Welcome to my little corner of the world wide web. :) What a blessing modern technology is. I'm so grateful for the websites and ideas that others have shared that have helped them to be successful in their homes, their service in the church, or in life in general. Thought I'd pass on a few things I've learned along the way on my life-long mission to become a better wife, mother, and in my service in the church. Thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fun Christmas Gift Ideas

I typically just post about music ideas on here (as that's my current calling), I want this blog to be well rounded.  Since it is Christmas time and everyone is looking for fun ideas, thought I'd throw some ideas out there for easy/inexpensive Christmas gift ideas (because frugal is how I roll) :) .

I have a ton of self control with my eating until Christmas time rolls around.  While I love me some sugary goodness during the holiday, I hate feeling sick all of December because of it.  Last year I opted to forgo making oodles and oodles of goodies-because I inevitable indulge-and instead did a cd with a compilation of our family favorite Christmas Jingles.  They turned out super cute BUT it would have been helpful if I'd burned them onto CD's instead of DVD's.  I had quite a few people give me a hard time about that.  What can I say, I am not the most techy person in the world.  Once I realized-or rather, once it was pointed out- :) what I'd done, I redid the rest on the correct type of CD.  They were a hit!

Here's the label I made. You are welcome to use.  Just right click the image and save to your computer.

Note pad with gift card to teacher's favorite restaurant (or wherever) with note attached that says "You have been the WRITE kid of teacher for me"!

Teacher's favorite soda with note attached that says "Thank you for QUENCHING my thirst for knowledge".  Gift card to favorite restaurant attached.

I was running short on time for neighbor's gifts so we just popped up a huge batch of caramel popcorn, threw them in some cute bags, and attached a note saying "Just wanted to POP in to wish you a Merry Christmas"!  Super simple but so yummy!

Fleece Blanket with note attached "FLEECE Navidad" for Specials teachers.

and this year...

Neighbor gift-
White Chocolate Chex mix- He's Making a list and "Chex"ing it twice.  He's gonna find out you've been awfully nice.

Preschool Teacher gift-
The class went in on a gift card but I wanted to do something cute and personal as well.  Framed collage of all the kiddos names.  My little guy helped me pick out fonts and colors for all of his friends.  It was a lot of fun to put together.

 Teacher Gift
Gift cards for teacher with a fun touch as well..."SANTA"tizer hand sanitizer.  What teacher doesn't needs some of that in the classroom, especially this time of year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Bells

A month ago, I was in Michael's and I saw this bell set (reg. $24.99).  I had a 40% off coupon so I thought this would be a great thing to have for Primary...and at home-my kids have LOVED them.  I assumed they wouldn't have a very good tone where they were really inexpensive but surprisingly, they were in tune with the piano and sounded pretty good.  

Anyway, last week I introduced the bells to the kids and they were a huge hit.  We did Christmas Bells as the last song so I told them I'd be watching them through singing time to see who was participating. They were going to be the bell ringers. Needless to say, great participation by all. :)  I'm going to pull them out again tomorrow and maybe do this song for the Christmas sacrament program.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Seeking Baby Jesus" Singing time Idea

While we just finished up our Sacrament meeting Primary presentation this last week, I was thinking we'd have a little break from performing but I guess we are singing two Christmas songs in Sacrament meeting, and then two at the ward party.  I don't want the kids to feel burned out from always practicing to perform so I thought I'd throw a little twist into our practice time this Sunday. While we will work on the songs for the programs, we will also "Seek Baby Jesus" while we do it.

I'd done the "Lost sheep" missionary singing time a few months back (scroll down for more on that one) and the kids loved it.  Unfortunately it had been a busy day in primary that day so we didn't get to do it very many times.  I thought I could revise that same activity and make it Christmas themed.

Here's the plan:

I have a cute little plush nativity (any nativity will work though).  I showed the kids the baby Jesus (unfortunately he'd gone missing the day before, thanks to my four-year old who loves to play with him-so I had to whip up a new one late Saturday night). :)

I began by telling the story of the wise men who came searching for the Savior.  While everyone knows that they used the star to help guide them, the herald angels also proclaimed his birth. 

I called up three kids to be the wise men.  Just for fun, I'd brought crowns for them to wear (Burger King is really good to give those out for free if you want a few).   The wise men were then instructed to leave the room.  After they left, someone hid the baby Jesus.  When the wise men returned to the room they had to listen to the herald angels (which will be the rest of the kids singing) to find him.

