Archive for the ‘Download Day’ Category

Did I not tell you that we had a lot of info to give out having to do with our Organization Fair?  It’s taken five days to pass it all along to you!  Well, last but not least, I’ve saved the monthly quote for Download Day.  It is a quote by Lin Yutang and added to by Dieter Uchtdorf.  It certainly sums up the overall idea that we were trying to teach both with our “Planning With a Purpose” time management lesson as well as the organization ideas in the displays.

Whether it’s what we’re doing or what we’re thinking or what we have or what we want….it’s all about eliminating the non-essentials.


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OK, Dani.  I know you are not going to like this photo of yourself – but I do.  You are my right-hand man in our Relief Society activity planning, my half-marathon partner and our cleaning expert.  When it comes to cleaning things, you know how to do it yourself and you know how to teach your children to do it.  You are a hard worker and have high expectations that have taught me a lot about taking care of the things around me.  You are also really fun to be around and I love you to death!

So, I decided to put the picture in anyway because you are the one who created our “Cleaning Tips” handout and, come on, this photo is the epitome of you + cleaning.  Happily sweeping away.

What I loved about these handouts was that you used tips and ideas from the women in our neighborhood (who turned back in their questionnaires…hint, hint…Amber…).  What better way to learn about something than from each other?  There were some fabulous ideas from these women and I was so grateful to learn from them.

But you also did something else.  You added information about what kinds of cleaning tasks are good for children at different ages.  I love that!  It is so helpful to have an idea of what kinds of things our children can and should be doing.  Sometimes we don’t give our kids enough credit and we think that they aren’t old enough to participate.  Other times we give them tasks that are too advanced for them (like when your mother told you that a 4-year-old can’t clean a toilet up to standard….dang!  Good try, though).  Dani’s done some research since then regarding appropriate chores for different aged children and found a lot of info on the internet regarding that idea – try this one for starters, everyone.

More often than not I hear mothers complaining about having to do all of these things for their children instead of teaching their children how to do it.  They often say, “It’s just easier if I do it.”  They’re right.  It takes more work to teach a child how to do something than to just do it ourselves.  It takes more time.  It takes more effort.  It takes more patience.  But that is what parenting is all about.  Teaching our children to be independent.  Teaching them how to work.  Teaching them how to take pride in accomplishing something.  Teaching them that there are consequences when they don’t follow through.

My mom was good at this.  She raised us to be independent and to work hard and to enjoy life at the same time.  Dani, I think you are good at this as well.  Keep it up, cleaning lady!  I love working with you and love even more that you are willing to get in there and get your hands dirty to make something happen.

Cleaning Tips – Neighbors

Enjoy the download, courtesy of our cleaning expert, Dani.  Again, it can be cut in half and inserted into your notebooks if you choose.  It is the final handout at our “Organization Fair” event (wow!  We did a lot that night!)  Feel free to share your thoughts, insights and ideas here.  Everyone has their own style and way of making it happen so I love to hear what you have to say.

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Now that you have your values established (click here for Part I of this lesson), let’s talk about where we go from here.  After our values are determined, we don’t really have to keep creating new ones for every situation in your life.  Most often, the values that are important to you will cross over into your whole life and can be applied to everything you do.  You might have to tweak them or perhaps add a value here and there but for the most part, they will sort of remain the same over a period of time.

When should you rethink your values list?  Here’s what I do – when my life changes (such as when I changed jobs or became a mother) then I create a fresh set of values that reflect what is important to me in my current situation.  When I learn new things that make me want to rethink what I am spending my energy on – I revisit my values.  Think about your values as something that grow and change along with you as you go through life.

Now let’s look at Steps 1-3 on your worksheet (again, click here for Part I of this lesson and to get the worksheet).

#1 – Ask: What Do I Want to Have Happen?

This is the golden question when it comes to “Planning With a Purpose” and managing our time wisely.  Instead of thinking about what do I want to do or where do I want to go, we ask, “What do I want to have happen?”

