Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FHE Lesson: A Gift for Jesus

Lesson: A Gift for Jesus

Talk to your kids about how at Christmas Santa brings gifts and how we all give presents to each other.

Why do we do that?

Because it reminds us of all the gifts that Jesus gave us when he was born and lived on earth. List them off with your family:
  • the gospel
  • the atonement (eternal life)
  • resurrection (salvation)
  • His example
  • the Holy Ghost
  • eternal families
  • everything!
Read James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above..."

That means everything good we have comes from Jesus. Express your gratitude for all the things the Lord has given you.

Ask the following questions:

Whose birthday is on Christmas?

Did he get any presents on his birthday?

Show a picture or use the figures from you nativity of the Three Wise Men. Explain how they traveled far to see the baby Jesus and they brought Him special gifts to show their love and respect for him. Tell your family the gifts they brought.

Explain that since Christmas is Jesus' Birthday, we want to make sure we remember Him by giving him a gift.

Read the following scripture: D&C 4:2- "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day." and/or:

3 Nephi 9:20- "And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit."

Explain that since Jesus has given us everything, the only thing and the best thing we can offer Him is our hearts.

We offer our hearts by trying harder to be like Him:
  • more obedient
  • kind to others
  • helpful
  • pray more
  • read the scriptures
  • etc.
This Christmas, what will your gift to Jesus be? Will you promise to obey your parents? or to be more helpful? or to be more kind?

Have everyone write down on a piece of paper what their gift to Jesus will be. You can have them share or keep them private.

After they're all written down, put them in a small gift box. Put Jesus' name on the box and put it under your Christmas tree.

Bare your testimony about the birth of the Savior. Express your gratitude for all the gifts He's given you and invite your family to strive to remember the gifts they promised to give Him.

Activity: we play the "Symbols of Christmas" memory game or you could color pictures of the Wise Men bringing gifts.

Treat: We didn't do this, but I thought it would be fun to have a birthday cake, since we talked about it being Jesus' birthday

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Homemade Ornaments

Popcorn Cranberry Garland

You'll need:
  • Popcorn (not buttery popcorn and it needs to be at least a day old)
  • Cranberries (I used about 2 packages)
  • Tooth Floss (white)
  • Needle
  1. Measure out your floss. Rather than doing one really long rope, I did about 4 ropes so it wouldn't be so hard to handle when I put it on the tree. Thread your needle and tie a large knot on the end.
  2. Start making your garland. Do whatever pattern you'd like. Tie a knot when you get to the end of your floss and hang on your tree!

This garland will last all season long, but I wouldn't save it for next year. Make it a tradition to make it every year with your kids. I tried to get Noah to help me make ours, but he didn't want to. Maybe your kids will be more enthusiastic about it. I'm sure Clara would love to help, but we'll wait until she's older.

Tip: I didn't use microwave popcorn this year. I used my stove top, old fashioned popper (the kind with the handle you have to turn constantly), and the popcorn was way better because the kernels were huge, which is a lot easier for poking with your needle.

Cinnamon Dough Ornaments

1 1/2 cups cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup Elmer's glue
wax paper
cookie sheets
  1. Mix ingredients. Dough should be as thick as cookie dough. Add water if it's too thick.
  2. Remove from bowl and knead. Put back in bowl and cover. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour.
  3. Remove dough and knead again. Roll the dough between waxed paper until it's between 1/4" and 1/8" thickness (I actually did NOT roll it out between waxed paper. I found it worked much better without the wax paper and it didn't really stick to my rolling pin.)
  4. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter. Use a straw to punch out a hole at the top of your shapes for the string to go through.
  5. Gently place shapes on wax paper lined cookie sheets. Let air dry 3-5 days, flipping 2-3 times a day to prevent curling.
  6. Tie with a string (I used jute) and hang on your Christmas tree!

I love these! I had some leftover from last year that still worked but I wanted even more, so we made more. I love them because they are easy, the kids like to help because they love using cookie cutters, and they smell really good.

Tip: To speed up drying, bake at 200 degrees on your wax paper lined cookie sheets for 2 hours, turning at 1 hour with a metal spatula. I tried this out this year, and it worked great. Some of them still curled a little, but they look fine.

I absolutely love the look of cute, homemade ornaments, especially ones that are edible (although you would not want to eat them for real!). One of these years I plan on doing a Christmas tree where every ornament is homemade in the kitchen.

If you have any homemade ornament ideas that are made with food, let me know! Martha Stewart has this one (slide number 3) that I really want to make. That will be next year's addition to our tree.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Symbols of Christmas

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit. I have lots to say this month, but haven't had much energy to say it yet thanks to some holes a surgeon put in my tummy. Don't worry- everything's fine. I won't give you the gory details. Just promise me that you will never EVER get an IUD!! That's all.

I'm bursting with excitement at what I'm about to post. It warmed my heart with Christmas cheer when I first heard it on Sunday during Sharing Time, and I couldn't wait to share it with all of you (I know people read this blog because I spy on all my visitors. It's alright if you're all too shy to comment. I usually don't comment on strangers' blogs either, so I understand). I hope it inspires you and gladdens your heart like it did mine. What I'm about to give you would make a wonderful FHE lesson.

First, share the story
"Teach the Children." I had never heard this story before. Have you? If not, I'll quickly summarize. It's about a man who sees Santa in his living room on Christmas Eve. The man is surprised to find that Santa is sad because people seem to have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. So, Santa tells the man to teach the children about the symbols of Christmas- the tree, the star, the bells, the candy canes- and how they point to the true meaning of Christmas- our Lord, Jesus Christ. It's such a sweet story!

After you read the story, play a memory game with your family. This you will have to prepare beforehand, of course. Here are the instructions:
  • Print off or draw pictures of Christmas symbols on small cards.
  • On other cards, write the meaning of the symbols.
  • Color code the backside of the two different types of cards- make the symbol cards green and the meaning cards red
  • Turn the cards over so the color side is showing
  • Each person takes a turn, turning over a symbol card and trying to find its matching meaning card.

(That sounds really confusing. Sorry! I'm sure you can figure it out- it's not rocket science, even though I made it sound like it is.)

To make life easier for you, here are the definitions of the symbols:

THE STAR: a heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long ages ago. It's the shining hope of mankind and a reminder that wise men still seek Him.

RED: the first color of Christmas. It symbolizes God's greatest gift- the Savior's sacrifice for all.

FIR TREE: evergreen- the second color of Christmas shows everlasting life. The needles point heavenward.

THE BELL: rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. It calls for all to follow the true Shepherd.

THE CANDLE: represents our gratitude for the gift of God's son. It symbolizes the light within all of us, shining for all to see.

GIFT BOW: tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.

CANDY CANE: the shepherd's crook used to bring lambs back to the fold. It's a reminder that we are all our brother's keeper. It also forms a J, representing the precious name of Jesus who came to Earth.

THE WREATH: a symbol of the never ending eternal nature of love, having no beginning and no end.

SANTA CLAUS: represents family fun and the joy of giving and receiving.

After you play the matching game, read this wonderful book, "I Believe in Santa Claus" by Diane Adamson.

It is a simple yet profound summary of everything that was just explained. At the end of the book she lists the symbols and their meanings, and she may even include some that are listed above (I'm not sure because my friend borrowed it, so I don't have it with me right now). If you've never heard of this book before, you MUST get it because, trust me, you'll LOVE it!

