Monday, December 8, 2014

CHRIST-mas Countdown Begins! Five ways to put Christ back in Christmas!

Who doesn't love the magic of the Christmas season?  Twinkling lights, delicious treats, beautiful decorations, carefully wrapped packages, peaceful music, time with family and friends, and the wonder-filled eyes of children.  However, it saddens me that so many dread the season these days because of the hectic craziness that shopping, parties, and unfulfilled expectations have brought upon it.  So many have forgotten, as it's said, "The Reason for the Season!"  It's not about presents, Santa, or black Friday deals at the local shopping center.  Christmas began in a humble stable and should be remembered and celebrated with the same quiet, humble, and peaceful love that it began.

I, like most of you, am guilty of getting caught up in the busyness of the holiday season, and forgetting its true purpose and meaning.  That is why I set a goal a few years ago to make something different of the season, beginning with my decor, and continuing on to the way I count down each moment leading up to the big day.  This has not only impacted my own perspective, but my hope is that it will shape the way my children and their children celebrate the season that is Christmas!  As much as we love Santa, he's not the man in red I want them to focus on! :)

So, with no further adieu, I share with you some of my favorite ways to count down to CHRIST-mas!  After all, the word "mas" means more in Spanish, so shouldn't we have a little more Christ in our homes this time of year?
I hope that you find these ideas helpful as you strive to bring the spirit of Christ back into the Christmas season in your homes and your thoughts.

A Video A Day
I put together this video compilation of some of my favorite short Christmas videos a few years ago for my family and friends.  I have now uploaded it to Youtube so that hopefully others can benefit!  Please share it with anyone you know!!!  Watch one a day with your family starting December 13th all the way to Christmas!

Day 1: Dec. 13th The Christmas Spirit     0:00
Day 2: Dec. 14th The Coat    4:01
Day 3: Dec. 15th An Angel Foretells Christ's Birth to Mary        6:16
Day 4: Dec. 16th Mary & Elisabeth Rejoice Together         10:26
Day 5: Dec. 17th Look To The Light         15:35
Day 6: Dec. 18th The Christ Child Is Presented At The Temple     20:12
Day 7: Dec. 19th Mary & Joseph Travel To Bethlehem     22:07
Day 8: Dec. 20th Shepherds Learn Of Christ's Birth         24:18
Day 9: Dec. 21st The Wise Men Seek Jesus     27:12
Day 10: Dec. 22nd Wise Men Still Seek Him     32:55
Day 11: Dec. 23rd The Old Shoemaker     36:33
Day 12: Dec. 24th A Gift To The World     40:05
Day 13: Dec. 25th Good Tidings Of Great Joy     49:21

He Is The Gift Website
Check out this website for awesome videos, stories, and information about the Savior for you and your family to learn, watch, and study together.  It's AMAZING and answers so many questions you or your children may have about Jesus Christ and Christmas!

Countdown to Christ Calendar

I can take no credit at all for this idea...I found it on Pinterest of course!  However, I couldn't find exact dimensions I needed so I had to work through trial and error to make mine.  Here is the link for the beautiful calendar I found on Pinterest (I wish they could have just sent me one because I honestly like theirs better than mine!), and here are the dimensions and details of how I made mine, in case that's helpful for any of you out there!

*Board 20" X 25" MDF Wood painted a brick red with a glossy spray on laquer coat on top.
*The word Christ is on a separate board of wood 3" X 15" hung 3.5 inches from the top of the large board painted a sage green.
*The white swirly stuff behind the Christ sign is some lacy-type scrapbook paper I had lying around that I mod podged on before nailing on the Christ sign, to add some dimension since mine was lacking!
*Nails are started 3/4in. down from the Christ sign and 3in. from the sides.  They are spaced 3.5 inches apart from the middle of each nail to the next one and end 3 3/4 in. from the bottom of the board.
*Each square is 3in square and cut from a thin MDF then drilled holes in the tops.  I also painted them white before I put on pictures and paper so if there was any border it would be a pretty one.
*The fronts are just scrapbook paper cut down to 3 in squares mod podged on with a vinyl number in the corner.
*The pictures on the backs I bought from Deseret Book.  This is the most expensive part of the project as some were about 50 cents to a dollar each.  I did 2-3 layers of mod podge to get these to stay after cutting them down to 3 in. squares.
*Just make sure to give plenty of dry time to all layers!  You don't want to go to all of that work to have it stick together and ruin your beautiful pictures!