Think about something that you would like to change or improve or do better at.  It can be something in your personal life or maybe something you want to change in your family.  The example that we used during our activity was: “I want my children to do their chores better.”  OK, that is an issue that many parents face and there are a million ways to go about it.  Another one was, “I want to spend less time on the computer when I could be doing more productive things.”  We also heard, “I want to play with my kids more.”  Or how about, “I want to clean out my laundry room,” “I want to not nag my husband so much,” “I want to work smarter not harder,” “I want to be more patient with my mom as she grows older” or “I want to be better at making healthy dinners.”

the "Meal Planning" display during our "Organization Fair"

What do you want to have happen? Write down something on your worksheet that you want to change or improve about your life.  Let’s just take one thing at a time – there is no reason to try and tackle everything at once because we can get discouraged or overwhelmed.  And remember, what you want to have happen might be completely different than what someone else wants to have happen in their lives.  That’s OK.  I highly recommend you not to compare yourself to others but just focus on what feels right for you and your family.

Now that you have identified something that you want to have happen (and this thing can be big or small, affect just you or other people, or be in any area of your life), let’s look at #2 on our “Planning With a Purpose” worksheet.

#2 – Ask: What is the Best Way to Make That Happen?

This is where we get down to the nuts and bolts of “Planning With a Purpose.”  It is the how-tos that get us from where we are and where we want to be.  We are all unique.  Everyone has a different style, a different way of going about things.  So that means that the best way to make something happen might be different for you than for someone else.

Do you see how when you ask yourself what you want to have happen and think about what you value, that the way you want to spend your time starts to change?  If you want your children to learn to do their chores better then that might mean you need to spend more time teaching them to do it with you.  If you want to spend less time on the computer then maybe you need to track how many clicks you are making with the mouse or how many minutes you are browsing the web and give yourself a limit.

the "Family Calendaring" display at our "Organization Fair"

Or if you value family time and you haven’t taken a family vacation in two years, perhaps it’s time to plan something to do together.  Or you could even designate one night a week to the family where you don’t schedule anything else – it takes sacrifice and dedication but if it’s what you value and it’s what you want to have happen….it seems like it would be important enough to sacrifice a little bit for.

One fabulous woman in our group brought up the point that sometimes what you think will work doesn’t so you have to try something else.  How true that is!  Making what we want to have happen a reality often takes time, creativity and the ability to tweak and change our approach along the way until it morphs into something that actually works for us.  Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work with your first idea!  Try something else if you need to and just take the good of what you are already doing with you.

#3 – Think About What Feels Right for You and Your Family

I’m going to say it again….everyone is different.  My sister may have a fabulous way of taking care of her yard but it seems too complicated for me.  So I need to not feel like I have to do it her way.  Maybe I keep asking around for other ideas, maybe I look online, or maybe I just adjust or simplify what my sister is doing to fit my needs.

I have started using allrecipes.com.  They send you a recipe in your email box each day.  Sometimes I want to print them out and try them (more on that another day).  This has caused me to realize that I need a new way to file my recipes.  So, in”Planning With a Purpose,” this is my Step 1: Organize my recipes so that I can use allrecipes.com better.

For me, I thought that a 3-ring binder would work great so here is my Step 2: Get a 3-ring binder and have each recipe in a sheet protector.  Figure out how to use half-sheet sheet protectors as well so I don’t have to retype all of my recipes that are on cards.

I’m still working on that.

All along I have thought about Step 3 – how to make this work for me and my family.  I will show you my finished product later but for right now, it is sitting on my desk, waiting to be finished as I figure out the best way to go about it.  The interesting thing is that during our Organization Fair, my friend LeeAnne addressed this same problem.  Her area that she created a display for was “Organizing the Kitchen.”  One aspect was recipes.  She had a pile of recipes (just like mine) and a binder next to it.

