Monday, May 25, 2015

Young Women Mother–Daughter Activity

"My" darling Mia Maid class was in charge of our ward's Young Women combined activity in May. This activity happened to fall on the Tuesday before Mother's Day. Thus, we decided to invite the wonderful mothers of our darling young women and center the entire night around them! :)

My Young Women President emailed me the basic activity idea from a blog post, and the Mia Maid class presidency and I briefly discussed a version we liked for our ward. *Full disclosure? I created/enhanced the majority of the activity because most of the Mia Maid class presidency was busy with homework and their involvement in extra curricular activities.

I'm sharing our fun activity here because the night was a great success. Yay! I thought maybe someone else would like to try it in their ward, too? *If you choose to do this fun activity and share it online, please link back to this blog post. My heart thanks you. :)

Young Women Mother–Daughter Activity

The first thing I did was email the mothers a list of questions so we could play the game "That's My Mom!" Here are the questions—a few were provided by a counselor in the Mia Maid class presidency and I came up with the rest:
  1. What was your first job?
  2. What's on the top of your bucket list?
  3. Where were you married?
  4. What's your favorite food or treat?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  6. What's your favorite Primary song?
  7. Describe your perfect day:
  8. Have you ever traveled outside of the USA? If yes, what was your favorite place? If no, where would your dream destination be?
  9. Is your favorite way to dress: casual; professional; Sunday-best; athletic; or formal?
  10. How old were you when you gained a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church?
  11. What is your least favorite household job to do?
  12. If you were called to serve a mission in the future, where would you like to serve?
  13. What/where is the farthest temple you've attended?
  14. Where's your favorite place to read a book or take a nap?
  15. What are you most passionate about?
The mothers emailed me their answers ahead of time. I printed off their answers, highlighted their names and put them in a folder.

I had the other members of our Young Women Presidency, and our longest-serving Mia Maid adviser, contact their/our class members (Laurels, Mia Maids and Beehives) before our activity. I wanted the girls to be prepared to tell what they love most about their mothers—in front of everyone at our activity.

Our refreshment/treat contributions were provided by our Mia Maid advisers, our YW Secretary, one of our Mia Maids (and her mom, of course!), and me (I brought the gluten free treats). It wasn't fancy, but everything was yummy! I'm so very grateful for their preparation and generosity...for sharing is caring! ;) Oh, the fake roses are mine and the other plants are our Mia Maid adviser's.

Here are the four Primary songs I chose for everyone to sing at the beginning of our activity:
I printed the songs out at home and made a few pink copies at our church's library right before the activity. I didn't make too many copies because most people just use their technology devices, but I wanted some on-hand just in case.

Here is the program I created for the night. I printed it on pink paper (thus, the colors didn't show up) with four handouts per page to save paper. (By the way, I only included a © sign on the handouts shown here. I didn't print them out that way for the activity.)

Below is the game sign I created for our "That's My Mom!" game. I emailed it to Alphagraphics and had them print it on card stock. I couldn't believe the difference in quality from my YW President's color printer vs. Alphagraphics' card stock printer (is that even a name?!). Even though it was pricier to have them printed professionally, Alphagraphics' quality was a noticeable improvement over the home-color-printer version. It was totally worth every penny! :) (And no, Alphagraphics isn't paying me to say that. Ha ha.)

I bought these lovely, large fake hydrangeas and peony, tied them with ribbon, and used them for our mother–daughter photo shoot. The girls held their sign (see above) and their moms held the flowers.

Side note: I was going to hand these over to my ward's Young Women organization and get reimbursed for them, but my daughter loved them so much we decided to keep them and not be reimbursed. Now these pretties lay on the bookcase in our living room, beneath our family's most recent large group portrait. I absolutely love them! :)
We met 30 minutes before our activity began to set up chairs, our refreshment table and the game questions. I also quickly practiced our Primary piano songs, then everyone else arrived!

Our Mia Maid class president conducted the meeting. She had just sent her beloved older sister off to the MTC that very day, so I was impressed she attended and held it together enough to conduct! I was also impressed that her mother wasn't a puddle on the floor! (I'm only half-way joking...I can't imagine how much I will cry when my children leave on a mission!!)

