A Family Circus Christmas

Isn't that just the best Christmas comic ever? Mostly because it's so true. Kids can picture baby Jesus so much better than God. And baby Jesus is much less intimidating too. I just love this comic strip!

Have a happy holiday everyone!

A Quest for Organization One Room at a Time

I'm totally not a homeschooler, but I love this comic!!!

This is the first week of winter break. Which means I don't have to do preschool drop-off & pick-up, no running this or that to the elementary school, no after school car pool. All of these things that interrupt my day every few hours have gone Poof! What will I do with all this uninterrupted time (minus the four kids tugging on me, asking when lunch is, if they can watch tv, or call a friend).

My goal is to start organizing the spaces in my house that are driving me NUTS!

The first room to get tackled is my bedroom.

But wait! I can't even just say "I'm going to clean my room." Cause it's such a huge mess, it needs to be broken down even more than that. You see, my bedroom is the catch-all spot for everything - laundry that needs folded or put away, kids art projects, boxes of cub scout stuff, clothes to go to Good Will . . . and the list goes on and on.

So my goal is to begin with my walk-in closet - which I'd love to be able to actually walk into without stuff packed everywhere, making me feel claustrophic. Hopefully, I'll get that cleaned out and organized in one day.

Hopefully. We'll see. When it does get done, I'll move on to step #2 - my half of the bedroom. If I still have time after that . . . well, we'll just see. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. If I put too much on my to-do list, then I'll be disappointed when I don't get it all checked off. But for now, I'm happy to get into the cleaning mode.

UPDATE: I actually got my closet and half of the room cleaned Monday and Tuesday. I'm so totally shocked! It took all day both days to get them done, but my room is mostly happy again. Now I'm just waiting for hubby to get his side of the room done. What's next on my list? To organize my desk & kitchen pantry, some general cleaning (the bathrooms - oh the horror!) and a little holiday baking. YEAH!

What's Your 2012 Book Reading Goal?

Books rule the roost at my house. Picture books, middle grade, YA, gobs of fiction, and yes, there's non-fiction in there too. Our family loves it all.

Between judging for the Whitney Awards, editing manuscripts, reviewing books and devouring novels for my own enjoyment, I know I read A LOT. But I've never tracked HOW MUCH. But Book Chick City has inspired me . . .

Book Chick City's goal is to read 100 books in 2012. She hasn't quite reached her goal for 2011 yet - she's on book #79 right now. But hey, she has winter break to catch up. If she reads like me, I bet she can totally do it!

She's also hosting a reading challenge. In 2011, she had over 630 people participate. How fun is that? I've decided to join her 2012 challenge.

Will I reach 100 books?

Maybe. I guess we'll see!

Who wants to join me?

Join Me Saturday Morning for an iWriteNetwork Interview

Wow! It's been a crazy week. But the awesome news is today is the last day of school for my munchkins. YEAH!!! No more alarm clocks for 2 1/2 weeks.  It's going to be wintery, heavenly bliss.

As a fun kick-off to Winter Break, I was invited for a blog talk radio interview by iWriteNetwork. I'm so excited! They asked me to talk about how authors can efficiently market their books through both social media and live events. It's going to be awesome, my friends! So please join us Saturday morning at 10 am (Central Time). For information about how to join the conversation, click here.

Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!

Call for Stories about Relief Society & a Book Winner

My awesome writer friend, JoLyn Brown, has a book titled Circle of Sisters which is being compiled for her publisher. Here's a bit more about her project:

Since starting this project, I have been amazed at how much clearer the purpose of Relief Society Organization has become to me. As I searched my own life for experiences that changed me, I have seen how even in times when I thought I was giving the service, I received so much in return. It seems our lives are interconnected, with each person's story overlapping and reaching into another's. Our power to make a difference is remarkable and with the Lord's help, we can each experience first hand what it feels like to be a part of something incredible.

When we reach out to fulfill our roles in this organization we are changed and we change others. Hopefully as we share our experiences we will find another circle of sisters that will be changed by hearing our stories. Perhaps they will be reminded of a time in their own lives when something similar happened to them. Perhaps they will feel a new desire to keep going when it gets hard.

I hope you've been thinking about your own experiences with Relief Society. They don't have to be obvious miracles (though those would be great too,) but think about those times in your life when a kind word came at the right moment, when a prayer was answered by a friendly face, or when you were able to see clearer for a service you gave. The greatest miracles are often the simple things, each leading to another in a chain reaction. The Lord himself has told us many times that by small means, he will bring about great things.

Click here to go to the submission guidelines and share your story. The deadline is January 14th, 2012.

Faithful, Fit & Fabulous Book Winner

I'm so grateful for Random.org because there is no way I could ever pick a winner for my giveaways!  =)  Today's winner of the awesome book, Faithful, Fit, and Fabulous is . . .

Lynn Parsons!

Lynn, please email me your snail mail address and I'll get it sent out to you right away.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous, awesome day!

Say Yes to the Dress

My daughter, MJ, and I recently discovered Say Yes to the Dress on Netflix. Since then, we've watched a couple episodes each day together. We've worked our way through seasons 1 & 2 and are a few episodes into season 3. It's been fun to watch the different experiences as brides shop for their wedding gowns . . . and it's brought up a lot of great conversations about dating, getting married, and modesty.

