Singing Time!

I currently have my dream calling and it is as amazing as I thought it would be. I LOVE being the primary chorister at our church, meaning I spend an hour each Sunday teaching the youth songs that help teach them about the gospel and hopefully help them develop testimonies of our Savior. This month we are working on the song Choose to Serve the Lord by Blake Gilette and Angie Killian. You can view the music video for this song HERE. It’s the perfect song for this year as we are learning about the Old Testament and you get to review so many amazing stories from there as you teach the song.

I thought UNO would be a perfect way to practice this song over and over again while keeping it fun and avoiding feeling too repetitive.

As you can see I made it so that verse one is also known as the color RED, second verse is BLUE, the bridge is GREEN, and the chorus is YELLOW. This means that when I took the cards out of the UNO deck that I need for the game the one 1s I took out are RED and the only 2s are BLUE and so forth. So my UNO deck I take on Sundays is a much smaller deck but I didn’t want to use the whole deck and possibly get to very few fun cards like the switch, skip and wilds. If you are using this game for a song that doesn’t have 2 verses, a bridge and a chorus you will have to switch things around. You can print a copy of the game below.

When it says to choose a “WILD” way to sing the phrase/verse I use the cards you see below. I made this set of cards because I wanted a whole set of cards that was different ways of singing while STILL SINGING. There are so many fun ways like “stop and go” and “hum” but I noticed I regularly pulled those out because I was wanting the kids to work on the lyrics of these songs and you aren’t getting that if you aren’t singing them. In my experience if you let the kids choose stop and go to singing the lyrics they hold the stop sign up for 90% of the song and as much as I love listening to the beautiful pianist play the song it defeats the purpose, am I right? πŸ™‚ So all of them are meant to be done while still singing. Sway to the music while also singing, clap the words as you sing them, stand on one leg while you sing, and then the rest are obvious that you will be singing. πŸ™‚

You can print the cards below.

And another option they can choose from:

Below is the template for the arrows you can print on color paper, or color yourself, or keep black and white and just write in whichever opposites you want to use.

Hopefully you will enjoy using this game and helpers as much as I do. Happy singing!

xo,
Jenny

2022 – Do it!

For years I have chosen a β€œword of the year” That summarizes what I am hoping to accomplish that year. Sometimes, like this year, it is more of a phrase. 2022 for me will be the year I think about the things I would like to do more and “just do it”. Get a prompting…do it. Want to travel more…make it happen. Want to learn a new skill…do it!Β 

I sure love that family of mine there. If there is one thing I want to do for my kiddos it is to teach them to live life to the fullest. Make the most of the time we have here and live each day with the purpose. Best way to teach it is to live it!

What initially made me think of this was the spiritual aspect of it. There are SO many times when I feel prompted to do something but I get in my own way by over thinking, second guessing and getting preoccupied with other things on my to do list…often times things not as important as the prompting I had. So listening to promptings is the top of the list of things I want to work on this year.

I also saw someone post on Instagram who said she was going to learn a new skill each month and I thought, what a perfect way to get myself to not get in my way and overthink and just DO IT. Learn/work on a new skill each month, yes! So I set those up for the year:

So many things on that list are things I have been talking about for months, or sometimes YEARS, but this is the year I stop pushing it off and actually DO! Once I started making that list I started getting all sorts of excited about small monthly goals I felt were achievable and would keep me going so I figured why not push that into other areas of my life? So I made a monthly house project list with my husband.

I also made a list of things each child wants to work on and how I can help them with that. This one is not a monthly list because we can take our time with each of these as long as needed. We do 2 on 1 dates with our kids quarterly so on those dates we plan on talking with each kid to check in where they think they are at with that goal and what we can do to continue to support them in it. I won’t post a picture of those for privacy for the kids but you can see a bit in the picture above the page…on it there is their name and what they are working on and then in pink below that is what I can do to help them with it.

As for the kids personal goals we break them down a little differently. Our church recommends we break goals up into 4 categories and it sure seems to work for them so we’re sticking with it! Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, and Social.

