Thursday, February 26, 2009

Oodles of Noodles

What can you do with these supplies?
Make Noodle Doodles, of course!

This week the girls and I tried our hand at making noodle art, from an idea I saw at Flip Flops & Applesauce. It's a pretty simple project that kept both of my girls entertained for more than 30 minutes. Here are the directions:
  1. Boil the noodles, for about half the time it says on the package so the noodles don't end up too soft. Don't forget to add a little oil so the noodles don't stick to each other.
  2. Rinse the noodles in cold water.
  3. Get creative with noodles and construction paper. You can use a table knife to slice the noodles to different lengths.

Sometimes it is difficult to come up with activities that are appropriate and interesting for both a 4-year-old and a 16-month-old. The Sweet Bee still has the overwhelming urge to put everything in her mouth, which doesn't work so well when it comes to traditional coloring or painting. But this activity was perfect since it was non-toxic and allowed for hands-on creativity at all levels.
It also worked well as our afternoon snack!

One of the Ant Bug's creations. She called it "A fun playground ballet dance".
Here's mine: House with a Flower.
Once you're finished creating, cover your artwork with a strip of wax paper and a heavy book so it will dry flat.

Check out these great suggestions from Kiddio for more activities to do with your mixed age kids. Next up, we're going to paint with pudding!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Create and Nurture

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty."

"If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Happiness, Your Heritage,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 117–20

To see a little more of this inspiring message by President Uchtdorf, watch the following presentation produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Walk Tall, You're a Daughter

I think (and worry!) a lot about being a mother: Why aren't my children sleeping through the night? Are we eating enough healthy foods? How can we have meaningful Family Home Evening, prayers and scripture study? How do I encourage my children to be nice to each other? Discipline? Time outs? My list of questions goes on...So four years after the birth of my first child I've given up on being a perfect mother--I'll happily settle for "good mother".

Last week I finished reading The Last Lecture. Since then I've been reflecting again on the legacy I am leaving for my children. When it comes down to it, am I really teaching them the most essential of life's lessons?

My ultimate wish for my children is that they will be happy, good people who treat others with kindness. I want them to know that they are children of a loving father in heaven.

Remember this song from the 80s?

Walk Tall, You're a Daughter of God
Right now I have a prayer deep within my heart.
A prayer for each of you there is a special part
That you remember who you are and Him who lives above
Please seek for Him and live His way;
You'll feel His love.
Walk tall you're a daughter, a child of God.
Be strong, please remember who you are.
Try to understand, you're part of His great plan.
He's closer than you know, reach up,
He'll take your hand.

I often sing this song to my girls at bedtime. We listen to it on CD in the car, along with countless primary songs. Every so often as I drive, I am struck again by the message. As a lump rises in my throat and my eyes glisten, I am humbled by the responsibility I have as a mother, to be entrusted with these sweet spirits.

Long before the time you can remember,
Our father held you in His arms so tender.
Those loving arms released you as He sent you down to earth.
He said, "My child, I love you,
don't forget your great worth."

I love to hear the four-year-old Ant Bug singing along. At some point I hope she will understand the lesson behind the words she is singing.

This life on earth we knew would not be easy.
At times we lose our way, His path we may not see.
But please remember, always, please, that you are not alone.
He'll take your hand, He loves you.
He will guide you home.

Walk tall you're a daughter, a child of God.
Be strong, please remember who you are.
Try to understand, you're part of His great plan.
He's closer than you know, reach up,
He'll take your hand.

Now I know why my own mother loved to hear me sing this song as a teenager. The important lesson she was teaching me is now the lesson that I am teaching to my children.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Live a good life yourself."

"Children rise higher when they are treated with respect. Use courteous and respectful language when you talk with your children and others. Bruno Bettelheim, a world-famous psychologist, said, "You can't teach children to be good. The best you can do for your child is to live a good life yourself. What a parent knows and believes, the child will lean on." You don't teach a child not to yell by yelling. We cannot expect to be respected if we treat others in demeaning ways."

Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Small and Simple Things (2003), 141.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How do I love thee?

