Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kindness is a big thing

"Little kindnesses go a long way toward building relationships of trust and unconditional love. Just think about the impact in your own family of using words or phrases such as thank you, please, excuses me, you go first, and may I help you. Or performing unexpected acts of service such as helping with the dishes, taking children shopping for something that's important to them, or phoning to see if there's anything you can pick up at the store on the way home. Or finding little ways to express love, such as sending flowers, tucking a note in a lunch box or briefcase, or phoning to say "I love you" in the middles of the day. Or expressing gratitude and appreciation. Or giving sincere compliments. Or showing recognition--not just at times of special achievement or on occasions such as birthdays but on ordinary days, and just because your spouse or your children are who they are."

"Twelve hugs a day--that's what people need. Hugs come physically, verbally, visually, environmentally. We all need twelve hugs a day--different forms of emotional nourishment from other people or perhaps spiritual nourishment through meditation or prayer."

"To do carefully and constantly and kindly many little things is not a little thing."

From The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey (pp. 22-23)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raising a Righteous Posterity

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak in Sacrament Meeting. I was excited when I was told my topic: Raising a Righteous Posterity. After all of my research for this blog, this was definitely a topic I could talk about! Here is the text of my talk. It was supposed to be a 15-18 minute talk, so it's pretty long!

Raising a Righteous Posterity
Being a parent is an awesome and somewhat daunting responsibility. Satan’s tactics are convincing, and his attacks on the family are alarming: drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, immorality, violence, and divorce are just a few of the hazards that lead to the breakdown of the family. Fortunately, there is a way to combat the evils of the world.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin stated: "The place to cure most of the ills of society is in the homes of the people. Building our homes as fortresses of righteousness for protection from the world takes constant labor and diligence. Membership in the Church is no guarantee of a strong, happy family. Often parents feel overwhelmed.”

“In the plan of salvation, all families are precious instruments in the Lord’s hands to help direct His children toward a celestial destination. The righteous molding of an immortal soul is the highest work we can do, and the home is the place to do it. To accomplish this eternal work, we should make our homes gospel centered. When peace and harmony abound, the Holy Spirit will ever be present. The storms of the evil one can be stopped at the very entrance of our homes.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Spiritually Strong Homes and Families,” Ensign, May 1993, 68)

Let me emphasize, “The righteous molding of an immortal soul is the highest work we can do, and the home is the place to do it.” Today I will be speaking on the topic of raising a righteous posterity. This is something that I have thought a lot about, even before I became a mother. In college at BYU I chose to major in Marriage, Family, and Human Development because I wanted to learn all that I could to prepare me to be the best wife and mother I could be. Now I find myself spending my free time reading parenting books and blogs; I even have my own blog focused primarily on nurturing mothers and children.

Fortunately, being a parent today doesn’t require a college degree, and you are not expected to spend hours upon hours researching the latest parenting interventions. What is required of parents is a focus on Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. As Helaman taught his sons: “…remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Hel. 5:12.)

Families who work together to build a strong foundation, a foundation that is centered on the Savior and the principles of his gospel, are the families that will come out victorious in the end. Today I am going to go back to the basics by discussing five essential building blocks for building a strong foundation for our families, a foundation that will strengthen our children against the temptations that they will face.

The five essential building blocks I will address are: living the principles of the Family Proclamation, prayer, scripture study, family home evening, and showing love.

Building Block #1: Live the Principles of the Proclamation
The fist essential building block for the foundation of a strong family is living the principles contained in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. I hope each of you have a copy of the Proclamation in your home and refer to it often. This document is truly scripture for our day; it provides the mandate we need as parents to raise righteous children.

I would like to share paragraph seven from the Proclamation with you: “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 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. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

There is a lot of doctrine contained in that one short paragraph! In 2009, the Primary children focused on just one key sentence for the entire year: “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”As the Primary children recited that statement every week, I was often struck by its significance and I hope that the children remember its importance as they grow older.

