Overstuffed Overstuffed

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Easy St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Cupcakes


I wanted to make some rainbow cupcakes with a pot of gold for St. Patrick's Day, but I procrastinated. I had wanted to use these AirHead Extremes rainbow candies for the rainbows, but I couldn't find them anywhere in my small town and I had no time to order them online.

So, as most procrastinators do, I improvised.

Instead, I was able to find some of these rainbow colored Twizzlers, and figured I'd be able to make them work somehow. And honestly, I really do love the final product.

Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow Cupcakes

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Materials needed:

Yellow Cake Mix—because we are gluten-free, I use this one, which is easily found at most grocery stores.

Green Frosting—I was pleased to find this very green funfetti frosting at the grocery store, saving me from dealing with food coloring.

Baking cups—I used silver ones since that is what I had on hand, but it would probably be more fun (and more apropro) to use metallic gold baking cups or these fun St. Patrick's Day themed baking cups.

Rainbow Twizzlers—Note, licorice is NOT gluten-free. I made some cupcakes without the rainbows so that they would be safe for my Celiac daughter. If you choose to use the Airheads instead, those are also NOT gluten-free.

Rolos—Rolos are gluten-free, so you could make some cupcakes with just the pots and not the rainbows.

Plain M&Ms—I just picked out the yellow ones. You could also use yellow Skittles instead.

Easy St. Patrick's Day cupcake idea | decorate cupcakes for St. Paddy's Day | Green cupcakes | pot of gold treat idea | rainbow cupcakes for St. Pat's Day | how to make St. Patrick's Day cupcakes | Fun treat for St. Patrick's Day


Directions:

1. Bake the cupcakes according to directions, let cool.

2. Frost with green frosting.

3. Cut the rainbow licorice into thirds, making sure to have one of each color of the rainbow.

4. Stick the licorice straight down into the frosted cupcake. You'll want to have it go all the way to the bottom of the cup so that it stands up well.

5. Stick one yellow M&M into each unwrapped Rolo.

6. Place the Rolo onto the cupcake next to your licorice rainbow.

7. Put another yellow M&M or two next to the Rolo on top of the cupcake.

8. Use the funfetti sprinkles that came with the frosting to finish off the look. You could also use green sanding sugar or these gold sprinkles.

Easy St. Patrick's Day cupcake idea | decorate cupcakes for St. Paddy's Day | Green cupcakes | pot of gold treat idea | rainbow cupcakes for St. Pat's Day | how to make St. Patrick's Day cupcakes | Fun treat for St. Patrick's Day


These cupcakes were super quick and easy to decorate and turned out incredibly cute for the small amount of time put into them.

Looking for more fun St. Patrick's Day projects?

St. Patrick's Day Mason Jar Gift

St. Patrick's Day Lucky Printable

Thursday, March 09, 2017

March 2017 Bonus Visiting Teaching Printable

I especially loved the quote by President Uchtdorf in the March 2017 Visiting Teaching Message:

"Though we all have weaknesses, we can overcome them. Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong."

March 2017 visiting teaching printable handout | Dieter F. Uchtdorf quote | Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong. | LDS quotes | weakness becomes strength | Ether 12:27


I get fixated on my weaknesses sometimes. Because sometimes it feels like I will never be able to overcome them. I really appreciated how President Uchtdorf stressed that we CAN overcome them—but we have to be humble and have faith and rely on the grace of the atonement.

And that is what I have trouble with most.

Having faith that those weaknesses are not some permanent part of me!

If you are looking for a different quote for March visiting teaching, click here: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me visiting teaching handout.

This visiting teaching handout comes four to a page. For these smaller quotes I like to laminate them with my personal laminator, and then use magnetic tape to turn it into a fridge magnet.

To download:

Enter your email address into the form below and the file will be sent to you via email. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.


Enjoy!

