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A Spot of Thanksgiving Tea 💛

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Hello, my friends ~ and Happy Thanksgiving Eve! :) Things here are all a-bustle as we prepare for tomorrow's big family gathering. My happiest news is that our oldest son came home last night from college! It is so good to see our Bookworm! Despite all the cleaning and decorating I've been doing this week, our Thanksgiving holiday officially began once this boy stepped in our front door ...

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(I never sleep so well as when ALL my boys are at home.)

So today I'd like to pour you all a cup of tea, offer you a cookie or two - pre-made I'm afraid, but quite tasty! - and catch up over a little Turkey Day chat:

If you're American, how are you celebrating this wonderful holiday? What's your favorite tradition? What does your menu look like this year? For my friends living outside America, how does your weekend look? Are you enjoying these last days of late autumn?

And how about your weather? It's VERY cold and windy in these parts ...

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We even had our first snow the other night! Just a coating, but it was quite pretty. A gentle reminder that more white stuff is coming ...

So if you had a peek at my Thanksgiving planner then you know I have lots of things to do this week! I absolutely relish this week though, because Thanksgiving is all about family, home, food and GRATITUDE. A time that highlights all the dearest pleasures of home, and the kinds of things I love doing best ... baking, decorating, welcoming, remembering. And with all my boys home and the house shining and smelling of baking - well, I'm a very happy mama today!

So here is where I was yesterday - out in the sunroom, working on table linens, flowers, place cards ...

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... and lists, of course! Always the lists. :)

Now, I usually drink my tea out of a very large mug but it's nice sometimes to sit down with a fine china teacup don't you think? And as you see in my top photo, I enjoyed yesterday's tea in a beautiful cup that once belonged to a dear friend's grandmother. When Shoshana stayed with us last month she was in the midst of cleaning out her ailing mother's home, preparing to sell it this fall. A difficult task (both physically and emotionally) and I was glad we were able to find some time to sit down and really talk. As she cleaned, Shoshana found many family treasures, including unpacked boxes of teacups that once belonged to her maternal grandmother. Knowing how I love teacups, she offered them to me!

So as I sipped my from that cup yesterday, I thought fondly of Shoshana and our friendship that dates back to kindergarten. Shosh (or Susie as I called her growing up) has lived in California for many years, so we don't get to see each other very often but I am so grateful for her friendship. There were lots of cups to choose from but I picked the black and white print yesterday because it reminded me of a pilgrim. :)

(And by the way, I was drinking "American Breakfast" tea - a caffeinated blend because I needed a little shot in the arm yesterday!)

But now here's today's tea ...

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Back to my favorite decaf - with a spoonful of raw sugar and LOTS of organic whole milk - served in one of my gigantic tea mugs. Oh, and those cookies ...

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These are just Pilsbury holiday sugar cookies - because yes, I'm a sucker for holiday marketing! Just pop them in the oven and 10 minutes later, freshly baked cookies! I made them for the boys this week but honestly, I'm pretty sure I've eaten the most of anyone so far.

And here again is my helper, assisting in the placement of china and napkins and turkeys. :)

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About those paper turkeys ... remember I showed them to you in a previous post? Well, as you can see they are serving as place cards and on the back of each turkey we glued a printout of our grace ...

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He was SUCH a big help with those glue sticks ... ;)

And now each guest can follow along with the grace as it is said ...

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After grace, each guest can use the crayon by their plate to write down what they're thankful for then hang their turkey blessings on the learning line. It will be fun to see what everyone says!

Now before I go, a few random things ...

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This is my favorite Thanksgiving decoration - a pretty little pilgrim-turkey-angel jingle bell ornament I've had for years. I have it hanging in my kitchen window. :)

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Our favorite holiday special ... we watch it every year WHEN it is on. (I mean, we could watch it any time obviously - between YouTube and DVDs - but there's something really neat about participating in the annual airing!) Which is tonight, by the way - at 8 p.m. on ABC. :)

And here's me, having tea in the sunroom (aka learning room), wearing a new sweater I bought myself this morning!

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I have a longtime love for cardigans, and my favorite is one I've had for years - a long soft gray sweater that I wear ALL the time in cool/cold weather. Well, it was time to have a second sweater for changing things up! I saw this navy blue cardigan at Target and couldn't resist. And then I had to show you all, because if you're looking for a soft and WARM, kick-around, but nice-enough-to-wear-out kind of sweater, this is it. $30 is not bad in my opinion for a well-crafted sweater. There were other colors to choose from but I just honed right in on this deep blue. It's one of my favorite colors to wear.

Oh, and there are pockets! :)

Had to share this too ...

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A fresh binder and pad of vintage-style cardstock! Revamping my homekeeping binder with fresh supplies makes me very happy! I'm working on tweaking last year's seasonal planning sheets so that they're current for 2017. Adding a few new page designs, too. Hope to have a post on all that sometime in early December!

Here's a peek at the November-themed page ...

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(P.s. Remember a while back on Facebook I mentioned I was hosting a homeschool moms meeting with the discussion topic, "time management tools?" Well I have not forgotten I promised to share notes from that meeting! But we had so much to discuss, we're actually having a follow-up meeting next month! In a future post I'll tell you all about the meetings and all the different planning styles we discussed.)

One last picture ...

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Basking in the sun, taking all the holiday prep in stride (while Oliver hides) is my Archie. :)

Now I have a couple of pies to make and some cranberries to brandy, but first a bit of housekeeping ...

(And how about another cup of tea?)

ADVENT NOTES 

I will post the follow up to my Advent planning sheets after the holiday (but hopefully over the weekend, or at the very latest early next week). I have notes on each of the planning sections to share, but I'm still in the midst of organizing this year's plans! (Hitting the craft store on Friday!)

I can show you this though ...

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So this is something we'll be doing for Advent! I saw an idea on Pinterest (originating at this blog here) and I just thought - how very clever! I'm still mulling this over, but I will fill you all in once I get all those pockets filled in!

ADVENT TEA


I will also be hosting a weekly tea here all throughout Advent ... up till New Year's actually! Stay tuned for more details but I would love to have you join me. This year I am eager to see YOUR favorite tea cup. What do you like to drink your tea/coffee/cocoa/mulled cider in best? Every one that sends me a picture of their favorite cup (or mug) will be entered in my Winter Comforts Giveaway. This package will be mailed out after the new year. :)

Note: I still don't have my blog email up and running so for now, if you'd like to send me a picture (or just a hello!) you can send it to drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. :)

Ok, I think that's all I have for now. I do hope you enjoyed our tea, and I would love to hear from you if you have a moment. I know many of us are busy scrambling about getting ready for tomorrow's big feast, so maybe we'll catch up in a few days. But as always, I thank you for joining me here and I look forward to visiting again! 

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I will see you here soon!

AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


A Tour of My New(ish) Desk!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Today I'd like to give you all a little tour of my new desk. :)

Well, I call it "new" because I've only been using it for a couple of months, but the desk itself is not new. Actually, it's been here since the house was built back in 1985! (We've been here since 2013.) It's a great spot for sure, but I resisted situating myself here because, A. up until recently I had a (portable) laptop computer and, B. "sitting down time" was pretty scarce. (If I found myself sitting down there was usually a Little Bear in my lap!)

Also, I really didn't want to clutter up this corner of our family room ... it's the main gathering room in the house and it's hard enough to keep it neat without adding my own parpahernalia to it. And if you know me, you know I am someone who has a tendency to amass a bit of clutter - nice-looking clutter if I may say so, but still, clutter indeed. Ahem.

Anyhoo, when my beloved Macbook died in August (thankfully leaving behind its hard drive), circumstances lined up in such a way that I "inherited" my 17yo son's computer. (He was building himself a new PC per his dearest birthday wish.) So now I really did need a desk for my desktop computer (as opposed to a kitchen counter where I usually parked my laptop) and I suddenly saw this built-in desk in a whole new light. Sure it's smack dab in the family room where all the FAMILY usually is - but it turns out that's OK. It's hard to sneak away and get stuff done for any length of time on my own, though I had a good run there for a while when Little Bear was napping regularly (I'd work on my laptop in a chair parked next to his crib). But these days if I'm going to sit down and spend some time working (or let's be real, surfing) on my computer, it's going to be accomplished with my kids all around me. So these days - case in point, this day - I'm sitting here at this desk while Little Bear and Earlybird play with trains and Matchbox cars and there may be an episode of Peppa playing in the background ...

(Side note - there is a matching desk on the other side of that window seen in the above photo. This desk is used by Earlybird and that too is getting spruced up for his computer time and homeschooling! More details in a future post.)

Now, before I get on with the tour, I want to note that I am still getting settled in, so things may get moved around a bit. I like how things are working so far though ... and I do find myself sitting here quite comfortably when the opportunity arises!

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So the monitor is parked in the middle, natch. Along the wall I have a month-at-a-glance calendar on the left - and to be completely honest I don't really need a wall calendar but I loved the look of this one - crisp white with LINED boxes and soft gold dots. (Plus, you know me and calendars.) I got it at Staples. On the right side of the monitor is a bulletin board which I will discuss in more depth in a moment. (Martha Stewart brand, also found at Staples.)

I bought the decorative boxes recently at Joann Fabrics where they were on sale and I could hardly resist. The artwork is so pretty and the shades complement the desk nicely. (Speaking of color, another side note - I do love the painted woodwork here. All through the house actually. The former homeowners did a bang-up job choosing paint colors and this green, as well as the green in my kitchen, is probably my favorite - mostly because I know I wouldn't have thought of it myself!)

Inside those boxes I have extra office supplies like pencils, pens, hi-lighters, post-it notes and washi tape. These are the ones I use the most ... my main stash is just beneath in a cabinet - along with stickers, binder clips, glue sticks and clothespins. (See below.)

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(You might recognize that yellow ball as our Michaelmas meteor ... yes, that had to go into immediate hiding once the younger boys wouldn't stop fighting over it. I had forgotten I stashed it in there when I went to take this picture, lol!)

Back to that corner for a moment, though! 

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I also have a small index card bin here (with monthly dividers and a card for each day colored according to the liturgical season) ... favorite mini binder clips are perched on the edge of the bin and my new daily prayer book sits just behind. :)

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If I'm going to be working at my computer for any length of time, I take my Day Designer (my daily planner) with me. I park it in the space to the left of my keyboard. (I usually keep my DD at the kitchen counter so I can check in with it frequently throughout the day.)

Above the monitor is a banner I made recently - an important reminder! - and an overhead light that doesn't work presently. (We're working on getting the right bulb for that fixture and then this whole work area will be much brighter!)

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So a bit about the screenshot, lol, because I know you're probably wondering! That is a very pretty planner I puttered around with on the Blue Sky website. A spiral-bound, monthly-weekly affair one can personalize and then order online. I REALLY don't need another planner, but oh ... isn't this pretty? :)

Ok, to the right of the monitor is my bulletin board and more storage ...

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Fyi that bulletin board is very easy to put up with adhesive tabs on the back. I found some shimmery copper push-pins to use here - to hold some visual inspiration (I tend to hoard lovely greeting cards and so display them with the seasons) as well as a few notes re ~ library password and Bookworm's class schedule, etc. Also here (beneath the owl card) is Little Bear's most recent pediatrician's report which gives his vitals, doctor contact info. and dosage information.

Beneath the board is another pretty storage box (I'm a sucker for these can't you tell?) and in this one I have craft materials for current or upcoming projects. Right now there are vintage Halloween cards to send with Earlybird, a set of paper turkeys for a Thanksgiving project and materials for our Advent countdown. The trick is to remember I put these things here, lol - but it's vital to keep these things out of the line of my younger boys' vision. ;)

In the rectangular basket I keep bills to pay, statements to review, correspondence to answer, a plastic pouch for monthly receipts and my little shopping notebook. Also tucked in here is Mama's Pink Stapler, and all my business/appointment cards held together with a binder clip ...

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Tucked in the very corner of this desk is my Catholic reference book-of-the-moment and two lovely notebooks I bought at the Paper Source recently. Let me show them to you a little closer up ...

New notebooks

You know how sometimes you find - and I'm talking to my fellow paper-nuts here - a notebook that just works really well for you? The size, shape and feel of it is perfect and you just want to find all kinds of uses for it? Well, this is what happened to me with these little beauties. I bought the blue one a few weeks ago and have turned it into a "to-do" kind of journal. I then ordered the pink one online (did not dare visit that store again in person - too tempting!) and am turning it into a daily joy journal of sorts.

Ok, back to the desk ...

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When I established myself at this desk I realized I needed a writing/work space as well as a computer area. I had Bill move an old table of ours (originally my grandparents') to the right of my desk chair. I like to turn to my planner/binder as I work and this is a fairly efficient set-up for me.

So on that table ...

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A lamp, which casts a very cozy if not very bright light on the area! My favorite page-a-day calendar, my stack of current magazines (piled in order of read first to last, favorites on bottom!), my homekeeping binder, file crate and an in-basket.

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I will have to do a separate post about how I'm using my binder as part of my overall planning system. I think I've finally found a daily-weekly combination that works for me! (Monthly-weekly-seasonal planning in the binder ... as well as my daily journaling ... but the daily nitty gritty planning takes place in my Day Designer.) 

My file crate sits nicely here on the table ...

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Weekly file folders, seasonal file folders, teacher's planbook standing up in front along with printable nature-study calendars and in the way back of my crate I have a folder for all our homeschooling particulars - any correspondence, HSLDA paperwork, town/school paperwork, etc. The in-basket holds things - any old things - I come across through the week that I want to look at during my weekend "office hours." In there right now is last month's journaling pages for review, a couple of pieces of mail to look at, a storytime craft made by Little Bear (not sure how that ended up in there, lol!), my Advent book for perusal and planning, and a "just moved" announcement from a friend.

Above this work table is a framed Tasha Tudor print ...

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My grandparents had this framed for me as a high school graduation gift back in 1987. It brings me such pleasure for so many reasons!

Oh, and while I'm here, let me show you yet another storage box I bought just yesterday and slipped under my work table ...

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This one will be for Christmas planning and prep ... I've already stashed a couple of catalogs in there!

I keep my "briefcase" on the floor ...

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(In here are this month's home learning books ... I try to find all the books we'll be using ahead of time and pull them out as we need them.)

Now, looking around my "corner office" I have a nice view out the window to my left ...

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... although that couch is very tempting!

And there's a small seating area behind me for "client meetings" ... ;)

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The table and chairs were originally my parents' and they are actually patio furniture but I love how they look here and the wicker is surprisingly comfortable. I envision having the boys sit with me here individually to review homework and perhaps talk about the week ahead, expectations etc. For Little Bear it's mostly about sharing Mama's tea and playing with puppets. :)

Above my desk are bookshelves full of the older boys' books and a few special nicknacks ... some of that aforementioned "clutter!"

