Tag: Mormon Blogger

11 Fun Things to do Inside with your Toddler when it’s Cold Out

Spring is just around the corner and it seems like we are hanging on to a couple more cold and rainy days as it approaches. We just can’t wait to get outside and yet, we have frequently been forced indoors. So what can you do when it looks nice and sunny out but it is still freezing? Time to find some fun things to do inside.

just-a-day-where-my-toddler-is-playing-with-kitchen-measuring-tools

The following is a list of super easy, super simple things that can make a rainy, cold or windy day so much fun!

10 Fun Things to do Inside

1. Play with Bubbles

My daughter absolutely LOVES bubbles! In fact, I try not to let her watch any shows with anything resembling bubbles because then she wants to play with bubbles. I blow the bubbles for her and she tries to pop them. She thinks it’s funny when they land on Grayson’s head. Sometimes, she will blow the bubbles too. We have hardwood and carpet and the bubbles don’t really make any mess at all. Maybe just wipe it up off the hardwood.

playing with balloons is another one on the list of Fun things to do inside
Balloons can be just as fun as bubbles! Just make sure you grab up the remains real fast if they pop.

2. Coloring

fun things to do inside involves coloringColoring books, scrap paper, newspaper, phone books, books you don’t care about, note books, walls… okay, I haven’t done walls on purpose. Let your toddler explore their creativity.

I even let my toddler use markers! *gasp* Because seriously, the fact that the color is instantly on the page and all you have to do is touch the tip to the canvas is enough to make anyone want to color. Do you think there is adult coloring because they are using crayons? No. Maybe colored pencils, but even that is a stretch. There is something so satisfying about watching the ink bleed onto the paper, or maybe I am just an office supply geek. We LOVE coloring.

3. Building a Tower

You don’t have to have fancy blocks if you want fun things to do inside. All you have to have, is anything! I have been amazed at the kinds of things my daughter will stack on top of each other and shout, “Tao!” Grab your old books, your shoes, your DVD cases, your old CDs (because you’re probably using your phone to listen to music now) and see how tall you can get it. This will be SO exciting for your toddler!

4. Talking Toys

Maybe your toddlers are like mine and they like to get a couple of toys, could be ANYTHING and give one to you and pretend that they are talking. My toy is almost always the Mama toy. And the conversation goes something like this:

playing with potato heads as a part of fun things to do insideSiena – Hi

Me – Hi

Siena – Mama (points to my toy)

Me – Oh is this the Mama Potato Head?

(she nods)

(The toys kiss)

Siena – Hug?

(The toys hug)

Siena – Hug!

Then the toys might drive off or we will have another conversation much like the one we just had. If you have the patience for this game, it will keep your child entertained for as long as you can endure it.

5. Make a Fun Treat

Siena likes to do anything that I am doing. That includes emptying the dishwasher, taking groceries in and laundry (except she likes to throw the socks and clothes all over the living room instead of fold-we’re working on that one).

So, I have learned that she LOVES to help mix things. I also let her dump in cups of flour or sugar and have her hold the egg while I crack it. She thinks the egg one is especially funny. Then, the best part is you get to eat your yummy treat with your baby. I’ve made Potato Wedges with Siena and she loves dipping them in Ketchup.

6. Build a Fort

This is on my list of fun things to do inside because I haven’t had the chance to do it yet! We don’t have couch cushions that pull out, but I have thought many times that we need to do this. Maybe one morning, when Grayson is sleeping we will get some blankets, kitchen chairs and pillows and make a fort to read some books in. Siena loves to read books and she would probably think I was the coolest mom ever!

7. Playdate

Having friends over does require someone to leave the house, but if you plan it right, that someone doesn’t have to be you. The best part about this one is you get to have a real conversation with a real adult! And then the kids can keep each other entertained. Now, there is the added pressure of having to play referee. But as long as both parents have similar parenting views, there’s nothing to worry about there.

playdate inside for fun things to do inside
These two are the cutest!

8. Dance Party

We live in an age where many of us can open our laptop, turn on our phone or go to the right app on our TV to get some fun music streaming into our living room. We use the TV because that has the best speakers and we get our Pandora on and rock out. Dancing is one of our favorite things.

