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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Article of Faith 7:

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

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Article of Faith 7 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

5 Topics to Discuss Before He Pops the Question

We have all seen it, those corny sitcoms and chick flicks where the  proposal goes terribly wrong. The guy pops the question and the girl is so blindsided that she doesn’t know what to say. What could have been one of  the most romantic nights of their lives turns into an awkward hiccup in their relationship. Wouldn’t it be nice to know for certain that he is “The One” before he gets down on one knee?

If a couple can get on the same page about their future, that special moment can be full of excitement rather than anxiety, and hope rather than doubt. There will be nothing holding her back from squeeling that desired answer, “Yes!” while tossing her arms around his neck. Having some important conversations about the future can alleviate all that stress and allow them to enjoy that moment to its fullest, and remember it for years to come.

How to have the perfect proposal
Having a photographer there to capture the moment will help you to remember it for years to come. This beautiful photo was taken by Cydney Photography. You can view her page Here.

The best way for couples to get on the same page is to have honest conversations about their future. How and when to have these conversations will depend on the individual couple. Some may prefer to gradually discuss these things during their courtship as they naturally come up. Others may want to fill out a questionnaire like a worksheet and then compare answers. Some may prefer a combination of the two.

When my husband and I were dating, he created a game so that we could ask each other important questions in a fun way. We each wrote down questions similar to the ones below on sticky notes. After we placed the sticky notes down, we took turns rolling a dice. We had to answer the question that we landed on. It turned out to be fun, and really helped us to get to know each other’s hopes and dreams. On other occasions, we casually talked about what we would do if we couldn’t have children, and my desire to be a Stay at Home Mom. (read more about that here.)  We got to know each other pretty well.

Here is a list of some important discussion points to help get you started.

  1. Morals:
    1. What values do we expect each other to live?
    2. What religion will we practice?
    3. How active will we be in said religion?
  2. Education/Career:
    • Do we want to pursue higher education?
    • How will we pay for it? (Save up/cash flow/Student loans)
    • Where are you willing to live to pursue education?
    • What careers do we want to have?
  3. Money:
    • How will we earn it?
    • What are our savings goals?
    • What are we willing to go into debt for? house/car/education etc.
    • How will we Save/Spend/Give our money? We love the free Everydollar app.
  4. Children.
    • Do we want kids?
    • How many?
    • When?
    • How will we raise them?
    • Will one of us quit work to be a stay at home parent? if so, which parent?
    • Will me make them go to church?
    • Will we expect them to do chores?
    • Will we let them participate in sports. extracurricular activities?
    • What schooling do we want them to have? public/private/charter/home school etc.
    • If we are unable to naturally conceive, will we seek medical help/adopt?
  5. Family:
    • Do we get along with each other’s parents?
    • How close do we want to live to them?
    • How involved will we let them be in our lives?
    • Are we comfortable with them babysitting our kids?
    • Who’s family will we spend Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years with?

5 Topics to Discuss Before He Pops the Question.

These questions and many more will help a couple decide if they are a good match. Listening to the heart is essential as well. There is no equation that can be written to calculate a definitive answer. The Heart MUST be involved in a decision this big. All this while being careful to recognize the difference between lust and love. Ignoring warning signs because you “love” them, is a bad idea.

Communication is so important before a ring is placed on that finger. It is better to find out now if fundamentally different goals are desired before sacred marital promises are made, and before children are brought into the equation. On the other hand, (The one with the sparkly diamond! See what I did there?) having the same vision towards the future will create the perfect foundation for a successful proposal and marriage.

5 Topics to Discuss Before He Pops the Question.
Having the same vision towards the future will create the perfect foundation for a successful proposal and marriage.

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Independence Day Scripture Straw Rockets

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Incorporating Scriptures into Holiday Celebrations:

At Christmas time last year I decided to try and focus our holiday celebrations more on Christ. We did lots of fun scripture activities to help us remember the Reason for the Season.  I loved it so much that I have been trying plan activities to do together for all the Holidays we celebrate throughout the year. These scripture activities do not replace all the other Holiday shenanigans and festivities, they simply enhance them. Here is the Independence Day Activity I put together.

How to Make Independence Day Straw Rockets:

This activity is super easy to make and lots of fun! I will provide you with a free printable which includes scriptures related to our great Country the United States of America. Each scripture will be made into a straw rocket to be launched and then read. I got the idea for the straw rockets from the awesome blog The Pleasantest Thing. Check it out! You can either spread the 7 scriptures out throughout the week, launching one a day leading up to the 4th of July, or you can do them all in one night for a Family Home Evening Lesson. This might even be a fun Sharing Time activity in Primary since there are 5 Sundays in July this year. (July 3rd is a Sunday.) Click the link below to download the Scriptures.

Free Printable Download of Independence Day Scripture Straw Rockets

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Once you have printed out the scriptures, you will need to gather scissors, scotch tape and straws.
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Cut the scriptures out along the dotted lines.
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Have your kids color the back sides of the scriptures.
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Make your straw Rockets out of the scriptures, and you are good to go! Click here to get the instructions to make the straw rockets. The only difference in instructions is you will be using the scriptures you already cut out instead of cutting the printer paper into 12 pieces as found in step 1. in this blog post.