I hear people say they feel bad that we have so much fun with Santa Claus and candy canes and Christmas trees because they think it detracts from the true meaning of Christmas. I feel bad for them because they don't understand the beautiful meaning behind it all. They also don't understand this: "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or praiseworthy, or of good report, we seek after these things." The reason we seek after those things is because everything that is good comes from and points toward Christ, and that's what makes this season so wonderful because it's filled with so many good things that symbolize the love of our Savior. Let's teach our families those things so they understand the reason and the meaning of the season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Spontaneous Christmas Fun with the Kids

I had a very nice night with my kids. Daddy was at work, unfortunately, so it was just the three of us. When Daddy works on Monday nights I usually plan on having FHE a different night when he can be a part of it, but we ended up having a spontaneous FHE without him. But there's no written or unwritten law that says "Thou shalt only have fun with your family one night a week." That's just silly. So, we'll have another one when Daddy's home.

Anyway, it all started after we got dinner cleaned up. I told Noah we could go in the living room and bask in the glowing light of our newly decorated Christmas tree and read Christmas stories. Then we could have hot chocolate before we got ready for bed. That was the plan, but it morphed into even more holiday cheer.

First, the books. You all know how much I love children's picture books, but I HEART Christmas children's books. I would buy every one I see at the store if I could, but as it is, I limit myself to one or two new ones a year. All year I think about what book I'll add to my collection when Christmas comes along. I'm still not sure what it will be this year. There are just too many to choose! Soon to come on this blog are posts of some of my favorites.

Wow, sometimes I think I'm the Tangent Queen! The books we read tonight were:

Mary Engelbreit's "Merry Little Christmas: Celebrate from A to Z"
"I Believe in Santa Claus" by Diane G. Adamson
"The Night Before Christmas" illustrated by Christian Birmingham.
All that talk about Santa Claus made me want to sing some songs (those who know me know I love music even more than books). I have a box of toy instruments next to the piano, and I pulled out my jingle bell instruments for the kids, while I sat at the piano. We sang, "Jingle Bells," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "Here Comes Santa Claus." My kids were awesome at playing their jingle bells, and they even danced around- Clara twirled and got a little dizzy. It was so fun!
I didn't want the fun to end, so I went with the Santa theme and proposed that Noah write his letter to Santa. Of course, he thought that was a great idea because Santa needed to know what Noah wants. In case you're wondering, he wants a gun with bullets. Don't worry- we're not going to give our five year old a real gun (although, his dad was only one year older when he got his first bee-bee gun). He means the toy guns with the foam bullets.
We got the letter written, put it in an envelope and put it in the mail box, destined for the North Pole. Tomorrow I have to be sure to intercept it before the mailman comes. I plan on writing a reply and sticking in with the mail in a few days.
With the books read, the carols sung, and the letter to Santa on its way, it was finally time for hot chocolate, and of course it was Stephen's Mint with mini marshmallows. What else is there? I even gave Clara her own little cup of it, and she was in heaven and had the cutest little foam mustache.
I had such a fun time with my kids tonight! Sometimes it's the spontaneous moments that are the most memorable. I love the holidays because it's so much easier to come up with fun things to do with your kids. I can't wait for all the fun that is awaiting us the rest of the season. I am determined to make everyday count. It really is the most wonderful time of the year!
What fun things do you like to do with your kids during the holidays?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Recommendation

Dr. Laura mentioned this book yesterday on her show. I haven't read it yet, but from her description of it, it sounds like a good one. It's just full of creative, fun things to do as a family. It's easy to make the holidays memorable, but what about the rest of the year? I like the idea of this book because it gives you things to do to make the whole memorable and something to look forward to.

For example, Dr. Laura shared an idea for Ground Hog Day. It was "Family Hibernation Day" where everyone sleeps in, plays board games, reads books, watch movies, takes a family a nap, and just hangs out all day. That sounded simple and fun to me. I'm always up for a lazy day.

If anyone has read this, let me know. Hopefully it really is good. I guess I should read a book first before I recommend it. Oh well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Ideas

I heard three good ideas today that I thought I'd share.

The first comes from Dr. Laura, whom I love. I agree with almost everything she says, and her voice is always at the back of my head, helping me be my husband's girlfriend and my kids' mom. Her advice she gave today was given to a woman in regards to her husband, but I thought it could easily be changed around to involve your kids. Here it is:

If your house is a mess, give everyone some jobs. Whoever finishes their jobs first, can decide what game you all get to play or you could do movie to watch or book to read. I thought this would be a great way to get the job done and have a little fun at the same time. The house is sure to get clean quickly with that kind of motivation.

I learned another clever way to get the house clean in a flash. This was from my sister, Kim. She sometimes has her kids do a 15 Minute Pickup, where everyone cleans up everything can in just 15 minutes. She said it works great- it's amazing how much you can get done in only 15 minutes.

The last good idea I heard today was about Christmas gifts. It's called The Three Wisemen. You only give your kids 3 gifts:
  1. Something they need
  2. Something spiritual/meaningful
  3. Something fun

This is similar to what my sister-in-law does but even more condensed. I thought this would be good if you have older kids. It would take the stress out of gift giving and help you stay focused on the real reason for the season.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


He gets it! He gets it! He gets it!

We have a saying in our house that I've heard other moms use as well. It is:

