LDS Missionaries In Fatal Car Accident In South Africa

On December 23rd, Elder Nofo-I-Lelenga Latu of the South Africa Johannesburg Mission passed away in a car accident. Three other missionaries were in the car with Elder Latu at the time of accident and sustained minor injuries.

Shortly after the accident Church spokesman Eric Hawkins issued the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened to share news of the death of Elder Nofo-I-Lelenga Latu, age 19, from the Auckland New Zealand Tamaki Stake, Clover Park Ward. Elder Latu died of injuries sustained in a car accident on Friday, December 23rd. Elder Latu was serving in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.

He was with three other missionaries, all of whom are being treated for minor injuries. We pray for the family and loved ones of Elder Latu. May they be comforted and sustained in their time of mourning and loss.

We are heartbroken at the loss of one of our missionaries and we are praying for Elder Nofo-I-Lelenga Latu’s family.”

This is the fourth passing away of a full-time LDS missionary in 2016.

Please pray for the Latu family and for all those who have been affected by the accident. Our sincerest condolences go out to the Latu family. We’re grateful for the incredible sacrifices of missionaries around the world to bring the Gospel to God’s children.

The Best Holiday Gifts for Kids of All Ages

Sometimes finding gifts for the little one’s on your shopping list can be the greatest challenge. But if you are looking for some unique gift ideas this list of The Best Holiday Gifts for Kids of All Ages will definitely take the pressure off!

You can find everything from cool scooters to doll houses to even sock monkeys on this shopping guide!

All kids love a way to get around and these gift ideas will keep them off their feet!

Smart Balance Bike – Racer – $80.99 + Free Shipping

Razor Jr. Twisti – $61.99 + Free Shipping

Push Around Buggy by Step2 – $53.99 + Free Shipping

 

Here are a few other ideas on two, three and four wheels!

 

Razor California Longboard – $99.99 + Free Shipping

Razor DXT Drift Trike – $181.99 + Free Shipping

Razor Jr. Lil Crazy – $94.49 + Free Shipping

 

If you have a doll house on your shopping list, here are a few fun ideas!

 

Contemporary Deluxe Townhouse – $121.49 + Free Shipping

Storybook Mansion – $184.99 + Free Shipping

Monster Mansion Doll House – $120.99 + Free Shipping

 

These play sets will keep your kids busy all day!

 

Wooden Wonders Downtown Deluxe Parking Garage – $99.99 + Free Shipping

Waterfall Junction Train Set & Table – $220.49 + Free Shipping

Timbers in Color – 270 pc (Box) – $33.99 + Free Shipping

 

Looking for fun & fitness?  Here are some ideas:

 

Fun and Fitness for Kids Air Walker – $134.49 + Free Shipping

Fun and Fitness for Kids Weight Bench – $109.99 + Free Shipping On Sale!: $129.99

Fun and Fitness for Kids Trampoline – $74.99 + Free Shipping On Sale!: $99.99

 

Here are a few other really unique ideas for kids.

 

Wooden Block Set with Carrying Bag – $38.99 + Free Shipping

Prehistoric Playset with Play Mat and Storage Container – $50.99 + Free Shipping

Blockbeard’s Balance Pirate Ship Playset – $31.99 + Free Shipping

 

And every kiddo needs a sock monkey, right?  Look at these adorable options.

 

Star Wars Darth Vader Sock Monkey – $30.99 + Free Shipping On Sale!: $38.00

Batman Sock Monkey – $40.99 + Free Shipping On Sale!: $54.00

Harry Potter Sock Monkey – $36.99 + Free Shipping – On Sale!: $48.00

 

There are so many great gift ideas for the entire family at Blue Digger!  Finish your shopping today!

Other Gift Guides to Check Out:

The post The Best Holiday Gifts for Kids of All Ages appeared first on Kids Activities Blog.

Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Out of 2 Million Pounds of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

It’s Christmas time in Orlando, Florida and I am walking through a life sized ice display loaded with iconic Charles Schulz characters. Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and Charlie Brown have all materialized out of two million pounds of frozen water and have taken up residence at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Central Florida where it may be 80 degrees outside but inside ICE! it’s a frigid nine degrees!

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

Come along as we explore this art exhibit and watch Charlie Brown uncover the true meaning of Christmas….

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

As this classic story unfolds, guests will have a chance to expereince some interactive elements of the ice display including these ice slides…

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

As well as the “One the Blocks” ice bar for those guests 21 and older.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

You even have the opportunity to watch the ice artisans from Harbin, China carving live!

A Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Completely Out of Ice

This entire experience is happenng right now at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida as part of the “Christmas at Gaylord Palms” offerings.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms runs through January 1st, 2017. Tickets and packages are on sale now. For more information visit ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com.

