Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday Nature Walk--Round 2

Ready to give our Friday Nature Walk another try? Here are the details for this weeks adventure.

When: Friday, October 2, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Where: Cofrin Nature Park, 4810 NW 8th Avenue
Driving Directions: From NW 34th St, turn left on NW 8th St. The park will be on the right, and the entrance is right before the tennis courts.
What to bring: Drinking water, bug spray. Maybe snacks or a picnic lunch? You might also like to bring a camera or a journal for your children to record their discoveries.
Things to note: Park includes a fun playground and picnic tables. Walking trail is a dirt path, so strollers are not advised.

*Disclaimer: My girls have been in varying stages of illness this week (between coughs and runny noses and ear infections). I'm optimistic that we will all be healthy and raring to go on Friday. But if we get struck ill with something else, I'll do a quick post on Friday morning to let you know we won't be heading to the park. So check back Friday morning, and if you don't hear from me, I'll see you at Cofrin at 10 am!

Another note: There will be no nature walk on October 9th. With family in town, we'll be doing a little vacationing that week!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Preparing for General Conference (with children in mind)

Some timely counsel by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I invite you to listen, listen if you will by the power of the Spirit, to the speakers who will address you [in General Conference]. If you will do so, I do not hesitate to promise that you will be uplifted, your resolution to do what is right will be stronger, you will find solutions to your problems and your needs, and you will be led to thank the Lord for what you have heard” (source).
Are you ready for General Conference? I've still got some work to do. Here are some of the things I'm doing to prepare, so my family can get the most out of General Conference.

We had a special Family Home Evening lesson this week to prepare our children for conference weekend. The Ant Bug asked if we are going to play the "game where we listen for words ("temples" or "faith" of "Jesus Christ", etc) and get to eat a candy (skittles or M&Ms) when we hear the word?" Obviously this game made an impression on her! You can get the key words file in this document.

As always, is the place to look for General Conference helps. One of my favorites is the General Authority ties which has been updated and can be found here.
These Apostle Cards are something new I'm trying this round. They have pictures and basic facts about each apostle (did you know President Monson can wiggle his ears?), and as soon as I get them laminated tomorrow we're going to start talking about them . During the sessions we'll use them to play "Match the speaker".

This activity worked really well last April, so we'll be repeating it. Remove the poster from the most recent conference Ensign. Hang it on the wall, and then the children get to put a sticker on the picture of whoever is speaking.

The Church has put together a General Conference Notebook for activities to do before, during, and after General Conference (it's on the right hand side of the page). It's a great journal keeping tool for older children.

I'm also rounding up toilet paper rolls to make miniature versions of the Prophet Spyglass.

With both of my girls in varying stages of illness this week, I didn't feel comfortable bringing them along to my Visiting Teaching appointments (yes, I know we are last minute--we're working on that!). When I saw this idea for a conference goodie bag I thought it would be perfect for the sisters I visit.
This is what the note says:
Just POPPING (popcorn) by to wish you a meaningful conference weekend. Sit back, relax and SOAK (lotion) it all in. Hope you learn something EXTRA (gum) and take NOTE (notepad) when you feel the spirit. Enjoy!

(Your name here)
I think I'll use some of those same items in a basket for my girls!

Looking for more? Check out my General Conference posts from the past. You can find some great coloring pages and activity packets here.

Preparing for General Conference--With Children (Spring 2009)
General Conference Activity Packets (Fall 2008)

Monday, September 28, 2009

The valor of a mother


"Surely we need not look far to see the unnoticed and forgotten heroes of daily life...I am referring to the uncommon valor of the mother who—hour after hour, day and night—will stay with and care for a sick child...I am speaking of those who are always there to love and nurture."

Howard W. Hunter, “True Greatness,” Ensign, May 1982, 19

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wear a flower in your hair

Think this just looks like a nice assortment of flowers?
Look again. They are really flower clips!
Flower clips for little girls have been popular for quite some time now, and I finally found a great tutorial on how to make my own. I was thrilled at how amazingly simple they are: just a hot glue gun-no sewing!

I picked up my flowers on sale at Michael's last week, then spent a fun girls night with my best friend putting them together.

The Ant Bug was thrilled to see them and has worn one every day this week.
The Sweet Bee doesn't keep hers in for long, but that's to be expected from a nearly two-year old.
Would you like to make your own? Visit Being Frugal is Fabulous for her tutorial on Flower Clips For Little (And Big) Girls Hair.

While you're there you might also check out her recipe for homemade refried beans. I've been using her recipe for a few months now with good success. Pretty easy, pretty cheap, and much healthier than a can!

