Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Gandalf Earns his Bear Award

I have the privilege of working in the Cub Scout Program. I have been serving in scouts for about 4 years. I have such a testimony of the Scouting Program. I love the values they teach. I love how they encourage them to work hard, serve others, and learn important skills. The Church I go to has adopted this program for their young men, and for that I am so thankful.

Tonight Gandalf earned his Bear Achievement. He had to work hard and complete important tasks that are helping to shape him into a fine young man. I am thankful for great leaders, both in California and Arizona who have helped and mentored him. Right now I serve with the Wolf Pack, the 8 year old boys. Gandalf has men leaders and I think that is pretty great. Sometimes as a leader I am so busy planning activities and such for my den that I need to be a more active cub parent.

Gandlaf at his first pack meeting as a Wolf Scout.

I am thankful for Scouting Program. I believe it is designed by heavenly inspiration. We train up cub scouts. They become awesome Boy Scouts, who later become leaders and mentor future boys. Below are some pictures when Gandalf earned his Wolf Rank. He was so proud. And it was great to have both his Grandmas there to support him.

Pretty soon this sweet boy is going to become a Boy Scout. And I won't be as involved in scouting then. He will work with great men who will encourage him and help strengthen his testimony of our Heavenly Father. I know having a fun great experience in cub scouts will help him to love scouting and hopefully stick with it through High School. He wants to earn his Eagle Scout, like his dad. I know the scouting program will help him become a great man.
I would encourage you to find a troop for your son and to get involved. It is a wonderful program! You will love it. Some moms aren't crazy about it, but when I go to training meetings or see the boys grow and learn, my hear swells. I know this is a good thing. And we should seek after good things. Especially for our sons. I am thankful for my testimony of scouting. And when Gandalf moves on to Boy Scouts, Draco will be ready to start. And the same pattern follows with Yoda. 

So it's probably good that I love scouts so much...

 Here is Gandalf pinning on my mothers pin (Did you know moms get pins when their sons earn different ranks? Told you this program is teaching our sons right). He was having a hard time. His fine motor skills aren't the best. Plus baby girl was trying to get it. Then he dropped it down my shirt and tried to get it. I let him know I would take care of it. I went off to the side and shook out my shirt.
Being crazy. He was so happy and proud of himself

I am so proud of my growing boy! Glad that he has a group of boys to grow up with. Glad that he is learning to become an honest young man. And glad that he is having fun. Scouting is for all boys. And I love how they accept and encourage them to "do their best" whatever that it. I love the boys that I work with. And I love when past boys let me know what great things they are doing in scouting now.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cultivating Kindness At Christmas

Click here to see full talk

A couple of years ago a friend of mine pinned this post. I read it and immediately fell in love with the idea. I love Christmas and I love traditions and activities!!!

But I am striving for balance. Less gifts for my kids. More giving to others. And making sure my family doesn't forget what Christmas is all about. I loved the idea of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, or being RACKed. And as we persisted as a family in giving service, even when it wasn't easy, we have felt joy. True joy. Christmas joy. We felt close to our Savior because we were doing what He would be doing. Serving others.

I find it was best for me to try to think of creative ways myself and my children could serve others. And they couldn't be too pricey as we don't have unlimited funds.  I tried to round up ideas so we could share the goodness. We can serve in lots of ways. Sometimes I have just let someone else have my parking spot. I instantly feel the spirit and know I made a good choice putting someone else first. And my perspective was changed. Because sometimes dealing with a crowded parking lot can be frustrating, this way of thinking helps me to have more patience. And to be happier.

Some Favorite's we have done:

Opening the door for others

Paying for the person behind us
Taping quarters to machines
Donating Toys to Human Options, a women's shelter
Giving Hot Coco when it was cold
Dropping off notes to Assisted Living Place to the Elderly who might be lonely
Giving Neighbors Treats
Christmas Caroling
Taking Police Men treats (but they usually are suspicious)
Taking jam to the firehouse (they are use to being loved)
Helping at school
Watching kids for a friend so they can go shopping

That being said I like the idea of unplanned opportunities of kindness. Our family is trying to pray in the morning for opportunities to serve and help others. I know as we pray for these our eyes will be open and we will be able to help others.

