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 November 2016 Printables and Resources

November is upon us! I cannot believe how fast October flew by! Between Preparing for our ward’s primary program and preparing for Halloween, October was gone in a blink! Here are some new printables to help your little ones memorize the scripture and article of faith for this month. Repetition is key, and having it printed out makes it so easy to review these every day! I am constantly amazed at how well my 4 year old son is able to memorize these when we practice them consistently. Kids are never too young to be nourished by the good word of God! Enjoy!

Scripture:

Download and print this Scripture by clicking the link below.

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Article of Faith 1:

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

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Pictograph Poster of Article of Faith 1:

Download and print this poster from A Year of FHE by clicking the link below.

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Article of Faith 1 Pictograph Courtesy of A Year of FHE.

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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.

untitled

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

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Article of Faith 11 Pictograph Courtesy of A Year of FHE

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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.

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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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A Day in the Life of a Stay at Home Mom

Is anyone else having trouble catching up after the holiday weekend? I tell you what, today has been rough. We usually put the kids to bed at 7:00 pm, but we all stayed up way too late last night doing fireworks for the 4th of July. It didn’t get dark outside till about 8:30 pm so by the time we got started with fire works, it was already an hour and a half past our kid’s bedtime. It was so much fun, but we have definitely been paying for it today. Tired kids really means, cranky, irrational, emotional kids.

As I sit down at the end of the day to write this, I take in a deep breath and sip my lemon water. Now that the kids are both asleep, it is time to unwind from the chaos that was my life today. I am not complaining, because I truly love my job as a Stay at Home Mom. I am telling this story because I want you to know that I am human. I make mistakes, lose my patience, get behind on housework, and let my kids watch TV etc. Hopefully as you read this you will be able to relate.

Let me take you through a day in the life of a stay at home mom:

The baby is crying, It’s morning already? Wow I am tired! I better go nurse her. I’m going to run to the restroom real quick first. Oh good, Anthony (my husband) is going to get her. Hopefully he was quick enough and her crying didn’t wake up her big brother. I rock her back and forth as she nurses. I hope she goes back to sleep, I am still exhausted. I’ll just close my eyes for a minute while she eats. Zzzzzz…..

Now she is done nursing and bright and smiling! It doesn’t look like she will go back to sleep, but how could I not love that face?

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Wait, is my shirt wet? Oh man! I’ll change her diaper then put her in bed with Anthony while I change my shirt. Awe they look so cute cuddling over there in the bed. I want to cuddle too! I hear footsteps! Sounds like big brother is awake. Anthony gets up with the kids and takes them downstairs and lets me lay down for a little longer. I have the best husband! Maybe I will just check Instagram for a minute and post some cute pictures from yesterday. Wow look at the time! It has already been a half hour! Ooops, I better get dressed and get things rolling.

Where are all my clothes? I have nothing to wear! I need to work out more and get this baby weight off. I feel like nothing fits anymore! Maybe I just need to do some laundry, I know some of my clothes fit. How can there be more laundry to do when I already have three clean baskets of laundry waiting to be folded at the side of the bed? Oh well, I will just get another load started real quick, then get dressed.

Wait, there’s a bunch of dirty clothes in our suitcase from this weekend. I better unpack so that I can get those clothes in the laundry too. Oh and there is laundry in the kids rooms, and some on the stairs.

Okay all the laundry is gathered from all parts of the house, and is now sorted. I’m all ready to start a load. Is there still laundry in the dryer? How did I forget about that? Okay its in a basket, headed to join the other three baskets of clean laundry. Wait, the laundry basket wont fit next to the others until I clean up all these empty water bottles on the floor. I better gather those and toss them in the trash. Okay, now the trash is overflowing. I might as well take out all of the trash upstairs.

I hear my husband say that the oatmeal is ready. Eeeek! “Okay I will be down in a minute!” I have the best husband. I don’t know how I would have gotten all this done without his help with the kids and breakfast. I better gather the trash quickly and get dressed. There’s some yoga pants I just unpacked from the suitcase, I will just throw those on. A mom bun is going to have to do today. Thank goodness for my Creaseless Hair Ties.

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Okay, time for some breakfast after I take the trash to the dumpster.

“You even fed the baby? I love you! Thanks honey! Thanks for making me breakfast too! I’ve got the kids now so you can go get ready for work. Thanks for all your help.”

Wow our floor is dirty! I better sweep and mop in between bites so that the baby doesn’t eat everything that is on the floor.

