Friday, July 30, 2010

A Children's Picture Book for Parents

I'm happy to be sharing another guest post from my sister-in-law Eliza. I had a chance to read this book while on vacation this month and I thought it was great. Especially enjoyable for any parent!

Quentin Blake has a great picture book called Zagazoo. Even though it is marketed as a children's book, it is really for parents. It starts out with George and Bella receiving a package with a strange pink creature inside. The label on the creature says it is "Zagazoo." George and Bella are happy with this creature, but then one day, it turns into something quite different. I won't tell you more, or I will spoil the book. You have to read it yourself (it is really short).

Eliza is the mother of two boys and one girl, with another boy on the way. She has a Ph.D. in journalism and taught at Brigham Young University for several years, but now cares for her children full-time. Of all her mothering duties, she especially enjoys helping her children learn to read. In her few spare hours during the week, she reads the news and attends a weightlifting class (so, as she says, she can keep up with her children).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fun Picture Books for Boys

This week I am happy to be sharing two guest posts from my sister-in-law Eliza. She has great taste when it comes to books for children, and I'm adding these to our library check-out list!

We enjoy reading books together, though we have discovered that boys sometimes like different picture books than do girls. Here are 10 fun picture book authors that our boys enjoy.

Jon Agee
Milo’s Hat Trick, Dimitri the Astronaut, Nothing, Terrific, The Retired Kid, and others

Doris Burns
Andrew Henry’s Meadow

Virginia Lee Burton
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
Katy and the Big Snow
The Little House

Dr. Seuss
Bartholomew and the Oobleck
Fox in Socks
Green Eggs and Ham
Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats
The King’s Stilts

Munro Leaf
Wee Gillis

Robert McCloskey
Make Way for Ducklings
Blueberries for Sal
One Morning in Maine
Time of Wonder
(and others)

Peter Spiers
The Star Spangled Banner
Noah’s Ark
The Fox Went out on a Chilly Night

David Wiesner
Tuesday, Sector 7, The Three Pigs, and others

Audrey Wood
The Deep Blue Sea, Alphabet Adventure, Alphabet Mystery, and others

Andrea Zimmerman
Digger Man

Eliza is the mother of two boys and one girl, with another boy on the way. She has a Ph.D. in journalism and taught at Brigham Young University for several years, but now cares for her children full-time. Of all her mothering duties, she especially enjoys helping her children learn to read. In her few spare hours during the week, she reads the news and attends a weightlifting class (so, as she says, she can keep up with her children).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FHE: Pioneers, Seagulls and Crickets, and Faith

We've spent a good portion of this month traveling and visiting with family, so our annual pioneer themed Family Home Evening lesson is a little late this year. But, better late then never, and perhaps this will help some of you who are a little late like me!

Scripture/Song of the Week
"A marvelous work has begun to come forth among all the children of men.
O ye that embark in the service of God, give heart, mind, and strength unto him;
For prophets have spoken and angels have come to lift the world from sin,
That Christ may reign over all the earth and bless his gathered kin.

'With faith in ev’ry footstep, we follow Christ, the Lord;
And filled with hope through his pure love, we sing with one accord."
(Faith in Every Footstep, by K Newell Dayley)

Lesson Plan
Watch "Faith in Every Footstep: The Epic Pioneer Journey" from the Church History Collection DVD. (We watched this during dinner)

Give a quick recap of the story of the pioneers leaving Nauvoo and reaching the Salt Lake Valley. We talked about my 3rd Great Grandfather, John R. Young, who was a nephew to Brigham Young and traveled in the first vanguard company with the prophet when he was 10 years old.

Share the story of the crickets and the seagulls. We used a picture from the Gospel Art Picture Kit to illustrate the story. I was thrilled to discover the words of my ancestor included in the summary on the back of the picture:
Their prayers were answered on a clear afternoon when seagulls began to appear in the sky. John R. Young described the event:

“There must have been thousands of them. Their coming was like a great cloud; and when they passed between us and the sun, a shadow covered the field. …

“At first we thought that they, also, were after the wheat and this thought added to our terror; but we soon discovered that they devoured only the crickets” (Memoirs of John R. Young, as quoted in William E. Berrett, The Restored Church [1961], 285; see also 283–84).
Play Seagulls and Crickets Memory Game.

Discuss the faith of the pioneers and sing "Faith in Every Footstep".

Refreshments: Homemade Lemon Ice Cream (our annual July tradition, find the recipe here)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Use personal revelation to prioritize and do the right thing

"A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently.

