What’s In My Church Bag

We have a very curious, stubborn, and strong-willed little boy who makes attending church very hard. We found how easy it was to fall into a trap of going home from church if he was acting too ornery or tired. (Especially before he was old enough for nursery, three hours with a crazy little baby was very, very hard.)

We soon decided that if we were all healthy and not bleeding, then we were going to stick it out at church…whether we got anything out of it or not. We realized that we are in the stage of going to church at for at least the sake of staying in the routine of going, and to teach our children that we go to church.

Yes, church is a lot easier now that Race is going to nursery, but sacrament meeting is still hard so I found that a well-prepared church bag and a few tricks make all the difference.

photo 1 (9)Here are a few things that I have learned:

  • I have a separate bag for church than my diaper bag. I have found that it’s nice to just have one bag designated for church that I can have ready to go every Saturday night versus having to pack the bag each Sunday morning. I try to include lots of fun snacks, sippy cups, a few diapers, wipes, and books. (I try and keep the books and things in his church bag only for church so that it is “new” every Sunday.)
  • We leave for church 20 minutes before it starts so that we can get a pew. Being on a pew versus a folding chair makes all the difference with a crazy toddler because he is confined!
  • If we have to take him out of a church meeting because he is being cranky, we don’t let him run around in the foyer. When he was younger and didn’t understand, we’d walk around and look at paintings on the wall. Now that he’s older, one of us either holds him tight on the couch or in the car. After he has calmed down, we immediately go back in. Being out in the hall should be a punishment and something he shouldn’t want to do.

 

Here are a few things in my church bag that Race loves!

Curious George Magnetic Tin Set

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Race LOVES this! It has a bunch of magnets and he loves playing with it.

I know that my Savior loves me 

Savior book

We try and have him look at books about the Savior during the sacrament, and he especially loves this one.

Gospel Art Book 

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This is wonderful and so inexpensive. Race especially loves looking at all of the pictures as we whisper the scripture stories to him.

Felt Activity Book

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We have this Book of Mormon one and a Joseph Smith one. You have to assemble these, but Race enjoys playing with all of the different pieces.

And lastly, I made a book at shutterfly.com of pictures of him and our family. He LOVES looking at pictures of himself.

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I have a strong testimony of the importance of church, and I also strongly know how hard it is to enjoy church (or even want to go) with a crazy toddler. Hopefully something in this post helped someone. We are setting examples and precedents weekly for our children.

What do you put in your church bag? What do you do to help church be enjoyable?

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Surviving Morning Sickness

I’ve been a little MIA posting on this blog because I am expecting baby No. 2!

We are so excited. If you know anything about my pregnancies then you know that I get miserably sick for months and months. I have tried (basically) everything so I thought that I would share what I have tried and the results for me. Hopefully this post can benefit someone!

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What I have tried that doesn’t work for me (but could work for you):

Zofran: Oh, I wish this worked for me! I have heard from so many people that it is a miracle drug for them when they are pregnant, but it gives me horrible migraines. Not worth it.

Phenergan/Promethazine: I took this for most of my first pregnancy. It barely took the edge off, but didn’t really work. This makes you super sleepy so only take it if you will be up and moving.

Pressure Point Bands: I ordered these off of amazon, desperate to see if they would work. They didn’t.

Preggie Pops: Don’t work for me and are pretty pricey for what you get.

Vitamin B6: Didn’t work for me.

Ginger Capsules: I tried these towards the end of my first trimester and they did seem to help a little bit, but it also could have been that I was at the end of the first trimester. My doctor reccommended them to me, and he explained that with them I would get the benefit of ginger without having to eat ginger. I bought them at a health food store.

What DID work for me:

Staying in bed until I had something in my stomach.

This makes the biggest difference. Adam brings me saltines and Sprite right when I wake up, and after that settles he brings me a bowl of cereal, and then once that settles…I get up. This has made the biggest difference.

Always be eating!

  • This can be overwhelming and daunting but if I eat something every hour and keep my stomach full that helps.
  • Keep quick and healthy foods available to snack on.
  • My favorite go-to snacks are pears, apples, bananas, carrots, cottage cheese, string cheese, yogurt, pepperonis and pickles.

race cryingHave freezer meals for quick dinners. 

Some things in my freezer now are spaghetti sauce that I made, taquitos, shredded chicken, and soups.

Don’t be hard on yourself.

