Trying Again After Trauma: My decision to have another baby

I frequently see women asking in online forums how other women who have faced traumatic pregnancies and births have decided whether or not to try again.

I was that woman after I had my second child.

Growing up, I legit wanted 8 kids.  When I didn’t get married and start popping them out at 20 I pedaled back to 6.  When my singleness continued a few more years and then I married a student we decided to wait a little longer and figured we’d go for 4 and then see.

But then there I was at 29 with 2 kids and really really unsure if I could handle another pregnancy.

I won’t go into all of the details here, but if you’re interested in knowing the whole backstory to my pregnancies and births here’s my birth stories post.

Here’s the highlights reel:

Pregnancy #1:

  1. I struggle with anxiety, it gets worse while pregnant especially considering that my mother, on top of multiple miscarriages, lost a baby at 38 weeks.  So I don’t feel better once I get to the “safe zone.”
  2. Overall the pregnancy was pretty normal, nothing too crazy.  Started experiencing symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) at 36 weeks- I wasn’t expecting to be comfortable, but it was pretty bad.
  3. I went 10 days past due, and had an excessively long labor and ended up with a level 3 tear that was really awful to heal from.

Pregnancy #2

  1. We moved away from a good group of friends 3 days after I found out I was pregnant, I struggled with finding a group of friends in the new area.
  2. My thyroid was being mismanaged which resulted in excessive fatigue and depression.
  3. SPD (or as I have come to refer to it- Hell Crotch) started at 10 weeks.  Literally I went straight from morning sickness one day to extreme pelvic pain the next.  Being in constant pain certainly didn’t help the depression.  I spent hours crying multiple days a week.
  4. My doctor was the worst. I told him I was in pain, he shrugged it off- “yeah, you’re pregnant.”  I finally opened up about the depression, which was really hard for me to do.  He responded, “I don’t treat pregnant women for depression, go for a walk.”  I CAN’T WALK!!!!  I’M IN CONSTANT PAIN!!!!!
  5. My doctor also told me he would induce me early because he didn’t want me to have another big baby and risk tearing again.  I was ok with this because I super hated being pregnant and wanted to be done the moment it was safe for her to be out.  And then he decided not to with no explanation.
  6. Due date rolled around- I was DONE, I couldn’t take it anymore.  The pain was unbearable, and other joints beside my pelvis had started to kill as well.  I was not ok mentally.  I was not suicidal by any means, but I would have gladly accepted a tranquilizer and then have them wake me up when it was over.  I went in on a Monday begging for an induction.  He said no.  Here’s how the exchange went:
    Dr: Maybe we could do Wednesday, wait no, Friday
    Me: Or Wednesday
    Dr.:  What’s 2 more days?
    Me: That’s not 2 days, that 5 days (in my head- “clearly you’ve never been in constant pain if you think it’s ok to put someone through it for extra days- I’m not going to be ok if I’m in pain another 5 minutes!”)
    Dr.: We’ll do Friday but I can see about sweeping your membranes today to try and get things moving.
  7. He swept my membranes with my consent, but he did not warn me of the risk of contamination especially considering I was Beta Strep positive.  He did however tell me that I would bleed a little but definitely shouldn’t go to the hospital until I knew I was in labor because triage gets mad when doctors strip membranes and women show up and have to be sent home, and if I did go in I most certainly shouldn’t tell them that he stripped my membranes.  Yes, I consented, but this was certainly not INFORMED consent.
  8. I bled a little and passed a lot of mucus the next day as expected.  I also started to feel a little gross but didn’t think anything of it because I was overdue and hadn’t felt particularly great in 9 months.  So I was obedient and didn’t go in until I knew I was really in labor.  The thing is that because I was passing blood and mucus I had no idea that I was also leaking fluid all day.  Long story short my uterus had basically turned into a petri dish for Beta Strep.  When I arrived at the hospital I was running a fever, my baby was in distress, I had a very traumatic unplanned natural delivery (still waiting on that epidural!), I didn’t even get to see my baby right away so I didn’t get the rush of endorphins immediately following the pain of delivery, and my baby had contracted Beta Strep so she spent the next 10 days in the NICU on IV antibiotics.

In the months that followed I developed symptoms of post traumatic stress- along with post partum depression.  I would have dreams where my OB was the “bad guy.”  I would have waking nightmares reliving the delivery.  And to make everything worse, my pelvic pain did not resolve.  The thought of ever being pregnant again had me shaking and crying.

About a year and a half later I learned more about Beta Strep.  I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it could be FATAL for the baby.  That brought back all of the trauma and then some.  Around this same time my pelvic pain had improved through physical therapy, but I would still have flare ups each month with my cycle and if I pushed myself too much physically.

I began to really resent that platitude, “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”  Because in my experience I was finding that that which didn’t kill me just gave me post traumatic stress.

How on earth could I risk putting myself through more constant pain that might result in permanent damage to my body?  Would it be wise to put myself through another potentially huge bout of depression?  Was that fair to my family?  And how could I make sure that I didn’t pass Beta Strep to another baby?

I’m a planner by nature.  I like to know exactly what I’m doing.  I am not Elsa, I do not long to go into the unknown.  When people asked if I was going to have another kid it was actually really painful because I didn’t know, and it’s hard for me to say, “I don’t know.”  So here’s the first thing I had to learn:

Get Comfortable with the Unknown

There was one other big point in my life where I had to accept moving forward into the unknown, maybe that helped prepare me.  When I was about to come home from my 18 month Latter-day Saint Mission I didn’t know what (more like who) was waiting for me.  I had taken off from my teaching program which followed a very specific set of classes each semester.  While I was returning in January, I couldn’t restart the program until the summer.  I was getting home 2 weeks into the semester but could still enroll in fluffy fun classes if I wanted to (think water aerobics and history of the hymns!).  I hadn’t heard from my boyfriend in a while, so I had no idea what I should be expecting there.  I got permission to start looking through courses on my Preparation Day and kept trying to put together a schedule but nothing was coming together and it was super bugging me.  Finally one day while I was reading in my scriptures, I wasn’t even thinking about my situation and what I was reading was not related at all, out the blue a very clear voice came into my head, “Be flexible.”  I responded, “I don’t do flexible.”  And the voice reiterated, “You need to be flexible.”

I decided not to take classes and figured I could get a job as a substitute teacher because that’s pretty darn flexible.  And as things unfolded, that’s exactly what I needed for that semester.

That all played out over the course of a few months, however, the baby question hung in the air for a couple years.  I didn’t get clear answers when I prayed about it.  Ultimately I had to accept that I didn’t know and had to be comfortable with the unknown.  Keeping options open, but not making plans.

Accepting Agency

Ready for another mission story?  This one is from before the mission instead of the end.  I almost didn’t serve my mission because I almost got engaged.  It was a crazy and very confusing time.  I believe strongly in seeking personal revelation, and I had received a very straight forward answer that I needed to submit my application to serve.  But then life happened and another door opened and I wasn’t sure what to do.  I prayed a lot, I read scriptures a lot, I pondered, I made pros and cons lists, I went to the temple, I did all of the things so that I could get an answer from the Lord.  And here’s the answer I finally got, “These are both good choices.  Make one.”

Lord, I am willing to do EXACTLY what you tell me to do, why won’t you TELL me!!!!

I got to the point where I wished that if I was supposed to go I would get a clear sign and if I was supposed to stay then maybe I would just like break my leg or something just enough that I wouldn’t be able to report to the Missionary Training Center.

One day I was telling a friend my thought process and she gave me some of the wisest words I have ever heard:

“Yes, but what you’re asking Him to do is take away your agency.”

