11/29/10

A Mom's Letter to Me about convincing her "doubter."

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. Friday, December 10th is the LAST DAY!!  Your letters help me to wrap up Christmas for my kiddos and I know they'll help make Christmas special for your kiddos too.  


Check out what one mom said about the letter she sent her kids from Santa...
I've had the North Pole Secretary send my kids letters for the past 2 years now. The first year, my skeptic 8 year old looked at the return address on the envelope for probably 2 minutes straight. You could see the "wheels turning in his head" as he finally had to admit that Santa had indeed sent him a letter. At that time, my 6 year old was ecstatic that Santa sent him a letter and even more excited to find out what Santa might bring him! Last year we wrote to Santa to let him know we were okay with a few less toys so he could give them to other kids who needed them more. They were touched that Santa would acknowledge their kindness.
These letters have helped my older children hang on to the magic a little longer, my younger children glow with excitement - and reminded all of them that Christ is the real reason for this joyous holiday.
Heidi B.

Whether Santa delivers your mail into here...

or this fancy lady 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.  Due to the amount of families with tight funds, we have made Family Letters this year to reduce your cost.  Just $18 to include everyone in one letter WITH a pat on the back from Santa for a family accomplishment!
I'm printing tonight, mailing them to the North Pole tomorrow and every Monday until they're out!

11/23/10

Teaching your Kids to Serve


As Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approach, there are many opportunities to involve our kiddos in one of the greatest life teaching experiences available: Service.  Somehow, our children transform when they are serving... and so do we.  Whether you host a car wash to raise money for a needy family, mow a neighbors lawn or offer to babysit for free so a couple you know can enjoy a much needed night out... the act of serving softens hearts and creates relief for those you've served and gratitude, empathy, love and family unity for the ones who offer service.  True service is born of love and enlarges the capacity of those who give to give more the next time.
This little punk-a-noodle is mine. She's 4.  She worries about how much milk is in HER glass, who's playing with HER doll, and why the gift we brought to her friend's birthday party isn't going home with HER.  As a family we have enjoyed small moments of serving together and as a parent I LOVE watching the transformation in my children.  We clean the church together on Saturday.... on Sunday they treat the church with more respect.  We babysit for a family who has kids with special needs... my kids take pride in teaching those kids all of the things they're good at and together all the children feel love and are unified.  We make cookies for a neighbor who's struggling.... we watch with excitement and love when those neighbors smile and know we love them.
What I have learned from giving service:
  • We love those we serve... if we didn't before, we do after we truly serve them.
  • My capacity to accomplish MANY things increases when I serve.  Somehow everything gets done.  There's always time to do something for someone in need.
  • My children feel better about themselves.
  • My children are grateful, excited to serve again, and truly happy.
  • We all have SOMETHING to give.  
WARNING:: Sometimes it is necessary to receive service... graciously.  PLEASE, when someone wants to serve you, let them!  Perhaps you could fold those clothes all by yourself or would get around to mowing your lawn but it's OKAY to allow others a chance to serve and love you... and it's okay to feel relief that a little burden has been lightened.  Just consider how good YOU feel when you give service and allow others the opportunity to bless you!
What opportunities are you taking to teach your kids service?  Do you have traditions this time of year that help you focus on service and the spirit of Thanksgiving or Christmas?  



11/22/10

Kids Activities for Thanksgiving Day

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.


Time to Get Ready for Christmas.  Order a Letter from the North Pole... Only 18 days left.  

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

11/19/10

Getting your kids to Write Letters To Santa... with a reply!

Just had a friend send me the letters her kids wrote to Santa.  I'm going to put them in with the letters she bought for her kids with a note from Santa to put them in their scrapbooks.  Santa will also scrawl a few comments on their lists!   If you want to buy letters and send me your kiddos Christmas lists or letters to Santa, Message me or leave a comment and I'll give you my address.  (No axe murderers or crazy people please.)

Visit my website to order the letters.  If you want to send me all your kiddos Christmas lists and just purchase a Family letter (a cheaper option for large families) I'm happy to send your kiddos lists back in the envelope postmarked from the North Pole.  What will your children think!?!?!?  So much fun!

Don't forget to put RR (Reeces Rainbow) in the PROMO code area to dedicate your funds to little Jaysons adoption expense fund! 

