Archive for the ‘Choosing Joy’ Category

This Mother and Daughter activity was focused on the journey that each girl takes from their blessing as a baby to the decision they made to be baptized and then preparing to be married in the temple.  3 major events.  3 beautiful white dresses.


The dresses were on display and each girl was asked to bring a photo of themselves as a baby – in their blessing dress if possible.  They were also asked to bring a display of the things they had been working on over the last six months with Faith in God.  Those displays included photos of each girl in their baptism dress if possible.  Those pictures were much easier to gather because most of the girls have been baptized in just the last year or two.


During the gathering, the girls had a fun time playing a game of trying to guess who was who in each baby picture.  They wrote down their guesses amid comments like, “She was so cute as a baby!”  It was a positive and fun interaction to kick off the activity.


After a warm welcome, one of the Activity Day leaders gave a 5 minute talk about the “Best 3 Dresses in Life” and the spiritual gifts that each girl has to help them on their journey.  Since this particular leader had just gotten married only a year ago, she was a wonderful example of living the journey herself.



After the message, each girl shared their talents in their display.  Moms were invited to come up with them if they wanted the moral support.


Finally, mothers had been invited to share talents with the girls.  Much of the focus was on how our mothers were examples of developing their talents and how they can help each daughter develop their own.

Everyone was given this favor as the evening ended:



The simple but tasty fruit pizza for dessert was a great way to end the lovely evening.  My favorite part?  The baby photo guessing game.  The energy and love was a wonderful way to start the activity.  Everyone do this!


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This activity was for Mothers and Daughters but it could have been done with dads or whole families.  It was a very meaningful but simple way to connect each girl with their heritage and everyone had a wonderful time!

Activity Days S’more Invite


The Activity Day leaders thought ahead and had a fabulous activity about family history and how to find their ancestors on the computer before this activity.  This activity sparked the flame of interest so that by the time the Campfire Night rolled around, the girls were invested in learning about their families.

Mom and girls were invited to bring camp chairs, roasting sticks and a story of an ancestor to the campfire evening.  The fire was already going when everyone arrived and it was a cozy fall evening – perfect for storytelling.



They went around the group and each girl told the story that they had brought to share.  They were given a half-sheet of paper in advance that invited the girls to prepare a short story to share with the group.  This helped them to keep the stories short and the interest level high as they told their stories.  Some of the girls even memorized their story and one brought photos to pass around.


One thing that was fun about the stories was that they often reflected the personalities of each girl telling the story.  Some were funny.  Many were dramatic.  All were interesting to the group because they were interesting to the girl.  You could feel the family connection as each girl told of their ancestor.



After sharing their stories, everyone was invited to roast marshmallows and make their own s’more treats.  They were also given a favor to take with them.  The whole thing was done in about an hour, with the gorgeous weather to make the perfect night.

S’more Fun Favor 4 On a Page


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I’m not really a New Year Resolution person – I am a believer in setting goals as they are needed all year long.  Make a change when the change needs to be made is what works for me. However, after being inspired by Ali here, I’ve been choosing a word to focus on each year for many years.  This word becomes my resolution, my intention to live a certain way, and a very simple, doable way to elevate my purpose.

Last year I chose the word “cultivate” and 2014 truly became a year of growth for me and those around me.  I looked for ways that I could improve my thinking and my understanding of many different things.  I also found many opportunities to help others to grow in different ways.  My focus on this word affected how I parented, how I served, and how I worked.  I actually loved this word choice.

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For 2015, I have chosen the word “thrive.”  I find it no coincidence that this is the word that came to mind over the last couple of months as I anticipated a new year because it goes hand-in-hand with last year’s word.  As something starts to grow, we want to nourish it and tend to it so that it thrives and flourishes.  Roots are in place.  Buds and leaves have emerged.  Now fruit and blossoms are appearing.  2015 is the time for me to thrive.


My husband, Jason, has loved Danny Ainge since he was a young boy.  Danny played basketball at BYU then went on to play for the Boston Celtics and other NBA teams.  One of Danny’s jersey numbers was 44.  In high school, Jason and his friends replaced the word “forever” with “44-ever.”  That’s how much Jason loved Danny.


On December 26, Jason turned 44 and I asked people who love Jason to send me a photo to help him celebrate his “44-ever” birthday.  As we anticipated this milestone birthday we decided that this would be our best year ever.  Since his birthday is so close to the end of the year, if his 44th year is our best year ever, that means that 2015 is going to be our best year ever as well!