Our singing portion of the night went well. I had one of our Mia Maids play two of the Primary songs (her choice) and I played the other two (the songs she wasn't comfortable playing). I especially loved having mothers and daughters singing those beloved Primary songs together, it made my heart happy! :)

It was so lovely hearing each young woman express her love and appreciation for her mother! They were all such thoughtful girls—a few of them made me tear-up a little! Oh, but there were a two young women (sisters) in particular who totally made the rest of us laugh out loud with their admiration of their super-mom...who birthed and continues to care for her eight children! Without going into detail, you can imagine what she puts up with! I can't believe there is a single soul who isn't in awe of this woman. As her daughters said, she is truly a saint. :)

My daughter made my heart smile to no end when she stood up in front of everyone and said, "What I love most about my mom is she is like the perkiest person I know! She's always trying to make me smile and be happy, and I just love her so much!" Yes, I will remember that happy moment forever! :)

For our "That's My Mom!" game, I asked one of our Laurel advisers, one of our Mia Maid advisers, and our YW secretary help out. They each took turns reading one of the mom's answers at a time. After each question was read, the young women raised their card if they thought the answer belonged to their mom. I told the girls to keep track of the answers they got right, and score one point for each answer.

The leaders rotated through each mother's questionnaire over and over until every mom was covered at least four or five times. FYI, 16 mothers participated. Toward the end of our game, I could tell some of the young women were losing interest, so I ended it with the next round of question reading. I think we played the game for about 25–30 minutes.

The highest scores the girls received were five points, the average being three or four points. I told our young women that the prize they won is a great big hug from their mother! Ha ha. I know, I'm so tricky...and possibly mean??! ;) But I just didn't think we needed to have an actual winner for the night because the girls' greatest treasure of the evening should have been their mothers! :)

Then we opened up the evening for the enjoying of refreshments, chatting and our photo booth! I also suggested that the daughters take home their mom's questionnaire—to get to know them even better. I'm happy there were only a couple questionnaires that weren't taken home. That means most daughters wanted to continue connecting with their mothers! Mission accomplished!! :) Or, it means the young women already know their mothers so well they don't need to read the questionnaire!

Our Mia Maid adviser—and resident photographer—took photos of the mothers and daughters who wanted to participate. Every mother–daughter photo was so so cute! :) We used our Relief Society room's curtains as the backdrop and they worked perfectly! (I still need to print off those photos for everyone—May has been a busy month! Also, I thought about sharing a photo of my daughter and me, but I'm still a nut about my children's online privacy, so I refrained. That said, if you follow my private Instagram account I posted our photo the day after our YW activity.)

Clean-up was a breeze because a few lovely young women and leaders stayed and helped! Later that night, as I reflected on our mother–daughter activity, I was just a bundle of smiles! I was greatly relieved everyone participated and seemed to have a good time...well, I just assumed everyone had as much fun as I did! Ha ha.

Hey, I strongly believe that it's your own fault if you don't have a good time in life! After all, our attitudes belong to each of us, individually! No other person has any control over what we choose to think and feel! :)

The best news is, I received quite a bit of positive feedback from parents expressing their appreciation and happiness for our mother–daughter activity. I'm so grateful I helped facilitate a positive bonding experience between mothers and their teenage daughters!

Friday, May 22, 2015

New Smartphone Selfie! :)

This is my I'm-so-happy-I-finally-got-a-new-cell-phone face!! ☆

#happyface #sohappy #newcellphone #SamsungGalaxyNoteII #threeandahalfyears #brightgreen #adenfilter

Friday, May 15, 2015

Piano Practice Perks!

One of the many ways I know my family is finally settled is the fact that I'm teaching piano lessons again! In 2010, before we moved to Texas, I taught piano to three students. About a year-and-a-half into our Texas adventure, I was blessed to teach piano to four darling and wonderful students. Despite my family's unending wondering about where we were going to finally land for good, teaching piano in Texas was definitely a highlight for me.

