Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Hope and Mourning

"Hope is a gift of the Spirit. It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the Savior. This kind of hope is both a principle of promise as well as a commandment, and, as with all commandments, we have the responsibility to make it an active part of our lives and overcome the temptation to lose hope. Hope in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan of happiness leads to peace, mercy, rejoicing, and gladness. The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet; it is the foundation of our faith and an anchor to our souls.

"We hope in Jesus the Christ, in the goodness of God, in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, in the knowledge that prayers are heard and answered. Because God has been faithful and kept His promises in the past, we can hope with confidence that God will keep His promises to us in the present and in the future. In times of distress, we can hold tightly to the hope that things will “work together for [our] good” as we follow the counsel of God’s prophets. This type of hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges and gives strength to those who feel threatened by enclosing walls of fear, doubt, and despair."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 21–24

The past week has been one of sadness and tender feelings in the lives of my extended family. We mourn the passing of my sweet niece who was tragically killed when she was hit by a car while riding her bike. Allison was a beloved daughter, sister, cousin, granddaughter and friend and she will be missed by many. Though her life was cut short in just a moment, I find peace and hope in my faith. I am thankful for eternal families, and the knowledge that Allison can be reunited with her family again someday.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

My husband put his feelings into words here. Read the news article about the accident here. You can read Allison's obituary here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Pumpkin Party Weekend

After a fun trip to the pumpkin patch last week, we're planning a family fun night to carve our pumpkin. But with a little time to spare on a long weekend I decided to invite my girls to a Pumpkin Party Weekend. We'll be working on activities inspired by the following great ideas I've found in my Google Reader this week.

5 Little Pumpkins from The Activity Mom
Newspaper Ghosts from Serving Pink Lemonade
Bean Skeletons and Macaroni Spider Webs from The Activity Mom (but I think we will try outlining our spider webs with string)
My friend Emily brought some adorable Hot Dog Mummies to the Sweet Bee's preschool party. This is what we'll be having for dinner on Halloween night, along with the Spooky Jello-Jigglers, and some Halloween themed pasta if I can find it at the store (thanks Courtney for the idea).

I don't think we'll get to it this year, but some time I would like to try the Frozen Banana Ghost Treats from No Time for Flashcards.

What are your favorite pumpkin activities?

Monday, October 25, 2010

" family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening..."

"Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family. Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility. While other institutions, such as church and school, can assist parents to “train up a child in the way he [or she] should go” (Proverbs 22:6), ultimately this responsibility rests with parents. According to the great plan of happiness, it is parents who are entrusted with the care and development of our Heavenly Father’s children. Our families are an integral part of His work and glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). On God’s eternal stage, it is usually intended that parents act as the central cast members in their children’s lives. Fortunately, there are understudies involved in the production who may step in when parents can’t. It, however, is parents who have been commanded by the Lord to bring up their children in light and truth (see D&C 93:40).

"Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.

L. Tom Perry, “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” Ensign, May 2010, 29–31

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween Recipes

I'm looking for an easy snack to take to my daughter's preschool Halloween party. Preferably something on the healthier side, since there will be enough sugar floating around for the next week. Here are the best contenders I've found so far:

2-1/2 cups boiling water (Do not add cold water.)
2 pkg. (8-serving size each) JELL-O Orange Flavor Gelatin
Make It

STIR boiling water into dry gelatin mix in large bowl at least 3 min. until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into 13x9-inch pan.

REFRIGERATE at least 3 hours or until firm.

DIP bottom of pan in warm water 15 sec. Cut into 24 decorative shapes, using 2-inch Halloween-shaped cookie cutters, making sure to cut all the way through gelatin to bottom of pan. Lift gelatin shapes from pan. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
Parsley, finely chopped
Deviled egg mixture
Red pepper
1 black olive and 2 asparagus tips

1. Stir chopped parsley into your favorite deviled egg mixture to give it a green tint; fill the cooked egg whites.
2. Use black-olive slices for pupils and a bit of red pepper pushed into the center for evil glint. Add asparagus tips for eyebrows.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
This recipe is tried, tested and truly loved by me! It's a fall tradition at our house now!