March 2017 visiting teaching printable handout | Dieter F. Uchtdorf quote | Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong. | LDS quotes | weakness becomes strength | Ether 12:27

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

April Fools Day Mystery Dinner Menus for Kids {free printables}

I'm not a big prankster on April Fools Day—or any other day for that matter. But I still wanted to find a fun way to celebrate April Fools Day with my kids. I remembered that I had done these mystery dinners at church youth activities before, and I figured they would be a fun way to celebrate April Fools Day with my kids without having to also pull off elaborate pranks.

As it turned out, my girls absolutely loved doing it and now look forward to it every year. Each year, I come up with a different theme for the mystery dinner and then create the menus around that theme. We've done Disney princesses, Superheroes, and colors so far.

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The girls love it because it's a lot of fun, but I love it because it's super easy. It takes less work than dinner on an ordinary day because you don't even have to set the table! And there is no need to plan a special menu with special food because it's the menus and the activity that make the meal fun.

How to plan a mystery dinner for April Fools Day


1. Print out your menus. 


There are three menus you will get with your download: Princesses, Superheroes, and Colors. You can give each child a different menu, or give everyone the same one. It's up to you!

To download the menus, enter your email address into the form below. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.


2. Decide on the secret code.


There are ten items on each menu. You just need to jot down quickly which item goes with which part of dinner. Don't worry—you don't need ten courses! Things like plates and utensils are part of the menu, which is the very thing that makes this dinner so fun!

Here's an example, using the Princess themed menu:

Ariel—fork
Aurora—main dish
Elsa—dessert
Snow White—fruit
Cinderella—spoon
Pocahontas—drink
Belle—plate
Tiana—bread
Jasmine—vegetable
Rapunzel—napkin

Remember, only Mom and Dad know the code!

April Fools Day mystery dinner printable menus for kids


3. Don't set the table!


Call the kids to dinner and explain that Mom and Dad will be their servers tonight, and that they will each receive a menu that they will use to place their dinner orders.

We usually have them order in three courses:

First course—3 items
Second course—4 items
Third course—3 items

If you have time and you're feeling like drawing it out, you can do four or five rounds!

4. Set a timer for each course.


Plan ahead how long you will allow for each of the dinner courses. 5-10 minutes is generally plenty of time.

5. Have a fun and silly dinner!


What makes this fun for kids is not only do they not know what they are ordering, they might receive dessert first without a utensil to eat it with or a plate to eat it from. How funny is it to get a pile of spaghetti without a plate or a fork?

Some kids will have a great time eating with their hands or without a plate, others will prefer to wait until they receive the proper utensils. Either way, they'll have a blast and you'll be the best mom ever for planning such a fun April Fools Day activity.

Little will they know just how easy it was for you to do.

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Happy April Fools Day!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

What Are the Best Pens to Use for Paper Planners?

I love paper planners. And I love pens and markers. In fact, part of the reason why I love paper planners so much may just be because I love color coding them with pens and markers! I've done a big review of paper planners, but I thought it would be a good idea to do a review of the best pens to use with paper planners, too.

Mostly because that meant I got to play with pens!


There are a few key elements that I look for in the pens I use in my paper planner:


1. Color—I like the color to be bold, bright, and easy to read. I color code my planners, so being able to tell the difference between colors is also very important.

2. Ink flow—A smooth, consistent ink flow is best.

3. Bleed-through/smearing—Nobody wants the ink to bleed through to the next page or to smear everywhere!

4. Price—As much as I love pens, I don't want to have to break the bank to buy good ones.

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In this post, I will review ten different types of pens and their pros and cons. Some of these are pens I already have and use, and the rest are popular pens that I purchased to see how they stood up to my favorites.

There are a lot of really great pens out there, so this is by no means an exhaustive list! I saved my very favorite for last (make sure to scroll all the way down there!), but there are several pens on this list that I really like and would recommend for planning. Other than saving the best for last, these aren't in any particular order.

This post uses affiliate links for your convenience.

