Hope for the Holidays

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

There are dozens of them. Dozens of families a part of an incredible community, raising children with rare, serious, or undiagnosed disorders. Most people pray for happy, healthy children. Not everyone gets the healthy part. Thus, life is different for these families. 

Incredible, inspiring, humbling....just a few words to describe our Hope Link families. They are a part of a community that no one necessarily desires to be apart of, but they are a part of it. It is the most beautiful community I have ever laid eyes on, and I am honored to have seen small, intimate glimpses of it. 

Sometimes I feel like I'll never be able to do enough. I'll never be able to help enough, serve enough, give enough to this amazing community. And other times I know that anything and everything helps. 

This weekend we are hosting a giant, multi-vendor, Hope Link fundraiser at our home. Over 15 vendors, Christmas music, cider, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and a warm cozy fire...plus, each vendor has generously donated a door prize. 

Hope Link will be here with information about their incredible organization with a prayer bowl for you to pick a name of a Hope Link child to pray for over the coming weeks. 

I hope you can join us. If you live in the Oklahoma City area, we would love for you to join us. Saturday, November 23rd 10am-3pm. For more information, contact me directly via email at allisondalke@gmail.com. 

Well.....aka Life Without Social Media and Family Photo Sneak Peeks


I find myself saying that sometimes. Well....what now? What should I do? 

I'm not bored. Not even close. But I don't feel cluttered. Parts of my house are currently cluttered thanks to the week of Christmas decorating, but my brain isn't cluttered anymore. 

And it seems like people either think I'm crazy or they commend me. I am going on week 4 of no social media. I kind of don't think people thought I would stick with it. In all honesty, I didn't think I could stick with it. But I have, and now I'm thinking. 

People have asked me lots of questions....Questions like.....
"Do you really think you can continue to run your business away from social media." Well.....

"Do you think your team will be okay if you're not on social media. They're there." Well.....

"Do you think you can have influence for good without being on social media." Well......

Well yes I do. I think I do all those things. I think I can continue to run a thriving and prosperous business without being on social media.

I think I can create a culture within my team without social media. It may take time, but I think it can be done. 

I think and know and believe without a doubt that I can still have a positive influence on the people around me without a social media presence. 

I have this strong desire to question things. Why do we do that? Why are things this way? What if we did it that way instead? 

I love that I have time to think about these things now....that I have time and energy and passion to re-think things. Maybe re-thinking is the most important thing. 

 It's interesting that people are watching. I think most of you are watching to see how long I can go without. I still miss instagram. Just being honest. But I don't miss all that wasted time. I think some of you are watching to see if it changes me. Will it make me different? happier? I guess we'll see. 

In the meantime, we'll be here working, playing, changing, attempting to make a difference. Well....what's next? 

While we're pondering what's next, here's a little sneak peek of our family photos taken by our dear friend Cheryl Meares. I cannot wait to see the rest of them! 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

It's been quiet around here. Not quiet, like not busy, but quiet like still. And still feels good. 

I had the hardest time walking away from social media. I'll just be honest about it. I felt like I was missing out on something....like my friend Jari said, I felt like "everyone was at a party and we weren't invited." If it weren't for Jari, I would not have lasted this long. She is on this "no social media" journey with me, and I'm very grateful for her. 

I have learned a few things in the quiet. I have my own opinions. I'm not easily swayed or disturbed by others. No matter how much I tried to shield myself from the newsfeed, somehow I would end up there, and everything that I read got into my head whether I wanted it to or not. I just wasn't okay with that anymore. 

But this quiet time has also been good for my business. I hesitated leaving social media because of my business. Amazingly, I call people now. I have people over. I have real conversations, and I no longer feel like I'm missing out on anything. {That's not to say I'll never come back...it's free advertising, really.} But right now, I'm good being away from it all. 

I'm re-thinking a lot of things. What do I want my team culture to look like? How do I want us to communicate. This social media absence is making me challenge everything I've done for a long time, and that's a really good thing. 

I'm also all mixed up in attempting to decorate for Christmas. 

I think I should warn you that I am a bit of an over-the-top kind of Christmas decorating person. There will be many, many, many pictures right here soon. 

The crazy thing about a Scentsy fanatic decorating for Christmas is that I now have more holiday warmers than I have places for in my house. Seriously, it's an issue. I have one on my front porch people. And my friends make fun of me. And I don't care. 

