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:
" 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!