Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I bet you all thought I had given up on this blog already, didn't you? HA! Not me! Not this time! At least not this year, that's for sure! ;) Haha, pretty funny, eh?

I love saying stuff like that during this last week of December. I am always telling people, "See you next year!" and "You won't have to worry about that again until next year!" and so forth. I know, it's corny, but I don't care - it's fun! That's one of the benefits of getting older - refusing to care what others think about what you do, and just being YOURSELF!

So - we have had a marvelous Christmas at the Ward household. Very different in a lot of ways, but oh so wonderful. I will have to write all about it and post-date the entries so they will coordinate with the Christmas holiday dates. I am so excited to take pictures of all the great gifts we exchanged this year, most especially all the homemade ones! Yep, homemade. And that comment has a story behind it.

A few years ago, we decided to do homemade gifts for our "Secret Santa" exchange in our family. We primarily used items from the "wood pile" from a nearby cabinet factory whose owner gave us permission to use some of their scrap wood. So everyone got all excited with hammers & saws and all sorts of things were created! Some of the kids had so much fun that they didn't want to stop with only making something for their "Secret Santa", so they made things for everyone! It was a ton of fun, so the fever kind of caught on, and now often many of our gifts to each other are handmade. It has become one of our favorite parts of the holidays.

The question many readers might be thinking is "How in the world did you find the time to help all your children make gifts for one another?" The answer is simple - I didn't. As a matter of fact, I had heard this idea of a "home-made Christmas" for years and years and thought that while it sounded like a great idea in theory, I had no desire to try it. Why? Because I knew in my heart of hearts, that while it was a noble idea, it would in reality just mean a lot of extra work for Mom as I would end up basically making 8 homemade gifts!

So I put it off and figured it was only a dream for more ambitious Moms than me. More power to those brave enough to try! But  as my children grew, a miracle occurred . . . I found out that my children could actually do things like that on their own! Not only could they, but they would naturally do it as long as I provided opportunities for talent development and plenty of materials to work with. So by the time we actually decided to try it a few years ago, I really only had to help my youngest with his gift, and everyone else did their own thing. Yay! Freedom!

Now don't think that every gift was made perfectly with all the exact right measurements and materials and instructions. But I did my best to not step in, to just make minor suggestions, and to let them create. After all, isn't that the whole charm of homemade gifts? That stitch out of place, or that less-than-perfect paint job that shows the time your loved-one took to try and make something special for you? Yes! That is truly what it is all about - the love you show as you give a gift from your heart.

I make this point because I know that many Moms feel pretty overwhelmed when their children are young, thinking they need to do *everything* or they won't be a *good Mom*. I remember as a young mother watching a family that had several older children who all played string instruments, so they did a little bluegrass ensemble and sounded really great. I dreamed of something like that for my own children, and worried about how in the world I could ever teach them to do it? I also remember seeing families with teenage children and parents singing together in perfect harmony, and I wondered how much time it would take to teach each of my children their part and get everyone to practice, and still do everything else that needed to be done? And yet, the reason I worried is because I didn't know the secret! If you are a parent of older or grown children, you probably already know the secret. If your kids are still little, do you want to know what it is?

Okay, I'll tell you.
It's this. . .
shhhhhhhh. . .

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Are You a Little "Jumbled" Too? - Part Two

Okay, so in Part One, I gave you a snapshot of a 24-hour period in my life that had been particularly jumbled to see if you could relate to it. After what turned out to be a *very* long exposition, I gave you a list of three reactions about my crazy day and asked you to choose which best describes you. Here they are for your review:
  1. Reaction #1: "I have not a clue what this woman is talking about. She must literally be insane."
  2. Reaction #2: "Wow, that's really funny, I guess my life gets kind of crazy like that sometimes, but it's not nearly as crazy as this lady's life appears to be . . . "
  3. Reaction #3: "Oh. My. Gosh. That is so totally me. Wow, I think I could have written that post myself about MY last 24 hours!"
So the question is, based on your reaction, what do you think? Are you jumbled too?

Well honestly, you're the only one who can decide for sure, but your reaction could point to some important clues about your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and what you can do to be your best self, no matter what your tendencies are. So let's discuss the different reactions and I'll give you "my take" on what they mean.

Reaction #1: "I have not a clue what this woman is talking about. She must literally be insane."

If you chose Reaction #1, then you are definitely not jumbled by my definition. You are one of those people that jumbled people really admire and look up to and want to be like. But try and try as we might, we never quite get there. You probably have a really good routine set up that you follow nearly every day because you know the value in it. For you, it's not restrictive, but smart. You get done what has to be done, and you do it efficiently, and then you are free to pursue a few other interests.

You probably carry around a planner, or feel like your smart phone is an extension of your arm because it keeps you on track with all the responsibilities of your demanding life. You are likely successful at much - or all - of what you do. But you limit yourself to what makes sense given the time parameters and realities of your life. You are what Flylady calls "Born Organized" (See "No More Parents Left Behind").

