Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Combined: White Elephant Gift party

Last night for mutual we had our annual White Elephant exchange gift party. We ask all the youth to bring a gift under $5, we draw numbers out of a hat and let the kids choose and steal gifts. We usually supply dinner for the kids too, things like pizza or panda express. It's always a lot of fun. I actually wasn't able to make it, but I'm sure they had a great time. I heard there were eggnog cupcakes involved though, so I wish I had made it. It's a fun easy night that the youth look forward to each year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pajama Pants Week 2: Cutting

Last night for mutual we worked more on our pajama pants. We all headed over to the house of one of our leaders and had a lesson in how to use a pattern. The girls then pinned the pattern on and cut their fabric one by one (well two at once since the pattern had 2 pieces). We started pretty late (our ward is on Mormon standard time), so this took the whole night even though we only had 4 girls. It was a pretty casual and fun night. We will have to extend it to a third week to finish sewing.

We also practiced singing our Christmas song that we are performing on Sunday. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pajama Pants Week 1: Fabric Shopping

Last night for mutual we went to JoAnn Fabric to buy some material to make some pajama pants. We thought this would be a nice Christmas treat for the girls, as well as a great learning opportunity. A few of the girls had never been to a fabric store or sewn anything before, so we had a short lesson on site about the different types of fabric and what they are good for. It was very educational for them and for me. Next week we are getting together with all of our sewing machines to sew the pants. Hopefully it all works out and we have enough time!

You could have the young women apply this to Knowledge #2, or a Knowledge or Divine Nature Value Project.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday Special: Young Women in Excellence

Last night at church we had our Young Women in Excellence Program. Each year we celebrate the accomplishments of the young women in our ward. We decided on an Oscar theme this year, inspired by this blog post. Ours was very similar, we even had the same value cards in frames! The invitations stated "Black Tie Optional," and our attendees did not disappoint.

We had a red carpet through our foyer into the Relief Society Room, lined with lights. We wrote out the girls names on stars and laid those on the red carpet also.

In our room we hung some stars and twirls from the ceiling and had lights around the chalkboard.

We started the evening with a song and a prayer. After an introduction by our YW president, we had each of the young women come up and talk about a value of their choice, hopefully one that they have been working on throughout the year. Then, each girl presented an award to a woman in our ward who she feels exemplifies that value. We handed out star shaped ornaments to the ladies (and to the girls afterward) and thanked them for being a shining star in our ward. We wanted the awards to be cute and functional, so now everyone has a new ornament for their Christmas tree. I'm always surprised at how well the young women prepare their little talks for these events. The same thing happened at New Beginnings earlier this year. We don't always get to see it in class when they have to spontaneously answer questions, but when they prepare and read something, their testimonies shine through like spotlights (ha!). We have a small but wonderful group of young women and I love being able to work with them.

We also had each of the leaders give a small recap of one or more of the activities during the year that stuck out to them. Our Bishop gave some closing remarks and then we ended with a song and prayer, followed by sparkling cider and golden treats.

It was a wonderful evening and everyone had a great time. I believe we are going to try to make this an annual event.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Combined: Bowling

Last night for mutual we went bowling! I love bowling: my family is really big into it, my brother is a professional in Japan, and I was even on my high school's bowling team. So I had a great time last night, and I think the young men and young women did too. Some of our kids had never been before, or only been once or twice, so I was able to offer lots of help, which they accepted very well and not begrudgingly. There were lots of high fives and camaraderie all around, so it was a great night. Here are some pictures.

My 18 month old had an amazing time!!

Since we have a smaller ward and youth group, it was within our budget to have this night. We usually plan all of our combined activities at the beginning of the year and allow room in the budget for 2 activities that spend money. This was one of those activities. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Indexing again

Last night for mutual we did some indexing. We knew that 2 (half) of our girls would be gone (one of them is getting her patriarchal blessing, yay!), so we kept it small. The other 2 girls are fairly new to our young women, so we decided to teach them how to index. We had to sign one girl up for an account, and then we set to work. I just brought my laptop to the church and signed them into the software. They shared a batch of British names. When they were done one girl, who is pretty sarcastic, told us that was fun, and we laughed a little. But then she said "No, that really was kind of fun." Indexing really is a fun activity.

We also did some more planning for our YWIE night coming up. We are getting set to send out invitations, including to some sisters in the ward who we feel exemplify certain of the YW values. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

Last night for mutual we did some random acts of kindness. We have been meaning to do a service project with the girls for a while now, but all of our plans for big projects kept getting ruined somehow. So we decided to have a night of small acts of service. We were inspired by this lovely blog and used the great printables found there. The printable came out black and white, sow e let the girls color them before we headed out. We asked the girls to bring any spare change they had, and our president traded them for quarters. We also had all the girls write a note to bring to school tomorrow thanking their favorite teacher. It could be anonymous or not, we let them choose.

