Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Why Moms Yell—5 Anger Triggers and How to Fix Them

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes I yell at my kids.

5 reasons moms yell, and how to fix them.

I hate that I do it. And while my children are wonderful at forgiving me after I yell, I wish I could just stop yelling forever. One time I actually did stop yelling at my kids for an entire year, but gradually I let my guard down. I let the things that trigger my anger back into my life, and I started yelling occasionally. Then it happened more and more often, and pretty soon it was like I never even had that year of no yelling.

The one thing I learned during that time period, is that when I yell it is never about my child.

When I yell at my kids, it is always 100% about me. 

And that means it is 100% my job to fix the problem. Having the most perfect children who always obey and keep their rooms clean without my having to ask them will not fix the problem (though that would certainly be nice!). I have to deal with the things that are triggering my anger if I really want to stop yelling at my kids for good.

I've come up with five common anger triggers that I experience often as a mother—hopefully understanding them and how you can fix them will also help you to stop yelling at your kids, too.

Are you a MOM WHO YELLS? Do you struggle with how to TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR ANGER? These 5 tips will help you STOP YELLING AT YOUR KIDS for once and for all!

Why Moms Yell—5 Anger Triggers and How to Fix Them

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Moms yell when they don't feel heard

Two scenarios:

1. I ask one of my daughters to please unload the dishwasher and she replies, "OK." A half-hour later, I notice that the dishwasher still hasn't been emptied, and my daughter is sitting in the living room looking at her phone, so I remind her and this time she says, "Oh yeah! I forgot!" but doesn't move. When she still doesn't move after several minutes, I ask again. By the fourth time, I have lost my patience and I yell "GO UNLOAD THE DISHWASHER NOW!" She then jumps up from her chair and does the chore.

2. My youngest daughter is incredibly strong-willed and stubborn. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to ask for it a million times, even after I have already said no and given her the reasons why. I try to use the asked and answered technique with her, and while it works sometimes, most of the time she just continues to push me until I explode at her.

It's frustrating to feel like nobody is listening to you! It's frustrating to go upstairs and see bedrooms in a state of complete disaster when you asked for them to be cleaned several times already that day. It's frustrating to be blatantly ignored.

The thing is, when your kids don't act until you yell at them, it means you have already trained them that you are only serious about something if you raise your voice.

How to fix it

One of my favorite parenting books teaches the principle of only asking children to do something once and then walking away. If they do not do what they are asked, you wait until they ask you for something and then tell them that you will not be doing it for them because they did not do what you asked of them. And then you calmly stick to your guns. If they want to go out with friends but did not clean their room, they don't get to go—even if they frantically clean their room.

It may not be the easiest parenting trick in the world, but it works—after a few times of this happening, they will know you mean business the first time you ask.

In the case of the strong-willed and stubborn child pushing for a different answer than she has already been given, the only advice I have is to stay calm and stick to your original answer—but be sure that your original answer is really for the child's best good. If you are saying no as a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps you can look at being more open to the child's request if you don't have a truly good reason to say no. Let them build your trust.

Related: Why You Should Say Yes to Your Kids More Often

Moms yell when they are tired

Show me a mom and I'll show you a tired woman. It starts with the 2 am feedings and continues until the kids leave the house. You're either waiting up for teenagers to come home or you're simply staying up late to get all the things done because you couldn't do them during the day.

But then after you've stayed up so late, you have to get up so early to get the kids ready and off to school, and you end up running on very little sleep. I don't know about you, but much like a toddler, I don't have a large capacity to control my anger when I'm tired. When I am running on 5 hours or less of sleep, the littlest things set me off and I feel completely out of control.

How to fix it

The answer here is pretty obvious: Get More Sleep!

But it's more than just getting more sleep. It's learning to get yourself in bed early, no matter what is left on your to-do list. It's making sleep a higher priority than other things. And it's paying attention to how much sleep you're actually getting.

I recently bought myself a Fitbit Charge 2 that tracks sleep incredibly well (I used to use the more inexpensive Misfit Shine, but I like the Fitbit much better—especially for sleep tracking). I have an 8 hour sleep goal per night, and it has been enlightening to me that I basically never hit that goal. My current sleep average for this week is 6 hours and 36 minutes. I can run on that sleep okay until I hit a wall in the early evening and start getting really cranky with my kids, but when I get eight hours I don't start getting cranky until much later in the evening.

