"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." - Mother Teresa

Monday, January 31, 2011

Another successful FHE

Well, it appears that the ball is now rolling. For the second week in a row, we had a successful Family Home Evening. Funny thing is, we almost didn't have it. We didn't get things ready yesterday, and I almost decided to cancel for tonight. However, I didn't want to get in that habit, so we moved forward. It was Brigham's night to teach, and when I asked him what he thought our family needed to learn about, he said "healthy foods". Well, I told him I thought it would be a bit of a stretch to learn about healthy foods if we were having ice cream sandwiches for dessert. He was quick with a new idea that would go with dessert - cold foods! Lucky for me, inspiration hit. We decided we would teach a lesson on how to properly set the table.

First, Brigham helped me get out and stack on the counter five of everything we needed - plates, cups, napkins, forks, spoons and knives. That was almost a disaster since he thought I meant stack them all in the SAME pile! After that catastrophe was averted, we moved on to the lesson. Each child came over and Brigham gave them one of each item and instructed them to sit at the table. Once we were all seated, we had a lesson on left and right. Since the three youngest are still a bit fuzzy on that concept, we kind of slid through that. Then, I showed and had the kids all put each item in the correct spot. Easy. And, each night this week, we are going to set the table with all the silverware to help it set in. Paul led the kids in "When We're Helping, We're Happy" (one of my personal favorite propaganda songs from Primary) and Hyrum said the prayers. Woo Hoo! We are on a roll!

Oh yes, and we also did reverence practice. We have been having some problems being reverent in sacrament meeting and primary, so at FHE (and we may start doing it every night) we sit for 10 minutes and listen to church music. The kids have to sit on the couch or love seat and fold their arms reverently for the whole 10 minutes. If anyone gets irreverent, we start the clock over. It is amazing to me how well this calms them, and hopefully will even help with our reverence at church.

And, I just couldn't resist adding this shot of Brigham from this evening. Doesn't he look innocent?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

For the freezer

I don't know why, but lately I have been driven to make meals for the freezer. And, since it seems such a useful thing to do, I am chronicling my adventures over at my food blog. Just wanted to let you know in case you feel the world is coming to an end, or your are going to have a baby, and want to be prepared. So far I have 13 meals in the freezer, and there is no end in sight...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Now I Understand

I remember as a teenager listening to my mom say that she always felt depressed on Mother's day. She felt like it was a reminder of all the things she wasn't doing. I didn't get that. If you knew my mother, you would understand why. She was the mom all the kids only wished they had. Of course, she wasn't perfect, but neither were her kids (I mean, her other kids.) Anyway, I remember her making similar remarks on other occasions. Like after going to a visiting teaching conference. And now, as an overwhelmed adult, I finally get it.

I went to our ward's visiting teaching conference tonight. The speaker was good, and the music was excellent (just kidding, I sang.) But, as the speaker talked, I found myself feeling like I was laying in my coffin, and with every topic she covered, I was having shovelfuls of dirt dumped on me. She did a great job, but there are so many things that I wish I could be doing. You should meet the ladies I visit, they are wonderful! But, I just don't have the time to do all the things for each of them that really could be justifiably done. I guess I should rely on the Spirit to prompt me to the most important things. But, when one of the examples of how to do visiting teaching was to do for our sisters what their mothers would do if they were here, I almost cried! Oh well. Does anyone else feel this way? Maybe I am just crazy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Great FHE and activity!

For some reason, I have never really gotten a good grip on Family Home Evening. It always ends up with me, 10 minutes before start time on Monday evening, trying to come up with some meaningful lesson/activity/snack. You can guess how often I succeeded. Well, this year we have moved to the 9am meeting time for church, so we decided to make good use of the time on Sunday. I created an FHE assignment spinner and after quiet time on Sunday, I am working with each of the kids to prepare their part of FHE.
This week, Hyrum had the lesson, Paul the activity, and Brigham the treat. When I asked Hyrum what he wanted to teach about, he said, "Making Jesus happy." So, in a bu
rst of inspriation, we came up with a simple way to teach. I made simple happy/sad faces out of paperplates and craft sticks for each child. At FHE, we talked about what kind of things made Jesus happy. Then, we played happy/sad. I named something the kids might do, and they turned out the happy or sad side to show how it would make Jesus feel. Simple, but it kept their attention, and they seemed to enjoy it. We sang "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" for our opening song and "If You Chance to Meet a Frown" for our closing song.
Then, the activity. We made hula hoops. Yes, made them. It was really easy, and MUCH cheaper and better quality than buying them at Walmart. Now, if I could only find cheap colored electrical tape, we could get them decorated in something besides black. Anyway, here are the kids in action.
One of the cool things about making them ourselves was that we could make them the right size for everyone. Not that I think Hyrum will really get good at age 3, but stranger things have happened. If you are interested in making your own hula hoop, I used this tutorial.
I even got my own hoop, but the look of concentration on my face was a little much for the camera!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Music Man!

