I’ve wanted to read more Christmas books to my children this year. You know, the ones that have good moral lessons and touch your heart and teach you about the true meaning of Christmas. Here are a few we’ve found that do just that! Most of them you can find in a picture book format and probably at your local library.



The Three Trees retold by Angela Elwell Hunt


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


Christmas Oranges retold by Linda Bethers


The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean


God Bless Your Way: A Christmas Journey by Emily Freeman


The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Little One by Pamela C. Reid

Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Long Bostrom

Maybe you’ve read this post from almost a year ago.  I’m still working on organizing my home.  I often feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff we own (and we really don’t store tons of excess stuff), as well as the fact that we have little resources right now in this moment to organize it the way I want to.  I’ve let it keep me from doing it to the extent that I would like to.  I’ve let a lack of faith that the resources can be given to me keep me from taking action.  Am I the only one?  I’m sure I’m not.

Last month for my book group (ERSA), we read one of the books Clutter’s Last Stand or For Packrats Only by Don Aslett.  Though I don’t have the extreme clutter and hoarding problems that some people do, I do still need to do purges throughout the year.  Every time I go through and purge a room or area of my home it is so freeing!  Doing it in my yard works the same way.  It truly is a never ending task, that I am okay doing.

Now, a useful tool for tips and helps for organizing is Pinterest.  (If you want an invite, let me know.)  My organization board is found here, and some of the things are more idealistic ideas versus something that will work in my own home.   I do love having lots of ideas and options though.

Here’s some of what I’ve been doing this last year, though it is not at all inclusive. And, by the way, my living room pictured above has been moved around some since the above picture was taken, but I had to post it anyway. lol

Spaces / Rooms
Living Room

  • Go through all of my bookshelves and organize them into categories – The kids’ books won’t be done this way, but the adult ones were.
  • Decide which toys to keep and which ones to give/throw away – Done
  • Move furniture around for more ease and access – Done
  • Organize the coat closet – Done
  • Put coats away downstairs until winter – To-do

Master Bedroom

  • Clear out my bedroom of unused items and reorganize my bookshelf – Done, several times.  This one needs constant vigilance!
  • Straighten up the computer desk and file papers – Done, again and again
  • Shred unwanted documents – Done.  It took several sessions of General Conference to shred the four garbage bags worth of paper we needed shredded.
  • Update my vision board – I do this when it’s needed, though now I want something cute for my wall and not just tape and pictures.
  • Reorganize our office supply cabinet – Done.  This requires upkeep too, though not as much now.
  • Categorize files in small filing cabinet and refile everything – Need to do still
  • Reorganize the CD’s on rack – Done…and then the 4yo messes it up again, so it’s still on the To-do list.
  • Move YW stuff to YW closet at church – Done long ago.
  • Reorganize binders for: Liberty Girls, Transition to Scholar Group, Personal Progress… – Done, and I even made labels for the spines!
  • Clean off dresser – Yeah, this one is never ending.  I clean it off, and hubby or I leave things on it with good intentions to put it away later.  Take note, it never gets put away until I can’t stand it any more.
  • Repaint bedroom – This one is waiting for resources/money.
  • Clean carpet – I just need to borrow my mom’s carpet cleaner.

School Room

  • Revamp job charts – I’ve changed this to make new ones, especially since I need to add my 4yo to the list now.
  • Go through all bookshelves and organize books into categories – Hahahaha, yeah, I think I need to give this one up for now.  They already are based on religious, youth classics, finances, etc… I think I’ll leave it at that for now.  Boy was I ambitious last year!
  • Do something with the VHS movies (yes we still have some!)–get rid of them?!? – I still need to do this.
  • Transfer home movies to DVD – I’ve taken my son’s birth video and transferred it to my computer using our computer TV tuner, but the audio is terrible and very quiet.  I’m hoping a VHS/DVD Recorder will work better.  Anyone want to lend me one?  :D
  • Clean out and update our homeschool “closet” in our school room – I’ve done this a couple of times.  It’s on the To-do list once more.
  • Clean out homeschool binders and get ready for a new year – Not needed yet, but soon.
  • Get rid of filing cabinet – To-do
  • Patch walls and paint – Again, waiting for resources/money.