The Best Pens for Paper Planners


1. Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens


The Staedtler triplus fineliner pen is an excellent pen to use with a paper planner.
These German pens are very popular in the planning community so I was excited to try them out.

(Pictured with the Tools4Wisdom Goal-setting planner, which I am currently LOVING.)

Pros:

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliners come in a nice carrying case. I didn't know that I would love that as much as I do, but I really love it!

Dry safe. The company claims that these pens can be left uncapped for days without drying up. I chose not to try it out.

Great colors. I purchased the 10-pack of pens, and the colors are just as brilliant as advertised. If you are a serious color-coder, you can also purchase them in 20-pack, 36-pack, or even 42-pack varieties.

Smooth writing. These are a felt tip pen, and the writing is quite smooth.

No smearing.

Cons:

The darker colors bleed very slightly through the page.

Price:

Around $10 for a pack of ten.

2. Paper Mate Ink Joy Retractable Ballpoint


The Paper Mate Ink Joy is a great and inexpensive pen to use with a paper planner.


These pens have been my go-to planner pens for some time.

Pros:

Vivid colors. I like the bolder colors, but some packs only have more pastel colors, which I don't love quite as much.

Smooth writing. For a ballpoint pen, they write like a dream.

Super cheap. I used to be able to get an 8-pack for just $3.00, but I can't find that deal anymore. Still you can get a 24-pack for only $8.99.

Cons:

Not a huge variety of colors. Even the larger count pen packs have several repeats of colors.

No carrying case. Yes. This is now a con, and I never knew it before.

Price:

$8.99 for a pack of 24 assorted colors.

2b. PaperMate Ink Joy Ballpoint


The Paper Mate Ink Joy is a great and inexpensive pen to use with a paper planner.


Before I found the Ink Joy retractable pens, I used these.

Pros:

They write exactly like their retractable siblings and come in all of the same colors.

Cons:

They have lids that don't tend to stay on very well. As you can see from the photo above, I have only managed to retain one lid out of the six pens I was able to find.

No case.

Price:

They are more expensive than the retractables as well. You can get a pack of 9 pens in assorted colors for $8.99.

3. PaperMate Flair


The Paper Mate Flair is an excellent pen to use with your paper planner.

These are another very popular pen amongst the planning community.

(Pictured with an Erin Condren Planner—a popular paper planner that I have used in the past and quite liked.)

Pros:

Felt tip, but doesn't bleed through at all.

No smearing.

Nice, vivid colors.

They have a carrying case!

Comes in different tip sizes. I prefer a very fine tip, so the one I tried out is the ultra-fine tip. You can also purchase them in medium-tip.

Cons:

None.

Price:

About $8.00 for a pack of 8 colors.

4. Zebra Z-Grip Retractable Ballpoint


Z-grip | pens to use with paper planners


I purchased an assorted package of these pens and used them for planning a few years ago.

Pros:

Inexpensive. You can purchase an 18-pack for $10.00.

Cons:

Spotty writing. The ink just doesn't flow smoothly.

The colors are not very vivid, and some of them don't even show up well on paper.

Though they are inexpensive, the Ink Joy ballpoint is even more inexpensive and writes much better.

No case.

Price:

$10.00 for 18 pens.

5. MagnaTank Gel Pens


Magna Tank gel pen | best pen for paper planner


I used these pens exclusively for planning for about a year.

Pros: 

They hold a lot of ink, and therefore last forever. There is a reason they are called the MagnaTank.

Gel ink. I do like gel ink slightly better than ballpoint, even though I tend to use the ballpoints due to their cheaper price.

Cons:

The roller balls got stuck all. the. time. It drove me crazy (how did I use these for a whole year?)!

Cheap construction. The pen would unscrew constantly.

Inconsistent ink flow.

No case.

Price:

$5.77 for a set of 2 in one color. I could not locate the multi-colored pack online.

6. Uniball Vision Needle Rollerball


Uniball vision needle | best pens to use in paper planning


I ordered these pens last week after seeing them recommended online.