Sometimes the Lord does have very specific instructions for us and we need to use our agency to decide to follow (like when he told me to submit my mission papers, and later when he told me to be flexible).  But I feel like, at least for me, he frequently leads me to a place where I have to make a choice.  God has to make a lot of really difficult decisions between GOOD things all the time.  If we’re going to become like Him, then we are going to have to learn how to do the same.  Ultimately, they were both really good choices, neither would lead me down a bad path they were just different paths, and the Lord wanted me to take ownership over my decision.

When I started actually seeking an answer about whether or not to have another baby, here’s what I got:  “Wanting to take care of yourself and the family you already have is a righteous desire.  You will also be blessed if you have another baby.”

He wasn’t going to tell me what to do, he wanted me to own this decision too.  Thanks.

The Tipping Point

A few months after my little girl turned two, Santa brought her a big girl bed.  Apparently the sleigh didn’t have room for a whole bed so Santa just dropped off some boxes from Ikea and let us disassemble the crib and put together the bed ourselves.  Santa’s real nice like that sometimes.

As we took down the crib I lost it.

My husband tried to comfort me and said, “I know it’s hard when they grow up.”

The thing is, I wasn’t crying about her growing up.  I was crying because there wasn’t another baby to put in the crib.

A lot of my childhood dreams were obviously naive and they’ve changed or I’ve moved on from them.  Others I’ve just had to let go of and that’s ok.  I love my life and in so many ways it has turned out how I NEEDED it even if it wasn’t what I thought I WANTED.  I have no desire to have 8 or even 6 kids anymore.  But never in any reworking of my dreams and plans could I have fathomed only having 2 kids and suddenly I was facing that reality and it hurt at the core of my identity.

In the days that followed I realized I had hit a point where my sadness about being done outweighed my fears of trying again.

I realized I really did want to try again, but I was still really scared, however I was finally ready to face those fears and do something about it.

Take Time to Take Care of YOU

I was rather overweight after my daughter was born- it’s been a lifelong struggle really, but it had gotten really bad.

When she was coming up on a year old I finally found the right doctor to take care of my thyroid disorder.  Amazing how having enough thyroid allowed a lot of weight to melt away (and improved my anxiety and depression dramatically!).

But, I hit another plateau and was doing a lot of yo-yoing.  While SPD is not necessarily based on weight, (it’s more of a hormonal issue- you can be very overweight and not have issues with it, and you can be very fit and still have issues with it) being overweight definitely doesn’t help anything.  And since I was still having regular pain flare ups, getting pregnant on top of that didn’t sound like a good idea.  I knew I needed to lose a substantial amount of weight as well as strengthen my core and maintain it before I would feel comfortable getting pregnant.

I started looking into programs and stumbled upon Noom.  I could write a whole blog post advertising Noom.  It was an AMAZING experience and exactly what I needed.  While it uses calorie tracking it focuses in on sustainability and getting to the root of why you eat the way you do.  It improved my health in ALL aspects of life- physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual.

I lost a lot of weight, but more importantly I built a lot of muscle and was actually sustaining the weight loss.  About a month in to the program my pain flare ups went away.  I had hoped to get back to my wedding weight.  I didn’t quite get there, I got back to pre-first pregnancy weight but was also much healthier at that weight than I had been before my first pregnancy or even 10 pounds lower than that at my wedding weight.

Find the Right Doctor and Make a Plan

I knew I needed to find a doctor I could trust but wasn’t sure how.  My really awful doctor, that you know- could have killed us- he was very highly rated online.  One day a friend of mine opened up about her struggles with depression during her recent pregnancy and how her doctor had helped her so much.  I disclosed that I was considering trying again but needed to find a good doctor and she encouraged me to go talk to her doctor.  I set up a well woman visit to establish care, but was expecting to have to go back in to discuss potential pregnancy related questions.  But the doctor was awesome and talked to me about my questions during the well woman visit.

I gave her the (even more) brief history of trauma I had experienced and amazingly she listened.

When I asked her about depression in pregnancy she responded, “I absolutely treat pregnant women for depression, there are several pregnancy safe meds, but I might encourage you start with counseling.”  Ummmm……besides the pregnancy safe meds, why on earth didn’t my other doctor ever refer counseling???  Certainly can’t argue counseling being dangerous for the baby at all, but you know what IS dangerous making people suffer through depression unassisted and making them feel like their concerns are invalid.

When I talked to her about my issues with SPD she told me that she had a chiropractor that she highly recommended and would absolutely refer me to an Obstetric Physical Therapist if needed.

Based on my prior physical and mental trauma she recommended a c-section.  I told her I had considered that or an induction at 39 weeks because the thought of going into labor naturally was too scary for me because of the risk of passing on Beta Strep again.  And you know what she did, she listened, she agreed we could keep both options open, she didn’t try to push her plan.

She had a few more recommendations of things to do before I started trying again and she talked me through some of the precautions she would take during my pregnancy.

These doctors, they do exist, unfortunately sometimes you have to sift through some crummy ones to find them.  If you don’t like your doctor- fire them!  Find someone who listens and cares.

Keep Taking Care of Yourself!

You are as important as the baby.  I think that’s part of my trauma from my last doctor.  It felt like MY health and MY needs didn’t matter at all.  Of course there are precautions and sacrifices that are required due to pregnancy, but there is so much help available.

Since getting pregnant my SPD has come back.  I got to 14 weeks instead of 10 this time.  Overall it has not been nearly as bad.  I also started seeing the chiropractor she recommended who specializes in pregnancy, and HOLY COW!!  It has been amazing and so helpful.  I also respect my limits and take it easy.  The pain isn’t gone, unfortunately because it is more of a hormonal issue they can’t really solve it, but it’s so much more manageable.

My mood has been so much better, I think mostly due to my thyroid being managed so much better but also not being in debilitating pain all the time goes a long way.  I haven’t needed to be medicated or seek counseling at this point, but knowing that it’s an option if it comes up is probably another key to preventing anxiety.

My husband has been amazing and so supportive through all of this.  Before we started trying again we had several discussions about what would be necessary as far as home maintenance and the kids and he’s been right on board.  I told him if the pain started again that he was either going to have to do most all of the cleaning or we’d have to hire someone.  Being on the same page and having a supportive partner is a really important key.

 

If there are first time or soon to be moms out there reading this- I hope you can learn from this and avoid some trauma.

To those that are in that deciding place- hugs!  I hope this helps you work through some of your trauma and questions.  And if your decision turns out to be no, good for you!  I was talking with a friend about this a few months back and when I told her about how I realized my sadness was greater than my fear she told me about how she actually had the opposite experience.  She had thought about trying again and realized her fear and reasons to be done outweighed her sadness and pain of being done.  It’s so personal, there’s no right or wrong decision.  Like I said before, taking care of yourself and your current family IS a righteous desire.  If you’re on the fence, don’t be afraid to hang out on the fence for a while.

 

 

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Feb 2020

Sorry this is coming out a little late again.  The plague came through our house, ok, that’s a little dramatic, but that’s what it felt like.  We all took turns being sick and being sick while being pregnant meant I basically stayed in bed for a whole week.  Add on top of that the kids have not been sleeping well…and you get the picture.  I might also just be hitting that point in pregnancy where naps become a necessity rather than a luxury.  But I swear, January was longer than November and December COMBINED!!!!!!

Luckily this month is pretty simple on the Family Home Evening front.  If you have followed my blog for a while most of these activities are going to be repeats of old ones, but kids thrive on repetition, it’s a big part of how they learn.