This activity is geared toward Toddlers, because that is the stage of life that my family is in right now, but it can be adapted for older children as well. I have included additional resources for Parents to make it easy to expand upon the daily scriptures for a more in depth lesson. Adapt the activity to suit your families needs. You can keep it simple with the single verses, or you can add depth by utilizing the resources for additional activities including, coloring pages, a song, additional readings, a video, and cute stories from the Friend Magazine. I really enjoyed researching these scriptures and additional resources! I feel so blessed to be a part of this great Country! God Bless America! Happy 4th of July!

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Click the links below in the Parents Additional Resources section to print out these fun activity pages to accompany the scriptures.

Parent’s Additional Resources:

  • Psalms 33:12-  One Nation Under God- Recite the Pledge of Allegiance and learn about it’s History.
  • 1 Nephi 13:12-  The prophet Nephi saw Christopher Columbus in a vision. Explore hidden objects in a coloring page of Christopher Columbus here.
  • Galatians 5:13- We have been blessed with Liberty, and are invited to serve one another. Do service for someone today and sing/listen to the Song: I am Trying to Be Like Jesus
  • Nahum 1:7- The Lord is a strong hold in the day of trouble. We can pray to Him in time of need. -Read  The Answer, a short story about a boy who received an answer to a prayer when he was afraid.
  • 3 Nephi 11:8- When Christ was on the earth he taught ” Other sheep I have that are not of this fold” as found in John 10:16. View a 3 minute video of Christ’s Sermon about His other sheep. After Christ was resurrected, He visited His other sheep  in the Americas as found in 3 Nephi Chapter 11. This chapter is one of my very favorite chapters of scripture.
  • John 8:12-  As we admire the pretty lights from the fireworks this year, remember that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. Check out this Light of the World Coloring Page
  • Leviticus 25:10Did you know this scripture is written on the Liberty bell? Read 10 Fascinating Facts about the Liberty Bell here.

Raised By Wolves Apparel:

If you are looking for cute patriotic apparel for your little ones, check out my friend’s shop Raised By Wolves Apparel! These shirts are perfect for the 4th of July. There are so many creative designs both patriotic and otherwise.

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Don’t you just love this shirt?

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My Mother’s Handprints on My Heart

Today I want to talk a little bit about my favorite Stay at Home Mom, my sweet mother. She was the first person who left prints on my heart. There is a little part of her in me. When I was little, I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be a mother. Being a Stay at Home Mom was my life goal and ambition. She was such a great example to me. As a Stay at Home Mom, she contributed much more to the family by being home than she ever could have by having a job and contributing financially. No amount of money, or elevated lifestyle could have replaced her. I loved having her there. I am so grateful for her sacrifice. When I was little she wrote this beautiful poem from a child’s point of view.

Handprints

Through the years my hands leave prints
at first they’re as cute as can be.
Until I climb upon your lap
and leave jelly prints on your knee.

You get mad at first, then look into my face
and cannot help but to smile.
You thank the Lord for your precious child
and wished you’d felt that way all the while.

I smile back at your loving face
That smile absorbs right through.
At that moment I know that you love me
and you know that I love you too.

Together we learn that material things
are not what matter the most.
even though your knees have been soiled
by my jelly and my toast.

My print on your knee will wash out you see
but the print that you leave with me
Will stay in my heart forever
and for all eternity.

My Mom has definitely left prints on my heart. I am glad that my mom taught me to be there for my kids through the thick and the thin, just like she was there for my siblings and me. Being a Mom is not always the most glamorous or clean job. But my mom instilled confidence in me. I have never once doubted my decision to be a Stay at Home Mom.

Being home has meant that I have been beat and battered by every tantrum, sickness and sleepless night. Although when I think of it, I wouldn’t want anybody else there in my place for each of those moments. No one else could possibly love my kids as unconditionally as I do. I have loved them through their naughty fits, picked them up when they fell, kissed them when they were hurt, and cuddled them close through their endless whimpers.

It can be the most physically exhausting and emotionally draining thing you will ever do, but it can also evoke such strong feelings of love that you never imagined were possible. Being a Stay at Home Mom has also meant that I have been there to see my sweet son’s very first intentional smile,  first words, first steps. I was there to see my daughter discover her hands, react to new foods with a funny face, and learn to pull herself up to standing position. I have been there for all of their new discoveries. I cherish those moments, and wouldn’t trade them for the world.

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Barbara Bush Gave a beautiful Commencement Address at Wellesley College on June 1, 1990.

At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.

I will never regret putting a career on hold for my kids. There will be plenty of time for that when they are up and out, grown and gone. Right now they are growing and changing so fast. I don’t want to miss out on their life, and I don’t want them to miss out on me. I like to think they want/need me around.

