Grateful Thanksgiving List!

There are so many things I’m grateful for! Everyone has been posting their “gratefuls” on their Facebook and I’ve been reading them thinking that I need to be more grateful! Here’s a list… it’s written in no particular order:

There’s much much more… But lastly, I’m grateful for scheduling out blog post. No, I’m not writing this on Thanksgiving… I’m spending time with family! I hope you can be with special people too this Thanksgiving. If you’re alone this Thanksgiving, you can always chat with some Mormons online here.

What are you grateful for? Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you on Monday. 🙂

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Inspired DIY Toddler Strider Balance Bike

For Micah’s two year old birthday, we wanted to get him the perfect toddler present. Micah loves cars, motorcycles,  and anything with wheels. In our neighborhood, Strider balance bikes were getting really popular for toddlers. We would see our neighbor’s kids ridding them to and from church all the time. Some of these kids would only be 1 years old and they were flying on these bikes! Every time Micah would see a kid with a bike he would say “Bike!” So we knew the perfect present for our toddler would be a balance bike. After doing some research on toddler balance bikes, I realized that these bikes were really expensive!! Strider bikes range from $89 to $109 online. That is the price of a cheap adult bike! My husband, who is super into biking and mountain biking, thought that was ridiculous. I kept on researching and found a cheaper balance bike called WeeRide balance bike for $37 on Amazon. I liked everything about it. The price was reasonable and the colors were pretty; but, as I read the reviews, people said that the bike was a little bit too big for their tall two year old. So I realized that the WeeRide bike would probably be better for kids ages 3 to 5.

As I was about to give in, I had a dream that my husband, Dallin was a bike inventor. On the same day, I was studying out of the Doctrines of the Gospel Manual for scripture study. I was on Chapter 1, page 3 when I read this quote, “Our Father, the great God, is the author of the sciences, he is the great mechanic, he is the systematizer of all things, he plans and devises all things, and every particle of knowledge which man has in his possession is the gift of God.” I realize that God could help us make Micah’s bike. After that inspiration, Dallin and I decided to make the bike. We decided that the learning process to create and quality family time spent making the bike would be more valuable than just buying a bike. And guess what?! It turned out a lot easier than we thought!

Here’s a movie I made on how Micah progressed with riding the bike:

First, I researched online if anyone has made a balance bike before. These are the sites/videos I found:

Then, we went to the DI, Deseret Industries, a local thrift shop to find a 12 inch bike that would work for our project. We also looked on KSL. This is what we found at the DI for $10!

After we got the bike, we took off the pedals and chain. With a balance bike, you don’t need pedals because the toddler sits on the seat and balance by walking the bike.  There are a lot of tutorials online that teaches you how to take the pedals off the bike.

The we took of the wheels, seat, seat post, and seat post clamp off the bike so we could saw through it.

We needed to go to the hardware store to buy a hack saw that would cut through the metal tubes of the bike. We needed to saw through the bike because 12 inch bikes are too big for a two year old. The bike frame is too tall to be a balance bike and the seat is too high for the toddler to sit on. We got this hack saw for less than 5 bucks at Lowes.

After we got the tools, we drew out a plan. We decided that we wanted to cut the who top of the bike off. Here is the bike ready to be sawed apart. The arrows are where we wanted to cut through the bike.

There were also extra pieces on the bike that we didn’t want and needed to saw off:

So here we are sawing the bike. It really was easy and it only took like 15 minutes to saw the whole thing.

We also didn’t like the handle bars on the current bike so we took it off and swapped with one of the bars we sawed off. We took of the rubber grips on the old handle bars and put it on the new handle bars.

Positioning the bike seat was the hardest part. We actually had to keep on cutting down the bike post AND seat post to make it shorter because it was still too tall after 2 tries. We were afraid to cut it too short so we only cut off little bits at a time to test the height with our kid. After we got the right height we had to cute a notch in the back for the seat post clamp.

Alright there you go. Total price of the bike was $15. We’ve used this bike for 2 months now and Micah is blazing on the bike! He loves his bike. He takes it everywhere and insist on parking it in his room at night. It works just like a normal balance bike. Micah goes so fast that I have to run to keep up with him! He even wants to go off-roading mountain biking and jump curbs… Yikes! I think it will help him eventually learn how to ride a real bike. I think it’s so cool that a 2 year old can ride a bike. We are so grateful that it worked out and that we could make him a balance bike for his birthday!