I have two choices—I can take a nap in the afternoon (not usually feasible), or I can go to bed earlier. Still working on it.

Related: How Much Sleep Does Your Family Really Need?

You can stop yelling at your kids by getting more sleep

Moms yell when they are not eating right

This may just be me, but I notice a direct correlation between what I am eating and how much control I have over my anger.

I will often want to eat chocolate or candy when I am already feeling a little bit stressed, and so I do. As soon as I have eaten all that sugar, I yell at my children. This has happened so often that I finally woke up and realized that the two were related.

I have also noticed that when I am eating a balanced diet, when I don't let myself get too hungry (low blood sugar is bad for my temper!) I am able to stay much calmer with my children. The anger I experience due to diet is 100% physiological, which is much more difficult to control for me than a purely emotional anger is.

How to fix it

Again, it's an obvious fix—pay attention to your diet and how foods affect you.

I know that sugar affects me in adverse ways almost immediately after I eat it. Others may not have such a drastic reaction, but I think many do. I am currently off sugar for several reasons and it is clear that my mood and temper are much more even because I am not eating it.

Related: On the Path to More Peaceful Parenting

Moms yell when they are overwhelmed

Moms have a lot on their plates. They are basically the CEOs of their homes which means they have to juggle kids, finances, cleaning, shopping, schedules, and a myriad of other things. When there is so much going on, it is really easy to get overwhelmed—especially when you start feeling like nobody else is helping out.

This is probably the reason most of my mom-yelling happens, and it's always due to being overwhelmed with cleaning the house. Sometimes I'll spend all day cleaning downstairs only to go upstairs and see the state of my children's bedrooms and then, well, you know what happens next. But it's because I've already worked so hard and I look at how much MORE work needs to be done and I feel that nobody has pulled their own weight.

How to fix it

First of all, you'll be less overwhelmed already if you are getting enough sleep and eating right—at least that's what I've found in my life.

Second, start paying attention to the things that overwhelm you, and then come up with a plan to keep them in control. Like I said before, for me that is cleaning the house. I've tried lots of different things over the years to help me keep on top of it, and the key is simply to stay on top of it in any way I can!

Third, make sure your family understands your expectations for helping you. If you lay out clear expectations before you become overwhelmed, everyone will be more likely to do their part and you are less likely to get stressed out.

If you are overwhelmed by keeping the house clean, make sure you assign chores to each family member and have a good system for keeping track of those chores.

If you are overwhelmed by making dinner, make sure you have a meal plan in place and set a rotation for each family member to help you with dinnertime chores.

If you are overwhelmed by your busy schedule, set firm priorities and learn how to say no when necessary.

Related: Why I Quit My Job to Stay Home With My Teenagers

If you are an OVERWHELMED MOM who YELLS AT HER KIDS, you can learn to STOP YELLING for good.

Moms yell when they are disorganized

Another time when I notice myself yelling more is when I am unprepared for the next thing. Maybe I didn't remind my kids to prepare their backpacks the night before, or I got involved on Facebook and forgot about an appointment until five minutes before we need to leave.

Again, when I yell in these situations, it's because I'm the one who dropped the ball. It's my job to stay organized and help my kids to be organized. It isn't fair to them when I'm screaming at them to get their shoes on so we can leave when they only had 30 seconds warning!

How to fix it

Find a planning system that works for you. For me that is a paper planner and a whiteboard calendar. For others that is a google calendar or another digital app. It doesn't matter how you do it, it just matters that you do it.

Once you know which planning system you like, spend a little time each day making sure you have a plan for the day and that you know what's coming at you.

It's also extremely beneficial to establish regular routines in your household. We have a nightly routine for the school year which helps our mornings to be yell-free. Notice where things fall apart and see if you can fix it by creating a routine around it—you'll be surprised at how well that works.

Your turn

Think about the last few times you yelled at your children. Can you remember why you yelled? What was going on in your home, in your life, or in your schedule when you yelled? Were you tired? Had you just eaten a pile of chocolate covered cinnamon bears? What could you have done differently, and how can you prevent it from happening again?