For the last couple years we’ve had their goals on little whiteboards in their hallway down to their rooms but it was always a major case of “out of sight, out of mind”. I saw this idea, of using the cork boards from my friend Christine (@musiclovingmomma on Instagram) and loved it. We know have this in our dining room which is perfect because each night as we’re eating dinner we’re able to check in with if we were able to work on our goals at all that day. The difference made by having them in such a central location is HUGE! So helpful!

I have a recipe box in our kitchen that has just been used for decor up until now. Now, we have the extra index cards in that recipe box and as we pull an index card off after completing it, we will put it in the index box before grabbing a new card. This will allow us at the end of the year to look back at all the goals accomplished. If you look closely at our cards you’ll see that each of them are in a different color ink. That is how we know whos is who. Our family calendar is color coded and the same color ink is used for each kid on their index card.

As you’ve read, we all have slightly different ways of achieving our goals but the similarity is we are all making them and moving forward in life with purpose and intention. Some goals need to be checkin on daily, others weekly, or monthly or every few months…how we go about it really doesn’t matter, just that we are doing it! We’re trying. We’re improving. We’re figuring out what works for us and adjusting as needed. Don’t forget…YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

xo,
jenny

Come Follow Me – January

December was a hard month for me. I felt like I was just doing enough to get by and I hated it. I was trying to keep everything together and make great memories and not let any balls drop but I was drowning and not really doing anything to the extent I wanted to because I just had enough time to get the bare minimum done before I had to move on to the next thing. So I have decided I’m going into 2022 MUCH more organized and on top of things.

First step is the most important to me…Come Follow Me prep. I have the entire month of January planned and prepped and ready to go. What we’ll do each day, what our FHE will be for that month and what are discussions will be. Of course, there is always room for things changing when it comes to some stuff, if the kids have questions that take our discussion in a different direction, we’ll go there instead, but having a plan as to what to do each day is going to help DRASTICALLY with feeling like I can get this done each day and to the level I want to. It’s not over the top, it doesn’t take a lot of extra stuff, but it will mean we can have meaningful scripture study each day (with the exception of Saturdays) as a family and that’s all I want. I really only use the Come Follow Me manuals (both the Individual and Family one and the primary one) and made sure each child had a journal to use during our study time which we will use most weeks but not daily. Later in the post I will discuss some of the extra items I use to prepare but they certainly aren’t used every week and they are not mandatory by any means for doing the lessons, they are mostly just additional material for us to read with kids or discuss with our teens in between CFM lessons.

Week 1:

For the one activity discussed in there we chose to make pancakes. The pancake mix was PRAYER, the whisk was READ AND STUDY THE SCRIPTURES, the rubber spatula was ATTEND CHURCH SERVICES, the bowl was APPLY THE ATONEMENT, the measuring cup used for dry ingredients was LISTEN TO GOOD MUSIC, the water (which I had pre-measured out in a glass measuring cup) was BE MINDFUL/INTENTIONAL, the griddle was GO FOR A WALK, the butter was DO AN ACT OF SERVICE, the syrup was SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY, and a container of blueberries was CHOOSE GOOD FRIENDS. While we made the pancakes we discussed why we needed each of these items to make pancakes and why what it represented could be used to help us stay on track with fulfilling our purpose or could be used to help us resist temptation. You of course can choose any activity that works best for your family that involves using multiple tools to get it done.

I found this book that has little descriptions/summaries of each week’s lessons and coloring pages for the kids and I bought 2 so each of the youngest who can’t read as well can color in their books while we do our lessons if needed. I bought ours at Costco but I’m assuming you can find them at Desert Book or online.

I also found at Costco a book about the women in the Old Testament which we are SO excited to look through on Sundays, especially with our teen girls, and some beginner bibles for kids that we can read to the youngest in our family.