As they got closer to the hidden baby Jesus, the kids sang louder; quieter as they moved further away (same as the hot/cold game).  We repeated the song until the wise men found the Savior.  The nice thing about this is that it's repetitive singing so they were actually polishing the song but they didn't even realize it.  Practice makes perfect! :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The "Holiday Cheer" Experiment

A few days ago I was browsing Pinterest, looking for ideas for Advent calendars to count down the days to Christmas. The only thing is that I wanted there to be a purpose behind the calendar.  I didn't want to just give the kids a piece of candy each day.  I wanted there to be more of a focus on the spirit of Christmas and why we celebrate it.  Then I came across this awesome idea Light Em Up and decided that this was the perfect combination.  Christmas is about the Savior and he spent his whole life serving. That is the best way we can honor him and his birth.

My mother-in-law had commented the other day that everyone these days seem so down and unhappy.  While I hadn't made that observation personally, I tried really hard over the past few days to be more aware of the people around me. While I can't say that I had the same impression (maybe Georgian's are just really happy people), I did make a greater effort to be warm and friendly in my daily interactions.  Life is hard and everyone can use a little boost every now and then.  So anyway, when I saw this "Light Em Up" idea, I thought this was the perfect way to try and spread some holiday cheer in our community.  We talked about it as a family and everyone was excited to put the experiment to the test.
Here's how it works:

I made a fun label to attach to the jar (feel free to use it if you want to join in on the experiment-just right click the image and save it to your own computer. I sized it to about 4.5" x 4.75" but you can resize it to whatever size your jar is)

I printed out the labels from the above referenced website.  It has tons of fun ideas of acts of service you can do.  The nice thing is that they are all simple enough that they are doable.  Our weeknight schedule is pretty crazy so I needed the ideas to be simple.  I think the point of the experiment is not to do grand, elaborate things but simply to do SOMETHING. ANYTHING. After all, sometimes the little things are all it takes to turn someone's day around.

I attached one label to each candy cane in the jar (there are 25). Each morning before the kids head to school we will draw one of the candy canes out and whatever the label says, that will be our act of "service" for the day.  I figure if we pick it in the morning, that will give me ample time to prepare any items beforehand that may go along with the service, and help us to plan how much time we will need to set aside for the service, etc.

Below is just one cute idea of an act of service.  Another fun one was to go through your house and collect as much loose change as you can find.  Then go to the Salvation army ringer and drop it in their bucket.  I also threw a couple blank ones in there so that the kids could choose the act they wanted to do that day. 
After we've completed the act of service for the day, the kids will each get to pick a Hershey's kiss from the jar.  I lined the outside with the candy canes and filled the inside of the jar with the kisses.  That way they get a kiss for their act of kindness-both will make them feel good inside. :) 

I am so excited about this project and I think it will be a good way to help the family focus more on others this holiday-something that's hard to do sometimes when you get so caught up in the hustle and bustle.  Anyone care to join us in our "Holiday Cheer" experiment?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A light to all the world

We FINALLY had our primary program today.  HOORAY!!!  I am so happy to have it behind us as it's been months of hard work in preparation (as anyone in this calling can attest). 
I had to share the next few photos just because I thought they were so cute.  Yesterday I got the following card from my 8-year old daughter.
 It reads "Hope everything turns out great...at the program.  When I think of hard work I always end and start with you MOM.  I mean it Mom!  You deserve it to be a good program and you have it"!

And indeed we did have a great program and I am so pleased with all of the kids.  They were wonderful!

This is what our front room looked like yesterday with a homemade podium (complete with a lego table, an ottoman, a box, some duct tape, a few blankets, and a microphone-so funny) as my girls rehearsed the program from start to finish.  They wanted to make sure they had their parts polished and songs perfected. :)

Moving right along to music time today.  For weeks I've been stressing the importance of the children having conviction in the songs they sing for the program.  We had lots of visitors so it was important that the kids had that conviction so that the message, and the spirit, would be received by all present in the audience.

I started out by turning off the lights in the primary room (the security lights were still on and there were windows so it wasn't completely dark but just enough so that the kids would really get the point I was trying to make.  I got out a glow stick and showed the kids how brightly it shone in the darkness.  I then read the scripture in 3 Nephi 12: 15-16, "behold, do men light a candle  and put it under a bushel?  Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;  Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven".

I explained to them that we live in a world that can be dark sometimes.  So many people don't have the light of Christ or the gospel in their lives but today they were a light that shone bright to many of those people.  They shared the light of Christ with everyone that was present at the program.