I’m continuing to include coordinating children’s scriptures, however, unfortunately the resources for 2 Nephi are limited.  It’s less story and we don’t meet a lot of new characters.  For a list of the books I’m using this year see last month’s post.  Also, the Friend for January has a reading chart with selected verses that is really helpful.  There’s also this page in the February Friend for even more simplified reading selections.

 

February 3-9 We Lived After the Manner of Happiness

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 9

Song: Happy Song pg 264

Materials: Construction paper or poster, Manner of Happiness Printable and/or pictures of things that make your family members happy

Explain that when they got to the Promised Land, Nephi said that his family lived “after the manner of happiness.”  Add the things that Nephi said made them happy to a poster then add some extras that make your family happy.  I have created a printable with Nephi’s suggestions as well as a few of my own, but you may want to find your own pictures (especially your own family photo) or have the kids help cut them out of advertisements, newspapers, or magazines or draw their own*.

Nephi’s list:

Family

Commandments

Scriptures

Education

Temples

Work

Church Callings

 

Extra Ideas:

Eating healthy foods

Exercise

Friends

Good media

Listening to mom and dad and teachers

Talents

Creating

Helping others

 

*Here’s an idea on how to differentiate for different age groups and ability levels.  Really little ones will need to just have the pictures available, slightly older ones may be able to help cut things out, and then if you have a few that are school age and/or very interested in coloring they can draw their own.  That way you can do the same activity but the different age groups can benefit, if you’ve got some that are extra older, have them help the younger ones.  So like mom and dad are helping the 3 and unders, 8 or 9 year old is helping the 4 year old select and cut and draws a few of their own, and the 6 year old is cutting and/or coloring more independently.

 

February 10-16 O How Great the Plan of Our God

Song: I Feel My Savior’s Love pg. 74

Materials: construction paper hearts, Blessing from Jesus from The Friend, Valentines for Jesus Printable

So perfect that this falls the same week as Valentines!!!!  This section is all about the Plan of Happiness and Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Use the Printable from the Friend to talk about the ways Jesus shows his love for us.  Glue the pictures on paper hearts and explain that these are like his Valentines to us.

Then using the Valentines for Jesus printable (or printing/coloring their own ideas) have the kids select ways they can show love to Jesus and make a Valentine for Him.

Take it a step further and have the kids make Valentines for people in your ward and or neighborhood who are struggling and could use some extra love.  Deliver them with treats or flowers.

*Last year I bought one small daisy bouquet from the grocery store and then some plastic cocktail glasses (they were like extra tall shot glasses) from the dollar store and just cut off 3 flowers to put in each little glass and delivered them to the sisters I minister to and some homebound/widowed sisters.  They LOVED them- it was super cheap, went a long way, and nobody had to feel guilty throwing them out after a few days, but it was just enough to help them feel loved in the mean time.

 

February 17-23 We Rejoice in Christ

Song: I Love to See the Temple pg. 95

Materials: Pictures of Temples

Explain that in Second Nephi we learn that before Christ returns there will be many temples.  Show pictures of temples around the world, maybe highlight some that are special to your family.  Explain that in the temple Heavenly Father teaches us His ways so we can walk in His path.  If you live close enough, go to the temple grounds, if not just keep looking at pictures of the temples.  There’s a fun temple matching game on the church website.

 

February 24- March 1 A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Song: We Are Different pg. 263

Materials: Eggs in a variety of colors, clear cups, optional supplies to make a treat

I’ve done this activity every year with my kids for the last several years.  They really enjoy it and I feel like it works well to teach the concept.

Get eggs in various colors.  At the grocery store you can typically at least get brown and white, but if you happen to know someone with backyard chickens (I am quite lucky to have a few suppliers!) then they typically will have several different colors including light green, various shades of brown, speckled, etc.  Also you could color eggs with Easter Egg dye if you want to have even more colors.

Read/ summarize 2 Nephi 26:33 with the kids.  He invites everyone to come unto Him, no matter what they look like or their back ground.

Show the kids the eggs and ask them if they all look the same or different.  Then crack each egg individually into its own clear cup.  Point out that even though they looked very different on the outside, on the inside they were the same.  Heavenly Father said that all are alike unto Him.

Then if you want to take it a step further, explain that when we listen to each other and all work together we can do great things then use the eggs to make a yummy treat!

 

*Funny story-  A couple years ago after doing this activity with my son we were playing at a park and there was an African American girl playing there as well.  My son got my attention and said, “mom- she has dark skin!”  I responded, “You’re right, she’s very beautiful, isn’t that cool that we all have different colors of skin.”  He thought for a second then continued, “Yeah, like how the eggs were different on the outside but the same on the inside.”  Me, feeling proud that I had taught and he had listened, patting myself on the back, and then he asked, “Can we make cookies with her?”

 

Consolidated materials list:

Construction paper or poster

Manner of Happiness Printable and/or pictures of things that make your family members happy

construction paper hearts

Blessing from Jesus from The Friend

Valentines for Jesus Printable

Pictures of Temples

Eggs in a variety of colors

clear cups

optional supplies to make a treat

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- January 2020

Did we all survive the holidays???  Whew!  Ready to refresh, renew, re-evaluate and read the Book of Mormon?!

What do your New Year’s Resolutions look like?  If one of them is about engaging more in Come Follow Me especially having FHE with the kids, then you have come to the right place!

I’ll be posting monthly with simple ideas to teach concepts from Come Follow Me to young kids.  My own kids are 5 and 3 and I’ve got one more coming in May!  I used to teach special education so I have a passion for breaking down concepts and making them more concrete.

You’ll find a month’s worth of FHE ideas, including materials so hopefully you can get those prepped once a month and not have to worry about too much throughout the month.  Periodically there will be free print outs available.  I will also be posting corresponding Children’s scriptures to go along with the assigned readings each week.

Here’s the Children’s books I’ll be drawing from:

  1.  Book of Mormon Stories (this is the one you can get from Church distribution and on the Gospel library app)
  2. Book of Mormon for Young Readers (available on the Church website and through the Gospel library app)
  3. Scripture Stories from the Friend
  4. My Book of Mormon Friends by Alexis Merril (available on Amazon or Deseret Book)
  5. My First Book of Mormon Stories by Deanna Draper Buck and Jerry Harston (available on Amazon as a Board Book or for Kindle and at Deseret Book) *there’s a second addition with more stories from the Book of Mormon, but I don’t have it…yet.
  6. Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon by McArthur Krishna, Bethany Brady Spradling, and Kathleen Peterson (available on Amazon as a Hardback Book or for Kindle and at Deseret Book)
  7. Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon by Shauna Gibby and Casey Nelson (available on Amazon and Deseret Book) This one is a flashlight discovery book, similar to the Usborne Shine a Light books

 

Dec 30- Jan 5 Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Corresponding Readings: Book of Mormon Stories chap. 1, My Book of Mormon Friends intro pages

Song: Book of Mormon Stories pg 118

Materials: Gospel Art book

Get your kids excited about reading the Book of Mormon this year.  Play or sing the Book of Mormon Stories song using the corresponding pictures from the Gospel Art book.  Show them the different sets of scriptures you’ll be using- a quad, your phone, the Book of Mormon stories book, and any other books you have.  You may want to get them a little pocket sized Book of Mormon to have for themselves as well.

