Where have I been?!??! A traggically funny post.

No picture?  No.  Why?  Because...

Because something went tragically wrong at the North Pole.  Now, if you've ordered letters from North Pole Secretary, most of you will laugh because your letters are fine.  However, I anticipate that several will be annoyed at this post.  For good reason.  Please, it is only after complete anguish of soul and sorrow that I have found the humor in the North Pole Tragedy of 2009.

You see... I'ts been a week or so since I've posted.  Why?  Well, last Monday I received an email from a customer.  It seemed the letters arrived but mentioned something about her kid being in day care and calling her other child by the wrong gender.  She wondered if she had filled out the information mistakenly or if it had been a blunder on the part of the North Pole.  Gratefully, this dearheart was a blogging friend that I knew.

Upon investigating, I found that indeed the North Pole had made an error on her letter.... and about oh.... many others.  Too many.  Somehow the database for the first 60 letters was jumbled for just one field.  What's one field right?  Well, it's everything to a business.  It just so happened that the data field that got jumbled was the "Accomplishments" field.  This is the field where Santa recognizes a kiddo for the great things they did during the year (positive reinforcement by the Big Guy.).  Well, it's great to be recognized for doing good..... like, "You were such a good big sister to baby Alex this year!"  Yep, that's a great statement unless it goes to a boy... and it did.

Here are some of the whopper goofs of the North Pole Secretary Tragedy of 2009:

  • "You did such a good job going pee pee in the potty!"..... sent to an 8 year old girl (there were several of these.... bowing my head in shame.)
  • "You were so good this year and I hear you're getting the braces off your legs!".... sent to someone who has never had braces on their legs.
  • "I'm so proud that you were able to raise enough money to buy a cow for a family in Rowanda!".... poor children are wondering why they never saw the money, or the cow... where's Rowanda, they ask.
  • "You were such a good helper to mommy and were a super boy in daycare"... sent to a girl, NOT attending daycare... NOT even daycare age.
Now, somewhere out there children did hear suprisingly fantastic news:
  • "Congratulations on getting straight A's this year!  You've been a wonderful student.".... lucky kid will have explaining to do when report cards come out.
  • "You have done such an amazing job at learning your letters and numbers this year!"... 9 year old...
  • "You've done a very fine job as singing this year!"... this parent had a cover-up that perfectly meshed with the goofy letter.
  • "You have been so good in Kindergarten this year!  Your reading is amazing!".... and it ought to be because that 3 year old girl is a wonder if indeed she's reading and in Kindergarten.
So how does one go about cleaning up a disaster as large as the North Pole Tragedy of 2009?  Well, after sending an email to all of my clients (to which I only had 5 replies back.... still wondering how that happened) I reprinted the letters correctly and sent them from Arizona.  Only a few clients would have got these in time but it was worth it.  On the outside of the letter I printed a note.... 

Summary:  Oh Santa made a terrible mistake!  I am so embarrassed.  After I sent your letter I received word that all of the computers at the North Pole caught a naughty computer virus and my database that holds all of the information for my Naughty and Nice list was jumbled and tumbled upside down and inside out.  The information it showed me about the great things you did this year was all wrong!!  That's why your letter may have seemed a bit goofy.  Well, thanks to Edwin the Jr. Elf in charge of the Worldwide Database of Naughty and Nice girls and boys, all is well again here at the North Pole.  Edwin fixed the database and gave me the correct report about the great things they saw you doing in 2009.  I went back to my computer and found your letter and fixed it so you could see that we've been keeping good records and notice all the great things you do!

In addition to sending out a fixed letter we're sending out post cards to those kiddos reminding them to be good for next year.  Still, restitution is difficult and will never be able to fully fix the blunder.  I could see visions of parents having "The Talk" with their kids... I think this talk will be more difficult for me than the sex talk.  Yes, they'll explain all about Santa and if they don't, they'll be casting him into the same category as that ditzy tooth fairy who never remembers the tooth on the first night, often leaves the money and forgets the tooth all together... cuz sometimes it's impossible to find, and sometimes she just gives up and tapes the money to the kids door.  We've already had to explain to the children about what a sweet heart the tooth fairy has but that she's a little cuckoo... exchanging all of that money for gross dirty teeth.  We pity her.

