Thursday, October 29, 2009

Aligning my heart and actions with the right priorities

Today I read President Uchtdorf's talk from the April 2009 General Conference, "We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down". Since this talk was given during the Priesthood Session, you might have missed it. Here are a few tidbits:
"We know what matters most in life—the Light of Christ teaches this to everyone. We as faithful Latter-day Saints have the Holy Ghost as a “constant companion” to teach us the things of eternal value. I imagine that any priesthood holder listening to my voice today, if asked to prepare a talk on the subject “what matters most,” could and would do an excellent job. Our weakness is in failing to align our actions with our conscience.

Pause for a moment and check where your own heart and thoughts are. Are you focused on the things that matter most? How you spend your quiet time may provide a valuable clue. Where do your thoughts go when the pressure of deadlines is gone? Are your thoughts and heart focused on those short-lived fleeting things that matter only in the moment or on things that matter most?

What grudges do you bear? What excuses do you cling to that keep you from being the kind of husband, father, son, and priesthood holder you know you should be? What are the things that distract you from your duties or hinder you from magnifying your calling more diligently?

Sometimes the things that distract us are not bad in and of themselves; often they even make us feel good.

It is possible to take even good things to excess. One example can be seen in a father or grandfather who spends hours upon hours searching for his ancestors or creating a blog while neglecting or avoiding quality or meaningful time with his own children and grandchildren. Another example could be a gardener who spends his days pulling weeds from the soil while ignoring the spiritual weeds that threaten to choke his soul.

Even some programs of the Church can become a distraction if we take them to extremes and allow them to dominate our time and our attention at the expense of things that matter most. We need balance in life.

When we truly love our Heavenly Father and His children, we demonstrate that love through our actions."
His words really touched me, and I felt the the tugging of the Spirit asking me to consider if I am focusing on the things that matter most most in my life.

President Uchtdorf goes on to discuss matters related to priesthood responsibilities for the men, but we can draw a parallel for the women by studying The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations...By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."
I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels that my "to-do" list is much longer than the hours available in my day: Clean the house, make nutritious meals, work on food storage, develop my talents, exercise, read good books, teach my children, support my husband, help a neighbor, write in my journal (or blog!), go grocery shopping, magnify my calling...All of these things are good things, but it's near impossible to do all of them everyday. The key here is balance, and it's something that I am really trying to work on. Some days I do better than others, and some days I wish I could do things over.
President Uchtdorf counsels " We cannot and must note allow ourselves to get distracted from our sacred duty. We cannot and we must not lose focus on the things that matter most."
As a wife and a mother, my most important role is to nurture my family. How I carry out that role is a matter of prayer between myself and the Lord (and it will look different for every woman). But while I struggle to get things right in my life and my family, I'm thankful for the words of latter-day prophets who remind me of where my priorities should be.

Further Reading
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down,” Ensign, May 2009, 59–62
Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Liahona, Nov 2008, 84–87

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Friday Nature Walk on October 30th

Even in the midst of our Halloween activities this week, we're going to take a little time on Friday morning and head to the park. If you live in the area you are welcome to join us!
When: Friday, October 30, 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.
We had a nice time at San Felasco Park last week. I let the Ant Bug use our old digital camera to document our nature walk, so the pictures in this post are courtesy of her!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A fairy skirt or a ballerina tutu...or a last minute Halloween costume

Making a tulle tutu for my girls has been on my list of projects to do for a long time. I finally felt motivated to work on it last week (and yes, it was an attempt to stop my girls from fighting over the adorable new fairy dress-up costume that the Sweet Bee received for her birthday).

There are 1000's of tutorials available online when it comes to making a tulle skirt, so I won't go into the full details here. But here are the most helpful "how-to" posts I found:

Knotted Tulle Skirt on This Journey
DIY: Satin Wrap a Tutu on Treasures for Tots
Cut Tulle Using a Quick and Easy Method on Treasures for Tots
Baby Chick Costume on Little Birdie Secrets

Big thanks to my sweet sisters-in-law Tiffany and Becky for their personal direction!

