have many pics of me with all three of my kids and because of that I cherish this one.  When I look at this picture I can’t help but feel incredibly blessed.  These three mean the world to me.  You were in the mood for a little sap now weren’t you.  

Playing around with camera settings trying to get a good picture of the Palm Tree lights.  
While juggling a two year old on one hip.  :)
 Grinch time!  We took the girls to the Old Globe Theatre in December to see The Grinch.  Such a fun play.  We enjoyed it so much that we all decided it needs to be an annual tradition.
 One of my Cindy Lou Who’s.  :)
 Kenny and Ad messing around waiting for the show to start.  

 Too fun.  Fingers crossed next year my little man can join us.  Verdict is still out on whether he will be able to hold still or not…  hmm..  fingers crossed the year after next my little man can join us.  :)

Fun spending time with family over the Christmas break.  I didn’t take too many pictures this trip, but I love this one with my mom and sister.  Yes.  My sister is there.  She made me mad so I cropped her out.  Ha!  Kidding.  :)  Her decision.  We were on our way to lunch with friends.  Much needed girl time!  
 Shopping with my kids and mom a few days before Christmas.  

We took turns.  One of us shopped while the other one entertained the littles.  
Last minute Christmas shopping at its finest!  
It was a great December.  And now I’m caught up.  :)  

Christmas card displays

I love Christmas cards.  Who doesn’t!?  They make the happiest mail.  Seeing so many pictures of people I love always puts a smile on my face.  So much so that I never take my cards down right after Christmas.  They usually linger until at least February or March.  
I used to tape all of our cards on and around the pantry door in our kitchen.
 Then last year I painted an old frame aqua and used it to display some of my cards.  

I started taping the rest of my cards to the wall next to the frame, but I was having a hard time getting them to stick on the wall so I never got all of them hung and I had to take them down early.  I was so bummed!

So this year I was prepared!  I bought painters tape (a suggestion from a few sweet readers!) and went to work.  I hung some of my cards on the wall and woke up the next morning to this –

 SO disappointing!  Kole and I just shook our heads.
I guess painters tape wasn’t the solution.  At least not for my crazy wall.  
I didn’t have many options left.  
So I taped my cards to the front door.  And good old scotch tape did the trick!  Not one card has fallen.  When I ran out of room on the door I started taping them to the wall next to the door and those are staying put too.  I’m not sure why.  But I’m not going to question it.  Kole and I just smile and call it a Christmas miracle.   

The last two years I have hung our past Christmas cards on our stair banister, but this year when I started hanging the garland, my two year old sidekick had other plans.  Pulling everything down was just too much fun for my little buddy so once again I was forced to mix things up.  Flexibility has become my middle name ever since a certain someone arrived on the scene.  :)  
 So our past holiday cards found a new home in my beloved aqua frame.  

And they were reindeer approved.   

 I’m thinking my door of cards will stay put for a while.  
I’m kind of loving it!  
At least until February or March.  
Or maybe as long as the tape holds.  
Or until a certain two year old sidekick (and his creative partners in crime) decide on something different.
What would I do without their help?
  
:)  

Christmas decor 2012

Popping in to say hello and share some pics of our Christmas decor this year.  I starting working on this post on Christmas Eve while Kenny, Kole and my dad were all taking Christmas Eve naps.  :)  But then the girls and I turned on It’s a Wonderful Life and the house smelled so good (combination of my candle and my mom’s cooking) that I was forced to close my computer and savor the day.  And now I’m posting Christmas decor pics after Christmas.  But I can live with that.  Hope you can too.  :)
I didn’t have a lot of time to be creative this month so my Christmas decor is very similar to last years.   
Stockings were hung on my hutch again.  Safely out of my little buddy’s reach.  :)

  I just tossed up white pitchers and some greenery – things I had on hand.  
I also added some of my glass bottles and jugs.   

The only new purchase was this fun little reindeer I found for a steal at Home Goods.  
I think he is simply charming and the two of us have become fast friends.  

Love seeing my kiddos’ stockings all lined up.  
The girls left the sweetest little notes in each of them for Santa and Mrs. Claus.  :)
Last year I decided to try out a more winter-y look with my mantel and stuck with a silver and aqua theme.  But I didn’t love the greenery with the blue and I felt like it was missing something.  RED.  
So this year I switched things around a bit and added a red wreath.  I found this wreath at Michaels for 4 bucks!  It adds the perfect pop of red I was looking for.  I love inexpensive wreaths like this because then I don’t feel guilty buying a new one each year.  It’s so fun to mix things up!  

After I hung my wreath I asked Kenny if it would look better with a red ribbon holding it up instead of a silver ribbon and without even looking up from his laptop he answered “that’s out of my skill set.”  
My babe.  What would I do without him.  

I tossed a few red, aqua and silver ornaments in my apothecary jars.

And added a little bling to reindeer #2 I picked up at Home Goods.  Because I was having too much fun with the reindeer on my hutch to stop there.

I think he looks regal.
He is so happy in his new home.

I had a few leftover ornaments so I tossed them in mason jars and added them to a few random spots around the house.  
Same winter-y frames from last year.  (Scrapbook paper project here.)
And I hung the same silver/aqua ornaments from our dining room light fixture.  

 (decor from 2010)
You’ll notice I had things on the floor and on low counters and tables.  
A sure sign of the “pre-Kole era” as we like to call it.  :)
This year tables stayed wiped clean.  I also swapped out my Merry Christmas quote for my red bird.  
Because change is a good thing.  
And then I called it a day and my 2012 Christmas decor was complete!  
Oh!  Except for my pantry door holding all of our past pics on Santa’s lap.  So fun to see how much my babies have grown each year.  This year there was hardly room on Santa’s lap!  
But I will keep taking them to sit on Santa’s lap.  
As long as I possibly can.  
:)

Merry Christmas!

