12.23.2013

Celebrate the Restoration

My 6-year old came to me and said, "I think I know why we celebrate Christmas."

"Oh, really, why?"

"Because of Joseph Smith."

Ha!  I had to laugh a minute...and then set him straight on the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas.



However, we do get to honor Joseph Smith at this time of year.  Today is his birthday!  So, every year we do take a moment in our home to remember the prophet and his contribution to the Lord's plan in restoring His gospel upon the earth.  We enjoy the great blessings of the Priesthood, temple ordinances and the Book of Mormon because of this great man.

12.17.2013

Honey Hot Cocoa


Holidays are the worst when it comes to cutting out sugar.

But, you just cannot have Christmas without hot chocolate!

Because I am trying to even stay away from the sugar-free stuff, I decided to try my own hot chocolate recipe.  I am the only one in my family who likes it.  But really, I love it!

I guess on the measurements until it tastes just right, so experiment as well to find what you like. Here is about what I put in:

8-010 oz. hot water
2 tsp. cocoa
1/2 -1 TBSP honey
1 1/2 tsp. dry milk

The milk makes it just a bit creamier.  Adding the honey all just depends on how sweet you want it.  So, just start with the cocoa and add however much you want of anything else.  I think I'm going to try some peppermint flavoring in my next cup.

Enjoy!

12.16.2013

What Shall We Give?



Merry Christmas!
May we all believe a little more, give a little more and LOVE a lot more this year! 

12.13.2013

Mormon Women: Exemplary Disciples & Important Witnesses



I was so struck today by the Visiting Teaching message for this month.  Yes, it was on the role of Jesus Christ as our Savior, but I was most impressed with this statement:

"In the New Testament we read of women, named and unnamed, who exercised faith in Jesus Christ, learned and lived His teachings, and testified of His ministry, miracles and majesty.  These women became exemplary disciples and important witnesses in the work of salvation."

"Exemplary disciples" and "important witnesses."  My first thought when I read that quote was, "These women are still needed."  My companion also pointed out that she appreciated the unnamed women...those who tirelessly served and followed the Savior without worldly recognition.

In each sphere of influence there is great power when women stand strong against the wiles and temptations of the adversary.   With so many wonderful opportunities vying for our attention, it's easy to downplay our important role as LDS women.  No matter how hard we try not to be, our very presence in the world is different than others.  Not better, just different as we are endowed with power and a positive influence in the world.

I had a friend once tell me, "I met a girl at the park the other day and I could just tell she was Mormon before I even met her."  We have an influence unlike any other and we can to rise to that privilege and responsibility.

Elder Christofferson also reminds us of our most important role, that of being mothers in the home.  He says, "...a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship.  By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives.  Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right...A mother's love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly...be serious about education and personal growth, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all those around them (CR Oct. 2013, italics added)."

There is so much joy in womanhood if we but embrace our God-given abilities, characteristics and gifts! I am so grateful for the reminder this Christmas season to strive to become an "exemplary disciple" and "important witness" of our Savior and His life.  This will be at the top of my New Year's list!

 - - - - - 

"My plea to women and girls today is to protect and cultivate the moral force that is within you.  Preserve that innate virtue and the unique gifts you bring with you into the world.  Your intuition is to do good and to be good, and as you follow the Holy Spirit, your moral authority and influence will grow."
 - - Elder D. Todd Christofferson - - 

12.11.2013

Best Ever!


Who would have thought I'd say I felt the spirit while listening to "What Does the Fox Say?"  Seriously!

Last night our gift of service was to attend the Buddy Club talent show.  The Buddy Club is a club at school for friendshipping those with mental and/or physical handicaps.   My sweet daughter B has joined this club and continually inspires me with her empathy for those who are so challenged.  When she told me about the talent show coming up I quickly added it to our gift list.


That very well could be the very best activity we do all season.  The sweetness of these wonderfully special children was just joyful to watch.  The two boys who performed the Fox song were hilarious, so innocent and unabashed.  No shame!  Others got up to sing solos.  One young man performed a dance where he just moved his fingers and turned around once in awhile.  There was an amazing clogger in the group and a natural comedian with amazing voices impersonations.  

That night, watching those children, helped me to more completely embrace the Christmas spirit.  

************
"It is our opportunity and our responsibility to follow the example of Jesus in loving our neighbors, and that includes those with disabilities." - - First Presidency Message on Disabilities - - 

12.09.2013

Christmas Stories Again

Last year I posted some of our favorite stories for Christmastime. Here are a few more...for the older crowd:

A true classic and must read for all!