Sadly, no nature walk for us after all.

Alas, even the best-laid plans of a mother are easily foiled.

The Ant Bug has come down with croupy-sounding cough and a fever over 100 degrees. So, needless to say...we won't be taking a nature walk tomorrow. Feel free to go ahead without us (let me know how it goes!), and we'll try again next week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What Matters Most


"Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us.

"Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. "

Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Liahona, Nov 2008, 84–87

Friday, September 18, 2009

You're Invited: Join me for a weekly nature walk

After reading this book, I've been thinking of ways that my children and I can get more nature time outside. I've decided to start a weekly nature walk/park visit and I'm inviting you to join me! Unfortunately, you probably have to live in Florida to participate, but if you don't maybe you can start a group in your area?!

Here are the details:

When: Friday mornings, starting at 10 a.m.
Where: Various nature parks located in and around Gainesville, Florida
Who is invited: Moms and kids who want to have fun outdoors. I imagine the age range for kids will be from 0-5, since most older children will be in school.
What to bring: Water, bug spray. Maybe snacks or a picnic lunch? You might also like to bring a camera or a journal for your children to record their discoveries.
I'm not planning on strenuous hiking here, and the pace will likely be slow to allow for the participation of little legs. The point is to enjoy some time in the sunshine, exploring our world. Many of the parks also have a playground, so we will likely spend some time there as well.

Here are the details for our first adventure:

When: Friday, September 25, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Where: Alfred A. Ring Park, 1801 NW 23rd Boulevard (Parking at Elks Lodge).
Driving Directions: From NW 13th Street, turn left on NW 23rd Ave. Park at the Elks Lodge, which will be on the left.
Things to note: Park includes bathrooms, picnic tables, small playground. Walking trail is mostly dirt, so strollers are not advised.

So strap the baby on your back and load up the kids. Hopefully I'll see you there! Everyone is welcome, so invite your friends! (Let me know if you plan to attend so I can keep an eye out for you.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A book to study and think about

One of the books that I am currently reading is Bonds That Make Us Free by Terry Warner. I have read parts of it in the past, but this is one of those books that you could re-read every year and still glean something new, and your relationships would be better because of it. It's also the kind of book that needs to be read slowly, giving you time to think about it and apply it in your life.
"To the extent that we can come to see others differently, we can undergo a fundamental change, a change in our being, a change of our emotions and attitudes, a change of heart."
I've been typing and deleting this post for the last 30 minutes, trying to put into words what I have learned in the first 100 pages. But without a little background in self-betrayal and self-deception and collusion's hard to summarize the book. So go read it, and then we can talk about it and learn more together!

I've posted before about resources from the Arbinger Institute (of which Terry Warner is a founding member). I would also recommend reading Leadership and Self-Deception.

But in the meantime, without having to buy anything, you can check out the online resources of the Arbinger Institute. I thought this article, The Parenting Pyramid, was great information for any parent. A good reminder that before I correct my children, I must first teach them what is appropriate. And before I can be an effective teacher I have to consider the quality of my relationship with my child. And then I better take a look at the quality of my relationship with my husband. But before all that, I need to take a good look at myself--or my "fundamental way of being". Just go read the article, it makes a lot more sense then I just did!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Nurturing Nature

"When you observe kind and gentle mothers in action, you see women of great strength. Their families can feel a spirit of love and respect and safety when they are near her as she seeks the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the guidance of His Spirit. They are blessed by her wisdom and good judgment. The husbands and children, whose lives they bless, will contribute to the stability of societies all over this world. Grateful daughters of God learn truths from their mothers and grandmothers and aunts. They teach their daughters the joyful art of creating a home. They seek fine educations for their children and have a thirst for knowledge themselves. They help their children develop skills that they can use in serving others. They know that the way they have chosen is not the easy way, but they know it is absolutely worth their finest efforts.

"Daughters of God know that it is the nurturing nature of women that can bring everlasting blessings, and they live to cultivate this divine attribute. Surely when a woman reverences motherhood, her children will arise up and call her blessed (see Prov. 31:28).

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

Margaret D. Nadauld, “The Joy of Womanhood,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 14–16

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fun with Felt

In my web research (doesn't that sound more official than blog reading?!) I've seen some fun ideas for using felt. One day I decided to try making felt pizza, using this pattern I saw at Serving Pink Lemonade.

All you need are scissors and felt. I drew some circle templates in a publishing program on my computer, printed them off and started cutting. This project only took me about 30 minutes of prep time (done while watching an episode of LOST).

