Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting Started with Social Networking

A new year is approaching and I wanted to recall some helpful hints and tips to help you enjoy social networking and be safe.
Because I blog about all different types and venues of social networking I wanted to draw attention to a tip someone gave me. An anonymous person commented on a previous post: So What's the Big Deal with Social Networking?
And shared this link with me Findasocialnetwork.com

If you are looking for a certain type of group to socialize with, this website can help you to narrow down your search.

I also want to list a few links to previous blogs I’ve written which will help you to get started in your social networking arena in a fun and positive way.
Hope these help and I will continue to share more tips and various sites and types of social networking throughout the new year! I'd love to hear anything you're interested in learning about when it comes to social networking--leave me a comment!

Choosing your profile picture

Safe Social Networking with Facebook

What's MySpace

MySpace part 2

Choosing Your Profile Picture

With the click of the mouse, curiosity killed the cat

Social Networking hits new level at www.yourLDSneighborhood.com

Blogging etiquette

Goodreads and Rachelle’s Book Club


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Books Rachelle Read during 2008 (so far)

As promised, here is the list of books I read this year. It has been a wonderful year of reading and I’m looking forward to finding more great books! I’d love to invite you to a book social right here! Tell me what you think about any of these books or pick one to read perhaps you may find a favorite among my list.

1. The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Hearts and Homesby James L. Ferrell


2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
by JK Rowling

3. Scholastic Bookfiles: Ella Enchanted By Gail Carson Levine
by Gail Carson Levine

4.
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

5. Spider’s Web by Agatha Christie

6. Tangled Roots by G. G. Vandegriff

7. CARDS ON THE TABLE (Forward by author)
by Agatha Christie

8. The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy


9. 5 Titles By Agatha Christie: "The Mirror Crack'd," "Postern of Fate," "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," "What Mrs. Mcgillicuddy Saw!," "The Listerdale Mystery."
Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie

10. Spires of Stone by Annette Lyon



11. Counting Stars by Michelle Paige Holmes



12. Fame, Glory, and other things on my to do list by Janette Rallison

13. The Sharp Edge of the Knife by Nichole Giles

14. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

15. Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston

16. Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley

17. Fablehaven- Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

18. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

19. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

20. Spare Change by Aubrey Mace

21. Far World by J. Scott Savage

22. Room For Two by Abel Keogh

23. The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson

24. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

25. A Greater Love by Rachel Ann Nunes

26. Believe in What You’re Doing, Believe in Who You Are by Hilary Weeks

27. Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

28. The Holy Secret by James L. Ferrell

29. Nothing to Regret by Tristi Pinkston

30. The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

31. In Search of Heaven by Anita Stansfield

32. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

33. Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

34. A Quiet Promise by Anita Stansfield

35. The Operative by Willard Boyd Gardner

36. It’s Okay to Take a Nap by Debra Sansing Woods

37. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

38. Grin and Share It by Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard

39. Master by Toni Sorenson

40. The Wings of Words by Brenton Yorgason

41. Run Away Home by Patricia McKissack

42. Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart

43. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

44. Who Killed the Queen of Clubs? by Patricia Sprinkle

45. Auntie Mayhem by Mary Daheim

46. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

47. 1, 2, 3, Magic by Dr. Thomas Phelan

48. The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

49. Helping the Thumb-sucking Child by Rosemarie A. Van Norman

50. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

51. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

52. The Secret Journal of Brett Colton by Kay Lynn Mangum

53. The Book of Mormon

54. Austenland by Shannon Hale

55. A Stranger for Christmas by Carol Lynn Pearson

56. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult

57. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

58. The Ensign Magazine- 12 issues/per year

59. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

60. How to Promote Your Home Business by John McLain

61. Currently reading: On Writing by Eudora Welty

There are many books on the list above which I absolutely loved, some I didn’t enjoy at all, and also hundreds and hundreds of children's books I read to my little girls throughout the year which definitely merit mentioning, but this list would get a bit too long if I did. Look forward to another post on my favorite young children’s books of the year.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Rachelle’s Book Club: The Best Book I read in 2008

One of the goals I made for 2008 was to read 50 books. I had never kept track of every single book I read during the year and figured that was a number I could probably reach. To date I have read 57 books this year.