 

Jan 6-12 I will Go and Do

Corresponding Readings: Book of Mormon Stories chap 2-5; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers Journey to the Promised Land; Friend Magazine Nephi gets the Brass Plates; My Book of Mormon Friends– Nephi and Sariah; My First Book of Mormon Stories– Lehi was a Prophet and Nephi had Faith; Girls Who Choose God– Sariah, the Matriarch; Heroic Stories- Lehi

Song: Nephi’s Courage (vs. 1) pg 120

Materials: Tasks to complete

Read 1 Nephi 3:7 together, explain that Nephi said he would go and do what Heavenly Father asked and he knew that Heavenly Father would make it possible even if it was hard.  Have a few tasks to complete around the house that are a little difficult for the kids to do on their own- reaching something high, reading something, finding something, etc.  Remind them how Nephi approached things that were difficult for him so when they are asked to do something they say, “I will go and do!”  Let them get started and then help them complete it so they can see that Heavenly Father will help them.

 

Jan 13- 19 Come and Partake of the Fruit

Corresponding readings: Book of Mormon Stories chap 6

Song: The Iron Rod Hymn 274

Materials: rope or pvc pipe, a bin or something similar to hold icky water, a cardboard box or lego building, a tree (or a picture of one), a yummy white treat (white chocolate macademia nut cookies, marshmallows, donuts with white frosting, etc.)

Use a rope or pvc pipe to represent the iron rod leading to a tree- maybe a tree in your yard or just a picture of a tree in the house.  Have it lead past some murky water and a “great and spacious building” made out of a cardboard box or legos and maybe some other obstacles.  At the tree have some sort of yummy white treat.  Have the kids follow the “iron rod” to the tree, have one parent at the tree beckoning them and the other trying to get them to let go.  Enjoy the treats together at the tree.

 

Jan 20-26 Armed with Righteousness and with the Power of God

Corresponding reading: Re-read Book of Mormon Stories chap 6

Song: The Iron Rod Hymn 274

Materials: Same as last week, Tree of Life Interpretation Printable

Use the same course you set up the week before or just a picture representing the Tree of Life Dream.  Use the Tree of Life Interpretation printable to label the aspects of the dream.  Enjoy treats again 🙂

 

Jan 27- Feb 2 I will Prepare the Way Before You

Corresponding reading: Book of Mormon Stories chap 5, 7-9; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers– Nephi’s Family Crosses the Ocean, My First Book of Mormon Stories– The Liahona and Nephi Builds a Ship; Girls Who Choose God– A Strong Wife Calls on God, Heroic Stories– Nephi

Song: Nephi’s Courage (vs. 2-3) pg 120

Materials: Scavenger hunt prizes, directions, compass

Set up a scavenger hunt with simple prizes- a few toys and treats as well as picture of Christ, scriptures, a picture of the Prophet, etc.  Give the kids instructions on what they need to do to find them.  They would probably enjoy holding a compass and pretending to use it- or if you are super ambitious you could actually use the compass to find things (if you’re into geocaching you could plan a geocaching adventure).  If the kids stop listening then take away the compass and stop giving instructions.  Once they start listening again get them to their prizes.  Explain that the Liahona only worked to show them the way when they were listening to Heavenly Father.

 

Consolidated Materials list:

Gospel Art book

Tasks to complete

rope or pvc pipe

bin or something similar to hold icky water

cardboard box or lego building

tree (or a picture of one)

yummy white treat (white chocolate macademia nut cookies, marshmallows, donuts with white frosting, etc.) x2 weeks

Tree of Life Interpretation Printable

Scavenger hunt prizes

directions to prizes

compass

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- Dec 2019

One year down!!!!  Sorry this post is a little late, I’ve been busy on the blog lately with Christmas stuff.  Check out my Have a Merry Kondo Christmas and Light Your Family to Light the World posts, both are intended to help you simplify this season and focus on Christ.

I really hope your family has a wonderful Christmas season and am so excited to start studying the Book of Mormon together in the New Year!

 

Dec 2-8 God is Love

Song: Stars Were Gleaming pg. 37

Materials: Christmas light display

Take your kids into a room with only a small amount of light (maybe your Christmas tree).  Explain that Jesus and His love light the world.  But if we are mean to people then we end up in darkness- turn off the light or unplug the tree.  Talk about how dark it is, how sad it is, and how hard it is to move around without the light.  Then explain that when we show love to people it brings that light of Christ into our lives- turn the light back on.  Then if possible load up in the car and go for a drive to see Christmas lights in your neighborhood or other nice light displays.  While you drive talk about nice things you could do for people.

 

Dec 9-15 Glory, and Power be Unto the Lamb Forever

Song: Have a Very Merry Christmas pg. 51

Materials: Picture of Jesus knocking at the door, treats for neighbors

Show the kids the picture of Jesus standing at the door knocking (in the manual at the end of this week’s lesson) and read them the verse “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Talk about how people need to wait until we open the door before they can come in our house, and we do the same when we go to other people’s houses.  Explain that Jesus is the same, he can’t come into our house and our lives unless we open the door for him.

Take turns knocking on the door and letting each other in.  Then take treats to neighbors and knock and wait for them to answer.  Carol to them if that’s something your family feels comfortable doing!!!  (Unfortunately my husband doesn’t sing and my kids don’t sing on command, and somehow it’s less cute for me to solo on a doorstep- but MAYBE I can convince them this year!!!)

 

Dec 16-22 Glad Tidings of Great Joy

Song: Picture a Christmas pg. 50

Materials: Christmas videos (see my list in my Light the World post)

Movie night!!!!  Sit back and watch a few Christmas videos!  You might want to include the newest video the Church produced this year.

 

Dec 23-29 He That Overcometh Shall Inherit All Things

Song: When I Am Baptized pg. 103 (emphasize vs. 2)

Materials- Goal Dice from Friend (scroll down),Goal setting sheet, Jesus Learned and Grew, Plan of Salvation Printable

Review the Plan of Salvation using the printable above or other pictures.  Explain that in the Book of Revelation, John tells us more about the Celestial Kingdom and how we get there.  John said, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things.”  Inherit all things means getting everything Heavenly Father and Jesus have in the Celestial Kingdom.  In order to get there we need to overcome, or always work to improve and do things better.  The best way to do that is by setting goals or resolutions.

Read Jesus Learned and Grew from the friend.  It leaves out wisdom, so explain that he also grew in wisdom which means he learned important things.

Roll the dice and set a goal for each area.  You could write the goals down on the charts that the church has recently created for the new Children and Youth program, or you can use the goal setting sheet I created- I like it better for little ones because…pictures!!!!  I also like to add a picture to correspond with each goal.

 

 

 

Image by monicore from Pixabay

 

 

Light your Family to Light the World

In my last post I talked about how a few years ago I had a Christmas breakdown when I got super overwhelmed by Christmas festivities and thought, “This isn’t about and Jesus and it’s not even fun.”

That post gave ideas on how to shop to avoid the overwhelm and keep the fun things actually fun.  This post is going to focus on how to keep the season about Jesus.

I’m by no means anti-Santa (or as my husband said it, “You’re not antee Santee.”)  But I feel very strongly that I need to make sure that Jesus is getting much more focus.  My kids will learn about Santa with no effort on my part, but learning about the real miracle we are celebrating is going to take some effort on my part.

The past few years I have been posting a daily activity count down and have tried to align it as much as possible with the Light the World campaign from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This year I decided to stray a little from that pattern because I’ve realized recently that I just can’t keep up that daily level of activity.  Between my current energy level, figuring out how to fit everything in with a kid in full day kindergarten, and my husband having a significantly longer commute than in the past, I’ll be honest, my daily Thanksgiving activity plans have kinda tanked and I’ve realized that I need to simplify more and more.

