The Giving Tree

Over the past few years I have followed my beautiful cousin Aubrey’s journey in finding the Spirit of Christmas through service. Her ideas have given me inspiration to create better traditions for my family during the holidays. I hope that by sharing her story, others may be uplifted and inspired, and be able to make their futures bright. Here is her story about creating the #PaxtonGivingTree in green below.

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!

   “Three years ago on Christmas day 2013, after all the presents were unwrapped and the day was coming to an end, I turned to my husband and said, “I still don’t feel like it’s Christmas.” I remember all month long waiting for the spirit of Christmas to come, and it didn’t. There wasn’t anything really different that year. Christmas was the same day it had always been. I’d listened to the same Christmas music and ate the same treats that I love, so I knew that the problem was with me.

 

It was a busy time for our family. We had just added daughter #3 to our ranks the month prior, and I’m sure I was exhausted and caught up in figuring out how to run a whole new family dynamic…let’s be honest, 3 kids is hard! But it broke my heart that, because of my attitude, I had not only taken the true meaning of the holiday away from myself, but in doing so I was doing a disservice to my children.

 

So when December 2014 rolled around I was determined to make our house feel the spirit of the holiday! And the best way that I knew how to do that was by serving others. That year a friend and I had come up with an adorable advent calendar in the shape of a tree. I called it our Paxton Giving Tree! I put a little treat and a service opportunity in each box for each day of December leading up to Christmas. My girls were so excited to have a fun new way to count down to the holiday and I was excited to get the spirit of the holiday in our home, and it WORKED! Christmas 2014 was the best Christmas that I could remember having with my little family! Not only were we thinking about and serving others, but we were EXCITED about doing it! I knew that this was the start of a very fun and exciting tradition for our family!

 

This year, as I’m sitting down and coming up with ways that my family can serve others in December, I can’t help but think back over the last two years and the many awesome experiences we’ve shared as a family.

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Doing a litter walk around the neighborhood.

I think my very favorite one came just this last summer during July. All summer long the girls had been asking to do a bake sale. I suggested that we could maybe do one, but wouldn’t it be fun if we decided that with the money we earned from it we could put toward helping out a family this coming Christmas for our Paxton Giving Tree tradition. My kids responses made me very happy! This is how it went.

 

Madison (7): But why would we need money for that?

Me: Well buying things for Christmas costs money, and there are some families that don’t have enough to get extra things at Christmas time. We could help with that.

Madison: But mom you don’t need money to have Christmas…isn’t it just about love and family? That’s the important thing.

Kennedie(5): And celebrating that Jesus was born!

Reagan(3): And Santa! (Haha we’re still working on that one)

This was the best conversation ever! It was totally a mom win moment! I’m so grateful that my kids know what Christmas is really about…even in July!

I truly feel like my kids are learning not only what the true meaning of Christmas is, but also what it means to love and serve others. It has taught them many lessons about others who are less fortunate, and they have compassion for others that I know has come as a direct blessing of our tradition.

 

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Supporting a local food drive by gathering supplies for those in need.

Like I said, this month I’m sitting down and making a list of things that we can do during our December service, but I would LOVE to hear any ideas that others may have! Please share! Also, if you want to keep posted about what my family will be doing this year, you are welcome to search the tag #paxtongivingtree on Facebook or Instagram.”

Isn’t this amazing? What a beautiful example Aubrey is to her kids about being Christlike. I love how involved her little children are in this wonderful tradition. Here are few more pictures and ideas for acts of service you could perform for your family’s giving tree.

I love this giving tree idea!What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Taking cookies and thank you notes to their primary teachers.
I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Leaving thank you notes for the mail carrier and trash collectors.
I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!
Placing quarters in all of the vending machines!

The possibilities are endless! Be Creative!

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!

For more inspiration to come closer to Christ this holiday season check out this video in preparation for the #LightTheWorld initiative.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless!

PS: If you want to check out Aubrey’s cute shop for girl’s hairbows, check her out on instagram.com @the.happy.squirrel.shop.

I love this giving tree idea! What a great way to make the holidays meaningful again!

 

Sharing Time October 2016 Printables & Resources

Song:

In preparation for the primary program, you may want to use this month to review songs that the children learned earlier in the year. Here is a list of all the songs the primary in our ward has been preparing. I included the sheet music with each of them, but I also recommend downloading the free LDS Music App so you can sing with the music instead of acapella. For your convenience I included links so you can download the Apple App or the Android App.