Why is it such a fight to get toddlers to eat? “Please eat three more bites before you clear your bowl.”He gets up an walks away.”Please don’t leave the table until you are done eating.”

The baby starts whining. “Sorry baby girl, I am almost done mopping, then you can get down from your highchair and explore.”

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The toddler eats his food. “Good job! You took three more bites! What a good eater!”

The baby whines some more “Oh don’t cry, I am almost done I promise! Here are some yogurt puffs to eat while you are waiting. I love you!”

“Thank you for taking your bowl to the sink! What an obedient boy!” I say with a crazy smile as he tracks oatmeal across the freshly mopped floor from the table to the sink. Sometimes it is more work to have him help out, but I know it is good for him, so I’ll just smile through it so he can’t see my frustration. Sometimes we just have to laugh so we don’t cry.

“Mom, can I watch a show?”

“If you unload the kid dishes from the dishwasher and get dressed for the day, you can watch one show, then we are going to do an activity!”

“Sorry sweet girl, I will get you out of your highchair as soon as I get this oatmeal cleaned up!”

Okay, the floor is finally clean. “Do you want on the floor to explore, or are you too cranky now? Why don’t you come cuddle with my while I search online for an activity for your brother.”

“Mom can I watch a show now?”

“Yes! You did such a good job with the dishes and getting dressed! “His shirt is on backwards, but I don’t care, cause he is so proud of himself for getting dressed on his own.

“Okay baby girl, you are getting tired, let me print this out real quick before we put you down for a nap, I don’t want the printer waking you up.”

“Okay bud, I am going to go upstairs to feed the baby and put her down for a nap. You can watch one more episode and then we will do an activity when I come back down.”

The washer is done running. I better forward the laundry real quick so I don’t disturb her while she is sleeping.

Finally nursing and cuddling. This is the best! I wish I could just rock you all day. “Sorry It has been such a crazy morning, lets cuddle for a while and sing some songs while you fall asleep.”

“Okay bud, the baby is asleep, lets do an activity. Today we are going to learn about the months of the year, and the days of the week etc. Once he had heard enough, I set him up with some crayons. “Okay here is a coloring page for the month of July for you to color While I do the dishes.”

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“Mom I am hungry!”

“Okay, why don’t you finish your drawing while I finish loading the dishes, then we can make some lunch together.” He breaks down crying irrationally. “I don’t want lunch, I want a snack!”

“Sorry honey, It is about time for lunch, so we aren’t going to have a snack. Why don’t you put away your crayons, and then we can make some lunch together.” He calms down and cleans up. We make and eat lunch with out much fuss.

“Mom, what is after lunch? “Things are going pretty smoothly now, maybe we can do another project together before the baby wakes up. He had so much fun counting down for the 4th of July with our Scripture Straw Rocket Activity. I bet he would love to make a paper chain to count down to his birthday next month. I could have him paint some paper for the chain.  “After you clear your plate, maybe we can paint!”

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Click here to read more about this activity.

“Okay, I am done!” He clears his plate and helps me get the paint all set up. We decide to use celery pieces as stamps for the paint. He is having such a good time. I feel like a good mom, we are having some good quality time.

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“Mom, can I use my hands to paint?” “Ummm, are you done with the celery? You wont be able to use the celery very well after you us your hands because the paint might get mixed together.” “I’m done with the celery.” He starts mixing all the colors together with his hands and putting finger prints and hand prints on his papers. He is having such a good time.

“Mom, I want more paint.” “You already have a lot of paint, just use what you have.” Then the crying began. “Mom, it is too hard!” Trying to understand what a tired toddler wants is one of the hardest things. Emotions are exaggerated and it’s hard for them to communicate what they want. I finally figure out. He wants to separate the colors from each other again so he can stamp with the celery again, but it is “too hard”. It’s a hard lesson to learn. “The colors won’t separate once they are mixed. I don’t want to get any more paint out when you already have so much on your plate. You can either use the paint you have, or we can be all done.” After a complete meltdown, he decides to do some more finger painting with the remaining paint. Just as he is about to finish the baby wakes up.

What a tender mercy that she slept through all of that. “Okay, lets wash up real quick so we can go get baby sister.” We wash up and get her out of her bed. “Oh wait, you can’t cuddle her yet, you need to take off your paint shirt so you don’t get her dirty!” Another melt down… five minutes later I have forwarded the laundry and his paint shirt is in the wash with some other clothes. I pick up the baby again and she has blown out! Wow! Now both kids are crying! I feel like crying too! I think it is time for some more cartoons while we all calm down.

