Best Picture Book to Read in January!


It occurred to me, after reading this book aloud to my children a few weeks ago, why this is the best picture book to read in January. It can inspire you and your family to create your own giving chest. Here’s the full story, narrated by Dick Van Dyke:



A giving chest, as explained in the back of the book, is a place, whether it’s a box, a poster board, a piece of paper, or a Google Doc, which has your service ideas.  These ideas can be in actual object form, picture form, or just written down, to remind you want to do for service.

So in other words, it’s a service vision board! If you are like me, you see needs for service all around, and you can’t always do something about fulfilling the need right away. But you can write down what you would like to do, and dream about it, and then someday, just by writing it down and dreaming about it, and working hard, you just might attract the time and money to fulfill that need.

You just might be able to, someday, like the bearer of the giving chest in the book, match up just up the right thing with the need.

I’m totally doing this! I’m going to create a Google Doc, share it with my adult children out of the nest, and show it to my children here at home. I’ll copy and paste a few of my own service ideas and ask them to add theirs. We can talk about it often and add to it whenever we want. It will help open our eyes, our “vision” to what we can do to help people. We can use these ideas for the spiritual goals for the new Children and Youth goals program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Having this family service vision board and reading the Christmas Jar are brightening up my January already. I hope they will for you too!


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Best Chapter Book to Read and Movie to Watch in January!


I know this is a Christmas book/movie, but it should really be read and watched in January. That way, you won’t forget about it, like you might do if you read the book in December and then the hustle and bustle of Christmas chaos makes you forget about doing one. Hopefully it will inspire you to create a family tradition of your own Christmas Jar. I love this tradition because it’s something that can be worked on every day, year round, without any stress or much energy. Then giving it away in December is the crowning touch to the tradition. Because you’ve added to it through the year, you don’t have to have stress about putting together some big service or charity project in December in a short amount of time when nerves are already fried. As soon as you give it away you can start a new one. We’ve had a jar the past three years and it’s a lot of fun to watch the money grow and even more fun to to give it away anonymously.



Read the book aloud first to your family. We’ve been doing a chapter a day. They are short and sweet.

Image result for christmas jar book cover


Then go watch the movie here, for free, on


And start your own Christmas Jar! Teach your children to put 10% of what they earn in the jar, after their tithing, add your portion, and your spare change every time you come home from shopping. Then give it away and feel the joy of giving!



The movie is different from the book, but they are both great!

I’m excited to read the sequel!

Image result for christmas jar book cover

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Jesus Meets Us in our Lowest Places and Touches Us With the Master’s Hand


Did you guys see this? This week’s “Don’t Miss This” episode about the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11-15, features Lindsey Stirling! I listened to this on the way home from the temple today. Lindsay’s music at the end is such a treat!

It really got me thinking:

-When I have felt Jesus meeting me? When have you felt Jesus meeting you?

-When have you felt broken, like an old violin, but with the touch of the Master’s hand, you were able to play beautiful music?

As a bonus, here’s a great article about Lindsey that BYU Magazine did. I love that she attributes her mother for sacrificing so that Lindsey could have a violin and lessons. Would Lindsey be who she is without that?



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Come Get More Usborne Books this Thursday Jan. 23 in a Facebook Live Party!


If you have children in your life, or even just to delight your inner child, you’ve got to get your hands on these books!


I discovered Usborne books over 20 years ago and love them! These books are great for:

-inspiring a love of learning

-talking about how to deal with emotions



-teaching manners and social skills

-learning about different hobbies



-clearly understanding history, geography, science, and math because of the beautiful diagrams and pictures



-keeping small kiddos quiet in church with interactive, touchy-feely books, and amazing vehicle books that have tracks embedded in them



-giving children something to keep hands busy while you read aloud


-bestowing a love of classics and fairy tales. I have the Shakespeare one!



-building phonics decoding skills

-enjoying long car rides

-having fun!



I already have a grand collection of these great books from when I sold them years ago but I decided I wanted the art cards


and all the World War books since I’m teaching a class about them this semester. Perhaps you could use these books in your homeschool with the different topics you want to share about this semester too?