If you don’t want to put the work into a bike, I’ve recently seen cheaper smaller balance bikes or this one on Amazon but I don’t think you’ll have as much fun as we did building our bike!

Extra Tips:

  • When you out trying to find a used bike, you could find one with removable or low handle bars so you can change it up.
  • We made sure to sand down or pound down with a hammer the metal tubes so it didn’t leave any sharp edges.
  • Be safe when you cut through the pipe! Wear safety goggles and keep the kids away!
  • Always wear a helmet!
  • It just takes practice… it was hard at first but after a few weeks Micah learned to love his bike.
  • This is not really a tutorial but an idea. You’ll have to figure out some of the parts on your own or by Google. Every bike is different so there are going to be different things you’ll have to adjust on each bike. But you can message us if you have any questions!
  • We got our helmet at the thrift store DI for 2 bucks!

Disclaimer:

Use at your own risk! We are not responsible for any injury, deaths or damage during the process of making or using this bike. We did not get paid for write this post. This is just our idea that we wanted to share with you.

Toddler Balance Bikes on Amazon: I researched some more balance bikes for you if you want to just buy one. Make sure to read the reviews!

FormerTheist: The Adventure Begins

Wow what a cool conversion story.. I can’t wait to read more. Let’s all welcome him to our church! 🙂

Thoughts of a Former Theist

I remember going to church with my mother and sisters, but not often.  We were very much the C & E type of Christians.  Dad would never go though.  All I knew was that he didn’t like church – I never knew (still don’t) whether he believed or not, just that he didn’t want to go to church.  I knew that he had been raised Catholic and there was some resentment towards the RC church, ostensibly due to his family’s situation around the time of WWII and the church’s sanctioned attitude to how families should work being a major factor.  I have wondered, however, in my later years, if my father was ever a victim.  He had been an active churchgoer – singing in the choir etc. – before suddenly leaving. The idea that my father – a barrel-chested, outgoing, physically dominant man’s man – could have been abused at…

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Star Effect Photography on Religious Architecture

Alright, I’m going to continue our virtual temple tour with the St. George Utah LDS Temple. There wasn’t very good lighting that day because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! So here’s a photography tip, to get good LDS Temple pictures you need diffused lighting which is either: a cloudy day, sunrise, sunset, or twilight.  Well, because I didn’t have any of those, I decided to just play around with the “star effect” also known as the “starburst effect“.

To get the star effect you need to point your camera right into a light source. So an obvious light source is the sun. Other light sources could be head lights on a car or a lamp post.

Next, you need to crank up your F number on your camera to create a small aperture. Aperture is measure by F/# so the bigger the F number the smaller the aperture. You can do this by being in the Av mode which is the aperture priority mode on your digital SLR camera. You don’t need a nice lens or anything you can just use the lens that comes with the camera.

These two pictures below were taken at F/22.

If you can get a small light source you can use a smaller F number. This picture was taking at F/8.

On a side note, we believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon or LDS) that these temples are “Beacon[s] to the World.” A beacon as define in Merriam-Webster online dictionary is: “a strong light that can be seen from far away and that is used to help guide ships, airplanes, etc.” If you have every seen one of these LDS Temples at night, you would know that these temples glow. You can see these temples from far away. We believe that temples are beacons because temples draw people nearer to God and Jesus Christ.

Anyways… if you want to learn more about LDS Temples please visit my other posts about temples!

BTW you don’t have to be a member of our church to take pictures of our temples. So, please come take pictures of our temples! Have you ever taken pictures of LDS Temples? Please share!

San Diego Temple dubbed “Mormon Disneyland”

My husband had to go to San Diego, California recently for a conference trip. He never likes leaving the family at home so we all went with him. While we were planning the trip, the question came up: “Should we go to Disneyland?” We went back and forth on the decision but we finally decided that we didn’t want to take our kids to Disneyland yet because they are too young (2 years, 3 months). We had planned on driving from Salt Lake City to San Diego; so as an alternative to Disneyland, we decided to stop at every temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) along the way.

