Monday, August 31, 2009

Give your children faith

"As parents, we have been commanded to teach our children “to understand the doctrine of … faith in Christ the Son of the living God” (D&C 68:25). This requires more than merely recognizing faith as a gospel principle. “To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone” (Bible Dictionary, “Faith,” 669). True faith must be centered in Jesus Christ. “Faith is a principle of action and of power” (Bible Dictionary, 670). It requires us to do, not merely to believe. Faith is a spiritual gift from God that comes through the Holy Ghost. It requires a correct understanding and knowledge of Jesus Christ, His divine attributes and perfect character, His teachings, Atonement, Resurrection, and priesthood power. Obedience to these principles develops complete trust in Him and His ordained servants and assurance of His promised blessings.

"There is no other thing in which we can have absolute assurance. There is no other foundation in life that can bring the same peace, joy, and hope. In uncertain and difficult times, faith is truly a spiritual gift worthy of our utmost efforts. We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little.

“Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith” (Bible Dictionary, 669; see also Romans 10:14–17). Do your children know that you know? Do they see and feel your conviction? “Strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Bible Dictionary, 669).

Kevin W. Pearson, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 2009, 38–40

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feet, Feet, Feet

The Book
The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
Be sure to move your right foot and left foot as you read this with your children for added excitement.
The Song
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Try singing it really slow, then faster and faster for added giggles.

The Activity
Trace your child's feet, then let them them color and decorate it as they like.
I used this cute foot punch to make lots of colorful little feet, which the kids then glued on their picture. It turned into a good fine-motor-skill activity.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

LDS Speakers at World Congress of Families V

The Fifth World Congress of Families was held recently in Amsterdam. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles was there to represent the church and he gave an excellent address. Here are a few highlights from his speech:

"On all sides, the family is under attack. Many wonder if the institution is no longer needed. Our response is certain. If there is any hope for the future of nations, that hope resides in the family. Our children are our wealth; our children are our strength; our children are indeed our future!"

"Dear friends, future happiness and even the future of nations is linked to children. Families with children need to be re-enthroned as the fundamental unit of society. We simply must value children more than we do! Without a new generation to replace the old, there is no wealth; without families, there is no future."

"Children come from the union of a man and a woman. The happiest and most secure children come from happy and secure marriages of fathers and mothers. History and contemporary studies have shown that marriage of a husband and a wife, with both contributing their distinctive natural traits to the family, provides the ideal context within which to rear productive, compassionate, and moral individuals."

You can read the full-text of his address here.

Elder Nelson's wife, Wendy Watson Nelson, also spoke, along with Sheri Dew. Links to their inspiring talks are below.

Wendy Watson Nelson: “Not Even Once!”

Sheri L. Dew: “‘Resurgence of Moral Virtue’ Is Necessary”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Parenting is unselfish service

"A familiar example of losing ourselves in the service of others—this one not unique to Latter-day Saints—is the sacrifice parents make for their children. Mothers suffer pain and loss of personal priorities and comforts to bear and rear each child. Fathers adjust their lives and priorities to support a family. The gap between those who are and those who are not willing to do this is widening in today’s world. One of our family members recently overheard a young couple on an airline flight explaining that they chose to have a dog instead of children. “Dogs are less trouble,” they declared. “Dogs don’t talk back, and we never have to ground them.”

"We rejoice that so many Latter-day Saint couples are among that unselfish group who are willing to surrender their personal priorities and serve the Lord by bearing and rearing the children our Heavenly Father sends to their care.
We also rejoice in those who care for disabled family members and aged parents. None of this service asks, what’s in it for me? All of it requires setting aside personal convenience for unselfish service. All of it stands in contrast to the fame, fortune, and other immediate gratification that are the worldly ways of so many in our day."

"The values of the world wrongly teach that “it’s all about me.” That corrupting attitude produces no change and no growth. It is contrary to eternal progress toward the destiny God has identified in His great plan for His children. The plan of the gospel of Jesus Christ lifts us above our selfish desires and teaches us that this life is all about what we can become."

Dallin H. Oaks, “Unselfish Service,” Ensign, May 2009, 93–96

Friday, August 21, 2009


The Book

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins

The Song
Where is Thumbkin?
Where is Thumbkin?
Here I am, here I am.
How are you today, sir?
Very well, I thank you.
Run away, Run away.
(Repeat with Pointer, Middle Man, Ring Man and Small Man)

The Activity
A touch and feel sensation station.
Gather a variety of objects and put them in small containers. Here is what I used: pompoms, feathers, craft beads, rotini noodles, rice, oats, yogurt, sugar, and an ice cube. You can use whatever you have on hand, just look for a variety of textures.