You get what you get and you don't throw a fit.
Sounds reasonable, right? Not to a five year old who wants what he wants or, darn it, he will throw a fit. We've drilled this saying into Noah dozens and dozens of times, but it always seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Actually, most of the time, it probably never even made it to the ear, with all the fit throwing and such. No sound had any hope of penetrating that amount of wailing. Heaven help us!
Well, heaven did help us. It seems our efforts have not been in vain. It seems that consistency does pay off, eventually. There is hope! Let me tell you what happened.
Last night I fixed chicken salad sandwiches for dinner. I got the table all set and sent the kids into the kitchen to eat their lovingly prepared meal. Noah took one look at what was awaiting him and began hyperventilating, yelling between breaths, "No! No! No!" You'd think by his reaction I'd given him an Earth worm sandwich or something (some of you may know that recently Noah did try a worm- he licked it. Yet, he won't eat my cooking?).
Remembering my goal to be more Christlike, I calmly said, "Noah, you can either stop throwing a fit or you can sit down and eat."
The fit escalates.
"Okay, you can go to your room while we eat," I say, still relatively calmly.
Fit escalates even more.
"Noah, you chose to go to your room when you continued throwing a fit. Now go to your room," still surprisingly calm.
His fit nears Mom's breaking point, and he has yet to go to his room.
"Go to your room!" I add in a fake sweet voice, "Bye!" Noah finally relents, just in time I might add. Mom wouldn't have been able to take much more.
Clara and I sat down to eat while Noah continued his fit in his room, where he stayed until he was calmed down. He was not invited back to the dinner table.
After another tantrum during a game of Hide-and-Seek, which we will not get into, it was time to get ready for bed.
"I don't want to go to bed!"
By this point, I'm trying to tune him out as best as possible. Somehow (thank you Heavenly Father), I've stilled maintained a great deal of patience.
His protests of not wanting to go to bed continue, and I continue ignoring them. Then his stomach reminds him of it's empty state, and he starts bawling, "I need to eat! I'm hungry! I need to eat!"
I remind him of his earlier choice, "You chose not to eat when you threw a fit about what I fixed."
Saying this was not exactly helpful in the hopes of terminating his fit, so I give him another choice (thank you Love and Logic):
"You can either stop throwing a fit or you can go to bed right now, without any stories."
Can you guess what happened? You're right. He didn't stop, so I helped him finish getting his jammies on and escorted him to his bed, kissed him "Goodnight", turned off the light, and shut the door. He was asleep in five minutes.
After such an experience it can be easy to wonder if you're teaching them anything. Fortunately, I felt very proud of myself for maintaining my self-control and disciplining him with love.
This morning Noah woke up very hungry, but I still had my doubts of whether he would be affected in the long term by this experience. He's gone to bed without food before, but it didn't really change anything.
Now lets go to tonight's dinner. I decided to try making a gluten free boxed dinner I bought a few weeks ago for Clara. I knew Noah probably wouldn't eat it, but I was willing to take the chance. He saw me fixing dinner and asked, "What's that?" I told him it was tuna fish. Then I added more ingredients: water, milk, butter, a packaged sauce, and some corn pasta. Noah watched, and I fully expected to hear something like, "I don't want to eat" or "I'm not hungry." But nope. That's not what I heard.
He saw the picture of what I was fixing and asked if that's what the food I'd just mixed together was going to look like. I said it was, and he was very interested and said it looked good.
I thought, Okay. This is a little weird. Good. But weird.
As I continued cooking he continued to be very excited about eating it. The best was when he said, "I'm not going to throw a fit."
I said, "That great! You must be a grown up boy!" He smiled proudly.
He also helped me set the table.
When our gluten free tuna pasta and some cauliflower I'd also fixed was done, we sat down as a family to eat. Now the moment of truth. Would he really eat it? Or would he throw another fit?
He took a minuscule bite, and exclaimed, "This is really good! Mmmm!"
He continued eating, taking pea-size bites and continuing with the positive reinforcement. It was almost like he was giving himself a pep talk with each bite.
He even tried a little piece of cauliflower, and when I said it was my favorite vegetable, he said, "Mine too." And when Clara showed signs of not wanting to eat her food, he said to her, "Clara, 'we get what we get and we don't throw a fit.'" Wow, I thought. Did he really just say that?
You can imagine the happiness I felt as I watched all this unfold. I was so proud of my little guy for acting so grown up and learning an important lesson. He was so proud of himself too and wanted to call Daddy at work and tell him how he "didn't throw a fit" when he "got what he got."
I think I really needed this little glimmer of hope. I've been thinking a lot lately about this scripture:
"...be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." -D&C 64:33
Well, I have been feeling weary! I've tried not to, but sometimes it just can't be avoided. I've felt like despite all my efforts, I'm not making a dent. The Lord knew how I was feeling, so He granted me this experience to show me that I am making more than a dent. Not just counting this story I just shared, Noah was good as gold today. There were moments, of course, but for the most part, he was such a sweet boy today, and I needed that desperately. I needed to know that I am doing good things with him, even though it's sometimes hard to see. I can't give up when things get hard. I have no doubt that his fit-throwing days are not numbered, but if I just keep at it, great things will happen- just like today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

FHE: I Am Thankful

For FHE tonight I thought we'd kick off the month of November with a lesson on gratitude. I used part of the Behold Your Little Ones Lesson 15. Click here to go to it. The lesson was a success, so I thought I'd share it with you:

Opening Song

Start off talking about how Heavenly Father has given us blessings. He gave us our bodies, our families, plants and animals, the scriptures, etc. We show him we love him by saying "thank you." We also show our friends and family we love them by saying "thank you" when they do something for us.

Show the picture of the Jesus and the ten lepers (in the nursery manual or the gospel art kit) and hold up your scriptures. Summarize the story in the scriptures about the ten lepers (refer to the nursery manual for help summarizing the story in a short and simple way).

Ask "How many of the ten were thankful? Do you think Jesus was sad that only one was thankful?"

Explain how this month we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, a special day where we remember all our blessings. I got this book at the library this week and thought it would be perfect for FHE:


I prepared a box with a lid with a slot cut out. I told everyone this was our "Thankful Box." Everyday until Thanksgiving we are going to write something down we're thankful for and put it in our box. We started off tonight by each putting in 3 things. It was very cute to hear Noah's. They were flowers, people, and prayer. We guessed Clara's- mommy, gluten-free food, and clean diapers.

After we did that, I let the kids decorate our box.

And here is our Thankful Box. I think it will do us all a lot of good (especially me) to focus on our blessings everyday and not just on Thanksgiving Day.

Daddy also shared the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. He told it in such a way that kept the rapt attention of a five year old. It was very cute. FYI- The Charlie Brown telling of the Pilgrims is actually very historically accurate, in case you're interested. We have it, but it's packed in a box.

This was a really fun FHE. Miracle of miracles, the kids were really good, Clara especially, and they seemed to actually learn something.

Tonight to help both the kids sit down, we asked Noah to be an example for Clara and we asked Clara to sit down like Noah. It actually worked, except we had to remind Clara to sit down about every 3 seconds. At least she didn't scream- that's a plus!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Favorite Fall Book

This is my new favorite fall book. It's "The Little Yellow Leaf" by Carin Berger. It's about a little yellow leaf who is not ready to let go of her branch. She hangs on until she thinks she's the only leaf left, but she sees one more leaf who also isn't ready to let go. Together, they decide they're ready, and they let go and fly in to the wind.
I love this book mostly for the pictures. They're very fun to look at and very fallish because of the colors she uses. They're a little bit modern in style, and I really like it. See if your library has it or add it to your home library. It's a beautiful book to add to your shelves at home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We don't remember days- we remember moments.

A couple weeks ago I was busy cleaning the kitchen or something when I suddenly noticed how quiet it was. We all know what that means- usually a sign for trouble. So snuck upstairs to see what Clara was up to. I peeked into her room and found her sitting on the floor with a book in her lap and with more books scattered around her. I was relieved to find her out of mischief, more specifically not unrolling our mega size toilet paper roll, and I was pleased to find her perfectly content by herself with her books. That meant I could continue cleaning in a few more minutes of peace and quiet.

Before I rushed back downstairs to finish my chores, I thankfully stayed put and allowed myself a beautiful moment to sit and watch my child for a few minutes. From where I was standing, I had the advantage of seeing her without her seeing me, and trust me- she'd let me know of her disapproval if she knew I was watching.

I sat their for probably 10 minutes just trying to soak in every detail of the moment: the intensity of her eyes as they scanned the colorful pages; her mouth as it formed words like "Oh" and "wow" and all kinds of nonsense words; the sound of her adorable little voice; the size of some of the monstrous books compared to her tiny body; her small hands and fingers that turned each page; the vision of her surrounded by wonderful books. It was obvious the wheels in her head were turning, but I wondered what she was thinking about. For her, life is new and exciting and everything is a wonder. I realized as I sat there watching her that while I was trying to soak in everything about her, she was trying to soak in everything she saw in those books. I love watching my kids discover life.

As I watched her, tears welled up and my heart throbbed with joy. It was so exquisite that it almost hurt. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. I remember thinking, "If my kids get any cuter I'm going to go into cardiac arrest!" I was so glad that I took time away from cleaning so that I could have that moment with Clara. It was a simple moment but one that I will cherish always.