I have read some pretty amazing books, some which gave me cause to consider and think about things I hadn’t before. I was disappointed by some and happily surprised by others. In my next post I will list all of the books I’ve read, but first I wanted to tell you about the best book I’ve read this year:


The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ is #53 on my list. I started reading this book in January and finished reading it earlier this month. Most days I began my day by reading a chapter out of the Book of Mormon. I read The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, which is the same scripture with some illustrations, extra footnotes, definitions and explanations. I have read the Book of Mormon several times already in my life but I learned so many new things in this reading and understood some things I hadn’t grasped before. Of course, I think I will probably be able to say the same thing with every reading of this inspired book of scripture. I look forward to reading it again because every time I read from The Book of Mormon, I feel closer to my Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him and I want to be like Him!

Life seems so difficult at times, but The Book of Mormon has served as my own ensign on the hill, guiding me through each day. I could tell a difference in the days when I didn’t get to read from the scriptures. Some days would seem so crazy and out of control and I would lose my patience with my children and husband and just feel downright cruddy and then I would realize that my Book of Mormon was still sitting on the shelf and I hadn’t made time to read that day.

During the year 2008, I was pregnant and then gave birth to my third baby. There were many days when I felt sick and exhausted and sometimes I would even start to fall asleep while attempting to read my scriptures. But I had made a goal to myself that this book, the most important book in my life, would be on my list of books read this year and so I prayed for help and inspiration to understand the scriptures. So many stories came to life for me. As I read about Nephi, Laman, Lemuel, Alma, Ammon, King Benjamin, Abinadi, Jesus Christ, and so many others, it was like clearing the fog from a window and I was able to see their lives and missions more clearly.

I am so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to have my own copy of The Book of Mormon which helps me come to know Christ and His attributes so that I may try to emulate Him.

I am reading from the Bible now about our Savior’s birth and I know that Jesus Christ was sent to this earth to redeem all of mankind and teach us how to love one another. I am so grateful for the good books available to us and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Acknowledge and Appreciate Yourself by Jack Canfield

I am a big fan of Jack Canfield, a motivational speaker and famous for his Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I wanted to share an article from his Success Strategies newsletter today. I hope you enjoy his refreshing positive point of view.

"With the year coming to a close, it's time to acknowledge and appreciate yourself for everything you've accomplished today, throughout the year, and in life.
How many times have you succeeded in the past month? Are you able to recall your successes as well as your failures and missteps?
Many people under-appreciate the little things they accomplish every day. And yet they can recall in detail all the times they have failed or made mistakes. That's because the brain remembers events more easily when they are accompanied by strong emotions.
You might recall graduation, losing 10 pounds, winning an award, or landing a highly sought after position. But do you include in your successes how you had a really great talk with your spouse, how you spent quality time with your teen, how you got all your list of things done for the day, how you learned to change your own oil, or got your fussy child to take a nap?

If you don't acknowledge your successes the same way you acknowledge your mistakes, you're sure to have a memory full of blunders.

Acknowledge your own success. Toot your own horn and don't wait for anyone else to praise you!
If you only remember the mistakes and failures, you won't be as ready to take risks that will lead to your successes. Build your self-esteem by recalling ALL the ways you have succeeded and your brain will be filled with images of you making your achievements happen again and again.

Take time to write your achievements down. Start when you were very young and think of all your achievements since then. Don't just pick the big things, write down all the things you take for granted. You can also create a log of success everyday and review it when you are faced with a new challenge. By writing it all down everyday, you're securing it in your long-term memory and it will become a part of what makes you tick.