Let me know in the comments what your yelling triggers are, and let's have some great discussion on how we can eradicate the anger triggers and stop yelling for good.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Books I Read: May 2017

Welcome to my 2nd installment of "What I Read This Month." I've decided to post it on the 13th of every month, so unless I don't read any books, you can expect this feature each month.

May got pretty busy at my house, so it's amazing that I read 5 books last month. The end of the school year is always crazy town, and I am so happy it's summer because I can't wait to spend more time reading—especially at the beach!

Books I read in May 2017 | Woman reading book in bed | The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah | Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan | As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark | Murder at Tophouse by Clair M. Poulson | Worth the Wrestle by Sheri Dew

Books I Read in May 2017

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Bookcover of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This was our book club read for May and I LOVED IT. I picked up the paperback version from a bookstore on Mackinac Island when my girlfriends and I took a quick girls trip at the beginning of the month.

I used to shy away from World War II books because I didn't want to read about all the horrors. Various book clubs over the years have inspired me to pick up many different books written about World War II, and I have changed my feelings on the matter. As horrific as it was, there are many beautiful stories and inspiring people and I'm thankful that authors like Kristin Hannah have researched those and write novels based upon the things they find.

The Nightingale is based on real women who helped Allied soldiers escape from Occupied France and others who hid Jewish children. Hannah tells a beautiful and emotional tale of two French sisters and how they stayed strong and made a real difference during the war.

Warning: I ugly cried, but I still give it a solid 5 stars.

Buy on paperback
Buy on Kindle

Book cover for Murder at Tophouse by Clair M. Poulson

Murder at Tophouse by Clair M. Poulson

I listened to this one on my Deseret Bookshelf PLUS app which gives you unlimited audio and e-books for a monthly fee. I got a fitbit this month, and it is inspiring me to be more active, which means I walk my dog more often and for longer amounts of time, so listening to books is what I have been doing during those walks. Unless, of course, my husband comes with me and then I talk to him.

Last month I had listened to another Poulson book (he writes murder mysteries and I love murder mysteries) and enjoyed it, but this one I didn't get into quite as well. It was still an interesting story about a police officer who is placed on leave due to being framed by his partner—he decides to go to New Zealand to investigate some things on his own while on leave and has all sorts of adventures, including a murder and falling in love. I give it 3 stars.

Buy on paperback
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Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS (you get a one month free trial)

Book cover for As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark

As Time Goes By by Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark has always been my "guilty pleasure" author. Suspense/mystery is my favorite genre, and she is the Queen of Suspense, after all!

My husband and kids, knowing that I enjoy her books, got me this one for Mother's Day. It was a quick read about a young, classy NYC news reporter (the typical MHC heroine) who is covering a murder trial. She is also hoping to discover her birth parents as she was adopted. Of course, both cases become intertwined and much suspense and intrigue ensues. I enjoyed it.

Buy on paperback
Buy on Kindle

Book cover for Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

When my kids want me to read books that they have read, they leave them on my nightstand. I found this one there this month—Chloe left it—and so I read it. I love reading the books my kids are excited about because it's fun to have reading conversations with them.

This book is about Willow Chance—a highly gifted middle-school girl who suddenly finds herself orphaned when her parents die in a car accident. I was familiar with the book but hadn't read it, and Chloe was right—I really enjoyed it. It is well written and the characters were so interesting. I loved the way that Willow was able to change others without even realizing she was doing it.

I have this book on my list of middle-grade books that help kids learn empathy, and now that I've read it I can positively say it belongs on that list. Great book for both you and your kids to read.

Buy on paperback
Buy on Kindle

Book Cover art by James Christianson for Worth the Wrestle by Sheri Dew

Worth the Wrestle by Sheri Dew

I listened to this book on my walks this month, too. It is pretty short and I finished it in only about ten miles of walking, and I absolutely loved it. I decided that I am going to use my Deseret Bookshelf PLUS app to listen to at least one spiritual book each month, and I was glad that I chose this one first.

I really love Sheri Dew for her frank honesty about the trials and struggles she has experienced and continues to experience. In a time when many are losing their faith, in this book she shows how she is keeping hers despite her many questions and trials. I would recommend this one to anyone, whether you feel you are having a faith crisis or not, because we all have questions and it's good to understand that it is always worth the wrestle with God.