I learned two things from this moment. One, books are magical (really, I already knew that). Two, it's the small, everyday moments that are most important, and if we're not careful, they'll pass us by and we'll never get them back.

It's kinda funny- the more I take time to savor these moments in life, the more patient and loving I am with my kids. The more selfish I am with my time, the more impatient and not-so-loving I am. Funny how life works.

So, my challenge to you and to me, is to embrace each moment you have with your kids. Cling to them, savor them, "drink them in!" as Anne would say. Our lives will be more meaningful if we do, our children will be happier, and our hearts will throb with pangs of joy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Favorite Halloween Books

I wanted to share some fun Halloween books. My kids are loving these and want me to read them to them all the time. I don't mind because they're so cute (the books and my kids)!
The first is Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman. This book is fun because it introduces kids to classic Halloween characters, like witches, vampires, ghosts, bats and mummies, but it does it in a fun, very non-scary way. I think this book is my kids' favorite of all our Halloween books. It's about a witch who plants a pumpkin seed so she can have a pumpkin to make pumpkin pie with. But on Halloween night she goes to pick her pumpkin off the vine, and it's too big and heavy. So, a ghost comes to help. Then a vampire, a mummy and finally a bat. Can they get the pumpkin picked and have their pumpkin pie before Halloween is over? You'll just have to read it to find out.

This one is Room On A Broom by Julia Donaldson. This one is also stinking cute! It's about a witch who is riding on her broom but keeps losing things and having to fly down to the ground to find them. Every time, she meets someone new and they ask to ride on her broom. Pretty soon she's got quite a few passengers, and her broom breaks! Then, the witch flies into a great big dragon, who wants to eat the her (with fries)! Can her friends save her from the dragon? And what will they about the witch's broken broom?

This is such a classic and for good reason! Clara really loves this one because she loves clomping her feet, clapping her hands, and nodding her head like the clothes in the book. Her favorite is shouting Boo! every time she sees the jack-o-lantern. It's pretty darn cute!

We discovered the Jesse Bear books at the library, and I think they are so cute. They're written by Nancy White Carlstrum, and this one is called, What A Scare, Jesse Bear. I like these books for their cute rhymes and for how sweet Jesse Bear is. They're really cute books. In this one he and his family carve pumpkins, dress up in scary and funny costumes, go trick-or-treating, and go home and eat their goodies. Jesse Bear gets a little scared but learns that it's just pretend.

What are your favorite Halloween books?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Color Orange and A Big Round Squash

Today I had a moment of creativity. I pulled out my construction paper, glue and scissors, brought my kids to the kitchen table where we started making jack-o-lanterns.
I started cutting out a bunch of shapes: triangles, squares, circles. I told the kids that we would be using shapes to make the pumpkin's face. Noah knows his shapes, but Clara really doesn't, so I thought this would be a fun way for her to start learning them. Even though does know them, it was still fun for him to see how you can create different things using shapes. We did use some ovals, which was a shape he didn't know very well, so he still learned something new.
As we made them, I'd ask Noah, "What shape do you want to do for the eyes? For the nose?" etc... One time I told him he didn't have to do the same shape for both eyes. He liked that idea and did a circle and a square. After that he started to get more creative.
Clara had fun rubbing the glue stick all over everything for a while, but her attention span quickly ran out, so I had to entertain her with some stickers. But Noah LOVED it! He loved gluing and creating, and he even cut some of the shapes (like, the huge stems). He made pumpkin after pumpkin, even getting really creative and doing a pink, a blue and a green pumpkin. Who cares that they don't exist in real life! Being a kid is about being imaginative. I loved watching him create a different jack-o-lantern each time. Each one was unique- just like him!
Here are some of our pumpkins we made. I love the green one and the one with the humongous stem.
When we finished cleaning up, Noah helped me hang up our pumpkins all around the house as part of our Halloween decor. I know displaying his artwork always makes him feel so good, and I love seeing them around. Every time I see them I feel warm and fuzzy all over.
When the activity was over I didn't really want to stop playing with my kids. I was having just as much fun. Plus, I wanted to do something that Clara would really enjoy, since she didn't get as into the pumpkin thing.
So, I found my Halloween CD and stuck it in the CD player. Clara immediately started dancing and kept saying "more" when a song would end. She loves music, and she loves dancing. She twirls, kicks, wiggles, bobs her head to the beat, shakes, and laughs. I had fun dancing too to all the silly kid-friendly Halloween songs.
After the kids had lunch, I grabbed some pumpkin/Halloween books to have a little story time to help wind them down for nap/rest time. As I was getting ready, I realized there was a theme emerging from all my last minute play time ideas. The pumpkins were orange, the leftover mac and cheese they had for lunch was orange, the blanket I grabbed for reading time was orange and came with a small round orange pillow that looks like a pumpkin, and the books I grabbed were all about orange pumpkins. I pointed this all out to Noah, asking him what color everything was. He was very excited to see the similarities in everything. And when we read our books, I let him hold the pumpkin pillow.
At the end of all this, Noah collapsed onto my lap. I told him how much fun I had, and he said, "Me too, but it made me tired." Mwuah-ha-ha! My evil planned worked!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Websites You'll Love

I've been introduced to some awesome websites with the cutest, creative ideas for activities to do with your kids (once again illustrating that pretty much everything I put on this blog is NOT my own, original idea). Here they are:

Children's Learning Activities

No Time For Flash Cards

Fall Crafts for Kids

DLTK's Sites

I think these websites are very useful because the ideas are simple but fun. I think you'll really like them. They have so many cute things for this time of the year. Have fun with your kids this week!

Do you have another site you really like? What Fall activities do you with your kids?

I have one more website I want to highlight, and it's for you moms. My friend and her sisters started this up, and it is so cute! I am amazed at how creative they are! They update everyday, so there's always something new.

Keep the Juices Flowing

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Last night I picked up my May 2008 General Conference Ensign and turned to Elder Nelson's talk, "Salvation and Exaltation." I remember this talk and enjoyed re-reading it last night. It reminded me of some things I seem to always need reminding of. I thought I'd share some of what he said with you.

How can we best teach our children? The Lord has given us specific instruction:

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

"By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-

"Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase in love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy."

When a child needs correction, you might ask yourself, "What can i say or do that would persuade him or her to choose a better way?" When giving necessary correction, do it quietly, privately, lovingly, and not publicly. If a rebuke is require, show an increase of love promptly so that seeds of resentment may not remain. To be persuasive, your love must be sincere and your teachings based on divine doctrine and correct principles.

Do not try to control your children. Instead, listen to them, help them to learn the gospel, inspire them, and lead them toward eternal life. You are God's agents in the care of children He has entrusted to you. Let His divine influence remain in your hearts as you teach and persuade.

In the same conference, Elder Ballard gave his comforting talk to mothers. In it he said, among many other wonderful things:

...pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother. Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all. There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, "We are steward-parents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised."

I'm so grateful for our prophets and apostles, for their testimonies, their spiritual strength, and for their love. This last General Conference was so wonderful. I learned so much about what I need to be doing better. Every question/struggle I had was answered. I feel so spiritually fed, and I don't want that feeling to go away, and I don't want this renewed desire to do what's right to go away.