  •  January Song: “If I Listen with My Heart” Sheet Music
  • February Song: “I Will Follow God’s Plan” (CS, 164–65) Sheet Music
  • March Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “Stand for the Right” (CS, 159) Sheet Music
  • April Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “If the Savior Stood Beside Me Sheet Music
  • May Song:  “Praise to the Man,” verses 1 and 3 (Hymns, no. 27) Sheet Music
  • June Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “Scripture Power” Sheet Music
  • July Song:  “I Love to See the Temple” (CS, 95) Sheet Music
  • August Song:  “The Lord Gave Me a Temple” (CS, 153) Sheet Music

Scripture:

Download and print this Scripture by clicking the link below.

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sharing-time-2016-10-october-scripture-printable

Article of Faith 7:

Download and print this Article of Faith by clicking the link below.

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sharing-time-2016-10-october-article-of-faith

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Article of Faith 7 Pictograph Courtesy of A Year of FHE

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Sharing Time September 2016 Printables & Resources

Song:

In preparation of the primary program, you may want to use this month to review songs that the children learned earlier in the year. Here is a list of all the songs the primary in our ward has been preparing. I included the sheet music with each of them, but I also recommend downloading the free LDS Music App so you can sing with the music instead of a Capella. For your convenience I included links so you can download the Apple App or the Android App.

  •  January Song: “If I Listen with My Heart” Sheet Music
  • February Song: “I Will Follow God’s Plan” (CS, 164–65) Sheet Music
  • March Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “Stand for the Right” (CS, 159) Sheet Music
  • April Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “If the Savior Stood Beside Me Sheet Music
  • May Song:  “Praise to the Man,” verses 1 and 3 (Hymns, no. 27) Sheet Music
  • June Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “Scripture Power” Sheet Music
  • July Song:  “I Love to See the Temple” (CS, 95) Sheet Music
  • August Song:  “The Lord Gave Me a Temple” (CS, 153) Sheet Music

Scripture:

Download and print this Scripture by clicking the link below.

scripture

sharing-time-september-2016-scripture-printable

Article of Faith 11:

Download and print this Article of Faith by clicking the link below.

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sharing-time-september-2016-article-of-faith

aof11prev

Article of Faith 11 Pictograph Courtesy of A Year of FHE

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Sharing Time 2016- Opening Excercises Overview

At the beginning of the year my son became a member of the Sunbeams class (Children age 3-4) in Primary. Every Sunday in Primary, the children participate in opening exercises singing and reciting a certain Song, Scripture, and Article of Faith. They rotate to a new set each month. All of these can be found in the 2016 Outline for Sharing Time. I decided that I wanted to be teaching my son these things at home as well, so this became part of our bedtime routine. As the year went on, we have realized that at bedtime our kids are cranky, and we don’t get as much out of it as we want to or we just skip it all together. We are going to try doing this as a family every morning before breakfast. I think this is a great way to set the tone for the day, but it is also a great thing to leave your kids thinking about as they go to bed.  It doesn’t really matter when you do it, but the more consistently it is done, the better your kids will learn. Repetition is key to learning and memorization.

Sharing Time 2016- Songs:

Near the end of the year, the Primary Children present a Primary Program for the entire congregation sharing the songs that they learned throughout the year. Since the dates on the program vary from ward to ward, the fall semester tends to be a time to review the songs that need most attention. I like to print out the sheet music as well as play the music and sing along with the Free LDS Music App. You can download the Apple App or the Android App.  Here is a list of the Songs/Links to sheet music for the songs our Primary has learned so far this year: 

ldsmusic

 January Song: “If I Listen with My Heart” Sheet Music

February Song: “I Will Follow God’s Plan” (CS, 164–65) Sheet Music

March Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “Stand for the Right” (CS, 159) Sheet Music

April Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “If the Savior Stood Beside Me Sheet Music

May Song:  “Praise to the Man,” verses 1 and 3 (Hymns, no. 27) Sheet Music

June Song: (Song of your choice from the Children’s Songbook) “Scripture Power” Sheet Music

July Song:  “I Love to See the Temple” (CS, 95) Sheet Music

August Song:  “The Lord Gave Me a Temple” (CS, 153) Sheet Music

September-December: Review the Songs Above according to need.