Anyhoo.... a sweet letter came through a few days ago that gave me that Christmas warm feeling from head to toe.  I had to share it....
Dear Stacey (AKA SANTA), Here is a letter from one of my girls.... Dear Santa Clause, Don't be inbarased because the devil wonts you to be inbarased. thank you for righting me the letters but say thank you to Edwin the J. Elf. Thank you for reminding me of all the good things I did. Because I forgot. Now I remember. Remember to feed those raindeer that are hardly ever full. I hope you enJoy your yummy cookies and milk. I love sugar cookies and milk. (I'd put those people that gave your camputers a virise on the Bad list to)... From, E. Mom continues: I left her errors in there to show you. I hope this brightens your day just a bit more Stacey. All is not lost and she is very excited!
So, if you dear people got one of my good letters... thank you for ordering. Your business means a lot to me and my family. IF you were a client who got a goofy letter... I am so sorry and hope these steps will rectify some of the damage. If you got a goofy letter, chances are you were a parent who did a lot of explaining or quick thinking... you're AMAZING! If you didin't get a letter this year. I promise... it's worth it. I'm not a complete dunderhead and the problem is fixed and North Pole Secretary will be back again next year. I hope.

Have a fantastic Monday!


Welcoming the Holidays... a day in the life post


Sorry dear friends about the lack of posts. I'm working on getting these letters in the mail.  While searching for a post from last year, I came across this... yes, all true a year ago.  Now days you can add keeping the pyrotechnic loving teenagers from lighting everything from their socks soaked in alcohol to the tip of a sharpie.  Good luck on getting the house ready for guests! I'm thrilled to just keep mine standing.

Here's today's effort to get my house Welcome ready:
  • Early AM Wal-mart run to buy 3 new strands of lights to replace the 3 strands that blew on our tree. Yes, it's the same tree as the one in my other funny post.
  • Run 6 kids through the chore routine... hours later... I'm exhausted and thinking maybe this house will never be clean. Why do we bother with giving kids chores? They all need a play habitat to tear apart while you efficiently clean the house.
  • Hand the 10 and 12 year old lights and say, "Go decorate the front of the house... make it look nice."
  • Find 10 year old on the roof hanging lights. WHAT!!!
  • Find screen torn in room by roof... the 6 year old was caught trying to escape to help brother. WHAT!!!
  • String 5 strands of lights back on the tree... hang all the ornaments AGAIN.
  • Check on outside lights... WHAT??? They're more creative than my 33 year old brain could wrap around. Looks like Vegas meets the Griswalds.
  • Let the 12 year old lead dough ornament activity. No harm done. Plenty of ornaments since he tripled the recipe.
What do I still have to do?
  • Wipe the boogers off the wall.
  • Sanitize the bathrooms before the CDC shuts us down. (The Department of Defense is watching our house closely. They believe we've managed to cultivate our own super-germ capable of bio-warfare. Of course, we're all immune because we live with it every day.)
  • WRAP!! WHAT??? Yes, nothing is wrapped. NADA. 19 people at my house in 2 days. Gifts for all... multiple gifts. NOTHING WRAPPED! Ahhhh...
  • Clean my room... I can't find my bed, or my closet, or my dresser, or the carpet.
I won't bother you with all the other details.

Merry Christmas to all of you wonderful ladies out there! Good luck getting your lists crossed off and I'll check in soon... (as long as the CDC doesn't haul me off!)

A note: Thanks to all who bought letters, spread the word, or just plain tolerated the shameless marketing plugs.  This means so much to our family, more than you'll know and I am so grateful for my fantastic friends for spreading the word.  A special thanks to my pals Kimba and Melissa for their sweet encouragement and beyond generous support!  These girls are gems.  Someday we'll all sit down together and devour a chocolate cake in real life. Love you girls!


Sumbliminal Marketing... Last Day I promise.

I'm opting out of a real post... I think I have glue poisoning from licking all of those Santa Letter envelopes... I might go blind.  I'll need a braille machine soon.  Still not too late to order from Here. Thursday, December 10th is the LAST DAY!!
Whether Santa delivers your mail into here...

or this fancy lady here....

or this unforgettable tower here...