That's why I am going to be participating in a General Conference study group. Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity does this after each general conference, and she invites all to participate. I'm so excited to be a part of this because I know my life will be blessed because of it. Click on the picture below to find out more about Stephanie's study group and how you can participate.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Follow the Prophet" FHE Lesson

After General Conference I am resolved to be better at regular FHEs. I'm throwing my excuses for not holding them out the window and am ready to faithfully follow the counsel to hold regular and meaningful FHEs.

Tonight ours was on Following the Prophet, since our prophet and apostles just gave us lots of things to follow. I got my lesson plan idea from LDS Splash!. I liked how simple it was and very fun for little kids.

Supplies: simple prophet costume (I just used a tie and had my hubby tie it so we could easily slip it on and off)

Lesson: After your opening song and prayer, read a few or all of the following scriptures:

Amos 3:71
Nephi 3:7
D&C 1:4
Jacob 4:6

Talk about the scriptures with your kids.

Talk about the importance of "following the prophet." When Nephi said "I will go and do," he was following the prophet, who happened to be his dad.

Tell your kids that your going to play a follow the prophet game. Get your tie out and explain whomever wears the tie is the "prophet." While you all sing the primary song "Follow the Prophet" (we just sang the chorus), the person playing the prophet will lead everyone else in various actions. For Noah, he enjoyed this game the sillier the prophet's actions were. It was really fun.

The lesson on LDS Splash suggests to now talk about how everyone did at following the prophet and what happened when they did or did not follow him/her.

We skipped this and instead talked about the experience over the weekend of hearing the prophet and apostles speak to us. We all talked about what we liked about it and the things we learned. Then we talked about individual and family goals we could make to be more like Jesus and to follow the prophet.

I closed the lesson by bearing my testimony of the prophet. It was a very nice and easy FHE.

P.S.- I still haven't forgotten about my 5 things I was going to post.

Monday, September 28, 2009

10 Conversations You Need to Have With Your Children

I went to a fireside last night with my boys, and the speaker talked about this book. I am anxious to read it. You can read about what I learned from the speaker here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm feeling better now...

First of all, I want to apologize about my craziness I leashed out on you all in my last post. I don't like using this blog as a place where I vomit all my inner struggles in your laps (was that analogy too icky?). I know you have your own to deal with. Heaven knows you don't need mine too. But I appreciated the chance just the same. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. In my defense, however, I went to bed late that night and woke up at 4:30 in the morning to the lovely call of heartburn. I had to do something to pass the time, and venting felt like a good idea.

You know what the interesting thing is, though? Not long after I hit "publish post," I stopped by another blog by another mother. Someone must have whispered in my ear to go on over there because her post was exactly the thing I needed to see. All of you who understood my feelings and were having some of them yourself, you need to take a look see as well. If you've never been to Diapers and Divinity, you're in for a treat. Go there now and see what I mean. I'm so glad I discovered her. (P.S.- She also gave me great advice in her comment to my last post.)

I've been thinking a lot about my last post, and I remembered something my sister-in-law said to me that at the time was an answer to prayer. It's something that will always apply to my life, but unfortunately, like most things, I too often forget it and need reminding. By the time I hear her thoughts in my head I've already let myself get down, and it's her thoughts that pull me back up.

She said those comforting words one day when a few of her sisters and I were gathered together one afternoon. We were talking about motherhood, as all mothers do when they get together. I don't remember the exact question I asked her (something to do with comparing ourselves with other moms), but I remember her answer (in my own words, anyway). She said:

I stopped comparing myself with other moms because I realized that they're probably comparing themselves with me. We compare ourselves with women who have talents in an area we are lacking, and because of that, we tend to put them on a pedestal and say, "They're good at everything." When in reality, they probably look at us and see something we're good at but they aren't and then put us on the pedestal. We're all good at different things. I realized there is a handful of things I am good at, so I focus on those things, and I'm not going to beat myself up for the things I'm not good at.

I loved that! And I get so mad at myself for forgetting it (have you noticed I'm rather hard on myself?). I think it's something we all can learn from. We all have talents that are different from each other, and while it's okay to want to improve ourselves in certain areas and to try to learn new skills, it's not okay to beat ourselves for things that come difficult to us. It's much more productive and beneficial to all to focus on what we are good at.

My sister-in-law's thought relates to my thoughts on my last, crazy post about struggling with what to do at home for preschool. I realized I have a silly idea that I should be the one teaching my kids everything. Whatever they learn in life should be learned at home first. Not only is that impossible, it's not healthy. Much of their knowledge in life is going to come from their own experience in the world. It's my job to prepare them for that experience. That does not mean I have to literally teach them everything before they experience it.

So, here's what I decided. I am going to make a list of the things I for sure want to teach my kids. I think this idea goes along with my sister's-in-law because I think that things I want to teach my kids will naturally coincide with things I'm good at. For example, I love books and reading and am good at teaching my kids to love them as well. So, a love of reading is something I for sure want to teach my kids.

I haven't made my full list yet, so I'll post that on another day. I would encourage you to look at yourself and make your list of things your good at/things you want to teach your kids. What are you good at? Some of you may be good cooks. Or you may be good at being physically fit. Or you might be good at being cheerful. You might be artistic and creative. You might have a strong testimony. Or you might be good at making new friends.

Try not to make your list too long, maybe only about five things. I'm not saying you can't be good at more than five things, but just focus on five things you are good at and want to teach to your kids. Any more than that will just get overwhelming, and we don't want that, do we!

Does this idea make sense? It makes sense in my head, but it's very probable that I'm not communicating it very well. I hope you get what I'm saying, and I hope it helps someone like it has me. Although, it would help me a lot more if I'd just remember it and stop needing to be reminded all the time! I honestly sometimes don't know how the Lord stays so patient with me.

I would love to hear what all your talents are! Don't be shy about it either. I give you permission to brag about yourself!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A realy long rant about my home preschooling woes

A while back I posted about preschool. I don't think I explained me feelings very well, so here it goes again.

FOR ME, I feel that kids should be kids for as long as possible. They're going to be in school for the rest of their young adult lives, why rush things? There is so much pressure to get your kids in preschool, and I think many moms think it's what they HAVE to do. If they don't, they are guilt stricken by societal pressures and feel like horrible mothers. Sound familiar?

Now, here's my problem. I feel guilty. I feel overwhelmed. I feel pressure. And where's all this coming from? From ME! ALL me! Although I have no problem not taking Noah to someone else to teach him letters and numbers and seasons and whatever, I feel a responsibility to be doing that at home. But every time I think about doing it, I get anxious and my stomach ties up in a jumble of unconquerable knots.

You see, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I say "a bit" because I don't consider myself a true perfectionist. My house is not always perfect. I like organization, but I do let things get untidy. My hair and makeup and fashion are not always immaculate (mostly not). Sometimes I let things go a little. But, I LOVE it when all the stars align, and my own little universe flows smoothly and flawlessly. It makes me feel happy and right with the world. So, I'm sort of an oxymoron. I have spurts of laziness and spurts of organizational genius. I'm a cyclical perfectionist.

I guess you could say there are certain areas of my life that lean more heavily to my perfectionist side. Thinking about at home preschool is one of them. I feel like if I can't do it perfectly than I can't do it at all. But I also feel that I have no hope of doing it perfectly because I don't really know how to do it! I've never been trained to be a child educator. I didn't go to school for elementary education. I was a music major!

I end up feeling anxious and overwhelmed, so I try to avoid the whole thing. But then I feel guilty for avoiding it, so I go back. And the cycle goes on and on...