Bonus: Sheri Dew is the reader for the audio book.

Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS (don't forget there is a 30-day free trial!)

What have you read lately that you'd recommend?

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See the linky parties I link up to here.

Love the Arts? Plan a Getaway to Cedar City, Utah!

This is a sponsored post for Visit Cedar City.

The Maestro's first job after receiving his DMA (doctor of musical arts) was in Cedar City, Utah. During the three years that we lived in Cedar City, we were blessed to be able to participate in the rich tradition of the cultural arts there, as both performers and audience members.

If you are an lover of the arts and want to expose your family to some wonderful artistic experiences, Cedar City (also known as Festival City USA) is a great choice for your next family vacation. Not only are there many options too see great theatre and music, Cedar City is close to some of nature's most magnificent artistic creations, making it a prime spot for a summer getaway full of outdoor activities your family is sure to love.

Travel to Cedar City, Utah | Utah Shakespeare Festival | Things to do in Cedar City | Family travel ideas

11 Artistic Activities to Do in Cedar City, Utah


Utah Shakespeare Festival

Utah Shakespeare Festival's 2016 production of Much Ado About Nothing. Photo by Karl Hugh, courtesy USF, used with permission.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival is perhaps the most well known theatre experience in Cedar City. Each summer, people come from all over the country to see it—my aunt who lives in L.A. comes out faithfully each year, and there are thousands of others like her. While we were living there, we had the opportunity to see many of the plays put on by USF and they are of the highest quality.

While the focus is on Shakespeare, there are always a few non-Shakespeare plays and musicals in the line up. The Maestro actually played trumpet in the pit for the USF 2008 production of Fiddler on the Roof—36 performances! All of the plays generally run from late June/early July through October. Find more information at www.bard.org, including the current line-up and educational materials to prepare you for your visit.

Utah Shakespeare Festival's 2016 production of Henry V. Photo by Karl Hugh, courtesy USF, used with permission.

Last summer (2016), we had a family reunion near Cedar City, so all of the adults went to see Henry V one night. It was spectacular—and of course I expected nothing less from the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

It was especially cool for us to see the play in the brand new Engelstad Theatre, which just opened summer 2016. It is an open-air space, much like theaters in the Elizabethan era, but has modern amenities and technology. Though the play itself would have been spectacular in any theater, the Engelstad made it that much better. See the video below for more views of the theatre and the festival itself.

The Greenshow

USF Shakespeare Greenshow. Photo by Alex Santiago, courtesy Visit Cedar City, used with permission.

Each night before the plays begin, the Utah Shakespeare Festival puts on a greenshow. We went to the outdoor greenshow often with our girls, who were fairly young when we lived in Cedar City. (I blogged about it once, you can read it here and see a few of my photos: Shakespearean Greenshow).

The Greenshow is free—simply bring blankets or chairs to sit on and set up on the lawn outside the theatre. There are three different shows which alternate each night, so you could go three nights in a row without seeing a repeat. There is music, dancing, and lots of fun to be had. While you're there, vendors dressed in Shakespeare period costumes will wander through selling tarts and other goodies.

More information here: The Greenshow

The Neil Simon Festival

The Neil Simon Festival's performance of London Suite. Photo by Karl Hugh, courtesy Neil Simon Festival, used with permission.

Also known as Cedar City's "other" theater festival, The Neil Simon Festival may not be as well-known, but it is certainly worthy of your time! Dedicated to performing the plays of Neil Simon, there are generally four plays available to see each summer: two by Neil Simon, and two others.

Our last summer in Cedar City, I got to be the music director for Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues, directed by my brother-in-law. I had a blast teaching the actors some of the famous songs from the 1940s which they used as scene transitions (see photo below). I saw almost every play at this festival during the three years we were there, and can say that they were all very well done, highly entertaining, and fun for the whole family (though you may want to check synopses if you're planning to take your children, Simon does handle mature themes occasionally).

The Neil Simon Festival's 2009 production of Biloxi Blues. Photo courtesy The Neil Simon Festival, used with permission.

The Neil Simon Festival runs for a month in July/August of each year. Find more information at www.simonfest.org.