The baby socks have a story or scripture for each day (along with a small treat of course! :)) and are just numbered with vinyl numbers.  I looked for cheap socks for FOREVER and finally found them here.  They are out of stock now, but who knows if they will come back.  Some of the socks also have a small nativity character in them for special days when we do a character study of a different person in the nativity.  After we study each character, we add them to a small nativity that will be completed by Christmas.  This is an idea I got from an AMAZING book called A Christ Centered Christmas.  I highly recommend it!  It's a quick read with awesome stories and activities to do with your family to help them to draw closer to Christ.

Names of Christ Star Ornaments

This was also an idea inspired by A Christ Centered Christmas, but the ones you can purchase were silver and I wanted mine to stand out on my tree a bit more.  Mine are very simple, but I love how they make me think of the Savior just a little bit more whenever I look at my tree!  Remember, He was born in a very simple, humble place!  My humble stars remind me just a little bit more of that place, and that perfect child!

I bought the wooden stars (20 of them) for about 30 cents each, had my husband drill holes in them and then painted them yellow with a silver sparkle glaze (I made the mistake of doing the glaze after the letters though and messed up a bunch of them because it smeared the paint!  Sadness!!!  So, IF you glaze, do it before you write!).  
To put the words on them I just printed the names of Christ on a sheet of paper in a font I liked and traced it onto the wood (the wood was soft enough that tracing indented the words on the wood).  After the wood was indented with the name, I just used a permanent black marker to trace it.  Thread them with ribbons and you're done! 
Kid-friendly Nativities
 Some of my favorite memories of Christmas time are of an old Nativity that my mom gave to me to play with.  I would spend hours playing with the figures and recreating the Christmas story.  Far too often a Nativity is a touch-me-not decoration in our homes.  And yes, I have one of those too.  However, I think it's so important to teach our children that the Savior is not this distant being that we cannot get near.  He is our loving brother and friend!  He is accessible and as close to us as we allow and want Him to be.  What better way to teach that to them than giving them access at a young age to those figures that tell the story of His birth.  A small thing that can really create a fond memory and feeling.  

Yet again, I got this idea from Pinterest at this site, with a little variation according to what I could find at the craft store and then  just used scraps of material to make the clothes for the little wooden nativity.  I am NOT very creative and crafty on my own to be honest.  I mean, the glue gun and I have a love/hate relationship, leaning more towards the latter!  My sister-in-law did the sheep for me which were pretty awesome I thought!  I would have just glued on a bunch of cotton balls and called it good!  I can't tell you how to recreate the wise men hats (sorry!)...they just kind of happened as I attempted to take needle and thread to a small scrap of fabric (this was huge for me since I don't even own a sewing machine!).  I could never do it again, but I'm glad they turned out okay!  My husband used his engineering skills and made the stable and manger out of popsicle sticks and a glue gun after my daughter insisted Jesus have a stable.  He has a similar relationship (and scar) with the glue gun after that experience but it turned out pretty awesome I think! Oh the sacrifices we make for our children! :)

Fisher Price also has the cutest Nativity that we just bought last year on sale and my kids love it just as much!  I probably would have never made the first one to be honest, had I been able to find it at a reasonable price when I was looking, but now you can even find them in Wal-Mart and Target for around $30!!!  So worth it!

Merry CHRIST-mas to you all! 
© 2014 Leaflet Radiance All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving

Challenges are blessings...that's what I learned this last week.