First, we headed to our local grocery store and put away a bunch of carts that were scattered around the parking lot. We also left some money on the vending machines and the redbox machine at the store with notes tagged to them.

Next, we headed over to our local hospital. We handed out a few full size candy bars to some people working and waiting there with notes taped to them. This was a great lesson in social skills also. We had some girls too shy to hand them to people, and some girls who said kind of weird things. Hopefully they learned a thing or two by the example of the others in the group. We also went to the cafeteria vending machines at the hospital and taped more quarters to those. Fortunately, since it was night time, the cafeteria was empty and we could do our work in secret. Unfortunately, hospital vending machines are expensive! Here are some pictures of the girls taping quarters.

I asked the girls how they felt afterward and they all said they felt really good. They liked the high of helping someone, and doing it in secret makes it even better. This was an awesome service project for us!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PPP Party - Pumpkins

Last night for mutual we had our Personal Progress Party with a pumpkin theme for Halloween! The Young Men actually invited us to carve pumpkins with them tonight, and we gladly accepted. Everyone brought their own pumpkin (or we provided a few for some kids we knew couldn't afford it), we leaders provided carving tools and we let them loose.

For our personal progress portion of the night, I just pulled the YW out one by one and sat down with them for about 5 minutes to discuss how they are coming along with personal progress. We also did a little bit of planning for our upcoming Young Women in Excellence Night. We are hosting an Oscar themed night, inspired by this blog post, and I am really excited. So we asked each girl to begin thinking about what value she would like to speak about and to think of a woman in the ward who emulates that value. Some girls knew right a way, and some need extra time to think it over. It should be a great night.
Our pumpkin carving went a little over time because we have some pretty creative youth in our ward.

Yes, there was a lot of pretend stabbing going on. It could not be avoided.

It was a great night that helped our YM and YW bond. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stake Youth Halloween party

Last night for mutual (which was Wednesday instead of Tuesday) our Stake Youth leaders put on a party for the youth. Our ward building was chosen this year to host the party. We just had to open up the building for them and they did the rest: food, decorating, everything. The theme this year was a harvest festival, so they encouraged everyone to wear their best western clothes, we had chili and hot dogs, and they brought in a square dance caller to lead the music. Even though this event usually includes dancing, all the youth, even the 12 and 13 year olds, were invited (usually dances are reserved for youth 14 and up). The stake did a great job and everything turned out wonderfully. I think some of the youth were disappointed that they didn't get to wear their Halloween costumes or get to dance to pop music, but overall I think everyone ended up having a good time.

One of our young women turned 16 this week! So at the dance we passed around a little notebook and had some adults write in their favorite dating advice. At the end of the night we made a special announcement introducing the newest eligible young lady in our stake. Our lovely YW president put together a little basket full of orange goodies to give to her with a sign reading "Orange you glad you're 16?" (similar to this). It was really cute.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Party Planning

Last night for mutual we did some party planning. We sort of volunteered our YW group to be in charge of the ward Halloween party this year. This is always a big party with great turnout for our ward, so I think it's important that it does get put on, and since no one else seemed to be stepping up to take charge, we did just that. We decided this would count as a service project :)  So last night we figured out everything we would need food wise and entertainment wise and made assignments. It sounds like its going to be a lot of fun, and hopefully all the girls will do wonderfully at the things they are assigned (running games and decorating). We will also be doing an encore performance of our One Act Play since a lot of the ward wasn't able to make it to the original performance. The girls are excited about that. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

One Act Play Wrap Up

Tonight was our performance of our One Act Play at the stake center along with all the other wards in the stake. All the shows were wonderful! We have a very creative stake, which isn't too surprising since we live next to Hollywood. We spent the last 3 mutuals and a few nights in between preparing and rehearsing for the show, and it turned out great! I'm so proud of our youth and everyone in the ward who participated.
Sisters ready to go

Getting Zombie makeup


Thriller Dance-Opening Number

Thriller Dance

Our main zombie, R.M.

Surpise! We won first place!!  We also won best script and best costumes. 

 Our prize was a box of candy bars!