Also, this year’s Light the World suggestions are smaller and simpler and someone already did the work of creating one specifically for kids.  So if you are looking for a simple thing to do every day then I would definitely suggest checking out A Year of FHE.  She’s got a really great calendar going on!  Although admittedly I did chuckle a little when I saw that the activity on the church produced calendar was, “Think of someone for whom you’ve had negative feelings lately.  Try praying for them.”  And the corresponding kid activity is, “Pray for your parents or care-givers today.”

But, I did want to give some suggestions of a few larger activities to try and fit in, or how to take things you already do and tie them in to Christ, as well as a few of my own ideas for incorporating kids and this year’s Light the World campaign.

 

Activities:

Christmas parties– we’ll have at least two just for fun parties this year.  Explain that the scriptures say that we should have joy.  Also Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to have good relationships with our friends and family so having fun with them is a great way to prepare for Christmas.

 

Light displays– No Mesa Temple lights this year 😦 but we like to get over to Glendale Glitters- explain to the kids that Jesus is the Light of the World so when we see the Christmas lights we remember Him.

 

Live Nativity– Dec 6-7 at Grace Lutheran Church in Glendale, they do a hay ride that will pick you up from Glendale Glitters then take you back

Dec 13- we’ll have a live nativity and petting zoo at our church building at 325 W Coral Gables Dr. in Phoenix

Dec 13-15- First Baptist Church in Chandler has a huge event that sounds really neat

 

Movie Nights– there are tons of Christ-centered Christmas movies to enjoy together as a family this season.  Pop up some popcorn, make some hot cocoa, and sit back for a low energy but Christ-centered activity!  Here’s some faves:

  • Veggie Tales! (You can buy DVDs from their website, or most can be found digitally on Amazon)
    • Little Drummer Boy
    • Saint Nicholas
    • It’s a Meaningful Life
    • The Toy that Saved Christmas
    • The Star of Christmas
    • The Best Christmas Gift (haven’t actually seen this one yet, but I’ve never met a VeggieTales I didn’t like)
    • Beauty and the Beet (not specifically about Christmas, but winter themed and has Christmas music)
  • The Star
  • Joy to the World
  • So many short clips on the Church website!

 

Petting Zoo– if you can’t make it to a Live Nativity with a petting zoo, I definitely encourage you to seek out a petting zoo somewhere.  A couple years ago we started this tradition, I explained to my son that we would see some of the animals that were there when Jesus was born.  He hopped out of the car at the farm and immediately started calling out, “Jesus, where are you baby Jesus?!”  It was absolutely adorable.  I explained that we wouldn’t actually see baby Jesus, we would just see animals LIKE the ones that were there, but I think seeing the animals really helps make things more concrete for little ones.

 

Gingerbread Stables– this is a fun twist on gingerbread houses, and my kids love it.  We use sour patch kids for the people, a peach ring for the manger, and I get animal crackers for the animals.

 

Service Project– find a larger service project that your family can participate in together.  Here’s some ideas:

  • Treats and cards to the NICU or another group that is meaningful to your family (my 3 year old spent 10 days in the NICU so this is important to us)
  • Pick a Christmas tree angel or family to provide presents to.  Have the kids help pick out and wrap the gifts
  • Kits for asylum seekers and recently arrived refugees- my kids have loved helping to buy some of the items, putting them in a back pack and delivering them to a local assistance group.  We go through Gathering Humanity.
  • Food, coats, etc. to a homeless shelter

 

Christmas Eve– I like to make Middle Eastern food (lamb meat, goat cheese, pita bread or naan, olives, and baklava for dessert) and we eat by the light of an oil lamp similar to the ones they would have used in Christ’s time (admittedly I use a little tea light candle instead of oil).  Then we read and act out the Christmas Story from Luke 2.

 

Light the World activity ideas:

Here’s a few additional ideas to incorporate younger kids into the Light the World activities:

  • If you’re in an area with a Giving Machine– get over there!
  • Invite someone who might be lonely (like a widow, or someone living far away from family) over for dinner and/or one of your movie nights
  • Take treats and carol to some of your neighbors
  • Make cards for your primary teachers
  • Make cards and maybe a small gift* for school teachers
  • Set New Year’s Resolutions using the categories from Christ’s life- wisdom, stature, favor with God, and man.  I love this from the Friend to help younger kids set goals in these areas.

 

* I’m going to get on a little soap box about teacher gifts for a second- if you want more info on gift giving this time of year read my last post.  As a former teacher and the daughter of two current teachers, let me talk to you about teacher gifts.  As I said in the other post, I do not want this to come off as ungrateful, of course we are so grateful for students and their families thinking of us.  But at some point it can turn into a burden instead of a blessing.  So before you grab lotions, a candle, a knick knack, or a water bottle, etc. consider how well that would work if you got 30 of those a year every year.  For my mom, she can’t handle scented lotions or candles at all, so while it’s kind and sweet, she feels bad because she turns around and re-gifts, donates, or eventually just has to throw them away.  Candy, again, think 30 kids giving you sweets- ain’t nobody need that much sugar in their life.  Crafts made out of school supplies- I have heard unanimous agreement from teacher friends that rather than receiving a wreath made out of crayons, they would prefer just to receive the crayons.

So stick to a note from your kid, school supplies, and/or gift cards to places like Target or Amazon!  Because a note on gift cards, if you get small amounts to random places, you end up spending more of your own money, so at least with Target or Amazon, most people just shop there regularly anyway so even if it’s a small amount, it’s helping reduce their cost, but also they will probably get them from other people as well.

 

 

Photo by javier gonzalez from Pexels

Have a Merry Kondo Christmas: A guide to a clutter-free Christmas

Not gonna lie sometimes Christmas presents stress me out.  I’ve realized more and more that clutter drives me crazy.  I HATE cleaning.  So while of course I’m grateful for gifts for myself and the kids, there have been points where I have looked at the pile after the fact and thought, “Oh my gosh where am I going to put all of this???  How am I going to maintain this???”  And then unfortunately the kids tend to play with some toys for like a day or two and then never touch them again.

I know I’m not the only person that feels this way because I keep seeing post after post in various mom groups on Facebook with other women asking how to tell their relatives to back off on buying so much stuff.

Grandparents tend to be the biggest offenders in this regard.  Again, we LOVE you, and we love that you love our kids, and it’s beautiful that you want to be so generous.  It’s just that sometimes that generosity can inadvertently turn into a burden.

I spent some time thinking about WHY this is happening and WHY so many of us in the current parenting generation are feeling this way.  Here’s what I figured:

Our parents are Baby Boomers, raised by those who were impacted by the great depression.  Money was tighter, family sizes were larger, toys cost more relative to available dispensable income, and in general values were a bit different.

I feel like there’s this collective memory of when times were hard.  Of scrimping and saving to be able to afford a couple of presents for the kids.  For me growing up, there were nearly 20 grandchildren on one side of the family, my grandparents couldn’t very well spoil each of us.  We all got one small thing or a little bit of cash.  But flash forward to now, in general our parents are in a better situation than our grandparents were in, the cost of toys has reduced relative to the level of dispensable income, and family size has reduced.  My kids have one cousin on my side of the family, three on the other.  So there’s more available money divided by fewer people.