She had gone through and typed up every recipe that their family used and put them in her binder.  I was so surprised that she had done this because it was almost exactly what I was in the middle of doing as well!  But here’s the difference.  She had typed them all up.  I don’t want to have to do that so I am trying to figure out a way to either create my own divided sheet protectors or find the right ones online to purchase so that I can just drop my recipe cards into the half-sizes or use the full sheets if I print something out from online.  Options.  That’s what I need.

The point is to do what is right for you.  We both had the same idea but we are going about it in two slightly different ways according to what works for each of us.  Maybe your neighbor has one child in dance group that meets 3 times a week for 3 hours at a time and costs $400 to participate.  Maybe someone else works 16 hours a day.  Whatever someone else is doing doesn’t mean you have to do it, too.  And even in your own families – if one child is involved in something and you realize that it is taking too much time away from the rest of your family, it’s ok to pull back, reevaluate and say no to the next “opportunity.”

Once you have your values in place and you ask the golden question, “What do we want to have happen?” then it becomes much easier to make decisions of how we are spending our time.  That, my friends, is the ultimate skill in time management.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.  If you have any questions then please feel free to email me or leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing how it works for you!

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First of all, I know I didn’t get these downloads for you last week – it ended up being a crazy week and so something had to go and in this case…it was blogging about our activity.  Which actually brings me to our lesson on Time Management!  I’m going to divide it up into parts because I think it will be too long for one post.  Today, as you can see, is Part I.  We’ll see how many parts it actually ends up being once I add the Organization Fair report as well.  By the way – that was so fun and fabulous!  But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.  I will talk more about that later – let’s get back to our Time Management lesson.

When Jason and I were in college, we met while in the student government program.  There were 4,000 student volunteers who ran all of the activities and service programs at BYU at that time.  It was unheard of to have so many students involved in the student government program, but Jason and I both count ourselves lucky to have been a part of that experience because it taught us something.  Even in our volunteer positions, every event, every service program, every experience that came out of BYUSA was planned with a model called “Planning With a Purpose.”  You might say that by the time our years were finished at BYU (including our last one where Jason was Student Body President), we had practiced this model of planning dozens and dozens of times.  It became a part of us and it has influenced our lives in ways we never imagined or even thought about back in our college days.

our BYU days - only 17 years ago!

“Planning With a Purpose,” to me, is the ultimate time management skill.  When we talked about time management at our neighborhood ENT activity, we did not assess the latest “Busy Mom Calendars,” or determine how to use our clocks more effectively.  We taught how to use “Planning With a Purpose” because, and you’ll find this out once I explain it, it helps us all determine what is truly needful in terms of how we spend our time and then helps us get from Point A to Point B in that effort.  You will find that it is similar to methods of planning taught by Franklin Covey and other groups because the principles work.  This “Planning With a Purpose” model was taught to us like you see it here – but with my own tweaks that I have learned throughout the 20 years I have been using it.

The “Planning With a Purpose” model works in every situation and for every problem, issue, concern, or event you are trying to make happen.  If you are trying to figure out how to get your kids to do their chores?  Go through “Planning With a Purpose.”  If you are planning your family vacation….go through “Planning With a Purpose.”  If you are trying to change a personal habit that you have?  Use “Planning With a Purpose.”  Whatever the situation, this works.  And once you figure out how to use it, you will see that it can help you sift through how you are spending your time so that the important things (the things you truly value) rise to the top and the unimportant things get left behind.

I’d like you to download this handout and follow along with me as we go through learning about “Planning With a Purpose.”  Just click on it and you can print it out and work from it very easily.  Notice how it also can be cut in half and inserted into your ENT notebooks as two pages.

