Health Challenge for Kids

I am currently doing a health challenge with a group of friends and our older kids wanted to join in. There were a few items on my list that simply wouldn’t apply to kids so I made a few adjustments and came up with a kid friendly version.

For those that don’t know how these challenges work: The top 6 items are everyday items, they are the most important ones that we encouraged the kids to hit every single day. The 1-6 under “BONUS” is more of the optional items but the more you do the better your odds because at the end of every day you roll the dice and whatever number it lands on is that days BONUS. So, if you did it, you get the bonus point! We have the kids doing this challenge Monday – Friday for 5 weeks.

Yes, we are hoping the kids pick up some healthier habits from doing this BUT perhaps more importantly I hope they learn to find moderation. We have been very big on stressing to the kids that this is NOT about perfection. Some days you may get all 7 possible points, one day you may only get 5 but the goal is to be making improvements and finding moderation.

The kids have had some amazing insights so far (they are on week 3 right now) that makes me hopeful that this is working! Some of their comments that have made us happy:

“I don’t miss sweets as much as I thought I would”
“I didn’t even drink soda on the weekend even though I could because I didn’t even want it”
“I haven’t had any headaches, I think it’s from drinking water like you always say” (this was perhaps one of my personal favorite comments #momisrightagain 😉)
“I thought no technology was going to be the hardest but I actually had a lot of fun just playing all day”

We mix Bonus #6 up every other week. Some weeks it is NO TECH and some weeks it is HELP WITH DINNER and by help with dinner I mean I stand there if they have questions with the recipe or need me to walk them through a part but they do majority of it. It’s awesome!

This is after week 1. I had forgot to add number 6 then so that’s why you see it squeezed in there. I could have printed one tracker for each kid but decided to save trees and squeeze them all in one. 🌳

If you are interested in doing this with your kids I have a printable version below and if you have any questions leave a comment and I will get back to you ASAP. Here’s to healthier choices, living with intent, and finding moderation in all things! 👊🏼

Finding time to be still

In my quest to live an intentional life I have found great power in the ability to slow down.  As I slowed down and put more thought into each decision I was making I found it easier to know what to say yes to and more open to saying no if needed.  I have been amazed at the time I have found to get all of my top priority items done.  My top 4 priorities everyday are:

1. Personal study/feeling a connection with my Savior 

2. My family & their needs

3. Me time

4. Service

 How I go about those top priorities changes from day to day.  Sometimes my personal study is straight from the scriptures, other times it is listening to a General Conference talk.  The needs of my family change from day to day of course.  Me time is sometimes an hour to myself at night and other times it is just doing something nice for myself here and there throughout the day.  Service is sometimes something more time consuming like helping something with a project, or babysitting their kids, bringing someone a meal and other times it is simply texting someone to let them know I’m thinking of them or checking in with a family or friend I know is going through a hard time.

I still have other items on my to do list each day…bake bread, go to lunch with friend, vacuum, grocery shopping, etc; but as long as I have those top 4 priorities done each day, I don’t care what else I crossed off on my list.  Everything else can be bumped back a day or two if needed.

The greatest thing you can do to live an intentional life and to realize what is worth your time and what isn’t, comes when you discover the power there is in stillness.  Another way to word it: meditate.  So often we think that meditating or finding time to “be still” has to be this long drawn out thing and so we push it off because, “who has time for that?!”  Well the good news is we can all find time for that because it doesn’t have to be a long meditation…it can be a moment (or two) of stillness.

Stillness, for me, is sitting in silence (as much silence as I can get with 6 kids) and being aware of everything around me.  The noises around me, what I’m feeling physically, what I’m feeling emotionally, what my thoughts are, and my reaction (physically and emotionally) to those thoughts.  As you begin to pay attention to these feelings you can learn where your focus needs to be.  Sometimes I only have a couple of minutes of stillness before my next responsibility comes knocking.  I have found the better I am at prioritizing and making intentional decisions and commitments for myself and my family, the more time I have for stillness. I am to the point now that at least a few days a week I can find 30 minutes a day to just be still. Think. Reflect.  Feel.  Evaluate, and adjust if needed. On busier days I may still only find a few moments here and there but I CAN still find time to “check-in” with myself. 

I strongly recommend if  you are realizing you need to reprioritize what is deserving of your time and what isn’t that you commit right now, to take a couple of days where after each activity,  you reflect on how you feel after doing that task.  Is it something that serves a purpose?  Is there a way you could go about it that would make it more enjoyable?  Is it something you could live without?  You’ll be amazed how much you can learn about yourself and your needs when you find just a few minutes here and there throughout your day to reflect, contemplate and reevaluate. Listen to your body.  Listen to your mind.  And most importantly, listen to your spirit.