The question is, can someone really be "born" organized? I suppose that depends on who you ask. Here's an article on this subject from called Productivity & Organizing Myth #1 – Born Organized. According to them, the idea that "some people are born with an organizing gene or are natural organizers and others will never be organized" is a myth. They explain: "Organized and productive people have a set of skills that lead to their being organized." After explaining this, the article lists a lot of organizing skills and what people can do to learn them.

Honestly, this is the kind of thinking that jumbled people usually find when they go looking for "organization help" on the internet. A lot of "should do's" and "must do's" to make themselves feel guilty because they can never live up to it. At least that's my take.

I will admit that I have no idea if people are born with an "organizing gene" or not. However, I believe that everyone is born with talents and strengths as well as weaknesses. People who are so-called "born organized" simply have a talent for organization! It comes naturally to them, or they learned it from a very organized environment growing up. Or, as is sometimes the case, they may have had an extremely disorganized parent and went the opposite direction because it frustrated them so much! But no matter it's roots, the fact remains that for some people, organization comes more naturally that it does for others.

I want to make a point though, that someone with a talent for organization can actually be a jumbled personality in disguise! Many of my friends and colleagues were probably surprised to read this blog for the first time and realize how random my life can be! That's because, honestly, I am pretty put-together despite my weaknesses. I suppose I have a talent for taking a bunch of random ideas and organizing them into a concise and detailed format or system. My problem comes with maintaining the system I have created because I get distracted and don't follow it for awhile, then I give up on it, thinking the system is broken. Either that, or I just get bored with it! I follow a continuous cycle of implementing new solutions written by organized folks and then moving on when I am not receiving value from it anymore.

Summary: If you answered with #1 you may not read my blog for very long. However, if you stay, know that us jumbled people greatly value your contribution to our lives! Many of us are married to "born organized" people, or we are their children or parents. You keep us on track and help us learn how to do better. My only request is that you please try to be understanding, even when our actions make no sense! We need love, not judgement.

Okay, let's move on. . .

Reaction #2: "Wow, that's really funny, I guess my life gets kind of crazy like that sometimes, but it's not nearly as crazy as this lady's life appears to be . . . "

If you chose Reaction #2, you are somewhere in the middle between "born organized" and "jumbled". You are a likely a fairly balanced personality with perhaps some tendency towards distraction. You probably have a lot of great creative ideas, but you have them mostly under control. You get sidetracked once in awhile, but mostly your life runs smoothly. You've put into place a few routines and systems that work for you. You change them up once in awhile to add variety to your life, but there's a lot of consistency because you've learned that it makes your life so much better.

You may be the type of person who writes an organization book  because you think you're disorganized, even though you're really not, at least when compared to some of us! You're the person that jumbled people have a hope of becoming and most likely they can achieve it with patience and perseverance. Chances are, you may actually be a jumbled personality in disguise!

Lastly. . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Are You a Little "Jumbled" Too? - Part One

So now that you've had a few minutes to look over my blog, you may be thinking, What exactly does "jumbled sunshine" mean? Or maybe even. . . "Am I a little jumbled too?"

Let me explain by telling you about my past 24 hours and see if you can relate. . . This started out as "the short version" (NOT!) Honestly, I don't think I'm capable of a truly short version of this topic, so here's the long version of the short version which is actually the full version. . .

  • Tuesday started with a realization that there was absolutely no more time left to procrastinate Christmas. So my day consisted of online shopping. . . all day. It was exactly 1 week before Christmas, so of course I found myself paying extra for expedited shipping. Oh well, as the French say, "C'est la vie!"
  • So, 5 hours later . . . (yes, really.). . . I finally finished shopping (which I must admit was a ton of fun!) and added the final touches to the Christmas present spreadsheet I had created to keep track of who was getting what, complete with color-coded text fields showing me what was ordered (green), what was wrapped and under the tree (red), what was not done yet (white) and what needed to be urgently attended to (yellow). Those two yellow fields meant that I would be crocheting a LOT over the next week! Which is okay, because I love to crochet, and I will save a lot of money, but I really should have done this last month. Famous last words, right? haha.
  • Once that was finally finished, I stumbled out into the main rooms of my home, my eyes burning from too much screen time, and looked around me to assess what was going on and what needed to be done. The kids may - or more likely may not - have done their homework, but I'd have to check on that later, because everyone needed to be fed! 
  • So I made a quick dinner of spaghetti while listening to Sirius XL Holiday Music on my Dish Network TV. It was great. I found my toes tapping and my hips bouncing as I listened to the old familiar carols play. . . anyone who walked through the kitchen joined in (or ran away in fright! haha!) I had only about an hour before family members needed to run out the door to attend the various activities of the evening. As the family gathered around the table, I threw together a quick salad with the veggies I picked up Saturday from Bountiful Baskets, and enjoyed the novelty of shredding some rainbow carrots into a bowl. As we dished up our plates, I spent time strongly encouraging everyone to put a few freshly sliced radishes and crumbled cauliflower florets over their salads. It didn't matter if you like them or not, they are good for you - so at least try a bite or two. (That's my philosophy and probably a good topic for another post. . .)
Photo courtesy of:
Karah Fredricks Photography.
  • Once everyone was fed, satisfied, and headed out to wherever they needed to be, the rest of us who were left quickly cleaned up the kitchen (with the promise of some TV time when we were done) so it would be ready for my husband to come back and do a planning meeting with his Scouts. (Thank goodness it's the week before Christmas break, so there was little homework to be done! At least that's what they told me and I didn't argue because I was exhausted!)
  • Then we settled into the den for some nice relaxing TV and fiber arts time. I got busy finishing the gift I had made for my Dad and step-Mom last week, which I was fixing because I had made an error on the last 7 rows and needed to re-do them. . . My 15 yo daughter was working on her sewing project that had to be done by the end of the week or she would fail her sewing class, and vehemently complaining "I hate sewing! I don't know why I even took this class! It's all my soccer coach's fault because I had to take advanced conditioning, and so then I had to change my schedule, and ended up with sewing!" Hahaha. . . I knew she was exaggerating because she loves her teacher, and her coach. And she's a decent seamstress considering how little guidance she has received from her mother on the subject. And I also knew that she was really just upset because she kept making mistakes and had had to unpick her stitches at least 3 times last night (any seamstress knows how frustrating that is!) . . . In the meantime, my 18-year-old daughter was busy in her corner spinning roving into yarn . . .