It will all arrive from the North Pole (with cancellation stamp), with a message from Santa about Christ and service, and be personalized to your kiddo. Check out the sample letters at NorthPoleSecretary.com
I'm printing tonight, mailing them to the North Pole tomorow.


The Doghouse... 2009

If you didn't see Part One last year... get some popcorn, this is worth a look and a laugh...

I give you Part Two.... Enjoy!

Someday, our sweet husbands will go shopping BEFORE Christmas Eve. So, I'm dying to know...... what doghouse gifts have your received?


Host a Giftwrapping Party!!

The average person spends at least 3 hours wrapping Christmas gifts per year.  That means if you have an above average size family... you probably experience numb legs, aching back and are sick of hearing Mariah Carey sing "All I Want For Christmas is YOUooo"... my least favorite tune.  Yes, after gift wrapping, all I want is an appointment with my chiropractor and massage therapist... if I had one.

A few years ago I  hosted a small gift wrapping party.  I invited a few other moms I knew who had a million children and told them to bring their spoils and wrapping and come enjoy a night of laughs, good chocolate, and decent Christmas songs.

They came.  It was a hit.  We do it every year.  One of my friends has a hubby who insists on wrapping all the presents... he LOVES it.  SO, she just brings herself and helps us dig in and get the work done!

Back to Nature Giftwrap

By the end of the evening we still need chiropractors and massages but we enjoyed the evening instead of racing the clock to Christmas morning.

It's fun to get ideas from each other.  I never used bows until Mrs. Holiday brought out her overstuffed bow box and made me tie bows all over my packages for fear my Christmas morning would look frightful instead of delightful.  She converted me... I tie bows now (at least for all of the gifts on TOP of the pile).

Doilies to the Rescue

Now I look forward to wrapping gifts and getting together with my wrapping friends.  I still manage to spend 1/3 of my time hunting for my scissors and another 1/3 of my time hunting for the tape but just when I think I'm on the brink... I have a few friends who toss me their tape and share in the laugh.

Remember to keep your wrapping party intimate unless you have a sprawling house, or no presents.  I hosted ladies who had 5+ kids each so we kept it REALLY tiny and still managed to fill a room.  Don't fret about hosting details. This kind of a party is more of a, "come as you are (in your exercise outfit), stay 'till it's finished, eat 'till your sick," kind of get together.  It by all means can be an impromptu affair!

Yes, Santa Letters are Still $6 because we have Life and 6 Kids, and Dishes, and Dog, and No Energy and are completely and utterly EXHAUSTED around here.  SO, until Mr. Pretty Organized Changes things tomorrow... the Christ Centered Letters from Santa are cheap!


Palace Hopping....Christmas Decor

In a perfect world all of our stockings are hung by December 1st.  But this isn't a perfect world... it's better... I call it the "Holiday House."  I'm friends with Mrs. Holiday and get to see her house transform from Happy Halloween to Happy Holidays... by November 1st. No Joke.  Did I mention Mrs. Holiday has 6 kiddos too?  That makes this transformation all the more miraculous.

Mrs. Holiday's tree is trimmed in traditional red, white and green colors and because I take crummier than lousy pictures, you may never see it's full splendor, or notice that she also hangs snowflakes from the ceiling all  around her tree.  It's breath-taking in real life. I'm scouring for snowflakes this week.

If you're a kid this is akin to entering wonderland.  Every horizontal and vertical space is neatly and beautifully decorated with Christmas.  My kiddo visits and then comes home and tells me we need to decorate for Christmas... even though ALL of my decorations are up.  Mrs. Holiday LOVES Christmas and honors it stylishly in her home.

Right down to the ice-skates hanging in the corner.  No detail is missed.  

She adds a touch of Christmas to the kitchen (I took a solemn oath on a plate of sugar cookies not to take a picture of her countertops... she's still a mother of 6 after all) by wrapping each cupboard door with ribbon.  I stole the idea last year and loved it!

Anything that looks like it's made by hand... probably is.  Mrs. Holiday welcomes in the season of giving by working round the clock on handmade Christmas cards, decorations, baking sugar cookies and pumpkin bread... she lets her inner elf take over.