This was a great experience, even if our stake did throw it together kind of last minute. I'm so glad our ward got to participate. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One act plays for the roadshow - Week 1

Last night for  mutual we had our first rehearsal for our stake's roadshow. Each ward will be performing a one act play in October with the theme "Let your light so shine." One of our YW leaders wrote the script and is also directing, so for the next few weeks until we perform, out mutual activities are going to be devoted to rehearsal for this. This week we ran through the script once and then practiced the opening number: Thriller. Two of our young women are going to be the choreographers, so they got to try their hands at teaching last night. They did a great job for their first time, and the opening is looking good.
Two of our young women directing everyone

This is my husband as a zombie

Zombies! We have several primary children who are excited to participate in our show.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Combined: Swimming

Last night for mutual was our combined activity. We did a farewell to summer (even if school did start a month ago) with a swimming party at our YW president's house. We grilled some hot dogs and cooked s'mores over the fire pit, and then pretty much let the kids do what they wanted. A diving contest was started, and everyone got squirted by the water guns. It was a fun, relaxing evening enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Driving Range

Last night for mutual we went to the driving range!  This was an awesome activity for me because I was on my high school's golf team, as was the other YW leader who came. It has been a while since I've been golfing, but I still enjoyed hitting some balls on the range last night.

We went to a range that was lit up and open in the evening. We bought a big bucket of balls (120 balls) for $8, and that was plenty for us. One of our girls had been to a driving range before, the other 2 hadn't. So we started out with lesson on how to grip a club, and then how to swing. I told them before hand that they are going to miss the first time they swing, but it's okay, everyone misses. We did our best to help the girls with their swings, and we definitely saw improvement in all the girls over the course of the evening. We stopped by the putting green for a few minutes before we left also. I think at least 2 out of the 3 enjoyed this activity, which is good enough for me. It was a fun and cheap activity.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Babysitting Class

Last night for mutual we had a babysitting class. We only have 4 young women in our ward, so babysitters are scarce. We wanted to make sure that if the girls were asked to babysit, that they felt comfortable and knew how to do it. So we held this little class. Our YW president has a 2 month old, so he was our little guinea pig.

First thing, we went down to the kitchen and made him a bottle.

Next, we had a variety of snacks on the table and asked the girls which ones they shouldn't give to kids. We had things like yogurt, cheese, grapes, fruit snacks, pretzels, raisins, peanuts, strawberry applesauce squeeze, and a few others.  The girls did really well at identifying all of the choking hazards, and one girl even mentioned that peanuts could be dangerous as an allergy. But it was kind of a trick question. We reminded the girls about allergies: some kids are allergic to strawberries, so the applesauce in this case was questionable, and some kids are allergic to dairy also, so the yogurt and the cheese were out. We told them to always check with the parents on what things the kids can and cannot have while they are there.

Our YW president texted a few of her mom friends and asked for pet peeves and things they really like about babysitters. Things they don't like: coming home to a messy house, seeing the kids up past their bedtime. Things they like: the house as clean, if not cleaner than when they left, kids liked the babysitter, a recap of the night.

We printed up this babysitting kit list from Wendy's Activities and brought folders for each girl. Another night we will assemble the kits. Last night we just went over all the pages.

Next, we changed diapers. We brought stuffed animals and a few diapers and let each girl try. This was a good lesson for our girls.

Lastly, we learned how to swaddle a baby. This was also a good lesson, most girls didn't know anything about swaddles.

This was a great activity for our group. Our girls learned a lot and now when people in the ward ask if our YW babysit, we can say yes!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Family History

Last night for mutual we worked on our family history. A few weeks ago on Sunday I handed out pedigree charts to all the girls and asked them to work on filling them in for this activity. Then I showed the girls how to use (note: there is also Since we already had our log ins from our indexing activity, we didn't have much trouble getting on (just a few forgotten passwords). The girls were able to fill in some of their charts, but not all of it. With more help from their parents and grandparents, I think they will be able to. I told them that once they fill in their charts, we will be able to print a fan graphic, similar to this:

I also really like this idea from The Red Headed Hostess. The blog includes free printables.

I also challenged the girls to be able to find an ancestors name to take the temple to do baptisms for. I really hope they take this challenge because it is such a neat experience to do the work for your own ancestors. It really helps you feel close to them. (For those who may be wondering, the LDS church does proxy baptisms for the dead. You can learn more about that here).

This activity also allowed us to work on Personal Progress. Individual Worth #6 says:
    When you participate in family history, you come to understand your identity and individual worth. Visit with your living relatives to learn as much information about your family history as possible. Then complete a pedigree chart of your family and list the temple ordinances that have been completed for each person.