Actually if we are going to be perfectly honest, it's not the first time I've learned that lesson...except that apparently I am a VERY slow learner and have to learn it over...and over...and over again!  I'd like to say I'm done learning this lesson of life and ready to move on to the next one (an easier one ideally) but, truth be told, I'm pretty sure I'm in this one for the long haul.  That's right, LIFE!

I can be, what I like to call, an internal complainer.  Okay, so maybe it's not ALL internal, but I'd like to say I complain far more in my head than I do out loud.  Sure this is great strategy when you are trying to appear positive all the time, and to avoid being extremely annoying to those around you, but internally, it has the same effect as external complaining.  It destroys your overall perspective, attitude, and happiness.  

However, I have found a tool that sweeps the nasty complaining bug right out of your system.  It's magical really, in an oh-so-simple way.  Are you ready for this "magic pill?"  It's called gratitude.  Okay, I know it's cliche and sounds way too simple to be effective, but it's SO TRUE!  Don't believe me?  Put it to the test!  

This last week my car broke down while I was on an overnight trip with some friends.  It was supposed to be this awesome getaway to rejuvenate my soul and my spirit, and it started out that way.  However, the first night, on the way back to the hotel, we were stranded in a parking garage at the mercy of my insurance company and anyone else who may stop to give us assistance.  This is the third time this car has gone in to the shop in the last few months...for the same problem which they apparently had fixed.  There, of course were few rental companies in the city I was in that actually had cars available, and the only one left charged $170 for a one day rental on an economy car if you can believe that!  

I felt ripped off and frustrated...UNTIL I heard another story from the gracious women who came to our aid.  Heaven bless them for their service in more ways than they will ever know!  In the course of conversation the mother and daughter unfolded to us a tale that made me grateful for my challenge of the day.  The daughter had just give birth a few months earlier to a beautiful baby girl...a miracle baby who came two months early.  Previous to her birth, her mother had almost died due to complications and had spent seven weeks in the hospital, while friends and family cared for her five other children at home.  My eyes couldn't help but well up in tears when she told us of how she and her husband had had to prepare their five other children for the possibility that Mommy may never come home again.  How can you cry over a car after that????  When I knelt down to pray to my Heavenly Father that night all I could muster were words of gratitude for all of my blessings.  There is not room enough for complaints in a heart full of gratitude for there is little to complain about when you tally up your blessings next to your adversity.  The car was a small trial in comparison, but the truth is that no matter how bad things are, it can ALWAYS be worse.  I KNOW that, but it's not always easy to REMEMBER that.  


Read this article Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt and you'll see what I mean!  One time through it and you'll feel better already!

I recently also saw a movie that did wonders for my perspective and gratitude for everyday simple gifts that I've been so blessed to have in life.  It's called The Good Lie.  I think everyone should see this movie and any others like it, over and over again!  We need reminders every day for how good we really do have it in life!

One of my favorite decorations in my home that I made last year for the Thanksgiving season is a frame that says grateful on the glass.  Inside the frame is a typed list of the things I'm thankful for.  I chose an old-style font on browned paper for an antiqued look, but what I didn't know was that the font was extra tiny even in larger print!  It took me a long time to type the list, but the reflection it caused me on my blessings was priceless!  

The more we focus our attention on what we do have, the less time and energy we have to focus on what we don't!  

So, this Thanksgiving season I encourage you to take time each day (or even better, in each moment of complaint!) to reflect on the good, to thank God for the blessings, and to find purpose in the challenges of life for there is a reason for EVERYTHING...we just have to look for it!  Then when you realize all you have, you can't help but want to share it!  The week after I saw The Good Lie, I watched this talk...time to put that gratitude into action!

Happy Thanksgiving!

© 2014 Leaflet Radiance All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Hope of God's Light: How to Find Answers to Life's Questions

This is one of my favorite videos.  If you haven't seen it.  It will be a few minutes more than well spent for your happiness in life!