I'll wrap up this week of LOVE with one of my favorite love poems. I hope you've enjoyed this week and thought of some new ways that you can show love to the people who matter the most to you.

How do I love thee?
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

"I have taken for a title to my remarks Mrs. Browning's wonderful line "How do I love thee?" (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese [1850], no. 43.) I am not going to "count the ways" this morning, but I am impressed with her choice of adverb--not when do I love thee nor where do I love thee nor why do I love thee nor why don't you love me, but, rather, how. How do I demonstrate it, how do I reveal my true love for you? Mrs. Browning was correct. Real love is best shown in the "how,"."

Jeffrey R. Holland (2000, February 15). "How Do I Love Thee?" BYU Devotional Address.

Friday, February 13, 2009

14 Ways to Show Love for Your Child

The following are Valentine's Day tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). But feel free to use these tips year round, not just on Valentine's Day!

1. Use plenty of positive words with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm with your child. They often don’t understand it, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.

2. Respond promptly and lovingly to your child's physical and emotional needs and banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary.

3. Make an extra effort to set a good example at home and in public. Use words like "I'm sorry," "please," and "thank you."

4. When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give him a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection he favors and then talk with him about it when he’s feeling better.

5. Use non-violent forms of discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.

6. Make plans to spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys.

7. Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member's name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.

8. Owning a pet can make children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by stimulating physical activity, enhancing their overall attitude, and offering constant companionship.

9. One of the best ways to familiarize your child with good food choices is to encourage him to cook with you. Let him get involved in the entire process, from planning the menus to shopping for ingredients to the actual food preparation and its serving. It is wonderful when families eat together as much as possible. Good food, good conversations.

10. As your child grows up, she'll spend most of her time developing and refining a variety of skills and abilities in all areas of her life. You should help her as much as possible by encouraging her and providing the equipment and instruction she needs.

11. Your child's health depends significantly on the care and guidance you offer during his early years. By taking your child to the doctor regularly for consultations, keeping him safe from accidents, providing a nutritious diet, and encouraging exercise throughout childhood, you help protect and strengthen his body.

12. Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community.

13. One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.

14. Don't forget to say, "I love you" to children of all ages!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love in Parenting

The following is an excerpt from a great online resource for parents, Real Families, Real Answers. Sponsored by the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, articles on the website are authored by students and faculty in the School of Family Life and are reviewed by a team of content experts and copy editors before publication.

"Love is the first of a three-part formula for parenting: Love, limits, and latitude. Loving children is so important that researchers sometimes call it the “super-factor” of parenting. Good nurturing makes children feel loved and cherished, and researchers have found that without that feeling, there’s little else parents can do to make up for it.

Urie Bronfenbrenner, a renowned expert on child development, says every child needs parents who are crazy about him or her-an “irrational relationship.” Children are wired to “fall in love” with their parents, and they deserve parents who fall in love back.

Beyond the obvious benefits of nurturing love, research shows that loving and nurturing parenting is linked to better child behavior at all ages. Nurturing parents build strong bonds with their children, providing them with a sense of security that helps them grow into confident and loving people.

How can you be a more loving and nurturing parent? Here are some ideas:

Learn your child’s love language. Each person feels love in a different way. A wise parent carefully studies how a child likes to receive love, and then sends love in that way often. Without this care, actions that a parent might think are loving can be perceived as unloving. For example, one mother came home from a long day at work, met her little boy at the front door, ruffled his hair, told him “I love you!” and walked to her room. He followed her and replied, “Mommy, I don’t want you to love me, I want you to play catch with me!”

In another example, a father invited his teenaged son to hunt big game in Montana. The father thought the expedition together would be a great way to spend time with his son and show his love. But what the son really wanted from his father was less dramatic - he just wanted his dad to go with him occasionally to a nearby reservoir and watch the ducks take off.

How can parents learn their child’s love language? One way, according to parent educator Wally Goddard at the University of Arkansas, is simply to notice ways you’ve already shown love that your child asks for more of. One father says his children love their outings with him one at a time. They frequently ask, “When are we going on our one-on-one?” His youngest daughter is emphatic about wanting to go swimming for their time together. By honoring her request, he shows his love for her in one of the ways she can best receive it.