I was a guest of Gaylord Palms for the purpose of this review. I was not compensated to write this article and all opinions are my own.

The post Charlie Brown Christmas Display Carved Out of 2 Million Pounds of Ice appeared first on Kids Activities Blog.

Why I Can’t In Good Conscience Vote For Donald Trump

white-house

As a Christian, I cannot vote for Donald Trump in good conscience.

Here are seven reasons why.

*My religious views and values play into most of the reasons I will not vote for Trump as President of the United States. If you don’t share my religious views (and even if you do), you may disagree. And that’s ok. I respect your right to have a differing opinion. Hopefully this article will help you understand why I cannot feel good about voting for Mr. Trump, because of my Christian beliefs.

1) My church leaders have encouraged “Latter-day Saints..to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest.”

Source: 2014 First Presidency letter

I don’t believe Donald Trump’s behavior embodies integrity, wisdom, honesty nor goodness. I would do my best to show love and respect for Donald Trump if I met him in person. But when it comes to casting my vote for who will become the next leader of the United States of America, I cannot in good conscience uphold Donald Trump’s presidency. I feel doing so would be a clear contradiction to the direction I’ve received from church leaders. (FYI, The LDS Church takes a neutral stance on political candidates and parties, see Political Neutrality video)

The recently released First Presidency letter in 2016 says something very similar,

Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties, and members should seek candidates who best embody those principles.

I don’t think Donald Trump is the presidential candidate who best embodies gospel principles. From three in-person experiences I’ve had, I’d say someone like Evan McMullin better embodies the principles the Gospel stands for.

2) 2 Timothy 3:1-5 encourages Christians to turn away from “lovers of their own selves” etc.

Source: 2 Timothy 3:1-5

The Apostle Paul in his second epistle to Timothy wrote

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers,incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Do any of these attributes apply to the behavior displayed by Donald Trump? Have you ever seen Mr. Trump act boastful, proud, self-absorbed, disobedient, unholy, accusational, fierce, highminded, pleasure-loving, betraying, or unthankful? If so, and if you believe the teachings of the Bible, then it goes to reason that you should “turn away” from Mr. Trump.

3) 2 Timothy 1:7 explains that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear”

Source: 2 Timothy 1:7

The Apostle Paul also explained to Timothy

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I’ve heard some say the reason they are voting for Trump is because they don’t want Hillary Clinton to become President- in this case their behavior is guided by their fear of a Clinton presidency.

I recently saw a news story claiming that Russia would engage in nuclear warfare if the USA does not elect Trump. Likewise, if this influenced you to vote for Trump, you’d be voting out of fear, instead of “love”.

The faith vs. fear teaching is central in Christian teachings. For Latter-day Saints, faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the Gospel. Fear is the antithesis of faith. Where fear resides, faith does not.

Faith is a choice to trust in God and His promises for protection. Fear is to rely on the arm of flesh for protection. If we are doing what is right and trust in God, we have no reason to fear.

4) Traditional values are central to American prosperity

The prosperity the United States has enjoyed historically, has come because of traditional American values, not in spite of them. The Christian values of freedom, selflessness, service, honesty- all of these are values that engender trust and support among our allies. Violating these values and principles violates the trust and good will that many countries around the world have toward the USA. I don’t believe Mr. Trump to be the best ambassador of traditional American values. I believe his presidency would harm our relationships of trust and good will with many countries.

5) I cannot encourage a leader who commits sexual assault

The recent video that surfaced showed one instance in which Donald Trump admitted- even boasted to making sexual advances on women- including married women. He even alluded to using forceful persuasion to get women to commit fornication/adultery with him.

If this was the only reason to not vote for Trump, this would be enough.

And it was for many people.

After the video was released dozens of leaders around the country denounced their support of Donald Trump.

And this was just one video. Since the video was released several women have come forward accusing Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. At least one of the participants in the Miss Universe/etc. beauty pageants has come forward explaining how Donald Trump would barge into the women’s changing room unannounced.

I cannot vote for someone who sexually harasses women and prides in it. I wish it didn’t have to sound so harsh, but I think the video speaks for itself.

According to Christian teachings, sexual sin is an abomination. Alma told his son Corianton that sexual sin was

an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost. (see Alma 39:5)

6) I don’t feel inspired when I watch Donald Trump

I see Donald Trump inspiring hatred and fear- division and disrespect. Some of Donald’s most passionate supporters have acted on the “inspiration” he’s given them. It’s scary. America has worked hard for decades to get dispel racism and division. Let’s not revert to our more divisive past.

In contrast I have felt inspired while watching Evan McMullin vouch for the integrity of this nation. After his speeches I feel more inspired to be good, and to do good.