Sure we all have questions about life, but where do we find the answers?  If you are looking for answers about life, then I can promise you with a 100% guarantee of where to find them!

There are only a couple of requirements:


Prayer, Pondering, and Spiritual Preparation

Watching General Conference the first Saturday and Sunday of October and April!

If you are truly sincere about whatever questions you may have about life then I promise you will not only find them, but find more than you were even hoping for!

If you want to learn more about some of these amazing modern-day apostles and prophets who will speak at General Conference, as well as teach about them to your children, here is a great website to get to know them better with stories, videos, and games!  It's awesome!  We do one a day as a family for the two or three weeks leading up to conference and it is amazing what even my young children are learning!

A great Family Home Evening Lesson idea that I love to use with younger kids is found HERE as well!

And if your kids love matching games like mine do, HERE is a great one you can print and make!

Oh and here is an awesome song that teaches about the apostles too!  It's catchy, but in a good way! :)

I treat General Conference like a holiday around our house with special breakfasts, fun activities, and a countdown weeks before!  We even do a crazy cleaning the previous week so my house is thoroughly clean and I can enjoy a weekend of pure spiritual upliftment--with NO big chores!

My little ones love working on our Conference Board during the session that I found HERE and even my two-year-old stayed pretty focused when I made this (at least at the beginning of all four sessions! :)  She LOVED moving the cards around and surprisingly learned A LOT!

Hope you all can watch and enjoy!  Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it, or share your thoughts!

© 2014 Leaflet Radiance All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Craft Club & Patriotic Decor

 A friend of mine started a Craft Club in my neighborhood several years ago and I was invited to participate a few years back.  Now it has transitioned from being a monthly club to more of an open group that meets once a quarter (or season, rather).  I can take no credit for the idea but it is awesome!  Although I’m not crafty by nature, this group has decorated my house with so many of the projects I’ve been dying to have from Pinterest!  I would never take the time to actually do them on my own, but this way they get done in only a couple of hours in an evening of socializing with my friends!  Kills two birds with one stone!  Love it!

Here’s how it works: 
*The leader of the group sends out email invites to whoever wants to participate and then has two people per season volunteer to be in charge of that craft club.
Winter—December or January
Spring—March or April
Summer—May or June
Fall—September or October

*Whoever is in charge of that season is in charge of finding a few craft options for everyone else to vote on.  Once the votes are in, the people in charge purchase the materials for the craft (which everyone reimburses when they come to craft night—usually under $15).  Those in charge also do all the prep work necessary for the craft to be completed by everyone in a few hours at craft night.  It’s a lot of preparation for whoever is in charge, but the next time they come everything is prepped for them!

*Craft club is usually set for around 6:30 or 7:00 on a Tuesday night and everyone who has committed to come, enjoys snacks provided by the hosts, works, socializes, and goes home that night with a finished product (or sometimes more than one!)

I was in charge of our club this month along with my friend Jessica, so we did a Fourth of July theme and did a few different projects!  I went from having one Fourth of July wreath to now having my whole living room decorated for the holiday!  

We did wooden American flags, canvas America sayings, and a wooden sign that said, “Land of the Brave Because of the Free” in blue across America in red!  I also made a banner the next day on my own.  Everyone did their projects just a little differently but they all turned out awesome!  I love seeing how everyone puts their style and personality into their work!  See below for details on how we did our projects if you'd like to make one of your own!

Large Wooden American Flag
1.  Purchase a large piece of 1/4 in. MDF and cut to 34x24 (ish) (I bought 2x4 panels).

2.  Paint the board white.  Do two coats.

3.  Measure 1 5/8 in. down from the top of the board and tape off white stripes using wide masking tape, using the tape as your width.  If you tape three strips in a row then take off the middle and keep doing that all the way down, you don't have to measure!  This way you also don't have to paint any white...just the red!  Your top and bottom stripes will be slightly smaller than the rest, but it's not noticeable at all. 