Sharing Time 2016- Scriptures:

January Scripture: “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).

 February Scripture:“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

 March Scripture: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, . . . whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

April Scripture: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).

 May Scripture: “I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! ” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).

 June Scripture: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Articles of Faith 1:4). 

July Scripture: “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” paragraph 3).

 August Scripture: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? . . . The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

 September Scripture: “This gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (D&C 133:37).

 October Scripture: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

 November Scripture: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).

 December Scripture: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27)

Sharing Time 2016- Articles of Faith

I have been surprised by how well my son has been able to memorize the Articles of Faith at such a young age! He doesn’t know them all word for word yet, but he is pretty good at filling in the blanks, and I am sure it will only get better next year. There really is something to doing it every night that embeds it into their brains, its awesome.

The order of the articles of faith are not listed in the Sharing Time Outline. The order is determined by the Primary Presidency. This year some of the scriptures selected in the Sharing Time Outline were Articles of faith, so the Primary’s Presidency in our ward decided to review them according to the topic of the month. Here is the order:

January: Article of Faith 8

February: Article of Faith 2

March:Article of Faith 5

April: Article of Faith 3

May: Article of Faith 6

June:Article of Faith 4

July: Article of Faith 9

August:Article of Faith 12

September: Article of  Faith 11

October: Article of Faith 7

November: Article of Faith  1

December: Article of Faith 10

I also found a wonderful blog A Year of FHE that offers Free Printable Downloads of Article of Faith Memorization Posters. We have also enjoyed using these posters in our Family Home Evening Lessons.

Articles_Of_Faith_Posters
Click Here for the Free Downloads.

Monthly Sharing Time Printables/Resources:

Check back monthly, or subscribe for free printables and resources for the current month including:

  • Sheet Music
  • A Scripture Poster
  • An Article of Faith Poster
  • Article of Faith Pictograph courtesy of A Year of FHE

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Visiting Teaching Handouts September 2016


I made some handouts with my favorite quotes from this month’s Visiting Teaching Message  Parenthood is a Sacred Duty. I love the story in this month’s message that Robert D. Hales tells about him and his grandson.

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

This story was originally told in his talk Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation. I also found a 3 minute video on lds.org that illustrates this story. Click the link below to view this video.

Parenthood: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth Video Link

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

Videos are such great tools! I was thinking, this may be a good opener for discussion in a sister’s home where a message isn’t usually shared. Who doesn’t love a good video, especially a short, cute one like this.

Here is a handout with an encouraging quote by President Thomas S. Monson from this months message. You can pair this handout with some Hershey’s chocolate hugs.

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

Get your Free Printable Download of the following “hug” handout here.

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

Here is an idea involving another great quote by President Thomas S. Monson.

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016
What’s on the top of your To Do list?

Add a cute note pad/ to do list to the following handout. Get your Free Printable Download of this “person to be loved” handout  here.

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

I love how frank this quote is. It is a great reminder to keep your children as a top priority.

Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

I hope you found something you liked here!

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Visiting Teaching Handouts & Video! September 2016

Finding Dory Party

Finding Dory Party Spread:

We went to see Finding Dory for my son’s 4th Birthday, and decided to use it as a theme for his birthday dinner with our family. Since all the fuss was about him and his birthday, I tried to include him as much as possible in the preparations. He absolutely loved being included! I had to remind myself along the way that the main goal wasn’t to have perfect decorations, but to make sure he had fun, and that he felt special. He loved having a sense of authority, and he did an awesome job helping me out! I found many wonderful ideas on Pinterest. Checkout my Pinterest board here, and follow me on Pinterest for other fun ideas. We used these pins as inspiration for our Finding Dory Party.  Here is how it all turned out!

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

Since I have an 11 month old that likes to eat everything in sight, I decided to place my coral reef streamer up and out of her reach. Also I used yellow because that was the color we had on hand, but I was really happy with how it turned out. I traced a fish cookie cutter on blue card stock to get these cute fish shapes.

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Free Coloring Pages:

My son was super interested while I was searching Pinterest and making plans for the party, and when he saw these coloring pages, he really wanted to paint them! So I printed them out, set him up with paint, and got back to the Pinterest search. We loved how they turned out so we hung them up as part of the party decor. He was so proud to display them for everyone.

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for these free coloring pages here.

Execution:

Finding Dory Party Ideas
He used scotch tape and hung them on the wall all by himself!