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I added those pretty wooden leaf lights just the other day - they add a nice touch on gray days and dark autumn evenings!

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And if you're thinking that's a glass of wine right there in that last picture, well ... you'd be guessing right. :)

Last shot ... office motto:

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💙

Well my friends, this was a rather long post and I thank you for stopping by to read and share in my "desk joy!" Aside from needing a little more light, it's working out very well for me. I've been here at the desk all morning (well, since 6 a.m. till now which about two hours later) since Earlybird and I are the only ones up and he's out here in the family room using his iPad and watching PBSKids. I'm on my second - make that third - cup of coffee but it's now time to rally the troops and get our Saturday started! Soccer game and family lunch ... applesauce in the pot and meatloaf in the oven ... much to do and many memories to make!

Hope you all have a great weekend ... see you here again very soon!


Earlybird's Visual Learning

My goodness but I've been working on this draft for some time now ... and yet for some reason I just can't seem to wrap it up! Well, here we go anyway ... I hope you enjoy! :)

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So here at last is Earlybird's "learning line," something I mentioned last month on Instagram and promised to show in more detail here at the blog ...

This learning line is basically a simple, visual catalog of information - consisting of sheets stored in page protectors. We've had some good success with this the past few weeks, so I snapped some pictures to share here in case this might work well for someone else's child ... :)

But first, a bit of background ...

Our 14 yo Earlybird has autism and teaching him in a way that is both engaging and meaningful has been a real challenge for us as a home-educating family. We are always looking for ways to make learning enjoyable for EB, while taking into account his varying special needs. He can't really handle long lessons or a lot of one-on-one, intense instruction so I like to "sneak in" the ideas and concepts we're working on and then revisit them to assess how things are sinking in. (EB is developmentally delayed but has a fantastic memory and a bright inquisitive mind. Some subjects (like science) he readily absorbs like a sponge, while others (for example, math) he really struggles with.) My first thought was that we'd just sit down together with a binder full of the sheets shown above, but EB can be funny about this kind of activity. I could envision myself saying, "Hey, EB, how about we sit down over here and look through your lesson pages together?" To which EB would most likely say, "Um, no thanks." Or maybe even something like "Noooo, I don't wanna ... noooo!"

(Insert door slam here.)

Compliance and flexibility are things we work on every day with EB's (amazing) behavioral therapist - and we're making progress, certainly - but as you can imagine, this kind of attitude doesn't really lend itself to easygoing homeschooling moments. It's actually quite disruptive and really messes with the lesson plans!

Hence our ongoing efforts to find methods that are appealing to EB while also training him to be more accepting of requests and responsibilities. (This is also why I tend to make EB's lesson plans with a rather wide-range vision. I sketch out some general topics and themes for a month, then write up weekly goals which get plugged into the days of the week as they work best.

My October notes read like this: Explorers, New England geography/geology, Americana artists - Moses/Wysocki, music of Harry Potter (composer John Williams), autumn weather/frost, woods/leaves, soil, migration, St. Francis, All Hallow's Eve

Side note - it is really difficult for EB to sit and listen to someone read aloud to him (re ~ sensory issues) and while he can read on his own, he doesn't have a lot of stamina for it. So in come audiobooks! Funnily enough, I've never been a big fan of audiobooks myself - preferring paper as I do - but they have been a real lifesaver! And so incredibly enjoyable. I play all kinds of literature while we drive around, bringing Crackerjack to his "out of home" classes or the soccer field or on errands, etc. It seems we're in the car every day for something or another these days! So I just casually press "play" and when EB asks me to switch back to "the news" (he loves news radio, lol) I say something like, "Oh we'll go back to that in a minute, let's just find out what happens next ..."  We just finished Peter Pan, and have now begun Harry Potter ... I am so excited to revisit this with Earlybird! It's his first time, but one of many re-reads for me!

Ok, so enough of my chatter, here are some pictures of our "learning line" - and this also gives you a little sneak peek into how the learning room is coming along (Slowly, but surely! And a full tour to come soon ... )

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So the line stretches across the entire back wall of the sunroom learning room. Bill just used "Command" hooks and a length of kitchen twine for this project. Other supplies include sheet protectors, post-it notes and small wooden clothespins. The current books are on the windowsills for now but eventually - once Bill builds me some book ledges! - they will be displayed on the walls. Both the books and the sheets reflect current learning topics ...

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Some of the things I have hanging in the sheet protectors:

  • a map of the US slowly being colored in as we cover each state
  • a state bird and flower coloring page (we're starting in New England)
  • a photocopy of a colorful state map, corresponding with the state bird/flower page
  • some Peace Day print-outs
  • a corn plant with diagram labels
  • a map of where corn is grown in the US
  • some index cards with landform vocabulary terms - these are specific to New England (EB was asked to look them up and record the word on each card)
  • the weekly forecast
  • September's poem

I've since added a compilation of seed-dispersal facts and a Charles Wysocki art book page (with New England theme) as well as some coloring pages and crafts made by Little Bear at his library Storytime.

To some of these pages I might add post-it notes with questions such as:

  • According to this map, which area of the US grows the most corn?
  • What is the capital of Massachusetts?
  • What are three adjectives that describe September?
  • What day this week looks to have the best weather?
  • What Native American tribes were found in Massachusetts? Check the Giant US Discovery Atlas

Some of these pages are photocopied from workbooks, text books, library books and other resources. Some things are found online as images or printables. (How did we ever home school before Pinterest?) The index cards are in sheet protectors with divided pockets. Currently I'm just filing the sheet protectors in a binder as is, retiring last week's pages over the weekend and hanging fresh sheets before the new week begins.

(Ok, let me rephrase that - I'm actually placing all those pages in a basket until I find a binder I like for this purpose! I need a large one, but the rings need to work very smoothly for Earlybird.)

The "learning line" is something EB uses with his therapist as well. They've been working his homeschooling into their daily sessions and it has been a tremendous help! I think Earlybird likes this approach because it's visually appealing and he feels proud to see some of his work hanging up in this way. I've heard him show visitors his learning line and he'll comment on it sometimes to me throughout the day. It's a way of keeping his lessons front and center - but with a relatively low-key approach. Some items stay up longer than a week if I feel they need to "sink in" a little longer.

Note: these pictures were taken last month ... here is a peek at the line this week!

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So there's a look at one of the ways I incorporate "visual" learning into Earlybird's week. I hope you enjoyed this peek into our learning room, and as I mentioned above, a full tour will be coming up soon!

Enjoy your weekend, my friends and as always, thanks so much for stopping by ...

See you here again very soon!


Planning a New Year + a Peek at My Lesson Planner!

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Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week's off to a great start!

These are heady days, aren't they? I just LOVE this time of year ... it's so full of promise and preparation. We're still enjoying the nice weather of late summer (warm, breezy, dry) but autumn is truly just around the corner so it's perfectly respectable to start planning ahead. (Great fun for those of us who love autumn and planning!) And while we're still in "vacation" mode here, it's definitely time to get our new year in order - plans, resources, learning space, official approval and all that. Part of that rhythm for me involves pulling together a lesson planner of some sort - a tool to help me iron out the year ahead. I'm very much an eclectic homeschooler, but I draw much inspiration from the Charlotte Mason and Waldorf styles of learning. Some years have leaned more one way than the other, but I am always better off with a PLAN of some sort in place.

So I thought today I'd give you a peek at the planner I've created - even though it's still under construction! This year I'm homeschooling a 17 year old, a 14 year old (with special needs) and a 3 year old who simply will not be left out of anything, lol. (Our 21 year old is a senior in college, so for the most part, he's out of my loop!)

Ok, here is the cover of my planner:

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It just makes me so happy ...

I started with a plain, one-subject, spiral-bound notebook I really like and covered it with a vintage alphabet scrapbook paper. (You can see the print in closer detail in my blog banner above.) I adhered the paper to the front of the notebook with some yellow washi tape and added a fun sticker on top. "Capture the Joy" sounds about right for a homeschooling motto!

Inside the planner it's a rather humble affair ... I just used a pencil and ruler to create the pages I needed for planning. Inside the front pocket I keep a printout of the ed. plan I sent into the school system. After a title page I have a "Contact/Correspondence" log. Here is where I mark down when I send stuff into the superintendent and when I hear back. I also note our HSLDA renewal activity.

Next comes an academic year at a glance "attendance" calendar:

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I shaded in the days we would be on vacation (blue) and actively homeschooling (yellow). Green shading indicates a weekend. This helped me determine how many hours per week we need to count towards the 990 total for the year. Also, I can see where it makes sense to take time off and when we can (hopefully)wrap up for the year.

Next comes the two-page seasonal homeschooling schedule:

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On the left side of the schedule I have the Monday date and seasonal theme; on the right hand side I have written down any events of note. This chart runs from 9/5/2016 - 8/28/2017. (I'll share these seasonal themes in my next post.)

The next several pages are devoted to organizing our weekly rhythm (when we're home and when we're out each day, where to fit in which subjects) as well as a breakdown of goals and ideas for each of my boys. Crackerjack's page includes space for college planning, while Earlybird's allows for ABA goals and Little Bear's is just all about how I'd like his preschool years to look. ❤️

Then comes a list of all the subject areas I want to include this year (for example - poem of the month, artist of the month, a monthly field trip, weekly nature study and art project, etc.).

Next I break down the months of the year with notes in all areas - another hand-drawn chart with lots of tiny writing!

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It's hard to see here, but the circled letter denotes the month. On the far left I've listed the seasonal themes that fall within that month. Then comes two blocks for things like audiobook, history topic, science topics, artist(s), music focus, geography region, field trip idea, habit to work on ... etc.! And then finally on the far right I've written down the events of note in that month. These are days that will figure into our homeschooling in some way.

After this two-page spread comes a list of back-to-school supplies and traditions. (I'm working off a rather large checklist I wrote a few years ago. You can see that list in a newsletter here if you're interested. The list is on the last two pages.)

Now comes the monthly sections! First up of course is September ...

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Ok, so I get a little silly with my notebooks, I will happily admit. I love organization and tidy details, but I need to have a page for doodles and brainstorms! This is a portion of my favorite September poem and all around the edge of this page I've written out things I love about the month: apples, fresh pencils, goldenrod, grasshoppers, green tomatoes, alphabet soup, sweatshirts, spiderwebs, crisp mornings, cricket song, the harvest moon ... a kind of love letter to the month ahead. This might not be "standard" in a typical teacher's planner, but I love to include this kind of inspiration in mine!

After the title page I have a monthly planning page for September with notes on the left and a calendar on the right.

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I use post-its here because I like how they allow me to organize ideas in a flexible and visual way. Each note represents a particular area of September planning: field trip, nature themes, nature study, science, geography, events of note, social studies, math, faith focus, music, crafts, good habit, literature, bird and badge of the month, and "teas" which are basically monthly sit-downs with special food and a seasonal celebration of some sort.

The calendar (as with pretty much everything else in this planner!) is hand-drawn and embellished with a little seasonal washi tape, sticker and doodle. I'll add some quotes and notes here, too.

And now for the nitty-gritty - the weekly lesson planning section!

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I apologize if this is way too much detail, but that's just how I roll, lol! As longtime readers know well ... ;)

On the left side of the weekly spread is another post-it brainstorming page similar to the one in the monthly section. I've also listed the theme for the week (sunflowers this week) and any days of note. I have not yet decided if I will continue to use post-it notes here (which are fun and convenient but might bulk up my planner) or if I'll commit to a hand-drawn grid for planning. Meanwhile, on the right-hand page I have a chart where I can sketch out daily details for each of my three students. There are rows for Monday through Friday and then a large row for the weekend at the bottom. We don't typically do academic work on the weekends, but there is usually homework for my 17yo as well as seasonal, family activities to enjoy.

(Note: I'm still working on our week's rhythm - which days we do what subjects/activities. Our weeks are mostly shaped by Crackerjack's outside classes and Earlybird's therapy schedule. It's a little different this year so I'm re-thinking things a bit. Some subjects, like reading and math, are done daily - but we do need to find the best time of day for those lessons. Mornings would be ideal, mentally speaking, but with CJ going to classes some days and EB working with his therapist everyday, a lot of our activity takes place in the after-lunch hours. That said, EB's therapists are working more of his home education into his sessions, and I'm really excited for this support! Another reason to be really organized and detailed with my weekly lesson plans!)

By establishing a consistent framework (science on Tuesdays and Thursdays, social studies M-W-F, etc.), it is easier to plug activities into the chart. I'm still tweaking all of this - because as long as I've been doing this, it changes every year! - but will share more when I can. :)

Sometimes, for whatever reason, plans must change or be abandoned, and I've come to accept this is just the nature of homeschooling and life with kids. (Particularly one with autism!) Plans provide wonderful guidance, but they don't absolutely guarantee all the boxes will be checked off at the end of the week ...

But I never feel a minute of planning is wasted. Planning gives me a leg up on whatever our week brings our way. I've learned not to dwell in disappointment when things don't go "as planned." There is still beauty and value in creating plans that pan out in a way I didn't originally foresee. Sometimes I carry things over into the next week. Sometimes I save things for next year. Missed lessons are sometimes caught up with in a flurry. For the most part, I find it all shakes out in the end ...

If I've established an atmosphere that promotes learning, they will learn. If I've encouraged an attitude of curiosity they'll be curious. If I've shared my own joy and wonder at the world, then the world will be a source of joy and wonder for my children. If I can check boxes off in my planner I'll be thrilled, but there is room to see where my children might lead me, too.

 🍎

OK, I'm going to sign off now because I'm getting a little rambly and clearly I could just go on and on here ... I will share my 52 seasonal themes in my next post. For those of you who remember I'm working on a book (and yes I am still working on it!) these themes are my book's outline. So this will be a little sneak peek, if you will. :)

Other upcoming posts:

A look at this year's file crate.

A tour of my brand new desk!

How I'm using my Day Designer ...

Early Autumn Planning Sheets!

So I hope you all enjoy your  week and what's left of this summer season ... thanks so much for stopping by!

I will see you here again very soon ...


It's Homeschool Planning Time!

File crate 1

Hello my friends, and Happy Weekend!

So it's that time of year again - time for me to put on my homeschool-mom-thinking-cap and see "what's what." First up, I need to write reports for the school system (how we did last year, what we're doing next) and then comes the fun part - planning out the nitty-gritty of our new year! I'm actually a little behind on this (thanks, in part, to that recent computer crash) but I AM NOT panicking. Nope, I am not. Not at all. Or at least, not very much - mostly because I'm really too busy to worry about it!

(Plus, this is my 16th time "at bat," so to speak, so it really shouldn't take me too long to get these reports done ... once I sit down and just do them!)