Santa came!  :)
So much love and excitement. 
We had a wonderful Christmas.  
Wishing the same to you and yours!
xoxo,
Erin

Time Management Notepad

Wow.  Christmas is in less than a week!  Are you ready?  I’m not.  No matter how hard I try to avoid scrambling during the last week of December, I’m always scrambling during the last week of December.  Oh well.  I guess it wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of that “harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in” feeling.  :)  Because this has been an especially busy December for us with added new house meetings I have had to work really hard to stay organized and on top of things.  Usually I use my time management binder each day to help me organize my life.  (Time management binder post here.)  
I still love my binder.  It is where I completely DUMP my brain each day.  But once the month of December hit I could tell I needed to simplify things.  So I made a drastic change.  My Time Management Binder became My Time Management Notepad.  Ok.  Maybe not so drastic after all.  :)  But I’ve been surprised at how much better this notepad has served my needs this month.  

I don’t have time for any of the “extra” stuff right now (home projects, scrapbooking, etc.) so I kept things simple by buying a 5 subject notepad and dividing it into the four main areas I need to focus on each day.

I placed my favorite Martha Stewart home office dividers on each of the notepad folders…

and labeled them TO-DO’s, NEW HOUSE, BLOG, CHRISTMAS.  Obviously these tabs would be different for everyone, but the idea is to break your to-do’s down into 3 or 4 basic categories.  What I like about the notepad vs. the binder is that #1 – there aren’t as many categories (like I said, I needed to simplify)  #2 – there is more paper and with the spiral binding it’s easier to use to take notes.  I am taking a lot of notes these days.  Like the binder, there is a pocket folder for each section to hold loose papers.  
Here is how I’ve organized the Christmas section of my notepad this year.  And yes, I realize that while my notepad has helped me organize for Christmas, I wasn’t organized enough to get this post done at the beginning of the month to help you!  (SO SORRY!)  I’m hoping this gives you some ideas for next December.  Never to early to start planning ahead.  :)

I used the pocket to hold random magazine clippings of toy ideas for the kids.  I’ve also used it to hold receipts.  I hang on to all of my Christmas shopping receipts so that if we need to do an exchange/return after the holiday we have the receipt ready to go.  It’s nice to have them all in one place.

On the paper inside the Christmas section I’ve written LOTS of things:

- Friends to add to our Christmas card list this year and addresses that have changed.
- What I’ve bought for each of the kids and where I have it stashed.  Without this I would totally forget where I have things hidden.  I’ve had to get so creative because we are tight on space and my girls are SNEAKY.
- A list of extended family.  Gift ideas and what I’ve already bought each of them.  **You can see why I couldn’t share these pages on my blog.  :)
- A list of friends/neighbors I am giving gifts to and what I’m giving each of them.  I check each person off after their gift has been delivered.
- Grocery list for Christmas Eve/Day dinner.  My mom is coming to our house this year for Christmas so we will have real meals!  YEA!
- Random Christmas to-do’s including traditions/activities I want to for sure remember to do with my kids (make our Pretzel Hugs, visit Christmas Card Lane, etc.)

The Christmas section of this binder has been so helpful for me this month.  Each year after December I write down a list of things I want to do better/change for next year and I’ll include that in this section too.  That way next year I can glance through my notes (hopefully early Fall) and get a jump start on a few things.  So that next year will be the year I don’t have that “harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in” feeling.  :)

The New House section has also been a huge help for me this month.  I keep random magazine clippings and notes that I need in the folder.  Plus I love having the notebook to take with me to the house.  It’s so easy to use for jotting down notes.

These are a few things I’ve been working on this week.  See why my blog posting has slowed down a bit?  :)  Every day there are decisions that need to be made which always involve research and a lot of phone calls and e-mails.  Having it all in front of me in my notepad has really helped me stay on top of things.  Nothing makes me happier than pulling out a page of house notes and tossing it knowing those decisions are behind me!  I think this system would work great if you are doing any re-modeling or re-decorating too.

The BLOG section of my notebook is where I jot down ideas for blog posts and a sad attempt of a posting schedule that I never really follow.  :)  

The TO-DO section in the front of my notebook is for all of those random day to day things that come up.  It’s my go to list each day to keep my schedule straight.  I try to only write down things I HAVE to get done that day.  There are so many things I’d love to do, but writing too many things down always overwhelms me and then I never get that satisfying feeling of checking everything off of my list.  One of my best time management tips if you are struggling to stay on top of your life is to determine what your priorities are and be ruthless about trimming unnecessary stuff.  I have had a hard lesson in that this year!  Along with that, only write down your must do’s each day.  Be specific and realistic.  If you keep your list short you are more likely to actually accomplish it.  If there’s extra time you can always do more.  Ok.  Maybe that was more than one time management tip.  You know how I feel about this topic.  :)

The only part of my binder that was lacking was my section to keep sticky notes for my “to-buy” lists.    

So I added them on the inside of the front cover of my notebook.  When I’m running to Target I grab the Target list and toss it in my purse.  My love affair with sticky notes lives on.

So as you can see, this is very similar to my binder.  I just took out the extra stuff that wasn’t a priority and added things that are a priority in my life right now.  This would obviously look different for each of you, but the idea is the same.  Having a place to dump your brain and organize your thoughts makes a world of difference.

Now if I could just get my handy little notepad to wrap all of my Christmas presents for me….
:)