We have no hospitalizations in sight.  Jason’s health is the best it’s been in recent years.  Coleman is flourishing in school and we love this kindergarten age.  I’m feeling good and I’m gathering the tools I need to keep improving my health and well-being.


This is our year to thrive.

And since I am a believer of positive thinking and talking, if we do experience bumps and obstacles, we will face them with strength because we are going in with optimistic expectations.

Join me in living just a little more focused, a little more determined to become something more.  What’s your word for 2015?

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My sister, Kara just threw a bridal shower for a darling girl who is getting married this holiday season.  She called me to help her figure out something that she could do to make the experience special and not just jumbled into the holiday events and decor that were already happening.  We came up with this fabulous Christmas tree idea that Shalyse would be able to take with her.


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Kara purchased a 3.5′ tabletop tree that already had lights and pinecones.  She then gathered 12 gold ball ornaments, a few chipboard words, a chipboard star, a variety of burlap ribbons and a couple cans of gold glitter spray paint at Hobby Lobby.

I adapted many of my Christmas quotes and Word Trees found in my Silhouette shop here and at Lori Whitlocks svg shop here so that they printed gold and gray.  I added a tiny border around each quote for easy cutting once they were printed.

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Using black chipboard found at walmart.com, I had her mount each quote securely.  She kept a small border around each quote and used a Japanese screw punch to punch a hole in each quote card.  She tied gold ribbon through each hole to create an ornament for hanging.

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The final touch was to provide white chalk markers (thin is better) for each guest to write a note on the back of an ornament then hang it on the tree.  When Shalese took the tree home, it was filled with love and sentiments from friends and family.

This became Shalyse’s first Christmas tradition.

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The tree was already decorated with the balls, gold-sprated chipboard words, and burlap ribbon when guests arrived.  It looked pretty on it’s own.  As the night progressed, the love and joy from each guest began to fill the tree and it became a centerpiece for the event.

Guests posed for pictures in front of it and good cheer was running at a high.

It was a hit!

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So, what if you don’t have a Christmas tree to fill with quotes?  Do the same technique and use the ornaments as gift toppers or tags.  I would love to add an ornament like these to my tree.

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We live in a great country.  I love America.  I love the freedoms we enjoy.  I love the life we live because of those who have gone before us.

Life is good.  4th of July week with cousins is BEST.


Check out the tutorial over at eighteen25 where they used my Silhouette phrase celebrating this country we live in.  Click here to find the quote in the Silhouette shop (can only be used on a Silhouette cutting machine).  They put together a little tutorial for you to make your own 4th of July sign.




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You will love this.  It’s one of those things that I looked forward to before it happened but after the fact, I loved it so much that I feel the need to share it with everyone.

It’s a party.  A family party.

But not just any family party.

A party dedicated to celebrating….really celebrating….EVERYONE in our immediate family.  Here’s the thing, though.  It is a family party that will work for ANY group – youth groups, Activity Days, even co-workers.  Totally applicable – just tweak it to fit your needs.


There have been a lot of great things happening in our family recently and my sister, Kara, decided to throw a party for all of us to recognize what an awesome family we have.  We are the Coleman family and COLEMANS ROCK!  This party included our parents and our siblings’ families.  There are 6 siblings in my family and 17 grandchildren.  Everyone who could make it came to the celebration.

1.  INVITATIONS – ask everyone to send in 3-4 things about each person in their immediate family.  Some people had no problem sharing their awesomeness on their own and some people needed a family member to submit their accomplishments for them – either way is fine.  Just find 3-4 things that you can share about each person.  It was easy to email the lists to Kara before the party.  But be prepared to hound some of the people to get their lists in or to help them come up with ideas.  You can also assign food for a dinner or lunch if you choose.


2.  ACCOMPLISHMENTS – we kept it simple and just hand wrote each person’s accomplishments and talents on bright colored paper squares.  Multiple people helped write them because it took forever.  It’s ok if they’re not perfect or the same or extravagant.  Remember the purpose – to share why each person in the family ROCKS….it’s not about perfect-looking writing.