Week 2:

Week 3:

Week 4:

Week 5:

I will post these as I finish them or perhaps at the end of each month for the following month. I hope someone out there finds them helpful in their CFM prep. We don’t have to have over the top lessons each day or even week but finding time to do CFM as meaningful as you can will pay off in blessings. Maybe your family will do all of it on Sundays or just choose bits and pieces to do, maybe you enjoy spreading it out amongst the week as we do, maybe you do it in the early morning or right before bed, none of that matters, what matters is that you put forth your best effort and have faith that God and our Savior will make up the rest. YOU’VE GOT THIS!!!

xo,
Jenny

Christmas Bingo

For those moments you need to have the kids be entertained with something for awhile so that you can finish cooking or cleaning I give you….Christmas Bingo!

All ages seem to like getting involved every time we have Bingo out so I figured why not have a Christmas themed one? And why not share it for FREE in case others could use a quick and easy solution to keep their kids occupied for awhile. This keeps our kids busy for quite some time because they seem to need to all take turns being the one picking the cards and you won’t hear me complain about it. πŸ™‚

So here it is. Christmas Bingo!

3 sheets with variations and the pictures to cut out and draw. Have fun and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

xo,
Jenny

Making Christmas Memories

We love our advent calendar tradition and we do it to our best ability each year but let me start off by saying that we rarely, if ever, do every single one of these activities. We get close but there is tweaking and switching of days and combining of days/activities and even the occasional that simply slip through the cracks. It’s all about making wonderful memories, not about perfection.

This is our simple advent calendar. Each envelope has a paper in it with an activity to do for that day. This allows us to switch out the paper each year with either a new activity, get rid of the activities we didn’t enjoy as much, or to simply move them around to the dates that work best for us that year. Here is the list of activities/traditions we do:

  1. sort through toys & clothes to donate
  2. write letters to Santa
  3. attend a Christmas party
  4. make a Christmas craft – we began a new tradition of doing Christmas tie dye this year with the intentions of making a large Christmas tie dye blanket with all the shirts after our kids all leave the house, leaving us empty nesters
  5. watch a movie w/new Christmas socks – usually new fuzzy socks bought at $1 store
  6. lesson/discussion on the symbolism of Christmas
  7. make Christmas cards for grandparents
  8. snuggle and read Christmas books – we’ve collected quite the collection of the years
  9. decorate the Christmas tree
  10. pajama party
  11. red, green & white dinner
  12. drive around and look at Christmas lights
  13. read & discuss “The Empty Box” – I cry EVERY year as when I read this. My mom gave it to us years ago along with an empty box that is apart of our Christmas decor, reminding us of the beautiful story throughout the whole season
  14. decorate sugar cookies- to be honest I rarely make homemade sugar cookies. I usually use store bought sugar cookie dough and while they are baking we do make homemade icing/frosting
  15. make gifts/cards for teachers
  16. family game night
  17. do an act of service
  18. goodies to public servicemen – we usually do chips and salsa and drop them off for the local fire station(s) and police station(s)
  19. host Annual Ugly Sweater Jubilee
  20. buy groceries to donate
  21. deliver treats to friends/neighbors
  22. go out to eat and leave a larger than normal tip
  23. s’mores by the fire
  24. watch a hallmark movie as a family

Our advent calendar hangs in our dining room so that each night we can look up what the next day’s activity will be. Many of these traditions have been going on for over 10 years now and I hope the kids will remember them as some of their fondest Christmas memories!

Merry Christmas

xo,
Jenny

Thanksgiving crafts!

We LOVE fall in our household and we love crafts so the holiday season is by far a favorite time for us around here because there is plenty of opportunity for creativity and crafting. Here are two of the crafts we have done recently with more to follow in the next couples days.

Broccoli stamped trees! SO fun, SO easy and LOVE the way they turned out.

All you need is paper, a brown marker or colored pencil and yellow, red and orange paint. Brown paint would also be great to add in there but we didn’t have any on hand and we’re all about just working with what we’ve got πŸ™‚ First thing you do is draw/color a trunk with branches on your paper…

…we then grabbed a paper plate and put red, orange and yellow paint close together so that the “stamp” had all three colors on it at once. We also had three smaller piles further apart from each other to fill in some areas that needed more of just one color.

That’s it! Start stamping and creating your beautiful tree!

