Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Sacrament Meeting Tips

A few months ago I gave my own sacrament meeting tips. I've made some adjustments to that list of advice. Here's what I've been trying lately:

  1. NO treats/snacks: I do this even for Clara. I've found that bringing a snack of any kind just makes my kids hyper, especially Noah. The only time I do brink something is if Daddy has to work during sacrament meeting, and I have to play the piano for the ward choir or some other musical number. I may need something to appease Her Highness Princess Clara while I play the piano. Other than that, I don't bring a thing. (I have to say, that does not include Clara's cup of milk. That's still kind of a staple because of her age, plus it's more of a security blanket for her than anything.)
  2. NO books: I've also stopped bringing books. My kids are only interested in them for a minute or two, so all they do is take up space in my bag.
  3. Bring NOTHING: I haven't actually gotten here yet. I'd like to get to where I don't bring anything to distract my kids because I'm learning that they're better when I have the least amount of stuff (they're not overstimulated that way). Last Sunday I only brought one thing: a notebook and crayons. I think for now I'll stick to just this and nothing else because both my kids like to draw, and it usually preoccupies them for long enough that it's worth it. Plus, it's a quiet activity. I would like to note that I don't bring out the "distractors" until it's absolutely necessary. I especially don't bring them out before the sacrament is passed.
  4. Go Potty BEFORE sacrament meeting: I think it's very distracting for kids to get up and down in a meeting to go potty or get a drink. So, I try to have Noah go before hand.
  5. Sleep: We often try to get Noah to fall asleep by softly tickling him (he's a sucker for that!). It makes the meeting so much easier.
  6. Be careful where you sit: Some families don't seem to be as concerned about reverence or at least they have different ideas of what it means. I'm learning there are some families to stay away from. It's hard for Noah when the kids sitting adjacent to us have cool toys to play with. Plus, the kids are usually really loud and quite distracting.
  7. Wiggly Toddler: Clara is not very wiggly. She loves to sit on my lap and cuddle, so sacrament meeting really isn't that bad with her. Trust me, though, it was with Noah! Anyway, if your toddler is wiggly, some advice I've heard is to try to get them to sit on your lap for a few minutes each week. Then take them out and let them get their wiggles out. Then try to get to sit on your lap a few minutes longer, and so on and so on.
  8. Sing the Hymns: If you have older kids who don't sing the hymns, this is something a friend of mine does. If her kids get caught not singing, they have to sing a solo of whatever hymn they weren't singing at the next FHE. It's a pretty good motivator for her kids, but I think they think it's funny. If this would be considered cruel and unusual punishment to your kids, I wouldn't do it. You wouldn't want them to end up hating the hymns because of it.

This is my updated sacrament meeting tip list. I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm getting there. This is definitely a learning process, and thankfully, kids get better as they get older.

If you have anything to add, feel free (as always).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

FHE: Work

We had a fun FHE lesson this last week on Work, and I thought I'd post about. First of all, the reason I chose this as the topic was I have been struggling getting Noah to do his jobs everyday. They're not big jobs in the slightest, but I might as well have been asking him to eat slugs. He acted absolutely tortured, as I'm sure most kids do when their parents make them do jobs. So, I wanted to use FHE as an opportunity to teach him why we work and why it's so important.

I didn't have any fabulous ideas for a lesson, so I checked out a good resource for FHE lessons: LDS Splash! to see if they had anything, and they did! They had two versions: one for younger kids and another for teens. The main part of the lesson was teaching the hymn "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel," and it had fun visual aids to help kids learn the song. Click here so you can see the full lesson and print out the visual aids. I made the lesson to fit our family, as I'm sure you would too. Here's what I did:

Opening song
: "When we're helping we're happy"

What is work?
Dad and I talked to Noah about work. We asked questions like, Does Daddy work? What does he do? Does he work hard? Why does he work? (at the end of the discussion I had him tell Daddy "Thank you" for working so hard). We asked the same questions about me. Then we talked about when Noah works by obeying Mom and Dad, helping them, etc.

Why do we work?
We talked about how Heavenly Father has commanded us to work, and that when we work we feel good, especially when our work blesses others.

We all have work
. We talked about how we all have work to do, and that it is important for each of us to do our work. If one of us doesn't do our work it affects everyone else. For example, if Noah doesn't do his jobs and help Mommy, then Mommy has to do it on top of everything else she does, so she'll get very tired. This idea seemed to turn a light bulb on in his head.

Song: "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel"

This was really fun. Noah participated better than I thought he would. I think he liked the pictures provided on LDS Splash!