1 box spice cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin (the small can)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) or 1 cup chopped pecans (optional) or 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup cream cheese frosting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spray cookie sheets lightly with vegetable spray (Pam).
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and pumpkin with a fork or mixer until well blended; stir in nuts or raisins, if desired.
4. Drop by large rounded spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet; they don't flatten out much so however you place them on the sheet is pretty much how they'll look after baking.
5. Bake for 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies.
6. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for up to 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Frost, if desired

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"First School" Lesson Plans: Activities for 2-3 year olds

We've been "back-to-school" for almost two months now, and I finally feel like things are settling down as we have figured out our routine. Things have fallen into place so nicely, in fact, that I even had time to make a plan for the learning activities that I want to do with the Sweet Bee. She just turned three years old this week, so I'm calling it "First School". Here is the focus for each day at a glance:

Monday: Letter of the Week
Tuesday: Social-Preschool with friends
Wednesday: Number of the Week
Thursday: Color /Shape of the Week (alternate weeks)
Friday: Creative art, seasonal theme, playgroup

Here is a detailed breakdown of what I plan to do each day.

Letter of the Week
Introduce the letter: use a letter grab bag with the various letters we have in the house (foam letter, blocks, magnet letter).
Read a book that connects with the letter.
Create letter artwork, see No Time for Flashcards for inspiration.
Color a basic letter poster for the wall, add a letter sticker (the posters I use are the Uppercase A-Z Worksheets from Confessions of a Homeschooler).

Number of the Week
Introduce the number: use a number grab bag with the various numbers we have in the house (foam number, blocks, magnet letter).
Read a counting book.
Use the counting cups to count a snack (cheerios, crackers, grapes, etc).
Play a number/counting game.

Color of the Week
Create a color poster using crayon, colored pencil, marker, paper scrap, paint, etc.
Go on a color hunt and search the house to find the color.
Read a book and look for the color in the pages.
Free art using the color (and others, too).

Shape of the Week
Introduce the shape using the felt shapes. Play a matching game.
Create a shape poster by gluing small colored shapes on a larger shape.
Go on a shape hunt and search the house to find the shape.
Cut the shape out of play dough or cookie dough.

Creative and Fun
Create or play something fun. A good day to do seasonal projects (ex. Halloween or Christmas).
Playgroup with friends.

As we go along, I'll share the specifics of what we actually did in each lesson (ex. which books we read for letter X, the number game we played with number 3, the creative letter artwork we did for letter L, etc). Watch for the details in future posts. These activities would be fun (and educational) for most 2-3 year old children, and adaptable for other ages as needed. My five year old likes to join in whenever she can!

There are a lot of great resources available when it comes to planning a preschool lesson. These blogs are my favorites and first places I look for inspiration:

No Time for Flashcards
Confessions of a Homeschooler
The Activity Mom
Chasing Cheerios
Teach Mama

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Third Birthday

Happy 3rd Birthday to the Sweet Bee!
"The important thing about being Three is being ME.

Who is it that can open their eyes and see? ME!
Who knows the difference between a pig and a tree? ME!
Who runs around as busy as a bee? ME!
Who is funny and not a bunny? ME!

But the important thing about being Three is being ME."

Taken from Another Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown.

FHE: Follow the Prophet

Scripture of the Week
"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
D&C 1:38

Lesson Plan
(adapted from Lesson 37: Following the Prophet Helps Us Come Unto Christ from this packet on

Tell the children that we have a special leader to follow, our prophet. Explain that a prophet is a man who speaks with God—God tells the prophet what we should do. Tell the children that if we follow the prophet, we will be happy and Heavenly Father will bless us. Explain that to follow the prophet means to do the things he tells us to do.

Display the picture of the living prophet. Have the children stand and say, “(Name of the living prophet) is a prophet of God.”

Why do we need a living prophet? (So we can know what Heavenly Father and Jesus want us to do.)

Explain that the prophet teaches us by speaking at conferences. Conferences are big meetings attended by a lot of people. We might be able to listen to the prophet on television, radio, or recordings. His words are also written in Church magazines that our parents or others can read to us.

Watch President Monson's most recent General Conference address, The Divine Gift of Gratitude. The children can color a picture of President Monson while watching the video clip.