She even changes out the wall hangings for hand painted canvas's that wish all who enter this happy home a Merry Christmas.  

Hanging snowflakes around your tree, wrapping cupboards, burning candles.... What other creative ideas do you have for decking the halls?

Thursday is the LAST DAY to order letters from Santa!!!  Prices are now $8 as soon as hubby gets around to changing them on the website today.  Maybe you could beat him to it and order them for $6!  Visit...  NorthPoleSecretary.com to order.  Check out the story NBC did on the business HERE.


Silk Stockings on your Mantle...

These are all from Frontgate.com  who boasts, "Outfitting America's Finest Homes"   I'll let you believe I have one of Americas Finest Homes... but then again, you've read my Christmas List ... I'm keep'n it real.
I have to hang 6!  My mantel almost falls every year...
2 year old loves batting at hung stockings.
Thinking of sending these to In-laws in Africa... except ooh they're like $200 EACH!!!!  I'm sure they used real zebra fur. You can have some as fabulous as these if you have some serious moola.... OR a crafty eye!
CHEAP at only $55-- I know you can do better!! How about this cutie at 100+?  They must not use hot glue to apply all that extra cute stuff! Elegant at $299!!!!  Yep, fine silk, lined with more fine silk, dripping with silky fringe... poor little worms!!  So for 6 kids, let's see... $1,800!!!.. no Christmas until they're 18?!?!?  I think the little dears would protest.Tree Skirt anyone?.... This put the silk farm out of business... $800!  Ouch... us moms can do MUCH better...There's no shame in calling all your neighbors for their 40% off coupons! Now get to that fabric store, haul out your glue guns and get to work!

What Christmas projects have you been up to your ears in?


Pretty Organizer Revealed on the 5 O'clock News... an I SPY Game

Shhhh..... they use my real name...... don't tell anyone.  If you're an axe murderer, I have 6 children; 2 of those children are teenagers and dream of the day they can put all of their "how to kill a home invader using two fingers and the right pressure points" skills to use (those skills aren't allowed in the house).   The husband, he's an Eagle Scout with 13 years of wrestling kids under his belt.  You don't want to come near our house.

Let's play I Spy....
Can you find...

  • A crock pot on my counter... oops thought I put that away.
  • A half revived, half rotting jar of cilantro on the counter.... oops thought I cleared that too.
  • Brown bananas on the counter.... yep, never got that bread going.
  • Crap all over my office file cabinet... the camera team had a gag order to not film or speak of the condition of the rest of the room.
  • A FREE tree to replace THIS ONE decorated with $15 worth of Walmart Plastic bulbs, and $6 worth of Dollar Tree stuff and tea cups and gold spoons pillaged from my china set wired to the limbs?  After 14 years of marriage this is my first matching grown up tree. Yes, the tree was my greatest joy today.
  • My second chin and the 20 lbs I THOUGHT I lost.
  • Grey hair. Um... I had to part my hair on the wrong side to avoid looking like my Grandma.
  • TALKING WITH MY EYES CLOSED!!!  Geesh, I look like a goon.  Can you tell I went to bed at 1 AM the night before?

Deadline for ordering is Dec. 10th.  We're cranking the prices up to the full $8 on Monday because I'm pooped and need to feel like I'm making a million dollars for operating on 5 hours of sleep a night.  SO, get ordering and spread the word before the weekend!  


$6 letters from the North Pole

Hey friends,
I'll be taking a little break while I have family in town and celebrate Thanksgiving. I'll also be printing off my Letters from Santa and getting them ready to mail to North Pole Alaska for the cancellation stamp. Letters go out right after Thanksgiving for an early December arrival.  I know everyone is UBER sick of me yakking on forever about these letters.  Just a few more weeks.... I promise.  Keep reading my clever reasons why you should buy... hopefully I'll convince at least 12 of you.

