Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell to the Reading List (and my favorite books of 2009)

As 2009 draws to a close, I am happy to say that I met my goal of taking time to read good books. I read 45 of them, to be exact! A year ago in January 2009 I launched Nurture Mama's Reading List as a way of making me accountable for what I read. Over the year I have shared the books I read, my gospel study notes, Caldecott books (another goal, I'm still working on that one), and our family scripture of the week.

As 2010 begins I have decided to close the door on Nurture Mama's Reading List. Don't worry--I still plan to read, and I still plan to share it with you, but I'm going to simplify things and just do all of my blogging in this one blog. I'll still keep the Reading List online for reference, but I won't be posting to it anymore. I also won't be doing a Recently Read post for every book I read, just the really really great books that I want to share. You can check out my goodreads list on the right side bar to keep up with all of my books if you're interested.

If you're looking for something good to read, the books below were my favorites in 2009.

Best Fiction
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (and the rest of the Percy Jackson series)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Best Non-Fiction
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Happy Reading in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Your vital role

"Sisters, I wish I could place my hands on both sides of your faces, look deeply into your eyes, and impart to you a clear vision of your vital role as beloved daughters of God whose “lives have meaning, purpose, and direction.” We are women who “increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study,” who “seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.” We “dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes” and “find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.”

Mary Ellen W. Smoot, “Steadfast and Immovable,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 91

Friday, December 25, 2009

A 5 year-old in the house

Happy Birthday Ant Bug!
The important thing about Five and Six is that you learn a lot of tricks.

You learn how to count.
You learn how to read.
You know how to dress
and get what you need.
You can almost tell time.
You can speak in rhyme.

But the important thing about Five and Six is that you learn a lot of tricks.

Each day you grow a little more.
Each day you’re older than before.

Taken from Another Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Show your love today

In the family proclamation we also learn that “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.”

It is in the home that the family learns and applies gospel principles. Great love is necessary in order to teach and guide a family. Loving fathers and mothers will teach their children to worship God in their home. When a worshiping spirit permeates the home, that spirit is extended into the life of each family member. This will prepare them to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to be able to return to God’s presence and stay together as a family for all eternity.

The family proclamation helps us understand much of the love the Savior referred to when He told us we must “love one another.” He gave us the supreme example of love when He declared, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He later atoned for all our sins and finally gave His life for all of us.

We can lay down our lives for those we love not by physically dying for them but rather by living for them—giving of our time; always being present in their lives; serving them; being courteous, affectionate, and showing true love for those of our family and to all men—as the Savior taught.

We don’t know what could happen to us tomorrow, and that is why today is the time to start showing your love through small acts such as a hug and an “I love you” to your spouse and children and those around you.

Claudio R. M. Costa, “Don’t Leave for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 73–75

Christmas Craft Time

We're counting the days until Christmas! Now that school is out, we have a little time to work on some fun holiday projects. We'll be trying some of the following in the next few days.
Super Simple Snowflake/Star Ornaments
Fork Print Tree
Shape Tree

Christmas Card Puzzle Game
Simple Reindeer Ornaments

From Kids Craft Weekly: Santa Cards

And of course, we will also be doing some baking. You can find our favorite Sugar Cookie recipe here, and a great recipe for gingerbread cookies here.

What fun activities will you be doing this week?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gifts to Give

In his last public address to the Church before his death, President Hunter offered 22 ways that we might follow the example of the Savior in giving the best gifts at Christmas.

1) Mend a quarrel.
2) Seek out a forgotten friend.
3) Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.
4) Write a letter.
5) Give a soft answer.
6) Encourage youth.
7) Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
8) Keep a promise.
9) Forgo a grudge.
10) Forgive an enemy.
11) Apologize.
12) Try to understand..
13) Examine your demands on others.
14) Think first of someone else.
15) Be kind.
16) Be gentle.
17) Laugh a little more.
18) Express your gratitude.
19) Welcome a stranger.
20) Gladden the heart of a child.
21) Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
22) Speak your love and then speak it again.

Howard W. Hunter, “The Gifts of Christmas,” Ensign, Dec 2002, 16

What gifts will you give?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Polar Express Party Planning Essentials

Reading the book and watching the movie of The Polar Express is a holiday tradition in our home. This year we decided to invite some friends and make it a party!
Polar Express Party Planning Essentials

Wear Pajamas--The kids in the movie were wearing pajamas, so we all did too. What could be better then snuggling up in cozy pajamas with your blankets and pillows to watch a good movie?

Tickets, Please--If you want to ride the train, then a ticket is required. We got the template for our tickets from this helpful packet.
Ride the Train--When our friends arrived we handed them a ticket, then we all boarded the train for a ride to the North Pole. Our train was just the kitchen chairs arranged in train style seating, but we chug-chugged and pretended we were looking out the window at the snow capped mountains.

Bells--The bell is a central element of the story. Our train took a short detour to make sure each passenger was properly equiped with a bell. A string threaded through the bell makes a great necklace (incidentally, the Ant Bug has been wearing her bell necklace since Saturday).

Lights, Camera, Action--We parked the train at a safe location and settled in to watch the movie, with the lights from the Christmas tree setting the mood.
Snack Time--don't forget the treats! Our stomachs were content with popcorn, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and a few M&Ms.

Looking for more ideas? Check out this helpful packet from Houghton Mifflin which includes more party ideas, a crossword puzzle, word search, mazes and more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cradles and kitchens vs. congresses


"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this.