After she has been changed and nursed, we get some good cuddles and playing in. I cannot believe how brave she is getting. She is using everything in sight to stand up, and starting to let go! She is having a good time so I let her play independently while I finish our every dollar budget for July and pay some bills.

My husband gets home from work and plays with the kids while I finish up the budget. It is 5:00 already? Time to get dinner going! What should we have for dinner? We have no bread or milk. I really need to go grocery shopping. I will have to go tomorrow. There is no more time today. We have some over ripe bananas, peanut butter and eggs. Lets make some Gluten Free Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes and turkey bacon.”Where is my big helper? Lets make pancakes!”

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Thats right, there was only one fried egg. We all shared it. I really needed to go to the grocery store!

Dad finishes loading the dishes that I never got back to, and my son and I make dinner. Sweet baby girl just bounces away in her jumper watching us work. On crazy days like today, it sure is nice to all come together for dinner.

After dinner we all work together to make my son’s birthday countdown chain. It really is nice to spend time together as a family every night before the kids go to bed.

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Then it’s up the stairs for family prayer. Time for bed! What a day! I have a billion baskets of laundry waiting to be folded, but I think I will just work on the blog to help me unwind.

A day in the life of a stay at home mom. The most monotonous, peaceful, chaotic, loving, frustrating, fun, boring, yet exciting day all in one. All this and we didn’t even leave the house! At least I get to do my work with the people I love most. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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Visiting Teaching Handout July 2016

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

image

Here is a link to the Visiting Teaching Message for July 2016: Our Potential for Parenthood. I had way too much fun with it, so I came up with a couple of different handouts. I think it is important to Pray and Ponder over your sisters, and what they might need to hear from you this month. It might be good to focus on different parts of the lesson for each sister you visit.

I first read this message about a week ago, and I have been pondering and praying over it ever since. This particular message has pulled at my heartstrings. It quotes Elder Neil L. Anderson’s talk Children from the October 2011 General Conference. A few months after my Husband and I celebrated our 1st Anniversary, I remember listening to this talk live. It played a big role in our decision to have our first child. I love this talk. I highly recommend you read it. There are a lot of great stories and quotes in it.  In his talk he said:

Many voices in the world today marginalize the importance of having children or suggest delaying or limiting children in a family. My daughters recently referred me to a blog written by a Christian mother (not of our faith) with five children. She commented: “[Growing] up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood. … Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.” She then adds: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”7

Isnt that a great quote? I just love it! Hence, this handout was born. Plus, aren’t Lemons just perfectly Summery?

Visiting Teaching Handout.

The above quote that Elder Neil L. Anderson referred to in this talk is found in an article titled Motherhood is a Calling by Rachel Jankovic from the Blog DesiringGod.org. This is also a fantastic read.

Click Here for your Free Printable Download of this ‘Squeeze” Handout.

Ideas to Supplement this Handout:

oil vile
1. Add a doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil Sample to this Handout.
  • Not sure what Lemon Essential Oil is good for? Click here to find out.
  • Want to obtain some for your sisters? Go here to purchase from my friend and neighbor.
Visiting Teaching Handout Ideas
This is how my final product turned out.
This is a great paper cutter for making crafts.
I bought this EK Tools 1/2 inch Circle Punch to get the perfect sized hole for the sample lemon oil, and to make sure my Handouts were cut perfectly straight I used my new Paper Trimmer. It is always exciting to get a package in the mail, and I was so happy I had the right tools to make this project look so nice!
Visiting Teaching Hand out Ideas-lemon squeezer
2. Another Idea is to add a Lemon Squeezer like this one.
Yummy lemonade for my visiting teaching lesson.
3. Or you could add some Lemonade. Yum!

 

Being Sensitive:

Not all sisters have “Picture Perfect” families as mentioned in  Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me April 2016 General Conference.

God loves children. He loves all children. The Savior said, “Suffer [the] little children … to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”1

Children today find themselves in many different and complex family configurations.

For example, today, twice as many children in the United States are living with only one parent than were 50 years ago.2 And there are many families that are less unified in their love of God and willingness to keep His commandments.

In this increasing spiritual commotion, the restored gospel will continue to carry the standard, the ideal, the pattern of the Lord.

In the Visiting Teaching Message it says:

Though not all of us become parents in this life, we can nurture children of every age. We enjoy the blessings of being part of Heavenly Father’s family, and we experience the joys and challenges of being part of an earthly family. And for many, parenthood awaits them in the eternities ahead.