Sometimes, I will turn on YouTube and try and do a work out dance thing, like Zumba, but usually Siena’s idea of a fun dance party involves me holding her hand while she spins or me holding her while I dance. So, work out dance doesn’t usually happen.

9. Bath time!

Think that baths are a pain? Me too, most of the time. But it is at the top of my toddler’s Fun Things to do Inside List. She loves splashing in the tub and playing with her toys. I just have to stay close to the bathroom to keep an eye on her. But, if you need to get the bathroom clean, what a great opportunity!

10. Snuggle Sesh!

snuggling with siena to have fun things to do inside
Snapchat Snuggles with a movie! Even better!

I don’t care who judges me for this one. It is, hands down, my favorite thing on the Fun Things to do Inside List.

My daughter LOVES to watch shows. She asks to watch television multiple times a day. We do watch TV. And, in my opinion, if you are selective about what your child watches, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. (Rant saved for another post.)

So, if my daughter wants to watch a show and I want nothing more than to snuggle with her, I bribe her. Yep! Show for Snuggles. We get to watch a show, if she will snuggle with me on the couch. She is always happy to oblige and so am I! If

I am exhausted in the morning, Snuggle Sesh! I know she’s not getting into things because I’m hugging her and I get a little nap. It is SERIOUSLY the best thing in the world.

11. Make a Home Movie!

Or you can be a total nerd like me and make a movie with your kids. As soon as I busted out the camera and told Siena to do something, she got super excited! And she LOVES watching it.

It was also a great fun way to save some of the memories of us just hanging out around the house, which is 90% of our lives.

If you need an idea, you can check out mine!

Beauty & the Beast – Mom Parody

Beauty and the Beast cover to get you excited
Here’s a the opening shot to get you excited!

Grandpa’s Last Words and how they Changed my Life

It is not very often that you get to hear someone’s last words. This experience, though special, is not something most people want to experience. Because inevitably, it means someone has died. I never really got to hear a ‘last words’ speech with either of my Grandmas and my other Grandpa is still alive.

Me and my Grandpa before he died and gave me his last words
Being with my Grandpa Haroldsen one last time before he passed away.

Getting to Know my Grandpa

My Grandpa sitting on the couch before his last words
I was impressed at his flexibility at 80 years old!

My Grandpa Haroldsen was a stern man. He always liked to be on time and he frequently didn’t have patience for the crazy antics of me and my four siblings. And to his credit, we were rambunctious kids.

He worked an egg farm and had spent much of his life working hard. Every morning he had a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. He read the paper and when we would come and visit, he would wake us up way too early in the morning by rubbing his unshaven, prickly whiskers on our faces. If you think an alarm clock is bad, you should try that.

One of My Memories

Because we grew up in Alaska, he and my Grandma would frequently fly up to visit us. This allowed us to spend some time with our grandparents without my parents having to drag all of us to the Lower 48. (And yes, that is what we call the continental US. My husband makes fun of me and says that we must refer to ourselves as the Upper 1)

One Christmas, when my grandparents were visiting, I woke up early to go sneak a peak at what Santa had brought for us. It was around 3 in the morning. And to my surprise, and honestly, disappointment, my Grandpa was sitting at the kitchen table with my sister’s globe that she had gotten for Christmas. He spun it on the table, obviously caught in some distant memory.

I said, “hi Grandpa.” Hoping that that would be my only required discussion with him, I anxiously looked around him to the couch where my presents were hiding.

“Good morning, Jennifer.” He then asked me if I knew where he and my Grandma had traveled.

I shook my head. And for the next 3 hours, he regaled me with all of his journeyings throughout the world. He pointed all of them out on the map. At some point I had to sit down on the floor, because I had gotten tired.

At 6 am I was rescued by my brother who emerged and distracted my Grandpa long enough for me to FINALLY see what presents I had. I will never forget that lecture of his world travel, at least the fact that we had it.

When My Grandpa was Dying

I was a sophomore in college. Right before I was about to go back home for the summer, I decided I would drive up to Idaho and keep my Grandma company for a couple of weeks. I wanted to be there for her and help her out.

Spending time with my grandma while i received my grandpa's last words

I also wanted to spend time with my Grandpa who had been diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago. He had been put on hospice, and I knew it was probably the last time I would see him. That trip holds some of my most tender moments with both of my Grandparents.