Lately Hyrum has become especially interested in violins. What, you don't see a violin in this picture? Well, I certainly see one. That rolled up piece of paper in his mouth? Yeah, that's what he calls his "violin." He has been doing this for a couple of days now. He rolls up a piece of paper, sticks a piece of tape on it (I don't know that it really matters where, apparently the tape makes it sound better), sticks it in his mouth, and walks around the house making tooting sounds with it. Yeah, I know, he's weird.
I just couldn't resist these two. It really isn't hot here, but the boys go out in their hats, coats, and mittens and run around and jump and then come back in the house where the temperature is simply unbearable to their overheated little bodies. So, since they are so dang cute, I let them run around topless until I get too cold looking at them.
And, doesn't this just look like a man who is proud of himself and his physique? I love it! I wish I were that confident!
On a side note, we had some friends over to play today, and Hyrum just HAD to hold the baby! It was adorable!

After a while, Hryum started asking about his baby doll, Scrabble. Since Scrabble was carelessly left on the floor and Daisy chewed his hands off, I took the opportunity to drop Scrabble in the trash. It has been at least two months since Hyrum even asked about him, so I figured it was safe. Did I tell Hyrum that? No way! Are you crazy? I just asked Hyrum where he put Scrabble last, and he got a dazed look in his eyes and moved on to another topic of conversation. Safe for now!
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Monday, January 17, 2011

According to Brigham...

Brigham opened the freezer and saw a cold pack with the words "Cryofreeze" on it. "That means, it was melted and then frozen, so it cries." Yes, that boy does have an imagination!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Motivation for dinners

In all the stress and mess around here, I really struggle to get a decent dinner on the table every night. Like all things, this goes through stages. Sometimes I am super vigilant and other times I am a huge slacker. Right now, I am a super slacker. However, I found a dose of great motivation last night. I read this great post from fairlyhappy last night and have decided that dinner is too important to waste. Here is the post:

10 Dinner Time Tips
I am a mother of four boys, a wife to one (boy also) and owner of a brand new puppy (finally... a girl!). As the nurturer in my home, I have the solemn responsibility of feeding my family. This is not an easy task. I have spent the last few years making family meals my top priority. Dinner time can be stressful, exhausting and frustrating... but it doesn't have to be. When I wake up with a plan, dinnertime is fun, entertaining, enjoyable and sometimes even delicious. This list is for anyone who wants to make FAMILY DINNER a priority in 2011.

*There are no pictures because everyone's table will look different. Please remember:It's not about how it looks-- it's ALL about how it feels.

1. Use a menu. You have to know what's for dinner in order to prepare for it! (duh!) I make a rotating menu once a month and shop once a week, mainly for produce. We will talk about recipes in another post (be thinking of your own favorites to share!) Having a menu will calm you down and keep the kids from asking "What's for dinner???" Make sure your menu is full of recipes that you all like :)

2. Let the children help! Even the youngest kids can help find ingredients, mix a salad, open a can, measure a cup of water, etc. My three older kids rotate each day with the following jobs: help mom prepare the food, set the table & take care of the baby. Sometimes they rotate between all three jobs in preparation for ONE meal! Keeping all of the kids occupied before dinner will add a feeling of cooperation in the kitchen... and it will help build confidence in your children.

3. Put a tablecloth on the table. This sounds simple, but it means you are preparing for something special. The tablecloth doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, it will be less stressful if it's not... then the kids can spill without worrying about being scolded. Rotate your tablecloths-- buy one for Halloween, Valentine's Day, birthdays, etc. Make sure it's machine washable!

4. Set a TIME for dinner. Set it and keep it. This will give help you know when to start preparing. Make sure each family member knows it's time to eat! Be consistent. If it's important to you, it will eventually become important to the entire family. (If dad can't make it home on time, start without him!)