4.  Paint stripes with red (Do a deep brick red).  Do two coats then immediately take off paint strips after second coat.  Let dry completely.

5.  Tape off blue rectangle 16in. wide X 13 in. tall.

6.  Put on contact paper stars in a circle around a bowl (for Betsy Ross style flag), then paint over with blue.  Do two coats. Immediately after the second coat, remove the contact paper stars.  

Tip: Put your finger in the middle of the star while using other fingers to remove it.  This keeps the paint from smudging too badly.  Don't stress too much though because you will be antiquing it!

For the traditional flag (pictured at the top of this post) I painted the square blue (two coats), let it dry, then made a template with my Silhouette out of contact paper in three pieces which I lined up on the blue--not an easy task--then painted them with three coats of white).  Or you can just use a stamp if you have one.

7.  After everything is completely dry, use a sander to go over it and antique as desired!  When it is antiqued the way you like it, finish with a matte finishing spray and voila!!!  You just made a $200+ flag for under $20!!!

Stars & Stripes Canvas
1.  Purchase a 12X12 Canvas.
2.  Paint blue.  Do three coats.
3.  After cutting saying on Silhouette and placing on transfer or contact paper, place words on completely dry sign.  Use a credit card to smooth letters and make sure they stick.  
4.  Layer a coat of Mod Podge on top.  

A few people also made a God Bless America Sign in red, but I don't have a picture of that one.  Here is the file though:

American "Land of the Free..." Sign
1.  Use leftover wood from flag (1/4in. MDF) and cut to 24 1/2 X 5 3/4 in.
2.  Paint wood white or off white.  Do two coats.
3.  Use a sander to antique as desired.
4.  After cutting saying on Silhouette and placing on transfer or contact paper, place words on completely dry sign.  Use a credit card to smooth letters and make sure they stick.  
5.  Layer a coat of Mod Podge on top.

Liberty Banner
1.  Cut large stars on Silhouette out of background cardstock.
2.  Cut smaller stars on Silhouette out of American themed scrapbook paper.
3.  Glue stars together.
4.  Cut vinyl letters on Silhouette and place on stars.
5.  Punch holes and string together with desired string, ribbon, yarn, etc.

Enjoy your crafting!

© 2014 Leaflet Radiance All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Planting Patriotism into the Hearts of Our Children

"Freedom must be purchased anew by each generation."
-(Declaration of Dependence: Teaching Patriotism in the Home, Robert K. Thomas and Shirley Wilkes Thomas, 1976).

I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about and studying freedom and patriotism lately with the upcoming Fourth of July.  In fact we have spent the whole last month learning about it in Mommy School to prepare for the holiday!  My kids love it!  

Our decorations began to go up on Memorial Day (a tradition I've decided to begin this year) and won't go down until the end of July!  I want my children to be prepared to celebrate the Independence Day of the United States of America with understanding, knowledge, appreciation, and excitement!  Thus, this blog post to help others do the same!  I hope many of you will find it useful!

(A note to my international readers, I believe many of these concepts apply to people all over the world regardless of the nation in which you live, so read on and apply to your own home and nation!  It is my prayer that you may find these helpful as well!)

"Citizenship may be more than a matter of birth or formal naturalization. For unless one truly promotes the common welfare of his country, he is an alien in the oldest sense of that term—that is, estranged from his fellows. Citizenship is a declaration of dependence upon one another, a recognition that only in unity is there strength and a security that is moral as well as physical. The natural expression of that identification and that security is patriotism."
-(Declaration of Dependence: Teaching Patriotism in the Home, Robert K. Thomas and Shirley Wilkes Thomas, 1976). 