Only accepting orders until Dec. 10th.  Hurry and order now while you have the change in your pockets (think Black Friday) and cross one thing off your list. TRUST ME, this will be something your kids will LOVE.  It's an amazing magical memory. Visit NorthPoleSecretary.com

11/16/10

The Angel Tree... Christmas with Reeces Rainbow

This is Jayson.  I love him.  I've never met him and if I didn't already have 6 punk-a-noodles, I'd be on a plane to get him!     I'm so excited to tell you about our Christmas Angel Fund Drive.

North Pole Secretary will be raising funds for Reece's Rainbow ,
a non-profit agency that helps fund adoption expenses for children with Down syndrome

35% OF ALL SALES
WITH THE PROMO CODE: RR
WILL GO STRAIGHT TO
JAYSONS ADOPTION GRANT.
Individual letters are $8
A letter to your family is $18

The letters are very detailed and are personalized for your kiddo/family and come postmarked from the real North Pole, Alaska. All letters also recognize your child for an accomplishment this year and talk about the Savior,serving and the true meaning of Christmas.

THE STORY

Shawnie has 4 children with Down Syndrome.  3 of them she birthed on her own (Braxton returned to Heaven after a year), and the fourth is a cutie she adopted from Serbia.   Shawnie and I share a love no a PASSION for adoption.  After going through the adoption process, your heart is forever empathetic to parents who are searching for their children and the struggles (financial, emotional, etc.) that they go through to get their kiddos. Shawnie is even more empathetic to parents lookng for children with Down Syndrome.  I love Shawnie.

My friend Shawnie introduced me to an organization called Reeces Rainbow.  This non-profit helps to provide adoption grants to parents for orphan children with Down Syndrome.  These darling children are waiting for families and find them quicker when their adoption expenses are paid down.

You may know that I run NorthPoleSecretary to help pay down the adotion debt I incurred with my 2 girls. That's a whopping $50K price tag.  Jayson's adoption will cost $25K.   Well, we've been very blessed by the kindness of others over the years to have our wonderful girsl.  We wanted to find a way to give back and help with those outrageous fees and help Jayson find a family even faster.

I hope you will consider purchasing a letter for you kiddos.  I'd love to see Jayson's adoption fund beefed up for those future parents who are looking for their boy and who may just need to have a little relief in the pocket book. 

This is such a fun memory for your kiddos. This is also a fun way to keep kids on their toes through December... parents tell me that their kids were extra good because they got an early letter and knew Santa was watching them! I have clients who order this as a tradition every year!

Last day to order is Dec. 10th.

Letters will begin to be sent out right after Thanksgiving for a Pre-Christmas delivery!

Please visit the website www.NorthPoleSecretary.com to order and pay with debit/credit through PayPal. ON THE ORDERING PAGE THERE IS A PLACE FOR A PROMO CODE. PLEASE ENTER RR SO WE CAN RAISE LOTS FOR THE ANGEL TREE FUND!!!


through Dec. 10th.

11/13/10

Organizing BEFORE the Holiday Rush.

Photo Credit: BHG.Com
This is the week of goal setting and New Year's resolutions. Before I get caught up in a never ending list of lofty goals, I like to tackle a few easy projects that I know I can finish before January even begins. Here's a few ideas to help spring you into your organization frenzy!
Clean out that make-up surplus.

Time to get rid of the excess. If you're like me, you have your staple eye-liner, shadow, and blush. I try new things but always manage to revert back to my staples. Well, why keep it if you don't use it. Throw out anything you haven't worn in the last 2 weeks (okay, maybe 3 weeks if you count Christmas week).

This includes the gajillion bottles of nail polish you bought for special occasions that aren't that special anymore and are half used up. I have 3 basic colors... done.


Clean out your lingerie drawers.

Nylons with runs, socks without matches, panties that don't fit anymore... even when you suck in... bra's that you don't use... you get the idea. Why keep more in that drawer to search through? Less is more (calming). Simplify.

Inventory your first aid and medicine supplies.

If you like me, you have 6 kids all of whom have got ill while you're on vacation, necessitating another purchase of ibuprofen or allergy medicine. (Okay, maybe you only have half as many kids but they always get sick when you're on vacation!) The result is a collection of half used medicines.