I blindfolded my children and then one at a time let them touch and feel the contents of each container. We talked about how it felt (Is it hard or soft? Does it feel wet or dry? etc) and sometimes the Ant Bug was able to guess what it was (but that wasn't a requirement).

Afterward we traced our hands and decorated them with finger paint.

Without prompting, the Ant Bug even added finger numbers to her hands, something she's learned from piano lessons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Prophet Family Home Evening

President Monson is celebrating his birthday in August, so I thought it would be a great idea to learn a little more about our living prophet this month. I found this great lesson at Family Home Evening Planner and pretty much just followed their plan. The Bingo game was a hit (maybe because we used Smarties to cover our squares?!), but we also learned a lot about President Monson.

A favorite game at our house is "Where's the Prophet?" I printed off a picture of President Monson and glued it to a piece of cardboard from a cereal box to make it more sturdy. Hide the picture (we usually hide it someplace close and simple, like behind our backs or under a nearby couch cushion). Then sing these words to the tune of Are you sleeping?

Where's the prophet? Where's the prophet? (hiding the prophet)
Here he is. Here he is. (show the picture of the prophet)
His name is President Monson. His name is President Monson.
We love him. We love him.

This is a great simple game for the little one's to help them recognize our living prophet. I originally saw this idea on here and here a few years when I was serving in the nursery. My nursery kids loved it, and now we play it regularly at home, usually after Family Home Evening.

On another note, I just had to share this funny mama moment. The Ant Bug has been singing "Are you sleeping?" quite a bit recently. She has changed the words a little bit in her version:

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Brother John? Brother John?
Mommy bells are ringing. Mommy bells are ringing.
Ding, ding, dong. Ding, ding, dong.

I'm not sure what a mommy bell is, but it makes me smile every time she sings it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Pray, study, and teach the gospel."

Elder Ballard asks "What can you do, as a young mother, to reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more?"

Fourth, 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 hope all of you dear sisters, married or single, never wonder if you have worth in the sight of the Lord and to the leaders of the Church. We love you. We respect you and appreciate your influence in preserving the family and assisting with the growth and the spiritual vitality of the Church. Let us remember that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). The scriptures and the teachings of the prophets and apostles help all family members to prepare together now to be together through all eternity. I pray that God will continually bless the women of the Church to find joy and happiness in their sacred roles as daughters of God."

M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10

Friday, August 14, 2009

Over on my reading list: Nature, Magic, and Back to School


I recently finished reading two books that have given me some fresh ideas when it comes to focusing on essential activities with my children. Be sure to visit my reading list for my reviews and more information on:

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv


Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

If you have children starting school this year you can also check out my recommendations for Back to School Books.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Important Book

Superheroes and Princesses shared a great idea for a book and corresponding activity that we had to try out.

The Book
The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown

This delightful book takes something regular (like grass, an apple, the wind) and describes why it is important. Here's an excerpt:
"The important thing about an apple is that it is round. You bite it, and it is white inside, and the juice splashes in your face, and it tastes like an apple and it falls of a tree. But the important thing about an apple is that it is round."
After reading this book, the important thing is that you let you let your child make their own important book with things that are important to them.
A few excerpts from the book the Ant Bug created and illustrated:
"The important things about a girl is that she has long hair. She grows very big into a mom. But the important thing about a girl is that she has long hair."

"The important thing about a chair is that you sit on it. You can also eat on it and you can also play Playstation games and play computer games. But the important thing about a chair is that you sit on it." (If you read our family blog, you might have noticed a Playstation trend with her.)

"The important thing about a piano is that you play songs on it. You look in a book to look at the notes and play what they are. But the important thing about a piano is that you play songs on it."

It was interesting to me to see the things that she chose to write about. I think she mostly looked around the room we were in to seek inspiration. We might have had a whole different set of answers if we had done this book outside!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"The Women in Our Lives"

"The women in our lives are creatures endowed with particular qualities, divine qualities, which cause them to reach out in kindness and with love to those about them. We can encourage that outreach if we will give them opportunity to give expression to the talents and impulses that lie within them. In our old age my beloved companion said to me quietly one evening, "You have always given me wings to fly, and I have loved you for it."

"Women are such a necessary part of the plan of happiness which our Heavenly Father has outlined for us. That plan cannot operate without them."

"How thankful I am, how thankful we all must be, for the women in our lives. God bless them. May His great love distill upon them and crown them with luster and beauty, grace and faith."

Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Women in Our Lives,” Ensign, Nov 2004, 82–85

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nurture Mama's Recipes

I've been working on a project to organize my recipes. I had an assortment of recipes stored in a few different places, but I wanted to find a way to get everything organized and simplify my menu planning. I was inspired by the 30 Meal Plan posted on nannygoat, but I haven't completely followed it to the letter.

In a nutshell this is what I did:
1. Sort through my recipes and re-type only the recipes that I really like and use on a regular basis.
2. Make the recipes look cute by copying and pasting to this free recipe card template.
3. Print the recipes, cut them out, laminate.
4. Punch a hole in the corner of each recipe and store them on a binder ring clip.

I keep the recipe ring in a binder where I also store my menu record, coupons, and nutrition information. When it comes time for me to plan my weekly menu I just flip through the cards and pull out the recipes I need for the week. The recipes I select for the week are stored in a magnetic clip on my fridge where they are quick and easy to grab when it's time prepare dinner.

Listed below are the 30 recipes I compiled. These are the recipes I really love and use most frequently, so I thought I would share some of them with you. I have included links to some of the recipes where possible. If you would like a text copy of my recipes, leave me your email address and I will be happy to share them with you.

Nurture Mama's Main Dish Recipes
Barbecue Chicken
BBQ Cupcakes
Café Rio Sweet Pork
Colorful Baked Ziti
Cheeseburger Pasta
Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
Chicken Stuffing in a Pot
Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Tetrazzini
8 oz. spaghetti noodles
2 cooked and chopped chicken breasts
1/2 cup shredded zucchini 1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup shredded carrots 1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
3 Tb. butter 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tb. minced garlic salt and pepper to taste

While the noodles are boiling, melt butter on a low heat in a frying pan. Add garlic, onion, zucchini and carrots. Sauté for about 3 minutes. Add soup, sour cream, milk, cheese and chicken. Stir over low heat, until noodles are done boiling. Drain noodles and add to the mixture. Toss well and serve immediately.

Classic Noodles and Sauce

Corn Dog Casserole (My kids love this one)
28 oz. can baked beans
1 pkg (or whatever you have) hot dogs
1 pkg corn bread mix (8 oz.) or corn bread from scratch

Pour can of beans into 9 x 13 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Mix in sliced hotdogs (thinner means more slices and more disbursement throughout). Make corn bread according to directions and pour over the top of beans and hotdogs mixture. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

Corkscrew Chicken Caesar Salad
Cranberry Chicken
Hawaiian Haystacks

Hula Stir-Fry
1lb chicken, cooked
1-16oz package frozen stir-fry vegetables
1-20oz. can pineapple chunks
2-3oz. packages dried ramen noodles
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup water

Sauté vegetables in covered skillet for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but still slightly crunchy. While veggies are cooking, open the noodles and break each block into small pieces in a bowl. Discard the seasoning packets. Add the pineapple, noodles, sauce, and water to the vegetables and chicken in the skillet. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low. Cover and cook about three minutes or until noodles are tender.

Italian Chicken and Potatoes
Italian Chicken Bowties
Lazy Lasagna in a Crockpot
Macaroni and Cheese (from scratch)
Marinated Baked Pork Chops
Oven Fritatta
Pizza Dough
Pigs in a Blanket
Pizza Sauce(s)

Poppyseed Chicken Pasta Salad
1-2 chicken breasts (depending how much chicken you like)
1 Ranch dressing seasoning packet
1 cup uncooked pasta (preferably tri-color rotini, but macaroni works also)
1 can mandarin oranges OR fresh sliced strawberries, in season
Lettuce Shredded parmesan cheese
Creamy Poppyseed Dressing

Cook chicken. Add Ranch seasoning packet and enough water so the seasoning coats the chicken (usually about 1-2 TB of water). Set aside to cool.
Cook pasta and rinse with cool water.
Mix remaining ingredients. Amounts vary, depending how you like it.
Serves 2-3 people as a main dish.

Pork Chow Mein
Sloppy Joe’s
Spanish Rice and Beans

Monday, August 3, 2009

Prayer provides protection

"Parents should teach their children to pray. The child learns both from what the parents do and what they say. The child who sees a mother or a father pass through the trials of life with fervent prayer to God and then hears a sincere testimony that God answered in kindness will remember what he or she saw and heard. When trials come, that individual will be prepared.

In time, when the children are away from home and family, prayer can provide the shield of protection the parent will want so much for them to have."

Henry B. Eyring, “That He May Write upon Our Hearts,” Liahona, Aug 2009, 2–7

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