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

Happy June! Sorry this is late but…. I had a baby last month!  She sleeps really well at night- but not so much during the day.  Which obviously if she’s going to have a hard time sleeping I would rather it be during the day, but it makes it hard to get much done.IMG_20200510_170702

 

June 1-7 Have Ye Experienced this Mighty Change in Your Hearts?

Children’s Scriptures: sorry I got nothing

Song: Family History pg 94

Materials: Pictures of Ancestors

Get together pictures of Ancestors.  I made flash cards with names and pictures going back to our great grand-parents (great great for the kids).  Have the kids pick out pictures and talk about that ancestor and share stories of faith, courage, etc.  If you feel up to making them into flash cards, I made two copies so we can play an ancestor matching game.

 

June 8-14 Jesus Christ will Come to Redeem His People

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 22; My First Scripture Stories– Zeezrom

Song: I will Follow God’s Plan for Me pg. 164

Materials:Plan of Salvation Printable

Review the Plan of Salvation.  I paste my kids’ faces on the blank “gingerbread” man to be their physical bodies

 

June 15-21 Enter Into the Rest of the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 22; My Book of Mormon Friends- Alma and Amulek; My First Scripture Stories– Alma and Amulek in Prison

Song: Faith pg 96

Materials: Showing and Strengthening Faith

Tell the story of Alma and Amulek in prison.  Emphasize that they were strengthened to break out because of their faith.  Make a prison out of couch cushions or boxes, etc.  Use the printable above to discuss ways we show and strengthen our faith.  Have the kids pick out some of the pictures then when they are “strong enough” let them break out of their prison.

 

June 22-28 I will Make an Instrument of Thee

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 23-25; Book of Mormon for Young Readers Ammon’s Good Example, Abish Shared the Gospel; Girls Who Choose God– A Lamanite Queen of Great Faith, Abish the Daring Missionary; My Book of Mormon Friends– Ammon, Abish; My First Scripture Stories– Ammon and King Lamoni, King Lamoni’s Father, Lamoni’s Father’s Conversion; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon– Ammon, Abish

Song: I Want to Be a Missionary Now pg 168

Materials: Ammon Sequencing Abish Sequencing

Read/watch/tell the stories of Ammon and Abish.  Then cut out the sequencing pages and have the kids put the stories together and tell them in their own words.

 

This is not so much for the kids, but the woman who plays Abish in the new Book of Mormon videos made a video about the thoughts and insights she gained as she prepared for the role.  I have always loved Abish, but after watching this, I love her even more!

 

June 29-July 5 They Never Did Fall Away

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 26, Girls Who Choose God– Mothers of the Stripling Warriors; My Book of Mormon Friends– A Lamanite Mother; My First Scripture Stories– The People of Ammon

Song: I’m Trying to be Like Jesus pg. 78

Materials: Bury Swords

Read/watch/tell the story of the People of Ammon burying their swords.  Using the bury swords printable discuss ways that we might hurt other people.  Talk about ways to stop doing those things, model and talk through good behaviors.  Then go outside, dig a hole, and bury the swords.  I left one page with blank swords so you can add more that you think about, or adults and older kids can think of their own things to bury.

I included a sword specifically for racism besides exclusion and mocking (which certainly go hand and hand with racism.)  This is a difficult topic to discuss with young kids, and typically I try to just focus on positives, but I feel like that just isn’t enough.  We need to be having deeper talks.  I found three books read on Youtube that work well for younger kids:

Something Happened in Our Town

The Day You Begin

We’re Different, We’re the Same (best for toddlers)

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

I am SOOOOOO pregnant right now.  For the record, I do not recommend homeschooling while pregnant during a pandemic and then selling your house on top of that.  But here we are!!!!  Baby is coming super soon, really tired, and to be frank, very grumpy.  So, this month’s ideas are going to be much simpler than others, but I figured I needed a plan or else it won’t happen so I’m getting something together and sharing it.

All the good birthing thoughts, prayers, and vibes would be much appreciated!