Also, Donald Trump does not have a glowing countenance. What I mean is that when people do good and are good, their countenances can shine.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (see Matthew 6:22-23)

Here’s an interesting video of Donald Trump:

We can’t say he didn’t warn us..

7) There is a better option: Evan McMullin

I’ve heard the argument that a vote for third party is a wasted vote. Sorry to disagree with you, but I believe this is a faulty argument. A mentality like that could get America into a lot of trouble.

There is a real path to victory for a third party candidate, and that is to deny the two major candidates the 270 electoral required to become the next President, which would push the decision to the House of Representatives.

Read this:

If no candidate receives a majority of Electoral votes, the House of Representatives elects the President from the 3 Presidential candidates who received the most Electoral votes. Each state delegation has one vote. (see Archives.gov)

If Evan McMullin gains the six electoral votes in Utah and Gary Johnson gains the five electoral votes in New Mexico, there is a very real possibility that Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Evan McMullin will be the three Presidential candidates sent to the House of Representatives for a vote.

I believe Evan McMullin has a real chance because of the controversies surrounding the two major party candidates. Also, McMullin worked for the House of Representatives as one of the chief policy directors.

Is there a chance the House of Representatives would elect a level-minded candidate like Evan McMullin to become the next President of the USA?

Totally.

Bridal Photography in Louisiana – Nottoway Plantation and Resort – Eye Wander Photo

We had the pleasure of photographing beautiful bride Meghan McCune at Nottoway Plantation in the spring of this year. As you look through this bridal session, you will see the elegance and grace that she carries is quite radiant. We found ivy walls and the white ball room at Nottoway to be perfect. We ended the shoot on top of the levee of the Mississippi river in amazing light.

Nottoway Plantation White Ballroom

Nottoway Plantation White Ballroom

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Sensory Processing Might Look Different Than You Expect

Sensory Processing Might Look Different Than You Expect

Sensory processing is a term becoming more and more familiar to parents. However, there are still a number of misconceptions, and sensory processing might look different than you expect. There are often sure fire ways to know your child has sensory issues. However, there are also some behaviors that get overlooked. It took me eight years to really understand that this was an issue for my child, and I wish I had seen the signs earlier.

Sensory Processing Might Look Different Than You Expect

When looking at sensory processing, parents often assume that their child with sensory needs will become overwhelmed by and shy away from too much stimulus. Loud noises will be challenging. Crowds will lead to melt downs. Tags and socks that aren’t straight will drive a child mad. They often have problems with textures so picky eating can be a symptom. A child with sensory needs may not want to touch slime, foam or other such materials because the feel will agitate them. When working with or parenting kids who respond to sensory experiences in this manner, parents quickly and appropriately turn to exploring the idea of a sensory processing disorder.

However, the paragraph above doesn’t describe my own child at all, and yet we are still exploring sensory issues.

I had a friend recently describe the struggles with her son. She could have been describing my own child. I asked, “Have you considered sensory processing?” She said, “That doesn’t resonate at all.” She continued to explain that he doesn’t have any of the issues I’ve just described above. It took talking to her about how sensory needs look different in different kids for her to say, “Oh my. That might be exactly what we are dealing with.”

I explored some of the common misconceptions about sensory processing, but what I want people to understand is that each child has been created unique. How sensory needs manifest in one child might look extremely different than another child.

While some people think it is all about the child naturally avoiding stimulus due to sensory overload, the opposite can be true. The need for sensory experiences can be great and yet the brain has a hard time regulating the sensory event. Therefore, a child craves and seeks out the experience, but it leads to a negative behavior outcome.

Some sensory experiences can be calming to a child and others might result in an explosion of emotions. This was hard to recognize in my child. The frustration and agitation would be bottled up and the meltdown would often come later than the sensory experience, making it difficult to tie the two together.

Let me describe some of the things we experience just in case you say, “Oh my. That’s my child.”

My child can go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. When things don’t go her way there can be a melt down. I believed that she was just acting spoiled, not recognizing that this might be part of how she was made. What her occupational therapist discovered in testing is that she has a highly developed visual cortex. What an amazing gift, right? But with all positive traits, there can be a struggle that comes alongside it. The sensory struggle that pairs with a strong visual cortex is that often times these individuals have a strong visual movie playing out in their mind. Since they have everything planned out visually, when real life deviates from that plan, the brain has a hard time processing the change. The result can be extreme frustration as their brain is already locked on to what should be happening. The outcome experienced in the home is a melt down or fits of rage.