I started the Christmas decorating frenzy by making a giant list of all the Christmas warmers I have and then attempting to figure out where they would all go. Every single regular warmer in my house gets replaced with a holiday warmer. How fun is that?! (Or crazy....whichever....just keep your opinions to yourself.)

A couple years ago, I begged my mom to give me her snow village, and she did. Now that I have kids of my own, it's one of our favorite holiday decorations. There is just something about having a tiny village in your house that screams Christmas. Am I right? 

So this month's warmer of the month is this awesome Christmas tree. It is awesome, but I honestly had no idea where I was going to put it....that is until my brilliant creative mind starting rolling (please insert sarcasm). Ha! 

The Christmas tree found the perfect home in the middle of our snow village. Yep. It's awesome. 

(I also just realized there is a very small chipmunk in the bottom corner of the snow village. I hope he's okay. He's looking a little under the weather.)

Here's a little sneak peek at the work I've done this weekend which isn't much. I had 2 Scentsy Family parties yesterday! 

 Above is the buffet (aka an old dresser that we bought in the scratch and dent section of our local furniture store years ago) in our dining room.

The entry way....that warmer will soon be replaced with December's warmer of the month. It will be perfect here! 

We also got new furniture this week. We have had the same couches since we bought our 1st house almost 10 years ago. We paid $1,000 for 4 pieces of furniture. I would definitely say we got our money of it. 

It was time for new, grown-up furniture. We looked last year when we first moved into our house and just couldn't decide on anything. I was determined this time. 

And we love what we found. 

Here's the room empty after they moved the 10 year old couches to the playroom. 

Wyatt testing out the springs on the new giant couch. 

And there she is folks. I think we should name her, I love her that much. 

On a completely separate note, I have been reminded the past few days how lost I feel when I don't write everyday. I've been toying with the idea of not doing it regularly anymore. But I love it here. I mostly love having our lives recorded. Since I can remember absolutely nothing, I let the words here do all the remembering, and it works. 

I have so much to catch you up on! Seriously! 

Just a reminder that you still have time to adopt an individual or a family for our Hope Link Christmas adoption. You can read all about it here. It is my favorite thing about Christmas. We have had so many people come forward and adopt entire families with their co-workers, family, teams, etc. It's been a joy to share with all of you! Thank you for your generosity. 

We are also gearing up for a HUGE Holiday Open House on Saturday. The proceeds will benefit Hope Link, and we have over 15 vendors joining us. Plus, there will be hot cocoa and apple cider and Christmas cookies! You have to come over! Save the date for Saturday, November 23rd and check back here tomorrow for all the details. 

Hope you had a great week. I can't wait to see what next week holds! 

Happy Sunday. 

The unexplainable gift of joy

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'll never forget the 1st Christmas. Our dining room was literally filled to the top with wrapped gifts. A ladder, a dollhouse, a new pair of shoes, new coffee cups....some things were as simple as crayons and coloring books, but they were all gifts meant to bless the lives of a dozen families. 

They live lives that no one wishes for.....lives that no one thinks they will personally ever have to live. All of these families were blessed with special needs children.....most of them have rare, serious, even undiagnosed disorders. Many of these families have buried children. 

We decided to provide Christmas for them. Our entire Scentsy organization came together sending gift cards, presents, personal notes....all to make Christmas for these families feel over the top. 

And it was. I have never had more joy in my heart than I did they day we loaded up vehicle after vehicle with presents to be delivered. 

And we're doing it again. Hope Link {the local non-profit organization that supports families of children with rare, serious or undiagnosed disorders} has grown in the past few years. This year they decided to nominate families within their organization that would benefit from being adopted this Christmas. 

Theys agreed on 10 families. So 10 families it is. 

There have been many of you who have asked about helping this year. I can tell you that it is the greatest joy to buy for one of these families. I thought that we would be a blessing to them that 1st year, and I'm sure that we were, but the incredible joy that came from giving was unmatchable. They blessed us so much. 

So here is where you come in. We are looking for individuals, families, organizations, whomever, to partner with us to provide an incredible Christmas for 10 of our amazing Hope Link families. 