In a devotional address at BYU, Elder M. Russell Ballard offered specific, encouraging words: “To parents everywhere, my counsel is simple: Get a copy of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." Read it and strive to align your marriage and your family to its inspired, revealed direction from the Lord. Then, be the very best and act the very best you can. God will give you strength beyond your own as you strive daily to fulfill the most sacred mortal responsibility He gives to His children. Listen to the voice of the Spirit and the counsel of the living prophets. Be of good cheer. God did not place you on earth to fail, and your efforts as parents will not be counted as failure unless you give up." (M. Russell Ballard (2003, August 19). "The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood," BYU Devotional Address.)

Building Block #2: Prayer
The second essential building block for the foundation of a strong family is prayer. Prayer provides protection like nothing else can. In the April 2009 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson said, “Prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace. Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer.”

Make time to pray with your children, morning and night. Admittedly, family prayer in our home right now, with two young children, is usually not very reverent. But we are establishing a pattern so our children know that we are a family that prays together, and as President Monson likes to say “The family that prays together, stays together”. It’s best to set a regular time and stick with it. In our house we say family prayer in the evening, just before our girls go to bed. Morning prayer is something that we have been working on improving lately, and since we have worked it into our routine and made a plan for it, we have been much more successful.

As your children get older, scheduling family prayer will become more difficult. I read of a mother who got up early with a teenage son and said a prayer with him before he left for early morning seminary, and then would say prayers again when the rest of the family woke up. Be flexible, and do what works best for your family.

It is essential to make time for your own prayers. Heavenly Father hears the prayers of parents. President Monson said “We often feel overwhelmed by the task before us. However, help is ever at hand. He who knows each of His children will answer our fervent and heartfelt prayer as we seek help in guiding them. Such prayer will solve more problems, alleviate more suffering, prevent more transgression, and bring about greater peace and contentment in the human soul than any other way” (Thomas S. Monson, 2006. “Heavenly Homes, Forever Families,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting).

I testify that my prayers, especially when it comes to family concerns, have been heard and answered by a loving Heavenly Father.

Building Block #3: Scripture Study
The third essential building block for the foundation of a strong family is regular study of the scriptures. President Spencer W. Kimball taught "Scripture study as individuals and as a family is most fundamental to learning the gospel. Daily reading of the scriptures and discussing them together is a powerful tool against the temptations of Satan. This practice will produce great happiness and will help family members love the Lord and his goodness. Home is where we become experts and scholars in gospel righteousness." (President Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 129).

Prophets through all ages taught the importance of studying the scriptures, both individually and as a family. But what the prophets haven't said specifically is how that should be done. In all of my research I have never read where a prophet commanded "Thou shalt read 42 verses a day in your family". And no prophet ever said "Thou shalt read 5 verses per family member every morning and night". The nice thing about family scripture study is that it can be tailored to meet the needs of each family.

In our house we read a verse of scripture in the morning, prior to family prayer. We also try to read a few verses in the evening as the girls are getting ready for bed. We have also made use of the Book of Mormon stories scripture reader, as well as the Gospel Art Picture Kit, both resources produced by the church. In addition, we make sure to use our scriptures during Family Home Evening. Now that Anwyn is reading, it is exciting for her to find and highlight scriptures in her own copy of the Book of Mormon. Lily asks often for her “diptures”, and likes to carry them around with her and in the car. It is never too early to introduce your children to the scriptures.

Building Block #4: Family Home Evening
The fourth essential building block for the foundation of a strong family is weekly Family Home Evening. In 1915, the First Presidency instructed local leaders and parents to begin a home evening, a time when parents should teach their families the principles of the gospel. The Presidency wrote: “If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them” (,16955,4232-1,00.html).

Family Home Evening is for everyone: couples, families with younger or older children, single parents, grandparents and others. Everyone should be involved, even young children. Our daughter Anwyn recently taught her first lesson in our Family Home Evening and it was a great learning experience for all of us. President Faust counseled that “We should do all we can to free up Monday evenings from any other competing activities. Like glue, family home evening bonds us together as families. Lessons should be instructive and involve family members in a relaxed atmosphere which includes an expression of love (James E. Faust, “Challenges Facing the Family,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 2–3. ).