This is a great activity for all ages. Even my husband came home and saw what we had done and said he wanted a turn.

Even the two year old got in on the action!

Next up was making turkey suckers that we delivered to some cousins and friends. Suckers of your choosing, googly eyes, orange and red felt, colored paper, burlap (you can also use brown or tan felt. I had burlap ribbon on hang that was the perfect size to cut into small squares), ribbon and hot glue gun.

  1. Cut your burlap, or tan or brown felt, into squares large enough to cover your sucker to your desired amount. Cover your suckers and tie with a ribbon.
  2. Plug in your hot glue gun and while you’re waiting for it to heat up begin cutting out orange beaks and red snoods (or gobbler thing as we call it in our house) and have the kids begin cutting out feathers or drawing them if that is your choice. We had leaves left over from another project of ours (post coming soon) and we used those as our feathers so Rylee just got busy cutting them out.
  3. I didn’t feel comfortable allowing the kids to use the hot glue gun because of how small all the pieces are so they gathered and handed me each item while I did the actual gluing. We liked the look of one googly eye being smaller than the other and one raised slightly compared to the other but to each their own.
  4. After the eyes were on I glued on the snood, followed by the beak and lastly the feathers on the backside facing the front
  5. It would be super cute to tie little name tags onto each sucker and use as a name holder for the table setting at the kids table on Thanksgiving. Throw them in your kids lunch boxes for a fun surprise or you can deliver to friends, family or neighbors to spread some love and fun during Thanksgiving time!

Happy crafting all!

xo,
Jenny

Seasonal Themed Packets

I LOVE this time of year. Summer is all about fun and lazy days and the beginning of school is about getting back in the swing of things but this time of year, this is when a whole new kind of fun begins. The weather is getting cooler, the amount of soups we’re eating is increasing, more walks and picnics, and of course we can’t forget all the holidays ahead of us! I love making a big deal about seasons and holidays because I just think themes are so fun but honestly I can’t put the same amount of time into them that I used to so now I look for other people who have done the work and I buy it from them! πŸ™‚ At the end of the summer I bought these ADORABLE fall themed packets from Home and Haven and we had SO much fun with them. We have learned about owls, leaves, pumpkins, raccoons, turkeys, camping, the importance of gratitude, and today we worked on candy corn.

I bought one bag of candy corn for us to use throughout the packet. The packets are so fun and cute but I also love that they just get the creative juices flowing and next thing you know the kids are coming up with all sorts of fun with candy corn (or whatever we were learning about).

The packets of pages the involved math as well as things such as crafts, experiments, journal prompts, scriptures that coincide with it and more. Definitely check out their page and go to their “seasonal bundles” to check out their winter bundles now out!

I love that so many subjects are covered in these packets and that non of the activities take very much prep or take very long to even do, making them GREAT filler activities between bigger lessons.

The science experiments are always a favorite in our house.

Go check out Home and Haven and look at their winter seasonal bundles along with all their additional inspiring and helpful products and posts. Make sure to sign up for their emails so you can get alerted when their next season comes out!

xo,
Jenny

Star Wars Party

Since we are in the middle of a house renovation I decided to make as little as possible for this party and support other small business owners instead. So here is how the party went and what we used!

We’ll start with the simple decor and goodie bags. Red and blue streamers from Walmart and I’ll attach the simple sign below. It may not be fancy but it does the job!

As for the goodie bags, I bought these favor bag printables and attached them to small white gift bags. Then I took black paper and used a gold metallic sharpie to write their names…and by names I mean their Star Wars name. So we purchased this printable to have them figure out their name and then find their tag/goodie bag.

As for what we put in the party favor bag: they each got this Lego set, a couple stickers from THIS set we bought, a water bottle with a tag from HERE on it (they also had one at dinner), and a bag of Jabba grubs (which is a snack bag of gummy worms that I used black paper and the metallic marker again to say “Jabba grubs” on it).

Above is the pic of the water bottle tags I posted about above. They’re perfect, are’t they?! I used THIS table cloth because it’s awesome and went well. Good quality too so if you are careful and wipe it down after you can reuse. We also used THESE awesome printables for our 2-liter sodas.