Image result for usborne books world war 1 see inside

Let me know if you want an invite by sending me an email to info (at) treeoflifemothering (dot) com.  Then I will send you the link to the Facebook Live Party on Thursday Jan. 23 at 8:30 PM Mountain Time. Happy reading and playing!


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More on the New Digital Cash Envelope System called Qube!

Hey, so it’s not too late to buy lifetime access to Qube, the new digital cash envelope app, and get a discount! The opportunity to get lifetime access to Qube for a flat fee paid up front ends March 31st!

After that you will have to pay a monthly subscription fee. Imagine if you could have bought Amazon Prime for life, or Netflix. This is the same kind of opportunity!

I’m so excited for this app to be released! It helps people to get out of debt, save for, and buy the things that really matter, ALL with the convenience of a debit card, with no chance of overspending.

Having spent  3 1/2 of the last four years getting out of debt, using cash to pay for everything at the grocery store, I am drooling at this system for you people who still have the journey of paying off debt. This system makes it easier!

So buy now because every month the price goes up…

Right now the price for the Lifetime Premium plan is $192 and will go up to $216 on Feb. 1.

Through the month of Feb. the price is $216, until March 1, when the price goes up to $240.

At the end of March, Lifetime access ends and the app will only be available for a monthly subscription fee.

You can get either the Lifetime Premium plan, which allows the app to be shared between two people in the same household, or the Lifetime Premium Family plan, which involves everything in the premium plan, plus debit cards for up to 10 kids and in-app chore tracking. The Lifetime Premium Family Plan starts at higher price of $274, then goes up to $324, then $374. See all the details here.

You can read my full description about Qube here, and watch the videos above and below. Then go here to buy and use the discount code CELESTIA25.

Qube has a blog here with some great tips on budgeting. Yeah, I know budgeting isn’t a fun word, but it does allow for a lot of fun things plus peace of mind. In the end, that is the best fun!




The app used to be called ProActive. It had a few problems so those are being fixed and the new version will be released this spring with the new name of Qube.  here’s a video with the founder, Ryan, showing how it works.



As he says, Qube will require you to think before you spend, but give you the convenience of using a debit card. You can’t overspend with the system, and transactions are faster with a card. The best of both worlds! You can see your whole budget on your phone, spend with a card, and have the app keep track of it all, ultimately buying what matters most.





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My Sister Has a Blog! Here are Some of Her Favorite Picture Books



Note: I started this blog post last September and stuck it in my drafts folder. I’m finally publishing it in January. Such is my life these days!

The past month (September 2019) has been a bit hectic what with our homeschool fall rhythm starting up again. What did that all entail? Let’s see…coming up with a new presentation for a homeschool moms’ retreat, after I planned a different one, mentoring a weekly class for young scholars at my commonwealth school (LEMI’s Sword Project), meetings for my church position, and driving to football practice and seminary, twice every day, 20 minutes one way, every weekday. Also martial arts lessons for one child three times a week. All of that on top of homeschooling and keeping some semblance of homemaking, and an exercise and self-care routine. The casualties? I spaced a dental appointment for one child, a funeral/life celebration for a friend’s mother, and I haven’t been able to blog much. Sob!

Can we just go back to summer? Sigh.




My heart just yearns to share everything I’m seeing and enjoying and loving, right on this blog. Alas, time just doesn’t permit me to do that. (I made some yummy peach ice cream, celebrated my 28th wedding anniversary, cured myself with homeopathy, found a local homeschooling friend to do Julie Bogert’s Poetry Teatime with (herbal tea, of course. See video below on how to do it)



and created a fantastic sugar-free gluten-free carrot cake I hope to share soon. So much delight! )




One thing I’ve been really aching to blog about is picture books for hanging onto summer, #notbacktoschool, especially ones about the ocean. Especially since school for us started in August (!) when sane people outside of Arizona are still having summer vacations, which I want to be doing too. While on vacation in Utah in July, I listened to this podcast episode by Sarah Mackenzie. Maine features prominently in it.