There are lots of ways you can help: 
  1. Adopt an entire family. We asked each family member to list 3 things he or she would want/need/or wear. We are hoping to fill all 3 items for all family members. If you would like to adopt an entire family, you could partner with your family, friends, co-workers, etc to provide Christmas for your family. 
  2. Adopt a person. This would entail purchasing the 3 things from one person's wish list. 
  3. Donate money or gift cards. Our ultimate goal is to provide a Visa gift card and a grocery store gift card in addition to the items requested. Anything you can give helps us make this happen. 
If you are interested in helping one of our special needs families this year, please send me an email at allisondalke@gmail.com.

Thank you in advance for giving. I promise, you'll find more joy in it than you ever could have imagined. Will you join us this year? We'd love for you to be a part of such joy. 

Another planner option and a WINNER!

Monday, November 11, 2013

You know by now that I am a planner fanatic. I tried to go electronic and did it fairly successfully for about a year. But I returned to the paper planner, and I will never be able to go back to electronic again. 

I've already reviewed 5 great planners here. And I think I will still be personally using the Whitney English Day Designer beginning January 2014. My only hangup was that this is a daily planner (and I am very accustomed to a weekly planner.) 

My sweet friend, Lacey, told me about a planner called The Russell + Hazel SmartDate System. There is a super cute stationary shop in my town that carries them, so I headed over there this weekend to check them out. 

And I like it. 

It's basically a build your planner system. There are numerous 3 ring binder options to choose from. There is a mini (which is what I went with) that is 7x9, and their signature option which is 10 3/4 by 12. I went with a charcoal mini. 

I also purchased the Mini Smartdate Month tabs, the mini Daily Planner sheets (which are not currently available online, but I think the mini Smartdate Weekly sheets would be a great option too), the Mini paper pockets, and the mini filler paper

This is a picture of another piece I purchased as well that is basically just a set of tabbed sheets (I think they are called Project Tabs). 

A picture of the daily layout. It includes time slots, a contact list, and a to do spot.

The tabs are laminated and durable.

My friend Lacey sent me a picture of her weekly layout sheet. 

One of the things I love about this planner so far is that I can add blank pages anywhere. That's already been helpful since I have been known to carry around at least 1 notebook in addition to my planner. 

So that's my latest (and possibly most favorite) planner find. 

I also want to make a note about Plum Paper planners. I know many of you have looked at and use them as an option. There are some very cool things about Plum Paper. You can choose your layout style (time slots, morning/afternoon/evening, etc). I have ordered one, but I'm not a huge fan. I can't really tell you why specifically. I think it has something to do with the binding and the paper quality. That's just my personal opinion. It may be a great option for you. 

And we have winners! 

Congratulations to Pat Lupher who won the Lily planner (which seemed to be a fan favorite based on the comments). 

Congratulations to Ed and Jill who won the Stephanie Creekmur planner

And Congratulations to tweetsycute and Meoldy Snay. You both won one of the other planners reviewed (either the Polka Dot agenda or the Draw Your Tomorrow Planner.) Since neither of your specified which planner you'd like, it will be 1st come, 1st served. Please comment below letting me know which planner you'd like. 

Once again, I sign off saying....Happy Planning! 

One more day to enter.....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hi sweet friends! 

I have so many great things in the works. Exciting things. Things I'm reading. Things I'm learning. Things I've seen, so stay tuned! 

I need to mention that I have found another fabulous planner! I have it in my possession and am currently using it. I will post pics and all the details tomorrow. 

But tonight, I'm giving you an extra day to enter to win one of the planners I reviewed here. All comments entered between now and tomorrow at noon will have a chance to win one of those fabulous planners! 

Happy Sunday! 

Wyatt's 1st Birthday Party

Saturday, November 9, 2013

So I've been flaky lately. I'll be the 1st to admit it. I know my blog header says I'll write everyday, and I haven't been. I haven't felt like it. And honestly, I've been a little uninspired. There's been too much in my head to allow me to really think and dream and plan. But since I've been off of social media for a while now, I feel different. 

I feel more like me. I feel more like a leader. I feel more motivated and focused, and I'm getting re-inspired. And it feels so good. 

I guess sometimes you just have to clear your mind of all the extra baggage to feel lighter in your soul. 

I'm narrowing my focus and re-defining. 

But I also thought you might want to see our big 1-year-old's birthday party. We held it on the night of the 1st OKC Thunder home game of the regular season, so we went with a basketball theme. 

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