Pros:

Very fine tip.

Waterproof and fade-proof.

Smooth ink flow. I really enjoy writing with these pens.

Cons:

The colors are duller and darker than I prefer for planning.

The ink smears before it is dry.

The darker colors bleed through the page a little.

No case.

Price:

$8.33 for a pack of 8 assorted colors.

7. Sharpie Ultra Fine Point


sharpie ultra fine point | paper planners

I was surprised to learn that the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point is a popular pen with the paper planner community.

Pros:

Love the ultra fine point.

Great colors. You can get them in a variety of bold, vivid colors.

Inexpensive. A pack of 24 assorted colors (no repeats) is only about $14.00.

Cons:

Terrible bleed-through. Your planner needs to have super thick paper before you'd be able to use this pen for planning. Great for writing on card stock weight, though.

Stinky!

No case.

Price:

$14.47 for a package of 24.

8. Foray Advanced Ink Retractable Ballpoint


What is the best pen to use in a paper planner?


These were another pen that I saw recommended online.

Pros:

Super smooth writing. The pen just glides right along, just like a gel pen, even though it isn't.

Cool ergonomic grip.

Good colors. Not as vivid as some of the other pens, but they are still nice.

Cons:

No case.

A little spendier.

Price: 

$15.39 for a package of 8 assorted colors.

9. Pilot G-2 Retractable Gel Pen


Best gel pens to use in paper planner


These are my husband's very favorite pens and are also a favorite with the planner community.

Pros:

Gel ink for very smooth writing.

Smear-proof.

Refillable, if you would remember to refill them.

Nice rubber grip.

Cons:

The colors are too dull for my taste.

No case.

Price:

$7.34 for a package of 8 assorted colors.

10. Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Ink Pen


Pilot Frixion | Awesome pen to use for paper planning


Everyone raves about these pens, and so I figured it was high time I actually try them out. I love them and they are my new favorite pen for planning, so I am glad I finally tried them!

(Pictured with my current planner, which is also my all-time favorite planner—The Mom on the Go Planner.)

Pros:

Gel ink.

Refillable.

Very smooth writing and ink flow.

Great vivid colors.

They come in a carrying case!

Nice rubber grip.

No bleed-through.

ERASABLE. You guys, this is life changing. I thought they would be like the erasable pens of 20 years ago, which I never liked. But this thing erases as good as a pencil would, and it erases easily—no elbow grease required.

Here's an example:

Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Pen | Perfect erasable pen for planners


I wrote a goal to pay off a credit card in my Tools4Wisdom Planner. But—oops!—I wrote the wrong credit card. Instead of crossing it out, I erased it, and you can barely tell.

Isn't that amazing???

Cons:

The ink does smear a little before it's dry, but it dries quickly.

Slightly more expensive than I like, but the erasability makes it okay in my mind.

Price:

$12.69 for a package of 7 assorted colors.


Conclusion:


The Pilot Frixion was definitely my favorite pen. It had everything I really want in a planner pen, plus it is erasable. I hereby crown it the best pen to use for paper planners.

Other pens I really liked and would be perfectly happy using are the PaperMate Flair, my trusty friend the PaperMate Ink Joy, and the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

March 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout

The visiting teaching message for March 2017 is "The Enabling Power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement." At first, I didn't know how it was different from February's message, but after reading it, I recognize that we are talking about different things that the Atonement does for us.

visiting teaching | March 2017 visiting teaching message | handout | printable


In February we talked about how the Atonement is evidence of how much we are loved by God. This month, we are talking about how the Atonement gives us the power and the strength we need to do hard things. I particularly loved the quote about Nephi being bound by his brothers and how he didn't pray that his circumstances would be changed, but that he would have the strength to change them himself.

A few years ago, our family theme was "I Will Go & Do—I Can Do Hard Things" and the scripture in Philippians 4:13 was the verse we used. Of all the family themes we've done over the years, I feel that one was internalized best by my children. They know they can do hard things because Christ will help to strengthen them.