5. Turn off the television. I can't stress this enough.... turn the damn TV off! Dinner time is for family bonding. Do not let the TV take over this sacred time. Music is only allowed if it's quiet and it contributes to the positive atmosphere. Be careful on which activities your family has going... Don't allow soccer, dance, whatever-it-may-be to get in the way of dinner. It's too important!

6. It's ALL about the conversation. Ask questions, tell stories, make up jokes, center your conversation around FUN topics. Avoid anything stressful or controversial (money, grades, behavioral problems, etc.) Ask questions that elicit conversation (with no wrong answers!) Start your own conversation jar with questions to draw from. If we can get our kids used to talking to us while they're young, it won't be so awkward when they become teenagers.

7. Keep a dictionary next to the table. It sounds silly, but you wouldn't believe how much you can learn from a dictionary! A dictionary can settle "arguments" as well as enlighten your already stimulating conversation. And if all else fails, learn a new word each night and make everyone use it in a sentence.

8. Start your own dinner time traditions. We have tacos for dinner E.V.E.R.Y. Tuesday. A simple tradition we started that we just can't (and don't want to) break. Make pizza on Fridays. Pick a theme night once a month. Dance around the table before everyone sits down to eat. Hold hands while saying the prayer. Eat by candlelight. Have a picnic on the floor. Make everyone eat with a large serving spoon. Eat food only one color... the possibilities are endless! Start your own traditions that the kids will look forward to and will continue with their children.

9. Teach your kids to clean up their own spills. Don't cry over spilled milk. Have plenty of napkins available and let them do the work. I also allow my children to make their own food if they don't agree with the food on the table. Many a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been made over the years. I don't care as much as long as I don't have to do the dirty work.

10. Invite friends over! Once you've got a routine going, invite someone to join you! Of course, this cannot and should not be every day. But inviting friends (either yours, your kids or both!) can really break up a dull routine and it will force you to prepare in advance. Be sure to use a recipe that's been tested and tried... and make sure to invite the right family! jk. sort of.

I am going to post my favorite recipes ASAP.... and would love you to link your favorites so we can all build our menus for 2011. Before I finish this post, I wanted to share a few fascinating statistics on family dinner. If these don't convince you the importance of eating together as a family, I don't know what will:
  • Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)
  • Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds. (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2004)
  • Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have eating disorders. (University of Minnesota, 2004)
  • The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. (A.C. Nielsen Co.)
For more on the information and statistics of family dinner read HERE and HERE andHERE and HERE.

Wow! I am impressed. After browsing the site a bit, I also stumbled across a great post to help with menu creation, and I am going to do it tonight. If you want to see it go here. Happy dinner-ing!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hey You!

You don't have to be perfect! You are good enough the way you are! You don't have to have 145 followers to be super cool! Take it down a peg! You are an amazing person! Quit comparing yourself to all those women who seem to be able to do it ALL! You are a daughter of God who is doing what she can, and that is plenty good! I mean it, really.

- This post has been brought to you by someone who has been there and knows.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A quiet Saturday with the sock puppets

Today we decided to spend the day at home creating. Paul and Hyrum made houses for their glitter balls, Joy made a helmet, and we all made sock puppets. The kids picked out socks, hair and eyes and I ran the glue gun. Here are a few:
Brigham c
alls these two Mr and Mrs Crazy Hair. Don't ask me which is which.
It was really fun to spend the day creating and then listening to Brigham. He has the BEST imagination. Oh yes, since we made puppets, I did a little tutorial on how to make the mouths really work. You can find it on my craft blog.
Okay, I had to put in a picture of Joy's helmet. We went to see Narnia tonight, and so she decided that she needed to make a helmet in honor of the occasion. She used paper and masking tape and must have worked on it for two hours. I only got into the action at the very end to help with the visor that, I must add, really goes up and down. It was great, she wore it to the movie, and you could tell when she was getting nervous, because the visor came down!