When we moved home in 2013 (Wahoo!), I truly didn't expect to teach piano lessons again. You see, my former students had moved on to new teachers and I knew I wouldn't ever get them back. Plus, I don't advertise that I teach piano. Simply put, I have a hard time putting myself out there—especially when I have to charge people money for my services. Sadly, I'm not that charitable to give away my knowledge and time for free: simply put, my family needs the money! Yet, I always knew that if someone asked me about teaching piano lessons, I wouldn't say no. :)

Thus, I was surprised and thrilled when I unexpectedly received my first inquiry about teaching piano again. I've been teaching three students for a couple of months now and I love it! (I really hope they are happy with me, too.) What's fascinating is the fact that I've gained three more students in just the past several days! Well, one of them won't be starting until the fall, but it still counts. :) I also have another possible student that might be coming into my piano mix, but that won't be settled for a little while.

Because of these wonderful piano lessons I'm blessed to provide, I had our piano tuned (last Friday) for the first time ever! Yes, you read that right, EVER. My darling grandpa gave me his piano in 2003 after my adorable grandma passed away (2001), but we never had the money to tune it. Okay, I'm 100% positive Greg and I could have scrounged up the money from somewhere to tune it, but we chose to spend our money elsewhere, i.e., raising our children well. :) Then we moved all over the country multiple times so I didn't want to tune my piano until we had finally settled somewhere (pianos go out of tune when they are moved). Thankfully, I now feel totally established in our lives—we've been here nearly two years(!), and I truly don't believe we're going anywhere until our children are grown and established in their own lives.

On that's such a good feeling to finally be settled! It's such a happy feeling: hanging pictures on your walls! And when you wake up in the shadow of majestic mountains, you know it's gonna be a snaptastic day! *Imagine the Mister Roger's song when you read those previous sentences! I know my words aren't remotely close to working like Mr. Roger's song does, but you get the gist of my happiness. :)

Long story short, when I began teaching piano again, I knew it was time to tune my piano. I found a wonderful piano tuner: Paul Gates of Gates Piano Service. *By the way, Mr. Gates did not ask me to write a review for him, and I did not receive any sort of discount for writing about him. In fact, I hope he's okay with me writing about him!?! Although I've never seen or heard a piano tuned before, I could instantly tell he totally knows what he's doing. I have a pretty good ear for pitch, so I was beyond delighted to hear Mr. Gates fixing my old piano!

I cleaned up my kitchen while our piano man tuned, so I had a lot of time to listen to his work. I couldn't help but think of the song "Getting In Tune," by The Who. I've always loved "Getting In Tune," as it simply makes me happy! Here it is for your listening pleasure!

As I heard my tired, old, chipped piano being restored to its proper and lovely sound, I was struck by the idea that each of us are like pianos!

Some of us are in perfectly beautiful shape with phenomenal pitch and amazing sound, while others of us are scratched, dented, have sticky keys, and are completely out of tune. It takes a master piano tuner (i.e., our Heavenly Father {God}) to properly tune us into the magnificent beings we are meant to be. He forces us to open our souls. He pounds on our keys. He twists our strings to the point that we wonder if we might snap! When He finds one of our non-performing sticky keys (a.k.a, cranky keys), He uses the correct tool and lubrication with the perfect amount of pressure to make our keys operate smoothly and happily again.

His repetitive note pounding, endlessly patient listening and precise string twisting, ultimately helps us return to our true notes! All of this happens because we allow Him into our lives—trusting that He knows what is best. We simply have to be pliable to His efforts on our behalf.

Even after we've allowed Him to restore our former splendor, that's not the end for us. Just like pianos need continuous tuning throughout their careers, we also need to check-in with our Heavenly Father on a constant basis. The longer we allow ourselves to be closed to the tuning and training that our Father in Heaven can offer, the harder it will be for us to stay in-tune with Him. Of course, this all happens because of our Savior...He is our link to heaven!

I know that was a bit sappy, but it's truly how I feel about pianos and us being spiritually in-tune! :)

After my piano was refreshed and feeling oh-so-chipper, I couldn't wait to start playing it! Don't laugh, but I messed up my songs because I was astonished by the glorious sound coming out of my old piano! My piano daze only lasted a day, or so, and now I've adjusted to the perfect notes I'm hearing!

In case anyone is wondering, I've been using the Alfred Method to teach my students. I feel it's worked well and, so far, I haven't had any complaints! :) That said, I absolutely remember my main piano teacher and all of her wisdom. I bring much of her knowledge to my lessons as well.