Some sisters haven’t been blessed with children yet. Some have lost children. Some have children far away at college, or on missions, and some may be estranged from their children. I believe that knowing and loving your sisters can help you magnify your calling as a visiting teacher. One of the best ways I have found to do this is to pray for them. You can ask Heavenly Father to help you see them like He does. Perhaps you will be prompted to refocus your lesson on the fact that we are Heavenly Father’s Children and He loves us very much.

I taught Sunbeams last Sunday and the lesson was I belong to a family.  It says:

Heavenly Father and Jesus love every family

Show picture 1-7, A Loving Family. Explain that some families have a mother and a father, and some families have only one parent. Some families have a grandparent or other person helping to take care of the children. Some families have many children, while other families have one child or no children. Help the children understand that every family is different and Heavenly Father and Jesus love every family.

I love that even the lesson for the 3-4 year old sunbeams emphasizes the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus have for every family no matter their circumstance. Isn’t it cool that the lessons in all 3 meetings seem to have related themes? Last week in Sacrament meeting one of the talks was based on Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk from the April 2016 General Conference that I mentioned earlier in this post. I thought they correlated perfectly. I think there is some divine guidance there. In the July Visiting Teaching Message it says:

“It was essential that God’s spirit children have mortal birth and an opportunity to progress toward eternal life,” taught Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “In light of the ultimate purpose of the great plan of happiness, I believe that the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity.”1

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For your Free Printable Treasures Quote Handout click here.

We are Heavenly Father’s Children. We are His treasures!

Make some Hidden Treasure Cookies for your sisters and give them this recipe card.2016-06-26 08.42.18

For your Free Printable Download of the Hidden Treasure Cookies Recipe Card click Here.

Chocolate Caramel Hidden Teasure Cookies. Yum!
Don’t these Hidden Treasure Cookies make your mouth water?
Visiting Teaching treat!
Don’t have time to make cookies? Attach your Treasure quote to some chocolate gold coins.

I hope you find some ideas here that you can use. You can customize your handouts to meet your sisters needs. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I know He can help you to see them like He does, like Children of God. We are children of the King of Kings. Now that really is a treasure.

Hidden Treasure Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24+ 2 inch cookies

Hidden Treasure Cookies

Delicious Chocolate Cookies with a Surprise Caramel Center.

Ingredients

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • Rolos

Instructions

  1. Combine cake mix, oil and eggs.
  2. Form cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  3. Hide unwrapped Rolos inside of each dough ball.
  4. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Yummly Rich Recipes
http://www.happyhousewifeblog.com/visiting-teaching-handout-july-2016/

To check out the handouts for the August Visiting Teaching Message click hereVisiting teaching handouts August 2016

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How to Watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

⇓⇓⇓Updated information in RED below.⇓⇓⇓

When I found out that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood would only be available on Netflix until July 1, 2016 I was so sad! I know it may sound silly, but Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has sentimental value to my family! It really is a part of our lives and a part of our hearts! Season 2 came to Netflix at just the right time! Episodes 1: The Tiger Family Grows and 2: The Baby is Here were just what we needed to help our son adjust to his new baby sister. Throughout the pregnancy we watched the episodes and talked about the changes that were about to happen in our family. I had a Scheduled C-Section planned so the day that we were going to go into the hospital to have the baby, we watched these episodes together. He even got his new baby sister a present and painted her a picture just like Daniel Tiger did for baby Margaret. When ever my daughter touches my son’s hand he says, “Look mom! She is holding my paw, just like Daniel Tiger!”

Help your toddler be excited about the new baby in the family by having them pick out a gift for the baby.
My son holding his present for his new baby sister while he watched Daniel Tiger on the day she was born.
Painting a picture for his new baby sister helped my toddler adjust to this change in our family. Daniel Tiger made a picture for his baby sister too!
Here he is painting a picture for her. I love how he sticks his tongue out when he is concentrating.
Siblings, and best friends meeting for the first time. Doesn't get cuter than that!
This was when he first met her at the hospital.
"She is holding my 'paw' just like Daniel Tiger!"
My mom helping him hold his sister. He was holding her “paw.”

Aside from our emotional connection with this great show, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood teaches kids how to deal with everyday situations. The cute jingles in this show create a fun environment that kids respond well to. We sing at least one if not more every day! Some of our favorite jingles are:

  • One more time and then we’re done.
  • That was fun and now we’re done.
  • Stop and listen to stay safe.
  • While you wait, you can play, sing or imagine anything.
  • Use your words, use your words.
  • When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four. 1-2-3-4.
  • When you got to go potty, Stop, and go right away.
  • Flush, and wash and be on your way.
  • You can be a big helper in your family.
  • When you’re sick, rest is best, rest is best.
  • You gotta try new foods ’cause they might taste good.
  • Grown ups come back.
  • Thank you, for everything you do!