This was a wonderful activity and the girls had fun, as did some of the leaders who discovered that their family has been working on their family history. We will have to do it again soon to help the girls be able to find more of their ancestors. I'm thinking a trip to our stake family history library is in store. And I really hope we can make those cute trees once the girls have their charts filled in!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sky High Sports

Last night for mutual was our combined activity with the young men. We budget in 2 large expense activities per year, and last night was one of them. We went to Sky High Sports, which is a large trampoline jumping place. They have several different areas for you to jump, including a big foam pit to do flips and jumps into. The youth loved it. By the end of our hour they were all too tired to jump anymore. We ordered a pizza and soda for afterward. It was a ton of fun!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saturday Skip: Stake youth beach activity

Yesterday for mutual our stake youth leaders organized a beach day for the youth. At a previous SYC, the representatives from each ward voted on a beach activity. Then each ward was assigned a food or drink to bring. We were in charge of the cut up watermelon (which is the only assignment that really requires work. Other assignments include grapes, bags of chips, cookies, and drinks. We got stuck with this because no one from our ward could attend this SYC). The stake provided fried chicken for lunch.

We met at our church building at 10:30 for rides and then headed out to Zuma beach. The stake leaders had an openeing prayer and then everyone kind of did their own thing after that. They did have one game that was optional: players put on a T-Shirt, ran into the ocean to get it wet, and then ran back and rung it out over a bucket. The first to fill the bucket won. Lots of kids brought booogie boards, some kids played volleyball. Someone brought Bocce ball, which was a hit, especially for our ward.

We had a really good turnout this year. I think everyone had a good time. I was able to bring my husband and 1 year old, which always makes it more fun. It was a pretty simple activity to organize, and luckily we live close enough to the beach to have this happen every year.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

No mutual - Saturday Skip: Stake Youth Beach Activity

Last night for mutual we skipped it because our stake youth leaders planned a stake activity at the beach. See you Saturday!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mall Scavenger Hunt

Last night for mutual we did a scavenger hunt at the mall. We split into 2 teams and were given a list of clues that led us to stores in the mall. You then had to take a picture of that store. It was a fun game. Unfortunately I don't have a list but some examples include: PAG corresponded to Gap, Apple Democratic corresponded to Banana Republic (this one threw us off because there was also an Apple store in the mall), Bullseye corresponded to Target, etc... It was fun to search and pass the other team in the mall. The girls in my group got a little disheartened when we saw the other group had finished as we were going to get our last 2 stores. But I told them not to give up, and it payed off. We got all the clues correct and the other team missed a few, so we were the winners and got first pick of donuts!

Our leader for the evening likened our scavenger hunt to reading the scriptures. Sometimes things in the scriptures might be confusing, but if we keep reading and searching and ponder on it, then it will make sense to us.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By Choice or Chance?

Last night for mutual we did an activity I called By Choice or Chance. The goal of the activity was to drive to the temple. But here's the twist: the car turned left, right or went straight based on the roll of a die. For our YW group, we split into two cars and saw who could get the closest. Since we live in the valley north of the Los Angeles temple, I decided that we should start down closer to it. We took the freeway down and once we got off on the exit to the street with the temple, we started rolling the die. I wrote a list out for both cars: 1 and 4 were left turns, 2 and 5 were right turns, and 3 and 6 were straight. It really doesn't matter which numbers you use. We had a few rules, like be safe (don't cut across traffic to make a turn at the next light), don't turn if the spirit tells you not to, and don't get back on the freeway. So whenever we came to a light or a stop sign we followed the directions on the die.

Our car ended up in a neighborhood a few miles away. Once we turned into the neighborhood we were stuck and just couldn't seem to get out. The other car said they stayed pretty close to the temple and passed it a few times, but just couldn't get the right number to turn into the parking lot.

After about 30 minutes of trying to get there, we called up the other car and we met up at the temple. We did a few activities at the visitors center and talked to the sister missionaries there. I meant to have treats there at the temple grounds, but I was running behind and wasn't able to pick anything up beforehand. So instead we had treats that I had someone else pick up for me back at the church building. There we discussed how the YW need to make the choice now to have the temple as their ultimate goal. They won't be able to go if they don't stay on the right path. Turning off the path can get you trapped in a neighborhood that is hard to get out of. Sometimes you come close to the temple but close doesn't cut it. There are lots of parallels to draw from this activity.

The girls had a lot of fun (at least we did in our car). They were getting so frustrated and realized within a few minutes how hard this was going to be. I think and hope that it made an impression on the young women. Getting sealed to my husband in the temple has been the greatest joy and blessing in my life and I am always grateful to know that our family will be together forever.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Combined-Movie Night: Wreck-It Ralph

Last night for mutual was our combined activity. We set up a big screen on the stage in our gym and brought in a projector and speakers to watch Wreck-It Ralph. Our YM president has a popcorn machine, so he popped some kernels for us. We also had drinks, M&M's and red vines.