Six Ways to Teach Patriotism to Your Children

1. Teach by Example
I owe so much of the patriotism that I feel within my heart to my Father, who has a deeper love and appreciation for his country and constitution than anyone I have ever met.  The loyalty in his heart and the tears in his eyes when we speaks of the freedoms we enjoy, and the patriots of the past who sacrificed so much for us to have those great gifts, have moved me many times throughout my life.  As a college student, I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. with my parents, and learning from my dad there is an experience I will treasure my whole life through.  I only wish he could have accompanied me on the two-week Patriots and Pioneers tour I did a few years after that!!  I am deeply thankful to him for the love and appreciation he has given me for the freedoms I enjoy and the blood that was shed, and continues to be lost, for me and my family to maintain the way of life to which I have become accustomed.  I only hope and pray that I can distill that love and those blessings upon my own children and the generations to come.

2. Put Family First
So often we think we have to go looking for projects or a great cause to make the world a better place.  However, in reality, as the poet William Ross Wallace so beautifully wrote, "...the hand that rocks the cradle, is the hand that rules the world!"  And as many of us know, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home!" --David O. McKay

"The heart of patriotism...lies in attitudes that are rooted in family relationships, for the family unit, in microcosm, undergoes most of the stresses which test the larger societies that make up a nation. The qualities that distinguish patriotism are all of the “homely” variety: respect, integrity, loyalty, self-sacrifice, consideration, fairness, appreciation, and devotion. No exhortation to respect his country’s flag can mean much to the youngster whose casual, permissive upbringing has left him with little respect for anything. And the child who equates freedom with indulgence may never understand the consideration for others that is fundamental to a workable democracy."
-(Declaration of Dependence: Teaching Patriotism in the Home, Robert K. Thomas and Shirley Wilkes Thomas, 1976).

3. Practice Values that Define Patriots...
At Home!
How can we ever expect to raise patriotic children who are good citizens of the community, if they don't learn and practice values at home?  The home and family are the foundation of our nation.  This is what our Founding Fathers gave their all for.  Lives have been lost and sacrifices have been made time and time again, not to preserve gold and silver, but to protect and enrich the family and thus the community at large!  That's where it all begins and what it's  really all about!
"When we are able to make each family member feel equally loved and equally important—and we do this by acknowledging the smallest contribution and honoring the greatest need—we all develop a concept of loyalty and concern that will transfer easily from home to country. If, in the family, we have learned to be tolerant of difference and generous in judgment, we find it easier to work with others outside the family circle in democratic goodwill. Research in child development suggests that cooperation and concern for others are usually learned before children begin the first grade. If they are not learned in the home, they will be hard to find in the school yard, on the campus, or on the job."
-(Declaration of Dependence: Teaching Patriotism in the Home, Robert K. Thomas and Shirley Wilkes Thomas, 1976).

4. Serve Together
“Patriotism is more than flag-waving and fireworks. If we ask only, ‘What’s in this proposal for me?—What do I get out of it?’—we are not patriotic and we are not good citizens. But if we ask, ‘Is this right?—is it good for the … people?—would it preserve and strengthen our freedom?’—then we deserve to stand in the company of [great patriots]. Patriotism is trying always to give more to the Nation than we receive. It is selfless service” (Ezra Taft Benson, 1962).

Telling our children to help others is not enough.  Ideals are not enough.  We must work right alongside them, showing them that we practice what we preach!  There are a million ways to serve both inside and outside the home, and it is this selflessness that supports the ideals of America.  The Founding Fathers did not create this nation for themselves, but for their posterity!  These great men who could have been kings of a new land, chose instead to think of the future and sacrificed so much, not for themselves, but for us!

5. Take Them "There"
Not everyone is blessed to stand on Plymouth Rock, walk the battlegrounds of Gettysburg, pace the halls of the Capital Building, or to walk the trek of the pioneers to the west.  However, we can take our children to these places so easily through books, family history stories, videos, and the Internet!  The possibilities for virtual field trips are endless these days in our world of technology!  We cannot expect our children to appreciate the gift of freedom if they don't understand the cost.  They need to experience the sacrifices that have been made for them.  Let those great people of the past and the stories that shaped our nation come to life in your home!  Their love and appreciation for this great land will sink deep into their hearts in a way that no lecture can ever truly do.