It’s OK to have a messy house, dishes in the sink, always be in PJ’s and watching lots of TV with your toddler. I had to learn that taking care of me and this little baby was the most important. This picture of Race was taken on an especially hard day.

 Have a good support system.

When I was so sick, having people that loved me and checked up on me made the time    bearable. There are a few neighbors, friends, and family members that were my little angels during the very depressing months of sickness. I hope to be that kind of person to others going through difficult times. Below was my screen saver during those hard months.

I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER than I was and I am so grateful for that. I still get sick in the mornings, but it is so much better then it used to be. But regardless of how sick I get, I am very grateful to be able to be a mother. It’s very worth it.

What helps you when you are pregnant??

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Easy, Moist, and Delicious Chocolate Cake

THIS IS THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE! I got this recipe at a youth activity when I was in high school, put it in my recipe box and never made it. Well a few months ago, I was looking through my recipes and found it and decided to try it out. The recipe was called “Crock pot Chocolate Surprise!” and I thought “how could that not be amazing?”

Well I didn’t plan ahead enough so I decided to just make it in the oven and it worked out perfect. I have yet to try it in the crock pot…because who wants to wait 6 hours to eat chocolate cake? But I am sure that it would be extra moist and delicious in the crock pot.

Seriously, this recipe is SO GOOD and SO EASY! It is just a few more ingredients than a normal cake mix and it is a million times better. I really will never make a normal cake mix cake again!

The Best Chocolate Cake

1 package chocolate cake mix

8 oz sour cream

1 large package chocolate pudding

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup cooking oil

4 eggs

1 cup water

Mix together and either:

Put in a sprayed crock pot on low for 6-8 hours

Spray 9×13 pan and cook at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes

I have also halved the recipe and it still works great. I mix together the cake mix and the pudding mix (which equals 4 cups) separate the mixture in half and use 2 cups for the recipe and put the other half in an air tight container and use another day. I put the cake in an 8×8 pan and cook for 25 minutes.

I think this would be great for cupcakes! I have also wanted to try white cake mix, vanilla pudding, and white chocolate chips, I am sure that it would be so yummy too!

I hope that you make this cake! 🙂 You will be a changed cake maker!

Candy Cane Cookies

This is my great-grandma’s cookie recipe and I just love it! It has been a family tradition to make (and of course, eat) these every December. They are really simple but look pretty impressive! They are also a great cookie to make with kids. Try them out for your next holiday get together!

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Candy Cane Cookies 

1/4 c. shortening

1/2 c. butter (softened)

1 c. sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp. almond ext.

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla ext.

2 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. red food coloring

1/2 c. crushed candy canes

1/2 c. sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly; butter, shortening, sugar, egg, and almond and vanilla extract. Blend in flour and salt. Divide dough in half and blend food coloring into one half. Form dough into cane shape by rolling 1 tsp. dough into “snake” shape and then twisting both colors together. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 9 min. While baking, mix crushed candy canes and sugar and sprinkle on hot cookies when they are done. Remove from baking sheet and allow the cookies to cool on a cooling rack.

The Little Moments

I was able to attend the Relief Society Broadcast at the Conference Center this year. As I was listening to the talks, I had the idea to have a social media fast until after General Conference — no Instagram or Facebook. It was one of those things where I could have easily pushed the thought aside, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew that it was personal revelation for my life. I have never had so much down time and I know that I have wasted too much time. I decided that during the time that I would have been on social media, I would study the Ensign, Conference talks, and try and memorize the family proclamation.

At first it was really hard — I hadn’t realized all of the little moments when I would just grab my phone to look at stuff. I started to see little moments that I could interact with Race or take advantage of 5 minutes to look at an ensign article. It got easier over time, to the point that I realized I didn’t miss it, that I didn’t feel that I HAD to check and HAD to get to the last post I had seen before. One of my bff’s, Katie, joined me in the fast, and we helped keep each other in check. That helped a bunch, too.

Now that my fast is over, I let myself get on at night for 20 minutes. Every once in awhile, I will get on during the day, but NEVER when Race is awake. When Adam and I are spending time together at night, I put my phone in the kitchen so I can focus on him. And guess what? I don’t miss it. And guess what? I can do so much more with my time! I have had awesome scripture studies, I have read TWO books in two weeks,  and I have made better use of those little moments.

I do feel that there are great things with social media. I love that I can keep in touch with people, whether that be from high school, family, college, my mission, or neighbors. I love that I can share the gospel and my testimony through social media. I love posting pictures of my sweet baby boy and I love seeing the updates on others. I love that as I go through the frustrations of being a new mom, I can relate and learn from others. But I have learned that there is a time and a place for it.