Surround yourself with reminders of your success.
Put up pictures, articles, trophies, awards and other pieces that bring your attention to your success. Make your environment speak to you about your achievements. Be proud of them!
People like to be around those who have a healthy self-esteem and who are achieving their Goals. Commit to acknowledging your achievements and your brain will begin to tell you the truth... that you can do ANYTHING!
Taking just 30 minutes to complete this activity will become your positive springboard into 2009 for even more successes."
© 2008 Jack Canfield
* * *
If you missed previous issues of Success Strategies,
I keep an archive of past issues you can always refer to.
________________________________________
Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com

Return to the Neighborhood and while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Count Down The 12 Days of Christmas with Story Time Felts

I'm thrilled to introduce the final story in my Bug Meadow stories created by Story Time Felts!

December Hostess Exclusive

The last of our 2008 exclusives is available and this one features a story on how The Bugs Count the 12 Days of Christmas at Bug Meadow. This one is a must have and you can get it for FREE with a qualifying party. If you are a past 2008 hostess contact me and order your set today, if you are not contact me and we can book a December party for you. Superfelt@gmail.com

Get your set for FREE when your December party reaches $300 and have 3 bookings
OR
Purchase your set for $5.50 when your December party reaches $200 and 2 bookings.

Please enjoy this excerpt from the story:

The Bugs Count the 12 Days of Christmas at Bug Meadow

Written by Rachelle J. Christensen


December had come to Bug Meadow and the bugs scurried inside the warm greenhouse to keep out of the snow.

All of them had gathered to prepare for Christmas. Many of the bugs didn’t know what they could give as a gift. Others were more worried about what they would get.

Dragonfly especially wanted this to be a great Christmas for his mom and dad. “I want to give them a special gift, but I can’t think of anything,” he told his friend, Katydid.
To get the rest of this story and others in the Bug Meadow set, contact Rachelle (that's me!) at superfelt@gmail.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is Heavenly Father Part of Your Social Network?

Glance through the contacts in your email account and you’ll probably find some friends who you don’t contact as much as you’d like. Maybe you just forward them a funny joke or touching story once in a while, but you don’t really let them know what’s going on in your life and perhaps you don’t know what’s happening in their life either. It happens. We’re all busy and it’s hard to keep up with everything. I definitely understand this concept—I don’t even send Christmas cards in the mail—I send an email Christmas card!

It always brings a smile to my face when I get a “real” message from one of my contacts instead of a forward and I’m betting they feel the same way when I have an extra second to send a personal note.

I’ve been thinking about all the different ways we rush around on the internet and in life. There always seems to be some new social networking site popping up for us to join with new friends to meet and new things to learn about. Each of these sites usually has a feature where we can invite all of the contacts in our address book to join the site with us and embark on a new social networking journey. Often you’ll find that many of your friends already belong to the same network. When you invite those who don’t already belong, some will join you and others will pass. It’s never a big deal to me whether someone accepts my invitation or not because this is a form of recreation. But if I do find something important to me I often want to share it with everyone and at times I am disappointed when everyone doesn’t accept the information I have to share. This made me think about another important aspect of my life.

Am I accepting the ultimate invitation, given on a daily basis, the one that goes something like this… “Come unto me.”

We’re all invited to come unto Christ, but do we accept this invite or ignore it? Better yet have we “invited” Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ, into our lives?

Do we only send forwards to our Heavenly Father? Is He part of our myriad social networking hot spots? If there were such a thing, would He be first on our list of most contacted people?

We can send an instant message anytime without any electronic equipment through a simple method called prayer. Instead of “forwarding” a daily rote prayer with no meaning, perhaps we can have a conversation with our Father in Heaven—a real conversation where we share with Him our innermost feelings and desires and thank Him, showing our gratitude for the immense blessings we enjoy each day.

My prayers give me much more benefit when I take the time to “send” a personal message and open my heart to my Heavenly Father. When I tell Him how hard I am trying to improve myself and ask for His help with a specific weakness or when I thank Him specifically for my blessings, I feel so much closer to Him.

