Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aunt Julie's Dessert Party

Tuesday, Jimmy's Aunt Julie invited us to join her family for coffee and dessert. It was nice to visit with family members that we see only once a year or so.

Aunt Julie and Jenny

Jenny, Megan, Missy, and Me

Joy and Leslie

Russ and Granmomma

Vivian, Katie, Olivia, and Julie
My girls were teaching Katie and Vivian how to crochet!

Seth, Clay, and Ti

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Johnson Party

A few days before Christmas, we hosted Jimmy's extended family for a evening of food and fellowship. Jimmy's grandparents had 5 sons, so now with spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, the family is quite large. It was a fun night!

Me, Season, Megan, Stacee, and Holly

Sam and Will

Renee, Myra, Granmomma and Pop

The Three Sams!
Sam Johnson, Sam Gibbs, and Sam Johnson

Emily and Megan

John Mark and Sherry

Stephanie and Briley

Clay and Julie

Holly and Stacee

Sick Olivia!
Olivia was running fever, so she stayed in my bedroom and crocheted and watched TV during the party. We all missed her!

Holly, Debbie, and Paul

Stacee and Jack

the boys playing in Sam's and Clay's room

Me and Clay

Storing the Stuff

As I was vacuuming the basement at 8:30 PM last night, I realized that I would not be completing my To-Do list for the day. Time just ran out last night! We had a wonderful visit with Jimmy's Aunt Julie and her family, and being out of town for the afternoon just prevented me from "getting it all done". And that's OK. This list is still there, and I will add a few items to it and tackle it today.

A friend recently asked me about storing the Christmas stuff. I store my Christmas stuff the same way I store plastic boxes. I have ornament boxes for the ornaments--they have these little cardboard dividers inside. The two boxes that I use for ornaments for our tree are actually these drawer things--two drawers each. I have regular ornament boxes for the various balls and pinecones that I have displayed around the house. All of these boxes were purchased over the years at Wal Mart. Other items that I store in large plastic boxes include the Christmas books, greenery from the light fixtures, small lengths of garland, and my various Santas and other Christmas decorations. I keep the lights for the tree, the tree skirt, the stockings, and the cords and remote control for the tree lights all in one box.
I hang the wreaths and long strands of garland that hang on our stairway on nails on the wall in my Christmas storage room. We have storage area upstairs that I use only for Christmas decorations. If you have to store your Christmas decorations in an area with other storage items, you will need to number the outside of the boxes and then list the contents of each box on an index card or on a master list of box contents.

In addition to completing yesterday's list, today I want to:
1. take down the stairway garland
2. take down decorations in my bedroom

I hope you are being productive at your house too. While the Christmas decorations are so pretty, I am enjoying the "clean, uncluttered look" I am achieving as I put each item away.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's List

I finished everything on my list 10:00 PM!
My list for today will not be quite as long because we have to go to the library to return books that are due today, and we are attending family gathering about an hour away this afternoon. I have to get everything done on my list today before 1:00--the time we have to leave.

1. exchange all of my Christmas dishes for the regular ones in my kitchen cabinet.
2. pack and store all of the Christmas display plates. I bought a new storage box for these. I have collected quite a few decorative dishes, and they will no longer fit in the chest in my dining room.
3. gather the Christmas books from around the house and pack them away.
4. remove Christmas cards from the wall--where they are displayed
5. regular chores--vacuum and mop the basement and the stairs leading to it.
6. wash, dry, fold, and put away 2 loads of laundry
7. run 5 miles
8. straighten the boys' room
9. prepare my dessert to take to the gathering

About the Christmas cards---I have always taped them to the door facings in the den/kitchen area and on the door that leads to our basement in order to display them. As Christmas Day draws nearer, we receive many cards a day, and I run out of room to display them. I saw on a few different blogs this year how some people put up a separate Christmas tree just to hang Christmas cards. I like this idea, but I don't have a spot for another tree. Each year as I take down the cards, I store them in a plastic box with my other Christmas decorations.....and we never get them out again. So now I have a new idea. I bought 2 scrapbooks yesterday at Hobby Lobby (50% off!). They are very cute--black with large white polka dots! I am going to tape all of the cards in the scrapbooks! Next year, as we receive cards, I am going to tape them in the scrapbook as soon as we get them; I am not going to tape them on the wall at all. I will display this Christmas Card Scrapbook in our den for everyone to enjoy. One day when I don't have anything else to do (Ha!) maybe I can put our past Christmas cards in scrapbooks too!

Christmas card addresses--if any of your Christmas cards were returned because the recipient had moved, make a correction in your address book or Word document right now! Then, throw those envelopes away! Make sure that throughout the year as you learn of other address changes that you make the corrections in your address document or book. I did this yesterday.

Don't forget to enjoy your children and involve them as you work. Julie and I played chess last night.....we have the neatest chess game that is called The Chess Teacher. It has all of the moves that each chess piece can make printed at the bottom of the piece (using arrows). Without the moves printed on the pieces, there is no way that I could play. Neat game!

Sam has been saddened by my putting away the Christmas stuff. He keeps saying, "Why are you taking it down? It's so beautiful!" I explained to him that it wouldn't be special if we kept it up all year long!