WHY should you buy my Santa Letters?
  • They're a fantastic read if I may boast.  Each letter is very detailed about the goings on at the North Pole.  Did you know the North Pole has a clock tower and a Sleigh Shop?  Did you know Santa's rig was being fited with the latest in GPS gadgets?  Yup. 
  • They're meaningful.  The letters include a message from Santa about why we celebrate Christmas and urge kiddos to do service to honor our Savior.  They're a great way to combine Santa with the sacredness of the season.
  • They're convincing.  Do you have a skeptic?  Are you dying to limp your little skeptic along just one more year... you may get 2 or 3 with these letters.  Older kiddos can't refute the real North Pole cancellation stamp.  Science wins out... Santa sent evidence!
  • You're giving a memory.  We only have a few years to mark this little minds up with the most wonderful, magical, memories that they will cherish forever.  A letter from Santa for a child is a memory that will last.
  • They're personal.  Every letter is unique to your kiddo.  You provide all the convincing embellishments like place Santa will be flying to, things Santa is proud your kiddo did this year, toy suggestions, pet names, friends to say hi to, siblings to serve... this letter is personal and fun to read.
  • It will make me rich. (Enter shameless plug....)  Even moms have dreams of getting out of debt. We dream of financial security, sending kids on missions or to college and we dream of heaven.... a double size laundry room. Okay, it's out of the bag, I'm not independently wealthy.  I'm not a multi-million dollar heiress to a chocolate empire... though one can dream.  Nope.  I'm a mom.  I'm a dyed in the wool, stay at home, bread bakin', clothes makin', lunch tak'n bum spank'n mother of 6 trying to eek out grocery money and next months supply of pull-up undies for my nightime bed wetter. 

If you haven't ordered Santa Letters before, this is your year!  Just try it one year.  Letters are only $6 and will continue to go up as we get into December.  Most letters out there are $10-$20... crazy!  These letters are worth keeping affordable!

HURRY and order now so you can get in on the first shipment!!! 


Christmas Pillows... out of Placemats.

I've made purses out of placemats but what about pillows? Here are a few ideas that are SIMPLE to make. And of course, they're pretty cheap! I love fabulous frugal gifts and decor!
Wouldn't these make great Hostess gifts!
Get yourself some killer looking Christmas placemats. Kohel's sells Christmas placemats (often 50% off) and they're about $3. You can also try Big Lots, Walmart, and Target.

Aproach 1- sew 2 together and stuff with polyfill. WARNING... if any of you have a sewing machine that acts like a princess and is particular... she's going to be sad about thick seams... ya may wanna stock up on sewing needles. For all you fancy machine owners... ignore me and read on. Aproach 2- Only will work if the place mat has a lining on the back that is not attached in the center. ( You can test this by holding the front and back fabric and pulling.. do they come apart? GREAT!) Cut a slit on the end of the back side lining and stuff poly fill on the inside... sew up the slit!
If you don't want to give pillows...come back tomorrow for more ideas!

Oh... Last chance to order your Letters from Santa before I mail out my first shipment after Thanksgiving!  The first shipment will arrive at your home in the beginning of December. Prices are still low but go up as we get into December. Go check out all 8 of my letters and imagine how much fun it would be for your munchkins to have grown up mail come from the REAL North Pole, Alaska!


Thanksgiving Day Helps

I love gathering with my family for Thanksgiving Day.  While I look forward to visiting with relatives and eating fantastic food there are the moments that I try to rehearse in my head.... they involve hungry children- 6 of them, a well decorated house FULL of people( the house isn't mine), and nice dinnerware.... a combination that is sure to make any mothers heart fail.  And, if the mother's heart doesn't fail, the grand-mother, great-grandmother or OCD Aunt's WILL!

So how do you get the family together, let the parents talk, watch the kids, AND keep them out of the kitchen and away from the china?  Well, if you're my family, you give up on china.  My mother informed me we were having decorated paper plates over gold chargers... problem solved for me, no breakables... problem solved for her....less dishes!

Here are a few other links for crafs and things to keep your kiddos occupied during dinner prep.
Several Thanksgiving crafts, coloring pages, puzzles ect.  at Kaboose.com
Thankful Leaf pages... let your guests write what they're thankful for! Family Fun

Photo Pilgrim Napkin rings... featuring your family!  Let you kids put them together.

What do you do to keep your chipmunks under thumb for Thanksgiving Day?