Now, like many of you, I have a ritual I like to follow when I work on a project - for ed. planning it includes (but is not limited to): a quiet space, open windows, no children, several cups of tea and LOTS of office supplies. But one of my favorite activities is when I get to spruce up my file crate for a new year! Above you see the crate itself with a calendar hanging on its front and a couple of planners stuck in the back. In front of the crate are two piles of folders - last year's on the left (which will be read through as I write the reports) and new ones for the coming year on the right.

Now, before anyone asks - no I don't reuse my file crate folders - at least, not for this purpose. I do, however, recycle them in other ways. I like (and need) my weekly file folders to be crisp and sturdy and strong ... a year's worth of use leaves them a bit battered. 

File crate 3

Let's just say, they get handled a lot!

There are a lot of stylized file folders out there now that you might use with a file crate system. File folders are kind of a "hot" product these days and some are so very pretty ... I am always tempted ... but unfortunately, since I need one for each week of the year (52 total) the price, for me, would just be too much. I do like to "pretty" my plain folders up a bit if I can - with labels and washi tape, etc. As you can see I am going with primary colors this year as opposed to the soft brown of last year's. These are actually folders I found a while back at Staples when they were marked WAY down - so I bought several packs - you know, just in case. (I'm weak like that when it comes to office supplies ... my motto being, buy first, ask questions later!)

Anyhoo, look how neat they are inside!

File crate 2

So inside each folder there are pockets that allow you to separate folder contents by type. How cool is this?! I LOVE this idea and I really hope it works out. I keep a lot of things in my folders and it's a bit jumble-y, I must admit. (Lesson print-outs, recipes, receipts, craft ideas, invoices, reminder cards, greeting cards, invitations, etc.) I sometimes use a paper clip to hold things together (or various color-coded clips) but then there's that annoying bump from the clip(s) ... yes, I really am that persnickety about my file folders, lol!

I will have to do a follow-up post about what the folders look like when full - and how I use them as part of my weekly planning. I'm still ironing out a few details and fleshing out a few new ideas ... so more on my file folder system in the near future!

Before I go though, I want to share a couple of photos of our next project ...

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So yes, this is the sunroom, which I know a lot of you have seen in previous posts, and you're thinking, "What is she on about here?" But here's the thing .... I've finally decided to make it our ... HOMESCHOOL ROOM! :)

We've lived here in this house for three years now, and I just couldn't quite decide where to "set up shop," for homeschooling. I kind of wanted to see how we'd end up using the different rooms and where it would make sense to commit shelves and wall space to educational pursuits. This sunroom has been fabulous when we're entertaining - we often set up buffets and dining tables here - but otherwise it's usually a catch-all playroom of sorts. I recently cleaned it out, top to bottom and decided this really would make a great spot for homeschooling ... there's lots of room and natural light. Not a ton of wall space, but enough. And it's situated right off the family room so it's pretty convenient. The one drawback is, it's only a three-season room (i.e. it gets COLD in the winter) so we'll have to figure something out on that front. 

But I'm excited! I'm really looking forward to getting this room all organized and arranged. I have Bill lined up to make some shelves for me and I'm trying to envision the learning areas I'd like to make available to my younger boys. On the other side of the picture window in that last picture is my new desk, by the way ... and that will be another post for the future! :)

***

Well, my friends - I'd best be off now. This was supposed to be a "quick" post but you know how I can get. I do hope you all enjoy your weekend, and as always, I thank you sincerely, for stopping by to read. Thanks, too, for all the chicken advice! The girls are doing well ... they seem much more settled now and goodness are they dears! I will post a bit about them in an upcoming post as well.

So have a good evening, everyone! Don't forget to look up at that beautiful night sky tonight (or early tomorrow) and watch for those Perseids, so spectacular this year. I myself am just hoping to stay up late enough to watch The Great British Baking Show season finale!

(Anyone else watching? Who are you rooting for then?)

☄️☄️☄️

See you all here again very soon ....


Happy National Notebook Day!

A word of warning: you may only find this post interesting if you, like me, are passionate about paper! But feel free to read on wherever you stand on the topic ... :)

Notebook day 6

So I only heard of this holiday the other day on Instagram - apparently it's new this year! But of course, notebook-nut that I am, I could not let it pass without a little peek at my favorite notebook these days! The photo above shows my journal from last year, with all my pages organized and tabbed by month, neatly stored in a large binder. I get so much joy looking back over past journals!

Now, notebooks can be used for all kinds of things - journals, planners, academic notes, shopping lists - there's so much  you can do with a notebook. Notebooks can be easily found (or made) but some of us paper enthusiasts have rather strong opinions about what makes a notebook work and what doesn't. I am a collector of notebooks, that's for sure. I almost never pass up a chance to browse a stationary aisle, whether I'm in a large store like Staples or Target or a smaller specialty store like PaperSource. I'm always looking for smooth paper and good coil binding, a sturdy back and a neat cover. I despise perforated pages ... reinforced pages ... dark ink ... scratchy paper ... and ACK, heaven forbid, a wide rule! ;)

Ok, enough with my rambling ... here is where I'm notebooking these days:

Notebookday 5 

So no, this is not a typical notebook - it is a section in a 3-ring binder (my home keeping binder in fact) filled with my favorite paper EVER. (Years ago, during the back-to-school sales, I found a batch of loose-leaf paper that looked and felt so amazing - I snatched up as many packs as I could! I have never again found its like.)

I call this my domestic journal, and it's a real hodge-podge of things ... notes, ideas, observations, reminders, clippings, post-it notes, the occasional sticker or swatch of washi tape. I write for a month, then review and index the pages before lifting them out and placing them in a large storage binder (such as the one shown above). Then I add more paper to my home keeping binder for the new month!

Notebook day 1 

I keep this binder open on my workspace ("command central," if you will) in the kitchen. It's the first section of this binder and I add to it every day. I use a page finder to mark my place and a binder clip to connect the daily journal with my weekly planning section ...

Notebook day 3

Notebook day 4

I've grappled with needing to see my week AND my day at the same time, and I find this arrangement works rather well. I can't see both sections at the same time of course, but I can go back and forth between my daily notes and my weekly planning pretty quickly. I use a pagemaker here too, and it's a perfect spot for post-it-note "task" checklists.

Notebook day 2

To the far right of my binder sits my clipboard with my Day Designer on top. The DD allows me to see exactly what I'm doing that day. (I don't write notes so much here as to-do's and time-sensitive information.) 

So there you have it - the notebook "system" I am using right now! It's not perfect, but it works well for me and I really enjoy attending to it throughout the day. I do hope you enjoyed this post and I'd love to hear about your note booking habits if you have a minute! In the meantime, I wish you all a pleasant evening and will hope to see you here again very soon!


A Fresh Start: My New Day Designer!

DD1

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week is going well! Today I'd like to give you a tour of my new Day Designer ...

For those unfamiliar with the DD (as I'll call it in this post), it's a spiral-bound, paper planner designed by Whitney English, with a page devoted to each day of the year. My new DD runs from June 2016 through May 2017, so I have not actually started using it yet; indeed, I only received it about a week ago! (The packaging itself was just gorgeous - wish I had thought to take pictures before I ripped into it!)

Now, I'm not completely new to Day Designer ... off and on, I've used a Blue Sky-DD crossover planner I found at Target last summer. Made with different materials (though a similar design), and a significantly lower price point, this planner is something like a B-level version of the original DD. Anyhow, I say I used it "off and on" because the sad truth is, I have serious issues with planner commitment. I can never seem to find a "perfect" fit ... and often end up wondering what might work better ... but we've talked about this issue before, no need to hash it out again here! ;)

(And just for the record, I am not affiliated with Day Designer, nor am I being compensated for this "review" in any way. I bought this planner myself and wanted to share it here in case anyone is curious about the DD and/or has been using one of her own and would like to chat!)

So ... obviously I must connect with the DD on some level, because I saw fit to pay a pretty penny for this beautiful new edition!

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I went with the blue floral pattern, though I was also tempted by the green palmI love shades of blue ... this pattern kind of reminds me of the "fancy" dinner dishes my mum used when I was growing up. 

The pre-order sale lasted from March 9th till April 20th, and I ordered my mid-year "flagship" DD in the first ten minutes of the sale window! (I had the start time written down in my - ahem - other planner, and I even set my phone alarm to alert me to log on!) I believe some patterns did sell out, but others will be available when the shop reopens today, Wednesday, May 11th.

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So here is the planner set on my kitchen table ...

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... and to give you an idea of the size, here it is next to a file folder.

It's a good size, yes - but it would need to be to hold 365 daily pages plus the 12 months and a few extras! Personally, I don't mind a big planner ... I am mostly a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom who does most of her planning at ... well, home. I do like to tote it around with me - through the day if I'm working at the kitchen counter or resting upstairs while the littlest sleeps or in the evening if I'm sitting in the family room with Bill. I may grab it if I'm picking up one of the boys and may be waiting for a bit in the car.  But practically speaking, I don't often need to take my planner out and about. If I did -  if I worked outside the home or if I was a full-time student, say - then the heftiness of this planner might be a drawback. But I'm pretty much A-OK with the large size - it's worth it to have a page devoted to each day of the year.

As you can see above, the planner is edged at the corners with a gold metal bracket - this reinforces against the inevitable scuffs, bumps and bashes. And to give you an idea of the thickness ...

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 The coils are made of metal and are very sturdy and tight. The covers are thick and hard - a bit awkward to fold over (creaky, stiff) but I think that will lesson over time and with use.

Inside, the paper is all white with light gray text and the monthly tabs are gold ...

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Honestly, I'm not a fan of the bright gold - they're a bit garish, I think - but I could overlook that. What bothers me is that the tabs add just enough extra "bulk" that when you lie the planner flat there is a slight buckle to the page on which you are writing. Most likely not everyone would notice this ... I tend to be super picky when it comes to my writing surface - but I wanted to mention it. I am thinking I MIGHT carefully snip the tabs out and use something else to mark the monthly calendars ... possibly a self-adhesive tab or post-it flag.

I will say the feel and weight of the paper is great. Smooth and light, but not too thin. And I'm a fan of the soft gray print - I like my planner pages drawn subtly in a neutral shade such as this. (Kind of how when I make my homemade planners, I prefer to draw them in all soft gray pencil.)

Here's a peek at the first few pages ...

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Title page with space for contact information ...

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A page devoted to describing how to use your DD ...

"It's not about having it all. It's about focus, priority and intention. Day Designer was created to help you focus on the most important things in life"

>>>>> ❤ <<<<<

Similar pages appear in the Blue Sky version but honestly, I hardly read them. I was so so eager to dive in and start personalizing my planner I kind of skipped the "how-to" part of the process. (I can be very impatient like that.) This time I'm paying a little more attention to the suggestions so that I might better understand how this particular tool works ... and therefore perhaps not give up on it as I have other planners in the past. I have a hard time with goals ... taking "big" ideas and breaking them down into realistic goals ... then further breaking them down into manageable steps. I'm really hoping this planner helps me out on that score.

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"Your daily tasks become more effective if you know how they support the overall goals for that month, that year, and  your ultimate goal of living a well-designed life."

And that's really what we should all be doing - living our days with purpose. Not just stumbling through them "putting out fires" as they pop up. (My very first boss always said that he spent too much of his time each day "putting out fires" instead of getting anything of importance done.) God gives us only so many hours on this earth and how better to thank Him than by treating those hours with respect?

There are several more goal-oriented pages after this, but now I'll get on with the really important part ... the monthly calendars and daily planning pages!

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Each month (June 2016 through May 2017) has its own two-page month-@-a-glance spread. It's a basic design ... there's a column on the left for notes, and lots of space at the top for stickers, washi tape, more notes ... perhaps quotes or some seasonal bits and bobs. One might even consider shading in the month's title to add a splash of color. Holidays and other events are clearly marked.

DD12

The calendar blocks are a generous size, but I confess, I appreciated the lined boxes in the Blue Sky edition I used last year. I like a lined calendar - so very helpful for keeping your writing straight and arranging events in a timely manner.

Now, for the daily pages ...

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There's an individual page for each weekday ... 

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... while weekends share a page.

DD15

Each day is dated (natch) and has a quote at the top with space for embellishments and/or notes. Then there are spaces in which to write today's "top three" (most important events, tasks or goals of the day), what's "due" today, dinner, dollars spent and a place to note - don't forget! Then the left side of the page features a vertical agenda in hourly increments, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., while the righthand side is for a to-do list with boxes to check. The bottom of the page features a space for notes and a spot in which you might write your daily gratitude.

Here's a closer peek ...

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I don't use colored pens or markers in my planner so I can't say if there's bleed-through or not, but I do love the feel of the paper beneath my mechanical pencil and my favorite inked pens.

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And finally ... the back cover. :)

At a later date I will do a follow-up post to show you how I'm working those pages. And where I fit that DD planning into my week. And how I fit the DD into the rest of my planning protocol!

Now, most (or at least many) people choose ONE planner and decide between a daily, weekly or even a simple monthly format. I'm not ashamed to say I need all three. (Plus something for planning out seasons.) I've tried to find/make just one single planner that encompasses all my needs, but it's just too much for one space. Better to use a few planners well than one planner poorly!

• For monthly planning I use (and have for years) a large, "folio" sized two-page month-@-a-glance calendar in my homekeeping binder. It's made by Day-Timer and I love it - it's lined and simple and I can write a LOT in it. This is the main family calendar, and it sits behind my domestic journal which is kept in the very front of my binder which sits open on my kitchen counter at all times.

• My weekly planning is how I weave the seasons into our life, so I generally use homemade things in that endeavor - lately a spiral-bound planner and printed out sheets. When I am living (and teaching) seasonally, I break it all down into weeks, and each week has a theme that ties back into the season. (For example this week's theme is "Spring Fire," connecting with Pentecost Sunday and the elements.) I also plan our homeschooling this way because it's not quite realistic to plan each day, but rather work off a week's worth of goals. I keep our lesson plans in their own notebook-planner (for now).

(I mentioned above that I do not use colors, but I am actually trying out an idea right now in my weekly planner that utilizes colored pens. I like to write everything in pencil and for the most part we have pretty typical weeks - the kids have regular class and therapies and we attend Mass and go grocery shopping (etc.) at the same times. But of course, there are other things that come up - an appointment, a dinner out, a party, a social visit ... when I look at my week I like to see what is "a-typical" this week. Where will we be pulled outside of our normal routine? So by writing these - or underlining these? - in color, I can see at a glance where that will happen.)