Kitchen

  • Purge the unused cookbooks I have/will never use – To-do
  • Wipe down cabinets – To-do
  • Reorganize kitchen cabinets – Does doing one set count?
  • Update Recipe binder and add category tabs –  To-do
  • Print out recipes from blog to put in recipe binder – Done
  • Clean kitchen ceiling – Did this just last week!  My 10yo daughter asked me why I didn’t just use the Swiffer to do it after I cleaned a portion of it by hand.  She’s a genius I tell you!
  • Update phone list
  • Update Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching lists for fridge
  • Organize magnets and papers on fridge – Done, though this needs frequent upkeep
  • Clean off top of fridge – Done
  • Get rid of excess cups – To-do. Who knew we could have so many cups?

Laundry Room

  • Reorganize and get rid of excess things that have not been used – Done
  • Clean off appliances and laundry soap shelf – Done, again and again.  It’s staying organized better with my girls’ help.
  • Move file box materials to filing cabinet under the stairs – We decided not to do this one.  We’re getting rid of the filing cabinet.
  • Find space for sleeping bags – Done
  • Get rid of boxes that are no longer used/needed – Done
  • Get rid of excess picture frames that we are not using and will not use again – To-do

Children’s Bedrooms

  • Go through clothing for correct sizes, repairs needed, and season appropriateness – Done
  • Help children purge unused/unneeded toys, papers, crafts, etc… – Working on this one
  • Reorganize closets and shelves – Need to do this in one more bedroom

Bathrooms/Hallways

  • Reorganize closet in upstairs bathroom – Done, again and again.
  • Go through medicine box and get rid of expired/no longer useful medicines – Done
  • Get rid of small postal boxes from hallway closet – Done
  • Go through cleaning supplies and store extra in food storage room – Done

Food Storage Room

  • Organize shelves – Done, again and again (bi-weekly to be exact)
  • Rotate food – Done

Under Stairs

  • Find ways to utilize wheat storage as furniture or accessories (I can’t seem to make this not sound funny, but I know what it means. lol) – To-do
  • Create reading nook with shelf for books – To-do
  • Find light(s) that work under stairs – To-do, though I think I have my solution already.
  • Move Filing Cabinet to under the stairs and put materials from Laundry room file boxes into it – We’re getting rid of it instead.

Outside

  • Organize carport shed – We’re about half way done as of Saturday!
  • Create Patio for chairs and umbrella table – We’re about 1/3 of the way done with this one
  • Create a “Back to Eden” garden – This one will take a lot more time and resources.  I’m excited to see this one come to fruition!

Projects

Sewing and Projects

  • Sew ribbons on old towels for hanging in downstairs bathroom – To-do.  I’ve done about 1/3 of what I need to do.
  • Purge unneeded fabric – Done
  • Organize fabric to keep – To-do
  • Make cover for love sac – Not doing this one.
  • Create Plaque/Visual for our Family Mission Statement I’m working on for the School Room and Living Room – To-do, though we have gone through some family exercises to get ideas
  • Repair Lightning’s dresser – We got rid of it instead, moved my 10yo upstairs with my 7yo, let the 13yo have her own room which had an area in the closet to use as a dresser, and the two boys got the older girls’ dresser.

Calendar/Schedule

  • Schedule times to make our family’s two week supply of bread (consistency is needed) – To-do.  I’m still not as consistent as I’d like to be.
  • Merge my online calendar with my physical family calendar – This happens off and on.  It’s better than it used to be though.
  • Schedule time for teaching my daughter more cooking skills – The girls have been asking for it, so it’s happening more.
  • Create babysitting information class for my girls (and friends?) – Not sure if I will do this still
  • Set aside daily personal study time for myself – I’ve been taking more time for myself, particularly in the morning.  Nice!
  • Consistently make menus for every two weeks – I have been slacking on this one lately, despite the fact that I even have a book printed out in a binder to help me.  I go through phases of doing it and not.

What are you working on (big or small) to organize your home or make your systems work better?

Recipes, recipes, recipes!  That seems to be all I post about lately.  Sorry about that!  I keep thinking that maybe this blog should be about my family and our homeschool–after all, the name does imply an education, right?  Well, here’s a little update to get started…

David has been spending time reading to the children for the past several months.  We’ve been reading the Harry Potter series and are on book seven finally.  My most interested children have been Ella (11yo) and Aurora (9yo).  Ella read ahead and finished it.  Aurora would like to finish it quickly, but she’s not ready to read it on her own yet.  So, she begs Dave to read to her.  Lightning enjoys the story most of the time, though he doesn’t care to sit and listen (even while playing legos or something quiet).  A chapter at a time seems to be his pace, but book seven just doesn’t let up much…so, we read on, and on.