March 2017 visiting teaching free printable handout | Philippians 4:13 | I can do hard things | The Enabling power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement | visiting teaching message March 2017


That is the scripture I used for the main printable this month. You can get a printable with a longer quote from the message here: March 2017 Bonus Visiting Teaching Printable.

Want to join us on Facebook for tons of visiting teaching inspiration? Click here: The LDS Visiting Teacher

To download:

Enter your email address into the form below and the printable will be sent straight to your inbox. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.


I recommend sending the file to a photo center such as Walmart or Costco if you don't have a good photo printer at home. I print mine on this Canon printer which does an excellent job. I print it straight onto 5x7 photo paper so it is ready to go into a frame for my sisters.

March 2017 visiting teaching free printable handout | Philippians 4:13 | I can do hard things | The Enabling power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement | visiting teaching message March 2017

P.S. I noticed while writing this post that I spelled Philippians wrong! The file that will be sent to you has been corrected but I am too lazy to fix the photos/files in this post!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Southern Utah's Hidden Gem—10 Things to Do Near Kanab, Utah


In 2009 we attended my brother's wedding in Phoenix. We were living in Cedar City, Utah at the time, so the drive was only about 8-9 hours. We had a lovely weekend celebrating my brother and his new wife, and then we drove home. On the drive home we hit some major weather and then literally watched the transformer in Kanab go out when we were a few miles away. We had planned to gas up there, but when we arrived to the entire town being out of power we were forced to find a hotel in Kanab and stay the night.

I'll never forget trying to check in and pay—the hotel staff was using candles and flashlights to see by and since the computers were down, they were manually checking us in somehow. Once we were checked in we had to climb a couple flights of stairs (no elevators!) to get up to our room by the light of The Maestro's little flip phone.

Until recently, that was my only real experience with Kanab–driving through many times on our drives between Arizona and Utah (we lived in the Phoenix area before living in Cedar City), sometimes stopping to eat or gas up, and then our epic power outage adventure.

       
Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary


Since that night spent in Kanab, we've learned that Kanab and its surrounding areas have some pretty amazing things to do! Its perfectly central location to many different locations makes it a perfect vacation spot. If you're looking for an awesome vacation in Southern Utah, don't overlook Kanab and its proximity to activities that your family will really enjoy.

10 Things to Do Near Kanab, Utah 
(No Power Outage Required!)

1. Visit a National Park—or Three!


Three national parks are within a 90 minute drive of Kanab. If you are hoping to visit several national parks in one visit, staying in Kanab will make that easy.

Bryce Canyon National Park (1 hour 30 minute drive from Kanab)

Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. A hoodoo is an oddly shaped pillar of rock that is created by erosion. Looking at photos is pretty awe-inspiring, but to see it in real life should be on everyone's bucket list!

Zion National Park (40 minute drive from Kanab)

Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Zion National Park offers many different hikes and some of the most breathtaking scenery you'll ever see. The Maestro and I enjoyed hiking the Narrows slot canyon, but I was way too scared to try Angel's Landing—but perhaps you are more daring than I am! Even without that hike, we found many things to do and I would love to go back again to do more.

Grand Canyon North Rim (90 minute drive from Kanab)

Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Grand Canyon | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary


The Grand Canyon is another one of those destinations that ought to be on everyone's bucket list. I went as a child, and I'll never forget it! The North Rim is 90 minutes from Kanab and provides an excellent day trip that you and your family will always remember.

2. Waterski at Lake Powell


Lake Powell, specifically the Wahweap part of it, is a beloved vacation spot for my mom's side of the family. She used to go every year, and during my childhood we still went often. Even if you don't waterski, it's a fabulous place to boat, swim, or just lay in the sun. Wahweap is about an hour from Kanab.

Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary


3. Play at Duck Creek 


Duck Creek Village is about an hour's drive up Cedar Mountain from Kanab. We drove past it many times while living in Cedar City and in Arizona, but we never experienced it until this past summer. The Maestro's family met there for a family reunion and it was fabulous!

Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary


We had access to mountain lakes for swimming, clay shooting, ATV riding, hiking, and more. The kids loved it. My favorite was a hike to Cascade Falls that overlooked Zion National Park. It wasn't too difficult (perfect for young kids) but provided some gorgeous scenery.

4. Off-Road at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes


About 45 minutes away from Kanab is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The red rocks of Southern Utah create a unique red/pink sand that is not only cool to look at, but super fun to play in! Most of the park is open for ATV riding, which is a popular activity there, but there are also areas for hiking and just playing in the sand.

Southern Utah travel | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes


5. See the Grand Staircase National Monument


My girls love to visit any National Park or National Monument, even if it's just to get the stamp in their National Park Passports. The Grand Staircase National Monument is right in Kanab, so you can head to the visitor's center and grab your stamp or you can stay a bit longer and try out some of the hikes and enjoy the beautiful scenery that is unique to Southern Utah.

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6. Visit the Kanab Heritage and Heritage House Museums


We love to visit museums wherever we are vacationing. It's a great way to learn more about the area and the history you are seeing during your visit. Kanab has a heritage museum that will teach you about its pioneer history, native American information pertinent to the area, and see cool artifacts.

Find more information here: Kanab Heritage Museum and Heritage House


Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase


7. Visit the Little Hollywood Museum


Another fun museum to visit in Kanab is the Little Hollywood Museum. There you can see many of the original movie sets used in old western films and TV Shows such as The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and Lassie. They make it a fun, immersive experience with actors. Even though I've never been much of a western movie lover, I want to take my family there!

Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase | Little Hollywood Museum


8.  Attend a Local Festival 


Kanab has three local festivals that are not to be missed if you are visiting at the right time.

February: Balloons and Tunes

Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase

During the Balloons and Tunes Festival, the balloons are launched three mornings and there is a Battle of a Bands competition on Friday and Saturday. It includes a street fair and several other activities.

June: Jacob Hamblin Days 


Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase

Jacob Hamblin Days is a festival that celebrates the pioneer and western heritage of Kanab and Kane county. If you love rodeos, this is the festival for you.

August: Western Legends 


Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase


The Western Legends festival celebrates the Old Western movie tradition of Southern Utah. You'll see live performances, meet celebrities, see a parade and tractor pull, and lots more fun.

9. Take a Pig for a Walk at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary


I was surprised to find out that one of the coolest tourist features in Kanab is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary! At first, I thought it was a normal humane society, but they have so much more than just dogs and cats. There are horses, parrots, bunnies, pot-bellied pigs, and turtles as well as dogs and cats. You can take tours and see all the animals you want to. My kids would be in heaven at this place! More information can be found here: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase




10. Stay at Parry Lodge


Finally, if you're looking for a cool place to stay while you're vacationing in Kanab, try the Parry Lodge. It was founded in 1931 by the Parry brothers and has hosted many Hollywood stars like Gregory Peck, Maureen O'Hara, Frank Sinatra, and John Wayne while they were filming in the area. The accommodations are beautiful!

Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase

Kanab has something to offer to everyone! For even more information on all Kanab has to offer you for your next family vacation, be sure to check out the following links:

Visit Southern Utah
Twitter
Facebook

This post is sponsored by Kanab Tourism.
          
Southern Utah travel | Family Vacation | Kanab, Utah | Grand Canyon | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon | Duck Creek | Near Cedar City | Lake Powell | Grand Canyon | Heritage House Museum | Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Coral Pink Sand Dunes | Grand Staircase

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Secret Life of Teens on Instagram

Last weekend I dropped my 16-year-old daughter off at an event. I needed to talk to one of the other moms, so I waited around with Bria for a little while until that mom arrived. While we waited, Bria and her friends were talking about normal teenager stuff: school, music, and what someone had posted on their "finsta."