Welcome Sign:

Snag the free printable download of  my Finding Dory welcome sign below.

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

Finding Dory Party Sign
Finding Dory Party Sign Free Printable Download

Free Printable Download of Dory Party Sign

Food Ideas:

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

I had planned to use the above idea to make fish shaped watermelon pieces for the party. I showed the picture to my son to let him know what we were going to be doing, and he got stuck on the star shape idea. We went with it and made both fish and starfish. He loved making these with me, and he did a really great job! It ended up being really nice to have a smaller star shape to use up the smaller scraps of watermelon. I was surprised at how much scrap we still had even after using the small stars.

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Finding Dory Party Ideas
We gathered all the scraps in a separate bowl to be enjoyed after the party. One large watermelon made one large tray of cute sea creatures and one large bowl of scraps.
Finding Dory Party Ideas
As we were using the cookie cutters to make the shapes in the watermelon, he said, “Everybody is going to love it!” He was so proud of the great job he was doing. Here he is enjoying his Fishy watermelon at the party!

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

Finding Dory Party Ideas
This kid is such a character, he can’t take a picture without making a silly face.

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

Finding Dory Party Ideas Finding Dory Party Ideas

 Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

We made purple Seaweed because my son picked purple grapes, and it was his Birthday after all. Again, the most important thing was that he was having fun, not that the fruit was the perfect color. He loved having he authority to choose the color of grapes. People ought to feel like kings and queens on their birthdays, and I think he did!

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas Click here to get the printable of these fins and tails from asthebunnyhops.com.

Execution:

I really loved this idea, but I decided to create dory’s eyes myself instead of using googly eyes. I printed them out on a word document and used a larger 1 1/2 hole punch to save time cutting. The fins and tails were quite time consuming to cut out. They were also very skinny making them hard to attach to the cup with the glue dots. In the end they were a big hit at the party so I was glad we did it. I also decided to just draw the mouths on with a permanent marker. This was mostly because I couldn’t find any black paper, but we made several different expressions, and they turned out pretty cute!

Finding Dory Party Ideas

 

Party cup Dory eyes Free Printable DownloadParyt cup Dory eyes Free Printable Download

Here is a link to the Free Printable Download of these Dory Eyes

Pinterest Inspiration:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Find the link for this inspiration here.

Execution:

I ended up forgetting about this one until after the hot dogs were cooked so I cut some up afterwards real quick. The tentacles didn’t curl up as well since I didn’t cut them before they cooked, but they were still pretty cute.

Finding Dory Party Ideas Finding Dory Party Ideas

Original Ideas:

Blank Food Labels:

At first I was going to design these with words already on them. I never got around to doing it, and in the end I was actually glad that they were blank. Once I had the food in front of me, it was nice to have blank ones so I could write in what I needed to.

Finding Dory Party Ideas Finding Dory Party Ideas

Free Downloads for Finding Dory Food Labels

Custom Drawn Napkin Holders:

We got my son some Finding Dory Stickers from the Dollar Store for his birthday, and I thought this would be a fun way to use them. He colored paper orange to be wrapped and taped around the napkins and utensils. Then he thoughtfully placed one sticker on each one. This project kept him busy for a while, and he was very proud to share these with his guests.

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Bubbles… Bubbles… My Bubbles! (From Finding Nemo)

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Fish & Chips:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Fish Out of Water Popcorn Balls:

Finding Dory Party Ideas

Finding Dory Party Ideas
My son helped me make these popcorn balls. He had so much fun, and was so proud!

I think he had a pretty great birthday over all. I am glad he was so willing to help out! I still cant believe my little guy is four! Happy Birthday Big Guy!

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2016-08-25 22.11.57

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Common Questions about Introducing Baby Food:

Introducing your child to baby food can be an exciting milestone for you and your little one. I didn’t realize how much there was to know about baby food until I was in the thick of it. I had heard all types of advice from friends, relatives, and our pediatrician. When my first child’s pediatrician gave me advice about introducing baby food, I remember feeling more overwhelmed when I left the office than when I arrived. His advise though good, was a little vague, and left me with lots of questions. His general advice was this: (My thoughts in response to his advice are in the parenthesis below.)