• As for daily planning ... if the week is the big picture, working in themes and ideas, then the day is fitting in the nitty gritty. I like to see in vivid detail what the hours ahead of me look like and what things I need to be doing. These would be the everyday tasks, the housekeeping for that particular day, the supper I need to make, the exercise I want to do, the water I need to drink, the times I need to be somewhere and with whom. These are tasks that are to be done that day - not, say, something that should be done sometime that week. Examples - a time-sensitive phone call, a prescription pickup, anything that needs doing or readying for the next day. Would that I could work a day's details into the weekly planner, but somehow it's just not a good fit. The "grit" gets lost in the spread. The trick of course is the overlap - nobody wants to waste time re-writing things in more than one planner. 

And so comes in the DD, a place to do my DAILY planning ... :)

>>>>> ❤ <<<<<

Does it get a bit much juggling all these planning tools? Sometimes, yes. But for now this seems to be the best way to combine and manage my needs. It's not perfect, certainly, but there's only so much "planning the planning" you can do before you just have to get on with it! ;)

Right now I have my home keeping binder open on my kitchen counter, along with my weekly planning pages (currently kept in the binder, not bound separately). Then next to the binder is my clipboard with my (Blue Sky) DD sitting on top open to today's page. My Late Spring (May-June) seasonal binder is tucked in the back of my file crate for easy reference. Here is all of my planning in one place!

I will expand on all this in a follow-up post, but I think I'd best wrap up for now since this is getting rather long and I'm straying off-point a bit. But I do hope you enjoyed this tour of my new Day Designer! I think it is a lovely planner and I am eager to make it work well for me! (Especially since I aim to be a good steward of our family budget and wouldn't want this expense to have been wasted!)

Once we're a week or so into June I will show you how my pages look "in action" ... :)

But for now, I will send you off with my thanks for stopping by and reading and my hope that you enjoy the rest of your day ... and week! I will check back in with you all again soon ... 


A Fresh Start: Using a Brainstorm Board

Brainstorm board

Hello and Happy Thursday, my friends!

Today I'd like to talk a bit about one of my planning tools - the brainstorm board I showed you (very briefly!) during my planning chat with Jen Mackintosh and Mystie Winckler last winter. I made this board up last fall, a larger version of something I usually do on a piece of notebook paper or loose-leaf attached to a clipboard. I was inspired to create this one since an earlier version worked really well as I worked out my Housekeeping Calendar. (You can read about that project here: part one, part two.) A brainstorm board is obviously not a grand or original idea, but I thought I'd break down how I made mine and the way in which I use it. :)

1. For one thing, my board helps me "plan my planning!"

(Does that make any sense, lol?)

Now it's no secret that I enjoy making my own planners but unfortunately I have yet to make one that truly "sticks." I'm always happy to try again though (I really enjoy the handwork of it), but it can be a tricky business - trying to make a tool(s) that will cover all the bases I need to think about/work on/plan for. When I begin the process, I'm often unsure just what kind of planner I want as well as how many planners make sense for me. A binder with tabs and interchangeable sections? A spiral-bound planner that can easily be tossed in a bag? Something that everyone in the family can see and use regularly? Daily pages or weekly spreads?

There are so many possible variations and so many areas to cover, it kind of boggles the mind!

(But of course, I love this kind of boggling!)

So I use this tool to harness my scattered thoughts and make sure I'm covering all my bases. Once I can see my ideas in print, I can start organizing them - categorizing and connecting, grouping things together - and slowly I begin to see some reason in the randomness. There's a lot of thought that goes into "planning," especially for we mums - and one of the first things to consider is, just what exactly do I need to include in my planning? What are my responsibilities? What kinds of information do I need to store/manage for myself and my family?

And here's where the brainstorming comes in!

2. My board helps me recognize and prioritize my responsibilities.

The base of this board is a plain posterboard and the notes are formed using all kinds of sticky-backed "post-it" notes. Since I always have a HUGE stash of these on hand I was able to use colors and sizes to differentiate bigger and smaller ideas. So for instance, my BIG areas currently include: Blogging/Writing, Home & Family, Community, Home Education, Household Tasks, and Seasonskeeping. In the next "note" size down I have: Family Calendar, Friends, Parish, Town, Garden/Yard, Nature, Faith, College, Cleaning Schedules, Gratitude, Special Needs.

So, Homeschooling is one of my "BIG" areas to plan, and College is under that, as is Special Needs. Smaller ideas include field trips, resources, school contacts, organization, lesson planning, groups/support. I have since added more small stickies not shown here: weekly rhythm, writing curriculum, internships, outside classes, goals, motto/logo.

The next step is deciding on my materials and finding all of these "brainstorms" a home! Will it be binders, notebooks, file folders, index cards or a combination of all those things? As I look over the notes I think about the information that each one represents. How would I want to access that information? Would I need to see it daily or once in a while? Would I need a binder-type of storage where I can easily add things and take things out? (Field trip ideas and school contacts might warrant a folder or a binder pocket for copies of signed letters, brochures, etc.) Would this be information I'd want to share with others in the family? (For example, medical information or emergency contacts). Is this something I want to look "pretty" (journaling, seasonal ideas) or should it be strictly no-nonsense (automobile information, employment records)?

And how about the time component? How often do each these aspects of my life need my attention? When will I sit down and plan out blog posts? When will I work on lesson plans - by semester or week? How often must I look at our budget (yearly goals? monthly ledger? weekly spending log?)? When will I plan out special activities that enhance our experience in faith and nature? And when will we work said activities into our already busy family calendar?

As with my Housekeeping calendar - I take the "whats" and find them "whens." If I have a spot for something in my calendar, it's far more likely to happen. This is something I am still tweaking - finding space in my schedule for planning - but I do find that having a firm set of "office hours" is vital for my own sanity and sense of organization. During this set time I devote myself to whatever needs planning that week.

3. My board reminds me how full and blessed my life is!

Just looking at this board makes me feel happy, inspired and so full of gratitude. It's quite colorful and a bit chaotic, but that's life isn't it? My board reminds me of the commitments my husband and I have made together. We have a home and a family ... we have the privilege to educate our children at home ... we are supported by and invested in our communities ... we are raising our children Catholic ... I get to blog when I find time. We are stewards of so many blessings! And finding ways to keep up with, and provide for, those blessings is at the heart of my planning. Sure, I enjoy all the pretty papers and pens, all the schedules and routines - but my end goal is simply doing my best for my family, thereby honoring God's amazing generosity. I can make all this planning sound so complex, but really, it's as simple as that. 

And on that note, I will wrap up ... but I will be doing a few follow-up posts in the near future. I'd like to talk more about office hours and making space in the schedule for planning. (Planning to plan!) Also, it's time for a planner check-in - what's working, what's not? It's been several months since our Planner Party! And I have not forgotten about updating my Themes & Plans series, either ... May and June are up next and I will have them tweaked before April's end ... promise! :) 

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by today and checking in. I hope you are doing well! How is your April going so far? Has Spring sprung where you live? We're having lovely weather here at the moment - and you would know that if I took time to update our nature blog, lol! I'll do that soon, too ... now that winter has passed and we finally have things to talk about!

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone ... see you here again very soon!


Friday Bits and Bobs ~ Domestic Bliss

Tea puttering st. patrick's day

Good morning, my friends and Happy Friday! I hope your week is going well. We're still slogging through a cold (flu?) virus of some sort here. Thankfully, Little Bear is MUCH better and aside from a bit of a runny nose and occasional cough, seems fine. My mum is also feeling better, thank God. Earlybird, however, has started coughing ... and I have come down with it as well. Ugh. Its been a while since I've been sick but last night's fever was a real doozy! Very kindly Bill has told me to stay in bed today and he's working from home. So here I am. In bed, surrounded by tissues and cough drops and cats and my giant mug of tea. :)

Anyhoo, enough of that - I am here to share a few photos, just some little moments from yesterday. As you can see I'm having fun with text bubbles again! (Click on the image if you can't read the text!) Above is a glimpse of my workspace on the kitchen counter. I'm really trying to pare down what I have out at any one time, not that you could tell that from the picture! In an upcoming post I'd like to talk more about our home keeping binders and why I have the daybook back on my counter in place of my homemade planner ...

Tea roses with blurb

I love hanging herbs and flowers in my kitchen window, and I absolutely adore these tiny yellow tea roses, leftover from my cousin's baby shower. I thought I'd try drying them and using the petals in a homemade potpourri - perhaps blended with lavender and chamomile or other herbs from the garden. In the meantime, I think they look very pretty hanging over my kitchen sink!

Archie sampling tea with blurb

Now that the weather is warming up, I love sitting in the sunroom every chance I get. Here I was working out an Easter menu ... must check in with Mum to get her thoughts ... but meanwhile, Archie helped himself to my tea. The silly thing.

Tablecloth with blurb

A new tablecloth for the aforementioned sunroom. Aren't these colors gorgeous? :)

Tea break with blurb

Rest assured, this picture was taken before the Archie shot! This is an old mug from my grandparents' house and it seemed rather fitting for St. Patrick's Day. :)

Victorias on bureau with blurb

And here we have a whole bunch of April issues of Victoria magazine - dating back to the 90s! I set them on my bureau for inspiration, hoping to find some time to page through them ... I may get my wish later today. :)

Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed these snippets of my day ... it was a rather quiet day spent at home, nursing Little Bear's cold, enjoying the sunlight and open windows. Spring feels so close ... and yet, New England is expecting a snowstorm late Sunday (the Vernal Equinox, of all days!). Fingers crossed we don't get too much and that the mild weather coming next week takes care of any white stuff lickety-split! I'm hoping for nice weather, Easter Sunday ...

Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone, and I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

See you here again every soon ...


How I Use the Weekly Planning Sheets ...

Sheets 14

Happy Thursday, my friends! How's your week going so far? I do hope it's being kind to you!

A few folks asked if I could show how I use my weekly planning sheets, and today I am here to do just that! To be honest, I'm still kind of figuring them out - tweaking things as I go along, trying to make them work better - so these sheets are still a work-in-progress! But I'll show you some examples below and then describe the way I'm utilizing each of the blocks ... as well as when in my week I actually work ON them. (That's half the battle sometimes, isn't it? Finding time to do the planning itself!)

Currently I am using these sheets in coordination with my file crate system and it's working out pretty well. I staple the two weekly sheets (one for household planning and the other for lesson planning) onto the front cover of the folder itself.

So here is one sheet stapled to the front of the folder ...

Sheets 2

... and the other sheet stapled to the inside of the cover.

Sheets 3 

The folder itself is clamped onto the front of a rather nifty contraption I bought at Target a couple of years ago. It's called a "clipfolio" and it's basically a "padfolio" with a clipboard attached to the front. As you can see above, the papers found inside this week's folder are held securely by the clamp on the front of my clip folio. I really like this set up! It's easy to tote around and it makes a sturdy base for writing in my planner.

And here is the inside of the clipfolio ... embellished with somebody else's scribblings!

Sheets 4

(I haven't decided how I want to use this pad and pocket yet. I'm thinking a master-to do list might work well here.)

Here's the clipfolio without the folder attached:

Sheets 1

It's made by greenroom and I'm not sure if Target still carries them but I found something similar at Amazon.

I keep the folio-with-folder on my kitchen counter - aka mission control - next to my domestic journal (which is always open to today's page) and beneath my planner, which is flipped to the side of the week we're working on ...

Sheets 12

Now, about how I use these sheets ... (you were probably wondering when I'd get around to that!)

Sheets 13

Above is the general planning sheet for next week (1/25-1/31). I started filling it out today because it's Thursday and that's when I start my "week ahead" planning. (This gives me time to organize my weekend "work" - errands, supplies, prep, further planning.) I wrote in the days and events of note and the seasonal theme for the week, and these helped me shape the rest of my plans. (If you click on the photo it should open up so you can read my scribbles a little easier.) I wrote in nightly suppershome & garden notes, blogging ideas as well as a few crafts and comforts. These are the kinds of things I love to dream up and plan out - but must accept that we may not get around to doing them - at least maybe not this year! They often tie into the weekly theme, or a favorite holiday or feast - so here I have ideas for celebrating Burns Night, exploring ice, and concocting home remedies and growing a medicinal garden.

As for the housekeeping notes, well ... they do tend to be a bit sentimental. Less "unload dishwasher" and more "embroider dish linens." So, am I romanticizing things here a little? You bet! But I love reading books about the old-fashioned "art" of housekeeping and this is my attempt to write something of the sort for myself.

Finally, in the lower left hand of every planning sheet there is a bit of vintage clipart with a simple seasonal suggestion ... and boy, do I have fun creating these snippets! I will confess, these sheets were (are?) going to be part of a bigger seasonal project, but for now, I'm just having fun with it. Trying them out to see if they actually make sense! But I thought it would be nice to make the sheets printable in case someone else might like to use them ... Deep Winter pages here ... Early Spring under construction!

Next, here is the home learning planning sheet - with note space for each of my three (still-at-home) boys and a weekly overview. This provides a framework for organizing lessons as well as all the seasonal ideas and activities.

Sheets 15

Now, about the week's rhythm - I find this to be a great planning tool if your schedule allows for it! Especially for my younger children, but it's lovely for me too. I consider the busy-ness of each day and then give it a name - Monday is for nature, Tuesday is for book baskets and drawing, Wednesday is for storytelling and handwork, Thursday is for painting or projects (music and poetry) and Friday is for baking/cleaning. (The weekend is for family fun and faith @ home.) This gives all my seasonal ideas a place to "live," if you will.

So since I know next week's theme, holidays and feasts ....

On Monday we'll devote some kind of nature activity to the concept of ice: a walk, a journal entry, an addition to the seasons shelf.

On Tuesday we'll pick up library holds (books about Scotland and ice harvesting) and do a coloring page or two (flag, map, loch ness monster).

On Wednesday, while the boys play with dough, I'll tell a couple of stories, and depending on my audience it might be about woodland animals finding a frozen puddle ... or perhaps about my Scotch-Irish grandmother's family.

On Thursday we'll listen to celtic music and read a famous poem by Robert Burns. We might also work on ice painting as we listen.

On Friday we'll bake Scottish shortbread and learn the Selkirk Grace. We may even watch Brave, an old Disney movie that's new for us!

And over the weekend we'll watch football, play farkle, attend Mass, and ... relax. :)

Now, it goes without saying - but I'll say it anyways - things do NOT always go according to plan! I try not to stress when the week flies by and we've barely done anything on this chart. I try not to fret if the "theme" I so carefully chose was never recognized in any real way. As long as the boys are working on their weekly goals - lessons, habits, family, faith - then we're good. If I've worked in some seasonal awareness and appreciation somewhere along the way - well, that's great!

Below is next week's folder, open ...