Take inventory. Can you combine 2 of the same kinds of medicine and toss a bottle? Are there a few past expirations? Are you keeping empty packages of band aids (my kids raid the stash but never toss the box or tell me we're out.) or holding onto prescriptions that you haven't used since your last childbirth? Make room for the new year and de-clutter the first aid box.
Toss the junk in your junk drawer.

If you haven't used it in a reasonable amount of time... it really IS junk! Toss the odds and ends, the broken whatchamacallit you meant to glue ages ago, and feel your guilt flee! You can organize it in pretty organizers later... just pare down the clutter.

Photo credit:Martha Stewart.com

Weed out your closet.
Photo courtesy of Lane Bryant/Closet Maid

It doesn't take a great deal of effort to say, "No, I haven't worn that for 2 years." Don't bother organizing the closet. Just get rid of the clothes that you don't regularly use. This is a great liberation ladies. I'm queen of this. After 6 kiddos, I have clothes in EVERY size. Literally. Fat clothes, not-so-fat clothes, pretty much happy with this size clothes, wish I were that size clothes, and I remember when I was THAT size clothes. They're officially gone. Simplified! Now my closet is really ready to tackle when the real organization bug hits in January!

What are your organizing projects for the new year?

11/11/10

Paying for Christmas on a Shoestring Budget


With Christmas just around the corner and many families feeling the nations "econcomic slump" first hand, I would just bet my box of Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds that a few mothers out there are trying to plan Christmas on a shoestring budget.  There may even be a few of you mothers (and I'll include myself) who are trying to make Christmas do on a dental floss budget.  Whichever category you belong to, the task seems overwhelming.

With 6 kids, a mom who stays at home, and a hubby who makes "just enough" Christmas has ALWAYS been done on a shoestring budget.  I thought I'd put together a few of the things that have kept us on track financially and kept the cost of Christmas down:

DON'T START THE CIRCUS
If you have one or two little kiddos, brace yourself.  Too often Christmas becomes a givefest to a 1 year old (or 2 or 3).  Young mommies are super fun and soooo excited to let their kiddos experience Christmas (as is EVERY other grandma and auntie) that they over gift a kid.... only to find that the child is more interested in the box the toy came in than the toy itself.  Begin with moderation... don't set out to make it look like Santa came in and spilled his sack.

NO CREDIT CARDS
My husband and I decided early on that we would not put Christmas on our credit cards.  It was never THAT important to us.  Ideally, we've been able to dedicate a portion of one of his extra pay checks to Christmas (... not this year) and use ONLY what we set aside.  Credit cards let us fool ourselves into thinking we can give a gift that really.... we have no business giving because we can't afford it! 

SET 2 LIMITS
2 limits?  Yes.    First, you must set a dollar amount for Christmas and what the breakdown will be for each person.  Second, I set a gift quantity.  Because I have 6 kids, I want to make sure they open an equal amount of gifts.  So, my bigger kids get a larger amount and my little kids get less.  My 3 year old will be getting 1 $25 dollar gift with dollar store items while my 14 year old will get a more pricey gift.  As a matter of principle, I rarely go over $100 for any one child.... this year it will be FAR FAR less.  Larger gifts are given to the family.  Some families do a Victorian Christmas: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. 4 simple gifts.

WEIGH NEED vs. WANT
Typically, my kids get 1 or 2 things they want and the rest are things like socks, new school shirts, underwear, and a gift certificate dedicated for items like shoes with a "special day" out with me to find the items.  I use Christmas as a time when I can catch up with providing the needs to the family and let it count for Christmas.  My kids don't know any different because that's what I've always done.  Again, don't start the circus.

HAVE KIDS PRICE OUT THEIR CHRISTMAS LIST
Every year I have my kids make out their Christmas list. Of course my kids ask for things like laptops and cell phones (are any of us immune?) but they also list things they need.  They show me the list then I say, "Wow, that's a great list!  Could you please look these up online and write next to them how much they cost so I will know?"  They return and I let them total what their wishes would cost... $2500 later, they understand how crazy the requests are ( times 6) and they give me their top 3 of the list- one of wich is the realistic #1 wish.

