Jea's Christmas Wishlist

Jea and I worked on her Santa List this weekend.  I will type it up and send to Santa after Thanksgiving but thought I would post it here first.  Maybe Santa will pick it up without me having to mail it!  LOL He has to be online by now, right?

Jea's Christmas List:
  • Books and Games
    • Usborne Books Wishlist  Jea loves books and games.  She is not reading, yet, but does memorize new books after about the second time it is read to her.  She loves to pick out letters and is starting to be able to accurately trace her name and other capital letters.  She is well on the way to reading, in my opinion!  Rhyming books are some of her favorites and we have started to introduce chapter books into our storytime.  I plan to keep on reading to her for a long time. 
    • SimplyFun Wishlist (okay they don't have a wishlist function so I had to put together individual games she wants):  One of the games on this list is family oriented and two are more educational to help her with her reading and math skills.
    • Others
      • Jigsaw Puzzles of 32 pcs or more.  She loves these things and is so good at them. The puzzles she got for her birthday (24pcs each)  are put together in about 15 minutes.  And this was true after the first time Bill or I helped her with them.  She has even helped me put together a 150 piece puzzle at the dining room table.  Admittedly, she helped in spurts as she is only 3 years old and her attention span is not that great!
      • Dirt Devil Jr Upright Vacuum: Jea loves to use my little hand held rechargeable vacuum and wants to run the big one.  I say more power to her as I hate to vacuum although as we all know cleaning must be done. Bill and I have already determined that vacuuming will be one of her household chores as she gets bigger!  She was so excited this weekend when we were looking through the toy magazines/online sites everytime she saw a vauum and said "Mommy, look my size vacuum!"
      • Crayola Beginnings Color Me a Song: Combining two of Jea's loves, music and coloring, into one!  Who can beat that?
      • LeapPad Learning Games:  I got a leappad last month at a garage sale for $7 along with two books.  Jea would like more.  However, I have had a hard time finding more games/books for this thing.  If anyone has any thoughts on this, please comment!
      • FisherPrice KidTough New Digital Camera : Maybe with this, I will get my camera back and be able to take more pictures.  Jea always wants to see and to take pictures with my camera.  It is a bit bulky for her and I scared she will drop it!  So my compromise is to maybe get her her own camera!
  • Clothes
    • Socks: Jea is her mother's daughter -- she loves socks and wants them to match her outfits!
    • Winter clothes:  Long sleeves, dresses and pants. 
As most parents know, Jea, being 3, would prefer more toys than clothes!

What is on your child's Wishlist for this Holiday Season?  I am sure we can all share some great ideas with each other.


My Top 2 Work At Home Challenges

Working from home has been a wonderful challenge in and of itself.  Have I overcome the challenges of family, friends, my own innate procrastination and other distractions?    Uhmmmmmmm not even close and if you are at all like me, neither have you!

I recently read  "How I Mastered the Challenge of Working From Home" by Alyssa Gregory.  I feel her pain and her triumph.  For her, the three biggest challenges are Kids, Isolation and Unplugging.   I can agree with all of these in some fashion.  She ends her post with two questions that I have pondered
  • What are your biggest challenges of working from home?
  • What solutions have helped you?
So without further rambling, here are my top  two challenges and how I attempt to over them (and yes I do mean ATTEMPT LOL!)

#1: Procrastination

I am a master procrastinator.  I think it is a personality trait of mine and not a particularly good one.  I can always find something else to do that could wait!  The end result of this is that I play catchup as deadlines loom.  The further away a deadline is, the less getting done today for that deadline. 

My solution is to set shorter deadlines. 
At the beginning of each week, I take my work calendar (MS Outlook) and create tasks that must be completed that week.  Each task to be completed has a due date and may have dependencies as well.  Since Outlook automatically turns a task red when the due date is missed, I have a visual reference for how I am doing that week.   I can also use the status and percent complete to keep track of progress.

Typically, I put 3 tasks per day to complete.  Each task should take no longer than 2 hours.  I give myself at least two hours of  "free time" in my work day.

#2: What are my office hours?

Even after 10 years of working from home, I still find family and friends to be forgetful that just because i am in my sweats or pjs, I am still at work.   I also find that I have to remind myself, I am still at work!  It's a two way street.  

When I first starting working from home, wireless networks were in their infancy.  Wi-fi hotspots, aircards and smart-phones were things of the future!  Heck in the first year as a consultant, I was still using dial up when at my house!   This made it easier to be tethered to a desk!  Therefore office hours were accomodating to client timezones but all were done in an office.  Today with my smart-phone, my aircard, or wi-fi, I can pretty much work anywhere.  What are my office hours?