My mom kept just about everything from school when I was little. I have several binders full of Memories from Elementary, Middle and High School. As I was looking through them a few years ago, I found a questionnaire from elementary school. As I read it, I was so proud of my 6 or 7 year old self.

Q:What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: A Stay at Home Mom

The desire to be home with my children has penetrated deep in my heart my whole life. I have never even considered my years as a young mother any other way. Before my now Husband and I got engaged, I had a conversation with him about it. I asked him what he thought about Stay at Home Moms without disclosing my opinion on the matter. I needed to know that my husband would be supportive of that decision without my convincing. If he said he thought that Mom’s should continue to work, it honestly would have been a deal beaker for me. I remember exactly where we were when we had the conversation. We were drivingin his car  and I was super nervous about bringing up the subject. I really liked him, and I wanted it to work out between us. I gathered up my courage and we talked about it. I was so glad when he said that his mom was a Stay at Home Mom and he always liked having her home. He said that he would want that for his kids too. That was just one of the many reason’s I married him.

I am so grateful for all Stay at Home Mom’s out there making the world a better place by raising the next generation. I am grateful for the example that Stay at Home Moms set for me as I was growing up. I am grateful for my Mother in Law who raised my amazing husband, and I am especially grateful for my Mom and her dedication to stay home with us kids. We are pretty dang lucky to call her ours. Her influence didn’t stop with us. Like I mentioned before, she left prints on my heart, and now I am leaving those same prints on my children. How lucky am I to be living this dream!

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Hanging out on the grass with my Beautiful mom and daughter. I love spending time with my mom. I just can’t get enough of it!

 

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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.

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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!

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Friday French Toast with the Family

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This morning the boys requested French Toast for breakfast. My little helper and I got everything gathered and went to work. I am a firm believer in letting children help out in the kitchen. As long as you teach proper safety and cleanliness it can be a great learning experience for both you and your child. My son learns new skills each time we work together in the kitchen. Each age brings new abilities in the food prep process. Today Big M helped me with cracking the eggs. He does a much better job now than he did a year ago. Back then, eggs were cracked in some less fortunate places. Cooking with a helper definitely requires patience, but has created so many great memories for both of us.

This french toast is delicious. Here is how to make it. First mix the eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg in a shallow bowl.

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Place your whole wheat bread in the egg mixture.
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Coat it real good.
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Flip it to make sure both sides are covered evenly. Little helpers may need some assistance with this part. We probably wash our hands 10 times throughout the whole process.
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Once coated, place the bread on your skillet and top each piece with coconut oil (healthiest option), butter (tastiest option) or margarine (cheapest option).
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Then sprinkle on some cinnamon.
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Carefully flip the french toast so it can cook on both sides.
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It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. They won’t learn if you don’t let them try. I am really proud of how good Big M is at this.
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Now it is time to flip them onto the plate.
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The perfectionist in me wants so badly to rearrange the french toast in a beautiful pattern on the plate. But what kind of message would that send to my son? That it wasn’t good enough! I would never say that to him! So I shouldn’t say it with my actions either. Actions speak louder than words, especially to children.
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Besides, look how proud he is! Look at his beautiful accomplishment and creation. Little kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for.
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I have to refocus my perfectionism sometimes because my life isn’t just about me anymore, it is about my family. Instead of perfecting things, I try to perfect myself. I can do this by being patient, loving my son unconditionally, and instilling confidence in him. This can be very hard at times, but I keep trying, and I like to think I am becoming a better person because of it.

 

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Today, I just want to soak up the fact that he is interested in spending time with me. They grow up too fast!
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Besides, I can make it look pretty on my own plate.
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Baby B wishing she could try some of this delicious french toast.
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Patience beautiful girl. One day you will eat solid food.

One day I will have all the time in the world to make my food perfect and beautiful. Today is not that day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The smiles on my children’s faces are far more beautiful than any food will ever be, and I know I will look back on this time and wish I could relive it. So right now, I’m just going to soak it all in. Life is good!

What funny cooking experiences have you had with your kids? You know the ones where you are forced to laugh so you wouldn’t cry? We have these canisters on the counter that I keep all our baking staples in, flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon etc. One afternoon, I came into the kitchen to find a  chair pulled up to the counter, and Big M was no where to be found. I always get suspicious when there is a chair by the counter. I took a look at the canisters and all of them were empty, except for the large flour one. Yep, you guessed it! He dumped all the contents of all the canisters into the flour! When I asked him about it he said,  “I Mixa Mixa it real fast!” No Shame for that little guy! He kills me! Tell us about your funny cooking stories!

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French Toast

French Toast

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 -8 pieces of sturdy bread (I like whole wheat, or sour dough)
  • Butter
  • Cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat eggs, milk, nutmeg and vanilla.
  3. Butter/ grease griddle.
  4. Dip bread one at a time in egg mixture and place on griddle.
  5. Top each bread slice with about ½ tsp butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  6. Flip when bottom of bread is golden brown.
  7. Allow both sides to become golden brown.
  8. Top with butter, syrup, fruit, strawberry compote, whip cream etc.
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