Orchestra of Southern Utah

Orchestra of Southern Utah. Photo courtesy OSU, used with permission.

During the three years that we lived in Cedar City, The Maestro served as assistant conductor of the Orchestra of Southern Utah. We were highly involved with the organization in many different ways.

The orchestra is quite good and always has interesting programming. If you love classical music and plan a trip to Cedar City during the orchestra's season, make sure to get a ticket. The season begins in early September (while the Shakespeare Festival is still in session) and ends in April.

Visit orchestraofsouthernutah.org to see the current season and find ticket and venue information.


Southern Utah Museum of Art

Southern Utah Museum of Art at Southern Utah University. Photo by Joanne Brittain, courtesy Visit Cedar City, used with permission.

The Southern Utah Museum of Art is a new installment on the SUU campus (near the Engelstad theatre). When we were in town last summer for our family reunion, we were able to walk through it a bit, and I was impressed.

Not only are the exhibits beautiful, the building itself is intended to be art itself—it is a sculpture that is fascinating to look at!

Find more information here: Southern Utah Museum of Art

Petroglyphs at Parowan Gap

Petroglyphs at Parowan Gap. Photo by Alex Santiago, courtesy Visit Cedar City, used with permission.

Ancient native American art can be found just north of Cedar City at Parowan Gap. Combine hiking with art and get a fascinating look at the petroglyphs which were most likely made by the Parowan Fremont.

This was something I never did get around to doing, but someday I will!

You can find directions to the petroglyphs as well as educational information here: Petroglyphs at Parowan Gap

Pictographs at Lion's Mouth Cave

My children at Lion's Mouth Cave circa 2008.

While the petroglyphs are carved into the rock face, pictographs are painted onto the rock. Just west of Cedar City, you can find Lion's Mouth Cave which has many native American pictographs. This is a very kid friendly hike (nature walk more like)—we took our kids there once and had a great experience, and they were quite young at the time.

Find directions and more information here: Lion's Mouth Cave

Nature's Art

The Mighty 5—Utah's National Parks

Cedar City is a good central point for visiting The Mighty 5: Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion. The red rock, hoodoos, and other rock formations are magnificent and will leave you in awe!

Family activities include hiking, biking, river rafting, mule riding, nature walking, and there are plenty of educational events at each park. My kids enjoy being part of the national junior park ranger programs and getting their passports stamped whenever we visit any national park, the Mighty 5 being no exception.

Find more information here: The Mighty 5—Utah's National Parks

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks at night. Photo by Mike Saemisch, courtesy Visit Cedar City, used with permission.

I think it's quite fitting that one of the most magnificent works of nature's art near Cedar City is Cedar Breaks—a geologic amphitheater.

There is hiking and camping available at Cedar Breaks, as well as several cool activities. There is a summer star party each Saturday during the summer that takes you on a laser guided tour of the night sky with the telescopes at the park. They have plein air art events, and the art that is created during that time will be displayed at the Southern Utah Museum of Art. There are also several educational events to take your children to where you can learn about the wildlife in the park.

For more information, click here: Cedar Breaks National Monument

Brian Head

Brian Head ski lift. Photo by Mike Saemisch, courtesy Visit Cedar City, used with permission.

Brian Head is just north of Cedar City and offers great skiing and other snow sports in the winter, and some amazing hiking in the summer. I will never forget doing a hike at Brian Head—a difficult one—and thinking I wasn't going to make it up to the top. But as soon as I did make it to the top, the amazing sight before me made the difficulty of the hike more than worth it.

Find more information on Brian Head and all its offerings at www.brianhead.com

Get more information about all Cedar City has to offer by clicking the following links:

Visit Cedar City website
Cedar City Facebook

Cedar City Twitter
Cedar City Instagram
Cedar City Pinterest

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Soccer Bag Checklist for Teens

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BODYARMOR and Mom it Forward. The opinions and text are all mine. #Switch2BODYARMOR #Bringit

My daughter, Chloe, isn't a little girl running around on the soccer field anymore. She is a teenager who is super serious about playing soccer and maybe even a little obsessed with it. In the last 10 months she has played on 3 different teams and is becoming incredibly self-sufficient when it comes to her soccer bag and whatever's inside it.

