Tag: planning

Charlie’s Room: A Great Plan

The Jansen family down the street had a new baby. The baby was born the day after Christmas. “It’s too bad he missed all the fun,” Charlie said. “He should have come a day earlier. If your birthday is on Christmas, do you get twice as many presents?”

“I’m not sure,” Isaac said. “But that seems fair.”

“We have a present to give him now,” Marianne said. She held up a wrapped box.

“Isn’t that Christmas paper?” Charlie asked. “He missed Christmas. You need to use birthday paper.”

“It’s stripes,” Isaac pointed out. “That can be for birthdays too.”

“But it’s Christmas colors. And we used it for Christmas.”

“Red and gold aren’t just for Christmas. And they won’t know we wrapped our Christmas presents with this paper, as long as we don’t tell them.” Marianne raised an eyebrow.

“Fine.” Charlie huffed and crossed his arm. “But if he cries when he sees the present, it’s because he knows Christmas wrapping paper when he sees it.”

Marianne rolled her eyes. “He’s a baby. He doesn’t care. Let’s go.”

So they put on their coats and hats and mittens and boots. The snow was a mix of crunchy and soft, the way it gets when winter won’t make up its mind and everything thaws a bit, refreezes, new snow falls, and it starts all over. Marianne and Isaac stuck to the shoveled path, but Charlie waded through the deep snow just to the sides of the path.

The Jansens lived just around the corner. It didn’t take long to get there. It did take a while for Charlie to brush and stomp all the snow off when Mr. Jansen answered the door and invited them inside.

Charlie hurried into the living room where Mrs. Jansen was sitting in a comfortable looking chair, rocking a small bundled-up baby. Charlie put his hands behind his back and leaned in close to look. Mrs. Jansen gently positioned the baby so Charlie could see him better.

“Oh,” Charlie said softly. “He’s so little. Even his fingernails are little.”

The baby stirred and opened his eyes, just as Isaac and Marianne entered the room. Charlie turned to them with a wide grin. “Mom! Dad! Did you see the baby? He’s so small!”

The baby scrunched up his little face and began to wail. Charlie turned to look at the baby and then looked at Marianne with a frown. “Was it because he saw the present? I bet he doesn’t like it.”

Mrs. Jensen laughed. “He’s hungry.” She held the baby close as she stood up. “I need to go feed him.”

Charlie held up his hands. “But you didn’t open the present. I want to see what we got the baby.”

“I’ll open the present,” Mr. Jensen said.

Charlie turned to look at him, eyes wide with surprise. “But it’s for the baby.”

“I’ll make sure he gets it. He’s not big enough to open presents yet.” Mr. Jensen smiled at Charlie.

Marianne handed him the present. Charlie frowned, but sat on the couch without saying anything. Marianne and Isaac sat by him as Mr. Jansen sat in the comfortable chair.

He tore open the paper. Charlie leaned forward to look. “We got the baby books? Babies can’t read.”

“We’ll read them to him,” Mr. Jansen said. “Thank you for the gift.”

“Like a bedtime story? That’s good.” Charlie jumped up. “Let’s go.”

“Congratulations,” Marianne said.

“Happy new year,” Isaac added.

“Happy new baby,” Charlie said.

Mr. Jansen laughed and led them to the door. On the way home, Charlie stuck to the sidewalk. “Was I that little?”


“And you read to me when I was that little?”


“I don’t remember that.” Charlie held onto Isaac’s hand. “I don’t remember being a baby.” He walked quietly for a few steps. “Next year, will the baby be big enough to open his own presents?”


“Next year, let’s get birthday wrapping paper. And we can get the baby more books.”

Isaac squeezed his hand. “That sounds like a great plan.”

Marianne smiled back over her shoulder. “We can do that.”

Holiday Planning

The holidays are nearly here. Are you ready?

Me either.

…But, don’t worry, I have a PLAN.

Who do I need to talk to to get a few extra days before Christmas?

My Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Planning: 🎄

Prioritize: Write down what you most want to do. Can you leave anything out? Write out the steps. Can you skip any? For example, presents under a poinsettia instead of a decorated tree or only sending a few Christmas cards. 🎁

Lists: Group tasks by location–phone, computer, outside errands, etc. Schedule them into your week. 📱

Ask for help: Invite friends and family to join you in you holiday activities. You’ll get more done and have more fun!