I hope that especially during this beautiful season we can all take the time to send a personal note to our Heavenly Father and invite Him to be a part of our lives. He has already sent His son to knock at the door, all we have to do is open it and invite Him in.

Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.



Return to the Neighborhood and while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Choosing Your Profile Pictures

Today I wanted to share something that I’ve learned over the past year on my blog. If you’re going to be a part of any form of social networking on the internet, you need to know a little bit about safety.

WAIT! Don’t stop reading. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have to worry about internet stalking etc. because that stuff happens to the other guy. If that thinking is correct, then you are the other guy.

I’ve already posted about blogging safely, you can click here to read that post. Today I wanted to mention another item of social networking I had an epiphany about.

In almost every form of social networking I can find, it asks for some kind of profile picture. All you have to do is browse your files and upload a picture. Pretty easy, huh? But something I hadn’t thought about before was what kind of picture you should be using for your profile.

First you need to ask yourself what the purpose of the webpage is that you are about to post your picture on. Are you trying to promote a business or a book? Are you looking to meet someone or do internet dating? Are you trying to raise money for a charity?
For each of those questions, there is a different photo which could be used in your profile.
My profile on this blog right now is a close-up of me which will be used in my upcoming book. My blog is set up so that *hopefully* those who are visiting will notice I am an author and this is a writing blog. Now here’s the epiphany part—I don’t need to use this same photo for all of my social networking!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner? Just because it asks for a profile picture, doesn’t mean you have to put one of yourself up there. I have noticed many authors who actually put a picture of their book as the profile pic and I think that’s pretty smart.

You may also be wondering what got me thinking about this. Well, I’m a member of several different social networks—some of which have a public profile—meaning anyone can see the picture. Most social networks have circles within where you can find friends who share your same interests. But there are many people in these social networks who are just grazing, they’re not really into books or art or music, they’re into people.

This is what I learned the hard way. I don’t know if this will apply to men as much, but for a female, no matter what your age or marital status this is important. On those social networking sites which allow your profile to be viewed by anyone it is prudent and wise to post a picture of yourself that is not a close-up. Why? Because I have received several messages from people I don’t know saying my picture is gorgeous blah blah blah, can we be friends?

First of all, I ask myself why this person didn’t notice I was married in my profile and then I answer the question myself and get to the point I mentioned above. If you have a pretty picture of yourself and you are not internet dating, don’t post it as your profile picture. Instead, post a zany picture of you which would make it hard for someone to pick you out in public. You could wear a hat or sunglasses. You can also use special effects on your photos to make them look like cartoons or pencil drawings. You could also put pictures of your pet goldfish, your favorite book, a quilt etc. These are all things which will deter someone who is just browsing the net trying to find photos of someone to be “friends” with. Okay, my husband is still laughing about the suggestion to use a quilt as a profile picture, but nobody’s going to hit on a quilt, right?

Some of you will undoubtedly think I’m a little paranoid—that there’s no need for that level of safety for your own social networking. Have you heard the saying “better safe than sorry” ? I have and I’m trying my best to learn how to navigate our internet world and keep on the safe side.

This is just a small deterrent to the unpleasant messages you might come across while you’re surfing the web. But each small step leads to happier, safer social networking.

Return to the Neighborhood and while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletter brings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDS interviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

JP Creative Design Photo Cards for a Happy Holiday

Do you need a little help designing your special Christmas card this year?
Jessica Peterson of JP Creative design can create personalized photocards and more. She's my neighbor and she designed our sweet baby Dawson's birth announcements. They turned out so darling--we loved them! I just wanted to share with you how impressed I am by her creative skills.