Somehow when you sing these jingles, amazing things happen! It can turn sticky situations into a game. It is like magic, really! We love the show. It will be really sad to see Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood leave Netflix. So When I found out, I thought, “Where else can I watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?” Here is what I found out:

I did the research so you don't have to. Find out where you can watch Daniel Tiger now that it has been removed from Netflix.

  1.  I searched on Amazon Prime Video, and sure enough it is there, but it is only available till June 30, 2016 so that doesn’t do us much good. This morning my friend let me know that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is still available on Amazon Prime Video! When I checked a few days ago it said Seasons 1-5 were included with my prime membership until June 30. While this was true, it was a little misleading. I thought that this meant that Danel Tiger would no longer be available after June 30.⇓ 2016-07-01 07.29.10 When I checked it out today, this is what I found! I am so glad I was wrong! ⇓ 2016-07-01 07.37.12 Not only is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on Amazon Prime, but they added Season 6! This is great news! Since Amazon Prime is a valid option now,  here are some details on becoming an Amazon Prime member. Amazon Prime membership is only $10.99 per month and includes Prime Video, free two day shipping on all Amazon Prime products and more. My family has really enjoyed having this service. You can click here to sign up for a free 30 day trial . ⇓
  2. Of course there is the obvious, watch it on PBS. PBS is a free local station available to you on your TV if you have an antenna. You can get one here. Unfortunately we live too far away to receive a signal for this station. We live way on the edge of town so I think our circumstances are pretty rare. This may very well be a viable option for you.
  3. DVDs: There are several Daniel Tiger DVDs available on Amazon. I might have to buy the Big Brother Daniel DVD for my son.
  4. There are a couple of online forums that have Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood available, but in many cases you have to watch them on your phone, which drains your battery. Also your phone use is limited when your child is using it, which can be annoying. I have everything on my phone, my grocery list,  budget, To Do list, email, podcasts etc. I really do not prefer this method, especially since screen time for my toddler means I better be getting stuff done. For example, since my grocery list is on my phone, it kinda defeats the purpose of  distracting him with a quick show (on my phone) while I get it organized (on my phone). Too bad it can’t be in two places at once.  You could let them watch it on your computer or laptop, but then you have to worry about them pressing buttons they aren’t supposed to, or accessing sites you didn’t want them on. My solution to this problem is Chrome Cast. We got a Chrome Cast as a Christmas gift from my sister and brother in law a couple of years ago, and it has completely changed our TV watching experience. It just plugs into the HDMI port on the back of your Flat Screen and is powered by a USB. From your phone or iPad, you can ‘cast’ Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and several other streaming sites to your TV. You can also cast ANY WEBSITE from your computer directly to your TV. All you have to do is use Google Chrome Browser instead of the other popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox. When you use Google Chrome, a Casting option appears in the upper right corner of your browser, you just click on it and select the TV you would like to cast it to. Your phone or computer doesn’t even have to be in the same room as the TV. If my son has completed all of his morning tasks and I am still getting ready for the day, I can cast a show onto the TV downstairs for him while I finish my make-up upstairs. I can even use my phone for other things as it casts in the background. Your streaming experience is so much better on the TV than on a tiny phone or iPad screen, and you don’t have to worry about your child pushing buttons they shouldn’t on your computer or laptop. If you don’t get this now, I recommend buying it for a family Christmas gift. It is so worth it!
  5. PBS Kids website – As far as I could see there are only about 4 full episodes available at a time. They also have short clips in the PBS Parents page.
  6. Hulu Plus– This is a good option except it only includes Season 1, but it is better than nothing. The cost is $7.99 per month. which is comparable to the $8.99 that Netflix charges a month.
  7. YouTube: Full episodes are available here, but are $1.99 per episode. There are a couple of playlists that look worth checking out. Keep in mind, content on YouTube is constantly changing so what is available one day, may not be the next.

After all of this research, I think we will probably end up using our chromecast to watch playlists of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on YouTube. seasons 1-6 on Amazon Prime Video.  I may buy some DVDs of our favorite episodes on Amazon. DVDs are always nice for road trips too where streaming is not available. I hope you found this information helpful!