When it comes to preparing lessons, there are many resources available to help. We often rely on the lesson manuals produced by the Church. The new Nursery manual, Behold Your Little Ones, is fabulous for those with small children. All of the lessons are available online at We also depend a lot upon the church magazines, the Friend and the Ensign. Our lessons are usually short, and we try to include some type of game or hands-on-activity to actively engage our children. And of course, this isn’t a requirement, but at our house we like to end with a treat!

A year ago I was pondering about ways that I could improve both the quality of our family scripture study and our Family Home Evenings. I decided that I could start by making sure to focus on the scriptures each week during Family Home Evening. Here is how it works for us:
1) We plan a family home evening lesson.
2) We chose a scripture that corresponds with the lesson.
3) We read and discuss the scripture as a family at FHE.
4) We make a poster to display the scripture. This is really simple. I just type it up large to fill an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper and then I tape it up on the wall near our kitchen table.
5) Then we refer to the scripture and talk about it throughout the week.
It's a pretty simple thing, but it has made a difference in our family. We usually end up discussing it during mealtimes, and it allows us to review the key concepts from the lesson. We don't spend a lot of time on it (and we aren't required to memorize it), it just gives us a reminder or a starter for a gospel discussion with the children each day.

Focusing on one verse a week is a nice, manageable amount for our young children. A number of times Anwyn has surprised me by memorizing the scripture, and in all cases she ends up reading the scripture on her own at some point--a bonus for encouraging literacy skills in early readers!

Building Block #5: Show Love
The fifth essential building block for the foundation of a strong family is show love to your children. Last fall during General Conference, Elder Bednar gave an excellent talk called “More Diligent and Concerned at Home”. One of the ways that parents can be more diligent and concerned at home is simply “by telling the people we love that we love them.” Don’t worry about trying to be fancy or elaborate with your words, simple expressions of love are just fine.

Elder Bednar questions: “Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you took your eternal companion in your arms and said, “I love you”? Parents, when was the last time you sincerely expressed love to your children? Children, when was the last time you told your parents that you love them? Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.”

There is more to love than just saying the words. Do your children know from your actions that you love them? Spend time with them, listening and playing and laughing. Make happy memories together. Be their biggest cheerleader and offer encouragement. Read books and blow bubbles and play games and explore the world together. I love all of the church commercials that state “Family—isn’t it about time?”. Demonstrate your love to your children by giving them your most precious commodity—your time and attention.

Recently I read President Uchtdorf's talk from the April 2009 General Conference, "We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down". He spoke about using the guidance of the Holy Ghost to focus on what matters most in life, and he encouraged us to take some time to reflect on whether our actions really line up with what our hearts are telling us to focus on.

As you consider what is most important in your life, listen to these words from 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."

Now, 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, go visiting teaching, write in my journal (or blog!), go grocery shopping, magnify my calling...all of these things are good things, but it's nearly impossible to do all of them every day. 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 not 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’s going to look different for every woman and every family.

In the October 2008 General Conference, President Monson also spoke about recognizing what is important and what is not. In regards to parenting, he said “If you have children who are grown and gone, in all likelihood you have occasionally felt pangs of loss and the recognition that you didn’t appreciate that time of life as much as you should have. Of course, there is no going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future. If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly (Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Liahona, Nov 2008, 84–87).

To conclude, President Hinckley offered these wise words: "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? (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov 2000, 97–100”.

I bear testimony that the family is of God. Heavenly Father has given parents a great responsibility, but he does not leave us without guidance. May we each strive to build a strong foundation for our families by focusing on living the principles of the Family Proclamation, prayer, scripture study, family home evening, and showing love. Our lives and the lives of our children will be blessed. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today who leads and guides the church. I know that our Savior lives, and that Heavenly Father loves each of us and wants us to return to live with him again.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

FHE: A Foundation on Christ

Scripture of the Week:
"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
Helaman 5:12

Lesson Plan
Read the following quote by President Monson from the February 2010 Ensign
“If we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us.
“Mortality is a period of testing, a time to prove ourselves worthy to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. In order for us to be tested, we must face challenges and difficulties. These can break us, and the surface of our souls may crack and crumble—that is, if our foundations of faith, our testimonies of truth are not deeply embedded within us.”
Thomas S. Monson, “On Being Spiritually Prepared,” Ensign, Feb 2010, 4–6
Sing "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man" (CS, 281)

Discuss what a foundation is, read Helaman 5:12, and discuss how we should build a foundation centered on Jesus Christ.