I better get busy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Whole House is a Mess!

This happens after Christmas, or any time we have an extended "vacation" time. We have new toys and gifts to be put away, boxes and gift bags to be stored, and all of those Christmas decorations to take down! Plus the regular routine of cleaning and other chores. The refrigerator and countertops are full of leftover holiday foods, and all of my drawers, cabinets, and closets are in need of a deep clean.

Where to begin?

I plan to tackle it like I suggested how to accomplish the holiday baking----a little bit at a time, not all in one day. While it seems like a great idea to take down and store all of your Christmas decorations, plus clean the entire house, plus reorganize your kitchen.....all in one day....I know that I would lose my steam about lunchtime, and the rest of the day would be miserable. So I am making a list for the upcoming week (and the weeks after that as well), of what I plan to accomplish each day. This way takes longer, but it really is more manageable, and the work is more likely to actually get done. We have one more week off from school and outside activities, so I plan to take advantage of this time. I originally planned for us to not begin school again until January 11th, but since we have decided to take the school day completely off when Jimmy is off from work (about 3 days a month), I moved our "back to school" start date to January 4th.

The Plan

1. Make a master list of every single thing you need to do. Be very specific. Carry this list around the house with you as you complete your daily tasks, because you will find things to add to the list,
2. Look at your calendar for this week. After considering your daily housekeeping tasks for each day and any further travel or party plans you may have for New Year's Eve/Day, begin assigning a reasonable portion of your to-do list for each day.
3. Make sure you schedule in time to spend with your children doing something other than clean/organize. Involve them in this cleaning project, but also set aside time to play a game with them, push them on the swing, read to them, etc. For small children, make sure you spend 10 minutes of each hour doing something with them. This really prevents discipline problems.

I will try to share my To-Do list each morning (or late the night before) to give you some sort of idea of what we all need to be doing!

Today's List:
1. pay bills
2. make menu and grocery list
3. buy groceries
4. buy albums for Christmas cards (more on my new idea later)
5. buy storage containers from Walmart
6. straighten Leah's room
7. straighten Julie's room
8. Update Christmas card addresses (more on this later too)
9. Pack up Christmas decorations that are sitting around on bookshelves and tabletops
10. Complete my normal housekeeping chores which include 2 loads of laundry, and cleaning the boys' bathroom

Have a productive day!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Johnson Family Christmas

The Johnson (and Mansel) Clan

Our Johnson Family Christmas party was held early Christmas Eve day. Russ and Megan took Granmomma and Pop out to breakfast while the rest of us gathered at their house to set up their Christmas/birthday gift....a new TV. We all surprised them when they returned!
We spent the rest of the day watching UP on the new TV, playing Scrabble, visiting, eating, and of course exchanging gifts. The three sister-in-laws...Megan, Jenny, and I all immensely enjoy shopping, wrapping and giving Christmas gifts! It was a really fun day!

Megan and Me

the guys watching the new TV

the girls playing Scrabble--lots of fun!

Sam eagerly awaiting the present-opening!

Julie and her new boots from Aunt Megan

Jeff with his two boys....Will and Seth

Olivia and Will
We let the children exchange gifts first, then they play while the adults exchange. This year, Will moved into the "adult" present opening! He's growing up!

Clay enjoying his pasta salad for lunch

Jimmy, one of our family photographers

the sister-in-laws!
Megan, Jenny, Me

Olivia, working on finishing Julie's Christmas gift

Pop and Farley

Leah and Gracie

Seth and Jenny

Jimmy holding a fabulous gift from Russ and Megan
It's a wall hanging with the name of our blog and the Bible verse from my sidebar....I love this gift! We are hanging it in our kitchen.


Russ, the other family photographer

Sam--worn out from all the fun!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Simmons Family Christmas

This year we gathered with my family at my brother's house who lives just minutes away from me. It was nice to not have to travel very far! My two brothers and I take turns hosting our family's Christmas party each year. We gather the Saturday before Christmas, which leaves us free to stay home and celebrate with our immediate families on Christmas Day. We all bring food for a noon meal, and then we exchange gifts and visit for the afternoon.

Causey and Clay playing with a new Lego set

My brother Rhett with his son, Davis

Me and my Mother

Olivia and Julie--Julie was very happy to receive the David Archuletta Christmas CD.

My daddy proudly displaying one of his Alabama-themed gifts

Wesley opening a gift

Bounds and Sam (they are just 2 weeks apart in age) waiting to open presents!

My cousin Christine, Me, and my brother Ryan (we were at his house)

My brother Rhett and Me

My grandmothers--Meme, and Momo

Causey and Bounds have a fabulous play area, complete with a zip line. Even though it was freezing cold, the children enjoyed playing outside.

Clay getting ready to zip down the zip line!

There goes Leah!

Sam, waiting for his turn
Leah, ready to go again...this time with her coat on!

It is always a lot of fun to visit with my brothers and their families. Only one of my brothers and I live near each other, so the times we all get together with my parents and grandmothers are not that frequent. Next year, we will be gathering at my house!