  • Baby can start eating baby food anywhere between 4-8 months. ( In the life of a baby, 4 months is such a long time! They develop so dramatically physically over the course of 4 months, how will I know when my baby is ready?) All kids are different. I decided to introduce baby food to both my children at 6 months respectively. While my daughter was eager, my son was not ready. I just gave it a break for a week or so until he demonstrated he was ready. Read more at “Is Your Baby Ready For Solid Foods?
  • Some foods should not be offered to baby in the first year including honey, peanuts, and cow’s milk. Other foods tend to give baby’s gas and should be avoided until their digestive tract is more developed and they can handle it better. (Is there a list of when certain foods should be introduced/foods to avoid?) See a list here of appropriate ages to introducing certain foods to your baby courtesy of Wholesomebabyfood.com.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

  • Only introduce baby to one new food at a time. Wait 4 days before introducing another new food to be certain baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction. (This makes sense, sounds good.)
  • Introduce new foods to baby in the AM rather than the PM in case of adverse reaction. This way, in the case baby has a reaction, you can resolve a bloated/gassy stomach during wake time rather than in the middle of the night. If there is a severe reaction, care can be obtained easier during the day as well. (Ahh! Severe Allergic reactions? This sounds scary!)
  • Generally people believe that baby should start off with rice cereal, however this doesn’t have to be baby’s first food. ( I am allergic to rice, and so is my brother. The pediatrician said that food allergies can be hereditary, so I think I won’t be using rice as my baby’s first food just in case he is allergic too.) Find out why “Rice cereal is a less than perfect choice...”

With all these questions/concerns bouncing around in my head, I set off to search the internet for answers. Thankfully I stumbled across a wonderful website called wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com. It has a plethora of information, including a section for common questions. I literally got lost for hours reading and gleaning information from this website. I was able to get the answers I was looking for and also received a lot of encouragement to make my own baby food. With my many questions answered, my anxiety changed to  ambition.  I wanted to make my own baby food!

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & ConsHere I am at the grocery store with my son buying a sweet potato to make his first baby food. This is not the most flattering picture of me, but it really illustrates the excitement I felt about making my own baby food for him. Unfortunately my first run with making baby food didn’t go so well. Read  about what I learned from my mistakes below.

Two Things to Keep in Mind Before You Start Making Your Own Baby Food:

  1. The right tool makes all the difference.  I set out to make my own sweet potato baby food. Unfortunately, I didn’t use an immersion blender on my first attempt. I just used a normal blender, and it was so frustrating, I felt like I blended that sweet potato forever, and it was still lumpy. I tried feeding it to my son on the day he turned 6 months, but he was not too excited about it. The texture was nowhere near the smooth texture I had seen in store bought baby food. Suddenly baby food from the store started to sound really good. Because the store bought green vegetable baby food smelled so bad, I attempted to feed it to my son only once, and after both of us were grossed out, I didn’t try again. He is about 4 years old now, and still doesn’t like green veggies. May be it is because he didn’t get much exposure to green veggies when he was little, or maybe he wouldn’t have liked it any way.  Who knows? Sorry bud! The first kid always seems to be the guinea pig.

When my second child started to get old enough to eat baby food, I decided I would try to make it myself again. This time I tried peas, and I used an immersion blender. I was blown away by how simple It was to make! Making my own baby food became a whole new experience! I wish I hadn’t given up so easily the first time around. Making the peas went so well that I tried it with carrots, green beans, corn, cauliflower, broccoli and I even attempted sweet potato again! The Immersion blender made all the difference!

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
Frozen Home Made Baby Food. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to make with an immersion blender!

Simplicity is the Key to Success: I recommend starting out with a vegetable that is easy to cook, preferably one you can steam right in the bag in the microwave. If you experience success early on, you will have the confidence later on to try making veggies that require a little more work. I didn’t realize that sweet potatoes were one of the more complicated baby foods to make since they take more work to cook/peal.

Homemade Baby Food Verses Store Bought:

Whether you choose to purchase baby food from the store, or make your own baby food at home, depends on what is important to you. Do you want convenience with a higher price tag? Do you want something cheaper and fresher but that will take a bit more time to prepare? What is important to you and your family? It may change according to certain circumstances. I have and use both homemade baby food as well as store bought baby food.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Homemade Baby Food:

Tends to be more fresh, and vibrant in color. In most cases, It is cheaper than store bought baby food. Two jars of store bought baby food will cost more than a whole bag of frozen veggies that can make several servings of baby food.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Store Bought Baby Food:

Store bought baby food is quick, easy, portable and convenient. It does however cost more than homemade baby food. I have store bought baby food packed in my daughter’s 72 hour Emergency kit. I do feed her store bought food at times, and it is comforting to know that she eats it just fine, and will have food she is familiar with in case of an emergency.