Look up the following verses and discuss what we can learn in that verse that helps our testimonies grow stronger.

Mormon 7:5

Moroni 10:5

D&C 11:12

Articles of Faith 1:10

Ephesians 6:11

Moroni 7:41

D&C 1:37

I taped each scripture reference on a different block and had the girls pick which verse to read. Then we added the block to our foundation and built a tower.
Reality check: My children were getting pretty restless as we were looking up scriptures, so we opted to start eating our treat (popsicles) while we finished reading. Admittedly, that happens quite often during our lessons. So when all else fails, get their mouths and stomachs busy and hopefully they'll still absorb a little of the lesson!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bear Testimony--and Live It


"We also can become more diligent and concerned at home by bearing testimony to those whom we love about the things we know to be true by the witness of the Holy Ghost. The bearing of testimony need not be lengthy or eloquent. And we do not need to wait until the first Sunday of the month to declare our witness of things that are true. Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration.

Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you bore testimony to your eternal companion? Parents, when was the last time you declared your witness to your children about the things you know to be true? And children, when was the last time you shared your testimony with your parents and family?

Each of us already knows we should bear testimony to the people we love the most. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.

As disciples of the Savior, we are not merely striving to know more; rather, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better.

We should remember that bearing a heartfelt testimony is only a beginning. We need to bear testimony, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to live it. We need to both declare and live our testimonies."

David A. Bednar, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 17–20

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Tree is Nice

In January we discovered a delightful book. It is a Caldecott Medal winner from 1957.
A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry

“Trees are beautiful. They fill up the sky. If you have a tree, you can climb up its trunk, roll in its leaves, or hang a swing from one of its limbs. Cows and babies can nap in the shade of a tree. Birds can make nests in the branches. A tree is good to have around. A tree is nice.”

A Tree by the Ant Bug

Reading this book inspired us to paint our own beautiful trees.

A Tree by the Sweet Bee

A Tree by Nurture Mama

Another Tree by the Ant Bug

The Ant Bug said "A tree is nice gives shade. If it has bumps, you can climb it."

When it comes to planning activities for my children, I follow a predictable pattern: read a good book, sing a song or two, then do a craft project (although we don't always go in that order). With a little creativity, most children's books can easily inspire an hour or two of fun.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FHE: Holiness to the Lord

Scripture of the Week:
“Wherefore…thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me.”
D&C 21:4

Lesson Plan:
-Read/tell the story of John Moyle in the February 2010 Friend, A Banner of Faithfulness by President Uchtdorf.
-Discuss what "holiness" means: something that is set apart for a sacred purpose, purity of a persons heart and intent, sacred, consecrated, etc.
-Discuss the scripture.
-Make and decorate our own banner of faithfulness to display.
Our banner is not a work of art by the standard of the world, but it definitely shows the personality of our children!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Parents should discipline through love and righteousness.

"Parents should administer discipline through love and righteousness. Children cannot be forced into obedience. As President Hinckley has said, “There is need for discipline with families. But discipline with severity, discipline with cruelty, inevitably leads not to correction, but rather to resentment and bitterness. It cures nothing and only aggravates the problem. It is self-defeating.” Our best method for correcting children when they have done wrong is by firmness, love, patience, kindness, persuasion, and reason."

James E. Faust, “Challenges Facing the Family,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 2–3.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine Activity Round-Up

We are having a nice quiet week: hurray for no appointments or meetings! Which means we've been spending some spare time working on fun Valentine crafts.