Sheets 6

Coloring pages for the boys (Scotland/Burns Night), and some photocopies from a wonderful book I own called, Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends by Pippa Middleton. She has a fantastic section about hosting a "Burns Night Supper" and I have a few of her ideas in my folder to consider for next week. My shortbread recipe is in here too, as well as a birthday card that needs to be mailed next week.

So there we have it - the planning sheets in excrutiating detail! I hope this was interesting to some and helpful, perhaps, if you're using the planning sheets (or the file crate system). I would love to hear what you think - questions, comments, how you are using the sheets if you're using them ...

As I said, I'm always tweaking ... and trying to find a balance between letting things go, and getting things done. As laid back as I try to be about letting things slide, I do try to include enough activity (or awareness) that would suggest there is a seasonal rhythm to our life. Something beyond the tasks and to-dos, but a greater rhythm that connects us with our world, our family, and Faith. That's what I'm doing all of this for ... as personal as I make it, and as much joy as I find in the planning, it all really comes down to my children - the attitude I'm modeling for them, the memories I hope they take with them ...

But now I will wrap up and "let it go" ... because I've really kept you here long enough! I thank you - as always, but especially when my posts go on and on - for stopping by. I wish you all a happy weekend and I will see you here again very soon!


A Fresh Start: My 2016 (Homemade) Planner

Fresh start button final
Planners are an important tool for multi-tasking, care-taking mamas, and they're always a popular topic of conversation. (Case in point, my bulging "Calendars and Planners" archive!) Well, today I'd like to show you the planner I'm using for 2016, and you're probably not surprised to hear it's homemade ... ;)

(Now, I'm going to try my best not to be overly wordy, but we are, after all, talking about one of my passions!)

Planner 1

So I started with a notebook I really liked ... loved, in fact, upon first sight. Funny thing was, I had just had a "planner" bound for myself at Staples the week before, filled with favorite loose-leaf and pretty scrapbook paper, when I came across the above beauty at the Paper Source. It was a nice size and weight - easy to hold in one hand (so, portable) and sturdy. The paper itself was gorgeous - a comfortable off-white, lightly-lined, and trimmed in a shimmery silk. The bindings, made of a copper metallic, were strong and tight and the cover ... well, it just wowed me. At the time of my "discovery" I was out Christmas shopping with Bill, and I just looked at him, notebook in hand, and with a big smile said, "Merry Christmas to me?

Planner 33

(Here's the notebook set on a file folder to give you a better idea of its size: 7.5 x 9.875").

My long-time tussle over planners has played out something like this: commercial planners, while undeniably beautiful, never quite fit my "exact" needs. (And, when it comes to planners, I can be a bit exacting, lol.) Homemade planners can be tailored to my own specifications but tend to come out a bit too oversized to be practical, and I've never liked the plastic binding to be honest. They're also, admittedly, rather time-consuming to create ... though I do enjoy the work of it. So I decided this particular (and very pretty) notebook was simply made to be a planner and by golly, I was going to be the one to make it! :)

So here's what I did ...

Planner on side

First I counted the pages and determined a weekly spread would fit well in this book, with plenty of room for seasonal planning. (This is what I've found lacking in most planners - seasonal organization and workspace.) I also listed out the events of note for which I need to plan this year. Then I worked in the very back of the book on a "dummy" design ... starting with a wish-list of all I'd want to SEE in my weekly planning, measuring columns and counting lines, etc. And, once I nailed it, I divided the notebook into seasonal sections, including room for each planning project. Then I added monthly tabs for structure and convenience ...

Planner 2

And colorful flags to denote event/project planning sections ...

Planner 3

(Some events fall within the seasons themselves, while other projects are set in the back of the planner.)

Planner 4

Inside the front cover I adhered a year-at-a-glance calendar for handy reference (a printable found online), and the first page (a bit blurred out for privacy) serves as a title page, with my personal and emergency information (name, address, email, phones, kids, who to call ...). I named my planner "My Yearbook," but I also like thinking of it as an almanac of sorts ... eventually filled with all my annual "doings" and seasonal observations.

Planner title

:)

Planner 6

The next pages are for my New Year's planning ... a quote for our family "word of the year" and then an overview of monthly events - from recurring holidays and full moons, to things like inspection stickers, tax collections, and jury duty. Then I listed out my own personal resolutions (or "goals" as I prefer to call them) on the next page.

Planner goals for new year

Beside each goal I made small, succinct notes for next steps to take - i.e. how to make the goal happen. These will get funneled into the planner itself. (Yes, I'm confessing to you all, by sharing this photo, that my old pants don't fit me ... but we're all friends here, right? Lol.)

Planner 9

Now we get to the meat of the meal! On the next pages we find my first seasonal planning section of the year (Deep Winter: January-February). On the left side I (washi-) taped a folded copy of my Deep Winter Overview, which I shared in my "printables" post. This is a breakdown of seasonal notes, things to focus on, each week. (There is space on the front of the fold for more notes.) On the right side I have a page for listing more practical concerns - household tasks, projects and goals. As you can see, I've only started filling in this section!

Planner 7

Planner 8

I used a lot of washi tape and coordinating fine-point markers, as well as several kinds of post-it notes to add color and vibrance to my planner. I think it makes the pages pop. :)

Planner 10

After the seasonal overview comes my monthly calendars. Now these (12 in all) took me a while to create, but I'm so pleased with how they came out! I used the Pages application on my Macbook (just as I did with the printables mentioned above) and chose seasonal shades, quotations and vintage clipart for embellishment. THIS was such fun - if perhaps a bit fiddly - and I love how they look! I printed each month out and cut it to fit the planner page and then simply taped it down. Not the slickest looking calendar you've ever seen I'm sure, but boy do I love it! :)

Now comes the weekly planning spreads for this season ...

Planner 12

My weekly agenda allows a column for each day of the week, as well as one for tasks and to-dos. I like a Monday-Sunday rhythm because Sunday is the "dessert" in my week. :) I used a ruler and pencil and then a Sharpie marker for color. Yes, I did this by hand - 52 times - and yes, it took quite a while. But you know what? I enjoyed it ... I found it kind of soothing. I would work on this when I had quiet times (like now, with Little Bear sleeping beside me) and I would think about each week as I drew its planning page ... and pray for it, as corny as that might sound. I "visited" each week of the year in my mind and breathed hope into those days, and asked God to bless them with His grace and guidance. So it was good work, I think, all in all. Time well spent. 

Let's take a closer look at the agenda itself:

Planner 13 (1)

The start date is noted in the top left-hand corner for reference, and the first column lists things I need to do sometime THIS week. On the very top lines I listed this month's housekeeping zone and the individual tasks to focus on that week.

Planner 13

There are quotes peppered in the generous white space above the agenda - they reflect the week's seasonal theme (winter stars, here - warming drinks and birthdays, below). Weather and nature notes are scribbled along the far left margin. I leave a check next to each date as we move along in the week.

Planner 15

Along the righthand margin (tough to see in these pics) I have the time ordered from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. This allows me to write appointments and activities in the daily columns in a timely manner.

Planner 16

Above each date I write what is "of note" that day: a birthday, a feast day, a full moon ...

Planner 14

Beneath the to-do list is a place where I can check off everyday repetitive tasks as I complete them. I had a post-it note for this in my domestic journal, but it makes sense to move it here. I started doing this when I had to keep track of medicine for my special needs son, and it helps remind me what still needs doing in my day. The next section of this column is for recording money spent through the week. 

Each day's column is split into agenda (top half), supper, and to-dos. The to-do's include, first, my housekeeping calendar chores (the ones from those index cards, you may remember?). The very bottom line across the whole agenda is for planning my posts here at the blog. :)

Planner 18

In the Deep Winter section of my planner there are nine weeks (1/4-2/28) and one planning section for Lent. Here is where I will plan out our family Lenten journey and activities. I've allowed two spreads (page turns) for this project.

Planner 21

And next we have the second season of the year: Early Spring! (March & April)

Planner 20

Planner 22

Planner 50

Planner 24

And several pages for planning Holy Week and Eastertide ...

Planner 48

Late Spring! (May & June)

Planner 51

Planner 49

Planner 23

Planner 52

High Summer! (July & August)

Planner 42

Planner 40

Planner 41 (1)

Planner 25

In late August there is a planning section for Back-to-School notes. I adore that washi tape!

Planner 26

And then we have Early Autumn! (September & October)

Planner 44

Planner 35

Planner 43

Planner 34

A couple of pages for Hallowmass planning ... includes Halloween, All Saints and All Souls.

Planner 45

Late Autumn! (November & December)

Planner 36

Planner 46

Planner 27

Planner 28

Planner 37

Planner 29

And here we have space for Thanksgiving planning ...

Planner 30

I love that turkey! :)

Planner 38

There are purple-lined pages for planning out Advent ...

Planner 31

And, of course - space for Christmas plans! This section is several pages long ...

And after the last week of the year (12/26-1/1) I have planning sections for: Blogging, Gardening, A Certain Party We're Hosting, Vacation/Travel, Gift Ideas and Miscellaneous Notes. I can add more tabs for projects as they come up through the year - there are plenty of pages back there!

A note on the monthly tabs (which are made by Avery and are adhesive) - I place them on the page where the first of the month falls. So, the January tab is placed on the weekly spread for 12/28-1/3 and the March tab is on the spread for 2/29-3/6, etc. They lead me, not to the monthly calendars, but to where my weekly planning starts for each month.

Oh, and by the way ... that notebook I had bound at Staples? The one with the loose-leaf and vintage paper? I have an idea how I'll use it, so it will not go to waste ... :)

***

Well, I am sure there is more I could say about my planner but in the interest of time (mine and yours) I will bring this post to a close. I know many of you are planner junkies like myself, so I hope you enjoyed the tour ... and for everyone else, I hope I didn't bore you too much! ;)

I'd love to hear your thoughts or any questions you might have, and I will be happy to talk more about my planner and seasonal planning in future posts AS WELL AS during the planning chat I'm doing with Mystie and Jen on Saturday! That's just two days away, so don't forget to sign up! You can listen in live (and ask questions) and/or watch the video after it's recorded. We're meeting quite early to chat - 10 a.m. EST! - so you can be sure I'll have a mighty large cup of coffee in hand! It should be such fun!

Well my friends, as always, I thank you for stopping by and I wish you all a pleasant evening ...

See you here again very soon!


Binders, Binders, Everywhere ...

Binders 1

Eons ago I showed you all a picture of my rather large collection of binders sitting on a living room shelf ... and in my usual fashion, I promised to follow up "sometime soon." *blush* Well ... here it some time later (as in, months, maybe a year?) and the binders have not only yet to be discussed, but have since moved to a shelf in the dining room (better known as the learning room these days).

*peeks out from behind binders*

My friends, I am so sorry I sometimes promise posts that don't come to fruition. It is never my intention to not follow-up ... and it is always my intention to deliver what I promised ... but ... I often get distracted and/or busy and then that draft gets shunted down in the queue and well, we find ourselves without a binder post to discuss! If there is something that you hope I'll post about, something I've mentioned or not, please don't hesitate to ask and/or remind me. :)

Now, without further ado or disclaimer ... here are the binders on my bookshelf, from left to right:

The Baking Sheet (newsletter storage): a collection of THE very best baking magazines I have ever read, published by King Arthur Flour of Vermont, but sadly, no longer in print. I relish these issues (so seasonally inspired) and am grateful for the handy binder my parents gave me to keep them together and all tidy. :)

Seasonal planning bindersalmanac/overview, projects/events, at home, in nature, with faith, food/feasts, activities/ideas/crafts, inspiration (quotes, poems, etc.), research (photocopies) ...

Home & Family: emergency information, general family information, housecleaning routines, room-by-room information, house purchase information (includes room sizes and utility information) ... always a work in progress!

Address Book: a correspondence log (what I sent, what I am meant to send, what I have received), alphabet dividers, a friends & family birthday chart ...

Town & Parish: general information about our town and church parish, phone numbers, informational flyers, calendars (when is the town festival or hazardous collection day, for example) ...

Education: any and all paperwork to do with home education, a tab for college information ...

Finances: accounts overview, a model monthly budget, monthly budget pages, printables re budgeting, spending log pages, upcoming expenses list ...

Blogging/Writing: Typepad blog information, writing projects (for myself and for others), post ideas, contacts ...

Food: Meal ideas, master marketing list, seasonal notes/chart, local foods (notes/resources), growing our own (notes/resources), freezer/pantry notes, printables, projects (root cellar, for example) ...

Monthly calendar storage: I keep my retired Day-Timer month-at-a-glance calendars in here ...

My Book prototype: basically a place to organize and work on my book ...

Yearbooks 1 (labeled), 2 (blank), 3 (lavender): here is where I keep domestic journal pages from years past.

***

So there we have it at last - my binder breakdown! As I've said before, some binders get more use than others - some are mostly used for storage, and some are meant to be consulted on a regular basis. I also have a new binder for my gardening notes (an "herbal" if you will) in the works - it's green and tucked in at the end - and there is of course, also, my master binder which never actually sits on this shelf because it is always very much "in play!"

Now, I do have tabs in my master binder with labels like, "Home & Family," "Meal Planning," and "Blogging," etc. and yes, some of the matter gets repeated. I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I think I need some information right under my fingertips, and sometimes I'm ok with it sitting on that shelf. It really depends on how good I'm being about sitting down once a week to do planner maintenance ... and THAT is such an important topic - planner maintenance - one I'd very much like to discuss it in a future post. (And if I forget, please remind me!)

But that's all I have time for now, folks ... I thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening! 

I will se you here again very soon ...

p.s. How do you all like the new look? :)


Planner Party ~ Link up!

Good Friday morning, my friends, and Happy Weekend! I just wanted to pop in quickly and link you all up to a wonderful planner post written by Jennifer at Wildflowers and Marbles:

Planner party jennifer 1

A Planner Post: How I Plan and a Review of a Few New Planner Goodies

Jennifer gives a fantastic (and beautiful!) overview of how she uses her Erin Condren planner ... and oh my goodness, she has an exciting giveaway in the works, too! (As well as a coupon you can use towards an EC order!) I am sooo tempted to really investigate an EC planner - I am so drawn to those gorgeous colors and that thoughtful layout! Jennifer's post has also inspired me as I trudge along trying to tweak my own planner ... so helpful to see how she uses a planner and what she likes about it - how it fits with her own planning style.

Now see this is why I love sharing planners with each other! The more we "show and tell," the more we inspire and encourage each other! We might find a new planner or a "tweak" we had not thought of before ... and of course, there's that wonderful sense of camaraderie. So many thanks to Jennifer for sharing this excellent post ... I highly suggest grabbing yourself a nice cup of tea (or coffee!) and sitting down with this lovely post at your earliest opportunity ... I definitely plan to when the little guy naps later today!