Micah, our two year old, loved our temple trip! He said “TEMPLE! TEMPLE!” every time we arrived at one. Traveling with kids can be very stressful, especially when they get restless and start crying. Stopping at the temples was the perfect rest stop because we could feel the Spirit instantly as we stepped foot on the temple grounds. When we got to the temples, we strolled around and took pictures of each temple.

I decided I’m going to blog about the San Diego La Jolla Temple first because it is by far the most unique temple I have ever been too and I’ve been to quite a few. As you drive south towards downtown San Diego on the freeway I-5, you suddenly see this magnificent castle on the left hand side of the road.  This temple gets random visitors, who get off the freeway, just to see what kind of building it is. I love all temples but the San Diego temple is exceptionally beautiful! We heard multiple times on the trip that the San Diego temple is nicknamed “Mormon Disneyland.” Even customer reviews on Google say stuff like “I’m not Mormon, but it’s a spectacular view from the freeway, reminds me of Disneyland.”

While some people spend lots of money getting married in the Disneyland castle. There are far greater sacrifices to get married in a LDS Temple. First, we have to be a member of the LDS Church and have a testimony of the Godhead, atonement, and restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, we have to be worthy to enter the temple by obeying all the commandments of God the best we can. Some of these commandments include tithing, law of chastity, the 10 commandments, and word of wisdom. Finally, we have to witness to our bishop that we believe we are worthy to attend the temple during a temple recommend interview. I know what you’re thinking “Nobody is perfect enough to go to the temple!” Well, because we are imperfect people, we can repent to become worthy to go to the temple. When we repent, we are cleansed through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Now you’re probably thinking  “Holy cow! That’s a lot of work!” Getting married in a LDS Temple is worth all the sacrifice because marriages in the temple are sealed up for time and all eternity and not just “till death due us part.” These temples are literally “the happiest place[s] on earth.”  But not only that, Temples are where we can go to learn more about God’s plan for us. Members of the LDS Church, whether single or married, starting at the age of 12, can attend and re-attend the temples regularly to pray and learn more about the Plan of Happiness. If you’re already married, you and your current spouse can prepare yourselves to go to the temple to get sealed. We don’t have to be perfect people to attend the temple but constantly attending the temple will help us become perfect.

I can’t express in words how happy, wonderful and peaceful I feel to be inside a temple. It doesn’t matter how many problems I have that day, if I can make it to the temple, I will feel peace. My problems don’t go away but I receive strength and comfort from God when I attend the temple. I can also more easily gather my thoughts when I’m at the temple, especially when I am confused about something in my life.

I invite everyone to attend or prepare themselves to attend the temple so you can witness for yourself the peace and serenity of being inside the House of the Lord. I invite you to the temple to receive eternal blessings of salvation and eternal families. I invite you to visit one of our temples even if you can’t go in. They are spectacular and you may even be greeted with a free tour guide. Some of the LDS Temples have visitor centers where you can learn more about what we do inside a temple. To find you local temple please visit the LDS Temple website.

What is your favorite LDS Temple?

Broccoli and Cheese Soup with Bacon

At our church we like to do activities to bring the neighborhood together. Last week our ward had had a Chili and Soup Cook-off. This is the High Counselor Choice Award winning Broccoli and Cheese Soup with Bacon from the cook-off! I won a gift certificate for frozen yogurt. Good times! I almost didn’t add the bacon in the soup but my husband said I should. I’m glad I did because the bacon is the only reason why this soup won. HAHA! 🙂

Sorry my picture doesn’t actually have bacon in it… that soup got all eaten before I took a picture of it.

I modified a Broccoli and Cheese Soup Recipe off allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli head, no stems
  • 4 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
  • 1 pound velveeta cheese (original) cubed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup corn startch
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 package of raw bacon
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter until softened. Stir in broccoli, and cover with chicken broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. In a frying pan cook the bacon on medium-low heat until crispy. Drain excess oil when finish and pat bacon with paper towel. Chop the bacon strips into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Reduce heat, and stir in cheese cubes until melted. Mix in milk and garlic powder.
  4. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into cold water until dissolved. Stir into soup; cook, stirring frequently, until thick.
  5. Add the bacon bits and shredded cheese on top at the end.