We counted hearts, from Chasing Cheerios.

We made hanging heart garlands, from Skip to My Lou. Our version was a little simpler. Using the method described here, I folded scraps of Valentine colored paper in half, drew half a heart, and the Ant Bug cut them out. Then we just attached them to pink yarn with string and taped them from our ceiling.

We made paper hugs, from No Time for Flashcards (pictured above). This activity was really fun. The Ant Bug added a hat and a skirt and legs to her hug. The Sweet Bee wanted to do another and contented herself with large dollops of glue and googly eyes.
We got 20 valentines ready for a preschool class. Nothing too creative here, we just bought a box from the store, but the Ant Bug did match up stickers and got lots of practice writing her name.
We made hearts with glitter and glue, from No Time for Flashcards (pictured above). My girls loved this activity and stayed crafting for nearly an hour, but I have to warn you: glitter is not for the faint of heart. I gave the girls each a cookie tray for holding their paper to use to help contain the glitter, but we still ended up with glitter everywhere. Anyone have any tips for making glitter projects less messy?!
The heart cookie cutters were fine to start with, but we moved quickly to painting glue with a cotton swab, and eventually to just squeezing the glue directly onto the page and dumping glitter.
We raided our recycle paper drawer and they created a lot of masterpieces.Thankfully, the Ant Bug was very eager to use the vacuum to help me clean up!

We bought some heart shaped message candies.

I plan to use these a few different ways:
Counting, from Ramblings of a Crazy Woman.
Heart Patterns, from Teach Mama.
Tic Tac Toe Hearts, from Alpha Mom.
Love Letters, from Love Actually.

We plan to make our traditional sugar cookies and decorate them with friends on Friday.

Here are a few more we'll squeeze in if we get the chance:
Dance streamers, from Chasing Cheerios (for a Fun Friday Family Night).
Valentine Treasure Hunt, from Serving Pink Lemonade and also Teach Mama.
Heart Family, from Cakies.
Heart shaped animals, from Make and Takes.
Heart shaped pizza, from No Time for Flashcards.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Show Love to Your Child

I've been reflecting lately on the relationship that I have with each of my children. The Ant Bug is old enough that the memories we are making now are likely memories that she will hold onto the rest of her life. Is the positive outweighing the negative? Hopefully, but some days I'm not so sure!

The countdown to the arrival of baby #3 is starting to loom a little closer (8 more weeks, give or take!). I know to expect some upheaval with the arrival of our son, but I'm hoping that I can alleviate some of the strain if I'm intentional about fostering a positive relationship with each child.

So I have been thrilled to find so many people blogging about ways to show love to others. Valentine's Day is certainly not the only day to show our love to those we care about, but the holiday can give our loving thoughts and actions a jump start that will hopefully inspire us throughout the year.

The Mother Huddle
shared a great list: 40 Ways to Show Your Child Love. The list was so great that I had to include it here.