Using Both:

I am not extremely opposed to store bought baby food, in fact I have used it for both of my kids. I currently prefer using homemade baby food on a day to day use when we are at home. When we are out and about, or traveling, I  love the convenience of store bought baby food. I do not personally purchase the premade baby food with green veggies or meats, they just look unnatural and smell weird to me. Have you ever smelled them? I think they are gross! I have often wondered why the peas have a dull color in the jar when they are so vibrantly green when fresh? Something just doesn’t seem quite right about those green veggies. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of feeding my child something that made me gag just by looking at it.

I am not saying they are bad, and I do not think you are a bad mom if you use them for your kids. I just don’t personally love them, and I would be lying if I said I did. I do however love the store bought  fruit/veggie baby food pouches! Because these are so expensive, I only use them for convenience when we are out an about. If we are gone for an extended amount of time, but will have a kitchen available, I like to pack the plastic baby food jars and transfer them into my own reusable pouches to save a little money. I use the reusable pouches at home with my homemade baby food as well.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
GoGo Squeez 

If you plan to use either reusable or disposable pouches, I highly recommend getting a couple of these pouch toppers. They are soft so baby doesn’t hurt their sensitive teething gums on the hard plastic spouts that typically come on pouches. These keep eating clean as baby has to actively suck in order to make the food come out. I love that I can give my baby a food pouch with this special topper, and she can feed herself independently while I eat my own food. Sometimes it is nice to eat your own food uninterrupted.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

Reusable Pouches Pouch Toppers

I once accidentally took a bite of my baby’s food because I was distracted while feeding her from a spoon, and feeding myself soup from a spoon. Yuck! Lets face it, when you are feeding a toddler, and a baby and yourself at the same time, things can get a little crazy, so sometimes it is nice to let the baby feed themselves with a pouch. She really loves the independence too! Another handy thing we like to use is the Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder. Just toss a piece of apple, pear, banana etc inside of the mesh net and let baby go for it. With the mesh net, you don’t have to chop the food into so many tiny pieces. It is so convenient, but allows you to still use fresh food.

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

How to Make Your Own Baby Food:

Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons

  1. Start with some steamed Vegetables. I like to use the frozen vegetable packages that you can steam in the bag in the microwave. Smiths sells a variety of  Kroger brand frozen vegetables for $1.00 each. Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  2. Pour Vegetables in a small but deep bowl.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  3. Pour Breast milk, formula or water over vegetables, starting with about 2 oz, adding more depending on the desired consistency. Keep in mind that different vegetables will require various amounts of liquid. Corn, peas and cauliflower tend to be naturally more moist than carrots or sweet potatoes, and will not require as much additional liquid.
    Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & ConsBaby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  4. Blend liquid and steamed vegetables using an immersion blender. You can purchase a hand blender like this one with a bonus measuring cup that would be perfect for blending your baby food on Amazon.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  5. Once it is smooth, I like to use a cookie scoop to easily dish the baby food into an ice cube tray.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  6. Cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.

    Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
    Pictured in order from top to bottom: Peas, Carrots, Corn, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato.
  7. Once frozen, twist the Ice cube tray to pop the baby food out and store in zip locked baggies in the freezer. Side Note: I have also tried using mini muffin tins  in place of ice cube trays. This didn’t work as well as you can not easily release the frozen baby food from the muffin tin like you can by twisting the ice cube trays. In order to release them I had to thaw the frozen baby food a little by placing the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water. This allows them to melt a little so they can be released. Because they are semi thawed, they tend to stick together once they are frozen again. It works okay in a pinch but is definitely the ideal option.Baby Food-Store Bought Versus Home Made-Pros & Cons
  8.  You can easily thaw one or two at a time in the microwave
    for about 30 seconds when you are ready to serve. Always test the temperature of the baby food on your own skin before feeding to baby in order to avoid burning your baby’s mouth.

I hope you find success in making your own baby food. If you have any questions, or need encouragement, write a comment below.