In addition to the Mommy School unit mentioned above for toddlers, here are some great lessons and fun activities to celebrate with your kids at most any age:

6. Sing Songs of Patriotism
There is a power in music that research has proven over and over again.  Aside from research, think of the lessons you learned as a child that you still remember.  Chances are you probably learned most of them through song!  The emotion that patriotic music invokes is hard to describe, especially when combined with the aforementioned teachings!  Additionally, teach ALL the verses to the National Anthem and other patriotic songs.  Who ever said that we should only sing the first verse anyways?  All it asks is a question...which you have to sing the other verses to get the answer to.  However, the last verse is the one with the message all Americans should remember!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

When I taught elementary school, I felt it VERY important to share these concepts with my students and practice them in our classroom.  I created the video below for us to watch every patriotic holiday I could think of!  Now, I feel greatly blessed to do the same, only at an even deeper level now with my own children. How very thankful I am to live in this beautiful land and enjoy the freedoms and blessings that have come because of our forefathers!  Let us always remember and honor them through our actions each and every day!  Please enjoy this video with your family as you celebrate this great nation.  

Here is the link to the amazing talk I got many of these quotes and ideas from as well:

Happy Independence Day!

CALVIN COOLIDGE: “Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.”
TEDDY ROOSEVELT: “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”
JFK: “My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
RICHARD NIXON: “We must always remember that America is a great nation today not because of what government did for people but because of what people did for …. one another.”  This is patriotism.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: “Use power to help people. For we are given power not to advance our own purposes…..but ….to serve people.”

© Leaflet Radiance 2014 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Favorite At Home Workouts

If I were to create my own workout motivational commercial, it would go something like this:

An interviewer walks into a gym and begins asking various patrons the big question, "Why do you work out?"

A young man lifting weights responds, "To impress the ladies!"
The aerobics enthusiast expresses, "To get rid of the baby fat!"
An older gentleman showing maturity says, "To be healthy!"
Then they round a corner to me rockin' the elliptical and I declare, "To maintain my relationship with Ben and Jerry!"

Okay, so maybe it would make a better ice cream commercial, but that's about as true as it comes to my motivation for fitness!  When I was single, I used to say I exercised to maintain my relationship with my boyfriends Ben and Jerry, but I thought I'd better change that for my husband's sake! :)  I dumped them a long time ago and traded them in for a better guy!  Now that's what I call love!  Truth be told, I'm more of a ColdStone kind of girl anyways, but let's not tell Ben and Jerry that!

Anyways, I used to be a big gym-goer, but then we moved to a place where gyms are crazy expensive and far away...and then I became a mom...At that point the gym was more like a distant fantasy than anything that could really be a reality in my world.  So, although in the past I'd been a fickle friend to the at-home workout DVD's, we bonded once again, but at a whole new level!  Now I LOVE them and don't foresee a return to gym-junkie life any time soon!

What are my favorites?  I thought you'd never ask! :)  I actually get asked that all the time, which is why I thought it would be a good idea to share it with any of my readers out there that may benefit!

Disclaimer:  For those who know me well, you may wonder, "If these workouts are so great then why doesn't she have the six-pack they claim to develop?"  

Answer:  See previous commercial write-up!  I love my treats!  Truth be told, if I flex I can actually feel the six-pack (something I never could before)...unfortunately it's covered by a nice layer of the results of my favorite foods--dessert!  I truly believe if I followed the eating plans along with the workouts, I may actually have a six-pack that is viewable to the rest of the world (not really 'cuz I never show my belly--but if I did! :)  However, although I am an advocate of a nutritious diet, I am no fanatic in any way, shape, or form! ;)

Now, I've rambled long enough, so with no further adieu: 
MY favorite at home workouts!