Handmade Ornaments Friday Linky Boutique

Meet my new friend Elizabeth!  She is the designer and owner of her very own unique Christmas ornament esty store called EBornaments Elizabeth is an artist, as you can tell... love her Van Goegh.  It will be so pretty with Christmas lights shining through!

See the resemblance to Van Gogh's The Stary Night

Each of her ornaments is hand painted and truly is unique.  I'm fond of this one....

and this one....

and my kiddos would LOVE the fish.

As a mom, I have made a tradition to give each of my 6 children 1 ornament each year that is unique and their very own.  I won't pretend.. it's HARD to find unique ornaments... especially ones that are reasonably priced.

Elizabeth's ornaments are beautiful AND considering you are getting a hand painted one of a kind work of art, they're a scream'n deal.  She also is spreading the crafy love and has a tutorial for you HERE

Head over and see all of her creations at her Etsy store EBornaments or at her website EBornaments.com

Or just click on her linky below!  

Christmast Shopping this weekend?  The big day is eeking closer and I know you're looking for fantastic gifts.  Link up below if you'd like to sell something (on your blog or Etsy store) and if you're shopping, go check out these crafty ladies!


Charlie Brown Meets the Grinch... My Christmas Tree

WARNING!!! This post is not for the faint of heart!  It is ugly.  Really Ugly.  IF you're looking for eye candy, scroll down a few posts, or visit my other posts... or head over to the Nester or some other first rate home decorator because... this is terrifying.  and LONG...What?  You're still reading?  You asked for it!!
No, that is not a piece of barbed wire... that is the tip of one of my Christmas tree limbs... and they ALL look that way!  Every side of this tree should go towards the wall.
This is my tree.  If it looks like it's leaning a little, that's because it is.  Severely.  I used to call this our Charlie Brown tree... now it looks more like a bunch of the Grinch's fingertips stuck together.  Doesn't it?... LOOK at it!  THIS IS AN UGLY TREE!

AND, it's balding.  It's more like a deciduous than an ever green.  It's even losing it's limbs.

Of course, that might be from the year when the mice nested in it and the hubby vowed he could fix it (I secretly prayed it would be the end) and he hosed the thing down 3 times with bleach (I thought we'd have a turquoise tree!) and let it sit WET for days... then hosed it down again... thus the rusty tips.  I TOLD YOU this would get terrifying!  Yes, we're using an old un-smellied mouse nested tree!

I'm not sure where I went wrong.  It might have been when I started the tradition of letting my kids help decorate the tree.... to make memories.  This is how they make memories.

That's an ImagiNext guy.  We have a tree full of them....

and these.......

Yes, amid all the decorations-none of which match because I thought it would be another great memory to give my kids a different ornament each year that was unique to what they did that year.- We house our own Sherwood Forest.  AND each year I unpack the tree, I find a few Merry Men hanging out in the branches that were somehow attached too well to be shaken out like the rest of their gang the year before.

Oh yes... minus the beautiful ribbon (Thank you Costco for your 4.95 per 50 yards of wired ribbon) and the tree skirt, this is it.  Wires and all.  Every year I unpack this tree cursing and whining and dreading the event.  No pre-lit here.  We do this mess ourselves.  My kids hang the ornaments (we all draw straws for the lights...  just kidding...  I do them every year- Don't you just love those cords?  This year I finally passed off the duty to my son).

 It's not a beautiful tree by any means and I can't ever justify taking $200 out of our budget to go toward a beautiful tree that opens up as easily as an umbrella... I just can't.

Each year I curse this tree, but each year it works.  The kids are STILL excited to haul it out, decorate it, redecorate it, hide their "Guys" in it and redecorate it AGAIN.  And each year as I watch them content to play with our tree I think, "I can wait another year.  They'll only want to play with the tree for a short while, then I'll be trying to keep them home during the holidays instead of out with friends."  Sometimes beauty isn't what adorns the Palace rooms but what love and joy is found within them.  This Palace has beauty, and love, in the same room as the ugly tree... and somehow that tree isn't ugly any more... it's a beautiful memory.

Stay tuned because this year I'm going to the extreme to give this tree a face lift and hopefully another year of use, I just bought 6 cans of spray paint:) I'm spraying it red.
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