GIVE THEM A JAR OF PICKLES
Every year my kids put down a few crazy things on the list....  2 years ago my 6 year old wanted his own jar of pickles. Done.  Easy gift!  My 14 year old asks for his own bag of Andes mints EVERY YEAR!  Done!  Two years ago he wanted his own pound of bacon that he didn't have to share.  DONE!  Over the years we've given favorite cereal, boxes of gum, bags of chips, cans of hot cocoa... you get the idea.  Our kids LOVE having a favorite item they don't have to share (6 kids... remember?  A pound of bacon means 2 slices per person)  Every day items that are treats are FUN to get.  So, don't hold back, go ahead and give your kid a box of twinkies!

GIVE USED GIFTS
I used to think this was a tacky shameful strategy until one year we HAD to do it.  I try to buy new shiny gifts but if I know my kids wants a fabulous do it all MP3 player that I can get for WAY less on Craigslist, I'll do it.  Often times, that is the deal breaker for them even getting the gift because we could not afford such a luxury otherwise.  My teenagers are totally fine with this now.  Learn how to dust things off, clean things out, and shine and repair used items to regift.  Toddlers and children DON'T CARE.  How many of us have walked into a thrift store and had our kids begging for some gosh aweful, ugly, dirty used toy? Plenty.  Trust me, they don't judge you like you judge yourself.  It's okay.

TRADE TOYS WITH A FRIEND
Last year I gave a few of my kid's toys to a friend who was going to wrap them up for her kids.  Some people have SO many toys, their kids can't play with all of them.  Before you take your things to a thrift store, see if you can trade them with your friend! 

USE YOUR KOHLS CASH
I love getting Kohl's $10 cash cards in the mail.  I head right over, but a $12 pair of jeans for my kids and feel like I robbed the store!  It's great for a shoestring budget.

GIVE CASH OR GIFTCARDS
$50 cash card in a teenagers pocket is just as exciting as a $200 gift that you give.  Really, teens just want the experience of buying thier own "stuff" and going out with friends.  My kids think $50 is $500.  They dream and conspire about what they can get for days, even weeks!  If your kid thinks $50 is chump change, time to change your ways. 

FORGIVE YOURSELF... BE HONEST

Moms, the worst enemy to the Christmas budget is ourselves.  We want to make Christmas perfect, we want to give our kids what our friends are giving theirs.  Stop.  What you give is enough.  There is no rule about giving more than the last year, or making sure they HAVE to have a cell phone when they're a certain age.  You are NOT worth less if you give less.  Some years are more frugal than others and that's okay.  Let it be okay.

REMEMBER WHAT CHRISTMAS IS REALLY ABOUT
Gifts are secondary.  Focus on Christ and His gift.  Make this holiday about the birth of the Savior.

Santa Letters Onsale Through TOMORROW.... $6 for each kid or $12 for a letter to your family!  Prices go up on the 14th!  This is how I'm beefing up my shoestring budget.

11/10/10

Nature Vs. Nurture

I'm convinced that there are two types of people: Those who are compelled to clean up messes due to a genetic composition completely foreign to me (and they ENJOY this.  It makes them feel good!) ; and those who compel themselves to keep up with those kind of people... I am the latter type.

I was not born a fanatic housekeeper.  My mother was.  My mom rose at 4:30 or 5am, laundry was folded and done, dinner in the crockpot and bread made before any child stepped foot out of bed.  The woman was a homemaking machine, although, I admit, I never saw her sleep.


I on the other hand, was born her genetic opposite.  I was the arch rival to my mothers clean system... go ahead and ask her how many milk glasses I had next to my bed (which, my sweet hubby now patiently deals with... some things never change.)  I loved a clean room.  I loved the feeling of no clutter and the smell of baked bread.  When I married, I was completely baffled as to how all of these things got done in a home.
Now after nearly 14 years of marriage I get it.  I get that I wasn't born with the genetic clean freak gene.... even though I wish I were.   I battle my disability daily... I have had to be nurtured (by my sweet mother) over the years on how to get it all done.  It is possible... I'm living proof!
This week I'll be sharing a few of the tricks that have not come natural to me but that have been nurtured by me to help make my homemaking effective.  I am not perfect, but I have an absolute love for homemaking and a conviction that there is no other role on earth I could do that would bring me more joy than this... even if it means I'm fighting a genetic flaw and feel like a 3 legged greyhound in a high stakes race!