It's not just that I feel I should do something at home, it's that I also want to. This is my last year with Noah, and I want to make it count. I want to teach him about the exciting world we live and have fun doing it. I should also mention that he wants to learn stuff. He always says he has to do his "homework." My final resolve is that I will do something, but I want to keep it simple, so as to avoid all overwhelming, send-me-to-a-loony-bin feelings.

Simple. Repeat it to yourself. Simple.

My next step is to go online and search preschool websites for parents and teachers. I've found a few that I like, but what is inevitable as I peruse through their buttload of resources? I feel overwhelmed. All hopes of "keeping it simple" are thrown out the window and whack a bird off it's perch on the tree next to my house. In place of them my mind whirls over thoughts of "lesson plan ideas," "theme days," "arts and crafts," "songs and rhymes," "circle time," "books to read," "printables," "shapes," "letters," "numbers"...Aaaaagh! I do this until my mind is a jumble of really-good-but-way-more-than-I-wanted ideas and I feel like I'll explode! Not to mention the giant, gnarling and twisting mess that once was my stomach.

Breath. Just breath. Turn off the computer. Walk away from the computer. Think happy thoughts. Remind yourself that it doesn't matter what you do with your kids, just as long as you're with your kids. Whatever you do with them doesn't have to be perfect. Just do something. Even if it's getting on the floor with them and becoming a human train, taking trips from the living room to the kitchen. Whatever. Just be with them.

Well, that's all good and fine, but there's still that annoying nudge from "Miss Perfect" that I should at least have one day a week where we practice letters and stuff or do an art activity because if I don't plan it than it probably won't happen, which leads me to my next beast to be conquered: scheduling. He's a tough one, but that's another rant for another day. For now, back to the rant at hand.

If I can just get over this idea of it having to be perfect, I'll be okay. That's going to take some time and probably some tears. The annoying thing is, I need to be a little bit perfectionistic with it or else I won't really get much accomplished. That means I need to somehow organize my thoughts and goals and out them construct a SIMPLE plan of attack.

Whew! I think I've said my piece, although I don't really feel much better. Just writing about being overwhelmed makes me overwhelmed. What a basket case I am! Will there ever be a time when I don't question my abilities as a mother and feel like I'm doing okay? (Actually, that's another favorite cycle of mine. Sometimes I feel like I'm a great Mom, other times not so much. Do you do that too? Or am I crazy?)

After all this complaining and venting, you're probably thinking what a pathetic person I am and wanting to tell me to get a grip already! But before you do so, I end my post with a little ray of sunshine. Yesterday I may have had a little break through. I'll let you know for sure after a few more days of experimenting.

If you've suffered through this whole post, first of all- I'm sorry. Second of all, if you should comment, I would feel much better if you could say something on the lines of "I understand how you feel." I'd feel so reassured, even if you're just pretending. Also, if I made absolutely no sense, I'm sorry for that too. It made sense to me, although when I see it all written out I can see how crazy sounding it is. The sad thing is, I really haven't even said the half of it. Oh dear...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rained Out

Today the rain ruined our plans, but it turned out to be a very fun night. We were supposed to go camping, but, like I said, the weather had plans of its own. Noah was so excited to go camping, and I didn't want to disappoint him, so we had a campout in the kids' room.

We fashioned a tent by attaching a blanket to the crib and the dresser. I layed out blankets and pillows and Noah's sleeping bag for a little bed. But I didn't want to stop there. I didn't want Noah to miss out on the things he was so looking forward to doing.

While Dad distracted them, I taped pictures of animals to the wall that I'd printed off the Internet or drawn myself. Then I told Noah that even though we didn't get to go see the animals in the mountains, they came to our house! I turned off all the lights and had him bring his flashlight on our animal hunt. He had so much fun searching for the animals I'd hidden throughout the upstairs. Once he found them all, he wanted to find them again and again. Clara loved it too, especially the owl (she loves owls!). I was a huge hit, and I think I will laminate the pictures so we can have those pictures around for another rainy day.

After the animal hunt, I hurried and drew a picture of a campfire and cut it out. Then, I made s'mores in the microwave (recipe at the bottom). I took the fire and s'mores to our campground, taped the fire to Noah's dresser and we ate s'mores around the campfire. Noah said, "I love rain." I think what he meant by that was, "I'm glad it rained so we could have a campout in my room." I am too!

After that we got ready for bed and gathered again "around" the campfire and sang songs like, "If Your Happy," "Popcorn," and "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Then we read a whole stack of books by the firelight (flashlight). Then we had prayers and said goodnight.

In theory, they were supposed to go to sleep, but the excitement was too much for Clara. She was quite silly, but it was fun. I let them be silly and play for awhile, until a little while later I had to take down the tent just for tonight so that Clara could sleep without fun distractions.

This ended up being so much fun! We would not have had this much fun in the mountains. Or, maybe we would have, but it would have been a different kind of fun. There's something about sleeping under a homemade tent at home when you're a kid. Seeing Noah experience that was pure bliss. We wouldn't have had this experience if the weather had cooperated the way we thought we wanted it to. I hope we have more campouts that get rained out.

Microwave S'mores

Large marshmallows
fudge striped shortbread cookies

Place one marshmallow on a cookie. Put in microwave for about 15 seconds. Immediately place other cookie on top to make the sandwich; press hard. Eat! (Don't stop at one, either!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Reasons why Noah acts out, whines, disobeys, or back talks (or in other words, drives me crazy):
  1. He's hungry
  2. He's tired
  3. He's overstimulated
  4. He's been ignored most of the day (cry for attention)
  5. I haven't shown a lot of love (little things like smiles, a kind touch, kind words, etc.)
  6. I'm ornery
  7. He doesn't feel well
  8. I get mad at each offense, which only fans the flame

I wanted to make this list because I think I've been losing sight of the reasons behind his outbursts. I've been more focused on how annoying they are and how they're driving me bananas, which means I've been thinking all about Me! Me! Me! I think I need to focus more on him and why he's upset and what I need to do to help him be happier. Sometimes that means he'll need some good discipline, but discipline is almost 100% more affective when done with love. Lets just say I haven't felt a whole lot of love when I've disciplined him the last few days.

This morning, for instance, he was sooooo grumpy and whiny that I finally lost it. As I was cooling off in my room, I realized he hadn't had any breakfast. I'd forgotten to feed him (I know, you all wish you were as good a mom as me)! So, he's eating now and probably feels a lot better and hopefully will be much happier and agreeable. If I had stopped and tried to understand him, I wouldn't have lost my temper nor harbored ill feelings about him. He was hungry, so of course he would have been grumpy- I would have too!

My thoughts are taking me again to some things I've been mulling over the last few weeks. I'm reminded of Elder Wirthlin's words:

“But,” you ask, “what if people are rude?” Love them. “If they are obnoxious?” Love them. “But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?” Love them. “Wayward?” The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them. Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” Who can tell what far-reaching impact we can have if we are only kind?

I have to admit that when Noah has been getting under my skin, it's a lot harder to show love toward him, but I know if I do the reward will be all the greater. If I just try to understand him, have charity toward him, those moments when there is the potential for him to drive me bananas and make me lose my temper will be driven away. In place of those ill feelings will be love, compassion, and peace.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Great Expectations

Do you think you could count how many times your kids haven't behaved the way you expect them to behave? Ha! Good luck with that! Isn't that their job? They're experts at it, especially when you're in front of other people or in a new place that's different from day to day. That's their specialty.