My solution:
  • Set up time each day I spend tethered to my desk in a dedicated office.
    • Jea knows that a closed door means Mommy cannot be disturbed.
    • Sharing with Bill and Jea when those hours will be each day.
    • Is determined by both my work schedule of calls and family activities/errands.
  • Use my aircard, my smartphone or wi-fi hotspots when I want to take Jea to the playground or run errands/take a trip or take Jea to dance class
  • Not opening my laptop for two hours each evening.  Those are reserved for dinner and family time.  While the actual timeframe may change to accomodate client priorities/timezones, the number of hours does not!   (This is the one that is the hardest for me to follow! I love to play and chat on the computer; just ask my friends and colleagues who find me online at 2 am some nights!)  I previously posted about why I want to shut down the computer: SimplyFun Article Got me to Thinking!
What challenges are you attempting to overcome?

Other resources: 


What is Heaven?

For the last 9 months, Jea has been inside more hospital waiting rooms than a three year old should have to see.  Many times Grandma has been in a hospital or in ICU where Jea was not allowed.  So those times, we were allowed to let Grandma and Jea see each other were precious.   Of course, we now have a daughter who can point out hospitals faster than most adults.  The long road of illness and seeing the inside of hospitals is now over.  Grandma passed from this life into Heaven on Monday morning.

Bill and I told Jea about Grandma on Monday afternoon.  Her first words were "Grandma is like Nytrex."  Nytrex being our cat that we lost a year ago.  We agreed with her.  She happily accepted that and went on to play with her cousins.

Fast forward to Thursday evening at the setting up or viewing for those not from the South.  Many people came and paid their respects. During the course of the evening more than once someone mentioned about Grandma being in Heaven.   One of those times, Jea heard and turned to her Daddy and said "What is Heaven?"

How do you tell a three year about heaven?  I am sure that many have had this question asked and know that the answer has to be age appropriate.  Our answer, "Heaven is a wonderful place where you go when you die. And our Lord is waiting with open arms to welcome you."  Jea's first response:  "Oh okay."  A bit later she came back and told us "I know where Grandma is. She is in a hospital in Heaven and we need to go there to see her."

I am sure we will have more questions as we continue to go to Grandma's house for family functions.  But at least right now, Jea is content to think that Grandma is in Heaven's hospital.  And we as parents have done our job to explain at her level Grandma is no longer with us.


Why Usborne Books & More?

Today I would like to explain why we joined Usborne Books and More as direct sales consultants.  We get asked this question a lot!  So here is the answer in a nutshell:
  •  Quality Products – Beautiful illustrations and photographs on acid free paper. Most titles have both glued and stitched bindings.
  • Reasonable Prices – Majority of titles are under $15.
  • Selection – Over 1900 titles for infants to teens to cover every child's interests and ability from bath and board books to internet linked reference books.
  • Guaranteed – in 2 ways!
    • Satisfaction – within 30 days from purchase, Usborne Books and More will replace, exchange or refund any title if you’re not completely satisfied.
    • Replacement – regardless of age or condition, get the newest version for ½ of  retail price.
  • Award Winning – Accolades from educational and parenting organizations around the world.  Current award winners can be found here.
  • Accelerated Reader Titles – Lists and ratings of titles included in the AR reading management program used in thousands of school systems.
  • Commercial Free – Not based on Cartoon, TV or Movie characters. No marketing extra’s like action figures, toys, games, etc. to purchase.
  • Home School – Materials used as a part of or a supplement to numerous curriculums (Sonlight, The Well Trained Mind, etc.) and tutoring organizations (Sylvan Learning Centers).
  • Internet Linked – Stand-alone titles with expanded data available through Usborne Quicklinks which are to updated relevant vetted sites.  There is no searching through 100 plus sites for age-appropriate information you want on the subject.
Since we joined Usborne Books and More, we have found many, many more reasons for joining.  Our daughter being a primary source for continued interest in this company.   Almost all of her favorite storytime books come from titles we have acquired as consultants. 

Today's post brought to you by Day 2 of my Blogging Challenge committment.


Can I commit to building a better blog?

Through The Work At Home website and forum, I will be starting a 31 day challenge following the e-book by Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.  I am sure CHALLENGE is going to be the name of the game for me.  The challenge begins on Monday, November 8 and ends on December 17, which if you are adding it up is actually 6 weeks and not 4.  I am very thankful for that with my full time job, our direct sales business, a 3 year old at home, Thanksgiving and a couple of planned trips out of state planned. 

There is one topic per day to complete from the workbook and then finding time to chat with the others taking the challenge.  Of course, I may find that blogging about my experiences to Build a Better Blog will give me more content!   My goal is to get into the habit of updating the blog on a more regular basis than I am.

If you are interested in joining me in this challenge, check it out at BLOG CHALLENGE.