Aside from my Grandpa’s last words, I remember being by the dining room and kitchen when my Grandma got off the phone with someone. She held the phone and let her hand fall to her side before looking at me. “I wish people would quit asking me how I’m doing.” She started crying and I held her while I cried too.

She gave me that. That impossible urge to cry when someone else does was her doing. My mom has that curse too.

My Grandpa’s Unofficial Last Words

My Grandpa right before he passed away and gave me his last wordsTo me, they are his last words, because it was the last time he tried to impart wisdom to me. He said them to me in full awareness that he wouldn’t be seeing me again once I left and I wouldn’t be seeing him until I died.

He had just let me win a game of Twenty Thousand with him… I know, because I tried to let him win and was finding it extremely difficult to do so. And he was lying on his hospice bed and I was lying on my Grandma’s daybed that they had put in there for her. We were mindlessly watching some TV show. And while we’re both laying there, he says, “Honor your Marriage Covenants. That is the most important thing.”

Kissing my grandpa on the head before he died and gave me his last words“Okay, Grandpa.”

And that was it. His last words were short. I wasn’t even looking at him when he had said them, but they stuck. I guess that’s the thing about last words. They are impactful enough to stick.

Understanding His Last Words

If you are unfamiliar with my religion, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This is important, because it will help you to understand the impact of what my Grandpa’s last words were when he said, Marriage Covenants.

my grandpa following his own last wordsWhen we are married, we get married in the temple. We believe that as Husband and Wife, we are sealed together as a family unit for Time (life on earth) and all Eternity (life after earth). This means that we are bound together, our children will be bound to us and nothing will be able to separate us, unless we break our covenants.

That means at the end of my Grandpa’s life, the last words that he felt were essential to share with me was his over arching wisdom that when all is said and done, our family is the most important. Family is the most crucial thing to fight for. If you honor your Marriage Covenants, you will get to be with your family FOREVER. And my poor Grandpa, knew that that is what he wanted after he passed.

He was going to be separated from my Grandma for a time. But he loved her so much and his children so much, that fighting to keep that bond in place was the most crucial thing he could have imparted to me, even though at the time, I was not married.

Keeping My Promise

My husband and I adhering to his last wordsHis last words still pop into my mind from time to time. Keeping your marriage covenants includes commandments such as being faithful to each other, loving God and loving our fellow man. The best part about these covenants is the more we adhere to them, the closer we grow to each other, the more we want to be together and the stronger our bond on earth becomes.

I love my husband so much. He is my strength and my support. There are many times when I feel like I am weak and he is there to lift me back up again and cheer me on.

My grandpa’s last words were not just important for the eternities, they are essential for me now. They remind me of my love for Austin. And by adhering to them, we become better friends every day.

A Note to My Grandpa

I know you’re not physically here now. I’m so happy that now you get to be with Grandma. But I hope you know that by having the courage to share some last words with me, you have impacted my life for the better. I know it was probably scary to share them with me, acknowledging the fact that we weren’t going to be together that much longer. You broke the unspoken rule and brought attention to the fact that this was temporary. I am so grateful that you did. It probably didn’t seem like it made much difference to me, but it did. I heard you and I’m trying to do as you instructed. I love you Grandpa. Save a spot for my family next to yours.

To read about one of the ways we are trying to honor our marriage covenants, you can visit: My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

My Imperfect Husband & His Imperfect Wife

I have seen many articles that my friends have shared about love. Five things your man will do if he’s the one! How a real man treats women, etc. And then of course various articles about what to do better in relationships. Each of these serve their purpose. Of course, a man should treat a woman well (see here). The couple should naturally return each other’s bid (see here).  But I wanted to focus on something that is often overlooked. The fact of the matter is that I am married to an imperfect husband. 

Social Media Praise Danger

My imperfect husband is amazing in so many ways. I often heap on the praise when I wish to publicly wish him Happy Birthday, or really when I mention anything about him on social media. Because I sincerely want people to know how incredible he is, I make sure they see his best side. And I wouldn’t be surprised if most people do this.