Here's a sample photocard:


Please contact Jessica and let her help you make your holidays fantastic. Stop by her blog and see the darling Christmas party invite she just made!!
jpcreativedesign.blogspot.com
email: jessica.e.peterson@gmail.com

How to Promote Your Home Business by John McLain


I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for a new book called How to Promote Your Home Business: Free Easy and Low-Cost Ways to Market Any Enterprise by John McLain
This book comes at a perfect time when home-based businesses are on the rise due to problems in our economy. This book is a goldmine of facts to support any home-based business owner, including writers.

I have been a home-based business owner involved in direct sales for the past ten years, so I was interested to see how John McLain’s book might help me. Would it have anything I hadn’t already learned in the past ten years? I must report that YES it does! McLain covers everything from press releases to trade fairs to websites in his book. He writes in a succinct and interesting way to excite and motivate his reader to have a successful business.

At just over one-hundred pages, this book is a quick read to get you started and moving towards success in your home business, no matter what kind of business you are running I’m confident you will find helpful information just for you.

One part of this book I was particularly interested in was all about press releases. I had learned the basics of writing a press release from writer’s conferences I had attended but have not yet tried my hand at it. After reading McLain’s tips, I feel more up to the task and believe I will be able to write a more effective release and direct it to the right people. I’m looking forward to trying more of McLain’s useful tips for my Story Time Felts business and for my book which will be published in June 2009 on coping with miscarriage.

How to Promote Your Home Business is a great tool for any business owner, so go ahead and jump in and use his tips and techniques to take the steps to success.


You may visit John McLain’s blog www.promotehomebiz.blogspot.com for more great info on this subject.
John has been in the promotion business for the past 12 years. He's run two successful businesses from home: one a national media consulting firm, the other a web-writing and design business. He's published books, including How to Promote Your Home Business, a novel and completed a screenplay. The first 10 years of his career he was a newspaper reporter and editor, then a magazine editor in San Francisco, an ad copywriter, a news director for two universities, and a specialist in national media placements for colleges and universities. Today he continues to write books and do some publicity consulting for companies.

You can purchase this book at Amazon, just click here Or at Strategic Book Publishing, click here

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rachelle’s Book Club: A Stranger For Christmas


I just finished reading a short story by Carol Lynn Pearson, A Stranger For Christmas.It was excellent and a wonderful way to invite the holiday spirit into your life.
Here’s a quick blurb about the book.

"What if a family, a real one with children and everything, walked right in the front door here and said, 'We'd like to borrow a Grandma for Christmas. Let 's see. That one over there, the one with the red hair. We'll take her . . . ' "
Two old ladies face a lonely Christmas in a California nursing home. One of them still believes in the goodness of people. Now she intends to prove it with a phone call to her children.
And so begins this very special story about love, family, and miracles. As these two women put the true meaning of Christmas to the test, something completely unexpected happens. It may change their lives forever . . . just as it may change yours. A Stranger for Christmas will touch the hearts and lift the spirits of readers everywhere. It is a story to remind us of the values we cherish, the people we love, and the lessons of the holiday season. Make it part of your family's Christmas tradition this year . . . next year . . . and every year. This holiday season, open your heart to . . . A Stranger for Christmas.

*This story is thought-provoking and a genuine joy to read! Pearson’s descriptive writing ability pulls you into the story and allows you to experience the events right along with the two old ladies. I always love a book that can make me laugh and make me cry. This book has a great mix of both and a sprinkling of Christmas nostalgia we all need.

This book is available for an incredible price at Cedar Fort Inc. click here —we’re talking $3.99 incredible!!! Or on Amazon.com, click here
I hope many of you might have a chance to read A Stranger for Christmas by Carol Lynn Pearson this month. Read it as a family, by yourself, or give it to someone to brighten up their holiday.
Happy Holidays!

Return to the Neighborhood and while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletterbrings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDSinterviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Teaching Children How to Give

The Case of the Christmas Advertisement
An unsuspecting parent brings the mail inside the house and tosses it on the table. An advertisement opens slowly to reveal the Christmas toys on sale in various bright and screaming colors.
“Mom, I want this! Can I have this? Oh look at this, can I ask Santa to bring me this?”
Sound familiar? How about this part—previously mentioned ad is sent on a top secret mission to the garbage can. If you wish to succeed this holiday, all advertisements must be re-routed, if you should fail you will suffer the holiday mantra “I need it! I want it!” for the remainder of the year.