Noah's Job Chart

In preparation for the lesson, I made a very simple job chart for Noah. It's basically a calendar with empty squares. Every day that he does his jobs, he gets a sticker and a fish point (something I'll explain later). At the end of the week, if he's done his jobs everyday, he'll get a quarter for his money jar.

Activity: Noah's Jobs

Noah has 5 jobs everyday: Put dishes in the sink after meals, brush teeth, make bed, get dressed, and help Mom. They're pretty basic, but he still feels like he's accomplishing something when he does them. He knows that's what his jobs are already, but I wanted to get them more ingrained in his head. *To reinforce them, I did some Google searches on coloring pages for each of the jobs. I was able to find something for all of them. So, for our activity Noah colored each of the coloring pages that went along with his jobs. Not only did he have fun, but I think it helped him really understand what his daily responsibilities are.


: ice cream (of course!)

Every time I have FHE (we're still not as consistent as I'd like, but we're working on it!) I am amazed at the almost immediate difference it makes. So far, Noah really seems to enjoy FHE, and he participates very well. I can see that he's learning things and is excited about learning. He seems excited to practice the things he has just been taught. For example, this weekend we spent the night at my parent's house. Noah was so excited to get to help Grandpa work in the yard pulling weeds. He felt so proud of himself for "working" so hard (I put that in quotations because, as you can imagine, his version of work is a lot different than ours, but in his mind he was working and that's what counts). I'm so glad he could feel the sense of accomplishment from working hard, and I'm grateful that our words aren't going in one ear and out the other. Our efforts aren't for nothing. Even when we think he hasn't heard a word we've said, he always surprises us. He's learning from us all the time, which is not always a good thing. Some things he's learned from me I wish he hadn't. Anyway, I'm rambling. I just wanted to say how much I am seeing that FHE truly is an inspired thing and that our families will be blessed if we strive to have them each week. Okay, my soap box is done.

*I found a cute coloring pages website. It's called funny coloring. There are oodles of other websites with cute free coloring pages, and they're not hard to find. Just type in what you're looking for and I can almost guarantee you'll find something. Do any of you have a favorite website with coloring pages?

Also, is there anything you would add to this FHE lesson? Let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

cookie day

This is an idea that I thought sounded fun. Every Wednesday my sister-in-law would make a new cookie recipe to try. So I handed Bradley my copy of Best of Country Cookies (a Taste of Home publication) and a post it pad. He went through and placed a sticky note on every cookie that he wanted to try. So we will decide each week which one to make, and pick up any ingredients from the store we don't have on hand. I will have Bradley take an active part in preparing the dough and baking it. Bradley hasn't had much interest in the happenings of the kitchen, so this might help him learn his way around a little better. Here are just a few of the cookies on the list:

sugar cookies
snow-topped chocolate mint cookies
final exam brownies
double butterscotch cookies
lemon poppy seed slices
peanut butter jumbos
double chocolate sprinkle cookies
quick chocolate sandwich cookies (home-made oreos)

We will start next week. I will follow up with photos and recipes.

If you want to do this too, make sure you have plenty of cold milk on hand for dunking.

** One thought to help with all the cookies that would be around tempting the parents to eat them is to choose someone in your family or neighborhood to share them with each week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thursday Activity: Playing with Jell-O!

I know it's Friday, but I have a fun activity to share that I've been meaning to blog about but haven't done. I haven't been in a huge blogging mood lately, which is very weird for me. Anyway, here's the fun activity. Enjoy!

The activity is another one from The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner. It's on page 138, and it's called Jell-O Jumping. Here are the EASY instructions:
  • 4 large packages of Jell-O

  • baby bathtub (or any kind of tub or big bowl)

  • Prepare Jell-O according to package directions. Place it in a bathtub or small basin and let your child stand in it, sit in it, run his fingers through it, or paint with it.
This was so much fun! Clara was a little skeptical at first, but she loved it. She was very girly about how she played with it, while the boys (Noah's best friend also joined in on the fun) dug right in just as boys do. They all had fun smooshing the Jell-O between their fingers, standing in it, eating it (Oh, well. What can ya do?), and I think the boys even threw it at each other. We had the sprinkler on so they could easily clean off, although they all definitely needed a bath. That in itself was fun because the red Jell-O turned the bath water pink.

Some tips:

  • take the Jell-O out of the fridge and let it warm up a little before you let your kids play in it. Ours was quite cold.
  • 4 packages was oodles! If you only have one child, 2 packages will probably be fine.
  • do this on a day when you have nothing to do and don't care about making a mess.

Hope you try it! It was a lot of fun!

Please feel free to share any of your favorite summertime activities. Thanks!