There is a danger to this, however, for those who take in these public displays of social media affection at face value. It’s very easy to look around at all of the people portraying these perfect relationships and assume that everyone else gets what love is about. Then you might look at your own situation with despair, whether you are single or are in an imperfect relationship of your own. I am sure we can all see the imperfections in our spouse, in our relationship and perhaps in ourselves. But it is very rare to see an honest depiction of a real relationship from other people.

imperfect husband-&-wife-kissing-in-front-of-temple

The Beginning

I married my imperfect husband, Austin in 2012. We were in our mid-twenties and a little dazed with love. Our relationship hadn’t been all sunshine and roses though. We had had our fair share of disagreements, heartbreak and moments when it seemed like it was never going to work.

A couple of months after we started dating, I sat on a little bench with him outside of my apartment and broke up with him. And the exact phrase I used was that I didn’t feel like this was a fairytale. Isn’t it supposed to be a fairytale? Wasn’t I supposed to get swept away? My poor boyfriend left broken and bewildered.

Words can’t convey the despair that followed that decision for me. I felt like a black hole was sucking me in and I would never emerge again. Happiness had been sucked from my being and I broke down into a sobbing mess. I was having an anxiety attack, which was not completely unusual; I have had them before. In fact, anxiety was part of the reason I had decided to break up with him in the first place. But this attack felt different and I soon realized that I had made the wrong decision.

imperfect husband-and-wife-on-opposite-ends-of-a-bench
imperfect husband-in-the-forefront-of-the-picture

Let’s Get Real

Three days later, I all but got down on my knees to beg him to go out with me again. He said he needed some time to think about it. I backed off and he later came around and said he wanted to go on a drive. We drove up to the top of a mountain and talked.

We had the first half of the talk that I was always terrified I would one day have to have with someone that I intended on marrying. This is the “Let’s Get Real” talk. In an act of bravery unrivaled by any suitors who had come before, my imperfect husband shed light on his weaknesses and flaws. He kicked down the wall of his dating persona and let me see who he is even when he was at his worst.

I didn’t say much. The process of him sharing his imperfections had bristled my own conscience to the memory of my own weaknesses and flaws. But, that night I wasn’t ready to share those with him. I was merely in a state of shock, because I hadn’t expected this kind of sincerity and honesty. When he dropped me off at my apartment, he explained, “I want to get back together with you, but I need you to know the good and the bad of me so you can choose whether you want to be together.”

Let’s Get Real Forever

That night I did a lot of processing and basically came to the conclusion that if he was willing to share with me, I could share with him. The next day we went on another drive and I took my turn.

Over the next few months we began shedding the secrets we had been hiding for years by sharing them with each other. And for the rest of our lives we will continue to share the secrets of the present that would poison our marriage if we let them linger in the shadows.

Imperfect-Wife-standing-in-front-of-imperfect husband

The Most Significant Night of My Life

I will be forever grateful for the courage that my imperfect husband demonstrated that night. He set our relationship on a course of honesty and openness. It has taken so much practice to stay that way, and we are still working at it today but I cannot express the significance of that night enough.

My husband frequently attributes our communicative success to my honesty. And while he is correct in saying that I don’t hesitate to share, that has not always been the case. Austin is the one who took the first step into the dark and let me see all of himself without having any idea of what the repercussion would be. He risked everything and that was the only way the was able to gain everything.

Imperfect husband-and-wife-coming-out-of-the-temple

The Continual Journey of Overcoming

As aware as we are of our own imperfections and shortcomings, that does not stop us from having them. I am frequently quick to judge and my husband can be quick to anger. Those two things do not go well together. I can be a bit careless in my actions and my husband can be a bit regimented. We often butt heads on those issues and just cannot see how the other can think or act so differently.

We have some imperfections that are similar and are therefore magnified because we both have the tendency to act the same way. Austin and I like to have nice things and it is hard to tell each other no when an expensive nicety presents itself to us. Sometimes we like to be lazy and the last thing we want to do is work, clean the house or socialize. So, of course we are lazy together!

imperfect husband-kissing-his-imperfect-wife-on-bench

Our Imperfections Make Us Perfect Together

I have an imperfect husband and he has an imperfect wife. And here is the point that we like to try and forget. I am going to have an imperfect husband for the rest of my life! He will not be constantly doting on me. He won’t always remember to help with the dishes. The sweaty socks that he kicks off after work will probably find their way into the living room in the future. There will probably still be times where he snaps because he is so HANGRY. And that is so great! It is really a relief, because it means that he or she will not hold you to a perfect standard.