It's one thing to teach your kids to behave at home, but it's a whole other ball of wax when it comes to the library or the park or church or someone else's house. Even the most well-behaved child can throw you for a loop in a moment that really counts. We've all been there, right?

For me, it was the library. Noah was AWFUL at the library. He loved going, but he HATED leaving. Excursions to the library were not fun for us for a while.

Although memories of our first library outings are a little painful, they taught me some important lessons in parenting. One in particular is that kids need to know what you expect of them BEFORE you throw them into the new environment. I've learned from my own experience that pretty much all attempts to teach them in the moment will be completely useless and will only make you more mad and them behave worse. Then you're so mad when you get home that you make all kinds of unreasonable threats like, "WE'RE NEVER GOING THERE AGAIN! YOU'RE GOING TO STAY IN YOUR ROOM UNTIL YOUR 18!" This leads me to the other thing I've learned: if they don't know what you expect of them, how can you justify getting mad at them for not complying? Kids need to be given expectations, and they need to know what they are. I like to call these "Great Expectations."

These are both principles that I'm still working on. There are some things that you just don't think about needing to be addressed. We're so used to living in society and obeying social rules and such that we forget our kids don't know them. But I'm learning not to beat myself up about it. It helps me to not get upset if I ask myself whether I've taught him what I expect. Even if I have, I'm learning too that kids need lots of reminding. When we get home, I pull Noah aside and say, "Next time we do this...." or something along those lines. I know that this correcting needs to be done after we're out of the situation, not during (although, there are exceptions, as with most things). Then the next time we're going to be in that situation, I remind him what we talked about before. Am I making any sense? I wish I had an example of what I mean, but my mind is blank. I'll try to be more broad, and maybe I'll get my point across.

Concerning Church:
Noah is pretty good at church, but we've had to work hard at it. He still has things to get over. Some things we've worked on are: being fidgety, sitting on his teacher's lap, not singing, laying on the floor, and general reverence. To help him, I started talking to him at home what I expect of him and what Heavenly Father expects of him at church. There should also be consequences for their actions. Then I would remind him right before we go to church about these expectations. You can even incorporate agency into this and ask your child how they're going to choose to behave.

Concerning the Library/The Tree House Museum/Any place fun your kids hate to leave
For places Noah hates to leave because they're so fun, I make sure he understands that I expect him to leave like a nice boy and not throw fits. The best is when we leave a place happily and he is so proud of himself for doing what I expect.

Concerning Everything!
Kids need to know what you expect! I've started to try and use that word a lot more in our home because I really believe that everyone needs reasonably high expectations of themselves and of others. Noah is a lot better when he understands what is expected of him, which means I'm a happier Mom! And like I said, he's proud of himself when he lives up to what's expected of him.

I hope this didn't sound too preachy. I do not profess to be an expert in this at all! But I have seen the positive effects of laying out your expectations, so I'm trying to be better at it. I hope my thoughts were coherent. Unfortunately, I'm not as articulate as I'd like to be. Just add that to the "Needs Improvement" list. Oh boy, that list is getting really long...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cupcake Day

I know that cupcakes are the rage right now. There are so many cute ideas out there, and they just look like so much fun that I want to try my hand at them. But they're not something I want to do all the time because first and foremost, I'll "blow up like my Aunt Roberta" and second of all, they just take too much time. So, drawing from my sister's "cookie day" idea, I thought I could do a "cupcake day" once or maybe twice a month. The kids can help decorate and we can share our goodies with friends and family in order to avoid the whole blowing up part.

I couldn't sleep tonight (hence the late night post), so I skimmed through Betty Crocker's cupcake ideas. I found some really cute ones. These ones are my favorite. They're called Surprise Cupcake Cones. They're so stinking cute and look easy peasy to make too. I think I'm going to make them for Clara's birthday. The cupcakes at the top are called Dalmatian Cupcakes. They look yummy!

If any of you have any favorite cupcake idea sites let me know. Here are some that my friend has on her blog:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Few Good Reads

Here are some books I really liked that my kids liked too:

"Bears On Chairs" by Shirley Parenteau and David Walker. First of all, the illustrations are so stinking cute. Aside from that, the story is equally adorable. It's about 4 bears who each have their own chair and no one has to share. Then along comes Big Bear, but where is his chair? The 4 bears must figure out a way for all the bears to have a place to sit.

The next book is "Bark, George" by Jules Feiffer. This one is hilarious! It's about a dog who every time his mom tells him to bark, he answers with a "meow" or a "moo"- everything other than "bark." So, his mom takes him to the vet and guess what he finds? You'll just have to read it.

Then there's "It's Lovely When You Smile" by Sam McBratney and Charles Fuge (the edition I read was called "I Love It When You Smile"). It's about a Mom who tries to get her little baby to smile when he does not feel like it. We've all been there, which makes this book even more endearing.
This last one is "How to Bake and American Pie" by Karma Wilson and Raul Colon. This is a good one for the 4th of July. It talks about all the things that we cherish about our country, especially our faith in God (I really appreciated that part).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Christmas Shopping

I haven't bee a very good blogger lately. My thoughts and hands have been filled with lots of other things that are so not as much fun (no, I'm not talking about my kids). However, this morning I was thinking about Christmas (is it really already time to think about that?!). Every year I have a goal to be done with my shopping by a certain time, and it never happens. But this year I'm determined to meet my goal, and I have a great way to help me do it and I wanted to share it with you.

This is a trick my sister-in-law taught me. Not only does it help you get your shopping done, but it also prevents you from over-spoiling your kids. That's something I actually struggle with. It's so easy to want to give them all the things we know they'd love, but I just have to constantly remind myself that they're better off without everything. I feel like the less they have, the more likely they are to appreciate what they do have. Anyway, here's the trick:
My sister-in-law only gets her kids 5 things:
  1. something from Santa
  2. something they want
  3. something they need
  4. something to wear
  5. something to read
Obviously you don't have to stick with that exactly. You could change it around a little or add something, like "something to watch" or "something to listen to."
This year I am determined to stick to this guideline and not be tempted to get just one extra thing that I know my kids will love. The past five Christmases have taught me that kids don't need much. They're happy with the simplest things. I don't want to ruin that by spoiling them too much.
Good luck being Santa this year. I hope you like this shopping trick. As always, feel free to add your tid-bits of wisdom.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Carnation Explanation

In my last post I mentioned that I put Carnation in Clara's milk, and a couple people asked about that. The reason I do that is kind of a long story, but I'll try to make it brief. Clara was recently (a month ago) diagnosed with Celiac Disease. That means she can't have gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If you'd like to learn more about the disease, click here. As if having to rid our household of wheat wasn't challenging enough, lactose intolerance also goes hand in hand with Celiac disease. Fortunately, once the villi grow back she should be able to digest lactose just fine (again, if you want to know what I'm talking about, click here).

You're probably still wondering what Carnation has to do with being lactose intolerant. Well, since Clara can't have regular milk, I have to give her Lactaid or Soy milk. She can tell the difference, so I'm masking their flavors with Carnation. Plus, the Carnation gives her the vitamins and things her body has been deprived of because of the gluten in her system.

At first she was hesitant to this new "milk," but once she actually tried it she was hooked. She actually drinks this way better than real milk. Once we go back to good ol' regular cow juice, I'm nervous she won't want to. We may have to keep putting the Carnation in it.