It's really important for me to know that she has what she needs in that bag, though! I can't always be to all of her games—the high school team she played for this spring had away games that were several hours away, and I even have to miss home games here and there. I want to be sure that when she grabs her soccer bag that she is totally prepared for any eventuality at the field.

Soccer bag checklist for teens| Essentials that should be in any soccer bag | important items to keep in your soccer bag

Chloe and I have created a list of the things that are in her bag—some of them are things she feels are very important as a soccer player, and some of them are things I feel are very important as a soccer player's mom.

Soccer Bag Checklist for Teens

Essential gear—includes all the obvious things like shin guards, goalie gear, cleats, socks, etc.

Soccer Ball

Mouth guards

Hair ties and headbands to keep hair out of the way


Small first aid kit—include bandaids, antibiotic ointment, disinfectant wipes, ibuprofen/Tylenol, an instant cold pack, and a few large bandages for bigger scrapes

Sunscreen/lip balm

Bug spray

Plastic bag for wet uniforms and stinky socks

Warm-up pants

Long-sleeved sports shirts and sports leggings for cold weather games

Beanie or winter headband

Soccer sandals or other slip on shoes for after the game

Phone—especially important when parents can't attend the games

Snacks—healthy, high protein snacks and fruit are best

Water bottle

Sports drink

In the past, I have not been a fan of the popular sugary sports drinks—I feel they defeat their purpose with all of the sugar and added dyes.

I recently discovered BODYARMOR sports drinks and I am really excited about them because they provide superior hydration with coconut water, electrolytes, and vitamins. They are high in potassium and low in sodium which is important for these kids out there giving their all on the soccer field! There are no added dyes or artificial sweeteners and it is a healthier alternative to other sports drinks. I feel great about sending Chloe to the field with BODYARMOR sports drinks in her bag.

Chloe is excited about them because they come in several different flavors: fruit punch, strawberry-banana, tropical punch, orange-mango, mixed berry, blackout berry, grape, strawberry, and lemonade. I have to admit, they are pretty fun flavors!

If you're in Michigan, like I am,  you can purchase BODYARMOR at Kroger or Meijer stores. Check the website to find out how to purchase them in your area. Download a coupon here: BODYARMOR coupon.

If you've got a young athlete who is working to be their best, click here to find out how they can become the next BODYARMOR athlete!

Find out more about BODYARMOR sports drinks here: BODYARMOR

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

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Thursday, June 01, 2017

June 2017 Visiting Teaching Handout

The visiting teaching message for June 2017 is titled Priesthood Power through Keeping Covenants. I read through the message and thought it was apropos for June, since that is when we celebrate Father's Day.

The lesson emphasizes that our homes can be blessed by the strength of priesthood power, regardless of our circumstances. It then goes on to remind us that personal righteousness is the key to accessing the power of the priesthood.

If we will humbly present ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to teach us, He will show us how to increase our access to His power. Russell M. Nelson | Visiting Teaching handout for June 2017 | June 2017 Visiting Teaching message Priesthood Power through Keeping Covenants

Linda K. Burton emphasizes the need for personal righteousness in this quote:

"Since priesthood power is something we all desire to have in our families and homes, what do we need to do to invite that power into our lives? Personal righteousness is imperative to having priesthood power.”

The quote I loved the most, though, was the last one by Elder Russell M. Nelson:

"If we humbly present ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to teach us, He will show us how to increase our access to His power."

Pretty powerful!

The download form is at the bottom of the post—Enjoy!

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.

For more visiting teaching ideas, join us on Facebook!

If we will humbly present ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to teach us, He will show us how to increase our access to His power. Russell M. Nelson | Visiting Teaching handout for June 2017 | June 2017 Visiting Teaching message Priesthood Power through Keeping Covenants

To download:

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

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Unique Twists on Traditional Gifts for Dad

Father's Day is coming up and we all know that dads are notoriously difficult to buy for. Ask any dad what they would like for Father's Day, and the likely answer will be "Anything is fine." Or worse, "I don't know."

Well, going to the store and trying to purchase an I don't know anything is fine is pretty difficult. So we all default to the same things year after year: ties, grilling accessories, favorite foods, camping gear. And then, pretty soon, Dad has all of that stuff and you're totally stuck for gift ideas.