Monday, December 17, 2012

Check out this Creative Christmas Newsletter!

I love this time of the year because I start getting fun holiday letters in my mailbox that aren't just ads or bills! You know, before the internet became so widespread, it used to be that people communicated with letters a lot more. I remember that when I was living away from home and attending college, checking the mailbox was just about the most important time of the day! It was so great to hear news from home when I was far away. Those were the days! Now it seems that just about everything comes via email, which is wonderful and I love technology, but I do miss those old days of getting letters from friends and family. So, when November and December start rolling around, I look with anticipation to my mailbox!

From the first year that my husband and I were married, I carefully crafted a Christmas greeting to our friends and families and sent it out each year. Always included was a great photo of our growing family, as well as news about the major happenings of each year. I played around with the lyrics to Christmas songs and made clever little stories about our kids and funny things that happened throughout the year. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed this tradition.

I even created a scrapbook album and filled it with each year's Christmas letters as part of our family's history. I did this faithfully every year from 1992 to 2007. But then one year the tradition just kind of got lost, and we haven't sent out Christmas cards ever since. Why?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Customized Design and Layout - or Lack Thereof

So if you've visited Blogger a lot, you probably noticed that I haven't spent too much time on customization of layout and background and so forth yet. I decided this time maybe I'd approach things the other way around. Fill it up with some content first, and then if it lasts I'll spend hours upon hours on customization. But despite the simple set-up I did last night, it's really quite appropriate - the bright colors look so fun and cheerful! I may even keep them long term. . . although you must keep in mind that with me the only consistency you can count on is change. . . so hang on, it's going to be a fun ride!

Now. . . off to my calendar and new card file system to see what I need to do next and make sure I'm not forgetting anything important . . .

Friday, December 14, 2012

So I'm starting another blog. . .

Here I am again. Starting another blog with a head full of exciting ideas about what it could become. It's that kind of thing where you can't focus on anything else and you can't sleep and you can't complete the other tasks on your to-do list until you get going on it. It's so exciting!

And yet I'm full of hesitation and anxiety too. Why? Because every time I do this, I spend hours and hours finding just the right domain name, getting all the colors and layout right, finding awesome graphics to make the blog really pop with that special something. And then I write my first entry or two, add a description, and perhaps even carefully draft an "about me" page or fill the sidebars with lots of great links and information. And then, when the excitement and thrill of the idea has worn off, and I've used up the initial burst of energy driving me to start this new project, I drop it. Totally.

Oh I may come back for a few days or from time to time for a few weeks or even months, writing an entry here and an entry there. I may daydream about all the great ways to expand what I've done, add new ideas, connect to other similar blogs and so forth. But that all starts sounding a little too much like hard work instead of fun. It starts to get boring. So - meh - I move on to something else new and exciting like organizing all of the books on my shelves by topic. Or color. Or size. Even better - I totally re-arrange all the furniture in my living room, because after all, the way it's set up now really isn't working perfectly for us and there has to be a better way.

Hahaha. . . it makes me laugh just writing that because it's so ridiculously true! It's why I loved my Mom so much, because she was full of energy and fun and new ideas and. . . but I digress, that's a whole other topic for another day. . . better get back to this one. . . 

Join the Conversation!

I'd love to have you connect up with me on social media. For a list of all the places where we can connect online, visit: I'd love to get to know you, see your channel, your page, your social media stuff that you're doing out there. I just love learning and meeting people and connecting with people, so I'm excited to get to know you. ~JS~ 🌞