Admittedly, 3 years ago Christmas pushed me into some major anxiety attacks.  To be fair, I was only a few months post partum so that was certainly a factor in my heightened anxiety level.  We live close to both of our parents which is AWESOME but also means that we do Christmas on our own, with my parents, and with my in-laws.  So my kids open presents at least 3 different times.  My son was 2 at the time and on our second round of present opening he got through a couple presents and then it was taking forever, he quit caring, he just wanted to play outside, the baby needed to nap, and I just got incredibly overwhelmed.  My little brother took my son outside to play, and I disappeared to put the baby down and just thought, “This isn’t about Jesus, and it isn’t even fun anymore.”  And then we still had more presents to open that day AND the next day.

By the end of it we had this huge pile of stuff, that I was of course so grateful for, but also was looking at and dreading figuring out where on earth to put it in my cluttered house that I was already struggling to maintain.

So after that I started trying to figure out how we could make some changes to refocus Christmas.  It boiled down to spending the month of December focusing on Jesus and then significantly simplifying gifts.

While I try to find a Christ-centered tie in for everything we do around Christmas time, I’m certainly not opposed to doing things just for fun.  Family traditions are good and important.  One of the principles for a successful family outlined in the Family Proclamation is wholesome recreational activities.  But, when it gets to the point where it’s not about Jesus and it’s more stressful than fun, it has turned into commercialism at it’s worst.

Watch for my post upcoming post on kid friendly ways to focus on Jesus throughout the month.  But here’s some gift giving ideas to keep down the clutter!

If it has more than 5 pieces walk away!

That same anxiety ridden Christmas I mentioned earlier, a dear relative (may she now rest in peace) got us one of those magic trax cars.  The track is made of over 100 INDIVIDUAL pieces.  So if I turn my back for say 30 seconds, I now have over 100 little itty bitty pieces of track to clean up.  It looked really cool, and yes my kid loved it, but it is the bane of my existence.  The kids can’t put it together by themselves, put it away by themselves, or be trusted to play with it by themselves.

Consider how much time it would take to clean up if it got dumped, and if it will still work if pieces go missing.

If you’re not going to just walk away from it, at least ASK!  Are you up for more legos in your house?  Are you ok with this make up kit with over 30 pieces?  Does Barbie need a completely new wardrobe?

 

Pay attention to suggested ages

Here’s the thing- if you buy my kids a toy that is above their developmental level, then you have actually purchased ME a toy.  I’m gonna guarantee you that it wasn’t on my Christmas list.

 

Think fewer larger

Focus on fewer larger items.  Disclaimer- always ask first to make sure there is space!  Kids don’t need a million dolls, but a few dolls play well together in a doll house.  We don’t need any more legos, but a lego table would be awesome for storage and creating.  You can only play with a couple of hot wheels at a time, but having a cool track for them (that doesn’t rip apart into a million pieces) is awesome.

But larger doesn’t have to just be size or toys- which leads me to my next point

 

Focus on Experiences!!!

Memberships are amazing!  We get free entertainment, out of the house, and no TV.  Seriously the best.  And the thing is that so many places are a bit too expensive to justify paying the one time entry fee, especially if we can’t spend a ton of time.  But, most memberships pay for themselves in about 3 visits and then you can also just come and go without feeling like it has to be an all day excursion to get your money’s worth.  So while a one time visit is a bit much to budget in for the monthly entertainment budget, a membership is typically within a gift budget especially if you combine kid budgets.  Or even if the membership is still out of budget, one time visits as gifts are still awesome and create no clutter!

Here’s some memberships/experiences to research in your area:

  • zoos
  • museums
  • aquariums
  • indoor play places
  • amusement parks
  • State Parks Pass
  • National Parks Pass
  • Concerts, plays, and other performances
  • Pogo passes

 

The other thing I am seeing a lot of people do is use their Christmas budget to plan a family vacation.  Most don’t necessarily go at Christmas time, but make the announcement the present.  If you’re the grandparent you could definitely contribute towards the trip.  Most amusement parks sell gift cards, so you could just buy a gift card for the amount you would have spent.  Even if it’s not enough to cover a significant portion of the trip, every little bit helps, or it could be used for food/souvenirs.

Now experiences are all good and fine, but let’s be honest, membership cards and gift cards aren’t super exciting to open.  And a trip is not something physical that can be wrapped.

For starters, my kids have still been super excited when they open up a print out with fun animals announcing that they get to go to the zoo.  But, you can also find simple related items for unwrapping:

  • A little animal toy for a zoo or aquarium pass
  • I found fun color changing cups from the children’s museum to put the membership card in and wrapped those
  • For a trip give them something they will need for the trip:
    • a snorkel/ swimsuit/ towel
    • matching Disney shirts
    • something to do in the car for a road trip
    • a book about the place you will be visiting

Subscriptions- the gift that keeps on giving

This is a similar idea as experiences and another things that creates limited to no clutter.  Here’s some ideas:

  • Disney +- wrap up some dress up clothes for their favorite characters
  • Living Scriptures streaming, or another of the various Religious/ family friendly streaming services with VeggieTales, Owlegories, etc.- wrap a children’s scripture picture book
  • KiwiCo, Little Passports, or BookRoo subscription box- if you order in time you might be able to wrap up their first box!

For adults consider:

  • a streaming service
  • Audible*
  • Deseret Book plus
  • there’s seriously a subscription box for any and every interest from hot sauce to fashion and cheese to camping

*When I got my husband an Audible subscription I bought him a super random book from a thrift store for $1 and put the confirmation email about the subscription inside the book.  Then we re-donated the book, so it was fun to open but didn’t clutter the house!

Lessons and Clubs

Help pay for a few months of dues for sports, music lessons, or various clubs.  Or buy them equipment for their interest:

  • sports dues or equipment
  • music lessons or the next level of books/music for the lessons
  • accessories for their instrument (reeds, valve oil, etc.)
  • cub scouts/girl scouts dues, uniforms, etc.
  • Camps and other activities

 

Make Needs Fun

A month or so ago I saw a post in a mom group asking about Christmas presents for her toddler.  Here were her stipulations.  They already have too many books and toys to handle (I feel ya), she’s anti-screen time (good for you!), and they don’t live near any zoos or museums, etc.  I was like wait, no TV AND no zoo- WHAT DO YOU DO ALL DAY????  And you just destroyed my whole gift giving suggestion list!

So I thought about it and then came up with this suggestion- get them things they need, but make them more fun:

  • electric toothbrush with fun characters
  • a fun hair brush
  • Fun soap/ bubble bath bottles- you know that one with a character head on top that’s way overpriced.  Hint- you can refill it with cheap soap after it’s empty!
  • Fun socks/ underwear

 

Edibles

No- not that kind!  This is along the same lines as making needs fun.  If you want to fill out and have a few more fun things to open look into food items that you wouldn’t typically buy.  Stuff that is less cost effective, but more fun!

  • Target has Unicorn, Paw Patrol, and maybe one other specialty Mac and Cheese from Kraft
  • At another grocery store this week I spotted some Unicorn and Dragon pudding cups
  • Fruit snacks come in almost every shape and character imaginable
  • Popcornopolis has tons have specialty popcorn flavors
  • Then there’s also just normal but favorite treats and snacks

 

Less is More

Those last two categories can be nice to fill out a few more things to open, especially if you did put most of the budget towards a larger item.  But- don’t go crazy with filler things just for the sake of having lots of things to open.  There’s definitely a balance to find, but I think better to steer on the less side than on the too much side.  Leave them wanting more, rather than creating present opening burn out.

 

I’m sure there are some people out there, especially those that have gift giving/ receiving as one of their main love languages who do appreciate having lots of things to open, but for those of us that do not have gifts as a top love language, it can actually begin to cause stress and I know that no gift giver wants to do that.