An even harder point to remember is that he is going to have an imperfect wife for the rest of his life! I will not always keep the house clean. There will be times when I jump to conclusions about his intentions and rant and rave inside my head. I won’t remember to put the camera away when I’m done or I’ll leave my disgusting hair in the corner of the shower until he can’t stand it anymore and cleans it up. And there will probably still be times when I angrily throw the covers towards him when I get up to go feed the baby, even though I know he is unconscious and unaware of the cyclone surrounding him.

My imperfect husband and his imperfect wife are perfectly suited to be together forever. He makes me a better person every day and I hope I do the same for him.

Love is an Equation

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love. It’s that simple. Perhaps it is easier to think about how this works with your children.

I was pregnant for 9 months for each child I have. So, so far that means I have been pregnant for 18 months. Bleh. I hate being pregnant. I get so big, I feel nauseous most of the time, I feel pain, I’m so uncomfortable and then my reward is that I get to push a human out of me at the end? That’s the sacrifice part.

But I didn’t feel the love until I realized how grateful I was for my baby.

And then I see my little angel baby and I can’t believe that it belongs to me. I can’t believe that I get to be his or her mommy. What a blessing! What a miracle!

I am so in love.

The sacrifice doesn’t stop. I keep cleaning up after them, getting spit up on, pooped on and basically providing all of their needs and wants. I keep working.

Which is why the next part is eternally important.

I don’t always feel the love when I am doing that.

Then I hold them close, think about the dangers that are out there and I am so grateful that they are still my babies. I’m so amazed that they are in my life.

I am still so in love.

Possessing BOTH is Essential

Sacrifice + Gratitude = Love

I try to do things that I know will make Austin happy, even if they are not things that I want to do. Every day I do the dishes, literally the worst job in the whole world, fold the laundry, stay home with the kids, make food, and plan trips. I sacrificed a career.

I can forget love when I am only sacrificing all the time.

So, I am grateful for the times when I get to snuggle him at night, when I see him come home safely from another very busy day of work. He is such a great daddy and I am grateful that as soon as he gets home, he spends time with our kids. I am forever grateful that he is mine and that he asked me to marry him.

I will always feel love, no matter the sacrifices I have made.

The Importance of Gratitude

All I have to do when I am sacrificing and not feeling gratitude is remember that I am lucky just to have the people for whom I am sacrificing. There are some people who never get married. There are those who have been divorced. My kids are miracles because I know some people don’t get to experience that. Three of my four grandparents have passed on already and it makes me that much more grateful for the one who is still living and for the two new ones I have inherited from Austin.

imperfect husband-and-wife-standing-in-front-of-the-temple

Strive for an Imperfect Marriage

I love my imperfect husband. I love my imperfect kids. The best thing about imperfection is I know that my husband loves his imperfect wife and my kids love their imperfect mom.

We are the most amazing imperfect family I could ever ask for.

Share how Amazing your Imperfect Husband is in the Comments Below!

For more info on how we make it work, you can read about the best advice I received from my Grandpa before he died. 

Our amazing wedding photographer can be visited here!

 

Family Fun at the Farm & Mom Fail – Simple Outings are Easier than Complicated Ones

Why I decided on Family Fun at the Farm

Family fun at the farm wasn't something super planned, we just wanted to go and do something after a long winter. It finally warmed up enough to go and spend the day outside. Even though both of the kids had a bit of a cold, the three month long sick stay at our personal Residence Inn was getting tiresome. But what should we do?

One of the best things I have learned is it is best to just go somewhere. Get out of the house. Go do something. Even if you don't have anything planned, something is bound to happen and because when you do something out of the norm, it creates an experience.

Putting off the Milk

We left right after Grayson woke up from his nap. He had had a bottle a couple of hours ago, so I thought he would be fine until we got to the farm.