Never again: Resolve to plan ahead next year so that the holidays are less overwhelming. 🌞

Charlie’s Room: Planning Ahead

One day, in the middle of dinner, Charlie suddenly grinned and set down his fork. “I have a great costume idea. Can we get some Miracle Grow?”

Marianne shrugged. “We have some in the shed. Did you need some extra large pumpkins or something?”

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Not that kind. I want the kind that grows hair fast. I want to grow a long beard by Halloween.”

“A beard?” Isaac chuckled. “You’re too young for a beard. Even if there was something for growing hair fast, it wouldn’t work for you.”

“I’m not a little kid.” Charlie scowled. “You always think I’m little, but I’m not.”

Marianne patted his shoulder. “Even teenagers have a hard time growing beards. You have to be a lot older than that to grow a long beard.”

Charlie slumped in his chair. “No way. There goes my great idea.” Then he sat up again, looking hopeful. “Do they make chin wigs? I could wear a chin wig.”

“A fake beard?” Marianne smiled. “They do. There’s all sorts of fake beards. What kind do you have in mind?”

“I want a long, gray beard.” Charlie sat up and pretended to run his hand through a long beard. “You know, like the time-traveling wizard in the dinosaur movie.”

“That’s a great idea. I could make you a gray robe like his, and I’ll bet your dad could help you figure out how to make a hat that would look like his.” Marianne pointed to his fork. “Keep eating. I want to work out in the garden while we still have some sunlight. You may not want giant pumpkins for your costume, but I plan on winning the neighborhood jack-o-lantern contest again this year, and home grown pumpkins are always better.”

Charlie picked up his fork. “What will you carve this year?”

“It’s a secret.”

Charlie pouted. “I’m not going to tell anyone.”

“A secret stays a secret if it never gets told. Keep eating.”

Isaac was still thinking about fake beards. “Do you think we could make one with gray yarn?”

“Make what?” Marianne looked confused. “I don’t use outside materials in my finished jack-o-lanterns, you know that. I like them traditional.”

“No, a beard.” Isaac rubbed his chin. “Wouldn’t it be fun to make our own?”

“But how would we get it to stick to my chin?” Charlie thought for a moment. “Is there wig glue?”

“I don’t know. Maybe we could attach it to your hat.”

Charlie shook his head. “Then it would come off whenever I raised my hat to all the people in dinosaur costumes. That’s part of the fun.”

“Well, we have time to figure that out,” Marianne said. “It’s a good thing we’re starting to think about this so early. You’ll have a better costume since we have time to plan.”

“We have a good start already. Maybe your mom and I should plan our costumes too.”

Marianne frowned. “But I don’t want to dress up.”

Charlie waved his hands. “Wait. We may not have time for that. We haven’t discussed the hard part of my costume.”

“The beard isn’t the hard part? I don’t think the hat will give me too much trouble. I’ll make a cardboard and wire frame and use the same cloth as the robes. Some buttons and tassels and…”

“Not the hat,” Charlie interrupted. “I think you’re forgetting the best part of the costume. We need to build a time machine. I think that’ll probably take the rest of the month, and then we’ll have to make some test runs. Probably not all the way back to visit dinosaurs at first. We can start with Atlantis or ancient Egypt.”

“You want a time machine?” Marianne laughed. “That’s even less possible than growing a beard.”

“I can help you make one out of cardboard. You can paint it out on the back patio if you put down newspapers.” Isaac smiled.

Charlie scowled. “What fun is that? A chin wig and a cardboard time machine? I won’t be a time-traveling wizard at all. Not really.”

“Halloween is about pretending. Almost none of the costumes are real. Finish eating.” Marianne pointed to his fork again. Charlie sighed and took another bite.

“It’s a good thing, you know. Think of all of those clown costumes. What if they were real clowns?” Isaac grinned. Marianne and Charlie rolled their eyes in unison.

“If you help me grow the pumpkins, I’ll let you carve your own this year,” Marianne told Charlie.


“Of course. You’re not a little kid anymore, right?”

“That’s right.” Charlie grinned, then shoved the last few bites into his mouth at once and attempted to chew while barely able to close his mouth.”

“Maybe I spoke to soon.” Marianne laughed at Charlie’s glare. “Just kidding. But next time, you should probably take smaller bites. As soon as you’re done, we can take our plates to the sink and go out to the garden.”

After they left, Isaac cleared the table. He paused at the sink to look out the window. He smiled at the sight of his little family happily working together in the garden. All was right in the world. Who needs a time machine on days like this?