You can also learn about your child’s love language by noticing how she or he shows love, according to Goddard. Children often show love in the way they like to receive it. Or you might try recalling when you felt especially loved by someone and identify what that person did, then treat your child similarly.

You can also take the direct approach-ask your children what you do or say that helps them feel loved. Answers might include hugs, bedtime stories, one-on-one outings, midnight pancakes and conversation, playing a game together, or a special gift."

For more helpful ideas on loving and nurturing your children, read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love is a Commitment

"The commandment taught by Jesus shortly before His crucifixion was: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (john 13:34). Love is the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Love, also called nurturance, affection, warmth, and support, is consistently the most predictive variable for favorable child outcomes in research on parenting. Nurturance is defined as behavior that helps the child feel safe, valued, and accepted. Effective loving is the most important thing a parent can do for a child."

"Love is more than a feeling. It may be considered a commitment to act in the best interest of another person."

"When we take time to be with children, doing things that they value, they feel loved."

H. Wallace Goddard and Larry C. Jensen (2000), Understanding and Applying Proclamation Principles of Parenting; in David C. Dollahite, ed., Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft), 124-134.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Over on my reading list: Love Books for Parents and Children

Today over on Nurture Mama's Reading List I'm posting some wonderful books that celebrate the love between a parent and child.

You Are My I Love You by Maryann K. Cusimano
"I am your parent; you are my child.
I am your quiet place; you are my wild.

I am your lullaby; you are my peekaboo.
I am your good-night kiss; you are my I love you."

(See more titles here.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Love is the very essence of life."

"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children...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..."

The Family: A Proclamation to the World, paragraph 6.

"Love is the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yet it is more than the end of the rainbow. Love is at the beginning also, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day. Love is the security for which children weep, the yearning of youth, the adhesive of marriage, and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death. How rich are those who enjoy it in their associations with family, friends, church, and, like faith, is a gift of God."

Gordon B. Hinckley (1989), Faith: The essence of true religion. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book), 44.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nurture Mama Reads!

There are 3 things in my life that I am quite passionate about:
  1. My family
  2. Strengthening and supporting families (in general)
  3. Reading (novels, non-fiction, children’s books, gospel study…)
Now I have a blog for each of my 3 passions! Come and check out my latest project:

And be sure to check in here everyday next week for a special week of

Pewter Ransom Font L Letter O Pewter Ransom Font V letter E

Monday, February 2, 2009

"You are the heart of the home."

Taking care of small, dependent, and demanding children is never-ending and often nerve-wracking. Mothers must not fall into the trap of believing that "quality" time can replace "quantity" time. Quality is a direct function of quantity--and mothers, to nurture their children properly, must provide both. To do so requires constant vigilance and a constant juggling of competing demands. It is hard work, no doubt about it.

Sometimes you sisters may feel like the Brethren do not appreciate you and the important contribution you make to your families and to the work of the Lord. Perhaps if husbands and fathers experienced what someone suggested might be planned for the next Survivor show, it would make a difference:

Six men will be dropped on an island with one van and four children each--for six weeks. Each child plays two sports and either takes music or dance classes. There is no access to fast food.

Each man must take care of his four children, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do laundry, etc.

The men only have access to television when the children are asleep and all chores are done: There is only one TV, and there is no remote control.

The men must put on makeup daily, applying it themselves either while driving or while making four lunches. They must attend weekly PTA meetings; clean up after their sick children at 3:00 a.m.; make an Indian hut model with six toothpicks, a tortilla, and one marker; and get a four-year-old to eat a serving of peas.

The children vote them off the island based on performance. The winner is the first one voted off who gets to go back to work. [Various versions available on the World Wide Web]

Although that may be slightly exaggerated, it does convey a vivid picture of the demands of motherhood. Never doubt, sisters, that you are the heart of the home. Your attitude--whether happy, sad, positive, or negative--will likely be reflected in the feelings of your husband and your children.

M. Russell Ballard (2003, August 19). "The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood," BYU Devotional Address.


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