Monday, November 30, 2009

Teach your children to be virtuous and teach them to pray.

In a talk given to the women of the church in November 2000, President Hinckley suggested several things that parents might teach their children. Here are his sixth and seventh suggestions:

Teach them to be virtuous.
Teach young men to respect young women as daughters of God endowed with something very precious and beautiful. Teach your daughters to have respect for young men, for boys who hold the priesthood, boys who should and do stand above the tawdry evils of the world.

Teach them to pray.
None of us is wise enough to make it on our own. We need the help, the wisdom, the guidance of the Almighty in reaching those decisions that are so tremendously important in our lives. There is no substitute for prayer. There is no greater resource.

"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."

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Before you throw away your fall pumpkins...

...try using them for a painting project!
I saw this fun idea for Pumpkin Printing on No Time for Flashcards, so we tried it out yesterday while our turkey was baking. Cut your small pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds, ready your paint and paper, and start printing!

A few painting tips I recently learned from my friend, Janene.
-save plastic lids (like the ones from sour cream containers) to use for your paint palettes. They are sturdier than paper plates and can be washed and used again.
-cut up cereal boxes and use the squares as your painting canvas. Again, it's much sturdier than paper.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful for the wonderful people in my family (and the little BOY who will join us in the spring)!
What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winter Soups

Winter weather makes me feel like eating soup for dinner. Unfortunately, there is no winter weather where I live in Florida, so I'm going to pretend it is snowing outside while I enjoy my favorite soup recipes.

Crock Pot Potato Soup
6 potatoes
2 leeks
2 onions
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
2 Tbsp. butter
13 oz. can evaporated milk

Cut all to bite size. Put all ingredients except milk and chives, in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Stir in evaporated milk during the last hour.

This was a big hit with 3 members of our family. The Ant Bug asked for seconds, ate more for a bedtime snack, then happily ate it for dinner again the next night. The Sweet Bee took one bite and spit it out again, so she filled up on homemade rolls (you can't please everyone, right?!).

Minestrone Soup
Cook for five minutes:
2 Tb. olive oil or other oil
2 cups chopped onions (1 large onion)
5 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 or 2 tsp. salt

Add and cook for 10 minutes, stir occasionally:
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium carrots sliced or dices
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
Black pepper to taste

Add, cover and simmer for 15 minutes:
1 medium bell pepper, sliced or diced
1 medium zucchini, sliceed
1 cup diced eggplant, optional
5-6 cups water
1 (14 oz.) can tomato sauce

Add and simmer five minutes more:
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained

Add and cook until tender:
1 cup pasta (uncooked shells, bows, or macaroni)

1 or 2 diced tomatoes (or 1 can chopped tomatoes)

Sprinkle chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese on each bowl or soup before serving.

White Chicken Chili
1 small onion, peeled and chopped fine
2-3 medium garlic cloves, peeled/chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1- 4oz can chopped green chilies
30 ounces (2 cans) white bean undrained (great northern, cannellini, or garbonzo)
1 can chicken broth
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt and a couple shakes of pepper
2-3 chicken breasts cooked and shredded or cubed
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lime

Saute onions and garlic in 1 Tb. olive oil until cooked. Then add the tomatoes, chilies, white beans, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Then slowly stir in the cheese and sour cream until well-blended. Add chopped cilantro and the lime juice. Stir after each addition. Simmer slowly so flavors can work their magic (1-2 hours), stirring frequently.

Crock pot variation: Combine all ingredients in pot except for sour cream and cheese. Let simmer for 4-6 hours. Add the sour cream and cheese for the last hour. May use frozen chicken breasts.

I always cook this in the crock pot. The cilantro is the key to greatness in this recipe!

Note: There will be no Friday Nature Walk this week. We'll be enjoying the day off from school and putting up our Christmas tree.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Teach your children to avoid drugs and be honest.

In a talk given to the women of the church in November 2000, President Hinckley suggested several things that parents might teach their children. Here are his fourth and fifth suggestions:

Teach your sons and daughters to avoid illegal drugs as they would the plague. The use of these narcotics will destroy them. They cannot so abuse their bodies, they cannot so build within themselves vicious and enslaving appetites without doing incalculable injury. One habit calls for another, until the victim in so many cases is led down to a situation of utter helplessness, with loss of all self-control and habituated to a point where it cannot be broken.