This is now my background from my screen, and it has helps keep me in check when I look at my phone.

                                                

I want to take advantage of the little moments. I know that the little moments can define our character. There was a woman in my ward growing up who always accomplished a lot, and when my mom was a young mother, she asked this woman, “How do you get so much done?” She responded, “I take advantage of the little moments. You can get a lot done with 5 minutes here and there.” I think about that a lot. When I look back at my life, I don’t want to remember me sitting on the couch on my computer/phone or watching TV. I want to remember LIVING my life.

So tell me, what do you do to stay focused during the day on things that matter most? How do you monitor your social media time?

Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of our most favorite dinners!  (Adam says top five.)

There are many reasons why I love it!

First and most importantly, it is very delicious.

Second, it is very easy and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.

Third, this makes A LOT. So I love to freeze half or give a pan to a neighbor. I love meals that are freezable. There is just something so wonderful about having a nice dinner, ready to go.

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Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

2-3 chicken breasts, shredded (Remember this post? It makes dinners like this a breeze.)

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese

1 28 oz. can green enchilada sauce

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.

2 cups cooked rice (about 1 cup uncooked rice)

Tortillas (I LOVE the uncooked ones from Costco, they  make this so so good.)

1-2 cups Monterrey & colby  jack cheese (I’ve used cheddar before and it  was still delicious.)

Directions:

Cook chicken and shred. Boil rice.  Cook tortillas (if you have the uncooked ones).  Mix the chicken, cream cheese, TWO cups of the enchilada sauce, rice, and beans together.

Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish (or 1/4 cup in two separate pans, depending on how much you fill your tortillas).

Put some chicken mixture in a tortilla, roll up and set in pan. Repeat until all the mixture is gone. I fill my tortillas up with a nice little helping of chicken and I can fill up two pans!

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over tortillas and then sprinkle with cheese.

Cover the baking dish with tin foil and cook at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Uncover the enchiladas, turn on your broiler and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The cheese will get toasty and delicious.

***If you are going to freeze the other pan, do so before baking them.

I hope you make them! They are delicious and easy!

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Original recipe adapted from here: http://pearls-handcuffs-happyhour.blogspot.com/2010/05/cream-cheese-greatness.html?m=1

The Magic of Spray Paint

Spray paint is a wonderful magician that gives life to old things! My sister, Nicole, taught me this little magic trick. So now when I am out and about, I try to imagine what something would look like spray painted.

***One tip on spray painting: Spray farther away than you think and do lots of thin coats — this will prevent it from gooping and clumping.

Here are a few projects that I have done lately — hopefully it can spark some creativity for you!

First, my sister taught me about getting lamp bases from the thrift store. She got me this base for four bucks!

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All we did was tape off and put a bag over the parts that we didn’t want to paint, and then we spray painted it!

Here is the finished project!  Doesn’t it just look like a brand spankin’ new lamp! Beeeee-utiful!

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I got the lamp shade from Target. I also painted that table, which I also got from the thrift store for just 10 dollars. This is in my front room.  I am slowly finishing up all of the decorating and when I am finished, I will show everything that we did!

I got this frame for $4 at the thrift store:

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The After:

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For the frame, I just used the same spray paint that we had for the lamp base and put a fun Fall printable in it. I got this adorable owl for $3 at Target, and the pumpkin…..OH THE PUMPKIN! I just love it. I am sorry that I didn’t take a before picture, but that is A DOLLAR PUMPKIN FROM THE DOLLAR STORE. Yup, spray paint magic.

This was a fun little project. I made this over a year ago. It is super simple! You just hot glue skewers on the back of a mirror. Easy. When I made it, I spray painted it a light green. Well I was sick of the green, and it didn’t really go with my decor anymore, so it was time to spray paint it again!

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I spray painted it GOLD! OOO la la! I just love it.  (This is also in my front room.)

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I got these pictures for two bucks each at a garage sale.

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A fresh coat of spray paint and some 50-cent scrapbook paper made them look like new!

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Here’s a purple frame from my wedding, and a purple bird I got for 5 dollars.

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I spray painted both of them yellow and separated them on opposite sides of the entertainment center. I love it, and love the yellow with the blue wall.

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 Well, there you go! Hopefully that helps spark some ideas of things you can do to brighten up a space in your home!