The greatest blessing that comes from stillness is the ability to be acutely aware of not only your surroundings and your physical well being but your spiritual well being.  In the scriptures we are taught that the Lord speaks to us “not in the wind nor the earthquake nor the fire, but in a still, small voice”. (1 Kings 19:11-13).   He doesn’t shout, he whispers.  I know when there is chaos in my house, if I only whispered my children would not be able to hear me unless THEY made the choice to calm down, be still, and listen.  We are no different.  We can not ask Him to speak louder.  To shout our next move to us.  We must be still to receive His guidance.

Perhaps one of the most well known scriptures that talks about the importance of stillness is Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”.  That is a beautiful verse but it is important to remember what it speaks of just before that verse. “Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof…The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved..the earth melted…” (Psalm 46:3-9)  Then we come to that beautiful verse where we are told to be still. “Be still, and know that I am God…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46:10-11)

You see, the horrible things around us may not stop, our burden and trial may not be removed but if  we can learn to be still, we CAN feel Him and we can receive the peace we seek.  He can be our refuge THROUGH the storm.  

As you make a conscious effort to live with more intent, I have no doubt you will find more time for your top priorities.  Make sure one of those top priorities is finding time for stillness.  Draw closer to your Savior and watch as everything else in life falls into place.  Not always neatly, life may not always be pretty, and it may even at times still be really hard…but you’ll be amazed with the peace you can feel, even through the darkest of days, and the closeness you can feel to our Savior at anytime, when you are simply…still.  

Covid-19 – a lesson in growth through tribulation

My dad was diagnosed with Covid-19 recently. This isn’t his first rodeo in being a statistic. He has had a rare form of cancer that is often found in children but he got it in his thirties. He survived a bloodclot a week before my wedding back in 2006. Last year, he was in the hospital, septic, and yet he pulled through. My dad is a fighter, but this doesn’t make the current diagnosis any easier. In fact, this is the hardest one to watch because that’s all we can do…watch from afar. There is no option of jumping in the car and driving down to help care for him because I have my own family to consider during this time too. We can’t send help over to the house because they need to be completely quarantined for at least the next 2 weeks, if not longer. There are SO many unknowns right now it makes my head spin thinking about it.

Yet through all the doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, sleepless nights and more worry and fear, I feel peace. It may only come in moments but it comes. There is also a lot of room for growth right now. This is yet another reminder that drawing closer to the Lord is the answer to finding peace. That through this trial we will be given opportunities to practice living our faith, be reminded of the importance of relying on the Lord and His greater plan, given more opportunities to cry out unto the Lord, learn to hold our loved ones closer and never take time with them for granted, a reminder to allow others to help in our times of need and probably even more lessons I’m not even aware of yet.

Beautiful things can come from trials. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, it is a TRIAL after all. It will be hard, and painful, and scary and a time full of tears and heartache and yearning for peace and answers but it will also be a time of growth, and moments of beauty, and peace and clarity. I’m anxious about the weeks to come but I’m also being reminded to slow down, take it day by day and look for those moments of beauty and growth along the way.

One Day at a Time

What a time, and way, to be reminded that it’s ok to not have all the answers and it’s ok to not know how things are going to end up.

What I do know, is we can give into fear and panic, or we can use this time to self reflect and reprioritize. We’re trying our best to choose the latter in our house.

What it comes down to is I refuse to let this fear circulating distract me from the good that is still happening. I still have so much to be grateful for and there is still so much joy to be had. I won’t let the negativity of others judging and panicking slow me down. I will not judge others for their choices, I don’t know the whole story. I won’t panic, I’m doing the best I can and that’s all I can do and I trust God will help with the rest.

So I’m going to make the most of my extra time with my kiddos. I’m also going to regularly find times to escape for a couple minutes and take care of myself. I’m going to help others when I can, if I can.

Is it going to be all sunshine and rainbows and my kids will get along perfectly and I’ll never be exhausted physically or mentally? No. It’s going to have its ups and downs but I’m here for the ride and I’m making the most of it. One day at a time.

aint no party like a crafting party

When I made the commitment to start being more intentional with how I was using my time I knew that one thing I REALLY wanted to get back to was crafting with our kids, especially the younger ones. I realized I had gotten out of the habit of doing fun crafts with the kids (especially during the holidays which is when we always did the most) due to our busier schedule and although I wasn’t willing to remove things from our to do list to make time for it I knew if I moved things around and made it a priority I could find time for it again.

So crafting has been reestablished in our household and what better time to get back in the habit then at the beginning of a bunch of holidays coming up?! Zoey and I decided to start with a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow in a fun new way and one that she could hang from the hook on her bedroom door (we use to make wreaths regularly for the kids to hang on their doors…simple craft ones that we throw away after each holiday). We started by find a pot of gold that I could print online. This is the one we used.