A recent television program indicated that 20 percent of young people who are on drugs were introduced to their use by parents. What is wrong with people? The use of illegal drugs becomes a dead-end road. It takes one nowhere except to loss of self-control, to loss of self-respect, and to self-destruction. Teach your children to avoid them as they would a foul disease. Build within them an utter abhorrence of such.

Teach them to be honest. The jails of the world are filled with people who began their evil activities with small acts of dishonesty. A small lie so often leads to a greater lie. A small theft so often leads to a greater theft. Soon the individual has woven a web from which he cannot extricate himself. The broad road to prison begins as a small and attractive pathway.

"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."

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

File Folder Fun

As a mother of two busy little girls, I have learned a few tricks to help them be reverent when it comes to Sunday sacrament meeting. One of my best tools has been file folder games.
Garden of Eden (from Finch Family Games)

The concept is pretty simple and easy to make yourself.
1) Color the templates and glue them to the inside of a manilla folder.
2) Color and cut out the activity pieces.
3) Laminate the folder and the pieces.
4) Place a small piece of Velcro or magnetic tape to each shape in the file folder.
5) Add the other side of Velcro or magnet to the remaining parts.
6) Store pieces in an envelope taped to the back.
Ark Animals (from Finch Family Games)

The folder games I use all came from Finch Family Games. The books are available to purchase online. These games are great for Sunday because they all tie in to some gospel theme (Lehi's Liahona Letters or Word of Wisdom Winners or Ammon's Sheep Sorters...).
Paint Your Wagon (from Finch Family Games)

They take a little time and effort to make, but once they are laminated they are pretty durable. I would recommend using magnets to stick the pieces instead of Velcro. Trust me, the sound of peeling Velcro is pretty loud, especially during the middle of the sacrament.
Garden of Eden (from Finch Family Games)

I think I first introduced these to my daughter when she was between 15-18 months. We used them well, but then put them away for a little while when the diaper bag got too full with a new baby. I've been pulling them out recently to use with the Sweet Bee (2 yrs old) and the Ant Bug (nearly 5) still gets interested in them. I usually bring four or five to church with me, and they usually end up being passed among the many other families with small children who end up sitting near us.
Putting on the Armor of God (from Finch Family Games)

There are many other folder games available to go with many different themes. Many of them are free downloads online. I did a quick google search and here are a few I found:

File Folder Fun
Preschool Printables (look at the list on the left)
Mormonchic (these are already colored for you if you have a color printer)

Feel free to be creative and design your own, too!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Friday Nature Walk on November 20th

When: Friday, November 20, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Where: Loblolly Woods Nature Park, 3315 NW 5th Ave. Access from 34th Street.
Driving Directions: The park is located directly off of NW 34th St, between University Ave and NW 8th St. The entrance is quite small and unobtrusive, but there is a sign directing you to Loblolly Woods.
Link to the map: Click here.
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: This park is mostly just a walking trail, but it connects to the Hogtown Creek Greenway as well as Westside Park, so we'll have the option of walking and playing.

Hopefully we'll see you there!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teach your children to respect their bodies.

In a talk given to the women of the church in November 2000, President Hinckley suggested several things that parents might teach their children. Here is the third suggestion:

Teach them to respect their bodies. The practice is growing among young people of tattooing and piercing their bodies. The time will come when they will regret it, but it will then be too late. The scriptures unequivocally declare:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Cor. 3:16–17).

It is sad and regrettable that some young men and women have their bodies tattooed. What do they hope to gain by this painful process? Is there “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (A of F 1:13) in having unseemly so-called art impregnated into the skin to be carried throughout life, all the way down to old age and death? They must be counseled to shun it. They must be warned to avoid it. The time will come that they will regret it but will have no escape from the constant reminder of their foolishness except through another costly and painful procedure.

I submit that it is an uncomely thing, and yet a common thing, to see young men with ears pierced for earrings, not for one pair only, but for several.