Ella has read quite a few books this past year.  She started out with the Percy Jackson series and then went on to the Fablehaven series.  She’s also been reading the Leven Thumps and the Guardians of Ga’hoole series’, though she hasn’t finished those yet.  Our family has really wanted to read the Alcatraz series, so we bought the first couple.  (My husband, David, has been reading them first and laughing a lot.)  Simple as they may be, Ella still enjoys the Magic Treehouse series.  She also reads the scriptures such as the Book of Mormon (one of our canons or core books).  For Young American Stateswoman Association, she reads some of the Childhood of Famous American books as well.  It sounds like a ton of fantasy books in there, but hey, she’s reading a lot!  I used to wonder when she’d ever read on her own like she does now.  The fantasy books have spurred her desire to write her own books.  She goes to a writing group a couple times a month to write and share her work with other girls and adults interested in writing.  I’m grateful she gets the opportunities I didn’t have as a child to love to learn at her own pace and of her own choosing (with guidance from David and I, of course).  Ella still loves to draw and create things.  I haven’t posted pictures lately or updated her blog for a little while, but she has a restricted access blog for family and friends that would like to see what she’s been up to.  Just e-mail me if you’re interested or comment on this post, and I’ll send your an invite.

Aurora, my 9 year old,  is finally reading more.  Taking turns reading the scriptures during devotional has helped her with bigger words, and helped her become familiar with the language of the scriptures that used to intimidate me when I began reading the scriptures at a much older age than her.

Did you know there are natural laws governing prosperity? It’s not luck that brings you prosperity, but natural laws that do. If you follow them, you will prosper. I’d never before realized that laws like the Law of Relativity, Polarity, or “nature abhors a vacuum” governed my family’s prosperity, particularly financial prosperity. It’s been very eye opening to me to learn more about how these laws work for or against what I want in life. These natural laws affect me whether or not I believe they do. Like the Law of Gravity. It doesn’t matter if I like it or want it to affect me, it does anyway.

Did you also know that your thoughts have more of an influence on your circumstances than you realized? It’s amazing to me that the things I think about are really determining what I get in life, whether it’s money or something else. You know the saying, watch what you ask for because you just might get it? Or how about don’t tell your child to “not run” or “don’t trip” because they just might? Well, it’s so true. What we focus on comes to fruition unless we change those thoughts. It’s like planting seeds. You can plant lots of seeds and when you nourish and take care of them your plant will grow.  If you plant or allow a weed to grow, you can’t expect something better from it.  You need to rip it out of the ground to kill it and plant something better in its place.

I’m probably not making much sense, but I hope to write more about what I’m learning in order to make it more clear. It all started when I was wanting to get back on track with our finances (we were in great shape monetarily, but I wanted to keep it that way), so I was reading Janine Bolon’s blog: The Money Muse. I was exploring her related links page when I stumbled across this website: Thoughts Alive. I thought it was a strange title for a website about money, but I felt compelled to check it out. Everything I read told me I should dig deeper. The site owner, Leslie Householder, had written a few books. So, I decided to check The Jackrabbit Factor out from the library. I read nearly every one of Leslie’s pages on her website. I couldn’t get enough of it. Everything rang true to me. It made me realize that what I thought actually had a deep and lasting effect on what I was given or not given. My husband must have thought I was nuts because I couldn’t help sharing what I read. I kept talking about it for weeks.

When The Jackrabbit Factor came in for me at the library, I gobbled it up. I talked more and more about it until I finally convinced David to read it before it came due at the library. He read it quickly, and I was able to discuss it with him and get new insight from him. The book did not feel like it was enough for me. I wanted to read Leslie’s other book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help With Your Money Matters, but the library didn’t have it. I felt strongly about buying the Family Time and Money Freedom Home-study Course. I knew it was a chunk of change, but I was confident it would help us both internalize the information and apply it better, especially with my husband’s likely unemployment after Christmas and a baby due at the same time.

We prayed about the purchase and felt right about it. It arrived on my birthday, November 26th. I was so excited to open it and read it all, but alas life throws challenges. I could not look through it for a few days. David and I began reading it together. We got through the first few lessons and got stuck because so many other “things” were getting in the way of completing more. I believe it’s because we needed more time to process the lessons and internalize them before we could move on.