Before I go, here is a brief quote from Jennifer's post ... I LOVE her thoughts here: 

"Whatever your planner preference, whether you work just fine out of an inexpensive spiral notebook or you have an elaborate schemata of post-it notes, remember that God is a God of order – not chaos and confusion. Write it down. Set a goal. List it. Plan it. Scratch it out and keep moving it forward if you have to … but keep trying."

***

Wise words, Jennifer! I think whatever we do to plan, it's our motivation that's the important thing. I might keep trying (and failing) to get it "perfect," but I know that I'm striving to create order for myself and my family. Because with order we can put the important things first in our life. Sure, I get silly about the paper and stickers and pens and whatnot, but it's all for a greater good. It's a way of thanking Him for all he has blessed me with - this time, this place, these people. I try to be a good steward of these gifts ... even if the "paraphernalia" does get me sidetracked sometimes! ;)

Well friends, I'm off to tend to my kiddos and get to work on our family's weekend plan ... I hope you enjoy the rest of your Friday ...

See you here again very soon!


Planner Party Guest Post Number 14: Mic!

{Happy Friday, my friends! I am so pleased to present another wonderful guest planner post ... please welcome Mic to the party!}

***

Dear Dawn,

 I have really enjoyed all the planner posts and wanted to share my own system. I'm actually using a grid notebook at the moment while I wait for 2016 and my hobonichi cousin planner to start. It's a Japanese brand and you can pick different covers and accessories to go with it.
 
Planner party mic 4 
 
I had bought a different planner for this year, but it was too small and I stopped using it after a few months. My main gripe was it didn't have a section for a weekly plan. I like to be to see my week at a glance. At the start of the month, I draw the monthly calendar, where I write in holidays, feast days, family travel, birthdays.
 
Planner party mic 2
 
On the weekly plan, which I do on Sunday nights (sometimes Monday or even Tuesday, to be honest) I write in my children's after school activities, our meal plan, gym time, and any evening or special activities or holidays. I then make a photocopy on my printer, and stick it up in my kitchen so my husband and the girls' babysitter can see it.
 
Planner party mic 3
 
Throughout the week, I add to-do lists, washi tape, quotations, who I wrote letters to, and little doodles.
 
Planner party mic 1
 
I just want to close by saying I have been so inspired by everyone's posts! There really is no right or wrong way to plan!
 
Warm regards,
 
Mic
 ***
 
Oh, Mic! I can hardly begin to express how much I LOVE your planner! You are a gal after my own heart - there's just something so wonderfully satisfying and soothing about a handmade planner! Your artwork and penmanship is just LOVELY. And the that nubby, knitted cover? Swoon ...
 
I also find I need a weekly plan, for sure. I need to see where I am in the week and I really think about our family and homeschool time in increments of weeks. Right now I'm struggling with: do I actually need a separate daily planner or can I rely on my weekly planner to cover all my bases ... ?
 
Also, your idea to photocopy your weekly calendar and hang it up so that your family may refer to it ... genius. Absolutely genius!!
 
Thank you so much, Mic, for sharing your planner here at my blog - I am inspired by your design and am excited to get back to work on my own handmade planner. Friends, how about you leave a little note for Mic and let her know your thoughts. Let's keep this wonderful planner conversation rolling!
 
And remember, I'm always open to new guest posts ... you may send me your planner pics and thoughts at:
 
bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com
 
But for now, I wish you all a wonderful weekend ... I will be back here again very soon!

Planner Party Guest Post Number 13: Elizabeth Q!

{Happy Wednesday, my friends! Our planner chat continues ... please welcome Elizabeth to the party!}

***

Hi Dawn,

I have been enjoying the planner post so I thought I would send you mine.
 
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 This is my calendar where I keep my appointments and day to day things. It is from Blue Sky which I love, however it goes from June to June. I am planning to get a new one that starts in January so I can follow the calendar year.
 
I write important information on each day's blocks. I love to decorate my pages with stickers and washi tape.
  
Planner party eq 2
 
This is all the folders and note books that I use for menu planning. I am in treatment for an Eating Disorder so my meal plan is a bit more detailed. I have workbooks and a meal plan worksheet that I turn in each week that is checked by my treatment team. 
 
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 This is my To Do Basket that I keep on the counter in the wash room. The top shelf is things I need to take care of. The bottom shelf is where I store my folders. I work on a couple big projects at a time. I keep a folder for each project so this way I can keep track of what needs to be done next. 
 
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I attend a couple of meetings each month for the various boards I serve on. This little notebook is where I keep my notes for each meeting.
 
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This is my reading basket with my scissors. I need to sit down and do a little clipping . I have gotten off track with this. Life happened. LOL. I am going to start a home making journal this week to paste my clippings in.
 
That, Dawn, sums up the way I plan.
 
Hugs,
Elizabeth Q.
 
***
 
Wonderful post, Elizabeth! I love the look of that basket - you know we share a love of magazines and the way they pile up! My pile is steep as well, but I've just been keeping them out on the counter. I like the idea of a pretty basket for this ...
 
I also really like your two-tiered organizer ... I have all these papers and clippings and coupons and scraps of paper that I keep piling on my dining room table thinking, well, I will get to this over the weekend. The trick of course is finding all those things when the time comes I need them! I could do with a shelf system like this ... an inbox of sorts. And I'm thinking that bottom shelf I could use for my current project folder (ex. Thanksgiving) as they tend to get lost in my File Crate. Come to think of it, I might have something down in the basement that might suit this very purpose ... :)
 
And of course, I too love Blue Sky (as do many of my readers)! My planner is also adorned with a couple of stickers and maybe a dash of wash tape, now and then. Just some seasonal things to make me smile. It's the little things, after all!
 
And you are very organized with your menu planning, as always - especially now that your planning is so important to your health. I'm sorry to hear of your struggles, and please know I will be thinking of you and praying for your strength and recovery.
 
Well friends, I hope you leave a note for Elizabeth! I can't tell you how happy I am to have more guest posts to share ... please consider sending me your own post and pictures (bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com) as I can assure you we would all love to see (hear about) your planner(s)!
 
Enjoy the rest of your "hump day" my friends, and I will see you here again very soon!

Planner Party Host Post: Me!

{Woohoo, it's my turn! Better grab yourselves a cup of tea, my friends - or better yet, make that a mug - as I warned promised, this is a mighty long post!}

***

Good Morning!

Planner party me 2

Well, I'm so glad you've all been enjoying the Planner Party! The enthusiasm has been infectious and encouraging! Big thanks to all who have participated in the Party so far - all the posts and pictures and questions and comments have been truly inspiring! I am happy to know I am not the only one who is a wee bit (or a whole lot) addicted to setting up planners and systems ... and that I am not the only one using more than one system! You've all given me courage to truly bare my planner soul today ... :)

So at the very top of the post is a picture of my "planning station." It takes up a significant portion of the kitchen jetty which is situated between the kitchen proper and the breakfast nook. It can get quite messy at times, but I try to keep the clutter under control as best I can. I like the idea (and look) of clear counters, but realistically speaking, this is the best place for me to work.

What I have here is my file crate, my planning materials, a pile of magazines to read through and clip for my journal, my laptop, and some writing utensils, tape and scissors.

It's not a streamlined or perfect situation by any stretch of the imagination, but rather, as always, a work in slow progress.

Ok, so let's break all "the planning materials" down.

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Above you see my master planning binder. This is one of those things I use, and have used for years, even though I'm constantly tweaking it. I can never get it quite right, but I need it in my life! I'm using one of those Martha Stewart 3-ring binders, and though a bit expensive, it's really well made. The cover used to be plain, but this summer, on a whim, when Little Bear was obsessed with butterflies, I added stickers .... and I hate them, lol. But they are stuck on there FAST. I keep meaning to have Bill (who has way more patience than I do) help me remove them and any gunk they leave behind.

(Now, mind you - this is ONE of my planners (in that, I use it for planning), but it's not actually a planner, per se. It's a bit of a mess really, but I do try to use it as a planner.)

The binder is pretty much never just sitting there closed like that, but open on the counter to my domestic journal. (So therefore, the butterflies shouldn't really bother me ... but they do.)

Here's what it looks like when you first open it ...

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There is a nice inside pocket in which I keep a few things, including a neat month-at-a-glance calendar. There is also the weekly file folder laying there - that's from my File Crate System - holding any materials/papers I need for this week. It's not the ideal place to keep the folder - I've tried other spots - but I need it handy and this seems to work best.

I suspect we're due for another File Crate System (FCS) post, but I do want to show you all really quickly:

Planner party me 29

I have been using colored paper clips to separate the papers inside my folder by subject: recipes, crafts, to file/act on, Earlybird's printables (homeschool work), and personal stuff.

{Again, I think we need a full-on file crate post, but I just wanted to share that little tidbit in case it might make sense for you, too!}

Now, before we get into the meat of the binder, here is a look at that monthly calendar:

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I spotted this at my local grocery store, and I stood there in the stationary aisle for a good 10 minutes or more trying to talk myself into - or out of - purchasing it. It was relatively inexpensive (I think about $7) so I could hardly resist. And of course, in the end, I didn't.

It is called the 18-Month Simplicity Planner.

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Great, lightweight paper, large spread for each month with lined boxes. I like that it's a thin, light, booklet-style calendar - very easy to grab and take with me if I'm heading somewhere and need to consult our family calendar and/or want to work on the calendar itself.

Basically, I really loved the look/feel of this planner and decided I could not BE without it even if I couldn't figure out why I actually needed it. (As you'll see below I have other monthly calendars in play.)

So now here's a breakdown of the binder contents ... the latest configuration, anyway! I feel this post would become completely, ridiculously, overwhelmingly, long if I were to get into each tab and discuss what's what - and I can do that in a separate post if you wish - but for now let me just give you the headings ...

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Tabs across the top:

1. Domestic Journal

2. Seasonal Plans

3. The Holidays

4. Months at a Glance

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Tabs down the side:

1. Monthly calendars with seasonal dividers

2. Home & Family

3. Meal Planning

4. Correspondence & Contacts

5. Blogging, etc.

6. Budgetkeeping

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Here is what my planner looks like on any given day. As always, it is open to my current journal page. I use a page finder (cut from pretty scrapbooking paper with a post-it tab on top) and on that page finder I stick my daily chore checklist. I make one up for each week. I turn a lined post-it note sideways and write all my daily tasks down the side - the days of the week across the top - and check those things off each day. I started this to help me remember if I'd given Earlybird his meds and then added on to the checklist.

As you can see, my domestic journal page holds both notes and clippings. It's a "brain dump," much like Mary Ellen described in her post. I just keep it open on my counter so I can write things down quickly as they come up. And I add interesting or inspirational things I find in magazines or newsapers. Nature notes go here, seasonal thoughts and cute things the kids do or say ... pretty much anything goes, even if it will later get recorded somewhere else. It's just a place for me to get it out and then it's not niggling at me. 

What I try to do with this journal (and with all my planners, actually) is to sit down with it on a regular schedule so as to make the best use of the system. So right now I am keeping this journal in a monthly fashion ...

Today being November 1st, I pulled all of October's notepages out of the binder and moved them to my "Yearbook" binder (where the whole year's worth of journaling can be found). Ideally, I will sit down first (not later, because "later" never seems to happen) and comb back over my notes and index information I'll want to return to. The index is a simple sheet that lists the journal year and date alongside the info I might need again. Sometimes there are things in there I need to immediately move on - like a new account and password I created, or an appointment to schedule asap. 

I'd like to make this a weekly task actually, but right now monthly is the best I can do. This also keeps the journal from getting too thick and taking up a lot of space in my binder.

Now, something I've been experimenting with lately is inserting a weekly planning section right in the middle of my daily journal. Because I really have this thing about keeping things all in one place, and right in front of me at all times ...

Planner party me 17

To differentiate from the domestic journal paper, I'm using a set of smaller-size loose-leaf (8x10). The yellow sheet on top is an overview of the week ... and I've already revamped it since posting that pic! I once tried stapling this weekly sheet (an earlier version) to the front of my weekly folder but I couldn't figure out how to keep it in my line of sight.

Behind that yellow sheet is a series of pages pertaining to further weekly planning. I am experimenting with this at the moment, so nothing is too set in stone and the pages themselves are just loose-leaf with notes - nothing really worth showing at this point. But I do have individual pages for:

This week's nature/seasonal theme.

This week's family faith at home.

This week's older boys' lesson plans.

This week's younger boys' crafts/activities.

This week's grocery list.

I've tried and tried to compose "worksheets" that allow planning for all of these things on one page ... but I can't get the design right and I find I need more space for my messy notes and ideas. So I'm not sure if it's a design issue or a space issue ... or, you know, a crazy-picky-planner-person issue ... but for now, this is where I'm doing my weekly planning.

Such as it is.

Next is my clipboard on which I keep our weekend plans: 

Planner party me 13

We call this list our "P.O.W." (plan of the weekend) and at the end of each week, I prepare a new page. I look at next week and see what needs getting/making/setting up (special projects, events, recipes) and I look back at last week's POW to see what still needs doing. The little sticky note holds notes about the coming week. (Like, feasts and holidays, etc.) Our weekends are for catching up on all those tasks that can't get done during the week, but there is always plenty of carry-over each week.

I keep this on the kitchen counter all weekend so we can all refer to it. I add initials next to tasks so we can see who is responsible for what. Bill and I go over the POW every Saturday morning over coffee (and Sunday after Mass). I use it when working on my weekly to-do's and as I said, again when I'm preparing a new POW.

Now here's where I get a little silly.

Planner party me 14

So remember that Stop N Shop aisle where I found the month-at-a-glance calendar? Yes, well, they also had this very pretty Mom's Manager engagement calendar ... and I gave this a really good look-over, put it back on the shelf ... and then kept coming back to it. It was $15 so not exactly something I had in my grocery budget, but still, I was sooo tempted ...

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The thing of it was (is), it's a great little planner! Nice layout, nice durable covers ... showing the weeks-at-a-glance, along with the months ...

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Each month has a nice inspiration page - ideas, recipes, etc. I liked the size of this planner - something easier to tote around than my Day Designer (see below). Even though I work at my "jetty" most of the day, I also like to take my planner upstairs with me when Little Bear is napping and when I'm heading to bed so I can work in my planner in the evening or early morning before the baby wakes. This planner is such a nice size and weight and it's so easy to tote around ... to pop in my purse if I'm heading the hairdresser's or a doctor's appointment, etc. Or even just waiting to pick up Crackerjack from class!

Overall, a very NICE planner ... one I wish I could just fall completely in love with and make work on every level and then I could just forget about all other planners. Life would be so simple!

But here's the other commercially made planner I'm using ... and I would not so easily grab the Day Designer to tote with me, because it's fairly bulky. Here's my DD, open to the daily spread (two days in the future) ...