My child craved sensory experiences. She wanted nothing more than to be around a lot of people and seemed to seek out things that might overstimulate. She was that creative child who wanted to paint, but she didn’t want to just use paper and a brush. There was a desire to touch the paint and perhaps paint the walls rather than just the paper provided. She loved to get into nail polish, glitter, shaving cream or gak. As a mom, I sought to give her a lot of sensory experiences. Frustration as a parent would set in when she would seek out these experiences on her own, getting into the craft closet and exploring what glitter and glue would look like on her dresser or bed sheets. Clothes would be drawn on, often scribbling on her clothes at an older age. The sensory need would consume her, but rather than having a calming effect, it would often escalate hyper or out of control behavior to levels that were unmanageable.

Other sensory experiences were extremely calming to her, as we discovered more in therapy. She had a high need for pressure on her body, which explains the tight and intense hugging that occurred and wasn’t always welcome by the recipients. The desire to wear jeans that were too tight could also be understood. It explains all of the rubber bands stacked on her arms and wrists. It even gives answers to why swaddling was the one way to calm her as a baby. Wrapping her body tightly in a blanket or letting her chill in her lycra swing is now a strategy we use to calm when she becomes overloaded.

Some of the more commonly thought of sensory issues apply to her too: a desire to chew everything, a need to move and have vestibular input, and the fact that she easily becomes agitated.

One reason it was hard to identify a need in my child is that she is extremely bright. She performs high academically and has never had obvious behavioral issues in school. She is well liked by teachers and peers. What we didn’t realize is that she had developed coping strategies at school for the areas in which her body was screaming against her. When she felt overwhelmed, she would push her feet intensely into the ground. She would keep her hands in her desk to bend the corners of a notebook over and over again. Her water bottle would be chewed on throughout the day. The stress experienced by any over-stimulus would also build up throughout the school day, and she would let out all that tension at home. This made the after-school experience challenging for our family.

Identifying sensory processing as a need is not an excuse for allowing negative behavior to continue, but it’s a recognition that I, as the parent, might need to seek out different tools and try different parenting strategies to teach each of my children in a unique way – just as they are each uniquely made. In therapy, I am reminded that our goal is to give my child and myself the strategies to positively handle the challenges that may come. Further, the occupational therapy is aimed, not to pacify, but to actually create new pathways in the brain.

I am hoping our story might give you some of the tools, answers and understanding about sensory processing. It may have caught you off guard that sensory processing might look different than you expected. Light bulbs might be going off in your own brain about some of the behaviors you see in your child. I know that the description of my child is only one snapshot into a sensory kid, and that there are many other stories that deviate from my own and yet fall under the same category. The goal is to become educated and equipped while loving and parenting your child well. I would encourage you to seek more information if this describes your child.

You also might find these 35 sensory aids and ideas to help with SPD a great resource.

The post Sensory Processing Might Look Different Than You Expect appeared first on Kids Activities Blog.

16 Toys You Can Make with an Empty Box

16 Toys You Can Make with an Empty Box

An empty box is so much more than just trash. You can turn it into so many incredible things! I love showing my kids how to put their imagination to work by turning trash into treasure.

Get out the scissors and glue and make some of these incredible DIY\’s all from an empty box.

16 Toys You Can Make with an Empty Box16 Toys You Can Make with an Empty Box

Millennium Falcon – Yes, your very own Star Wars vehicle! via All For The Boys

Cat and Kittens – These little cats are adorable. Make them and tiny juice box kittens!

Homemade Light Brite – Wow, kids will love this fun homemade toy. So cool! via Toddler Approved

Marble Run – This would keep my little ones busy for quite a while! via Frugal Fun for Boys

Aquarium – This just might be one of my most favorite crafts of all time. It looks just like an aquarium! via Molly Moo

Doll Bed – Make a sweet little bed for your dolls to snooze in. via PopSugar

16 Toys You Can Make with an Empty Box

Toy Car Garage – Park all those toy cars in this super fun garage made from a shoe box! via Mommo Design

Pirate Ship – This is so much fun! All you need for a pirate ship is an empty box. via Molly Moo

Mailbox – Have a fun day of playing pretend with this postal box! via Little Red Window

Wheelbarrow – How adorable is this? Kids will love playing with this. via Makenzie

Traffic Light – Perfect for playing cars or the game red light, green light! via Ikat Bag

Dollhouse – A real, functioning doll house! This would save a ton of money. via My Cakies

Noahs Ark – Fill this up with your stuffed animals. So sweet. via The Craft Train

16 Toys You Can Make with an Empty Box

Barbie Couch – Make a super cute couch for Barbie and her friends! via Kids Kubby

Dinosaur – This riding dino would be a blast to play with. via Mood Kids

Camera – Pretend to be a photographer for the day and make your own DIY camera! via Molly Moo Crafts

Race Car – Make a pretend Lighting McQueen car your kids will adore! via Krokotak

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