Follow the Prophet is one of our new family habits to go along with Pray Always, Hands are for Hugging, not Hurting, and Quickly Obey.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Let all children know who they are, what they are to do, and who they can become."


"Are we teaching our children to know, feel, and rejoice in the beauty, power, and miracles of the gospel of Jesus Christ? President Gordon B. Hinckley has counseled: "Let us nurture our children concerning Him whom we call the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us teach our children the grand saving principles of the gospel." Children need to know that having faith in the Savior and following Him will help them receive peace in this troubled world.

"How do we teach our children? We can follow the example of the Savior. In the Book of Mormon we read of the resurrected Savior's appearance to those in the Western Hemisphere. While teaching the people, He gathered the children to Him. He knelt and prayed with the children and for them. He blessed the children one by one. He felt the joy of their presence and opened the heavens that the children might be taught from on high.

"As you include children at your family dinner table, as you involve them in daily family prayer and scripture study and in family home evening, you are following the example of the Savior by loving and teaching them. As you do this, let them know that together your family is striving to keep the commandments and to be worthy to be an eternal family. It may be during the informal one-on-one times that the Spirit will prompt us to ask just the right questions or to say just the right thing to help our children know and feel the light of the Lord. If we make the opportunities, the Spirit will guide us.

"We have wonderful, capable children in our midst. We can help them find peace in this life and in the life to come.

"Children need to be filled with the light of the gospel so when temptation comes they can say: "I know who I am. I am a child of God. I know what I am to do. I am to be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and keep the commandments." Then children can say: "I know who I can become. I can become a righteous young woman," or, "I can become a righteous young man and receive the priesthood of God." Children filled with this knowledge and light can make the decision to reject darkness and turn to the light and peace of the gospel.

"It will take time and effort to teach children, but we must not become distracted or give up. Our children so need the fulfillment of the promise "and great shall be the peace of thy children." Let no child wonder if he or she is loved by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Let all children know who they are, what they are to do, and who they can become."

Coleen K. Menlove, “All Thy Children Shall Be Taught,” Ensign, May 2005, 13

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glowing Faces in a Jar (and other Halloween Fun)

Last year, my Halloween Project To-Do List included making glowing jacks from Not So Idle Hands. It didn't happen last year, but the girls and I had fun making them last week.
glass jars
tissue paper
mod podge
black spray paint
Halloween face template (found here)

You can find the detailed tutorial here, but it's pretty simple. Cut your tissue paper into strips, apply mod podge to the jar, attach the strips, then attach the faces.

You can be pretty creative with these. I didn't have any orange paper for the traditional pumpkin look, so we used green, white and yellow for a more monster/ghost/creature theme. I just printed the faces off on regular white paper and regular black printer ink, but once the mod podge was applied they looked pretty good. I chose to spray paint the lids black for the finishing touch, but you could do green for pumpkins, or add some ribbon or tulle.

Don't forget the candles for the finishing touch! (Actually, I bought a cheap pack of the little tea-lights that you can turn on and off, so I don't have to worry about flames and little people).
Here are a few other seasonal Halloween activities I plan to try this year:

Monsters! Monster shapes from Little Page Turners
Bottle Cap Spiders from Silly Eagle Books
Building a Skeleton from Chasing Cheerios
Marshmallow Ghost from No Time for Flashcards
Festive Silhouettes from Serving Pink Lemonade

Here is a link to the fun Halloween projects we did last year.

As is our habit, we're reading books!

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman

What Halloween fun do you have planned?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FHE: Pray Always

Scripture of the Week
" must pray always, and not faint."
2 Nephi 32:9

Lesson Plan
Follow the lesson plan Prayer from A Year of FHE. This lesson covered exactly what I wanted to cover and teach my children about prayer, so I didn't have to make any adaptations. The Sweet Bee colored the 4 Parts of Prayer poster, and the Ant Bug did the maze and colored the pictures.

Pray Always is one of our new family habits, to go along with Hands are for Hugging, not Hurting and Quickly Obey.

(I promise I'll talk more about these family habits soon! I'm just giving you a little teaser now, but let it be known that I am very excited about our family habits plan and the direction they are giving to our family.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bring your children to know the Savior

"We have the account in 3 Nephi of a people who actually saw the face of the Savior in this life. And while we may not see Him now, perhaps we can learn from their experience. After the Savior’s death, He appeared to these people, taught them, and blessed them. And then “it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought” (3 Nephi 17:11).