So I thought I'd give you a few new ideas for Father's Day gifts that are just a little twist on the traditional dad gifts.

Father's Day gift ideas for the dad that already has everything. One of these unique twists on the traditional father's day gift might be just what the dad in your life really wants!

Father's Day Gift Ideas

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Ties are always a go to gift for dads—at least, I always find myself buying them for my husband and my dad. It's fun to pick out something pretty that they might like, but what if you picked out a meaningful tie instead? My husband loves music themed ties since he's a music professor, for instance. If you know your guy will wear a fun tie that reflects part of his personality or his interests, go for it.

I recently found a tie company called Statesman Ties. They sell ties based on the flags of different countries and states, and they are really classy—something any dad would feel comfortable wearing to the office. If your guy has a particular connection to a state or a country, these ties would make a great gift!

Since many of my readers are LDS, I know you will love this idea!  Your husbands and fathers probably served missions somewhere in the world and would love a meaningful tie to remind them of the country or state they served in.

Buy a Statesman Tie as a Father's Day gift or a gift for a missionary. Ties are available in the flag styles of many different countries and states and dad is sure to love one!

Statesman Ties was kind enough to send me a tie to sample, and it is well made. The Maestro served in Romania, but since that tie hasn't been added yet (they are adding new ones all the time), I decided to get Belgium which we gifted to a good friend. We even had his missionary title put on the tag, which is another cool way to personalize your tie.

If you decide on a Statesman Tie, enter OVERSTUFFEDTIES at checkout for 15% off your order.

Purchase yours here: Statesman Ties


There comes a point where dads who like to grill have all the grilling stuff that exists. And you can only have so many bags of bamboo skewers on hand.

But not every dad has a smoker. I wouldn't have even though of it, actually!

This smoker is a best seller and I bet your dad will love it! Or you can check out the entire selection of smokers on Amazon here: Smokers on Amazon


Camping dads are just like grilling dads—they've already got all the camping things. But he might not have a hammock!

Not only are hammocks a fun addition to your campsite, they can also be used in your backyard. Dad can spend time outside reading or hanging out with the kids.

Dad will love spending time alone or with his kids in a new hammock. Great Father's Day gift idea!

Because we don't have two trees close enough together in our yard for hanging a hammock, I would choose one that comes with a stand, like this one or this one. Or, you can check out all the hammock choices here: Hammocks on Amazon


One of our go-to gifts for my husband always somehow includes his favorite foods—we either make a nice dinner or gift him with a box of his favorite treats. Instead, I think it would be lots of fun for the whole family to make him feel even more special by going on a Father's Day picnic where you serve him his favorite foods.

You could pack it all up in a new cooler, and if you're going to make cookies, these ones are to die for!

A family vacation

Okay, so this might be a gift for everyone disguised as a gift for dad, but I'm fairly confident he'll still love it. Because dads love spending time with their families, and going someplace fun with their kids is a perfect gift!

Does your dad love Disney? Maybe he'll love a trip to Disneyland with the family as a gift for Father's Day!
The Maestro and our three daughters at Disney

I loved watching The Maestro have a great time with our kids at Disneyland. I love watching him with the kids whenever we go on any sort of vacation—he treasures that time and he does all he can to make it awesome for them. And he has a blast in the process.

Even if you can't do Disneyland, there are plenty of local places that I'm sure your fathers and husbands would love! But if you do want to do Disneyland or Universal Studios, you should book with Get Away Today. They've always got great deals going on so you can always save—plus you can save even more by entering OVERSTUFFED at checkout. You'll get an extra $10 off any Southern California package.

Book your Father's Day Vacation here: Get Away Today

Do you have any other great ideas for Father's Day Gifts? I'd love to hear them! Leave a note in the comments.

Happy Shopping for Dad!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Books I Read: March/April 2017

I am really excited to begin a new series! I love to read and I want to share the books I have read with you regularly, and I figure a "Books I Read" monthly series would be the best way to do that.

Since we are almost to June, I am going to start out with the books I read in March and April. In mid-June, I will share with you the books I read in May. Without further ado, here are the books I read in March and April of this year.