"The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. Qualifying for the Lord’s Spirit begins with a desire for that Spirit and implies a certain degree of worthiness. Keeping the commandments, repenting, and renewing covenants made at baptism lead to the blessing of always having the Lord’s Spirit with us. Making and keeping temple covenants also adds spiritual strength and power to a woman’s life. Many answers to difficult questions are found by reading the scriptures because the scriptures are an aid to revelation. Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day. Daily prayer is also essential to having the Lord’s Spirit with us. Those who earnestly seek help through prayer and scripture study often have a paper and pencil nearby to write questions and record impressions and ideas.

"Revelation can come hour by hour and moment by moment as we do the right things. When women nurture as Christ nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed. For instance, mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children. Being in the right places allows us to receive guidance. It requires a conscious effort to diminish distractions, but having the Spirit of revelation makes it possible to prevail over opposition and persist in faith through difficult days and essential routine tasks. Personal revelation gives us the understanding of what to do every day to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek those who need our help. Because personal revelation is a constantly renewable source of strength, it is possible to feel bathed in help even during turbulent times.

"We are told to put our trust in that Spirit which leads us “to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously.” We are also told that this Spirit will enlighten our minds, fill our souls with joy, and help us know all things we should do. Promised personal revelation comes when we ask for it, prepare for it, and go forward in faith, trusting that it will be poured out upon us."

Julie B. Beck, “‘And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit’,” Ensign, May 2010, 10–12

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pray and read scriptures every day

"There are places where it is easier to feel the Spirit. Testimony meetings and general conference are some of those places. Certainly temples are another. The challenge for each of us is in providing an environment where the Spirit can be felt daily in our homes and weekly at church.

"One reason we are encouraged to pray and read the scriptures every single day is that both of these activities invite the Spirit into our homes and into the lives of our family members.

"Because the Spirit is often described as a still, small voice, it is also important to have a time of quiet in our lives as well. The Lord has counseled us to “be still, and know that I am God.” If we provide a still and quiet time each day when we are not bombarded by television, computer, video games, or personal electronic devices, we allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort to us."

Vicki F. Matsumori, “Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 10–12

Friday, July 16, 2010


For one of our date nights, the Sweet Bee and I made Gloop.
Gloop is a wonderful hands-on sensory activity that most children will enjoy. Most kids I know love getting their hands dirty, so just relax and enjoy the texture, and don't worry about the mess in your kitchen. Better yet, do this activity outside!

This was the recipe for Gloop that I started from:

1 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
food coloring (optional)

We started mixing it together with our hands, but at this point it was pretty runny. We just kept adding cornstarch until we got the consistency right (probably another cup), so you might want to start with less water. We chose to make ours light green.
The Sweet Bee had a great time squeezing, pulling and letting the gloop drip through her fingers.

If you store it in an airtight container you can use it again. We just added a little more water, and the Ant Bug spent an hour playing with it the next afternoon.
After two days of use it had kind of a funny smell, so I wouldn't recommend keeping it for too long. But it was cheap, creative entertainment while it lasted!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Name Cups

We're on vacation this week, so today I am happy to be sharing a guest post from my awesome sister-in-law Tiffany.

With several children getting a new cup every time they want a drink you will soon fill up the sink or dishwasher with cups. Our easy solution is to make name cups—simply write a name on each cup and you are set! We use our cups for snack-time and dinner. The name cups come in especially useful on weekends or during the summer school break when everyone is at home.

Helpful Hints:

You will need a plastic cup for each family member and a paint pen. I’ve tried permanent markers (like Sharpie) in the past, but that washes off after a time or two. Paint pens work better—look for an oil based, permanent, fine point paint pen.

Some other ideas…

Colored Cups—if each child in your family has a designated color than it’s easy to get a different colored cup for each child. (I wanted to avoid the arguing over different colored cups so ours are all the same color!)

Kid Decorated Cups—have each child decorate their own cup with their name and a simple pattern or drawing. My mom had us do this when we were younger—I drew a bunny on mine! We mostly used our name cups for road trips and camping.

Water Bottles—this idea also works great for refillable water bottles! We have a set of nice ones we use for road trips.

Tiffany’s greatest joys in life come from her family and her faith. She lives with her dear husband and 6 cute kids in Texas. She loves to read, bake, and stay in touch with family. She tries to find and focus on the joy in the journey and blogs about it at This Journey: with joy wend your way.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"It is not enough just to save ourselves."


"While our individual salvation is based on our individual obedience, it is equally important that we understand that we are each an important and integral part of a family and the highest blessings can be received only within an eternal family. When families are functioning as designed by God, the relationships found therein are the most valued of mortality. The plan of the Father is that family love and companionship will continue into the eternities. Being one in a family carries a great responsibility of caring, loving, lifting, and strengthening each member of the family so that all can righteously endure to the end in mortality and dwell together throughout eternity. It is not enough just to save ourselves. It is equally important that parents, brothers, and sisters are saved in our families. If we return home alone to our Heavenly Father, we will be asked, “Where is the rest of the family?” This is why we teach that families are forever. The eternal nature of an individual becomes the eternal nature of the family."

Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,” Ensign, Nov 1996, 64

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Colorful play dough

Once you have children over the age of one, play dough is one of those essential items that you really should always have one hand. Our supply was running low recently so I decided to try a new recipe. The kids and I were very pleased with the results.

The recipe I used came from Rockin' Granola:

2 Cups flour
4 T cream of tartar
2T cooking oil
1 C salt
2 Cups boiling water
Put all ingredients except water in a large bowl. Pour water over the mix and stir it with a spoon. Knead it with your hands (careful! Its hot!) and maybe add a little more flour if it is too "soupy" ... keep at the kneading until it is the right dough consistency. Store in an air tight container (we keep ours in the fridge and it lasts for a couple of months)

This basic recipe will make nice soft dough that looks like this:

Soft, but a little boring, right?

It's easy to spice things up by adding color.
These four colored balls were made using Kool Aid packets. Rockin' Granola walks you through the steps, but it's pretty simple. Just divide the dough into sections, pour on the Kool Aid powder, then work the powder into the dough until it is all absorbed. You can wear gloves if you are worried about your skin changing color in the process, but I didn't have that problem.
The Kool Aid powder also makes it smell delicious! This is really nice playdough to work with, nice and soft and too sticky. We made ours about a month ago and it is still going strong.

If your children prefer to eat their play dough, then you might opt for the edible peanut butter play dough version.

Monday, July 5, 2010

An Eternal Partnership with God


"The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work...Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever."

"One young mother wrote to me recently that..she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet—all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like “goo goo.” But one thing, she said, keeps her going: “Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God’s work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him."

"...cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones."

"Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been."

"And if, for whatever reason, you are making this courageous effort alone, without your husband at your side, then our prayers will be all the greater for you...Know that in faith things will be made right because of you."

"We thank all of you and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God."

"May I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging."

"Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.”"

Jeffrey R. Holland, “‘Because She Is a Mother’,” Ensign, May 1997, 35

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gospel Study in June 2010

Among other things my gospel study in June included the following:

The Book of Mormon: Jacob 3-Mosiah 2

Ch. 11: The Life of Christ
Ch. 12: The Atonement

General Conference Addresses, April 2010

M. Russell Ballard, “Mothers and Daughters,” Ensign, May 2010, 18–21
"There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman...Throughout the history of the world, women have always been teachers of moral values. That instruction begins in the cradle and continues throughout the lives of their children.

"Teach your daughters to find joy in nurturing children.
"Teach your daughters that a faithful daughter of God avoids the temptation to gossip or judge one another.
"Teach your daughters about things of the Spirit.
"If needed, teach them how to repent and how to remain pure and worthy.

"I hope you are listening and see a pattern and hear a steady, consistent message that in these last days it is essential—even critical—that parents and children listen to and learn from one another. These are not just ethereal concepts about which I have been speaking. They are the essence, the center, of God’s plan for our eternal happiness and peace.

"The home is the most important place to prepare the youth of today to lead the families and the Church of tomorrow. It rests upon each one of us as mothers and fathers to do all we can to prepare our youth to be faithful, righteous men and women. It is in the home where we must teach the gospel by precept and by example."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “‘You Are My Hands’,” Ensign, May 2010, 68–70, 75
"True love requires action...Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”

"The Savior revealed the perfect priorities for our lives, our homes, our wards, our communities, and our nations when He spoke of love as the great commandment upon which “hang all the law and the prophets.” We can spend our days obsessing about the finest details of life, the law, and long lists of things to do; but should we neglect the great commandments, we are missing the point and we are clouds without water, drifting in the winds, and trees without fruit.
Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope."

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

"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.

Thomas S. Monson, “He Is Risen!,” Ensign, May 2010, 87–90

"My beloved brothers and sisters, in our hour of deepest sorrow, we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: “He is not here: for he is risen.”

Bradley D. Foster, “Mother Told Me,” Ensign, May 2010, 98–100

"Nurturing seems to be part of the spiritual heritage given to women.

"Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The love of a true mother comes nearer [to] being like the love of God than any other kind of love” (“The Love of Mother,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1910, 278)."

Francisco J. ViƱas, “Things Pertaining to Righteousness,” Ensign, May 2010, 106–8

"As parents and leaders we need to watch over our members and families, helping them to stay away from those things that could lead them to a spiritual death. We also seek to rescue those who are now dead as to the things that are spiritual and help them to “be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters” (Mosiah 27:25).