Home Made Baby Food

Home Made Baby Food

Ingredients

  • Steamed/Cooked Vegetables
  • Breast milk/ Formula/ Water

Instructions

  1. Steam Vegetables.
  2. Pour Vegetables in a small but deep bowl.
  3. Pour Breast milk, formula or water over vegetables, starting with about 2 oz, adding more depending on the desired consistency. (Keep in mind that different vegetables will require various amounts of liquid. Corn, peas and cauliflower tend to be naturally moister than carrots or sweet potatoes, and will not require as much additional liquid.)
  4. Blend liquid and steamed vegetables using an immersion blender.
  5. Once smooth, use a cookie scoop to dish baby food into an ice cube tray.
  6. Cover the ice cube tray with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing.
  7. Once frozen, twist the Ice cube try to pop the baby food out and store in zip locked baggies in the freezer. Side Note: I have also tried using mini muffin tins in place of ice cube trays. This didn't work as well as you cannot easily release the frozen baby food from the muffin tin like you can by twisting the ice cube trays. In order to release them I had to thaw the frozen baby food a little by placing the muffin tin in a cookie sheet filled with warm water. This allows them to melt a little so they can be released. Because they are semi thawed, they tend to stick together once they are frozen again.
  8. You can easily thaw one or two at a time in the microwave for about 30 seconds when you are ready to serve. Always test the temperature of the baby food on your own skin before feeding to baby in order to avoid burning your baby's mouth.
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Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

  • Scroll down for the August visiting teaching handouts.
  • If you are looking for a handout for the September visiting teaching message you can check it out hereimage

The August Visiting Teaching Message  is titled Nurturing Families Together. This message has so many wonderful quotes, and inspired several handouts for your choosing. If you like these ideas, and would like an email notification when the new Visiting Teaching Handouts are available, please Subscribe! If you are viewing this on a Computer you can enter your email into the side bar, or if you are viewing on a cell phone you can access the subscribe option by tapping the pull down menu at the top of the page. Thank you for joining our community!

In this month’s message, President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said,

“The home is to be God’s laboratory of love and service,”

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click The Home is God’s Laboratory for the Free Printable Download of the above handout.

I love the story Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared about the love that his father had for his mother. I won’t spoil it, I will let you read it, but his father shows an excellent example of love and service. After such a grand sacrifice, his wife must have known without a doubt that he loved her.

Sometimes it’s a culmination of the little things that help show love towards a spouse. My husband is not fond of Country Music, but he knows that I love it. When we are in the car together, he switches the radio to the Country Station. This small gesture goes a long way, and I can feel his love as he puts my desires before his own.

When we love someone, it is natural to want to serve them, and vise versa. I find that serving others helps break down barriers and allows you to love them in a way you didn’t before. I remember camping one year, and there was an individual who offended me. After crying on my bed a little, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help me forgive him. Immediately, I remembered a General Conference talk titled Your Mission Will Change Everything by Elder David F. Evans Of the Seventy. He told a story about President Hinkley when he was on his mission and feeling discouraged. President Hinkley’s Father wrote him a letter and said,

“You want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause, and bend your efforts to helping people”

I gained my composure and set out to serve this person. He was in charge of dinner that night, so I offered my help. As I served him my heart was softened. I was able to see him in a different way. I was able to learn how much work he had put into making this event happen. I quickly realized that the words he said that had offended me previously were not a direct attack at me, but rather a result of extreme exhaustion from his lack of sleep and hard work. I was able to forgive him and gained a love toward him instead. When we give Service to someone, we naturally learn to Love them.  When we Love someone, we naturally want to give Service to them. It is a beautiful cycle.

Here is a peak of the handout using the above quote about Love and Service by Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click below for your Free Printable Download of this Handout.

Love and Service Visiting Teaching Handout.

The handout will look something like this when it is all put together.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Have your sisters combine the sprite and cranberry juice for a sweet summer refreshment.

Another quote that I loved from this months message was:

A “husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.”

This is a quote taken from The Family A Proclamation to the World, so what better way to present it than with a picture of a loving family.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

I thought it would be perfect to include a First Aid Kit or a “Love and Care” Kit with this Handout. I found a great tutorial on how to make some cute ones here at the Some of This & Some of That Blog.

Aren’t these adorable? I just love these!

For your Free Printable Download of this Handout click the link below.

VT Handout Aug 2016 Love and Care

Okay, Here is one last handout idea using the following quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson:

“Our Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other and to esteem and treat their children as an heritage from the Lord.”