 

May 4-10 A Light that Can Never Be Darkened

 

Use the 10 Commandments printable to go over and teach these concepts.  You could cut out big heart shaped tablets to glue them on so we can keep the commandments in our hearts.

I used a picture of fighting for “thou shalt not kill” because on a kid level they need to understand more that we don’t use our bodies to hurt other people.

To explain “thou shalt not commit adultery” go back and review the concepts from the law of chastity lesson– we don’t keep secrets; if someone touches you in a private place tell them to stop, get away, and tell an adult right away; grown ups who are married may share their private places only with each other.

 

May 11-17 We Have Entered into a Covenant with Him

 

Sing a few of the baptism songs from the Children’s Songbook.  Use the Baptismal Covenants printable to discuss the covenants we make when we are baptized and how they can start preparing now.

 

May 18-24 They Were Called the People of God

 

Probably just going to watch the video on Living Scriptures.  Could be fun to pull out some makeshift costumes and act it out after watching the video or reading the story.

 

May 25-31 They Were Steadfast and Immovable

Use the activity page at the end of the Come Follow Me for Primary lesson for this week- but cut out and discard the distractors.  For young kids, well, they’ll just be distracting, especially for toddlers and preschoolers it’s better to just focus on the right things to do.  Have them pick a few that they want to include and color and paste them on a paper.  Have them practice talking about them in their own words and make plans for them to share at a family testimony meeting for the upcoming Fast Sunday.

 

This activity is a good example of something that works really well for multiple age groups.  For your emerging talkers, they could just identify the pictures.  For your toddlers they can give one liners.  Preschool and early elementary could explain a little in their own words.  Upper elementary could differentiate what does and does not belong in a testimony and then write theirs out a little more.  Teenagers could write out their own.

 

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

Soooo…..how’s quarantine going???  Anyone else going crazy yet?  Anyone else have cute Easter outfits hanging in closets that will only be seen on Social Media?

I’m gonna come right out and say it- I’m not digging this whole quarantine thing.  I’m respecting it, I understand the need, but I am a pretty social person.  Also I’m pregnant and I specifically planned this pregnancy around the school year so I could have a break from my older kids.  So…..Covid-19, you are kinda the worst.

I’m going to try and give a few ideas for activities each week now that we have a lot more time to fill.

 

March 30- April 12 Easter: He Shall Rise with Healing in His Wings

Children’s Scriptures: New Testament Stories Chap 44 (begins the last week of Christ’s mortal life)- 54; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 42-47; New Testament Stories for Young Readers Jesus Taught about the Sacrament, Jesus Gave Us the Sacrament, The Easter Story; Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers: Jesus Visits the Nephites; My First Scripture Stories: The Last Supper, The Atonement, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, Jesus is Crucifies, Jesus Visits the Promised Land, The Three Nephites; My Book of Mormon Friends: A Young Girl in Bountiful; Girls Who Choose God: Girls and Boys Blessed by Jesus

Song: Easter Hosanna pg 68

Materials: Ingredients for Resurrection Rolls (start putting in a grocery order early in case things are out of stock so you can try again-One can of crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, Melted butter, Cinnamon sugar), selected movies, glove, Gospel Art Book

-Make Resurrection Rolls, and tell the Easter story as you do it

-Easter Movie Night, we will probably watch To This End Was I Born, and one of the VeggieTales Easter shows

-Use a glove and your hand to explain the Resurrection.  Explain that your hand is like your spirit, wiggle it and talk about the pre-earth life.  Show a picture of Christ’s birth and explain that when you are born you receive a body, put the glove on your hand- the glove is like your body.  Show that they can now wiggle and move together.  Show a picture of Christ when he was grown and explain that our bodies grow with us.  Show Christ in the garden, explain that sometimes our bodies feel pain and that we can use our bodies to pray.  Show Christ on the cross and explain that he died for us.  Take the glove off and put it in a tomb (under a bowl or something), explain that when we die our body stays here on earth and can’t move anymore but our spirit goes to Heaven and waits.  Show Christ resurrected, explain that after 3 days Christ was resurrected and because of that, someday (a long time from now) everyone will also be resurrected, put the glove back on.