Book reviews for the books I read this month: Deadly Inheritance, Lady of the Lakes, Southern Charmed, The Westing Game, The Art of Racing in the Rain, All the Missing Girls, and the Rock Harbor Series.

Books I Read: March/April 2017

(affiliate links)

book review—The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

A friend of mine handed me this book and told me she thought I would like it. It sat on my nightstand for a week or so, and then I opened it and couldn't put it down. It is narrated by a delightful dog named Enzo, and he tells the story of his family from his (very wise) dog perspective. I may have cried a few tears while reading it, but to me that is just more proof of its goodness.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback

There is also an adapted version for younger readers, which I thought was pretty cool, as the original does have a few adult themes: Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog

Book review—All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

I'll admit, mysteries and thrillers are my favorite genre to read. I was traveling in April and picked this book up at the airport to read on my flight. The cover reminded me of The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I totally judged a book by its cover and picked it up solely on that basis. It turned out to be a good choice! The main character, Nicolette, goes back to her small hometown after ten years. Her best friend had gone missing all those years before and now another girl goes missing. The novel is not written sequentially, but backwards in time. I really liked that style as things began falling into place as I read.

Note: There is some strong language in this book.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback

Book review—The Lady of the Lakes by Josi Kilpack

The Lady of the Lakes by Josi Kilpack

This was the April read for my book club. I purchased it on Kindle, but then ended up listening to it on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS instead. Deseret Bookshelf PLUS is a subscription for audio books and ebooks. For the monthly fee you get unlimited listens, which I love. There are quite a few selections by LDS authors available on audiobook—both fiction and non-fiction.

This book is a historical fiction romance about Sir Walter Scott. It's not my favorite genre, and it did start out a bit slow for me, but I ended up really enjoying the story. Part of that was the reader, who was delightful. If you love historical fiction and/or romance, I think you will really like this book!

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS (you get a one month free trial!)

Book Review—The Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble

The Rock Harbor Series by Colleen Coble

In mid-March we went to a friend's house for a lovely St. Patrick's Day dinner. While there, she mentioned an author would be coming up here for a book signing in July and told me all about her book series which takes place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula—more specifically the Keweenaw Peninsula which is where I live. My friend lent me the first book in the series, and I quickly blew through all 6 books. They are murder mysteries (perhaps a bit crazy for so many murders to happen in the small rural area I live in), but I love murder mysteries and I especially enjoyed the characters in this series. They are quick reads, nothing too meaty, and are perfect for the beach or a vacation.

Colleen Coble is a Christian author and there are lots of faith and Christian references in these books.

Buy the first 5 in the series on Kindle (best deal)
Buy the first book on Kindle
Buy the first book on paperback

There are currently 6 books in the series with a 7th coming out in July 2017.

Book Review—Southern Charmed by Melanie Jacobson

Southern Charmed by Melanie Jacobson

Melanie Jacobson's refreshing and fun chick-lit books are some of my favorites. She is an LDS author, and her books are always clean and hilariously funny. In Southern Charmed, she takes us to her own home state of Louisiana for an adorable romance that I couldn't put down. Of course, I can't put her books down ever, so there's that. I read this one on Kindle, but it can also be listened to or read via ebook on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS

Book review—The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I read this because Sophia had just finished it in her 5th grade class. Knowing my affinity for mysteries, she told me I just had to read it, so I did. I'm sure I'd read it before—probably when I was around Sophia's age myself. It's always fun to read something your kids love so you can talk about it with them, and the mystery really is clever and I didn't immediately figure everything out even though it's a middle grade novel.

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback

Book review—Deadly Inheritance by Clair M. Poulson

Deadly Inheritance by Clair Poulson

I just got Deseret Bookshelf PLUS in April, and this was the first book I listened to. Surprise!—it's a murder mystery. I'd read Clair Poulson once before, and I had enjoyed the story. He is a retired law enforcement officer who has been quite prolific with his novels. I liked listening to this one. I save my audiobooks for when I'm in the car driving around town or when I'm doing the dishes. I just hook up to our bluetooth speaker, turn it up loud and get working. It's better than music for me!

Buy on Kindle
Buy on Paperback
Listen on Deseret Bookshelf PLUS

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This post may contain affiliate links, for more information, please see my disclosure.

See the linky parties I link up to here.