 

Again, I hope I don’t come off as ungrateful.  Of course those of us that feel this way are very grateful, but we’re also practical and recognize our and our family’s needs and boundaries.  Best rule of thumb is to stick to a list and ask.

 

And finally, if you’re in a position to be very generous with your family, make sure you are also being generous with your time and resources to bless others who are not as fortunate.  Stay tuned for a post on keeping December a Christ centered month, and how to incorporate Light the World for young kids.

 

Image by Melissa Etheridge from Pixabay

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- November 2019

How is it already November???  I’m excited for the Holiday season approaching and for keeping FHE an integral part of our Holiday prep.  Be on the lookout for my Thanksgiving countdown for this month as well!

 

Nov 4-10 Jesus Christ, “the Author of Eternal Salvation”

Song: If I Listen With My Heart

Materials: sponge, rock, water

Cut out a heart from a sponge.  Try to find a rock or something else hard (and water proof) that is heart shaped.  Explain that Heavenly Father has asked us to have soft hearts.  That means that we are willing to listen to Him, do what he asks, and change things from how we want to do them.  Having a hard heart means you just want to do things your way, and you don’t want to let in what Heavenly Father has to say.  Pour water on the hearts to see which one soaks in and gets softer.  Talk about important ways you can have a soft heart (listening to parents, being kind and patient with siblings, listening to teachers at school and at church, reading the scriptures, etc.)

 

Nov 11-17 An High Priest of Good Things to Come

Song: Faith pg. 96

Materials: pictures from Gospel Art kit or online, props for Noah, Moses, and Jericho

Using pictures and/or props tell or act out some of the stories from Hebrews 11 about faith.

By faith we believe in the creation

Noah– this could be fun to act out with toys

Moses parting the Red Sea- this could also be acted out using sheets or towels to represent the water

Walls of Jericho- build a wall with legos or blocks, walk around it 7 times then shout at it while you knock it down

It could be fun to follow up with some scripture videos on these stories.  I like the VeggieTales for Noah and Jericho.

 

Nov 18-24 Be Ye Doers of the Word, and Not Hearers Only

Song: The Sacred Grove pg. 87

Materials: First Vision video

Ask your kids if they have ever been confused or had a question they couldn’t answer.  Talk about what they do when they have a question.  Talk about Joseph Smith’s question.  Think about ways he could find an answer to his question.  Read James 1:5 together.  Help break it down- if you lack wisdom that means you don’t know something.  Ask God- how do we ask God questions?  He gives to all men liberally and ubraideth not- that means he’ll give you an answer and he won’t be upset with you for asking.

Watch a video depicting the First Vision.  Depending on attention span there are a lot of options:

Ask of God: Joseph Smith’s First Vision– this one is a little over 6 minutes, live action, and very thorough.  The depiction of being overcome by Satan might be disturbing for little ones

Joseph Smith– 2 minutes, live action, video taken from the longer Restoration movie.

Joseph Smith’s First Vision– 2 minutes, taken from Doctrine and Covenants Scripture Stories book for kids, still illustrations turned into a video

Jesus Visited Joseph Smith– 1 minute, this is from the Young Readers collection, definitely the simplest one, still illustrations turned into a video

Living Scriptures The Joseph Smith Story Chapters 12 and 13– these clips are on YouTube, but if you happen to subscribe to the Living Scriptures you would have access to the whole video.  The two clips together come out to 3-4 minutes.  This is fully animated so probably the most entertaining, but the wording is not directly from the scriptural account.

 

Nov 25- Dec 1 Rejoice with Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory

Song: For Health and Strength pg. 21

Materials: Thankful leaves, Thankful Tree, pictures of Ancestors

With Thanksgiving this week talk about how being thankful can help us feel joy even when we are going through hard things.  Write down or color pictures of things you are thankful for on leaves, then cut them out and put them on a tree to make a Thankful tree.  I created a Thankful leaves printable with a few common “thankful for” items ready to color and some blank leaves so you can fill in your own.

I found a nice free-standing Thankful tree at Target a couple years ago.  If you’re one of “those” people who likes to pull out Christmas before Thanksgiving, then you could use your Christmas tree.  Or you could use butcher/construction paper to make one to put on your wall.  You might want to start this earlier in the month and add to it throughout the month and then look over everything you wrote down for this activity.

Then if you want to be a super-duper over-achiever, you could also add in some pictures of ancestors and make it a Thankful AND Family tree to discuss Peter teaching about Christ visiting the spirits in the Spirit World.

 

 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

For The Beauty of the Earth- Thanksgiving Countdown 2019

Here we go for another round of Thanksgiving prep!  Confession time- I’m not like a real adult, I have never made the Thanksgiving feast.  I take charge of one dish and one dish only.  Candied yams.  No one else really likes them, but they are my FAVORITE!  It was my Grandma’s thing and this year that’s extra special because this will be our first Thanksgiving without her.  Looking back, I think I’ve spent far more Thanksgivings in my life WITH her than without.  Between losing my Grandma earlier this year and some other trials we’ve faced this year I’m holding on to Thanksgiving and focusing on blessings to help give me a pick me up to get me through.

  1. Day of the Dead- I love learning about different cultures and teaching my kids about how other people celebrate.  I think it’s really important to help them understand and respect diversity.  Watch Coco!  Here’s some free and simple masks to color and cut out!  Then take some time to talk about your ancestors and why we are grateful for them.  Tell stories, maybe make some foods that they liked (I’ll hold off on the candied yams until it’s actually Thanksgiving, but might have to make some Root Beer floats in honor of my other Grandma- and yes I did say with her Southern Utah accent!)
  2. Find a pumpkin patch/ corn maze or farmer’s market.  In Arizona I really like Tolmachoff Farms for the North Phoenix area, and Schnepf Farms for the opposite side of the Valley.  Talk about where our food comes from and how grateful we are to farmers who grow food for us.  Have fun and buy some farm fresh items!
  3. We are grateful for the Pilgrims who came to America for Religious Freedom.  Attend church.
  4. Teach more about the pilgrims.  Make some pilgrim hats and either make a Mayflower boat or just sail a toy boat around in the bath tub, sink, or water table.  Perk for living in AZ- it’s still warm enough to use an outdoor water table in November (downside- we had to get through summer to get to this point!)
  5. We are thankful for the sunshine!  Get outside and get some sun.  We’ll be going to play at the park!
  6. We are thankful for animals- zoo trip
  7. We are thankful for our home- do some extra chores to show respect to your home
  8.  Hand Turkeys
  9.  We are thankful for our potential to change and grow- We’ve got tickets to Butterfly Wonderland, so we’ll be heading there, but you could also just talk about and read books about butterflies and talk about how we can make changes and grow into spectacular things
  10.  We are thankful for Jesus Christ- discuss the Sacrament or Communion before, during, and after church
  11.  We are thankful for veterans- Color pictures/ write notes for Operation Gratitude
  12.  Beautiful World action poem
  13.  We are grateful for Daddy’s job- visit daddy at work for lunch
  14.  We are thankful for our food- share with others by donating to a food drive or provide a meal through Gathering Humanity
  15.  We are thankful for the temple- walk around the temple
  16.  We are thankful for cousins- color pictures to mail
  17.  We are thankful for friends- make a treat to take to a friend
  18.  We are thankful for our access to food- color pictures for the cashier
  19.  We are thankful for school- color pictures for teachers
  20.  We are thankful for our minds and our imagination- Children’s museum
  21. We can show our gratitude for the earth by picking up trash- go for a walk and find some trash to pick up
  22.  We are thankful for those who keep us safe- drop off treats to the police or firefighters (or both!)
  23.  We are thankful for Primary/Nursery- color pictures for teachers
  24.  Thankful tree
  25.  We are thankful for our bodies- go for a walk
  26.  We are thankful for Grandparents- color pictures for them
  27.  We are grateful for our toys- clean them up and choose a few to donate to a charity (get things cleared out and ready for Christmas!)
  28.  Thanksgiving feast!  Try to let the kids help make something
  29.  Visit Native American ruins- explain how the Native Americans assisted the Pilgrims

 

 

Image by Biljana Jovanovic from Pixabay

Come Follow Me Family Home Evening for Little Ones- October 2019

Happy General Conference month!!!  I wonder what great and wonderful things are in store for us this round!