They have no respect for their appearance. Do they think it clever or attractive to so adorn themselves?

I submit it is not adornment. It is making ugly that which was attractive. Not only are ears pierced, but other parts of the body as well, even the tongue. It is absurd.

We—the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve—have taken the position, and I quote, that “the Church discourages tattoos. It also discourages the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes, although it takes no position on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings.”

"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."

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Making the most of photo opportunities

I am thrilled today to introduce the first guest blogger to Nurture Mama. Janene Kay is the mother of three children. She loves to take pictures and read good books and she is a fabulous friend! You can view her work at jkphotography and reserve your next photo session with her.

Who doesn't love to take pictures of their children? Well, if you don't love the actual process of taking the pictures (yes, I know it can be a headache!) here are some tips to help you get the most out of those photo ops, with some other tricks and ideas thrown in for fun too.

Look for the right light. The best times to take pictures are right before and after sunrise and sunset. With little ones it's hard to have happy smiling faces early in the morning or later in the evening, but if circumstances allow, then those are the best times for the BEST light. It is even, soft, flattering, and just plain awesome. You can shoot anywhere if the light is right.

My little model just in some nice soft evening light:
So what do you do when sunrise or sunset is nowhere in sight? Your next best bet is for open shade. You can find open shade pretty much everywhere, you just have to look. In the shade of a tree, around the edge of a building, even in your own shadow!

Here is my daughter sitting in some open shade underneath a big tree in our backyard:
When shooting in the shade of a tree, be aware of light shining through the leaves. When there are patches of bright light, called dappled light, you will probably get some unflattering spots:
You can also try turning you subject around 180 degrees to see if that helps.

Of course there are times when there is absolutely not a speck of shade in sight. Poor babies!
Turning your subject around so that the sun is facing their back or side should help with those closed and squinty eyes. However if your camera is on Auto (or another preset mode) it might make your subject completely dark (underexposed) because it is making the bright background exposed properly. Ahhhh, Exposure. That's another lesson in and of itself. But if this happens, turn on your flash to "fill flash" to get some light onto your subject so you can see them!
(my daughter in the same place as the picture above but just turned 180 degrees. No fill flash used)

Speaking of flash, it is so harsh and unflattering!! Keep it turned off as much as possible. Try flipping your camera to "P" (or Program) mode to turn it off. Your flash will fire if your camera thinks there isn't enough light, and sometimes there is plenty of light! But if you move (camera shake) or your subject moves (silly boy can't sit still for mommy to get just one picture of him in his Easter outfit to send to Grandma. . . yeah, I've been there) then you might have a blurry picture. Try opening up the windows and placing your subject really close to it, head outside, or you might have to keep that flash turned on. Give it a try and see what works.

Want to know what is so frustrating? When I take an awesome picture with my son actually looking at the camera and I didn't pay attention to the background and he's got a nice pole sticking out of his head! Or an awful, rusty, air conditioner as the background on my daughter's first day of preschool! Or just distracting backyard toys:
Again, try turning your subject 90 or 180 degrees to get a different view. Watch those distracting backgrounds!

Don't let the months (or worse, years) roll by without getting some sort of formal pictures taken, even if it is taken by yourself or a friend. Children change so fast, too fast, to not try and document what they look like regularly. In our family, we take a formal family picture right before Christmas, and I take formal studio pictures of each child around their birthday. I don't think that is overkill, but whatever you choose, be consistent!
I had a client that really wanted to get an updated portrait of her daughter wearing her first pair of glasses. She wanted it blown up big to put in her daughter's room. Her daughter was having a hard time adjusting, and didn't like the way she looked in her new glasses. My client wanted the portrait to show how beautiful her daughter was, even with these glasses, and she hoped that it would encourage a little more self-confidence and love for herself if her mom proudly displayed a picture of her wearing them. I thought that was such a wonderful idea!! Proudly display those pictures, snapshots or formal portraits, to help build up your child's confidence and show that you love them, just the way they are! Get those pictures (and memories!) off your computer. Also, I believe, that having family pictures displayed helps make a "house" more of a "home".