Planner party me 28

I really do like this planner, and I DO need a daily space to plan - there are things to keep track of that are very much pertinent to the day itself (not the week or the season ...). Things that would perhaps get lost in a weekly planner: a call to place, a book to return, a prescription to request, a tv show to record, a check to drop off ... 

(Side note: I'm always trying to figure out how to incorporate a daily planning page into my daily domestic journal because that would seem to make sense ... but so far, no dice.)

And the Day Designer (which I described in more detail here) is beautiful - nice paper, soft colors, a well-thought out design. It has quite the fan following and I admit, I've been caught up in the enthusiasm a bit... but I'm wondering if it might be too much "day" for me. I sometimes feel I'm not using enough of the page. 

So in case you can't tell, I struggle between using a week-at-a-glance planner with an insert or sticky note for daily to-do's/reminders ... OR a day-at-a-glance planner with an insert or sticky note for weekly to-do's/reminders. Hmmm ...

(Do you see now how much I overthink all of this?)

Then of course there is the very pretty homemade planner I made way back in January:

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I am ashamed to say, I only used it through April, and that was, I think, mostly because I had only drawn up the weekly pages through then. (I remember feeling so confident I would get them done before I caught up to them, but that didn't happen.) I would like to think if I'd had those pages done ahead I would have continued on with this homemade planner ...

Here is the October cover page (how I love this vintage paper!):

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And here's how I was using it as a weekly planner ...

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The first page had an overview of the week (much like the one written on the yellow sheets above), and then the next pages featured an agenda for the coming week:

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All hand-drawn on that favorite paper of mine, with (mechanical) pencil, and lots of notes and details about the week. Some quotes, some temperatures and weather notes, where we went ... and if the Patriots won. ;)

I will confess to you - I have all the materials to make this again for 2016 - and I might just do that! I have the vintage paper (a fresh set) and the monthly tabs, and I even found a stash of that awesome loose-leaf in Bookworm's bedroom closet. (Apparently I had sent him off to college last year with a supply and he brought home what he didn't use. So happy to have more of this paper!)

But ...

I also bought the scrapbook paper in the 8x8 size and I'm toying with the idea of making a smaller-size planner in the same design as above. The 8.5x11 is not too thick or heavy but it is a bit bendy, if you know what I mean. Maybe I'll add more support? Hmm.

Oh, wait! Let's got back to the File Crate for a moment, shall we?

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So another way I plan is to use a file folder for each week of the year - it holds any information I need for that week. I keep them all in a simple, plastic crate. There are hanging folders for each season (I divide the year into six seasons rather than four) and each season includes eight or nine weekly folders. I use recycled (brown) folders and write the date and weekly theme on a strip of washi tape. In the front of the bin I hang our parish liturgical calendar. I don't use this calendar in any way other than as inspiration and a reminder of where my Church is in the year.

Then, in the back of the bin I keep my homemade lesson planner.

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Try as I might, I can't seem to incorporate lesson plans into any other planner. They just need to be separate and so, after looking for a commercially-made lesson planner, I ended up making my own. As you can see, I covered a (plain, recycled) spiral-bound notebook with some alphabet scrapbook paper and to secure it, I used some of that same washi tape (mentioned above) around the edges of the notebook.

The metal clamp holds my place in the planner ...

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 I can do a separate post all about this particular planner which has several pages in the beginning for general information and an annual overview, and then there is a page like the one shown above for each week. The weeks allow me to jot down a "plan" for each of my three younger boys for each day of the week, and then on the back of this page I write down resources used and any other notes about the activities and lessons that week.

Although ...

I do have a lesson planning page as well as a craft/activity planning page in that weekly section we discussed back up at the top (or near the top) of this post. I have not yet determined if it makes better sense to have a separate lesson planner as shown here or write plans on a sheet that gets kept in the overall weekly planner.

(Does anyone else find that you can spend too much time dithering over what to use to plan that your plans themselves suffer a bit?)

**

Well, I am pretty sure I could go on, but I think it is in the best of our collective interests to wrap up at this point! I hope some of what I said was helpful or interesting ... even if it just justified your own planner craziness or showed you just how unhinged I get when it comes to planners. I've been on a planner mission for so many years I have to accept the possibility it might be me that's the problem, and not the planners themselves. Perhaps I'm too picky or flighty, take your pick.

It's a pretty harmless addiction to have in the scheme of things I think. And as long as I'm keeping up with most of my family's needs (and my own) I feel I'm on the right path. Tweaking till I get it perfect is just in my nature ... whether "perfect" is attainable remains to be seen!

So friends, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Did any of this ring a bell with any of you? Do you have any questions or need clarification? I tried to be as clear as possible but as I've been working on this post for several days, I feel like it started to unravel a bit. Let me know what you think and let's continue our discussion! I have some more guest posts coming up and I'd love to have you join us if you'd like. If you have a planner post (with pics please) please email me at:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I look forward to hearing from you even if you just want to say, hey. I know this was a lot to digest, so I apologize for going on so long, but I know - thanks to this series - many of you are planner junkies like myself. Anyways, I hope this was fun!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by ... see you here again very soon!


Planner Party Guest Post Number Seven: Tanya!

{Happy Friday, my friends! It's Tanya's turn today!}

***

Hello Dawn! Thanks for hosting this planner party!  

First, I must say that I feel as if I am floundering along this autumn. I’ve cobbled together some plannerish things but by no means is my system complete and I have found that things are falling through the cracks as a result. Two of the three systems I’m going to share are working….one decidedly is *not*! 

The first thing that is working is this little daily planner page. I made it up for myself while Steve was away for five days. (I was solo parenting and quite desperate!) Since then, I’ve adopted it wholeheartedly and (other than wishing I could pre print it) it continues to work well for me. I modeled it a bit after your homemade planner but tweaked it to work for my family. I love having a column for each child. Two of my kids require therapy and medications so it’s helpful to see them all laid out for me in the morning! 

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The other part of my planning trio that is working is my lesson planner. I used an inexpensive coil bound book and used it to plan lessons. This has been SO helpful. Especially when I have been able to preplan a few weeks in advance. I’m careful not to plan too far ahead as often my son’s chronic illness will dictate how much work we are able to get to each day. I love having everything set out for me though! 

  Planner party tanya 2

And the part that definitely isn’t working for me? My wall calendar. It makes it easy to see what appointments are coming up but it isn’t doing the job I need it to anymore. I’m definitely at a point where I need a proper paper planner rather than only the wall calendar.

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Thanks for hosting Dawn! I’m looking forward to learning from others and gleaning some great ideas. 

 Tanya

***

Tanya, you and I have "talked shop" a lot through the years, and we are often on the same "page" so to speak. :) Like you, I find myself floundering this autumn and some things are slipping through the cracks ... I feel like it's my own fault because if I could just stop being so picky and just stick with something - even if it's not exactly what I want - I'd do so much better overall in keeping up with ALL THE THINGS ... but there it is.

So I thank you for sharing your planners with us, Tanya! They look very much like things I have going on at this time! There is just something about putting our own pen to paper that creates a more meaningful and workable planner ... even when my head get turned by professionally made planners, I truly love the homemade ones best!

Now, I really love clipboards - I think they are perfect for daily planning as you show above. And they're so portable. I still like my Day Designer planner, but I don't care for how heavy it is - I don't really feel like grabbing it if I'm heading upstairs or if I'm going out somewhere. It's just a bit took bulky to come-with, so I tend to leave it on the counter ... but a clipboard is so easy to tote around - and clip things on if you need. Right now my clipboard holds my master to-do pages as well as our weekend POW pages. (Something we can all work off of all weekend.) Basically, I think clipboards are brilliant and much underused.

And also, I LOVE making planners out of spiral-bound notebooks as you have! In fact, I really like your simple, straightforward layout - a column for each day. I used a plain notebook for a lesson planner this year and I like it but I think I might have made it more complicated than it needs to be ... 

As for the wall calendar - I had one on the fridge but Earlybird commandeered it, lol. He wanted it on the December page AT ALL TIMES so we could see when his birthday was. (As if I'd forget!) I finally took it down and hung it out near his play area in the family room. I like having a large monthly planner that all the family can refer to when we're making plans or kids/husband are wondering what's going on when.

Great food for thought, Tanya! Friends, what say you?

I hope you'll drop Tanya a note if you have a chance! Are you someone who prefers making a homemade planner? I think that's becoming an increasingly popular project - just check out Pinterest! (But only if you have a few hours to spare ...)

Also, before I go, I wanted to mention something I posted about on Facebook yesterday ...

As I am working on my next-week plan I realized that November 1st is just ONE WEEK away from this Sunday! Which means I need to get my gratitude project in order if we're to start on the first of the month. (Our remembrance altar as well.) So this weekend I've made a note to finalize a design and pick up any supplies I need. Next week I'll get the projects pulled together in my "spare" time (ha!) and hopefully be ready to roll on Sunday morning.

But for now, have a nice evening my friends - and Happy Weekend! Today is a special day for us - Bill and I celebrate 22 years of marriage! Where has the time flown?? Anyhow, I am going to take the weekend off from posting, but will be back on Monday with more party plans! Happily, we still have a few more guest posts in queue! :)

See you here again very soon ...


Planner Party Guest Post Number Four: Amy!

{And now we hear from Amy - I am having such fun with this series!}
 
***
This is so exciting. Thanks for this invitation! How fun - like my own little blog post, as I get to explain to you just how and why my planning looks the way it does at this time.
 
First I will show you my wall calendar. We have had this system for many years, at least 7 or 8 at this house and I can't remember when I began doing it this way, but the important part is that it shows three months at a time - usually the current, and two upcoming months, though sometimes I don't update so fast and we have the previous-current-future instead.
 
For years I had two 12x12" heavy-duty, somewhat-glossy card stock sheets attached to the wall to create a 12x24" rectangle background, and the calendar pages were held onto that with tape rings on the backs, but that was tedious, and then made saving the old calendars a pain: you have to remove those tape rings so the old pages don't stick together! But at least the tape peeled off the semi-gloss card stock easily so I could quickly take down the old pages, move the current ones upward, and add the new ones at the bottom.
 
However, every summer the papers AND the card stock would curl so badly from the humidity! Between that, and the tape hassle, I finally had my husband install a piece of sheet metal. Now I use magnets to hold up my calendars. What is funny is that I had the magnet idea years ago, and we talked several times about going to pick up a piece of sheet metal and cutting it to size; then, just as we finally got over the hump of indecision (really, just being too busy with all the other small - or extra-large - projects we always have to do) and ordered the sheet metal, we were able to get just the right size (12x24") from Amazon, AND my very next trip to Joann Fabrics revealed that they, too, were selling these pieces of sheet metal! Some were plan, others were filigree.
 
I have been printing my calendar pages from WaterproofPaper.com for years; I think before that I might have gotten some from DonnaYoung.org or elsewhere.
 
It just occurred to me yesterday that perhaps I should have seasonal magnets instead of this random assortment of whatever isn't needed on the fridge. Wouldn't that be nice?
 
Oh, just a note, the clock on the wall used to be a "Maine" thing around here; a local family used to make these "Fox clocks," there were at least a dozen designs, all of them from that kind of 40's diner era. I am fairly certain that they also were a homeschooling family! They don't make them anymore, very sad. I always love it when I walk into someone's home or business and spot one of these clocks - they are unique, local, and becoming rare! We've had ours for 12, maybe all 13 years that we've lived in Maine and just this past year someone knocked it off the wall and we lost the glass. It still works, I will just have to be careful about dusting it more often!
 
And then, you will probably appreciate this: yes those are two thermostaats on the wall. :) (This is also just about our only kitchen wall, 2.5' wide, as most of our kitchen is taken up by windows, exterior doors, and interior doorways - what a pain.) We have the old thermostat from the old oil system, which we had replaced a few years ago. Above it is the new gas thermostat. And we have 3 zones. That is on top of the wood stove in the living room and electric on the third floor... we have an interesting and ancient house!
 
Oh my, this is so long! No wonder I don't blog anymore, sheesh!
 
{Dawn here, popping in to say: I'm loving this, Amy! You are so fun to read and never-ever apologize for wordiness ... I'm a big fan of wordiness!}
 
 
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Now on to the fun part!
 
I have a few photos for you of the planner I was using until the end of the summer. I tend to be a 9-months kind of plan lady, and then I get an urge to switch up my system. That worked well with the Franklin Quest (then Covey, then Planner) products because they offered sets that start on all the quarters! Now most of their paper products seem to start on the half-years only, but I think a few classics still start on the quarter...
 
Of course that did get expensive on our single income and often I would just bide my time by making new inserts for my binder....
 
A number of years ago I switched to Michelle Quigley's beautiful Catholic dayplanners (and I used a few others too that were less expensive than the Franklin products) but eventually I got tired of nothing seeming quite-right.
 
So I made my own, of course.
 
{Dawn here again - we are kindred spirits, Amy!!}
 
This one I started in January. I've had a couple of other iterations in the very recent past few years. This one in particular is a Canson sketchbook and I like it for the thickness of the paper  and also because it is book-bound. I found that the spiral-bound planners would get caught on things in my purse/bag, if/when I took them out with me. And the binder-style ones are just so thick and cumbersome.
 
So I have been making this style for a few years now, and I often use colored pencils that either reflect the season or reflect my whim. :)
 
I've got a couple of photos here of my monthly pages, and I leave a blank page behind each month for who-knows-what, maybe a phone number or a prayer or a birthday idea etc. I leave a few pages after Dec. for Christmas planning and card lists. And I always have the current and future year-at-a-glance calendars pasted in somewhere - usually the only thing that I print and glue in. You can't glue in too much or else you strain the binding, and I do want to leave just a little space in case of wanting to add in a photo or a bookmark or a sticky note etc.
 
SO. I am sending you photos of my monthly spreads, and my weekly spreads. The weekly spreads I have tweaked so many times; this layout I found in one of the Franklin catalogs and I essentially copied it. It's called the "Five Choices" planner and I don't really know what the "five choices" are, maybe once I looked into it and decided those few extra encouragement pages wouldn't be worth the $28 when I could just fill in my own $10 notebook! I really just like the clean style of the layout, and this is one of very few that go horizontally across the top. The bottom half the the spread is reserved for my to-do lists, which are: do, call, comp(uter), and go(errands etc.). That's it!
 
But like I said, I stopped using it abruptly at the end of the summer and I have something much simpler that is working for me right now. 
 
Planner party amy 5
  
Planner party amy 6
 
Ooooh I love what Cay says about adding to our favorite planner and helping us focus on what is most important. YES.
 