So that made me think of my little sister, Emily, and her lovely artistic life in Maine with her husband and six children. She came to our parents’ cabin where I was staying in July the very next day after I listened to the podcast. So of course I told her about it. (I blogged about her moving to Maine here.) It turns out, one of the books Sarah mentioned in the podcast, about Maine, Hello Lighthouse, was there in the cabin during my stay. Turns out it is one of my sister’s favorite picture books! The copy she gave to my mom for mom’s birthday was there among my mom’s book collection at the cabin.




These pics in this blog post are ones that Emily snapped of my daughter’s trip to the beach three years ago, before said daughter got married. They are from a time when my daughter visited her aunt, uncle and cousins in Maine. It all looks so dreamy doesn’t it?


Now, instead of sharing books about hanging onto summer, I can blog about my sister’s announcement that she is launching her own blog!


IMG_3984 (1).JPG

Back in the days when I used a NoJo padded sling. My husband was a great sport in using it too! I loved wearing a denim nursing dress from Motherwear, with different vests i bought at thrift stores.


You can visit it here! She is an amazing artist and illustrator with several professional works to her credit, including a book about Isaac Newton published by CarolRhoda Books. She graduated from BYU with a bachelor of fine arts degree in illustration. The picture above is of my husband, my parents and baby with her at her BYU graduation. Now that baby is 21, so this must have happened 20 years ago!



Over 14 years ago she started her break from illustrating in favor of full-time mothering of her six babies. Now that the youngest is 6, she is getting back to her art. She has a few blog posts so far. One is about picture books related to Maine, and the other is about the power of books and stories in her life, called Choose Your Weapons, I Choose Picture Books! So cute! The post includes a bunch of pictures I had never seen before, like the one where she is zonked out on a chair in our early 80s-decorated family room after a tiring round of reading and creating her own books. I also love the post she did for January of books and movies for goal-setters.  Enjoy!

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New Insights from Lehi’s Tree of Life Vision


Wow, if you think you know everything there is to know about Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life you have got to watch the above video! I love the insights I got from watching it. The vision is depicted in the video below.



My whole blog here is named after Lehi’s vision so of course I am emotionally attached to it.

This vision means so much to me. I love it!

I also love that after all these times I’ve read it, I can still find new meaning in it. I hope you all watch the two videos above and read the passage (1 Nephi 8) and find your own new meanings.

One super fascinating thing, which caused me to write my book,  is that the tree of life motif reappears all through sacred literature, such as:

-Lehi’s Vision, as a symbol of Jesus Christ

-Alma’s tree of testimony in Alma 32

-family trees

-the Bible (such in Genesis, Psalms, and Revelations)

-Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 135

and in many more places! I’m sure you can think of more. If you can’t, you can read my book here to find all the places I’ve found.

Since I wrote the book, I’ve found even more places where the tree motif shows up.

When I studied Revelations last month for Come, Follow Me, I looked up the word for “tree” in the Hebrew language as I studied John the Revelator’s vision in Revelations, which involves a tree. Guess what I found? The Hebrew word for tree is “עץ” which is pronounced “ets.”

That word involves the Hebrew letters “ayin” and “tzaddik.” Those letters symbolize the “eye/vision” (ayin) and “trail/guide/ or righteous one” (tzaddik).

So a tree involves having an eye/vision and being a righteous guide. In other words, a tree is involved with vision, righteousness, and guiding.  Isn’t that interesting?

Why is that so?

The tree symbol is truly something sacred, something that is repeated over and over in the Creator’s plans, in His visions for us, and in His creations, to teach us of His ways.

I also love that Emily Freeman and David Butler, featured in the video at the very top, have new conversation cards to expand you and your family’s study from the Come, Follow Me Study Guide.

You can get them here from their newsletter archive of “Don’t Miss This.” Scroll down the page and click on “Download Take 5.”

They call them “Take 5” cards because they involve 5 things:

  • 5 minutes with your family gathered around, ideally at a mealtime
  • Read a verse
  • Ask a question
  • Have a discussion
  • Give a challenge

I love it!

Use them at dinner time or anytime you can catch your family together. The thought of printing, cutting out, and storing cards makes me cringe right now with so much on my plate. So I will be downloading these into my Google drive to find on my phone. Then I will ask the questions and write down my family’s answers in my family notebook dedicated to our answers for Come, Follow Me Discussions.


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