Some final tips. . . I know, I know, finally. . .

--Get down to your subject's level. Meaning, squat down or lay down to really get into their perspective.*

--Cut the cheese. Seriously. Well maybe not seriously, but the fake kind! Making grotesque and out of the ordinary noises often gets the best smiles for me. If you want to get true smiles, giggles, and happy natural smiles don't encourage them to look at the camera and say "CHEESE!" all of the time.

--Use those crazy modes and knobs on your camera. They are there for a reason! I really encourage you to get familiar with your camera and all of it's capabilities. Having a "photo shoot" of your daughter in her pretty Christmas dress? Flip your camera to the "Portrait" mode (usually indicated by a face or lady wearing a hat) to blur out the background a little. Taking a landscape picture of that beautiful mountain? Flip your camera to "Landscape" mode (indicated by a mountain usually) to make sure all of those majestic peaks are in focus. Your son is kicking the winning soccer goal? "Action" mode is there to freeze that moment, without blur (the icon is probably a person running) and it might be a good idea to use this mode if you've got a fast toddler on your hands, too!!

--Photo editing is your friend. Photos with red eye, too much empty space, and distracting backgrounds can be helped with a little TLC in a photo editing software. I LOVE my Adobe Photoshop, but it is pricey! There is a free 30-day trial version available on their website that you can download. But, I've also used Picasa by Google and was surprised by it's capabilities considering it is a free program. If you have a few minutes before you start putting pictures up on your blog, play around with your pictures in one of the programs and you'll be surprised at how much better they look. Try sharpening a little, cropping out the distracting parts and empty space, and lightening the exposure or adding some contrast. Once you catch the bug, you won't want to stop!

--Get in that picture too, MOM! Hand the camera over to someone else like your husband, daughter, friend, or even a stranger; don't be embarrassed. In 20 years, your children will be glad you did, you probably will be glad too!

--Capture those memories. Even with my love of formal portraiture, I'm not looking to take the most beautiful and artistic pictures of my family all of the time. My philosophy is to just capture those memories. If my son is making the cutest expression, I grab the camera, turn on the FLASH, and snap away! And I don't feel bad for a moment that, photographically speaking, they look horrible. To me, those memories and expressions can't be replaced.

--Give lots of praise and compliments for willing models. It makes things run much more quickly and smoothly and builds up confidence too.

And don't forget to have fun!
Janene has offered to answer any burning photo questions that you might have in the comments section, or if you live in the area and want to book a photo shoot with her visit her website at jkphotography. Thanks, Janene, for sharing your talents with us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Friday Nature Walk on November 13th

This week we're heading to one of our stand-by favorites, Green Acres Park. It's usually very empty and quiet, the playground is fun, and there are a few pathways that we have yet to explore! Hopefully we'll see you there!

: Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Where: Green Acres Park, 3704 SW 8th Avenue. Access from the dead end of SW 40th Street, just south of SW 6th Place
Driving Directions: From Newberry Rd, turn south on SW 38th St, then right on SW 6th Pl. Turn left when you reach SW40th St, then park on the left as the road ends.
Link to the map: Click here.
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. After parking, follow the trail to the left to find the playground. It's pretty sandy and my kids always end up filthy after playing here, so wear grubby clothes and plan on a likely bath when it's all over!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Teach your children to value education.

In a talk given to the women of the church in November 2000, President Hinckley suggested several things that parents might teach their children. Here is the second suggestion:

"Teach them to value education. “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36).

There rests upon the people of this Church a mandate from the Lord to acquire learning. It will bless their lives now and through all the years to come.

With fascination I watched one evening on television the story of a family in the Midwest. It included the father and mother and three sons and one daughter.

The father and mother determined when they married that they would do all they could to see that their children were exposed to the very best educational experiences.

They lived in a modest home. They observed modest ways. But they nurtured their children with knowledge. Every one of those children achieved in a remarkable way. Every one was well educated. One became a university president; the others became heads of large business institutions, successful individuals by any measure. "

"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."