Here is the finished product.
A few notes:
  • I purchased my tulle by the yard at Wal-mart. I bought 5 yards, and it's quite poofy and fits my nearly 5-year old daughter.
  • I cut the tulle into strips 6 inches wide by 28 inches long. The length gets folded in half, so the finished tutu is 14 inches long. I wasn't too picky about making sure the measurements are exact.
  • At the advice of several people, I used ribbon for the waistband instead of elastic. Ribbon = no sewing! I measured my daughter's waist then added 2 feet or so to leave some length for tying a bow when it's time to wear it. I used 7/8 inches grosgrain ribbon (the kind that is ribbed). Just double-knot the tulle on the ribbon as you would for the elastic.
  • The Ant Bug is currently obsessed with the color pink, so of course that's what the tutu had to be. But I tied on some yellow ribbon for a colorful accent.
Here's the finished product on the smiling model. Now we're all set for Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Teach your children and never quit.

The proverb spoken of old said, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

Another wise saying reads, “As the twig is bent, so the tree’s inclined” (Alexander Pope, Moral Essays, vol. 2 of The Works of Alexander Pope, Esq., “Epistle I: To Sir Richard Temple, Lord Cobham” [1776], 119; line 150).

Teach your children when they are very young and small, and never quit. As long as they are in your home, let them be your primary interest. I take the liberty tonight of suggesting several things that you might teach them. The list is not complete. You can add other items.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 97–100

President Hinckley goes on to discuss seven different things that are important for mothers to teach their children. I'm planning to give you the list in short installments over the next few weeks, allowing each of us to apply his teachings step by step. So stay tuned for more wonderful words of wisdom from President Hinckley.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Craft Fun

The girls and I took advantage of a day off from school last week to spend some time getting ready for Halloween. Here are a few of our creations.

Paper-Strip Jack-O-Lanterns (idea from Let's Explore)

Haunted Halloween House (idea from No Time for Flashcards)
We made ours out of regular felt, and we didn't bother with the magnets.

A Halloween Story
Dictated and Ilustrated by the Ant Bug

We found some great Halloween themed templates on Place to Bloom (black cat, owl, witch, bats, spider, etc). There are lots of different ways that these templates could be used with a little creative thinking.

Googley Eyed Blobs (idea from Make and Takes)
One suggestion: If you try this, don't use corn syrup! Water with food coloring in a jar works just as well and it is far less messy. My girls had fun experimenting with different color combinations.

We also made the same paper ghost garlands we made last year.

Here are a few more we haven't had time to try yet, but they look like fun:

Eency Weency Spider by Mama Jenn
Frankenstein Craft by No Time for Flashcards
Shape Scarecrow Craft by No Time for Flashcards
Sandpaper Pumpkin by No Time for Flashcards
Halloween Ghost Tree by Chasing Cheerios
Painting With Marbles by Chasing Cheerios
Glowing Jack-O-Lantern by Not So Idle Hands

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friday Nature Walk on Oct 23

After a few weeks off, we're ready to give the Nature Walk another try. The weather should be beautiful, so cross your fingers that we are all healthy!

When: Friday, October 23, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Where: San Felasco Park
Driving Directions: It is off of NW. 43rd street. For those who will be heading North on 43rd St., turn left on 43rd way after you pass Cox Cable. Follow that back until it ends and turn Left. Follow the road back to the parking lot.
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. I believe at least part of the walking trail is paved (but I'm not positive) so a stroller might be a possibility.

Give me a heads up if you plan to attend so I know to wait for you before we start exploring. Hopefully I'll see you there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

"How well have my children done?"

"What a wonderful thing you have done as mothers. You have given birth and nurtured children. You have entered into a partnership with our Father in Heaven to give mortal experience to His sons and daughters. They are His children and they are your children, flesh of your flesh, for whom He will hold you responsible. You have rejoiced over them, and in many cases you have sorrowed. They have brought you happiness as no one else could. They have brought you pain as none other could.

"By and large, you have done a remarkable job in rearing them. I have said many times that I believe we have the finest generation of young people that this Church has ever known. They are better educated; they are better motivated; they know the scriptures; they live the Word of Wisdom; they pay their tithing; they pray. They try to do the right thing. They are bright and able, clean and fresh, attractive and smart. These are very substantial in number. More of them go on missions than ever before. More of them marry in the temple. They know what the gospel is about, and they are trying to live it, looking to the Lord for His guidance and help.