In a world full of “I wants” and immediate gratification, how can we teach our children how to give?
This is the question my husband and I asked when our first child reached the toddler stage where everything new had to be had, looked at for a minute, and then tossed aside for the next novel item. We decided it was up to us to begin early teaching the art of giving.
Every year my husband’s place of employment has offered a giving tree. The tree is decorated with small ornaments and each one has a tag attached with the age of a child and what they need for Christmas. We have begun a family tradition to choose tags off the tree matching the age and gender of our children. Then we involve our children in the process of selecting a gift, wrapping it, and sending it on its way to another child.
I have to admit although I love doing this, the process is a bit painful for a three year old or a four year old—but that’s the point. We want to teach our children that they do not NEED every toy they see and to help them become aware of other’s needs. I love my children and I think they are wonderful, kind little creatures—but they’re still kids and kids are naturally a little bit selfish. If you give them a chance though they will surprise you with how unselfish they can “learn” to be.
To help our children understand I start with the basic things we should be grateful for. Asking simple questions in regular conversation (no harping allowed) will help open their eyes to different circumstances. Here are some of the questions I have asked my three and five year old recently and a few of their responses:

Me: “Isn’t it fun that you have so many different shirts/pants to wear to school? What if you only had one shirt and one pair of pants to wear to school and then the pants got a hole in them?”
Gracie Age 5: “That would be sad.”
Maggie Age 3: “Yeah, it would be saaaa-dd.”

Me: “What do you think would happen if you had to go to school with no coat? What would you do at recess?”
Gracie: “I would get cold and I would have to stay inside.”
Maggie: “It would be freezin’ and freezin’ and cold!”

Me: “What if our baby Dawson didn’t have a warm sleeper to wear?”
Gracie: “We could pray for him.”
Maggie: “If he gets cold, he would need a jacket on to warm him up.”

Me: Did you know that there are lots of kids who don’t get to eat breakfast in the morning? Who only have an old coat that doesn’t fit good or maybe their pants have a hole in them, but they can’t get new ones. Did you know there are little babies whose feet get cold because they don’t have any booties to wear?
“Do you think there is something we could do to help some kids this Christmas?
Gracie: “I would take some toys and give to them, cuz I have a lot of toys.”
Maggie: “I could give her one tea set.”

These conversations are heartfelt and are great window to see inside your children’s minds. It’s fun to hear their responses, but even better to help them start thinking about someone besides themselves. After several conversations like this, we will go shopping for the kids on our ornaments.

Last year was priceless. Imagine my surprise to witness my 2 year old and 4 year old in the toy department of Wal-Mart picking out presents for someone else. They were not throwing a fit about the toy they wanted, instead they were thinking about someone who might not have any toys this Christmas if they didn’t pick one out for them.

I hope this year’s shopping trip goes as well as last year’s, but even if it doesn’t I still know it’s important for my children to learn how to give.
I hope you can help share the spirit of Christmas with your children. There are many different ways you can involve your kids in learning how to give. Here are a few more ideas:

After having a conversation about those less fortunate than us, you could help your child clean their room. Ask them to select at least 10 items—must be good, fun items (nothing broken, etc.) to donate to charity. These could include clothing, toys, books, etc. Help them to really think about not just getting rid of extra stuff, but GIVING some of their things to another.

Invite your child to go shopping with you. Select a bag full of groceries and drop it off at your local food bank. *Did you know you can do this at any time of year? I know many people who take advantage of the buy one get one free offers and then donate the free food to the food bank!

Make a baby blanket or quilt with your child and donate it. You can make a nice baby blanket and burp cloths with only 2 yards of fabric in less than an hour. The LDS church at LDS.org has great information on all kinds of humanitarian projects you can be a part of to help the world we live in.