Because each of them had been leaders (or examples of Christ), I was going to let them lead the music during our music time.  I had purchased enough glow sticks for everyone in the primary (they came in a pack of 15 from Target Dollar spot).  I had each class come up one at a time and had each of the kids in that class pick a glow stick. As a class they selected a song to lead us in singing.  I thought for sure that we'd be singing all of the fun songs but instead they mostly wanted to sing the songs we'd done in the program.  Then again, we've pretty much been working exclusively on the program songs for months so they probably don't remember any of the others anymore. :) 

Prior to giving the kids the glow sticks, we'd set a few ground rules to ensure this activity remained reverent (i.e. the glow sticks were not weapons and were only to be used in leading the music). The kids were so well behaved and engaged.

Many of them tried really hard to replicate the pattern I did for leading so I'm thinking I will spend some time another day teaching them how to lead correctly, as there seems to be some interest with this.  But for now, I don't want to think about anything other then heading off to bed for a good night sleep.  What a day-a great one, but definitely tiring!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Past is the Past Quote

I love Subway art.  I'd seen this quote and thought it would be fun to display in my home so I whipped this together in my favorite colors.  You are welcome to use it (right click and save to your own computer). I blew it up to 11x14 for myself.

"Mormon Idol" music time idea

I am pretty certain that our ward is the only ward in the world that has yet to have the primary program for the year but we are so close-WAHOO!  Today was our final music time before running through the program in its entirety next week.  

Today I wanted the kids to take ownership of the music and to recognize the power that they have to really touch the congregation with their message through.  I also wanted them to get some positive feedback and constructive criticism-from someone other than me- on what we could do to polish our music.  I decided to do "Mormon Idol" for our music time.  

This ended up being super easy to pull off.  As far as prep work, I just made a big sign with the "Mormon Idol" logo and then made 3 scoreboards for the judges.  For the scoreboards, I had intended to just do the "Mormon Idol" score sheet under 8x10" frames and then the judges could write directly onto the glass-erases quite easily and is sturdy.  Turns out I didn't have a single 8x10" frame in my house so I just put the scorecards in sheet protectors instead backed by a couple layers of card stock to firm them up.  They were easy enough to write on and erase.  

I had three adults (that I'd made arrangements with earlier) come in to be the judges. The judges all sat up front.  I introduced each of them to the kids and then explained that each judge had a different purpose.  
(1)The first judge was going to score them on how they sounded: volume, how well they could understand the words, etc.  
(2)The second judge scored them on how they looked-was everyone participating, were all eyes up front, did they look cheerful, did they watch me when they stood and were seated, etc.  
(3)The final judge based her score solely on how the music made her feel.  I thought this was important as we've been talking so much about having conviction in our music.  I wanted them to see that the message of the music, and the way that they present it, had am impact on others.   

I love it when we get some fresh faces in there because the kids really try to "wow" them and they did a fantastic job.  It was great to have the feedback from the judges and some suggestions on what we could do improve on any areas.  Overall, a great success!  I feel like we are FINALLY ready for our primary presentation. :)  I can't wait to put both Junior and Senior Primary together over the next two weeks and see how it goes.  Wish us luck!

Although my 12-year old son said that my logo looked nothing like the American Idol logo, you are welcome to use it.  It's the best I could do with the fonts I had available to me.   Just right click on the image and you can save it onto your computer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Tricky or Treat" music time

For our music time this Sunday I am doing a "Tricky or Treat" theme. :)  I was trying to come up with an fun idea to work on the problem spots in some of the songs we are doing for our program. 

I decided to make a bunch of little cards that say "Tricky" and some that say "Treat".  I will put all of these cards into a pumpkin basket, or witch hat or something like that.  I will have a reverent child come up and pull one of the cards out.  On the back of each "Tricky" card will be listed the song (or part of the song) that we are having a "tricky" time mastering.  We will review the part of that song.  The kids love to be able to participate up front so I think while we are singing, I will also have a child up by me holding up the little ghosts I made which say "A little bit Spooky" or "BOOtiful singing" depending on how we are doing (just for fun).

Once we've mastered the area, we will move on and another child will come up to pick a card. I think the kids will work hard at mastering the "Tricky" cards so that they can then have a chance to choose a "Treat" card.  For every "Treat" card that is drawn, I will give the kids a candycorn after primary.