Zoey didn’t last too long coloring hers but she sure looked cute while doing it!

Next you have to cut some strips of paper the colors of the rainbow. (a red sheet cut into strips, an orange sheet etc)

Then, I took our colored pots and cut a slit right along where the gold ended and rim started so we could start threading the strips to make our rainbow.

We slid the pink strip through first and then Zoey taped it together (you could also staple) before moving on to purple and continuing up the rainbow. Zoey loved the taping part. I don’t know what it is about tape but each of our kids are obsessed and love an excuse to use it.

We had fun talking about each color and all the things of that color that we love as we added each new strip on. Zoey was so proud of her finished product and couldn’t wait to show Rylee when she got home from school (they share a room) Parker and Taylor have mine hanging from their door and Cambryn and Andi asked when they got to do a craft again. 😄 Looks like we all missed crafting.

I’ll have many more kid-friendly crafts coming to the blog so follow along if you want some more ideas to add to your compilation of craft ideas to do with your kiddos 🤗 Also, Happy St Patricks Day! 🌈🍀

Kindness Challenge

I LOVE that quote. Since I’m trying to live with more intention this year I figured one of the first places to start was thinking about the end…of life. Sounds dark, I know, but hear me out. Think about what you want people to say when you are gone. What do you want to be remembered for? For me, the first thing that came to mind, was wanting to be known as a genuine, kind person who helps others feel good about themselves. So if that is how I want it to end, what do I need to make sure I’m doing now to become that person?

Enter the 15 Day Kindness Challenge. 15 days of being very intentional about doing small acts of kindness that help you become a little less selfish and a little more selfless. If I can keep repeating these 15 days of intentionally thinking of others then I’m on the road to creating the legacy I want to leave behind.

beauty in every butterfly

Life is full of beauty, love, and blessings. It is also full of trials, temptations and sorrow. I want you to picture for a minute that you are sitting on a bench (or maybe a comfy chair, whichever you choose) in the middle of your happy place. Maybe that bench is in the middle of a beautiful park, or up on a mountain with no one around. Maybe it is on the beach or overlooking a lake. It is wherever you are happiest.

Mine would be a location like this. Beautiful shot by Mark Leader

Now picture that as you sit there minding your own business a beautiful butterfly comes and lands near you. Do you notice it? You are already surrounded by beauty so maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s there.

Now picture that a bunch of these butterflies come and land by you. You would probably notice them then, right? You would take in their beauty and admire their unique traits. You would watch them interact and fly around noting the added beauty they bring to an already rich scene.

Now lets move your location to a dreary, drab, dead location. Insert picture of the Elephant Graveyard from The Lion King into your mind. If you are sitting there and single butterfly comes and lands near you, are you going to notice it? YES!!! To finally see such beauty in such a dull place you would absolutely notice it. You would be in awe with the colors and grace it shows, enjoying every minute you get to experience such beauty before it flies away.

When life is going well and we are surrounded by beauty and blessings it can begin to be hard to notice the smaller blessings that are in our life. We are so grateful our house is not falling apart and our job is going well, our kids are doing great in school, our cars are not breaking down, the weather is ideal and we are finding all the time to get everything done on our to do list. In such a perfect world though we would often forget to enjoy the little things throughout the day. How grateful we are that the toilet did not over flow today and the car started so easily. How humbled we are that our kids are healthy and striving and you just got that promotion at work. We forget to have gratitude that things went smoothly enough today to check off every item of our to do list for a change.

You see, that’s why we rarely live in our “happy place”. If we lived there all the time, it would no longer be our happy place. When the cold weather has been lingering for 4 months we can’t wait to feel the sun kissing our bare skin, only to have 3 more months pass and find ourselves wondering when the weather will finally cool off so it can actually feel like fall. We have to CHOOSE to look for the blessings in our current circumstances because our circumstances are constantly changing. Thankfully, they are always changing.

Unfortunately, more often then we wish, we have to live in the Elephant Graveyard. Lucky for us, we don’t have to stay there forever. While we are there though, we can look for butterflies and soak up every second with their beauty before they fly away. Maybe your butterfly is a friend showing they care, or a stranger smiling at you. Maybe it is the weather working out in your favor or a moment of gratitude that you have your five senses. Sometimes the only blessing we can see is that God made our days short so they can come to an end, give us a couple hour break, and start over again anew.

At times the butterflies may seem to come few and far in between while other times you seem to be surrounded by them. Occasionally, you may find yourself lucky enough to be removed completely from the Elephant Graveyard and find yourself in your happy place and when you do, don’t forget to continue to look for those butterflies. They never stop coming. They are there in the good and there in the bad. Sometimes there is still only one and a time but it’s there. It’s beauty is the same whether on it’s own or in a group. Do you notice it?