Archive for the ‘Download Day’ Category

I promised in my last post to give you our cute tag and recipe for Taco Soup in our next Download Day so here they are.  I simply used the same frame as our “Birthday Girl” tags and changed the artwork inside to apply to our pantry meal kits that we compiled at our activity (click here for more info).

You can see how easily this idea can be adapted to any recipe and for any purpose.  All you need is a paper bag, a hole punch, some ribbon and the recipe.  Oh, and the ingredients to make a delicious, easy meal, of course.  And just because this particular recipe is all typed out and cute, that doesn’t have to be the case.  Just write it on a card and include it with your ingredients.  Simple.  I think you’ll agree that it is easy to have some grocery sacks and ribbon on hand to be able to compile an instant meal for a friend in need – the possibilities are lovely and tasty and endless.

Happy sharing!

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One of the most growth-enhancing periods of my life was just a few years ago.  Many things happened during that time period – many changes and miracles and blessings.  My life hardly even looks the same as it did before then.  But amid all of the changes to our circumstances, I attribute the majority of my personal growth to the fact that I kept a journal during that time.

The older I get, the more I can’t remember even the most simple things.  Before Jason’s car accident I could remember everything.  I didn’t need a planner because I could always keep track of what I needed to do, where I needed to go and details rarely escaped me.  After his car accident, I shut down.  I was in survival mode.  I only stored the information that was absolutely necessary and relied on lists and post-it notes to remember the rest.

I assumed that once Jason was in a better place physically that I would regain my ability to remember things but it seems like it has become a lost art to me.  I have never been as good at remembering as I was before his accident.  I still find myself standing in the middle of the next room wondering why I had gone in there in the first place.  Age does this, I know, but I think that it was also a survival mechanism in dealing with Jason’s accident that will forever be a part of me.

I’m convinced that this is why that journal became so significant.  As we were working toward many goals and our lives were in a constant state of change, I wrote about my feelings and experiences and the things that I was learning.  I know that it helped me to better process the things that were happening.  Writing gave me direction and purpose.  Recording my experiences amplified them so that I was able to more maximize the learning and growth that happened because of my circumstances.

You have probably noticed that I am not “a venter.”  I admit that I have an aversion to the very word.  To me, venting is synonymous with complaining so I try to avoid both altogether.  Therefore, the journal that I created was not a venting journal – although it was entirely honest.  It contains true feelings – hopes and fears, heartaches and joys.  There’s a difference between being honest and simply complaining.  My children could read my journal and hopefully find strength from knowing that their mother had hard days and feelings of discouragement but she was able to learn from them and they did not consume who she was becoming.

I am different because of my experiences.  We all are.  But I believe that the fact that I kept a journal magnified who I became during that particular time.  And I am convinced that it all came down to allowing myself to remember.

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Jason and I recently went to the Michael Buble’ concert and loved every second of it except the 45 minutes it took to get off the freeway.  However, in spite of the gridlock and honking and trying to get more than one car through the green light each time, he was actually able to pull off the seemingly impossible combination of old-time crooner sounding contemporary.

I always think of his song, “Everything” as being Cole’s song because it is the first track on the DVD slideshow I made of all of Cole’s photos from his first year of life.  He knows that when he hears that song that his movie is on and heads over to the television to watch it.

Listening to MB perform it made me want to create a label for Download Day.  It can be used as a tag or on a card or just cut it out and place it in between the keys on someone’s computer keyboard, attach it to their mirror or tuck it in their briefcase.  “Everything” is a message that can be used everywhere and for anyone that you want to pass a smile on to.

Enjoy a little bit of “Everything” today.

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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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