By the by, I had three piano teachers during my youth, but my second teacher was the one I spent the longest time with—she made the biggest impact on my piano learning/playing experience. She might wonder if anything she said/did/taught mattered to me because I was kind of a brat-student! I didn't mean to be bratty, I simply detested practicing and didn't like her critiquing my efforts. Hi! I also really didn't like anyone telling me what to do! Surprise, surprise. ;)

Years later, I finally and fully understood just how valuable my piano teacher's words, actions and criticisms were! :) So even though she might think I'm not the best piano teacher (my mom told her I was teaching), I feel I am a good teacher because of her efforts. I also feel I'm a better teacher simply because I know all the tricks students might pull! Ha ha. Yes, I'm very attuned to the student who thinks they can fake-out their piano teacher (I won't let them) because back in my day, I was one of them!

I've also included a little program to entice my students to want to practice the way I've assigned. I call them "Piano Practice Perks!" Basically, if a student practices every day I've assigned for the week, and they get their parent's signature attesting to that fact, they get to write their name on the back of a Piano Practice Perk and save it. After they've received four PPPs, they can exchange them for a treat of their choice! For some students who have treats all the time, my method might not be the best motivator. And for some students who simply love playing the piano, my PPPs probably won't make a difference to them. But for those students who struggle with the desire to practice, and they like treats, my Piano Practice Perks come in mighty handy! :)

I print these off using the wallet-sized category of my printer. That way I save paper and printing costs, and they're small enough that my younger students view them like pretend money!

Here are my cut-up PPPs in my cute little star dish. :)

What I've said multiple times is that anyone can play any song they like, as long as they've learned the fundamentals of piano and practice practice practice! Truly, after learning everything about the piano, practicing is what makes a pianist great, mediocre or terrible. That said, I know some people have a natural talent for music while others truly struggle. For those who struggle, but don't want to quit piano to find their true talent (maybe they want to keep their mind young and active), I say this: as long as you're diligently practicing and giving it your very best effort, you can be proud of your piano performances—whether given in your home, or out in public.

I've been playing the piano off and on since I was in the second or third grade—whoa, I won't tell you how many years it's been! There's no doubt I made the greatest strides in my piano accomplishments when I practiced consistently. There is truly no substitute for dedicated piano practice!

It's super interesting to me that all of my piano practicing years have now paid off for my little family—in more ways than filling our home with beautiful music, for we can definitely use this little bump in our monthly income! Talk about Piano Practice Perks! Ha ha. And, as Greg and I have talked about, as long as my teaching doesn't interfere with our family life (i.e., I gain too many students—which I won't), I can see me teaching piano far into the future. :) Side note: I would be so pleased if my blog were able to provide my family's needed extra income, but it sadly hasn't happened. :( Thus, I've chosen to spend more time teaching than blogging.

The other big plus for me teaching piano again is that I love teaching children! They are so pure, so sweet, and most of them listen well and are so eager to learn and grow. It is truly a privilege to be involved in developing their piano skills and influencing their precious souls. It might sound silly, but I honestly feel like I'm a piano life coach! Ha ha. In all seriousness, there is such joy to be found in playing the piano—it's one of my favorite activities! I'm so blessed I get to bring musical knowledge and joy to children!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thank Your Mom!

I absolutely love this darling (and huge!) card I bought for my sweet mama for Mother's Day.

Thank you, Mom, for everything you are! I love you so very much! :)

*Being a mother to my three wonderful children has brought me more fulfillment and JOY than anything else in this world! My children are my life's greatest work! I deeply thank my amazing husband (the love of my life!) for giving me the opportunity to live my motherhood dream every day!

#amotherslove #happymothersday #motherhood

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Supergirl Selfie

Because sometimes you need to wear a Superman shirt!

#supergirl! #iwishicouldfly #happywednesday #iloveP90X #P90X #nofilter

Friday, May 1, 2015

BYU Women's Conference

Wow, I had the BEST time at BYU Women's Conference! I will absolutely remember the talks I heard...I'll also remember because I took endless pages of notes! Ha ha. Yes, my spiritual bucket was most definitely filled! :)

Their flowers are so beautiful!