NOTE: There are a lot more of the "Tricky" cards in the mix than the "treat" cards.  I do want the focus to be on fixing our little problem areas BUT I know that I will need to break up the monotony and I think this will do the trick-at this stage of the game, I am not above bribery to get these songs polished for the program. :)

(Here are the cards I made. If you'd like to copy them, just right click on the images below and you can save them to your computer).  Four cards will fit on an 8 1/2" x11" page.
some of our tricky spots...
" work on the 2nd ending of "If I listen with my heart"

"Practice watching the director to stand/sit"

 "work on wording on the 3rd verse of "Praise to the Man"

My Ghost Signs- I printed these out on cardstock and I plan on laminating them to make them extra durable.  You can save these to your computer as well by right clicking on them.  I sized these to be about 6" tall each.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Super Warm Fuzzy" Music Time

Earlier in the year, our primary presidency held a primary activity based on a thought that President Monson had shared on giving Warm Fuzzies.  Anyway, my husband(who happens to be extremely charismatic, and super fun)  is THE go-to guy for everything in our ward.  If there's a need for a Santa at the Christmas party, he's it.  If an auctioneer is needed at the YW fundraiser, he's the man.  So naturally, when the primary needed an appearance from the superhero "Super Warm Fuzzy", he was called to the rescue. :)  

Anyway, I have been playing with the idea for awhile of having "Super Warm Fuzzy" pay a visit to our Primary music time.  The kids have been working so hard on our program and in the past few weeks everything has really started to come together.  It has made me feel a little warm and fuzzy myself.  

At the start of music time, we talked a little bit about the different senses and how they are used:  hands-we use to touch, eyes-we use to see, nose-to smell, etc.  I asked them what we use our heart for.  The kids of course said love but I also explained that we can "feel" with our heart as well-and described it as a warm, fuzzy feeling in our heart. I bore testimony that music invites the spirit.  We can sing all day long, but unless we believe and have conviction of what we are singing, the message doesn't translate the same.  We needed to make sure that we had that conviction before our primary program so that their parents and visitors would be able to feel the spirit through their music.  It was their goal to make the congregation feel warm and fuzzy inside as well, which led me into the introduction of our visit from "Super Warm Fuzzy".  

I explained that I'd run into "Super Warm Fuzzy" just the other day and that he'd asked about all of our primary children.  I assured them that I'd told him how wonderfully they were doing with their preparation for the program.  He asked if he could come for a visit on Sunday to see for himself.  In preparation for his visit we needed to make sure we could make him feel warm and fuzzy with our singing. 
To begin, I had two children come up and sit in two chairs.  I put a "super warm fuzzy" cape on each of them (you wouldn't need to have these, it was just an added bonus as my kids kids had gotten from the primary activity earlier in the year).  Then I blindfolded the two children.  I asked them to listen to the children singing and focus on how it made them feel.  They did a very good job with this and reported that they felt peaceful and warm inside.  

After we'd polished the song, we were ready for our visit.  "Super Warm Fuzzy" made his appearance.  The Jr. Primary in particular was mesmerized with him and sang so powerfully.  Definitely another warm fuzzy moment for me.  He gave each of the children a little warm fuzzy that they could trade in after primary for a little treat-I just did a Hershey's hug because hugs make us feel warm and fuzzy too. :) I wanted to do the pop rocks because they make our mouth feel warm and fizzy but they were a little pricey.  With our large group I decided that it was an unnecessary expense but if you had a small group, that could be fun.

Sr. Primary could tell that it was indeed my husband but they humored me and went along with it.  This turned out to be such a success and I think it helped the kids to recognize the importance of "feeling" the music and the power contained therein.

Truly such a great group of kids-all 100+ of them. :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

A bad Case of the "Singing Bug" Music Time

With our Primary Sacrament presentation just a few weeks away, I need to really get some energy from the kids.  The kids in our primary are great but there are still a few that have yet to catch the "Singing Bug" :) so we are going to work on them this Sunday.

What to do:

I made a big 18" ladybug.   On the back of each spot on the ladybug , I put the name of the songs we're singing in the program.  I'll place the ladybug up front on the board.   I'll explain to the kids that while there are lots of cold and flu "bugs" going around this time of year, there's an even more contagious bug going around- the "Singing Bug".

I'll have one of the kids come up and pick a spot off the ladybug. We'll begin by singing that song. With the help of the Primary presidency, we will walk around the room with the dots (garage sale stickers) and place one on each of the kids who are really putting an effort into singing.  Once they get a dot, it means that they are infected with the "Singing Bug" and the only cure is the "S" pills (Skittles) in my jar.  We will continue to put a dot on each of the kids for each one of the songs we review.  I am hoping that even the kids that usually don't participate much will jump on board and become infected with the "Singing Bug" as well.

By the time we are done going through all of the songs, hopefully the kids will be covered with dots and they can trade those in for the "S" pills after primary. 

UPDATE:  Huge success today!  Kids loved it and sang their hearts out.