We drove up there and met my friend and my daughter’s future husband (if all goes according to plan…) to walk around the farm. Because family fun at the farm can be even MORE fun with someone else having family fun at the farm. Plus, they can also help with crowd control, because when one kid runs off, you have another adult keeping an eye on them. Thank goodness for great friends!

toddler girl running across the field after her boyfriend starting out the family fun at the farm
cold toddler for family fun at the farm

Mama’s Mistake

So, in the middle of February, this mama foolishly didn’t bring jackets because it was ‘so warm’. It was NOT so warm. It was tolerable by our house but when we arrived to the open plains of the farmlands, it was now a little chilly.

I didn’t bring many blankets (just one for the shade and my daughter’s blankie), didn’t bring jackets and we were all wearing short sleeve shirts. Smart.

Cows

First we visited the cows. It wasn’t long before Siena was yelling, “cow! Cow!”

“It is a cow!”

“Mooo! Moooo!”

This conversation happened about 4 times in a row. And as a sidenote, last summer we went to the farm and every time we approached an animal bigger than a chicken she started sobbing and trying to climb around me to hide from the cows, sheep, goats or horses.

When we were standing by the cows, Grayson was suddenly not happy anymore. I realized he still hadn’t eaten, so I shook up a bottle and fed it to him. He guzzled it down, but slowly. As he was eating, we wandered to the sheep, with me awkwardly holding the bottle up for him to eat.

toddler looking through bars at a cow during family fun at the farm
toddler girl and her cows to start off the adventure of family fun at the farm
toddler girl looking through bars at a farm at sheep
toddler looking at a sheep through bars in a farm as part of the family fun at the farm

Sheep

We made it to the sheep and Siena insisted on screaming, “Baaaa” at all of them and then was confused when the sheep ran away from her.

Then, Grayson started fidgeting. He spit up all over himself and I tried to catch it with my spit-up rag. He probably had more coming, so I quickly got him out of his car seat and tried to burp him. Of course, this was the exact moment that the wind picked up and took his breath away. He screamed; I felt terrible.

I wrapped him in the blanket that I had brought, but that was not enough for him. It was still too much for his face that was exposed to the elements.

No more burps, no more spit up, just more sad baby. I put him back in his car seat and buckled him in, hoping the pacifier would do its job. It did not. I wrapped him in Siena’s blankie, without her seeing and covered his car seat with the bigger blanket. The sun was blinding and had to shade his eyes.

From then on I was consigned to constantly moving the stroller, or he would cry out in protest.

infant boy unhappy with bubbles out of mouth while his sister is having some family fun at the farm

Bunnies! & Chickens

Siena loved looking at the chickens and bunnies, especially the bunnies. She loves bunnies. She jumped up and down when she saw the bunnies and shouted, “bunny! Bunny! Bunny!” I rocked Grayson back and forth while trying to get the occasional picture of Siena.

toddler looking at chickens during family fun at the farm
toddler looking through chicken coup fence during family fun at the farm

Playground

Then she went to the playground and ran around with her “boyfriend”. I paced around the perimeter trying to sedate my angry child. This was especially difficult when Siena wanted to slide down the big slide and the only way to get her up there was ‘spot’ her as she climbed up the bars to get to it.

toddler girl sitting on wooden horse in playground after having some family fun at the farm
toddler girl on playground during family fun at the farm
toddler girl on spiderweb at playground during family fun at the farm
mom & toddler selfie, proof of family fun at the farm
toddler girl on playground spiderweb during family fun at the farm
toddler girl going down the slide after having some family fun at the farm

Picnic

After they were all done playing, Grayson had fallen asleep and we sat at the picnic tables to eat lunch.

After a couple of bites of Siena’s sandwich, the wind picked up again and my little toddler sat quivering on the bench.

“Do you want to eat in the car?” I asked her.

“Okay.”

toddler girl enjoying sandwich at picnic table after having family fun at the farm with all of the animals

Going Home

And that was the end of the farm trip. Just ninety minutes later, we were heading home.

I guess the family fun at the farm was still family fun. It didn’t matter that I had forgotten coats. We still had fun, my babies are both still alive and well and I got some pictures to remember our eventful trip. All in all, not bad. Mom fails don’t matter as much when you’re just trying to be One Helluva Homemaker.

If it's too cold outside and you're stuck inside, here are some fun ideas for things you can do inside that you probably already have on hand!