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016

Click the link below for your Free Printable Download of this Handout

VT handout Aug 2016 Faithful

You could easily include either of the following candies with this handout.

Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016
Ring Pops
Visiting Teaching Handout August 2016
Hershey’s Kisses

Happy Visiting Teaching! Hope you liked these ideas!

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How to Choose the Preschool Thats Right for You and Your Child

You are Running out of time! The pressure is setting in. What are you going to do about preschool this year? July is more than half gone, and school starts back up next month! The craziest part  for me is that my son is old enough to go to preschool! He was just a baby yesterday right? Where did the time go?  I don’t want to even blink because before I know it, he will be driving a car and picking up girls for dates. For now though, he is my little ‘Big Guy’. I recently asked him if he ‘liked’ girls, and he responded, “Grandma is a girl, she is a lady!” I hope he stays in this phase for at least another 16 years! But alas, he is getting older, and he is growing up. It is time for him to start to experience new things, and grow as an individual and not just be my baby. So back on the age old question, What are we going to do for Preschool this year?

Getting Silly with preschool at home. One of the most valuable lessons mothers can teach their children is that they are important and loved.

I love doing  preschool with my son at home. He is at the age that he loves to learn, and often asks me if we can do Preschool together. I think he enjoys the one on one Quality Time we share together. My goal when we do preschool activities is to create an exciting and safe space where he can learn and gain self confidence without fear or judgment. I try to keep it fun, and if the lesson becomes frustrating for either of us, I try to change gears. At home, I want him to have good memories and feelings towards me, and towards learning. We are not very structured in our preschool at home, which can be good and bad. It is good because he has a loving environment at home to learn in, but bad because the learning is not very consistent. No matter how hard I try, we do not do preschool everyday. That being said, we will be using a hybrid method between home schooling and schooling away from home for Preschool starting this fall.

How to Choose the Preschool Thats Right for You and Your Child
Little Stars Learning Program at Hollywood Kids Academy’s Henderson Location.

He will start attending Hollywood Kids Academy “Little Stars Learning Program” for a couple of hours a few days a week. I am hoping this will help him transition easily into kindergarten next year. I feel that it will be a great way for him to gain independence and individuality. He will be able to socialize, learn, grow, and I think he will love it! I have been very impressed with this company. Hollywood Kids Academy offers more than just preschool. They offer classes in Musical Theatre, Dance, and Vocal for ages 3-19. They are now based out of 3 locations including their newest Summerlin/Southwest location at 4145 S. Grand Canyon Suite #106. My family and I have been to several performances, and are so pleased every time. Hollywood Kids Academy is a noncompetitive atmosphere where kids have a safe space to learn and gain  self confidence while developing their skills at whatever level they may be. To read more about their mission click here.

hka logo

My goal as a mother is not to raise the next Genius, Olympian, or Billionare, but to raise kids with good Character. I’m not saying that it’s not possible to do both, but rather that my focus is geared more towards instilling integrity, honesty, hard work, self discipline, charity, leadership, organization, etc. If the next generation is raised to have these characteristics, we will have a bright future. A person with character can accomplish anything! I feel that the environment at Hollywood Kids Academy will help reinforce the values that I teach my son at home. I am trying to establish a house for my family that is pleasing to the Lord as taught in Docterine and Covenants 88:119:

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

We will still continue to have our unstructured ‘learning moments’ together at home. I don’t think we will ever stop. There is so much to be learned throughout our lives. You may even be suprised at the things that your children teach you. Creating that safe space at home can make it easier to teach the hard lessons in life. My house is, and always will be, a house of learning.

2016-07-06 11.33.04

Whatever decision parent’s make regarding their children’s education whether it be public, private, charter, or home school is personal.  If homeschooling is going to stress you or your child out, or add tension to your relationship, it might not be worth it. It can be so different in each household with each child and their unique needs. This hybrid method is what we have decided is best for our son at this time. His needs may change over the years in which we will need to prayerfully adapt. We may make a different decision for our baby girl, or other children we may have in the future based on their individual needs. I hope that mothers will be blessed with inspiration on what to do for their children’s education. I hope they will have the courage to see what is best for each of their children rather than yielding to the ‘norm’. Mother’s who pray regularly with, and for their children, can receive divine guidance for their well being. As for us, we are excited for this new opportunity to grow! Best of luck to you and your little one(s)!

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