I’ve had these chalkboard signs for at least a year now and use them ALL the time. They are great because they can be wiped clean and reused countless times.

We had these Star Wars balloons on either side of the island as well as some in the room they ate in, some where he opened presents and some outside being held down with golf tees in the grass for them during their battle (which we’ll cover later).

The cake was a simple box cake with THIS frosting. I looked at a picture of the death star and went to it. It’s not my best work but it was clear what I was TRYING to achieve so I count it as a win πŸ™‚

I had to buy these forks when I found them. They’re the coolest forks ever. We had plenty leftover after the party to use them on May 4th as well so win/win. (and even more after that so they’ll last for next year too. Score!)

As for sign in the background I’ll give that to you for FREE. It’s not fancy but it works and it’s free so win/win.

I put a plain black table cloth on the wall, added the letters (cutting those out probably took the most time out of all of the party prep. It is a little time consuming but again, free) and called it good. This sign is reminding me that we also had our letter board that is on our entry table say, “10 years ago in a galaxy far away…”. I never did get a picture of it but it was a fun little touch.

It’s kind of cracking me up that I didn’t get a single picture of the birthday boy in any pictures but I did get this one of his little sister πŸ™‚ I bought tan material and some rope, measured the width of the shoulders of my son and of our daughter and started cutting. I honestly didn’t use a pattern or anything so I’m not going to be much help here but if you can wing it like I did, AWESOME! If not, Pinterest it, I’m sure someone has a pattern they have shared or measurements they can give to help you get an idea as to what to do. They don’t take long. I didn’t sew at all and yes, there is some fraying now (just over a month later) but I’m just fine with that. I was finishing these up just as the kids started to arrive for the party so they put them on right away and they went outside to start their Jedi training which started with making their own light sabers.

So I put my husband in charge of this part and I was reminded why I’ve never done that before πŸ™‚ He made them out of PVC pipe, pool noodles and black electric tape but we did have 3 injuries so if I could do it all again I would make sure to NOT have the PVC pipe go the whole length of the noodle. Major hand to palm here πŸ™‚ Oh well, boys had fun and live and learn.

After they finished making their light sabers they went to battle. When hit, you had to kneel and wait for someone on your team to bring you back to life. There was no real “winners” with how we played. We just played until it was time to move on to the next thing.

The next activity was all Parker’s idea. They had 20 minutes to build a Star Wars themed item and then they simply went around and showed what they had come up with. It was so simple but they had a blast and it was fun to see their creativity at work. After that we did pizza/eating, presents, cake and then they wanted to go back out to battle again until parents came home.

Clearly by my lack of photos of the party itself and the complete absence of the birthday boy all together we were busy having fun. Also, my brain was so on house projects still I was just glad he was having fun and then it was going to be behind us. Is that bad to admit? Either way, it’s the truth. Happy Birthday, buddy dude!

Living with Intention – new years resolutions check-in

One of the most effective ways I have found to live intentionally is to checkin regularly with your goals. It’s one thing to say you want to become a certain way, do a specific thing or live a particular way but it’s something else entirely to actually make it happen and the only way to truly become anything is with consistency and a whole lot of willpower. I have been working on living more intentionally for a couple years now and one of the things that makes a huge difference for me is quarterly check-ins…with myself.

This years goals are centered around the word: cleanse. Cleansing myself from negativity, toxic environments, bad habits, clutter, etc. As I look back on the first 4.5 months I’m pretty proud with how much progress I have made but I’m also glad I’m doing this checkin because I realize there is more I can be doing…especially with summer approaching.

I have been much pickier about who I follow on social media, unfollowing any accounts that I feel are either negative or are too forceful about their opinions to the point that they put down anyone who does not think the same as them. I have also cut back on how much tv I watch and how often I am on social media….like a lot. It has had a wonderful effect in many aspects. 1. I spend more time with our kids 2. I have more time to sit in silence and reflect and meditate 3. I find other ways to have noise on in the background if needed such as inspiring podcast or music that brightens my day and mood.