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We love Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood! Why did they remove from Netflix? Glad to have this resource to see where else it is available.

“Thank you, For Everything you do!”

My Secret Weapon for Teaching Small Children

 

Some of the best conversations you will ever have with kids is sitting around the table. This morning as M and I were eating breakfast, he asked me:

M: Mom, What does save your voice mean?

Me: It means, if you are sick, you shouldn’t talk too much, or sing or yell. You should rest your voice so you don’t lose it.

M:  oh.

Then he sings a line from a primary song, If the Savior Stood Beside Me:

If I listen with my heart, I hear my save your voice.

I started laughing. The Lyric goes:

If I listen with my heart, I hear my Savior’s Voice.

Did you ever get words mixed up in a primary song as a kid? My husband used to sing the song Love One Another and wonder what a shalmeno was.

By this shall men know (shalmeno), ye are my disciples.

I love Primary Music. We sing primary songs together at bedtime. We listen to primary music when we are feeling happy. It cheers us up when we are grumpy, and comforts us when we are scared. Big M sings it while he plays with his toys, and in Primary at church. It is a pretty big part of our lives. You can listen to it for free here.

I’ve had the opportunity to teach my son’s Sunbeam class in Primary a few times over the past few months. I call it an opportunity because that is what you call something you don’t want to do, but you do anyways because you know it’s the right thing to do. Besides, I don’t have a real reason not to, other than the fact that it is exhausting. Let me tell you though, It Is EXHAUSTING! I don’t care who you are, or what special activities you have planned. By the end of class you have a headache, and need a nap. The kids probably do too.

Three and four year old kids are tricky. One cute boy  in my class today was almost in tears mumbling, “I want my mommy!” over and over again. I have had him in my class a few times before and he never had any trouble. To assess if he really needed his mom, I asked him a couple questions like, “Do you feel sick? Do you need to go to the bathroom? Do you want a hug? My son even sang Grown ups come back from Daniel Tiger to him. I finally got him to come back and sit down by bribing him with fruit snacks. He didn’t say another word about his mom after that! Smart kid! He must have remembered that I always bring fruit snacks to class.

Since I have been subbing in Primary, I’ve come to find out how lucky these kids are. They have an amazing song leader. She always comes so prepared with the best activities to get the children involved in the music. She is so patient, and you can tell that she really loves the children she teaches. The kids kept raising their hands, she would call on them, and they would say, “I was just stretching.”  There were a lot of kids stretching today. M was one of the lucky ones who got to participate today, and he loved every minute of it.

2016-06-12 20.25.30
He was wearing a “Thinking cap.”

After Singing Time was over, it was time to go to the classroom. Last night I had all these high hopes for an amazing lesson. I even took a picture of all the supplies I had gathered to help it go smoothly. I packed my secret weapon, and was ready to go. Every teacher needs one of these. Are you ready for it? drum roll please… A Magic Beanbag! This thing has super powers. Really, it does. It’s saved me many times while teaching primary classes. Who ever has the magic bean bag can talk, and everyone else must listen to them. I ask a child a question, throw them the bean bag, they answer, and throw it back. Everyone wants a turn, and they know they have to be reverent to get a turn. Usually this works beautifully. USUALLY.

Kids are kids though, and 3 hours is a long time for them to sit still. When one of them makes a fart noise, they all make fart noises. Then you are surrounded by a chorus of tiny human fart machines, and you are trying your best not to laugh. You have to constantly outwit them. Sometimes it’s just too hard to convince them that talking about scripture stories is going to be more fun than jumping, yelling, or heaven forbid, making fart noises. Enter in the snacks. This is the real reason I agree to Substitute for Primary. I’m in it for the Pretzels.

Sometimes, you think they didn’t learn anything because they were so rowdy during the lesson, then they surprise you with, “When I am sad, I can pray to Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost will help me be happy again!” Or one day when the lesson is about their Eyes, you ask them what they learned and they reply, “Walruses!” You get real creative and say, “Yes, You are right! You are thankful Heavenly Father gave you eyes, so you can see beautiful things like walruses!” Then there are the moments when you have these four little 3 year old boys tip toeing through the hall reverently with their arms folded. It doesn’t get much cuter than that. Today the lesson was I have feelings. I experienced the whole spectrum of feelings today with these kids. It’s always an adventure, that’s for sure. It’s a good thing they are so cute!

What things do you do to keep sane teaching primary? What is the funniest thing you have heard a student say? Please Share!

2016-06-12 22.13.51

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