People wore their comfy clothes and some brought pillows and blankets. The couches from the lobby were relocated into the gym also. It was a fun night and we ended up watching the whole movie.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cupcake wars

Last night for mutual we had cupcake wars! We were inspired by this blog post. So we gathered together some ingredients. Some not pictured include strawberries, a few candy bars, nutella, and vanilla yogurt. 

We invited a sister from the relief society who is an awesome baker to help us out and teach us some cupcake decorating tips. We split into two teams and had each team pick 3 items that they had to use, and we specified that not all the ingredients could just go on top for garnish. Team one chose fruity pebbles, rolos, and bananas. Team two chose strawberries, yogurt, and nutella. 
Team one added rolos to bake within their cupcakes. These sunk to the bottom. 

Team one actually made two different kinds of cupcakes. The ones on the left are also theirs and they have fruity pebbles mixed in. The ones on the right belong to team two and have yogurt substituted in for most of the oil called for in a cake mix. 

Team two scooped out the centers of their cupcakes after they were cooked and filled them with nutella.

Here are the cupcakes ready for the judges. The purple one and chocolate one belong to team one and the strawberry one belongs to team two. Team two actually grabbed a few extra ingredients to top their chocolatey cupcake. 

Here are the cupcakes ready to go the judges. 

Sister Reed was our Relief Society helper. Her husband was nice enough to be a judge for us. 

Here is our Relief Society Sister Schneiter president deliberating over what score to give. 

We had the judges rank each cupcake on taste and presentation, and then combined the scores for an overall score. Team one's purple cupcake came in first for taste. Team two's strawberry cupcake came in first for presentation, and also won overall! 

Don't forget to clean up!

It was a really fun night that everyone enjoyed. All of the cupcakes turned out delicious!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Menchie's (Out of town)

Last night for mutual the girls went to Menchie's for frozen yogurt. I, unfortunately was out of town and could not attend. We originally had last weeks activity planned for this week, and a trip to the Getty Museum planned for this week, but since I had to leave town kind of unexpectedly, things got switched around and the girls ended up at Menchie's. Yum!

PPP Party: Patriotic

Last night for mutual it was the first Tuesday of the month, so we had our PPP party, this month with a patriotic theme for the 4th of July. We brought red, white and blue nail polish and let the girls paint their nails. We also used metallic sharpie markers to draw designs on our painted nails.

We played a round of Patriotic bingo, found here. We forgot to print the state cards, so we had to come up with all 50 states to write down and cut up before we played. We used M&M's as our pieces and snacked on those all night.

We also printed out these Patriotic conversation starters just for fun.

We also made these red, white and blue drinks. We're not big fans of pina colada flavor, so we used a white powerade drink instead that worked fine. Everyone was very impressed, even thought we only had small cups to make these in.

Since I'm over personal progress in our ward, I sat down with each girl individually and talked about how their goals are going. We are still working on our Book of Mormon Challenge. We are all still in 1st Nephi, so we haven't earned any rewards yet unfortunately. 

At the end of the night we went outside and played with those little poppers to get even more in the 4th of July mood. It was a great night and everyone had fun. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Skip: Camping

For our combined activity this month, we went camping. I believe this is a yearly tradition for our ward. Last year they went camping on the beach. This year we went up to the Angeles National Forest to the Angeles Crest Campground.

We met at the church around 4, left around 5 and got up to the campsite about 6. One of the cars in our caravan ran out of gas a few campgrounds away from us. Luckily they found us, but not after we started worrying about them having gotten lost. My husband was coming up later and so he was able to bring up a gallon of gas with him so that they could get back down to a gas station.

We set up the girls in one tent on one side of the campsite and the boys in another on the other side. The leaders mostly slept in their own tents.

The girls pranked the boys by putting rocks under their tent after it was all set up. The boys made gifts for the girls on Tuesday night. They painted little first aid kits, gave a box of matches with a striker, made fire starter in an altoids tin, and also made fire starters out of cotton pads and parafin wax. We were pleasantly surprised.

Luckily we were able to have a fire up in the mountains. The young men were in charge of dinner. They brought chili and cornbread. For dessert we put marshmallows, chocolate chips and fruit in waffle cones and let it all melt together over the fire. That was delicious. The young women were in charge of breakfast. We brought danishes and muffins and also cooked bacon and eggs. All the food turned out really well.

We played mafia around the campfire after dinner. I think everyone enjoyed that. In the morning after we got all packed up we had a bocce ball tournament. That was also a lot of fun. We headed back down to town around 11 and stopped at In'n'Out for lunch before heading home. I would say the camp out was a success.
Adam (1 year old) loved camping

Bocce Ball