-Book of Mormon connection- watch videos depicting Christ’s visit to the people in America:

  • Testaments Of One Fold and One Shepherd (this is over an hour long so kids might have a hard time sitting through it, you might just want to show some highlights)
  • Living Scriptures Savior in America- if you have the subscription watch the whole thing there, but there are also some clips available on Youtube
  • Mark Mabry Photography slideshows:
    8 minutes all still images from his Another Testament Shoot- very thorough representation of 3rd Nephi
    7 minutes images and video from his Reflections (New Testament) and Another Testament shoots set to my FAVORITE song pretty much ever

 

April 13-19 Filled with Love Towards God and All Men

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon for Young Readers: King Benjamin Teaches his People; Book of Mormon Stories Chap 12 (first half); My First Scripture Stories: King Benjamin; Heroic Stories from the Book of Mormon: King Benjamin,

Song: When We’re Helping We’re Happy pg. 198

Materials: tent or fort making supplies, service project supplies, Natural Man-Saint Printable

-Set up a tent in your living room and watch videos about King Benjamin- Book of Mormon Stories for Young Readers, Book of Mormon Stories, Book of Mormon Videos

– Discuss some ways you can serve people while still social distancing.  There’s a lot of projects that can be done from home based on age and skill level

  • older kids (and if you know how to sew- which is not me) could help with making masks or hospital gowns
  • draw pictures or make cards to mail to people
  • draw pictures and/or write inspirational sayings on the sidewalk in your neighborhood

-Use this printable to discuss the natural man vs. a saint

 

April 20-26 A Mighty Change

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 12 (second half)

Song: I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus pg 78

Materials: Steps of Repentance, Grinch book or video, candy or other treats

  • Use the Grinch to help children understand repentance and a change of heart.  Read the book or watch the movie (the old classic one is available on YouTube).  Then use the Grinch steps of repentance printable to talk about the steps of repentance and having a change of heart.
  • Give a parent a bag of candy or plate of treats, don’t share them around yet.  Have the kids take turns asking for treats.  Explain that in life some people have more than others, and people with less sometimes need to ask for help.  What should we do when they ask? Find a way to help.  Discuss different ways your family can help- donate fast offerings, donate old toys or clothes that you aren’t using, etc.  If possible make a donation or pick something out to donate. (Some places are not accepting donations in kind right now, but you can still do some spring cleaning and hide it until things open back up, or select a group to make a monetary donation to.)

 

April 27- May 3 In the Strength of the Lord

Children’s Scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories chap 13

Song: Latter-day Prophets pg 134

Materials: looking devices, toilet paper rolls, tape, picture of Jesus, People of Zeniff Preparations printable

  • Gather whatever devices you can- glasses, binoculars, telescope, microscope, magnifying glass, anything that helps you see things you couldn’t otherwise see.  Make binoculars out of empty toilet paper rolls.  Use the devices you can find to look at different items.  Explain that these help us see things on Earth and in Space that we couldn’t see without them.  A seer is able to see spiritual things that Heavenly Father needs us to know.  Use the binoculars you made.  When the kids put them on put a picture of Jesus in front of them.  A seer uses his gifts to help us come closer to Jesus Christ and do what He wants us to do.
  • Use the People of Zeniff Preparations printable to discuss what they had and did in their battle with the Lamanites and what tools we have today to be safe in our battles.

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Ingredients for Resurrection Rolls (One can of crescent roll dough, 8 large marshmallows, Melted butter, Cinnamon sugar)

selected movies

glove

Gospel Art Book

tent or fort making supplies

service project supplies

Natural Man-Saint Printable

Steps of Repentance

Grinch book or video

candy or other treats

looking devices

toilet paper rolls

tape

picture of Jesus

People of Zeniff Preparations printable

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

Can we take a minute to talk about after church on Sunday.  I’m gonna be straight up, sometimes I feel like church is too short.  Like couldn’t you keep my kids an extra hour AND I teach them at home!!!  Maybe I’ll feel differently when baby #3 comes in May.  But especially now that we are back to 9:00 church, sometimes the rest of the day goes VERY slowly.