1. Take them to a movie they want to see.
2. Go on a treasure hunt (collect all the loose change around the house/car) together and then make a trip to the arcade with your findings.
3. Take a long nature walk together, at their pace. Let them lead the conversation.
4. Find qualities about them that you genuinely love, and compliment them in front of others.
5. Frame a photo of the two of you, and display it in their room.
6. Put a few Hershey’s Hugs in one of their coat pockets, and Kisses in the other.
7. Play a game with them.
8. Let them win.
9. Make bath time special. Add lots of bubbles, colored soaps, maybe you could purchase a new tub toy or let them play with things found around the house. I let my kids play with things like colanders and funnels from the kitchen—they love it. Don’t forget to warm the towel!
10. Send them a handmade card in the mail with a coupon to go get ice cream with you.
11. Gather all the home movies that feature them as the “star” and have a movie night complete with popcorn and treats.
12. Using blankets and chairs, or a card table, build a clubhouse together and have a picnic inside.
13. Read “I love you” books together.
14. Let them stay up past their bedtime with you and watch cartoon classics together.
15. Do a chore that is normally reserved for them.
16. Tuck an encouraging note inside their lunchbox.
17. Give them your full attention.
18. Tell them some of the ways they make you happy.
19. Make them laugh.
20. Laugh with them.
21. Make their favorite treat to welcome them home from school with.
22. Show them your joy when they arrive.
23. Ask for hugs and kisses.
24. Listen, and let them make their own decisions whenever possible.
25. Make them a coupon book filled with things they’d enjoy doing, or things they’d like to get out of doing.
26. Take a day off from everything: work, household duties, technology, etc. and focus entirely on them.
27. Cook together.
28. Write them a poem using the initials of their name.
29. Decorate their room for no reason.
30. Create a sign that lavishes them with praise.
31. Kidnap them from school and take them out for lunch.
32. Make home a fun place to be.
33. Make a treasure box from an old shoe box, fill it with “gold” (chocolate coins) and make an official looking treasure map with clues for them to locate the hidden treasure with.
34. Go to the store and let them pick out all the ingredients to make banana splits. Make and eat them together.
35. Wrap up in a warm blanket together and take turns making up stories to tell each other.
36. Make a list of things you love about them and put it on their pillow before bedtime.
37. Talk about what they did in their day at dinnertime.
38. Sit down together and write a list of fun activities to do in a day. Write each idea on small slips of paper, roll up the papers and stick them inside balloons. Blow up all the balloons and then pop one balloon at a time until you’ve completed all the activities.
39. Play back rub/tickle games—ie; Spider crawling up you back…
40. Make a CD with all their favorite tunes and have a dance party.

In case 40 is a little too much for you, last year I posted 14 Ways To Show Love For Your Child.

Lots of fun ideas, and most are pretty simple. It just takes a little thought and planning on our part!

I also really liked the idea shared on Feels Like Home of Valentine's Love Notes for Kids. I have to admit that I wouldn't spend the effort of handcrafting personal envelopes for each note. But I am thinking I will be reusing the many hearts that are currently decorating our home for special secret love messages in the upcoming weeks.

A simple love ritual we have in our house has to do with sneezes. Read more about it here.

How do you show love to your children?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FHE: Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer

Scripture of the Week:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

Lesson Plan
Complete the January and February pages of the Primary Scripture Journal. Use the suggestions from the January and February Friend magazine.
The January issue of the Friend magazine states the following:
"The scriptures are a record of God’s teachings and dealings with His children. A scripture journal is your own book where you can write how you are learning to understand and live the teachings of the gospel. Every month this year you can learn a scripture and practice doing what it teaches. Heavenly Father will help you as you choose to learn and live by the scriptures. You will feel the power of the scriptures, and your testimony will grow.

Make or buy a notebook that has at least 12 pages in it. This year each issue of the Friend will contain a scripture and an activity for you to do in your scripture journal. If you need help reading, writing, or understanding the scripture or activity, you can ask parents, older brothers or sisters, friends, or Primary teachers for help."
Isn't this a fabulous plan?

For a recent Primary Quarterly Activity in our ward we wanted to put together a scripture journal for our children. I saw a really great journal posted here on Sugardoodle, but the 56 pages of that document was a little too large for our needs.

So I made a simpler version that focuses on the monthly themes only. Each page has a small coloring picture, with blank space for each child to write or share their thoughts. It is 15 pages, and each sheet should be cut in half to make two books. I just punched a hole in the top corner and tied it together with string.

I am excited to have this journal for my children to do this year. This will give us one Family Home Evening lesson each month, all ready to go. If you would like a copy of the journal, contact me and I would be happy to email you the pdf.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Express Love-and Show It

"We can begin to become more diligent and concerned at home by telling the people we love that we love them. Such expressions do not need to be flowery or lengthy. We simply should sincerely and frequently express love.

Brethren and sisters, when was the last time you took your eternal companion in your arms and said, “I love you”? Parents, when was the last time you sincerely expressed love to your children? Children, when was the last time you told your parents that you love them?

Each of us already knows we should tell the people we love that we love them. But what we know is not always reflected in what we do. We may feel unsure, awkward, or even perhaps a bit embarrassed.