Because of General Conference, two weeks worth of Come Follow Me material is arranged in one lesson, but because we do FHE every week I’m giving two lessons for that block.

Sept. 30- Oct 13 For the Perfecting of the Saints

Song: The Priesthood is Restored pg 89

Materials: Jenga tower

Part 1:

Use a Jenga tower to teach about Christ’s church, the Apostasy, and the Restoration.

I used a different color marker for each set, mine has 48 pieces which I think is standard.

Label 12 pieces as Apostles- if you want to be an overachiever, cut out little pictures of the original Apostles and the current Apostles to glue on.

Label the next 9- Priesthood Authority/Offices, Deacons, Teachers, Priests, Elders, High Priests, Seventies, Pastors/ Bishops, Evangelists/ Patriarchs

Label the next 3- Perfect the saints, work of ministry, and edify

Next 6- Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Holy Ghost, Keep Covenants, Endure to the End

Next 3- Grace, Works, Faith

Last set (if yours has less than 48 this would be the best place to cut from)-

Doctrines, Atonement, Fall, Nature of God, Purpose of Life, 3 Kingdoms, Revelation, Sacrament, Commandments, Body is a Temple, Baptism by Immersion, Service, Scriptures, Miracles, Answers to Prayers.

Start building the tower with the Apostles on the bottom, talk about how Jesus built his church and called 12 Apostles.

He gave them Priesthood Authority and others helped in different roles- go through each of the offices/ callings.

Then explain that he did this for the perfecting of the Saints, the Work of the Ministry, and to edify (lift us up) (Ephesians 4:12)

The apostles taught that we would need to have faith (believe), works (do what Heavenly Father asks), and grace (help from Jesus) in order to return to Heavenly Father.

And they taught really important doctrines- go through each one until the tower is complete.

But, after Jesus died, his Apostles did their best to keep the church together, unfortunately they got spread out and also began to die.  Have the kids start taking out the apostles until the tower falls.

Remove all of the Apostle pieces and the Priesthood authority piece.

The church fell apart, but people still believed in Heavenly Father and Jesus and wanted to do the best they could.  So they started trying to build churches out of the pieces they still had.  Have everyone grab some pieces and build their own churches.  Point out that everyone has parts of the truth, and some good things, but they don’t look like Jesus’ church and they are missing pieces.

Then explain that Joseph Smith was called to restore the church so he called 12 Apostles, and was given the Priesthood Authority again, and now we have deacons, teachers….. you get the idea, go through and rebuild the church.

 

Part 2:

Song: I Will Be Valiant pg. 162

Materials: Armor

Put on the armor of God.

I bet you can guess where I’m going with this…

If you can find a suit of armor great, or make one out of cardboard.  Or if you want to keep it more simple then there is a paper doll suit of armor in the Primary Manual.

Here’s the different parts of the armor outlined in Ephesians 6.

Loins- truth

Breatplate- righteousness

Shoes- preparation of the Gospel of peace

Shield- faith

Helmet- salvation

Sword- spirit

 

Oct 14-20 I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengthens Me

Song: I Feel My Savior’s Love pg. 74

Materials: items for difficult tasks

Come up with a few tasks that would be impossible for the kids to do on their own.  Lifting something really heavy, reaching something too high, reading a difficult book, or doing math that is beyond their level.  Ask them to try to do it on their own.  Then explain that they can ask Jesus to help them.  Ask them to try again but this time hold a picture of Jesus while they try.  As they hold the picture assist them so they can complete the task.  Talk about Phillipians 4:13 and explain that Jesus will strengthen us so that we can do anything he needs us to do.

 

Oct 21-27 Be Not Soon Shaken in Mind, or Be Troubled

Song: I Wonder When He Comes Again pg. 85

Materials: Suit cases, clothes, shoes, etc for trip, scriptures, pictures, etc. for Second Coming

Pull out two suit cases.  On one place a picture of their favorite place to visit (or place they really want to go) and on the other place a picture of Jesus.  For the first one talk about what we would need to do to prepare to go on a trip to.  Let the kids grab some things they think they would need.  For the second talk about the things we need to do to prepare for Jesus’ second coming.  Place things like scriptures, a picture of a family praying, something that reminds them of church, a picture of the temple, etc. in the bag.

 

Oct 28- Nov 3 Be Thou an Example of the Believers

Song: Our Bishop pg. 135

Materials: Art supplies

Talk to your kids about the Bishop in your ward.  Make sure they know his name.  Explain some of the things that Bishops do.  Have the kids draw pictures to say thank you to the Bishop for all his hard work.

 

Image by Gerhard Janson from Pixabay

Stinky Armpits- An Awkward Look at the Church as a Body

Recently in our Come Follow Me studies we read 1 Corinthians 12 in which the church and its members are likened to the body of Christ.  It goes through the hands and the feet, the eyes and the ears, etc.  About a year ago in Relief Society we discussed this same passage, as we discussed it I had a humorous (albeit sarcastic and perhaps slightly irreverent) thought- “I wonder who is the stinky armpit?!?”

I chuckled to myself for a moment, and leaned over and shared it with a good friend who also tends to have a slightly irreverent since of humor.  But then the spirit taught me some things about the church and stinky armpits.

All of us come to the table with different talents, blessings, and opportunities to contribute.  Some members are great at the administering side of things, they thrive on accountability and reports.  Others are quick to observe and minister to needs but may be lacking on the paperwork side of things.  Some have amazing gospel knowledge, while others may not be on top of scripture references but have a heart full of pure charity.

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be the fingers of the church through sharing my talents on the piano and the feet of the church when I was a missionary.  I’ve been the hands of the church when I have made meals for new moms and newly arriving refugees.  I’ve seen others be the arms of the church when someone needed a blessing or simply a hug.  Recently the same friend I mentioned earlier was the ears of the church as she listened to me express some pain and frustrations.  I’ve watched Relief Society Presidents and Bishops be the shoulders of the church as they bear the burdens of stewardship over their flock.

But have you ever been around someone who it seemed their main contribution was to be bothersome, overly needy, or perhaps just rude; like their whole purpose was to annoy you.  I’ve known a few, and I’m sure I’ve probably been that person at times.  Like that mom who just can’t seem to get her kids under control (guilty!!!), or the person making rude comments about political parties or other groups during Sunday School.  Perhaps they’re spreading gossip, or just constantly taking more resources than they contribute.

These are the stinky armpits.  And yes, they are a part of the body of Christ as well.  While stinky and perhaps awkward, armpits do fulfill an important function in the body.  They connect the arms that reach out to the shoulders bearing burdens.  Our job is to be diligent in our care, attention, and respect for them so at the very least they can be less stinky.  And if someone’s only contribution is to help us learn patience, love, and sacrifice then good for them for helping us draw closer to the Head of the Church- Jesus Christ.

 

 

Photo cred: https://flic.kr/p/Df9TCM