Lost Sheep Music Time

The Primary theme for September was on missionary work.  I was trying to come up with a fun way to help the kids understand the importance of spreading the gospel and finding Heavenly Father's lost sheep.  At the same time I also wanted to review all of our songs for the program, as time is winding down.

What I did:

I created sheep with the songs from the program listed on the back of each one.  I started out by reading the scripture that went with the theme,  "This gospel shall be preached until every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" D&C 133:37.  A reverent child was invited to come up and pick a sheep off of the board.  Two other children were then called up to be our "missionaries".  The two missionaries were excused from the room for a moment while the first child hid the sheep.  After the sheep was hidden, we started to sing the song that was on that sheep. The missionaries were invited back into the room.  They had to stay together as missionaries always go out in pairs.  As they got closer to the object we sang louder/further from the object, we sang quieter (same as the hot/cold game).  We did this until the lost sheep was found.

We talked about how the missionaries throughout the world go about searching for the lost sheep the same way.  They use the spirit to guide them to the sheep, just as we guided our missionaries to finding our lost sheep. This seemed to be a very effective activity and one that the kids wanted to do again in the future.   

Dice Game Music time

We needed to learn one of the songs for the primary program and I was trying to think of a way to teach it that would engage the kids.  I saw an idea for the dice game on here that I thought would be effective.   I just took a square box (I used a tissue box), covered it in paper, and then added stickers onto each side of the dice (numbered 1-6).

I wrote all of the words to the song on the blackboard. I had to improvise a little with Junior Primary and use pictures (where many of the children don't read yet) but for the Senior Primary, we ran through the song a couple times until they felt comfortable with it.   I would then have a child come up and roll the dice.  Whatever number they landed on, we had to erase a word (so if they landed on a 5, we would erase every 5th word).  This worked so well and the kids didn't seem to tire of it.  By the time we'd rolled the dice several times and had the words erased, the kids had it mastered.  Very easy activity and yet so effective.

David and Goliath Singing time

On my second week as Chorister, I was trying to come up with a fun way to get the kids ready for our Primary Sacrament program.   To be honest, at the time the thought of the program felt like a Goliath to me as there was so much that needed to be done so I thought I'd run with the whole Goliath idea.

I'd found a 4-ft Goliath in one of the F.H.E. kits I'd made years ago (YEAH!).  I brought him out for the Primary kids and explained that we had a Goliath before us-referring to the Primary program.  I quickly shared the story of David and Goliath and how David had faith and the help of the Lord and he was able to conquer Goliath. I made sure to stress that our Goliath's are not always a bad thing. The primary program is a good Goliath but just a monumental, huge task that would require a lot of work on our part but just like with David, with the help of the Lord we would be successful.

I'd gathered up a bunch of stones from my back yard and numbered them 1-10, each one corresponding to one of the songs we're singing in our program.  I put the stones in a bag and let a child come up and pick a stone.  We then sang that song.

Here's the fun part, depending on how well they sang the song, they got to take a shot at the target on Goliath.  If they sang the song just okay, I let a child come up and try to hit Goliath with a small marshmallowt.  If they sang it really well, they got to use a large jet-puffed marshmallow.  If they did it perfectly, they could use one of the jumbo-sized marshmallows (these are kind of new but they are at a few stores here).

While this activity could have gotten a little rowdy, the kids were really good about keeping a reverent tone.  It definitely engaged them and got them singing. I think we did a pretty good job with conquering Goliath! :)

Celestial Singers Music Chart

I was just called as the Chorister in Primary.  I was a little overwhelmed by the timing as our primary program is coming up quickly.   I really needed to be able to gauge where the kids were at with each of the songs for the program.  I saw a "Celestial Singing" idea here and I thought it was the perfect way to help me keep track of the kid's progress, and a great way for them to have a visual of their progress as well.

What I did:

I created my own version of the "Celestial Singing" poster with the star (representing pretty good job), moon (representing very good job), and sun (representing excellent singing or Celestial Singing).  For each of the songs in the program, I also created a star with the name of each song.  At the beginning of singing time, I'd have a reverent child come up and pick a song for us to run through.

To engage the kids, I bought a couple star shakers from the dollar store.  I had a couple children who were being "celestial singers" come up and do the shakers while we sang the next song.  I also had a child that was being a "shining" example of a celestial singer come up and help me conduct using a glow stick.  I called up new children for each of the songs.  They all really seemed to enjoy getting to participate so much. 

After we'd sing each song, we determined where we needed to place it on our chart.  Over the weeks, the stars have started moving up the chart and we are well on our way to become "Celestial Singers".