Sabbath activities are certainly a very personal decision, we’ve got some general guidelines but for the most part it is up to individual families to decide.  So I want to hear what’s working (or not working) for your family.

Here’s some stuff we do:

-VeggieTales, Owlegories (several episodes are free on Prime), and the Living Scriptures resources on YouTube (anyone have the Living Scriptures subscription, I keep thinking about it- worth it or no??)

-Crafts

-Board games, including this one I made to go with a past FHE Lesson

-When I wasn’t pregnant- walks or kites at the park

-Baking

-Visiting family (but then we sometimes end up with similar down time at their houses)

 

Stuff I always think we should do but rarely happens:

-Coloring pages

-Activities in the Friend

 

Help me come up with more ideas!  For our family we’ve decided to avoid non church related movies and shows and video games on Sundays.  Sometimes if I’m desperate for quiet I give in and let them use the PBS kids app.

 

On to FHE ideas for March!  And we’re back with Children’s scripture resources now that we are getting out of 2 Nephi (which I love and I’m sad there aren’t better children’s resources- one day I might just write one, but that day is not today!)

March 2-8 This is the Way

Children’s Scriptures- Friend Jr Feasting on the Scriptures

Materials: Straight and Narrow Path Game Straight and Narrow Path Printables, path like a balance beam or made out of tape or chalk

Song: Choose the Right Way pg. 160

Explain to the kids that Nephi tells us that to get back to Heavenly Father there is a straight and narrow path.  Use your hands to show straight and demonstrate narrow.  Being baptized is the beginning of the path and then we have to follow it the rest of our lives.  Sometimes we might wobble and fall off but then we can jump right back on!  Use the game or the printables or both to talk through ways we stay on the path and things that might get us off track.

For the game use a die or number spinner and character pieces from another game in your house.  When they land on a space with a picture discuss the picture and let them go ahead an extra space.  At certain points they have the option to go off the path into a red square with a picture of something that takes them off the path- if they choose that (and maybe mom and dad could demonstrate) they go back two spaces.  Bonus- you can add this to your collection of activities to pull out for a future Sunday afternoon, just laminate it or keep it in a page protector!

With the full page printables, create a straight and narrow path either using a balance beam or making a path kind of hop scotch style out of tape or chalk.  Put the distractor pictures to the sides of the path.  Have the kids use the pictures as stepping stones.  Again you would probably want to either laminate or use page protectors.

Pro tip- depending on the program you are using to open the PDF and your individual printer, you should be able to find a way to print 2 or 4 per page if you don’t want to have them so big- especially if you are using a balance beam.  But, each program and printer is different with the settings so I can’t really give a tutorial.

 

March 9-15 Be Reconciled Unto God through the Atonement of Christ

Children’s Scripture Resources: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 10, My First Scripture Stories Jacob and Sherem

Materials: picture of a kid in a swim suit

Song: Two Little Eyes pg. 268

 

Soap box moment:

In Jacob chapter 2, Jacob speaks very boldly about the law of chastity.  He starts by saying that it grieves him to have to speak about this in front of their wives and children but that it needs to be said.  I feel the same way, but based on a recent situation I became aware of as well all of the research and articles and statistics about child molestation, sexual abuse of children, child trafficking, and pornography exposure happening younger and younger this is something we HAVE to talk about again and again and again and it’s never too early to start.

I’m adapting this from a lesson I published back in August when we discussed Corinthians and the analogy of our bodies being temples.  Jacob doesn’t use the same analogy, but it’s a good analogy if you just want to repeat that.

Start by telling your kids that the prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon taught us about how to use our own bodies appropriately and respecting other people’s bodies.

Explain the difference between secrets, surprises, and sacred or private things.

Secrets can hurt people, we don’t keep secrets. If someone tells you something or does something to you and tells you not to tell mom or dad tell that person that we don’t keep secrets and make sure to tell mom or dad or another grown up what happened.

Surprises are when we don’t tell someone something right away because it will be more fun if we wait. This is like when we buy someone a present, we don’t tell them what it is until they open it.

