30 Intentional Days| Photography and December Goals

I’m here to report on my first round of 30 intentional days. For the month of November I gave my best effort to taking a picture a day with my nice camera. I think I ended up missing two days over the month, oh man. I really enjoyed this challenge though. The hardest thing was having my camera around in picture worthy moments, but like I said at my half way through report, just having the challenge made me more aware of these moments and allowed me to be more present in the moment. I hope I can continue to pull out my camera and capture some of the daily moments in our life, especially during the Christmas season.

For this next month I really wanted to do something that would help me focus on the Savior, Jesus Christ, this Christmas season. Luckily The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints put out a #lighttheworld initiative and are giving daily prompts of how we can focus on the Savior for 25 days in December, leading up to Christmas so for this month I am going to do my best to accomplish that challenge with my husband.

I also wanted to do a little something else as well, so as I was pondering what to do I decided I really wanted to count my blessings more, to have more gratitude. So at the end of the night I hope to write something I am deeply thankful for. I feel like I need to more fully recognize my blessings.

8 Children’s Books to Welcome Winter

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It’s not snowing where I live right now, but the air is changing. It is sure getting cold and I find myself layering up more and more each day. I miss the warm summer and fall days of going on walks and playing outside, but I love cuddling on the couch and reading stories all day. These 8 children’s books are perfect stories to tell as we prepare for the winter months and snowstorms that may come in the near future.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats-This classic follows a little boy who explores the wonder of snow for the first time.

Snow by Uri Shulevitz-I love this short story about a boy who is watching a snowstorm as it begins. It starts with just a few flakes, but by the end of the book the whole city is covered in snow. I love the boys belief and joy in the snow that is coming from the very beginning. It is so enjoyable to read.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin-I love learning new things about people or historical events through children’s stories, and this is the perfect story about the life of Wilson Bentley. He spent all his life photographing snowflakes because he thought they were so beautiful and he wanted to share it with others. It is an inspirational and interesting story.

Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston-I love this beautiful story about how winter comes slowly through the months of September through December. The writing is lovely and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Snowbots by Aaron Reynolds-This is a really fun story about a robots city who woke up to a snowstorm and the fun everyone had playing in it. It is a cute and silly story.

Blizzard by John Rocco-I really love this book about a real story about a young boy who experienced a Blizzard that left people homebound for about a week. I love this story because we experienced a similar snowstorm last winter and it was such a unique and fun experience.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen-Owl moon is one of my favorite books to read aloud. It is beautiful and peaceful and makes me want to go owling with my dad.

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs-This wordless book is a classic as well. It is a fun story to create and it is always fun to read a book I remember looking at as a child.

Teaching My Toddler | The Letter H

Another great week. When I started doing this teaching my toddler thing, I didn’t look too far into the alphabet. I had lots of ideas for the letters A, B, C, D and as I have gone on I can hardly believe how far we have made it.

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The Letter H Booklistdsc_2006

Hedgehugs by Steve Wilson- This cute story follows two hedgehog friends who try to figure out how they can hug each other. The illustrations are adorable and so is the story.

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend by Andy Andrews- I really like this story about how Henry Hodges finds a perfect friend.

In My Heart by Jo Witek- I think this book is beautifully put together and I love how all the different feelings we experience are presented. It is helpful for me and one we will continually check out again and again.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen- This book is super silly, but I throughly enjoyed reading it. It was also the perfect book for our little activity this week.

Horton Hears A Who! by Dr. Seuss- Our Dr. Seuss book of the week. This is one of my very favorite Dr. Seuss books! I love Horton and his dedication to saving those small who’s because a person’s a person no matter how small!

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion- This book is very cute and I love how my daughter is really concerned about how Harry needs a bath towards the end of the book!

Home by Carson Ellis- This beautiful book was gifted to us recently and it is one of our favorites to read together. I love all of the different places home can be. The illustrations are my favorite.

The Letter H Printables

This week we have the Letter H Notecard and the Letter H Do-a-Dot.

The Letter H Activity

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This activity probably seems like it was thrown together at the last minute, and yes it was. In the silly story “I want my hat back” bear is looking for his red pointy hat. I thought our sloth stuffed animal looked a little like bear so we made him his own red pointy hat. I think he looked pretty cute in it!

Small Changes | I will save 5 cents, but not the environment.

When we lived in Pennsylvania I would do my grocery shopping at a little store called Bottom Dollar. It was inexpensive, perfect for our student living days. They had all sorts of tricks to make sure they could keep their cost low, including making you pay 5 cents for each plastic bag you would use. Since I was attempting to be frugal, I would gather up my reusable bags each week before I went grocery shopping and only once had to buy a 5 cent bag.

I was recently reflecting on this time of life, noticing that I was so committed to bringing my own bag, when a small cost would be incurred if I didn’t. The grocery store closed down before our time in Pennsylvania was through, so I ended up having to shop at other stores, and just like that I stopped the habit of bringing my own bags.