What do you think happened as people trickled in to the party that day?  Reading.  Laughing.  Talking.  Sharing.  Celebrating.  “Wow, you ran a half marathon?  I didn’t know that!  Awesome!”  “That is so exciting that you got into the Nursing Program.  You will be great!”  “Tell me about your new job.”  “Hey, did you see Mackenzie’s over there?  That’s a good one!”


Keep in mind that EVERYONE who was going to be there that night had their own accomplishments included.  My niece brought her boyfriend – we learned that he won a 4-wheeler in a milk-drinking contest.  My other niece had brought her friend with them on their family vacation from Washington.  We learned that she is #1 in her class and on track for Valedictorian next year.  What???!!!  Awesome!


3.  DINNER – we like planned pot lucks in our family so Kara planned the Mexican menu and everyone contributed something to the cause, helping to get it ready all together.


4.  PROGRAM / LESSON – Kara was brilliant in planning the lesson portion of the evening.  Very short.  Kept it light but meaningful.  Perfect.  My brother, Kyle, gave a short lesson about magnifying your talents (see below).  Jason spoke about his Grandma Hall who was a celebrator.  She liked to play the game, “Why is it Like Me?” and for each person’s birthday, they did “I Love ___________ Because….” (see below for instructions of each game).  He shared why these habits were so important for their family to do together and how amazing it is that we can share that same celebrating attitude in our family.  Colemans Rock!  We love celebrating each other!

The messages were short, taught important lessons, and were applicable to all ages in attendance.


Talents Lesson Overview:

  1. Pass around clear pebbles or marbles and have everyone take one.  Discuss how each is individual just like each of us.
  2. Ask everyone to think about a talent that they have and how that talent has helped someone.  Have a few people share (Kyle knew who he wanted to share in advance – people who don’t normally want the spotlight, and people of different ages – this was a really special part of the lesson when we got to hear why each person is awesome).   Ask one person in advance to choose NOT to share something about themselves when asked – this is a secret.
  3. When each of the 4 people share, give them another pebble if they share their talent with us.  Take away their pebble if they choose not to share.
  4. Retell the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30.
  5. Each of us has been given our own talents and when we share them with others, we are given more talents.  God wants us to recognize our talents and share them with others for good.  Where can we find out what our talents are? (patriarchal blessing, work opportunities, prayer and personal revelation, others can tell us, etc.)
  6. When we recognize our talents and work to develop them and share them, we are given more talents and we are happy.


“Why Is It Like Me?” Game

  1. One person goes out of the room.  As a group, the other people in the room choose one item in the room that they want the person to guess.
  2. The person comes back in and says, “Why is it like me?
  3. Giving positive clues, the group tells them why the item is like that person.  “It is bright.”  “It shines.”  “It smells great!”  Whatever you choose – the clues being harder for older people and easier for younger ones.
  4. The person guesses till they discover the item – feeling GREAT because everyone just said such nice things about them!
  5. Repeat.


“I Love __________ Because….”
This family tradition has lasted through to our generation.  On your birthday or other special day, everyone goes around the table and tells why they love the birthday person.  It doesn’t matter if you are a friend visiting and you just met the birthday person for the first time that day or not – everyone tells why they love the birthday person.  We have warned many friends attending our family events to be prepared because they will not be given a pass!

This tradition does two things: 1.  It teaches everyone how to celebrate each other.  2.  It teaches YOU to accept compliments and love from others.

I believe that this is why Jason’s family is so good at recognizing each other’s talents and why they have a strong sense of self.  They have PRACTICED it their whole lives so now they are good at it.  It is an amazing quality to develop in a family.




5.  DANCE PARTY – the evening ended in a spontaneous dance party, complete with a Congo Line and singing along to the “Frozen” soundtrack, of course.

Simple.  Meaningful.  Fun.  My three favorite descriptive words for any event.  Don’t you wish you were there?


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We got dumped on early this year which means lots of sledding days for Coleman.  We live on a golf course so we have some built-in hills right here that are perfect for an almost 5-year-old.  Coleman will say, “Yes” to any offer for sledding and will even head out on his own.  I want to freeze him right where he is – so many things are perfect about this time of life.  But I also love watching him grow and become more independent in the things of life.  We get to the top of the hill and he takes off – doesn’t need Mom, that’s for sure!


Check out Traci’s layout idea over at the Silhouette blog using my Snowflake Flourish.  I have a whole bunch of snowflake shapes in the store right now such as this, this, this, this, and this snowy alphabet.

Happy Winter!


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