"Teaching our members and families about the things pertaining to righteousness is essential in the process of achieving an enduring conversion since it can lead them to obtain a correct knowledge of the Lord’s commandments, the principles and doctrines of the gospel, and the requirements and ordinances with which we must comply in order to achieve salvation in the Lord’s kingdom.

"The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have set forth in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that “parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness” (Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).

"This includes nurturing, supporting, and teaching children in all things pertaining to righteousness so that they may remain firm, with their “loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and [their] feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (D&C 27:16).

"The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve ask that both priesthood and auxiliary leaders “encourage each family member, parents and children, to study the scriptures, pray regularly, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ” (First Presidency letter, Dec. 15, 2009).

"Teaching the things pertaining to righteousness is an important element in helping people come to a knowledge of the truth, be converted, and remain firm in the faith of Christ unto the end."

The Ensign, June 2010

The Friend, June 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A few of our favorite songs and finger-plays

I tend to go in phases when it comes to doing songs and finger-plays and rhymes with my children. We will be really good and do some every day for awhile, and then we fall out of habit and don't do any for awhile. But with more time at home feeding and snuggling with our new baby, we've all been enjoying the songs and rhymes again. Here are some of our current favorites:

Creepy, Crawly

Creepy crawly little mousey.
From the barn in to the housey.
In the pantry, on the shelf.
Find some cheese and help yourself.
Nibble, Nibble, Nibble.
(Start your fingers at their toes and walk them up the body until they reach under the chin. Tickle under chin for the Nibble, Nibble, Nibble).

Hickory Dickory Dock
Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock.
(Use your imagination with your fingers and tickles to go along with this rhyme).

Here is a Beehive
Here is a beehive
but where are all the bees?
Hidden inside where nobody sees.
Watch, and you'll see them come out of the hive.
1...2...3...4...5! Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
(Make a fist with you hand to make a beehive. As you count open up one finger at a time, then tickle for the buzzzzzzzzzzzz).

The old woman who lives in a shoe-Our favorite variation
There was a wonderful woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she knew just what to do.
She hugged them, she kissed them, she tucked them in bed.
I love you, I love you, is what she said.
(Sprinkle with lots of hugs and kisses)

The Grand Old Duke of York
Oh, the grand old Duke of York he had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
and he marched them down again.
When they were up, they were up
and when they were down, they were down
and when they were only halfway up
they were neither up nor down.

I Had a Little Turtle
I had a little turtle
His name was Tiny Tim
I put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water
He ate up all the soap
Now he's stuck in bed
with a bubble in his throat.

Bubble, bubble, bubble,
Bubble, bubble, bubble,
Bubble, bubble, bubble,
Bubble, bubble, POP!!

Froggies--Mm Mm Ah (thanks to this site for the actions)
Mm(blink) Mm( stick out tongue) went the little green frog one day
Mm(blink) Mm( tongue) went the little green frog
Mm(blink) Mm(tongue) went the little green frog one day
So they all went Mm(blink) Mm(blink) Ah( tongue)

We all know frogs go ( clap) LAH dee dah dee dah (wave hands to side like hula), ( clap) lah dee dah dee dah ( wave), ( clap) lah dee dah dee dah ( wave) We all know frogs go LAH (clap) DEE DAH DEE DAH (wave)
They don't go Mm(blink) Mm(blink) Mm(tongue)
(Most times instead of the clap we do kisses. This is a favorite bedtime song for the Sweet Bee).

Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating some most delicious bugs

One jumped into the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Then there were
Four green speckled frogs
(Repeat in descending order.)

5 Little Monkeys
5 little Monkeys
Sitting in the tree.
Teasing Mr. Alligator,
"You can't catch me!"
"You can't catch me!"
Along comes Mr. Alligator
Quiet as can be…and
Snatches! that monkey right out of that tree!
(Repeat in descending order)

Five Little Ducks
Five little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away
Mother duck said
"Quack, quack, quack, quack."
But only four little ducks came back.
(Repeat in descending order. When you get to none, end with...)
Then the big Daddy duck said
Five little ducks came waddling back!

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
I'm sure you know the words to this one, but at our house Daddy likes to include random "shooting stars!" for excitement.

White Coral Bells
White coral bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley
Deck my garden walk
Oh, don’t you wish
That you could
hear them ring.
That will happen only
when the fairies sing.
(We sing this song every night as a lullaby, because of the reference to Lilies.)

And just a few more that I'm sure you know: Eensy Weensy Spider, This Little Piggy Went to Market, Hickory Dickory Dock, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Old Macdonald Had a Farm, The Wheels on the Bus, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.

With all of our songs we include actions and hugs and kisses wherever possible. Maybe if I feel brave enough I'll post a little video clip of some of these songs in action! I would love to hear your favorite songs and finger-plays. Please share them with us in the comments!

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