How has homemaking come to you?  Are you a natural homemaker or one who's nurturing her homemaking skills?

11/8/10

Introducing Africa to My French Provincial Style


I love these Pictures.



They were sent to me from my In- Laws who I LOVE DEARLY!

They're in Uganda, Africa and will be for 2 more years... *Sniff, blot eyes* I miss them.




Last year they sent me a Christmas Card made of finely cut grass and leaves glued together to make a nativity scene. I {heart} these pictures!








I asked my mom to send me more so I could hang them up... we have a couple of beautiful brown daughters in our house and I wanted something that reflected that on my walls.



I was trying to figure out how to put this ensemble together with what I had: 2 shadowbox frames, one black frame... I decided to glue a cheap dollar store frame ON TOP of the glass of the black frame. You're right, it's not straight- I don't care. It took me forever to center it this well.



Ta-da!- A year round nativity of African art in my very girly office (which is such a mess from writing Santa's letters (and other things) that it's not able to be photographed.

11/4/10

Simple Decor Facelifts and a Giveaway!


"Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without."   My sweet husband lives by this motto! Before I go shopping for home decor items, I rifle through the garage, closets and look at all the things I could "repurpose" into something fabulous. Here are a few inexpensive decorating ideas from www.pointclickhome.com. With a little extra imagination, you could use these ideas to spruce up your holiday decor without spending much... How fun would it be to have a Christams lampshade!... Start warming that glue gun ladies!


Grab that dusty lampshade, vacuum it and then decorate it with ribbon. If you're super cheap like me, you can even spray paint the thing first (I paint everything) then attack it with ribbon. If you get sick of the ribbon, pop it off and change it out. Try making a side table Christmas lamp.

I have baskets all over my house... most don't have labels. Use that cute craft paper, print labels and frame them. Attach the frames to your baskets- Wal-mart and Goodwill have great finds.


This one is pretty eco- friendly. Paint dry twiggs (Ooo... Red for the holidays!) and arrange and glue gun them over a thrift store mirror. Ta-Da! What else do you have that you could paint and glue to a mirror? 

::Want to win Letters from Santa for your kiddos?::  Leave reply and spread the word on you blog.  I'll be visiting blogs below and will choose to feature the most creative post on my blog Monday.  If your post wins, ALL letters for the kiddos will be free!! -- even if you're the Duggars:)
Happy posting!

11/3/10

Christ-centered Letters from Santa... a Christmas Tradition.


If you think Christ Centered Santa Letters are a good idea, please share them with your friends! 
Some of you already know that I do Santa Letters this time of year. I'm sending out the information to kick off our 38 day business season and announce our sale. Please feel free to email, facebook, blog, text, twitter, tweet, squawk, quack or hollar the info below to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, blog followers, email groups and community sites that you feel would be interested! Any help is sincerely appreciated. Pleae forgive if this should visit you again on Facebook.
Merry Christmas!
Pretty Organizer ... AKA, North Pole Secretary

----------
Spread the News
Pass this offer along 
to all your family and friends!!!

All letters From Santa are 
on sale 
through November 13th 
at Rock Bottom Prices!

Personalized Individual Letters: 
Only $6 (Regularly $8)

Personalized Family Letters: 
Only $12 (Regularly $18)

North Pole Secretary will be partnering with several non-profit groups and organizations the week of November 15th. 35% of all sales will go to the designated nonprofit group. If you would like your group to participate, please email us at NorthPoleSecretary@cox.net

11/2/10

Wetting your Christmas Whistles...


Is it too early?  Na, I haven't posted for nearly a year and admittedly, Christmas is on the brain.  I even told my 6 chill'ns that we were pulling out the tree.




"WHY?" the 12 year old son says.  "WHY?!?!"  I say, "So I don't have to do it in December!"  



So, yes, I'll be pulling out the garland... and the tree... but no ornaments.  I'll be decorating a Fall tree.  (But I'll secretly be thinking of Christmas).

And why am I thinking of Christmas?  Well.... I'll tell you tomorrow! 

 Yes, I'm back posting my friends, at least for a season.  Have a wonderful day!
Photo Credits: PotteryBarn.com
 
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