My ears perked up. Finsta? This was a word I hadn't heard before.

I've heard of Instagram, of course, and like any good parent I follow my children's accounts and have their passwords so I can check them myself. But what on earth was a finsta?

So, like any good parent, I butted into my daughter's conversation and asked about it. Her friends were totally candid with me and told me that "finsta" is an abbreviation for "fake Instagram." And most teenagers and their friends have one.

After that enlightening conversation I went home and asked my 13-year-old daughter if she knew what a finsta was—and whether she had one herself.

I was relieved to find out that she didn't have one, but she told me that she did know what it was (though most kids in the middle school set call them spam accounts instead) and that many of her friends had them. Then she offered to show me.

Are you sure you know what your teeanger is doing on Instagram? | finsta | rinsta | Instagram spam | parenting | talking to kids about social media | internet use | how to monitor kids and teens online | cell phone contract


I now know more about Finsta and Rinsta and Spam Instagram than I ever wanted to know—except, as the mother of teens it is vital that I know it. And you should know it, too.

What parents need to know about fake Instagram accounts


60% of teens have fake internet accounts.


A 2016 National Cyber Security Alliance study found that 60% of teens surveyed had secret social media accounts, while only 28% of their parents suspected that their children had fake accounts. After the conversation I had with my daughter's friends, I realized that the chance was very likely that my own kids had secret Instagram accounts they weren't telling me about. Before that conversation the thought had never even crossed my mind! And I thought I was totally on top of the social media my teens were using—and there is a lot more than Instagram to monitor!

Why are fake accounts so prevalent on Instagram?


For my two teenage daughters, Instagram is definitely their social media of choice. They use Snapchat and my older daughter also has Facebook, but if they are on social media it's going to be Instagram most of the time.

The nature of Instagram is visual, and teenagers feel the pressure to keep their feeds beautiful and well-styled. My girls refer to gorgeous Instagram feeds as "tumblr" and rarely post on their own accounts because whatever they post has to be perfect and totally cool. A teen has a reputation to consider, after all, and social media is often a popularity contest.

Teens want a safe place on Instagram where they can feel free to post whatever they want. So they create fake accounts that they keep private where only a select few friends can follow them. I asked my daughters to show me some of their friends' fake accounts and, for the most part, they are innocuous. Silly photos, bad selfies, and funny memes,—"real" photos that aren't styled and perfect. (Which makes you start to wonder, which account is actually the fake one?)




Are fake Instagram accounts cause for parental concern?


Yes and no. When I first realized what they were, I was alarmed. After talking to my daughters and actually looking at many of these types of accounts, I am much less alarmed.

The main cause for concern is that your teenager might have a fake account you don't know about. When you don't know about an account, you can't monitor it. Because you can't monitor it, your teenager may feel they can post things that they know you wouldn't approve of.

While I looked through the fake accounts, I didn't see anything of major concern (drugs, alcohol, illegal activity, or provocative/risqué photos). I did see a few things of minor concern such as some vulgar language and a girl flipping the camera off.

I'm sure there are teens out there that are posting material on their finsta that is of major concern, so that is why all parents should be concerned about these types of accounts.

Another concern with fake instagram accounts is that nothing on the internet is ever really secret. Teens are often lulled into a sense of fake security when they think a snap is going to disappear forever or that nobody knows about their finsta. It is important that they understand that anyone could screenshot and share something, they could accidentally post on their rinsta, and that people talk (remember how I found out about these accounts in the first place?). If they are posting material that they shouldn't, it will eventually be found out by more people than they intended.

Mostly, these accounts are for fun—a way for kids to share their real selves with only their closest friends. I noticed that the majority of these accounts had 50 or fewer followers, while the same person's rinsta (real instagram) usually had ten times that amount of followers. As long as you are aware and communicating with your child, you shouldn't have too much cause for worry.