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

Saturday, November 7, 2009



My Stick Family from

Baby #3 will be making an appearance sometime in early April 2010!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Prepared Mama: Ready for Illness

Has this flu season got you worried? It seems like something flu related is always in the news, with a lot of dire reports. I have decided not to stress myself out worrying whether we are going to get sick or not, and am just doing my best to be prepared in the event that we do get sick. In the last 6 weeks or so everyone in my family has been sick with something. Nothing terribly serious (mostly coughs and runny noses and some fevers and ear infections), but it's been enough that I am ready for everyone to just be healthy.

So...this is what we're doing to be more proactive about our health.

We had a Family Home Evening lesson on staying healthy, including lessons in hand washing and how to properly blow your nose with a tissue. (You can view my staying healthy lesson here.)

We wash our hands a lot and keep the hand sanitizer handy.

We checked our cupboard and stocked up on essential medicines and supplies so we don't have to make a midnight or Sunday run to the pharmacy in an emergency. Items like children's ibuprofen and Tylenol (and some for the adults), extra diapers and wipes, Lysol cleaning wipes, etc. Ready Set Plan has a great list to give you ideas of what you might want to store.

We're working on getting our flu shots (but we keep getting thwarted by a child is already sick and therefore shouldn't be vaccinated whenever we have an appointment). We'll keep trying!

I'm educating myself about the flu and related illnesses. Here are some helpful articles/sites that I have come across:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: H1N1 General Information

American Academy of Pediatrics: H1N1 Flu Information
The Mayo Clinic: Hand Washing
Web MD: 12 Tips to Prevent a Cold
Questions and Answers about the Flu on Teach Mama
A story of a real family's experience with swine flu on Prepared LDS Family

I hope your family and mine can be healthy this season!

"Un"Prepared Mama: 72 hr Kits
Remember the posts about 72 hr kits I wrote last July? This one and this one and this one?

Well. Today I pulled out our food packs to check the expiration dates on the food items and see if anything needed to be replaced. I had planned to do this General Conference weekend, so I'm only a month behind schedule. As I started pulling out the food I discovered that all of the fruit cups, pop tarts, and peanut butter crackers are expiring either this month or next. That is a good portion of our food packs, and to me that is an unacceptable amount of food to have to replace in 4 or 5 months. That is just way too much effort.

So I'm going to have to rethink our food-pack menus and figure out something that is little longer lasting. I would love to hear your suggestions!

Friday Nature Walk on November 6th

We're going to be brave this week and explore someplace we've never been before.

: Friday, November 6, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Where: Broken Arrow Bluff, 5724 SW 46th Place
Driving Directions: Since I haven't been here before, I'm not exactly sure of the directions. The park is located near Kanapaha Botanical Gardens and Lake Kanapaha. Take a look at this map. From Archer Road, it looks like you will turn on SW 57th Dr. and hopefully find it somewhere close!
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: This park does not include a playground, but there are picnic tables.

Hopefully we can all find it! Let me know if you plan to attend so I can keep an eye out for you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Teach your children to seek good friends.

In a talk given to the women of the church in November 2000, President Hinckley suggested several things that parents might teach their children. Here is the first suggestion:

"Teach them to seek for good friends. They are going to have friends, good or bad. Those friends will make a vast difference in their lives. It is important that they cultivate an attitude of tolerance toward all people, but it is more important that they gather around them those of their own kind who will bring out the best they have within them. Otherwise they may be infected with the ways of their associates.

I have never forgotten a story that Elder Robert Harbertson told at this Tabernacle pulpit. He spoke of an Indian boy who climbed a high mountain. It was cold up there. At his feet was a snake, a rattlesnake. The snake was cold and pleaded with the young man to pick it up and take it down where it was warmer.

The Indian boy listened to the enticings of the serpent. He gave in. He gathered it up into his arms and covered it with his shirt. He carried it down the mountain to where it was warm. He gently put it on the grass. When the snake was warm it raised its head and struck the boy with its poisonous fangs.

The boy cursed at the snake for striking him as an answer to his kindness. The snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up” (“Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood,” Ensign, July 1989, 77).

Warn your children against those with poisonous fangs who will entice them, seduce them with easy talk, then injure and possibly destroy them."

"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."

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

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