I wish I could say I was able to get through the lessons quickly and easily (it’s a 12 week course after all), but it took me over two years. We had challenges occur which I allowed to set me back and temporarily defeat me. The knowledge I gained from reading and listening to Leslie Householder kept coming back to my mind. I knew what she had to share was the answer to my challenges. Well, I finished the course within a month once I decided I was going to do it no matter what! I had signed up for the Thoughts Alive Mentor Training and knew I needed to complete the course before the training event. That month was not without its own challenges, but I knew what they were–tests–and I kept moving forward despite outward appearances to move into a higher plane of learning and growth…as well as graduating with Honors.

All of the information Leslie has presented has been life-changing, fascinating, and impactful. If any of this information resonates with you, I recommend you look into educating yourself!

I have been deeply touched by the story of Karsen Mery. His mother, Nicole, was my up-line for Mary Kay when I was considering selling the products myself (why I’m not is a long story that I may tell someday, but it has nothing to do with the people or company). Nicole is a doll, and so sweet! When I heard of her son being injured in a lawnmower accident I was so sad! Then when I found out the extent of his injuries, I wanted to just cry for her and her baby! Reading her updates has amazed and inspired me. Heavenly Father has truly blessed this family for good, even when it seems there wasn’t good to be had in such a situation.

My husband has been unemployed until recently, but I’ve wanted to help Nicole and her family somehow, besides prayers of course! So, I’m holding an Usborne Book eShow (online catalog party) and will give all profits to Karsen’s trust fund to help pay for surgeries and such. (It’s my understanding that Nicole and her husband both are self-employed which means they are paying out of pocket for Karsen’s medical expenses.)

Click here to start browsing or, continue reading for some of my family’s favorites from Usborne. The eShow ends October 28th!

If you know nothing about Usborne books, well, you’re in for a treat! I’ve had many books bought and used by my kids, but the Usborne books have been by far their overall favorites. The books are so colorful and fun! The illustrations are gorgeous and engaging. The books are quality made as well!

My baby adores the touch and feel books, like:



That’s Not My Bear



That’s Not My Frog



Find the Duck


Many of the baby books have “find the duck” activities on every page. In the case of the touch and feel “Not My…” series, there’s a mouse instead of a duck.

Even the phonics books have “find the duck.” They do come individually too, not just in a set!



Library Phonics Readers

My girls all love the princess, fairy, and girly books!



Fairy Cooking



Sticker Dolly Dressing Dolls



Library Fabulous Fiction Set



How to Draw Princesses and Ballerinas



Illustrated Fairy Tales



Fairy Things to Make and Do Kid Kit

My oldest son (he’s 6) loves books like:



Usborne Illustrated Stories for Boys



Big Cats, Bugs, Dinosaurs, Knights, and Whales and Dolphins



The Butterfly, 1001 Bugs to Spot, In the Pond, and Under the Ground



The Great Dinosaur Search

We love these books for our school. There are many combined volumes that save you money as well as have the references in one spot!



Illustrated Dictionary of Science

This is a combined volume, and the library binding is worth the extra money! The concepts taught in this book are easy to understand without being boring like a textbook!



Understanding Your Body



See Inside Your Body

And there aren’t just books, but kid kits to go with the books to make the book more interactive and fun:

Many of the informational books are also Internet Linked. Usborne goes through a lot of trouble to ensure that the websites they link to are safe and about the topic they are referencing.

Again, ALL PROFIT from this eShow will be donated to the Karsen Mery Trust Fund. If you’d like to read more about this amazing, strong little boy and his family, you can find updates here: http://karsenmery.blogspot.com. If you’re interested, there is a 5K run on October 24th to benefit this family as well, you can find details here: http://www.runkarsenrun.com

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You are invited to an Usborne Books eShow to explore the world of Usborne Books. A child’s interest in reading and learning is stimulated by the lavish illustrations and informative content. There are over 1300 bright, colorful and fun titles covering activities, puzzles and a wide range of subjects for children of all ages.

Now is a great time to get Christmas gifts out of the way and benefit someone else in the process! Please send this to others you know as well! All orders will be shipped to your home through Usborne–the books kids love to read!

Usborne Book eShow
Hostess: Brandi Palmer
Where:http://www.ubah.com/HOS149882
When: Today thru Wednesday, 10/28/2009 11:59:00 PM Extended to Saturday, October 31st 11:59pm!

Everyone is welcome, so invite a friend!

It’s a rewarding experience when a child opens a book and discovers the magic of reading.