"No wonder the men of God support and sustain you sisters in your unique roles, for the act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim."

Neal A. Maxwell, “The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Easy Ornaments

One Christmas tradition I enjoy is making an ornament, usually with the help of my children (is it a tradition if this is only the second time I've done it?). This years version was inspired by an idea I saw here, but I got creative in using mostly supplies that I already had on hand.

Supplies needed:
-small round wood discs (I found mine at Michaels in the wood section)
-scrapbook paper
-mod podge
-hot glue gun
-ribbon, bells, photos, graphics, etc (whatever you want to use for ornamentation)
Paint the wood discs and allow to dry (both sides). Cut slightly smaller circles out of decorative scrapbook paper, and mod podge the paper to the painted discs. Once the glue was dry I threaded white ribbon through a shiny bell, tied a bow and used a hot glue gun to attach the ribbon to the disc. The last step is to use the glue gun again to attach a string to the back for hanging on the tree.
The possibilities for the focal part of the ornament itself are pretty endless. You can use photos, old Christmas cards, berries, flowers, or whatever strikes your fancy. I made a version for my piano students using a small picture of a piano I printed from the computer (in the photo above).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Focus on Christ this Christmas

"My brothers and sisters, I know that it is the desire of each of us to make time in our lives and room in our hearts for our Savior. No matter how successful we have thus far been at accomplishing such a goal, however, I am confident we would all wish to do better. Now, this very Christmas season, is the perfect time to renew our efforts" (President Thomas S. Monson, source).

This week I was thrilled to discover that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has put together a wonderful online resource to help individuals and families draw closer to Christ this Christmas. This page has videos, music, and personal stories, all focusing on the most important reason for the Christmas season.

Some of my favorite highlights from the site:
And this video is very sweet:

Here are a two other links I've liked that might help you focus on Christ this Christmas.
Christ Centered Christmas: Christmas Traditions Centered Around Jesus Christ
The Little Book of Christmas Spirit by John Hilton III: a free electronic book available from Deseret Book (get the link at the bottom of the Sugardoodle page)

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Let your first interest be in your home."

In the year 2000, President Hinckley gave a talk just for women and mothers. For the last six weeks I have been sharing segments of that talk, in which he discusses seven things that are important for mothers to teach their children. Here are his concluding remarks:

God bless you, dear friends. Do not trade your birthright as a mother for some bauble of passing value. Let your first interest be in your home. The baby you hold in your arms will grow quickly as the sunrise and the sunset of the rushing days. I hope that when that occurs you will not be led to exclaim as did King Lear, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!” (King Lear, I, iv, 312). Rather, I hope that you will have every reason to be proud concerning your children, to have love for them, to have faith in them, to see them grow in righteousness and virtue before the Lord, to see them become useful and productive members of society. If with all you have done there is an occasional failure, you can still say, “At least I did the very best of which I was capable. I tried as hard as I knew how. I let nothing stand in the way of my role as a mother.” Failures will be few under such circumstances.

May the blessings of heaven rest upon you, my dear sisters. May you not trade a present thing of transient value for the greater good of sons and daughters, boys and girls, young men and women for whose upbringing you have an inescapable responsibility.

May the virtue of your children’s lives sanctify and hallow your old age. May you be led to exclaim with gratitude as did John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 1:4)."

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Traditions

For most families, December is a month that abounds in holiday traditions. Christmas trees and carols and presents make for much excitement. The Ant Bug has been looking forward to December for some time now, and she was thrilled when it was finally the day after Thanksgiving and we could pull out our decorations and trim the tree.

Last year we found a great activity in the December 2008 issue of The Friend magazine that was perfect for helping us keep the focus on Christ during the Christmas season.
Here are the directions:
Each day during December look up the scripture reference for that day. Read the stories of Jesus. Then color the set of scriptures for that day. Each day also lists a picture from the Gospel Art Picture Kit (GAK) that can accompany the story. You can access the GAK online here.

We like to display the chart as well as the accompanying GAK picture as a visual reminder throughout the month.

Click here for the activity and the scripture reading list.

Last year we also had fun reading Christmas books together.
Here are the basic directions:
Find 25 Christmas books (or as many as you can), wrap them up and put them under your tree. Then everyday until Christmas your children can choose one to unwrap and read together.

Our current shelf of books is pretty sparse when it comes to Christmas books, so most of our books come from the library (you can still wrap them up even if you have to take them back). This is what we will be reading this year:

Drummer Boy by Loren Long
The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh & J. Otto Seibold
Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell
Christmas Mice by Bethany Roberts
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Bear Noel by Olivier Dunrea
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
McDuff's New Friend by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers
The True Story of Christmas by Nell Navillus
How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini
...and maybe a few more!

I first saw this idea on Make and Takes, and this year The Idea Room also shared their version of this activity.

As far as the rest of the month goes, I'm sure we'll be doing most of the same things I wrote about last year here.

What traditions do you have that make your December special?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

THURSDAY Nature Walk on December 3rd

I have an appointment on Friday this week, so our weekly nature walk will be on Thursday instead, same time.

Important Note: I have decided to stop posting the weekly nature walk location on this blog. If you are interested in joining me for future nature walks, please let me know (either in the comments or by email) and I will keep you informed about future activities through email.

Here are the details for this weeks adventure!

: Thursday, December 3rd, 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.
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 bathrooms, picnic tables, small playground. Walking trail is mostly dirt, so strollers are not advised.

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