As disciples of the Savior, we are not merely striving to know more; rather, we need to consistently do more of what we know is right and become better.

We should remember that saying “I love you” is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly we need consistently to show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love.

President Thomas S. Monson recently counseled: “Often we assume that [the people around us] must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know. … 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” (“Finding Joy in the Journey,” Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2008, 86).

The relationship between love and appropriate action is demonstrated repeatedly in the scriptures and is highlighted by the Savior’s instruction to His Apostles: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Just as our love of and for the Lord is evidenced by walking ever in His ways (see Deuteronomy 19:9), so our love for spouse, parents, and children is reflected most powerfully in our thoughts, our words, and our deeds (see Mosiah 4:30).

Feeling the security and constancy of love from a spouse, a parent, or a child is a rich blessing. Such love nurtures and sustains faith in God. Such love is a source of strength and casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). Such love is the desire of every human soul.

We can become more diligent and concerned at home as we express love—and consistently show it.

David A. Bednar, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 17–20

Friday, February 5, 2010

Caldecott Books in January

If you followed my Reading List last year, then you know that I set a goal to read all of the Caldecott Medal winning books. It's taking me awhile, but I am finally nearing the end! Here are the books we read in January:

1944: Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin; text: James Thurber
1949: The Big Snow by Berta & Elmer Hader
1957: A Tree Is Nice, illustrated by Marc Simont; text: Janice Udry
1959: Chanticleer and the Fox, illustrated by Barbara Cooney; text: adapted from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cooney
1977: Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: Margaret Musgrove
1983: Shadow, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown; original text in French: Blaise Cendrars
1994: Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say; text: edited by Walter Lorraine

We really enjoyed The Big Snow and A Tree Is Nice, and they both ended up being the starter for a morning craft time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hearts and Love for February

February is a fun month because there are so many activities you can do related to hearts and love. The Ant Bug has been cutting out hearts for the last five days and pasting them around our house.

This year we decided to be a little more festive and make a Valentine's banner. I found a heart template online, and started tracing and cutting out the hearts on pink cardstock. I wrote the letters and the Ant Bug outlined them with our glitter gel pens. I had planned to make the hearts more like conversation hearts (I LUV U 4 Ever), but as the Ant Bug and I started spelling it out, she was concerned that we were spelling love the wrong way so we decided to be correct in our spelling. Once the glitter was a little dry, we punched a hole on each side of the heart and threaded some pink yarn through, then tied the whole garland to our banister.

I think my girls love Valentine's Day because we get to use pink a lot!

Last year I wrote about my favorite Love Books for Parents and Children. They are books perfect for snuggling and might even bring a tear to your eye. Here are few more to add to the list:
I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

What Do You Love? by Jonathan London

Looking for more Valentine's Ideas? Be sure to check out Make and Takes--Marie has been posting many heart-based treats and crafts. I'll be trying a few of her fun ideas in the next month, starting with heart shaped toast.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gospel Study in January 2010

Among other things, my gospel study in January included the following:2010 Outline for Sharing Time
January Theme (and weekly gospel principles): We believe in God the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

January Scripture: "We believe in God, the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost" (Articles of Faith 1:1)
Ch. 1: Our Heavenly Father
Ch. 2: Our Heavenly Family

General Conference Addresses October 2009

This entire talk was excellent, and very applicable to my life and concerns as a parent. Rather than include the entire talk here, I'll be posting segments of it over the next little while.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Love of God,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 21–24
This is the essence of what it means to be a true disciple: those who receive Christ Jesus walk with Him.

Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.

We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become “born again … [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”

My dear brothers and sisters, don’t get discouraged if you stumble at times. Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times. The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you.

Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder.

Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship.

Love is the way of the disciple.

Yoon Hwan Choi, “I Love Loud Boys,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 53–55

H. David Burton, “Let Virtue Garnish Your Thoughts,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 76–78
Virtuous traits form the foundation of a Christian life and are the outward manifestation of the inner man.