How can I find out if my teenager has a fake account?


1. Bring it up and ask them point blank. Even if they aren't forthcoming, they will now be aware that you know about the popularity of finsta and spam accounts. I asked my girls if they had this type of account and they both said they didn't. While I trusted them, I still did the second and third items on this list, just to be sure.

2. Do a search for their name on Instagram. I was surprised how many of the fake accounts that I looked at used their real name—a sign that the account was more for fun and less about concealing things from mom and dad.

Many of the middle school fake accounts had the kid's name followed by spam, spxm, or spamm and were easy to find by searching. The high school accounts often had name + finsta, but many of them also used a nickname or some sort of private joke type of name, with or without the finsta designation. Still, they were searchable and easily found because they were connected to their real names.

3. Check their actual accounts. It used to be enough to check up on your kid's accounts by following them from your own Instagram. Not anymore. Now there are direct messages and Instagram lives to be worried about, so it's best to check up on them from within their actual account.

Now that you can be logged into multiple accounts at once on Instagram, I require that my girls be logged in on my phone. This way I can check their accounts much more easily than I could before. Teenagers usually follow their finsta accounts with their rinsta accounts, so a simple scroll through of which accounts they are following may bring up an unknown spam account.

4. Check their actual phones. If a teenager really doesn't want their finsta to be found, the only way you'll find out about it is if you check their actual phone, where they are likely to be logged into the fake account.

My girls know that they have to hand over their phones anytime I ask, and that I will read texts, check accounts, etc. If you haven't yet set this precedent with your teen, it may be a good idea to set up a cell phone contract or at least have a conversation and lay down some new rules.

***

I am so glad that I overheard that funny word last weekend. It's led to some good conversations with my daughters about internet safety and why I might be concerned if they have a fake account. I allow my kids to have social media accounts such as Instagram because I want them to learn to navigate them under my watch. I don't want to ban them from these apps while they live under my roof and then send them off to college with no idea how to deal with the same social media their peers have likely been using since elementary school.

We also use a Circle with Disney device to monitor and limit social media use for our teenagers. You can read more about that here: Circle with Disney: What it is, how we use it, and why it's worth it.

As parents, it's so important for us to be educated about what's out there. Unfortunately, social media changes by the minute and it's not easy to keep up! Keep an open dialogue with your kids, and they'll help you stay informed, but also keep an ear to the ground and don't be afraid to butt in on teenage conversations.

It's amazing the things you'll find out.

Want more information on what your child might be up to on social media? This book looks really good: American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

I have this book about helping our families learn to deal with social media, and recommend it: Navigating the Cyberscape

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 2017 Bonus Visiting Teaching Printable

The longer I make printables for visiting teachers, the more I realize that many of you would rather have smaller handouts to give out. The printables I generally make are intended to be framed in order for your sisters to display them, but I know that it often makes more sense to give your sisters something they can put on their fridge or in their scriptures.

So, I will be making two visiting teaching handouts per month from now on—though I can't promise that the second one will be up by the first of the month!

February 2017 | visiting teaching handout | LDS visiting teacher | visiting teaching printable | Linda K. Burton quote | Christ's Atonement is Evidence of God's Love


There is still a week left to get your visiting teaching done, so I hope that you might be able to use either this printable or the regular February visiting teaching printable I posted earlier this month.

The quote I chose to use for this handout is the one by Sister Linda K. Burton:

Christ has graven us upon the palms of His hands. That supreme act of love ought to send each of us to our knees in humble prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for loving us enough that He sent His Only Begotten and perfect Son to suffer for our sins, our heartaches, and all that seems unfair in our own individual lives.

I went ahead and laminated mine with my personal laminator, and then used magnetic tape to turn it into a fridge magnet.

To download:

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February 2017 | visiting teaching handout | LDS visiting teacher | visiting teaching printable | Linda K. Burton quote | Christ's Atonement is Evidence of God's Love | VT Printable