Determine What You Value

The first thing we have to establish when we plan with purpose is determining what we value.  Ask yourself what you value and write it down on your worksheet.  This can be anything – big or small.  Just identify the things that are truly important to YOU.  You can also do this as a family, as a couple, as a team at work….whatever.  I have things that I value personally but then Jason and I have things that we value as a family.  When we had our first committee meeting for our Every Needful Thing program, we determined what we valued and now, for every activity, we go back and make sure that what we are planning is in line with what we value.  It keeps us focused on the right things.

part of our "Organization Fair" displays

Some of the values that we had when we listed them as a group during our activity last week were: family, quiet time, one-on-one time with each child, date night, a clean house, God, etc.  You can see that this was a group of mothers making this list, can’t you!  I know that before I became a mother, the things that I valued looked a little different than they do now.  That’s the beauty of creating a list of values – it is what YOU value.  Not what your neighbor values or your mother or your friend.  It’s for you to decide.

Now, after you have your values determined, we can move on to steps 1-3.  The important part about deciding what you value FIRST, is that everything you decide after that should come back to those values.  It is a simple way to make sure that how you are actually spending your time coincides with what you value because you have already established a list of those values.

Steps 1-3 will be in our next post – the continuation of our time management lesson.  Over the next couple of days, I want you to think about these values more and refine your list so that it truly reflects what is important to you.

I’ll see you next time, with your value lists in hand!

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I have tried and tried and tried to finish my blog posts about our activity this week and the time management lesson but every time I have sat down to do it something has called me away to other things.  It’s been a C-R-A-Z-Y week!  Now I’m off to spend some time with my only sister – who’s birthday is the 16th so I know I won’t get to it today.

So as far as my blog goes this week…my intentions didn’t become reality.  However, since today is MY birthday, I’m going to go do a little partying and I have decided to give you this download for the week instead of the time management things.  Those will come – just not today.

Enjoy, Birthday Girl!

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I’m waiting for my tulips to come up.  I know, I know…it’s only March 1 but I have a feeling that those little crocus shoots are going to start making their way above ground soon and then the daffodils and tulips won’t be far behind.  We’re a little obsessed about our tulips.  We want them to make a statement.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t have a lot of knowledge when it comes to gardening so we use our rock retaining wall and flower bed in the front of our yard to practice.  The rest of the yard has bushes and trees that don’t take a lot of maintenance to look good – it’s hard to mess them up and we planned that on purpose.  That was our goal.  Keep the tricky stuff to a confined space as we stumble our way through becoming gardeners.

This confined space that I speak of is the area right outside my office window so all I have to do is turn to the right and reap the benefits of color and growth, change and discovery all spring, summer and fall.  We doubled our bulbs last fall and added more pansies so I can’t wait to see what happens when things start coming to life.  I don’t mind winter.  In fact, I like the seasons we get here in Utah.  I don’t mind the snow or the cold but with every changing season comes a sense of anticipation.  An eagerness of things to come and getting the “new season itch.”

What are you looking forward to as we get closer and closer to springtime here in the northern equator?  What’s your favorite part of spring?  If you are like me, you have already started putting up the decorations for spring in anticipation.  I’ll tell you what I do to make holiday decorating easy at my house later this week but for now, here is a little springtime download to give you some color and life and hope to your winter.

Happy Spring….sometime in the near future…very near, I hope.


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We had a neighborhood cooking class at my house last week.  O-Hsaing is from Taiwan and an amazing cook.  I was told that the Beef Asparagus was to die for and that is totally the truth.  Her “recipes” include a little of this and a dash of that combined with a handful of another thing…all demonstrated at a whirlwind pace and communicated to the group by Liz, O-Hsaing’s impromptu and delightful assistant.

This particular hostess (me) learned a lot about chopping, chopping, chopping beforehand but did not get to focus enough during the fabulous event to write down the instructions.  I’m counting on someone more adept in the kitchen making it all for me again sometime!  Instead, I remained amazed at the process and feasted on the end results – Lo Mein, Fried Rice, Pepper Beef, Teriyaki Chicken and the beloved Beef Asparagus – enough to feed an army.