And the thing about having stopped using my hard-bound homemade planner is that now I don't have a keepsake copy of what was important to me at any given point. I do save our wall calendars but they don't capture the smaller details, like the things on my to-do lists or my weekly focus notes to myself (at the top of some of my weekly spreads, such as a particular bible book, a verse, a reminder to myself about a child's habit or my own habit... etc.)
 
So.
 
What am I using now?
 
A totally disposable, totally simple stack of papers in a mini binder clip.
 
My main scribbling/planning/jotting/thinking spot is in my kitchen, standing at the breakfast bar, and at my house, that breakfast bar frequently has someone eating at it. And so any time I leave my planner there, it is at risk! Even though I don't think I had ever had any major accidents with it over the years, the risk is still very great (and case in point, just on Saturday I dumped a child's water glass onto my stack of papers and had to rewrite them... a first, I'm pretty sure... but there it is).
 
So one problem is that I often put my planner "away" to keep it safe. Even if that means putting it into the family command center in the kitchen, or onto the kitchen table where there is actually less snacking and drinking, that is several steps out of my way, and not where I am currently trying to do my thinking.
 
The other problem with the book-style planner (and this might sound ridiculous) is that you have to open the cover to get to the important/pertinent part!
 
I know that sounds like no big deal, because we spend all day opening books to the pages we need, and my planners always have the month and week tabs easily graspable from the outside, so it's just one quick flip of the wrist to get to where I need to be.
 
But.
 
It's a step. And performing it many times a day does add up, and it does become an impediment. 
 
Now I have, at times, experimented with a list attached to the front cover of my planner, or a sticky note attached to the cover, but those don't end up working the way I hope they will.
 
(And the last part is that there are always crumbs about. Having my "thinking spot" being in the midst of food prep - and really I have tried to come up with a better spot, there just isn't one - means that even though whole bowls of soup or full mugs of coffee don't usually land on my planner, there are always tons of crumbs that need to be brushed up all day! That is probably the reason why I keep it closed, which means I always have to be opening it...  So now that I have a disposable clip of paper, I'm not nearly so worried about it, which means I am much more apt to actually use it.)
 
(Can you believe anyone else thinks in such specific, minute details about her planner situation? Isn't it ridiculous, in a way?)
 
{Dawn again, here - I can absolutely believe it and to be honest, I am relieved by it! I am so glad I'm not alone in my obsession! It might be a bit ridiculous but that doesn't mean it's wrong!}
 
Okay, so now I am using scrap paper, which we have in abundance because of having printer rejects or just papers that got scribbled on one side, etc. I tear it into 1/4 size sheets, which is a little bit smaller than I would prefer a planner to be, but because there are no bindings or covers etc. to get in the way, it's working so nicely! And because it's so small and "disposable" looking, it ends up being rather private too. Nobody bothers to waste their time with it.
 
My top sheet is my brain dump, and it gets filled quickly. I end up refreshing/rewriting it every few days. And because the whole thing is disposable, I don't mind crossing out heavily anything that I have done or deleted etc. (That was another problem with my planner, I wanted to keep it neat so "done" items simply got a check-mark, which didn't make them get out of my field of view! I wasted so many accumulating nano-seconds skimming things that had already been checked off, because I could still see them!)
 
Sometimes I have a totally urgent sticky note attached to my top sheet, reminding me that we really really need to cook the fish before 4pm, that sort of thing... because if it's not written down right under my face I am apt to forget that sort of thing.
 
Beneath my top sheet, I have several longer-term sheets that I actually have stapled together, which helps me to understand that, as a group, I don't need to review them too often. A couple of times a week is fine. Each sheet is a little bit different, but basically I have a non-urgent shopping list that has things like a new belt for myself, a smaller crock pot, etc. just things I should keep a lookout for but don't need to worry about.
 
Then there is a list of places we can go if we need to get out of the house. On those rough days, I usually end up walking around in circles muttering about how awful everything is (not really, but in my mind I worry a lot!) and if I could just remember to look at that list, it might, maybe, spark me into a spontaneous trip to: the beautiful working waterfront; the gluten-free bakery; a different library branch; the beautiful cemetery in our neighborhood; the arboretum which is only 40 minutes away; etc. I have a list of indoor places and a list of outdoor places that we could easily get to, thus making memories instead of stewing and being angry with one another while the dinner doesn't get made, the laundry doesn't get done, and the homeschooling gets neglected. (Really our lives are not angry and bad like that at all, but again, inside my own head it gets kind of ugly and no matter how lovely and sweet things might be inside our own home, I know we need to get out and do more interesting things sometimes, esp. outdoor things.)
 
And I also have a sheet of other long-term things I need to keep in mind, like I am starting to jot down Christmas ideas but that will probably become several full-size pages in my housekeeping/homeschooling binder which I am not going to bother to include in these emails, it is rather separate from my main calendar/planner habits. 
 
Oh, and the very last page I have in my binder clip is a little vitamin/supplement weekly chart. If it's there and can be checked off, I am much more likely to be getting those supplements! I have it oriented as a landscape so that I can easily flip it open 3x/day.
 
This system is working so well for me - but honestly now that I've been talking about this stuff with you, I am tempted to try my book-bound planner again. It's just so very nice!
 
Now I'm not sure how these photos will be ordered for you, but one photo shows two stacks of paper, wet, because I had just dumped water all over them. You can also see the scribble marks from my helper, and it doesn't bother me at all because I now these pages will just be recycled when I am done with them. :)
 
The other two photos show the new (dry) stack earlier, and then later, during the weekend as I added more and more items. And since then I think I have re-written a clean list for the beginning of this week.
 
Well that sure was fun for me! I hope you aren't entirely overwhelmed. I hope some other people are joining your party too! I guess my kitchen is pretty dark, we've got all southern exposure but some fools put a giant garage at the back corner of our house about 25 years ago and it blocks all the morning sun from the kitchen! And there is also a gorgeous sugar maple in our neighbor's yard, I have no problem with that, but until it loses its leaves it also casts shadows (which helps keep our house cool).
 
Planner party amy 7
 
Planner party amy 8
 
Planner party amy 9
 
***
 Amy I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this post! I love - LOVE - your stream of consciousness and I also LOVE that you are as mindful and - ok, I'm going to say it, but I'm right there with you - persnickety about planners! Thank you so much for sharing not just your planners but yourself and your family life, too. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that this current system is working so well for you ... and yet you feel pulled to go back to the book-bound planner. I am always in this situation. I find something that works well - maybe even really well - for me, and us as a family ... but I am constantly feeling pulled to something else that might appeal to me on a more aesthetic sense. It's a tough thing to balance!
 
The three-months at a glance on the wall are fantastic - I really like that the whole family can see these calendars and that you have a "season" in view at a time. My whole fridge is taken up with a large whiteboard I use as a schedule for Earlybird, otherwise I'd be on this. And now our one big kitchen wall is adorned with three very large framed prints. They are so pretty and just what I wanted but there goes my wall space.
 
(Seasonal magnets would be lovely, but there's something very genuine about those random magnets.)
 
Ok my friends, please let Amy know your thoughts and if you have any questions on her planners ... drop a note in the comments box below if you have time! 
 
Isn't this so fun? I am having SUCH fun with these guest posts and I hope you are too! I have several more to share so I hope you enjoy and I hope to see you here again ... tomorrow!
 
:)

Planner Party Guest Post Number Two: Tracey!

{This lovely planner post is from Tracey ... I hope you enjoy!}

***

Hi Dawn!

I thought I would share, as I am all about planners right now. I entered the world of Erin Condrin Life Planners and have finally found planner peace. I am a mom to three children and have a Etsy business so I need to be organized! But I also want to have memories, not just tons of to do lists. This planner allows me to be organized while also being creative. Here isa pic of this past week.

Planner party tracey 2

***

Ok, all you Erin Condren planner people out there ... let's hear from you! :) These are such popular planners and I can see why! They really are so pretty ...

I've never seen one in real life - only on Pinterest and now, happily, here. I think it might actually be a good thing that they are only available by ordering - not like I could stumble across them at Target - because I can ASSURE you I would be going home with one of these babies before you could say "cash or credit, ma'am?"

(Hang on - I *think* they might be available at Staples ... can anyone attest to this ? I will have to investigate ...)

But Tracey, your planner is lovely! I love how you've set up this October page - filled with seasonal colors and cheerful stickers and washi tape. (My favorite month and colors!) And all your neat handwriting! I especially love how you have a balance of remembrances and to-do's - sentimental and practical. And a record of dinners you served your family, too ...

I appreciate a week-at-a-glance with a good bit of room for each day. I am currently using a Day Designer which is really snazzy but it might be too much "day" for me, if you know what I mean. Of course that might be me talking myself out of it so I can justify starting something else ...

Tracey, you've given us some very pretty food for thought! Readers, please leave a comment if you have time and tell us - are you a weekly or daily planner? I find it hard to commit to one over the the other!

***

And before I go, I have some exciting news! Tracey has kindly invited my readers to use a special coupon at her lovely Etsy shop, Grizzlie, which features all kinds of knitted delicacies. Take a peek around her shop and, should you find something you like (which is quite probable!) enter the coupon SunandCandlelight at checkout - you will save 15% on your purchase!

What a treat! Thank you for this kind offer, Tracey!

:)

Enjoy your Sunday, my friends! Please check back tomorrow for another lovely planner party guest post! :)


Planner Party Guest Post Number One: Kelly!

Whew, that title's a mouthful, isn't it? Well, I couldn't think of a better way to say it ... this is a continuation of our Planner Party, but the words and pictures in this post (and the next eight to come) will be from one of my readers (in this case, Kelly), not me!
 
(Well, I'll talk a bit at the end and obviously I'm talking now, so I am here - just not for the "meat" of the post!)
 
So onward we go ... let's hear from Kelly!
 
***
 
Hello Dawn!
 
I am very excited to participate in your planning post! I have two main planners; one is for daily use and the other is for weekly use. Here are the details on what I am using:
 
Daily planner details
 
I began this planner in March of this year, I think after you published a bunch of planner posts. :) I had a vision and it evolved as the year progressed. In the beginning, I only created a month or two at a time so I could make tweaks as I went along. It’s October now and I feel the best about this planner than I have about any other I have used or created! I am currently brainstorming the layout and plan for my 2016 planner. I haven’t decided yet if I will create the whole thing at once (horrors in case I want to change anything!) or go 2-3 months at at a time. We shall see. It is a lot of work to create it from scratch but I am SO happy with it that it is worthwhile.
 
This is the book I am using: Moleskine Folio Professional Portfolio. The photo you see below is my 2016 planner just waiting to be created!
 
Planner party kelly 1
 
This is what a weekly spread looks like:
 
Planner party kelly 2
Planner party kelly 3
 
The top picture gives a good overview and the bottom picture allows you to see close up. There is a document on the right side of my weekly spread and that is my homeschool plan for the week. It is stapled over the previous or next week so that I still have access to the dates if needed, but is right there with my current week-at-a-glance. For each day of the week, I have the date, my husband’s work schedule, and any feast day or holiday. The next column shows any commitments I have out of the house so I know what I can and can’t plan to do at home that day; and next week I am adding a small “notes” column at the far right to write in prayer notes for that day and times to observe the moon or other tidbits like that. I think this will be a good column to add without taking away too much space for my to-dos.
 
This is what a monthly spread looks like:
 
Planner party kelly 4 (1)
 
On the left is a small calendar just for noting special holidays and feasts that we will observe in some way. I am not using it to its full capacity yet; more to think on. Below it are seasonal notes for the month; if I clip anything from a magazine or anything like that, I just file it in my FCS and make a note of it here. I plan to add seasonal cleaning tasks to this page. The right page is my list of to-do’s for the month. I add them as I think of them. I also have budget notes and anything else I want to keep track of for the month. I will use a highlighter for any really big projects that must get done this month. Anything left undone at the end of the month gets transferred to the next month or dropped. This has helped me get so much done!
 
In the remaining pages of the book, I have a section for a log of picture books I read to my kids, my own personal reading list and log, and a huge section just for notes. Anything I am brainstorming or working through, I write in here. I did all of my homeschool brainstorming/planning in this. I also have notes from a retreat, chore plan ideas, snack/cooking ideas, etc. It is truly a home for anything I am thinking about and needing to work through. Next year I will number all of the pages and add an index page at the front as my notes are rather random. :)
 
Weekly planner details:
 
This is simply a 3-ring binder decorated with a beautiful Victoria magazine cover! I have four sections in this book: HS (homeschooling); HH (household); Seasonal/nature; and Field trips. I spend two nights per week doing our homeschool plan for the next week (two nights so I don’t have to stay up so late either night). While the year’s plans are already made, this is the time to look at math and reading lessons and gather materials needed; gather liturgical/saint books to read; etc. I have a list of all of the areas I need to cover during my planning nights so I don’t miss anything. Once a week I do my household planning for the next week. I also have a list of areas I want to be sure to cover, for example, assigning days to do laundry and other cleaning (I am so weak in the cleaning area!); updating our budget and/or paying bills; planning our family time if it won’t happen naturally; planning meals for the week (I do meal planning two weeks at a time). The seasonal/nature section is where I keep notes about what I hope we’ll study according to the month. Field trips? Places we can go - it helps to have them all handy.
 
In addition to these, I have reference binders for several different things (homeschooling and others) but they are used only on occasion.
 
With my daily and weekly planners, I really do feel that I am accomplishing a lot and keeping track of important things. Thank you for letting me share! Sorry this is so long. :) If anything is clear as mud, please let me know!
 
Take care,
Kelly
 
***
 
Kelly, what a fantastic post! Everything is perfectly clear and never-ever apologize for "long" posts/comments/emails, whatever. I'm the wordiest person I know - I LOVE long conversations! :)
 
Well, this is a lovely system you have - I like that you have a weekly AND a daily planner, because right now I'm trying to decide which is better for me and now I'm thinking - why not both?! :) Your Moleskin is designed beautifully - I've spent a good deal of time on Pinterest looking at Moleskin planners and bullet journals! Their efficiency and adaptability are perfect for planner-making! And I love how you have everything so well thought out, especially how you've scheduled "maintenance" times - which I think is a real KEY to success. I think so often we set up this or that system and then just assume it will go well ... but without taking time to sit down and actually manage the system - to plan and write things down and tweak and consider - the system won't really work for us. We need to take an active part in the planning - as much as I love planners, they aren't magical objects! We have to commit to our planners if we want them to be the best they can be!
 
Thank you so much, Kelly, for sharing your planner with us here ... you have me eager to really think through my 2016 planner. How I can make it fit my needs better! 
 
My friends, if you have a moment, please drop Kelly a note in the comments box below! Is anyone else using a Moleskin notebook for planning? I'd love to hear about it!
 
Enjoy your Saturday, my friends! I'll be back tomorrow with our next guest post!
:)