"It is our sacred responsibility as parents and leaders of this rising generation of children to bring them to the Savior so that they might see His face and the face of our Father in Heaven as well. As we do so, we also bring ourselves.

"Now, I would ask you to look around you at those you love. This is what matters most—our families. I am sure that more than anything, you want this family to be yours eternally. The account in 3 Nephi can help us bring our children to Him because it gives us a pattern to follow. First, we must love the Lord with all our hearts, and we must love our children. Second, we must become a worthy example to them by continually seeking the Lord and striving to live the gospel. Third, we must teach our children the gospel and how to live its teachings.

"Brothers and sisters, we are the angels that Heavenly Father has sent today to bless the children, and we can help them to one day see the face of the Savior as we teach the principles of the gospel and fill our homes with the joy of living them. Together we can come to know Him. We can feel of His love and His blessings. And through Him we can return to the presence of the Father. We do this as we are willing to be obedient, faithful, and diligent in following His teachings.

Cheryl C. Lant, “That Our Children Might See the Face of the Savior,” Ensign, May 2010, 81–83

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Princess Hyacinth: A floating book review

At the library a few weeks ago, this book caught my eye.Princess Hyacinth: The surprising tale of a girl who floated by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith

Since my girls love everything princess-like (and fancy and fairies and cats and...) I picked it up for a closer look. The inside cover reads
"Poor Princess Hyacinth! If only she could run and play with the other children on the Palace Grounds. Why can't she, you wonder? Well, because Princess Hyachinth has a problem...She floats!"
A floating princess? I was hooked, and my girls have been hooked too! And I don't think this is a book just for girls, but I don't have a boy old enough to try it out on.

This is a delightful story about a not-so-typical princess, a mis-adventure with balloons, a boy name Boy, and of course-floating. There is also a kite, and royal underwear, and fabulously expressive illustrations. It's definitely a keeper on our list.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FHE: Quickly I'll Obey (and a great resource for FHE lessons)

Scripture of the Week
"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12

"Children , obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." Ephesians 6:1

Lesson Plan
Follow the lesson plan Honoring Your Parents from A Year of Family Home Evenings.

I decided to change things up a bit, and I gave my girls the coloring page to work on while we talked about the lesson. I think it helped them to listen a little bit more, and at least they weren't running around the room while we talked.

In addition, we also sang "Quickly I'll Obey" (CS, 197). We then played a game I called "Quickly Obey". Basically it was just a variation of Simon Says to teach the girls instant obedience in a fun way. We said things like "Quickly obey...touch your nose" or "Quickly obey...put your finger on your knee" or "Quickly obey...jump up and down 5 times". The girls thought it was pretty fun.

Quickly Obey is one of our new family habits, to go along with Hands are for Hugging, not Hurting.

I need to put a shout-out for for A Year of Family Home Evenings. I just discovered this blog, and it is a wonderful resource for parents of young children. Emilie has plans for an entire years worth of lessons, complete with a scripture and learning activities and songs. Her children are the same ages as mine (nearly 6 and nearly 3, plus a baby), so it's a really good match. Go check it out, and you might find your next FHE lesson planned out for you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The reason I am tired

"In order to prioritize time wisely, I learned something from my father-in-law years ago. He was a steel-worker and spent his life working three different shifts. He either worked the day shift, the afternoon shift, or the night shift. As a young mother I realized one time that I was working all three shifts, and that’s why I was so tired. We can’t do all things all at once, and we have to be careful and safeguard our shifts. "

Julie B. Beck, Address Given at BYU Women's Conference, Thursday, April 29, 2010

That explains why I am so tired!

Sister Beck goes on in her talk to explain how she prioritized her life, organizing her tasks by "the essential things, the necessary things, and the nice-to-do things." She shared a number of the essential things, and I found that many are the things that should be on my own essential list. I am still pondering about this talk, and pondering about the talks I heard during General Conference this weekend. I am so thankful for a Heavenly Father who sends us messages that we need to hear--now I just need the faith to make the application in my life!

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