Sacred, Special, and Private are things that we only share with a few special people. Our bodies are temples and someone has to have permission to touch your body and you need permission to touch someone else’s body.  If someone wants to give you a hug or a high five and you don’t want to you can say no thank you, if they don’t listen then you can move away from them.  If someone doesn’t want you to hug them or give them a high five then you need to listen to them.  If someone uses their body to hurt you, tell them no, get away, and tell a grown up.  We never use our bodies to hurt other people.  Sing the song “Two Little Eyes” now, or again, and emphasize the line “Many more things make me.”  We have parts of our body that are private. Use correct names (so much research on this being super important- NO NICKNAMES!!!) and explain that private places are where a swim suit covers and show them a picture of a kid in a swimsuit. We keep our private places covered, we don’t joke about them, we don’t show them to people, we don’t look at them on other people, and no one has permission to touch them unless mom or dad is helping you in the bathroom or a bath, or if a doctor needs to check and make sure everything is healthy. If anyone tries to touch you in a private place you yell at them, “No, don’t touch my_____,” you run away, and you tell a grown up right away. If anyone tries to show you their private places or a picture of someone with their privates showing, do the same thing- Yell no, run away, tell a grown up right away.  If you are watching a show or using a tablet or phone and a picture of someone without clothes comes on the screen you close your eyes (your two little eyes that blink blink blink- the song tied in again!); turn off, put down, or get away from the screen; and tell a grown up right away.

(Depending on the age and maturity level of your kids you may explain that when you are an adult and married then you may also share your private places with your spouse, it is important that kids hear about sexuality in a positive and healthy way.)

 

March 16-22 The Lord Labors with Us

Children’s scriptures: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 10

Materials: mission tags and pictures, missionary coloring pages

Song: I Hope They Call Me On a Mission pg. 169

Tell the children that the Prophet Jacob shared a story about the history of the whole earth, from before he was born, to when Christ was on the earth, to our time, and even after that.  In our time he said that people would be called to work with the Lord to share the gospel.  Those people are missionaries.

If you or your husband or both of you served a mission pull out your old mission tags, some pictures and any other fun mission paraphernalia (if you served somewhere foreign make sure to have some foods from your mission available!) Talk about what it was like to be a missionary and share some stories.

If neither of you served, talk about someone you know who is serving, invite someone over who served, or even see if the missionaries in your area are available to come over.

Talk about what you can do now to prepare to be a missionary- even if you don’t serve far away we can all share the gospel all the time.  Things kids can do now- read the scriptures, go to church, listen to their parents, invite friends to come to church or activities, etc.

Color some missionary themed coloring pages and send them to a missionary you know or even just the missionaries in your ward.

 

March 23-29 He Works in Me to Do His Will

Children’s Scripture Resources: Book of Mormon Stories Chap 11, Book Of Mormon Stories for Young Readers Enos Prayed, My First Scriptures Stories- Enos

Song: I Pray In Faith pg 14

Materials: Picture of Enos praying, Prayer Printable, extra pictures or drawing supplies

Show the kids a picture of Enos praying and summarize the story or use the Young Readers version linked above.  Use the Printable and/or find pictures or draw pictures* specific to your kids and family to put together a little “cheat sheet” to help them remember what to include in their prayer.  Talk about the steps of prayer (you could sing the second verse of the song a few times).

  1. Dear Heavenly Father
  2. I’m thankful for
  3. Please bless, or I ask thee
  4. In the name…..

Then have the kids practice saying prayers using the little “cheat sheets” they created.

 

*This is a good example of how to differentiate a lesson if you have kids in different age groups.  The older kids could be drawing their own or helping a slightly younger sibling find pictures in a magazine to cut out.  Older kids could also get into more abstract concepts that aren’t easy to find a picture for, and specific questions.

 

Consolidated Materials List:

Straight and Narrow Path Game

Straight and Narrow Path Printables

path like a balance beam or made out of tape or chalk

picture of a kid in a swim suit

mission tags and pictures

missionary coloring pages

Picture of Enos praying

Prayer Printable

extra pictures or drawing supplies

 

 

Image by liggrafie from Pixabay

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

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