Friday, January 7, 2011

January Craft Group

Yeah! We have a winner! For those interested in participating in the first monthly craft group, it will be held at my house on Thursday, January 20th. We will do a day session at 10am and an evening session at 8pm. (Joy has a musical program at school that night, sorry). However, the craft we will be doing should be fairly easy, so it won't take long. We are going to be making these:

Since we are moving into February, we are going to do Valentine's colors. Cost is $1.50 per headband. If you are interested, please get money to me by Monday, Jan 10th so I can get supplies ordered and here prior to the 20th. For all details, please see the OH Craft Group Blog. We will use this blog in future to do all of the coordination of the group. Please leave details of how many you want in the comment section of that blog if you have not already done so! I am so excited!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy 9th Birthday, Joy!

Wow, I can't believe that she is actually nine years old! I never thought we would really get to this point! For some reason, I have never pictured her (in my mind) as any older than a kindergartener. It seems unbelievable that she has actually been a part of our family for nine years. I can't put into words how much my life has been blessed by having this sweet little spirit influence my life. She isn't perfect, but she is much closer to it than I am. Hopefully she will stick around for a while longer so I can grow up to be like her!
Joy was determined to make her own cake this year, all by herself. So, she followed the directions on the box, and baked her own cake. She was nervous about the frosting part, so I did that for her. For some reason, she thought triangles were an essential element (this was even before the banner) so we put them on. Weird, I know. However, she will get a super cool cake for her birthday party later this week.
Yes, we got her an MP3 player. Since I control entirely what gets put on it, I figured it wouldn't do any harm. She loves to listen to books, so that is what she is getting. On John's wisdom, she gets a speaker, not earplugs!
Since Joy fasted this morning, she really wanted to have crepes and hot chocolate for dinner. Not to nourishing, but you only get a birthday once a year, right?
Cool birthday banner, huh? Just get a Silhouette (like I did for Christmas) and you can whip one out in no time! And, Joy LOVED it!
I am not exactly sure why Joy opened her presents in her pjs, it wasn't really that late. But, she got a house coat, slippers, and monkey pants for her birthday, so here she is, modeling.
Who's the cuter monkey?
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Guess what I am making -

I will just say that there will be one for Joy and one for me. I will post on my craft blog when I am done, and you will get to squeal with delight! If I am feeling generous, I might even post a picture here...
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Musings

There is something very hopeful about the start of a new year. Even though it is just another day in a long succession of days, it is a good place to start. And so, I am starting.

I have been trying to be better about daily scripture study, prayer, exercise, journaling, and budgeting but without consistent success. Last night, as I read President Monson's "The Three R's of Choice" from October's General Conference, I figured out why. President Monson talks about an experience of Clayton M. Christensen playing college basketball. The summary of the experience was "it is easier to keep the commandments 100% of the time than it is 98% of the time." When I make exceptions to doing things I know I should but aren't convenient at the moment (like exercising when I have put it off until 9pm), the exceptions become the rule. I miss more than I hit. So, I am done with exceptions. I am structuring my time so the important things come first, and the goofing around comes after. That means, for me, as soon as I put the kids to bed, I read, pray, journal and budget. Then, when those are done, I can clean the house, craft, coupon, or spend time looking for my newest passion. I have even printed up a daily checklist so I can keep visual track of my progress!

It is interesting how these things work. Tomorrow is Joy's birthday. She spent a bit of time today planning what meals she wanted: crepes and hot chocolate for breakfast, homemade chicken and noodles and milk for lunch, and fried chicken and milk for dinner. I was so busy with all the things I was trying to accomplish, I didn't remember that tomorrow is Fast Sunday, and Joy has made the decision to fast. (She has worked her way into it gradually - first she fasted breakfast and stopped at snack. Next Sunday she fasted through breakfast and snack and ate lunch. This week she is scheduled to fast through lunch and eat at afternoon snack. This was all her own plan and she has stuck to it.) When I remembered it was Fast Sunday, I talked to Joy about it. I let her know, and then told her the decision was hers to make, but told her that if she decided to fast, I would make her special meals for her on Monday. Well, she was not happy. She wanted to fast, but she really wanted her special meals. I just let her mull over it. After a while, she came to me, slouching and upset. She said she just didn't know what to do about fasting tomorrow. So, I shared what I had learned from President Monson. I told her that, in my experience, was that it was much easier to make a decision and always stick to it, then there was no decision to make and fret over. If she had decided to fast, I recommended that she fast and not think any more about it. The amazing thing of it is, she did it! She agreed, and I haven't heard another thing about it! I wish I was that mature. It is also nice to see the almost automatic blessing I received from having read that talk. I wonder if there are any other parenting tips hidden in last General Conference...