The Ant Bug really enjoys this. Our pizza included crust, sauce, cheese, ham, pineapple, green peppers and black olives. The first day she played with it for over an hour, making every family member their own personal pizza.

I just noticed that there is also a great pattern for a felt sandwich at Serving Pink Lemonade, so I'll be cutting that out next!

While we're on the topic of food, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a great book to read along with this activity. There is also a movie inspired by the book which hits theaters next week.

Another day the Ant Bug and I pulled out the felt again and got creative. We cut out various shapes and started making creatures. Here are just a few of our creations, complete with googly eyes.

What can you and your child make with felt?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love and pray for your children

"My brothers and sisters, may we strive to live closer to the Lord. May we remember to “pray always lest [we] enter into temptation.”

"To you parents, express your love to your children. Pray for them that they may be able to withstand the evils of the world. Pray that they may grow in faith and testimony. Pray that they may pursue lives of goodness and of service to others.

"Children, let your parents know you love them. Let them know how much you appreciate all they have done and continue to do for you."

Thomas S. Monson, “Until We Meet Again,” Ensign, May 2009, 112–14

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My "To Do" List

I like to make lists. I find it highly satisfying to cross something off my list. It just feels good.

Today I am going to share my weekly "To Do" list with you. It's taken me awhile to get to this point, but I've found a system that works really well for me. At some point I realized that I do a lot of the same things the same day each week. Monday is always my sheets/towels laundry day, as well as Family Home Evening. Tuesday is my grocery shopping day. Wednesday is always playgroup. You get the picture.

In order to save myself a little paper and writing time I created a master weekly list. Under each day I penciled in the activities that I usually need to get done that day. Here is a peek at two of my days.

  • Piano lesson: 2:15-3
  • DR: Parenting/Families/Mother quotes and scriptures
  • FHE
  • Menu plan, grocery list
  • Laundry towels, sheets
  • NM Blog: LDS quote, scripture of the week
  • DR: General Conference talks
  • Nature Walk/Park Play
  • Primary reminder calls
  • Finances
  • Date Night
I typed up my schedule and stuck it in a sheet protector. On Sunday evenings I sit down with my dry erase marker and add in anything extra for the week (ie. Dr. appointments, Enrichment activities, library days, etc). I left room on the right hand side to write in anything else I need to work on that week. I use a magnetic clip to keep my list in a prominent place on my fridge so I can refer to it easily. Sunday evening I wipe it all clean and start over again.

Here is a visual for you, part-way through the week.

A few suggestions for making your own "To Do" list.

Everyone has different priorities, so take some time to think about yours. For me, after my husband and children, there are 4 major areas that demand a portion of my time.
  • Household tasks including laundry, meal planning, shopping, finances and cleaning
  • Tasks related to my calling in the Primary
  • Tasks related to my work as a piano teacher
  • Tasks related to my Nurture Mama blog
Think about what your days are like, and plan your schedule accordingly. Figure out when is the best time each day for you to get things done. For some, it might be early in the morning before your children wake up. Or it might be during naptime. Or you might be a night-owl and work best late at night.

I plan to get most of my work done between the hours and 8-10pm, after my children are in bed and before I head to bed myself. That is my time and I can be quite protective of it. I schedule one of the above activities for each weekday evening. I still have to be flexible because some weeks might be busier when it comes to Primary tasks, or preparing for a piano recital, or whatever. But I have a basic guideline to follow for organizing my time.

About cleaning. I never clean the house after 8pm unless absolutely necessary. Except for the dishes, usually whatever didn't get done can wait until the next day. My children have learned not to expect me to play with them until after the dinner dishes are done, and they usually tag along beside me while I clean the bathrooms or vacuum the floor. I want them to see and learn that it takes work to run a home, and I also deserve some time in my day when I don't have to think about cleaning.

Don't forget your most important priority--your family. My husband and I usually spend our evenings with each of us on a computer (he's a busy graduate student). But we're in the same room so it is easy for us to take a break and talk with each other. Friday night is reserved for our date night--usually it's spent at home, but whatever we're doing we're doing it together (we like snuggling up with popcorn and movies). Mornings (and a lot of the other time too) are spent with my girls. We read together, we clean together, we go to the park, we play together.

I am far from an expert when it comes to organizing, but I just thought I would share some of the things that have worked well for me. There is a lot of information available online (believe me, you can spend hours reading about this stuff!). My two favorite organizing blogs are Simple Mom and Organizing Your Way. They both are full of good ideas, so check them out for further reading.

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