Read the story of our Savior’s birth in Matthew chapter one and two and talk about the wise men who gave gifts to the baby Jesus. This is the real reason we give, because we love our Savior and we want to be like him. Ask them how they can give gifts to Jesus this Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

Return to the Neighborhood and while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletterbrings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDSinterviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Day Started Out with a Compliment


Today as I was dashing around the kitchen trying to get breakfast ready for my 2 girls before baby Dawson woke up, I got a compliment.
My five year old looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re not so fat anymore!”
I paused for a second before saying, “Thank you. It's nice that baby Dawson isn’t in my belly anymore huh?”
Gracie smiled and said, “Yes, you look almost skinny like you did before you had Dawson in your belly.”
And so, even if it isn’t the most perfect compliment, I’ll take it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

It’s Christmas Time! Social Networking in your own Neighborhood

Most people love Christmas, but let’s face it—there are plenty of Scrooges around when it comes to neighbor gifts and getting them ready. I think the solution to this is to eliminate the stress of the neighbor gift (not the gift, just the stress) and re-discover the joy of the holiday season.

So maybe this year, we can find a way to keep it simple. There are tons of easy holiday neighbor gift ideas to be found, but maybe you’re tired of the same ol’ same old. I want to give a few suggestions of unique, inexpensive and fun things you can do for your neighbors this year instead of the King-size candy bar with the poem about “Here’s my version of Christmas fudge!” Okay and if you haven’t heard that one, then I guess you can use that this year. Hee hee!

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do the same gift for every neighbor. Why not mix it up and give each person a little something different? A thoughtful gift just for them. This idea is coming from the person who will be giving all her neighbors a treat of homemade candies, but hey—if you don’t like hand-dipped chocolates and homemade caramels that’s not my problem. I’m just trying to give you a few more ideas to share the love this Christmas.

An act of service—I’m not sure what the weather is like where you live, but here in Utah we still have leaves on the ground that need to be raked. There’s also bits of trash that get blown around our yard and a few dying weeds that need to be pulled. It would only take about ten minutes to rake and bag a pile of leaves. If you want you could make a little card to leave with your neighbor with a cute (or corny) Christmas jingle like, “We wanted to “leaf” a little love this year. Merry Christmas!”
If you’re already into the snow season, then by all means break out the snow shovel and ice melt and leave a note, “We’re clearing the way for Santa’s sleigh. Merry Christmas!”

Homemade Christmas cards made by you—I love to make cards and I know there are many out there who enjoy doing the same thing. You might enjoy creating cards on your computer, with scrapbook supplies, or stamps. Have you ever thought about making a little bundle of cute cards to give as a neighbor gift? Who can’t use a card sometime during the holidays?
How about homemade gift tags? If given early in the season, they’ll be handy for wrapping up presents.

Homemade Christmas cards made by your children—Do you have some elderly neighbors who might enjoy a little piece of Christmas magic created by your young children? Have them draw a magical Christmas scene or make a card and then sign it “With love from our family” The picture/card will still be there long after the treats are gone.

Throw a neighborhood Christmas party complete with white elephant gifts. Depending on what kind of area you live in, this could be a real hit.

Plan a Musical night of Christmas—I have great memories of the times when we got together with our neighbors, the Bodily’s and a few elderly folk in our area. We created our own mini-Christmas program. We sang songs, played instruments, had Santa Claus come for a visit, and just enjoyed talking and laughing together.

Forgo the neighbor gifts and sponsor a family in the Sub for Santa program. You could do this as a neighborhood or just your own family.

I might have to continue on with some more ideas in another blog post. I’m especially having lots of fun with the corny Christmas lines! Even if you don’t use any of these ideas, hopefully it’ll get your mind spinning with a few simple and new things you can do for your neighbors this Christmas to spread the holiday cheer.

Return to the Neighborhood and while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletterbrings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDSinterviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.

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