Because of this recent diagnosis that thrust our family into a gluten free world, I'll probably have some posts dedicated to Celiac and gluten free eating. If any of you or your children have Celiac, I would love some advice. I've already been given some great advice from family (my brother found out he had it a couple years ago) and a dietitian, but I'll use all that I can get. It's going to be quite an adjustment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Manners, Food and A Pat On the Back

We have been trying desperately to teach Noah some manners at the dinner table. I'm not talking about the obvious ones: use a napkin instead of your sleeve, don't burp, sit still, chew with your mouth closed, etc. Those are all worthy things to be addressed by all parents, but it's kind of hard to teach your child to chew with his mouth closed when he won't even put the food given him into his mouth. Yes, we have a picky eater, and I know most of you can empathize. I know this is a common dilemma, but unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a common solution.

We've tried several things: force feeding (this only created a bigger tantrum and a mess all over him, me, and the floor), sending him to bed upon his boisterous refusal to eat (this punishment was quickly abolished when it was very clear he wanted this more than eating), making him sit at the table until he'd at least had one bite (while we endured his incessant wailing), and finally, feeding the "disgusting" food to him for every meal until he gave in (he never gave in, but rather, began to waste away before our eyes).

This brings us to our latest and final tactic. We've decided this a battle we do not want to make any harder than it already is. So, here's the rule: if he says anything rude about the food (says it's disgusting, yucky, or if he just plane fusses and whines about it) he is reprimanded and told that such things hurt Mommy's feelings. Then he is politely told he doesn't have to eat it and he can go play in another room while we enjoy a nice meal. But, he'll probably get really hungry because he won't get to eat until the next meal (the next meal will NOT be the food he refused because we've learned that he WILL let himself starve first). So far this has worked pretty well. The tantrums have decreased and meal times are quieter now. But I wasn't sure if he was really learning anything, until today.

Today I had one of those reassuring moments that told me all our efforts to teach Noah some manners are not in vain. Here's what happened:

We were at one of my cute sister's-in-law house during lunch time. She so kindly made us all tuna fish and tomato sandwiches. I knew Noah would not want to eat them since he is the pickiest eater on the planet (a title my sister-in-law challenged with one of her own children). But, I wasn't going to say anything, since I wanted to teach him that this was the food we were given, so this is what we're going to eat. As we all began to eat our yummy sandwiches, I eyed him nervously, ready to be embarrassed by my picky eater. He looked at everyone eating their sandwiches, then looked at the one sitting on his plate. He pulled it apart to reveal the tuna fish and diced pickles. I saw the nervous look on his face. Then the biggest surprise came. He put the sandwich back together, lifted it to his mouth, and took a bite! I tried to hide the relief that swelled within me.

The taste, I could tell, was a bit of a shock, but he was such a good sport. He chewed and chewed and tried his best to be a good boy and eat the food his nice aunt made for him. But, he just couldn't do it any longer. Pretty soon, my relief was squelched when I saw him spit the now mushy food onto his plate. I again geared myself for rude words like, "gross" or "yuck." But, again I was surprised. He said "I choked," which really means he gagged. Then he quietly said, "I'm not hungry. I don't want to eat."

I was so proud of him, and you might wonder why. Well, here are the reasons. One, he didn't say anything rude about the food. Two, he didn't throw a fit about the possibility of eating it. Three, and most importantly, he TRIED IT! He NEVER tries food at home that he's nervous about. I was so happy.

Later, I made sure and told him how proud I was at the way he behaved. He said excitedly, "I didn't say 'disgusting'!" Even though he's yet to show such nice manners at home, I'm glad to know he has learned something. Pretty soon, if we stay consistent with this, he'll show those same nice behaviors at our dinner table at home. I have a feeling it will be a while, but it's nice to know the possibility is there and that our efforts aren't for nothing.

So, the moral of the story is:

Keep at it! You never know how much your children are learning, so keep trying!

Also, when it comes to teaching your kids to eat, I think it's one of those things you have to customize to your child. They all respond so differently. What we're doing might not work for your kids. You just have to find what sort of works and be consistent with it. For some more ideas, here's my whole game plan for teaching my kids to eat:
  • For breakfast and lunch, I almost always try to fix something I know they WILL eat. I reserve the teaching time for dinner (because Dad's usually home at dinner, and he'd much rather eat something other than mac and cheese)
  • Since Noah's been so difficult, we've started early with Clara. If she doesn't eat what I fix for dinner, I don't worry about it. Even though she's young and small, I'm still going to expect that she eats what she's given. She guzzles her milk, and we have to put Carnation in it, so she's getting lots good stuff that way. Plus, she's not as picky as Noah, so she does usually try new things and I definitely don't want to lose that.

I'm always up for advice since I pretty much don't know what I'm doing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

FHE Lesson

During fast & testimony meeting yesterday I could see by the look on Noah's face that he was a little confused why so many people were just getting up and talking. I quickly explained they were bearing their testimonies, and mostly out of curiosity as to what he'd say, I asked him if he'd like to bear his testimony. To my surprise he said yes. This from the kid who won't even stand up with the primary to sing in sacrament meeting. Luckily we had a few minutes to wait while other people bore their testimonies, so I explained things we talk about in a testimony. I hoped by doing this we could avoid an embarrassing situation by him talking into the microphone about a bug he killed or something.

When it was finally our turn to go up and we made it all the way to the stand, he got cold feet. Surprise, surprise. At least it forced me to share my testimony, which is always a good thing. On our way back to our seat, he had decided he DID want to do it, but I wasn't going back up just so he could change his mind again. I told him he'd have another chance to do it when we have another one of these special meetings.

The reason I share this little experience is because it was my inspiration for our FHE lesson tonight. Can you guess what it was on? Yep. Testimonies. Here's what we did:

  • Started with a prayer, of course, but we forgot a hymn (it was planned last minute)
  • I reminded Noah about church yesterday and how people were getting up to bear their testimonies.
  • Dad told us what a testimony is: the witness you have that something is true
  • The Holy Ghost whispers to our hearts if something is true. (By the way, kudos to his primary teachers! He knew that the Holy Ghost doesn't have a body. I'm pretty sure I've never taught him that, although I really shouldn't admit it.)
  • Read the following the scriptures: Ether 4:11 & Moroni 10:4-5
  • Asked Noah "What are some things we bear our testimonies about?" Then I told him: Jesus, the atonement, Joseph Smith, Pres. Monson, etc.
  • Then we had our own little family testimony meeting. I started, then Dad, and Noah ended it. Noah didn't really know what he was doing, but he had the right idea.
  • The Spirit was so strong, and we made sure to point out to Noah the feeling he felt was the Holy Ghost telling him the things we said were true.
  • ended with a prayer

It was a very nice FHE. It was very short (that's always best with little kids), but the sweetest Spirit filled our home. I know Noah could feel it because of the how reverent he was as we all bore our testimonies. I think it was one of the nicest FHEs we've ever had.

Tip #1: One thing I've learned when teaching young kids is less is more. I try not to get too wordy or his attention will be out the window.

Tip #2: When reading scriptures, don't just read it and be done. Explain what words mean as you read. For instance, the scripture in Moroni says to "ask God." I asked Noah what that means, then explained that it means to pray.

Feel free to add your own suggestions to this little FHE Lesson.