Hard Core
Number 1:  TurboFire & Chalean Extreme (Hybrid)
If you've never done a workout with Chalean Johnson, you are missing out!  She is by far my favorite DVD trainer EVER!  She is so motivating and energetic (but not annoyingly peppy, if you know what I mean).  Her workouts have an option to turn the volume of the music up and her down, but I NEVER use it because even when I've done the workout a million times, listening to her still motivates me and keeps me going!

Turbo Fire is similar to Insanity (if you are familiar with that at all) except that it's less kill-and-drill and more dance-y/kickbox-y.  It's really fun and kicks your booty at the same time!  Don't worry if you're not terribly coordinated (I was always the one in aerobics class going the wrong way), she has a "new to class" feature to help you learn the routines that you can use as many times as you need!  Just make sure to follow the calendar and NEVER do two Hiit workouts in a row or you will end up injured for sure.  You will feel some serious soreness for the first month, but it starts to be less dramatic after that.  This workout helped me lose the baby fat, and then some!  (However, if you have knee or back problems, you may want to steer clear as there are a lot of plyometrics!)

Chalean Extreme is similar to P90X (if you're familiar with that workout) but more geared toward women (not that guys can't do this one and girls P90X, it's just my preference!).  I bought a pair of Adjustable Dumbbells that I use for this and absolutely love them for the most part.  They are worth their weight in gold so you can "turn up the results" as they say, without having a million pairs of weights lying around your house!  The Select Techs are way cheaper now though than they were then so I'd probably go with those if I were to buy them now.  

Number 2:  Insanity
If you were even in Junior High or High School Sports, (or college for you super talented people!) you remember those days of suicides, wall sits, and pushups til' you pass out.  The days when your coach would force your body WAY beyond the farthest limits you thought it could go.  If you recollect those "lovely" days, then you get a glimpse of what Insanity is all about.  Although in my opinion, Shawn T is much more gracious than most coaches (after all you can really pause it if you're going to die and he won't cuss you out or make you run laps! :).  Seriously though, they don't call it Insanity for nothin'!!!  It is the kill-and-drill type routine that will whip you in to shape...just don't forget your towel so you don't slip on your own monsoon of sweat!  He is motivating and encouraging, even if his cast can't always keep up! :)  The best part is that if you take your before and after pics, then you get a t-shirt that you can only get if you complete the program!  (It's all about the t-shirt really right?)  It says "I earned it" on the back.  I wear mine with pride...but only on days that I don't chow down on ice cream or I feel like a hypocrite! :)  And to think I used to not be able to do pushups on my toes!!!  No more girl pushups for me...well, unless it's toward the end of the workout and I've really got nothing left to give!

Number 3:  P90X
I'm not sure I'm qualified to rate this one as I never did the whole thing as a program.  I've done all the workouts, just not in the set scheduled 90 day program (more as supplemental when I didn't feel like doing my other workouts).  However, my husband has gone through the program a couple of times and I watched him do it when I was very pregnant and couldn't hardly get out of bed so I know it well!  I really like Tony Horton as I find him rather amusing to listen to.  He's fun and motivating and I don't get sick of hearing him talk like I do sometimes with DVD trainers.  Thus, the weight training workouts are pretty good.  I'm not a huge fan of his aerobics workouts though, and since that is what I enjoy the most, P90X falls a bit short in my book.  But, like I said, that's just a personal preference!

And if you've ever done or seen will LOVE this video clip.  Personally I think the modified version is the way to go...HILARIOUS!!!

Tough/But Doable

Hip Hop Abs
Billy Blanks BootCamp


These are just a few of my other favorites when I don't want to go seriously hardcore (as the above mentioned workouts surely are!).  They will still kick your trash, but not quite at the same level.  These are also lower impact if you have problems with your back or knees and can't do the plyometrics as much!

I'm no personal trainer or fitness pro, but I hope this is helpful to some of you out there!

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