Below are Ideas I have found this year and wanted to share...

Free Printable Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Calendar for Kids!

Coffee Cups and Crayons shares this great printable. I love how so many people are trying to be kinder and encourage others to join them. When I see service, great or small, I am always uplifted. Check out her post about it. She has some fun ways to display kindness and involve her children. 

service countdown ig image

Crafting Chicks 

Jamie from The Crafting Chicks has an Instagram challenge to encourage us to serve each day.
You can follow along and use their hashtag to join in the fun. I love the simplicity of some of these fun ideas. 

Little Lucy Lu 

This has another great list of great things to do this Holiday.

ServeTogether is an account I follow in Instagram. I love it!!! This amazing mom who lost her beautiful baby Ruby Jane years ago has started this account and is always sharing ways we can help other people. It is so humbling to read through her feed.  Recently she posted about a girl named Addie who loves getting Christmas Cards. This might be her last Christmas. We can help by sending her mail to:

Addie Fausett
Box 162
Fountain Green, UT 84632

I think we might have each child make her a different card so she can get six from our family. it is a small way to share joy with a sweet family. I would encourage you to follow Serve Together for more ways we can help others.

Just Serve

Just Serve is an awesome idea. It was started by those of my faith but is for everyone. Sometimes we want to serve and help our community, but we don't always know where we are needed. Just Serve lets you register and find service opportunities in your area. It's a great way for members of all faiths to come together to serve. They have projects that are one time events or they could have on going projects like soup kitchens that can always use a hand. You can submit a project idea as well. I am really excited to use this for my cub scouts and for my family. 

 I just wanted to share a fun way to feel true Christmas joy this season. Please share any ways your family likes to give and serve others. I know that as we sincerely strive to help each other and serve we will fell happiness. A happiness that can't be bought at a store.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Menu Plan

1. Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken
2. Loaded Potato Soup
3. Baked Chicken Parmesan 
4. Pick up something on the way home from rehearsal
5. Concert Night! Sack lunch
6. Concert Night! Sack lunch
7. Baked Potatoes
8. Cafe Rio Soup
9. Black Bean Tostada
10. Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
11. Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Soup
12. Orange Chicken Stir Fry 
13. Leftovers
14. Kalua Pork with Mashed Potatoes
15. Lasagna
16. Omelettes
17. Turkey Dinner with Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Rolls
18. Turkey Soup
19. Turkey Pot Pie
20. Tacos
21. Pizza
22. Kristin's Enchiladas
23. Chicken Salad Sandwiches from Sister Kinney
24. Soup and Bread
25. Christmas Dinner
26. eating out
27. eating out
28. eating out
29. eating out
30. Pasta with Meatballs
31. Shrimp

December is a fun time for our Family Home evenings (every Monday night we gather as a family to sing, learn, and share treats!). We have a tradition of doing fun family activities.

1st  We decorate our tree the first Monday. The kids love to put on ornaments and drink hot coco.

8th Temple Lights! We always loved visiting the LA temple and visitor's center and we are going to  miss it. But we are thrilled that the Mesa Temple does lights too. If you are near either of those temples check out the beautiful lights. It's a great Family Night to bundle up and feel close to our Savior.

15th Decorate Gingerbread Houses. This is great activity! Sometimes we cheat make it easier and use Graham Crackers. (Note Sam's Club crackers don't break nicely) Then each child could make his own. Grady impressed all the boys by making a creeper from mine craft for his house. We love inviting friends over for this one.

22nd Christmas Caroling. "The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" We have been caroling since our oldest was a baby. Sometimes our group is big, sometimes small. In the last couple of years we have enjoyed walking instead of driving. And it's okay to not be amazing singers (I know I am not) because we can still spread Cheer. If you still aren't sure, watch the movie Elf.

29th Game night with family. It will be my birthday and I am thinking a family game night might need to happen.