"You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out. It will not be the money you have made. It will not be the cars you have owned. It will not be the large house in which you live. The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my children done?

"If the answer is that they have done very well, then your happiness will be complete. If they have done less than well, then no other satisfaction can compensate for your loss.

"And so I plead with you tonight, my dear sisters. Sit down and quietly count the debits and the credits in your role as a mother. It is not too late. When all else fails, there is prayer and the promised help of the Lord to assist you in your trials. But do not delay. Start now, whether your child be six or 16."

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 97–100

A Birthday for a Sweet Bee

Happy 2nd Birthday today to my Sweet Bee!

The important things about being Two is all the things that you can do.

You can walk, talk

and sneeze and wheeze

and laugh and tease

and cough and dance

and jump and prance

and cry and run

and have some fun.

And the important thing about being Two is all the things that you can do.

Taken from Another Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inspiration for Family Home Evening Lessons


"Well-planned family home evenings can be a source of long-lasting joy and influence. These evenings are times for group activity, for organizing, for the expressions of love, for the bearing of testimony, for learning gospel principles, for family fun and recreation, and of all things, for family unity and solidarity" (source).

When I am planning our weekly Family Home Evening Lessons, these are the resources I often turn to for ideas:

The Home and Family section of They have lots of ideas, including lesson topics, activities, and resources.

The Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
(available online here)

The Friend magazine
(available online here)

Primary Lesson Manuals (age-appropriate for my children)
(available online here)

General Conference Addresses
(check out this article: Adapting Conference Talks into Family Home Evening for Children)

Gospel Art Picture Kit
(Available online here)

(always a lot of ideas here, check out the Family Home Evening Index)

Mormon Messages
(available on YouTube here)

Each week I post our Family Home Evening lessons on my other blog, Nurture Mama's Reading List. (They are all grouped under the Scripture of the Week label). Feel free to adapt any of my ideas to fit your family. Here are just a few of my favorites to get you started:
I Will Say I'm Sorry
Family Proclamation
Sabbath Day

Monday, October 12, 2009

True Greatness


"In a short editorial written by President Joseph F. Smith in 1905, he made this most profound statement about what true greatness really is:

“Those things which we call extraordinary, remarkable, or unusual may make history, but they do not make real life.

“After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness. To be a successful father or a successful mother is greater than to be a successful general or a successful statesman.” (Juvenile Instructor, 15 Dec. 1905, p. 752.)

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

Link Love: Solutions for Dealing with Anger

We are thrilled to have family in town visiting, so I'm taking a little vacation time (we're touring Florida and spent a wonderful day here yesterday). So today I just wanted to share a great article that I thought was very helpful.

6 Peaceful Solutions for Hitting and Anger

I'm always looking for better ways to teach and discipline my children (one of the mothering areas I've always felt a little clueless about) and this article had some great suggestions. Distraction has seemed to be the most effective tool at our house, but I was thankful for the reminder of the importance of modeling appropriate ways to deal with anger or frustration. I think I'll also suggest hand clapping the next time little hands feel the urge to hit. Go read the article here at Simple Kids.

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Be not weary in well-doing"

"Wherefore, be 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

Wasn't General Conference wonderful? I've been thinking a lot about this scripture that was referenced in Elder Bednar's talk. Sometimes in the minute details of being a mother I lose sight of the grander scheme of things. But this was a good reminder that even while changing diapers and wiping runny noses and reading stories, I am doing an important work.

I'm looking forward to studying and pondering all of the talks as they become available in the Ensign. I heard much that can be applied to my essential role as a mother!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Foiled again-we're not nature walking today

This illness is working it's way through our family. The Ant Bug is mostly recovered (just on medication for an ear infection), but the Sweet Bee has had a runny nose and cough for the last few days, along with a fever off and on (she's at 100 degrees this morning). And now I'm getting the symptoms too, even though I always say "mothers aren't allowed to get sick. They have too much to do!"

So we'll be staying home today, and hopefully we will all be healthy soon! Go ahead without us and enjoy the park, and we'll try again in a few weeks.

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