The store that hosts the show - Kleinfelds in Manhattan, NY - is one of the largest bridal salons in the world. Most of the dresses they carry are strapless - hence the talks about modesty. Especially when dresses by Pnina Tornai are being tried on and touted as "sexy". In truth, they are trashy and horrific! Manolo wrote an excellent blog post about why he dislikes the Pnina Tornai dresses and was totally spot on when he said they were "a stripperesque vulgarity rarely witnessed in the world of bridal couture." Really, ladies, save the sexy stuff for the honeymoon. You don't need to look like you're standing on the corner waiting for your next customer as you walk down the aisle. Sheesh!

For the most part, the dresses that are shown are absolutely gorgeous. MJ and I talk about all the different styles, what we like, and what types of gowns look better on the brides. Totally fun!

Of course, all this bridal stuff prompted MJ to ask if she could try on my wedding dress. So Sunday evening, my hubby pulled out my wedding bin. MJ was so, so excited to see my gown. She stood on a folding chair - cause I was much taller than my almost 11-year-old chickie - and slipped the gown over her head. Her face was pure radiance!

We got the dress all adjusted and when I zipped her up, I discovered that my wedding gown was the perfect fit around her waist.

Then I spent about two minutes reminiscing my once-upon-a-time, teeny, tiny waist. Sigh. I would much rather have my four munchkins, but occasionally I miss all the cute clothes I used to be able to wear. C'est la vie.

We pulled out my huge, long, long veil.

 Then my wedding bouquet.

 And voila! My sweet pre-teen daughter . . . 

Isn't she just such a cutie?

So here's my question for y'all. What do you do to teach your daughters about weddings and marriage?

What to Read Next?

Winter Break is approaching. At our house, it means we'll play lots of board games, put together some puzzles, watch movies and most importantly - read, read, read.

I usually have a big stack of books all ready to dive into by now. But I've been so crazy with life and other things, that I find myself unprepared. So here I am, asking my readers for suggestions.

I love to read books that are either funny, have a romance element, or the characters and plot are the kind you just can't put down because they're so incredible. Authors I love - Carly Phillips, Ally Carter, Elana Johnson, Richelle Mead, Melanie Jacobson, Heather Justesen . . . and the list goes on and on and on. I think the common thread here is the romance. But honestly, I love discovering new authors with a unique voice, awesome characters, and stories I don't want to walk away from.

What book would you recommend for my Winter Break reading list?

Faithful, Fit & Fabulous . . . and a Book Giveaway!

Filled with humor and "I can relate" life experiences, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous is the ideal 8-week life boost that will refresh any woman's life. Create a personal and effective life plan, and learn how to readily apply it in your busy daily life. Establish holy habits, feel fit and fabulous, and get organized. Just one goal a week for eight weeks--simple and fun. 

 Every once in a while, a book comes into your life at just the moment you need it most. Faithful, Fit & Fabulous is like that for me. These last few months I've felt unbalanced in every aspect of my life - spiritually, work, family, personally. It all went out of whack and I've struggled to get things back on track.

On a visit to my publisher, I found Faithful, Fit, and Fabulous by Connie E. Sokol. The timing was at the beginning of the tailspin out of control. I was excited to find it, but then was so busy it ended up sitting on my desk. Have you ever done that before? Knowing that something that can help you is within your reach, but watch as it sits aside while you continue on your current path? Yeah, not the most brilliant moment for me.

Then I was asked to participate in the blog tour - which meant I had to make the time to read the witty bits of wisdom inside. And wow, has it ever made such a difference in my life just this past week alone!

The author starts off with a basic preview of her program - to take 8 weeks and improve a different section of your life each week, by creating doable goals. She recommends not choosing goals that you have to do every single day, rather creating goals to do 2-5 times and will be completed in one week. There are only two sections she recommends doing at the very beginning of the program. They are the Holy Habits (spiritual goals) and Create a Life Plan (which she calls a blueprint to help clarify, focus, and live your ideal life). After these two sections - which take a week each - you can skip to any chapter of the book depending on what area you are most interested in improving. They include:

  • Discover Joy in Womanhood
  • Feel Fit and Fabulous
  • Find Balance in Motherhood
  • Get Organized!
  • Create Healthy Connections
  • Establish Financial Peace and Prosperity
One of the things I really like is the author doesn't ask you set typical goals. Instead of saying "read your scriptures each day," her suggestion is to create a Scripture Sanctuary somewhere in your house. I love that! Each section ends with a few suggestions. I've found that they helped me think outside of the box and create goals that are really for me, rather than something "experts" say I should do. 

There are bonus chapters called Back to Basics with ideas to continue using this 8 week program throughout your life. The author also has an awesome website with even more ideas and printable goal charts, etc. Go check it out! It's filled with fabulousness! (Note: If you're searching for the printable charts to go with the book, they were a bit difficult to find. Go to the FAQ tab and that's where the download link is.)

To read a preview of Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, click here.

Win a Copy of Faithful. Fit, and Fabulous!

Earlier in this post, I mentioned I had already purchased a copy of this book before being asked to review it. I now have 2 copies of this awesome book, so I'm going to share the Faithful, Fit, and Fabulous love. Entering is simple - "Like" my Queen of the Clan FB page & leave a thoughtful comment on this post. Be sure your contact info is available either on your Blogger profile or is in the comment trail. A winner will be randomly chosen on Monday Dec. 12th.