Another big change I have made came after we spent some time in Montana over spring break. It was a big eye opener to me that I needed to slow down again. I tend to be a person who enjoys being kept busy. I love projects and crossing things off a list but if I’m not being careful I can get a little too carried away with it all which leads to me getting some pretty unrealistic expectations for myself. During that time away from “city life” (or really suburb life in our case) I was reminded how great it felt to spend some time reading each day, and walking around outside and having the house smell of fresh bread. My desire to live on a homestead where we have everything we need to survive right there on our property began to burn strong within me again. So when we came back home we started making some changes… I planted a garden, started taking about making bread, started researching what we need to get chickens (those will be coming later this year), started planning out landscape in the front yard and backyard that will allow us to spend more time outdoors and reprioritized what is most important for our kids’ education. I still make to do lists each day and I spend the morning getting the “musts” done which always includes a morning walk amongst other things, and then we do school and then while the kids play with friends after school I take 2 hours to do as much as I can on my to do list and then I spend some time reading or meditating, or painting my toenails or anything that just feels “fun” to me. It has made a huge difference in my mental health and I love teaching the kids life skills such as cooking, gardening, harvesting and baking and watching them get excited about it with me. That’s when I really know we’re on the right path that we need to be on during this phase of life.

One other way I have started to cleanse my life is the literal kind. I have been going through closets and cabinets and even our garage to declutter. I love the feeling of giving new life to items that have just been sitting at our house not being put to use for months and months if not longer and now someone else gets to get all excited about their new purchase and actually USE it. I get such satisfaction as I see items in my makeup drawers and in our medicine cabinet actually get finished and then thrown away because I’m just being more intentional about finishing what I have before I try a new product. That may seem like common sense to most, and really it is to me too, I know I should be doing that, but up until this point it had been hard for me to do. Like I’m actually FINISHING my candles before I buy more and that is just a huge step for me πŸ™‚

Some things I plan on working on these next 3 months are: 1. continuing to declutter the house (I’ll up this a bunch with it being summer and no longer teaching) 2. continuing to work on our current garden AND beginning to plant some of the perimeter plants we are wanting to get in 3. spending quality time with each kid one on one over the summer 4. letting go of expectations that I have to get everything done every day but instead to be ok if I have to push some things off for another day 5. read/relax every single day. make time for it, it’s important 6. drink more water. 7. continue to only watch tv at night when the kids go to bed 8. up my scripture study time since we won’t be having the school schedule 9. less projects around the house (other than finishing what we have started) and more family adventures. 10. continue to have get togethers with friends & family that bring us joy and encouragement

I hope if you have been following since the beginning of the year when I first talked about setting yearly goals and checking in regularly to stay on top of them that you use this post as a reminder to check in with yourself. How are you doing? What have you been doing well? What changes have you seen for the better? What areas could you improve? Have you realized new goals that you want to set for yourself or any that you realize aren’t as important as you thought? Re-evaluate, re-adjust if needed and KEEP MOVING FORWARD. You got this!

xo,
Jenny

Easy art project w/kids

We have been learning about the oceans and continents for the 2nd half of this year and I LOVE the curriculum we have been using. You can find it HERE. As we studied Africa they had this fun art project that we had so much fun doing and loved the results. I obviously can’t share the printouts you get in the curriculum but I figured I can share the general idea. (trust me though, if you are going to teach your children about the continents, you want to use this packet, it’s so worth it!)

First part is the best part. Get some watercolor paper and some watercolors and paint a sunset. Some of our kids chose to also have some grass or rocks as well which I love. Set it to the side and let it dry while you get started on the next part.

If you google “animal silhouette” or “animal outline” and you can find a bunch of options. Print animal(s) of your choice and cut them out so you can use it as a template. Use a white crayon or some chalk pencils to trace your animal onto some black paper. (If you have the ink to just print an animal silhouette you obviously get to skip this step)

Once your painting is dry completely glue your silhouette(s) onto your paper and enjoy! We just love how these turned out and it was the perfect way to end our Africa adventure (aka lesson)!

xo,
Jenny