We need to stand tall and be firmly fixed in perpetuating Christlike virtues, even the “ity” virtues, in our everyday lives. Teaching virtuous traits begins in the home with parents who care and set the example. A good parental example encourages emulation; a poor example gives license to the children to disregard the parents’ teachings and even expand the poor example. A hypocritical example destroys credibility.

Now is the time for us to join in rescuing and preserving that which is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” As we allow virtue to garnish our thoughts unceasingly and we cultivate virtuous traits in our personal lives, our communities and institutions will be improved, our children and families will be strengthened, and faith and integrity will bless individual lives.

Ann M. Dibb, “Hold On,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 79–81
It is important to note, however, that in the scriptures there are very few stories of individuals who lived in blissful happiness and experienced no opposition. We learn and grow by overcoming challenges with faith, persistence, and personal righteousness. I’ve been strengthened by President Thomas S. Monson’s endless confidence in our Heavenly Father and in us. He has said: “Remember that you are entitled to our [Heavenly] Father’s blessings in this work. He did not call you to your privileged post to walk alone, without guidance, trusting to luck. On the contrary, He knows your skill, He realizes your devotion, and He will convert your supposed inadequacies to recognized strengths. He has promised: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up’” (“Sugar Beets and the Worth of a Soul,” Liahona, July 2009, 3–4; Ensign, July 2009, 5–6).

Heavenly Father has not left us alone during our mortal probation. He has already given us all the “safety equipment” we will need to successfully return to Him. He has given us personal prayer, the scriptures, living prophets, and the Holy Ghost to guide us. At times, using this equipment may seem cumbersome, awkward, and horribly unfashionable. Its proper use requires our diligence, obedience, and persistence. But I, for one, choose to use it. We must all choose to use it.

D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Discipline,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 105–8

Moral discipline is the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard. It rejects the self-absorbed life in favor of developing character worthy of respect and true greatness through Christlike service (see Mark 10:42–45). The root of the word discipline is shared by the word disciple, suggesting to the mind the fact that conformity to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ is the ideal discipline that, coupled with His grace, forms a virtuous and morally excellent person.

(excellent helps for parents in teaching moral discipline to children)

The Ensign, January 2010

The Friend, January 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

FHE: Joseph Sold Into Egypt

Scripture of the Week:
“And they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” Genesis 37:28

“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9

This week we changed things up a bit so the Ant Bug was in charge of the lesson. I asked her if she would teach us a story from the scriptures, and because she loves listening to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, her first choice was to tell the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.

We found a very helpful index of Primary and Friend clipart and printed off this lesson about Joseph. The Ant Bug colored the figures and attached them to popsicle sticks. This evening as she read the story she and the Sweet Bee took turns holding up the people. She drew her own Jacob, because she felt he was an important person in the story that should be included. We also used the applicable pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit.
This was a great way to involve the children more in FHE, so I'm sure we'll be doing more lessons like this in the future!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Safeguard your family with scripture study

"The third basic is family and personal scripture study. This requires some planning and discipline on the part of the parents and all of the children. We must help our children by strengthening their faith and understanding.

One young lady, recently married in the temple, spoke of the value of scripture study in her family when she was growing up. Her mother used to ring a large cowbell at 5:00 a.m. daily to awaken the family for scripture study. She felt grumpy and thought that this daily exercise was a waste of time, but, nonetheless, the routine continued from her childhood into adult life. As she looks back, this young woman now realizes that this time of family scripture study formed an important pattern which she and her brothers and sisters continue to follow in their own families. During these study times, she slowly but surely gained a testimony of the gospel. During these formative years, she also formed a special eternal bond with her parents and with each of her brothers and sisters.

Personal and family scripture study is a lifetime process. Children may struggle a little with some of the language of the scriptures, and so parents and older siblings should take time to discuss and explain some of the more difficult passages. They should explain their relevance to some of their current circumstances. Gospel study habits may take years to establish firmly in families—they do not just happen. Study habits help form a protective wall for families to rely on and help them bond together.

James E. Faust, “Challenges Facing the Family,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 10, 2004, 2–3.

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