Last Friday was our first official snow day of the year and I have to say, I was as excited to hear the news as the kids were... until I realized the implications for me. My day began by digging under the (dried out, dead!) Christmas tree, in the closets, basement bins and front hall bench desperately searching for five snow jackets, five pairs of snow pants, five pairs of winter boots and ten water-proof mittens. You'd think that by January 7th, I would have located all of these items but, since we were visiting my sister in San Francisco and missed the Christmas blizzard, well, I haven't! It's daunting really, getting five tykes outfitted for a frolic in the snow. Just as it's daunting to take down our now decrepit tree and get all the Christmas decorations away. Sometimes I find it easier to ignore these types of tasks until they demand to be tackled. Like on Friday, thanks to the snow storm. Or this past weekend, when we finally had to say farewell to Christmas and all of it's merry adornments.

As much as I pride myself on being organized and buttoned-up, the missing gloves and sagging tree reminded me that there's always room for improvement and it was with this in mind that I recently read a great book full of practical, useful tips -- Pretty Neat, the buttoned-up way to get organized & let go of perfection (by Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch) is a must-read for anyone who shares my new year's ambition to be more present for my family -- to spend less time stressing the small stuff and more time enjoying the little things that really matter. Pretty Neat is full of tactics, tales and tips that will help you (and me!) to do just that.

Letting go of perfection is a theme you'll see repeated time and again in Pretty Neat; I have to say, this has always been a challenge for me and it's yet one more thing I plan to strive for in 2011. This book is full of suggestions for accepting that more often than not, pretty good is good enough. So, last weekend as I tackled the kids' snow gear and packed away the Christmas decorations, I did my best to embrace the chaos and lose my perfectionist tendencies. For example, when I only found four pairs of snow boots, I sent one little guy out to play in rain boots with two pairs of socks on... good enough! And, when I found our dog napping on the Christmas tree skirt that I had just washed and folded, well, I decided to just let him snooze and later packed it away with a bit of dog hair on it... I'm sure I can brush it off next Christmas... or, not, as the case may be!

With short chapters devoted to everyday challenges we can all relate to ("Wrangle those family schedules!"; "Temper those toy tsunamis!"), Pretty Neat is an easy read that will surely leave you with some practical ways to live a less-stressful, more buttoned up life. As for me, well, I've got to go finish packing away the last of the Christmas ornaments but I can tell you this -- unlike last year, I am NOT going to freak out if each one isn't perfectly nestled in it's own box before it's put away for next year. Come to think of it, with all of the "help" my kids have been giving me, that's never going to happen anyway! And, that's fine by me.