So that’s what I will do for you today – no cooking but you can feast upon this delicious quote that applies to all things yummy.  I am a firm believer that eating is definitely “needful” and enjoying yourself in the process is even more needful.


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Download Day Follow Up

OK, so maybe I AM Irish….


You have Coleman Irish, Barrett Irish, and Parker Irish on my side.

Throw in Irish on your Mom’s side and you could do the St. Patrick’s day parade all on your own!

- Dad

Good thing I did two versions of the download.  Thanks for the info, Dad – I definitely should have known that but now it’s solidified in my brain!

XOXO to my leprechaun Mom & Dad,


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Now that Valentines is hours behind us, let’s look ahead and celebrate the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day with a new download for our holiday frames.  I’m not Irish.  OK, wait….I take that back.  I think I might have some Irish blood in me from generations back on my father’s side.  I’ll have to check that with Dad.  Actually…Mom?  Since I know you will read this, I’m sure you will tell me one way or another if I do in fact, have some shamrock green in my family tree.  I await your reply.

But whether you are full-blooded Irish or simply love St. Patrick’s Day (which I know a lot of people really do), then this download has something for all of us no matter where you fall on the leprechaun spectrum.  The downloads will fit into your holiday frames so display a little Luck ‘O the Irish this month as we eagerly await March 17th.


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Peace is an interesting word with many connotations as well as denotations.  Perhaps you first think of it as being the converse of war.  Or perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is holding up two fingers in a “V.”  For me, peace is a sense of being.  There have been many times in my life where I have not felt peace – after Jason’s car accident when he hovered near death then spent 13 months in the hospital, coupled with years of intense rehabilitation and surgeries – it was a stormy, rocky time.  Peace was not easy to find.

However, since experiencing something often helps us to understand the opposite of it better, times of distress have only helped me to more fully recognize and value the concept of peace on a personal level.  For me, peace is a state of being.  It is a sense of calm that is possible even when chaos surrounds me.  Whether it is in the busyness of life in general, health issues, a family crisis or anything in between, peace is possible.

When Jason was in the hospital, I went with my sister’s family to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a week.  I had no responsibilities and my sister was truly creating an escape for me.  As I sat on the beach with the ocean breeze blowing the sea grasses and the picket fences lining the walkways, I found peace in the middle of my personal storm.  It was one of the most treasured gifts that I have received because in that moment I learned that peace was possible despite my circumstances.

Now, it would be nice if every time I felt stress I could head across the country to the ocean for a moment of meditation.  But that’s not reality and so I had to learn how to create that feeling without the waves crashing on the beach in front of me.  It’s a mental thing.  So whether it’s through exercise or listening to music, crafting, reading, going to church or spending time with family, we all have things that help us feel more calm and settled.

One way to feel peace, that I believe is true for everyone, is to choose not to be offended, let go of grudges and see the best in others.  Criticism and finding fault in others, in life, or in ourselves is a guaranteed way to drive away inner peace. This is the message that we learned more about at a Women’s Conference that I attended this weekend.  James Ferrell, author of “The Peacegiver,” spoke to us about the sense of peace that comes from each individual’s choice to see the good in one another.  This is the activity that we are doing for the month of February in our “Every Needful Thing” program.  I didn’t have anything to do with planning it (ahh…bliss!) but it is certainly part of helping us determine what is “needful” in our lives.

We received the following message at the conference:

If we want peace in the world, we can create it by having peace in our thoughts and hearts, in our words and in our actions.  As we develop a more peaceful home, that attitude will ripple out into our communities and then out into our world.

If not Me……who?

If not Now……when?

If not Here……where?

We can create individual peace in our lives and it often starts in how we choose to approach our relationships with others.  Chaos is inevitable.  Hardship is unavoidable.   Stress is just a part of life.  But peace, in spite of it all, is still possible.

Be the peace you want to have in your life and enjoy the download (with 3 color choices!) to help you create that.

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