If my calculations are correct, I probably saved about 10 dollars in plastic bag fees by bringing my own bags, which is really not that much over a 8 month period of time, but saving that money was easy, so I did it. I wondered why I was so willing to save 5 cents in grocery bag fees but not the environment? As I thought about it that way, I realized that I needed to get my reusable bags back out and make that effort to take them on my shopping outings.

Last week after I posted my article about making small changes, my cousin texted me telling me she had recently started using produce bags as well as reusable bags in her grocery shopping. That day as I was at a local farm I noticed they had these Eco Friendly Produce bags on sale, so a grabbed a few and used they for the first time yesterday. They are awesome, and so much better than those awful plastic produce bags.

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So those are my two small changes this week. They are easy to implement and only take a little brain power to remember the bags before leaving the house.

The Best Thanksgiving Books

I loved reading Halloween books during the month of October, so I was sad when I had to carry my huge bag back to the library on November 1st. I thought I would have to wait a month until Christmas came around to find more holiday books. As I searched book blogs and amazon I found a lot of Thanksgiving books, and as I checked them out from my local library I was surprised to find so many that I not only liked, but loved. So I thought I would share my 16 favorite Thanksgiving books I have discovered this year. They have all been a joy to share with my daughter and I truly feel so much more excited about Thanksgiving this year because we have been reading these great stories!

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Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey- This is one Thanksgiving book I remember reading growing up, and it is probably one of my very favorites to this day. It is a joy to read out loud and the illustrations are so fun. I bought this book for our home my daughters very first Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to share it year after year.

Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson- I just discovered this book this year and it immediately captivated me. I had no idea who Sarah Hale was and found her story empowering. I also loved learning something new about how Thanksgiving came to be a national holiday. I highly recommend this book.

Sometimes It’s Turkey-Sometimes It’s Feathers by Lorna and Lecia Balian- My book loving aunt introduced me to this cute story and I love to read it out loud with my little one. I love the older feel to the illustrations and storyline, it makes it very unique.

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet- I somehow stumbled upon this title and loved reading about the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade and the puppeteer who created the balloons we now see and love each Thanksgiving. It was so interesting to me, so we have enjoyed it multiple times already, and I am excited to watch the parade with this new knowledge of it’s origins.

In November by Cynthia Rylant- This cute story focuses on all things that happen in nature in November, and ends with a traditional holiday feast. I love that this book has a broader focus than just Thanksgiving, it is a great read all month long!

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli- This book is not a Thanksgiving book, but it is a cute story about all the different things we can be thankful for. It is a perfect addition to our Thanksgiving story shelf and reminds us to look around and count our blessings.

Thanksgiving For Emily Ann– I liked this book, it reminded me to keep the perspective of little kids in mind when Thanksgiving rolls around, and make sure to include them and make them feel like they can help out, so they can enjoy the holiday as well.

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende Devlin- I love this classic book. I love the illustrations, I love Mr. Whiskers, and I am excited to make some cranberry bread with my daughter soon.

Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Pat Zietlow Miller- This new book is probably one of my new favorites. I love reading it right before bed. The illustrations are beautiful and I so enjoy reading it out loud. I love how everyone participates in creating Thanksgiving dinner together as a family.

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes- I love this sweet simple story about all the things we can be thankful for. I also love the illustrations of this book!

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting- I love Eve Bunting, especially her holiday books, so when I found this one I was excited. I was not disappointed, this is a great story.

The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene- This book is simply beautiful. I love the way the story is told, it is the kind of story that makes me wish I had written it because it is so lovely. I also love how it focuses on telling the story of the first thanksgiving day, and it does it wonderfully.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson- I love all the bear books, and this book is no exception. I love bear and all of his friends and the story of having their own thanksgiving dinner together in bears den.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano- This clever story about a turkey who tries to disguise himself before the big day is cute and charming. My daughter always says, “It’s so funny!”

Strega Nona’s Harvest by Tomie dePaola- I love the message of this story and how we need to share our bounty with others when we are blessed with much. It is a perfect lesson for this season.

Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy by Lisa Wheeler- This is a funny story about a turkey family who lives on a turkey farm at Thanksgiving. Come the end of November they find out why people are really coming by around Thanksgiving.

I really have loved reading all of these books over and over again with my daughter. I hope you find some of these in your home or at your local library to share with your kids this season.

Is there any good ones I missed. I know I still have a few on hold at the library that I am waiting for, so there must be some other great Thanksgiving stories out there.

Love

“Come, Follow Me” by Practicing Christian Love and Service – By Elder Hales

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The disciples were taught to turn from the ways of the natural man to the loving and caring ways of the Savior by replacing contention with forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. The “new commandment” to “love one another” was not always easy to keep. When the disciples worried about associating with sinners and certain classes of people, the Savior patiently taught, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Or, as a Book of Mormon prophet explained, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

As the Savior’s latter-day disciples, we come unto Him by loving and serving God’s children. As we do, we may not be able to avoid tribulation, affliction, and suffering in the flesh, but we will suffer less spiritually. Even in our trials we can experience joy and peace.

Small Changes | Taking Care of Our Beautiful Earth

Our planet is so incredible. I have explored its wonders in real life and now I can easily access it’s hidden beauty and treasures as I scroll through images on pinterest, or look at articles that showcase photographers who have explored places I will never go and brought back images that allow me to glimpse the incredible natural wonders of our earth.

I am starting to feel deeply how important it is that we become good stewards of our earth, that it’s beauty and magnificence is fragile. I take for granted how it is sustaining my life everyday.

It is hard to know what to do to take care of our earth. I am one person, a mom in Maryland, and I recognize that my small contribution in this world of 7.5 billion people basically adds up to nothing. Yet last night my husband and I were discussing different things we could change to in our home to lessen our impact on the earth I thought “If everyone made this change today, the world would be a better place, so I am going to make this change today.” I know my contribution is small, but I have a small contribution to make. I can either have a positive impact on this earth or a negative one. My personal actions will be a reflection of how I feel about our planet, so I can either reflect that I care or that I don’t.

And I am beginning to care deeply.

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So a few weeks ago my husband and I purchased a second trash can to put things we can recycle in. Recycling in Maryland is easy, so it was something we can do, a small change we can make. When we made the change I was surprised to see just how much stuff we had each week that we could recycle. It was kind of a wake up call, all that stuff was going to the garbage previously, yikes.

I thought about a quote that regularly pops up in life from Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” As I looked deeper I found that that quote is merely a paraphrase of something profound he said:

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However you want to say it, I love those words. The change in the world is going to come through individuals who change themselves. So in our household we are going to do our best to make small changes, recognizing that “If everyone made this change today the world would be a better place” so “we are going to make this change today.”

30 Intentional Days | A Photo A Day

It’s been 10 days of taking a picture a day. It’s been great, but it has also been hard. The hardest thing is just having my camera ready, it is big, it is hard to take places, and it is often just not around when I want it. I also feel so awkward taking pictures with a nice camera in public places. I am not sure how to get over that yet.

So it’s a little challenging, but it has also been great. One of the best things about it is it makes me think about things I would want to take pictures of, which brings me more into the moment. For example the other day my daughter was playing on her little slide in our playroom. She was going down over and over again and it was so fun to watch her excitement as she climbed up the steps and went down the slide. I thought, oh man I would love this to be my picture of the day, but going to find my camera would have ended the moment and distracted her  joy, so I just sat and enjoyed being there and thinking about wanting to take the picture really brought me into the moment.

Another day we were on a family walk and we came upon this beautiful tree. It was glowing orange in the late afternoon light and it was amazing. I thought I would love to take a picture of that today, but I didn’t have my camera with me. Still it made me appreciate the beauty even more because I was intentionally seeking beauty. The next morning, I put my daughter in her stroller and we walked back to the tree to capture it’s fleeting fall beauty.

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So far I have loved this little challenge and I am excited to see where it takes me over the next few weeks.

Teaching My Toddler | The Letter G

When my daughter woke up from one of her naps this week I told her we were going to learn about the letter G. She ran into her playroom and saw the notecard for the week on the board and ran back into the room I was in and said “G is for Grapes.” I am so happy taking this time to learn with her has been such a good experience for us and that she actually learning some new things!

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The Letter G Booklist

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This week we learned about Gorillas, and Grandpas, the color Green, Gardens, Gloria, Gossie and Mother Goose.

Gossie by Olivier Dunrea- This cute book is just one of a large collection of books. Many of them have characters that start with the letter G-like Gossie, Gertie, and Gus. We checked out a couple and they were very cute.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann-This is a classic so we had to get it for this week while we were learning about the letter G. I love it!

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith-This book was also a double G, so it was perfect for this week. I love this sweet story told from the perspective of a little boy, and his words about his grandpa. It is a beautiful story.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker-I love the illustrations in this book and a love the cute rhymes.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann-I love this classic and my daughter thought Gloria was so funny in each picture.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown-I love this book about a boy who finds some small plants in the midst of a gray city and comes to care for those plants until they grow and spread.

Mother Goose– I loved sharing a few mother goose rhymes with my daughter and then letting her color a mother goose page for our activity.

The Letter G Printables

This week we have the The Letter G Notecard and Do-a-Dot Page.

The Letter G Activities

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This week we decided to keep it pretty simple. We found a cute mother goose coloring page online and I read some mother goose rhymes and then let her color. It was easy but whenever she saw the coloring page after I hung it up she would say “Mother Goose, Mother Goose!”