I read this for my kids, first half in 2011 and second half last year.  I was actually amazed at how well they followed the story with the older English language.  

This is our choice for this year.  I'm excited to play the music after each chapter and think my kids will love it. 

Charles Dickens wrote this for his own children.  
Sister Hinckley would read this every year to her children.


This is absolutely my FAVORITE Christmas story. 
If you haven't read it, do it now!  

12.06.2013

Agh! 14 Years!!


My son is 14 today! 
FOURTEEN!

This son of mine is rock solid.  I could count only a handful of tantrums from this kid.  Even his teenage mood swings are so short-lived I could hardly even acknowledge them as such.
John has always idolized his dad!
From the time of a little boy JW was very conscientious of doing the right thing and being obedient.  Sure, he's still an older brother who likes to show his love through teasing and occasional "love taps," but overall he strives to protect, teach and love his younger siblings.  There's a reason he's the oldest.


Bright, gifted with music, and kind-hearted this kid is a complete joy to be around.  And he's going to make some wife pretty happy someday.   When I'm making dinner he'll come up and say, "Can I do that?" He completely takes over in the kitchen.  And this year he took on his more crowded schedule with ease!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY BOY!  

12.04.2013

Decisions for Eternity

Can I just tell you I am loving the talks from General Conference?  Each time the messages just seem to get deeper and deeper.  Maybe I'm just growing up and paying more attention.  Either way, I love it.

It's interesting to me how each talk can be so applicable to the situation of each of God's children.   So personal and individualized.  The quotes and thoughts that stick out to me are not going to be what others hone in on.  There is going to be one talk that just speaks directly to each of us if we but listen and seek to learn. 

I found an interesting quote in an unlikely place which caused me to think, yet again, of my own marriage.  Elder Nelson spoke on making righteous decisions and paying attention to every choice we make.  While speaking in the context of morality concerning marriage issues of the day, he says this, "Marriage between a man and woman is God's pattern for a fullness of life on earth and in heaven.  God's marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood, or misconstrued." 

Beyond the obvious of chastity before marriage, the pattern of multiplying and replenishing the earth, and the pattern of gender relationships what else does this pattern contain.  My  mind and heart caught on the phrase, "marriage...is God's pattern for a fullness of life on the earth and in heaven."   Really?  Am I experiencing such fullness in my own marriage?  I wonder. 

Later, Elder Nelson states, "The Savior's way of life is good (love that!).  His way includes chastity before marriage and total fidelity within marriage." 

Fidelity is defined as "faithful adherence to obligation or duty; honesty; loyalty; reliability."  Which implies that it's much more than just being sexually faithful to your own spouse.   In creating this "fullness of life" that Elder Nelson talks about, am I honoring my husband?  Am I loyal?  Am I reliable?  Am I being faithful to my end of the deal to fulfill my duty as a loving wife?

These are all questions I've been simmering on today.  They make me want to be more attentive to his needs rather than seeking my own needs to be met.  It's just funny to me how a talk on making decisions would lead me to ponder on my marriage.  Must be what I needed to hear from that talk.  :-) 


"One day each of us will stand before the Lord in judgment. We will each have a personal interview with Jesus Christ.  We will account for decisions that we made about our bodies our spiritual attributes and how we honored God's pattern for marriage and family." 
 - - Elder Russell M. Nelson, Decisions for Eternity, CR Oct. 2013 - -

12.02.2013

a happy day...

"A happy day is when my only engagement is my family."  
 - - Abigail Adams - -

I love this quote and it totally sums up our week of Thanksgiving.  Granted, yesterday erupted in overtired complaints and contentions...but overall we all just enjoyed a break from anything other than FAMILY.  There is so much to be grateful for.  I hope I can keep that grateful spirit with me as we head into the hustle and bustle of December.




To add to the craziness, for our countdown/advent we decided to make it "25 Days of Service."  Most days this month the kids will "open" a service activity for the day.  This holiday season we will decorate Grandpa's apartment, visit a newly made widow, clean another family's bathrooms, have the missionaries over for dinner, and do a secret act of kindness for one another.  Hopefully this will add to the holiday cheer rather than adding more of the unnecessary to our already filled days. 

Happy December!

11.27.2013

Family Pictures

We had the best photographer take our pictures this year.  She's just a friend of mine who wanted to practice...and we wanted pictures...so it was a win-win for everyone.  The thing I liked about her was she was so "in the moment."  If she saw the kids doing something she'd say, "Oh, let's use that!"  And she was taking pictures constantly so there are a lot of "real" pictures rather than just the posed "perfect family" shots. Here's a glimpse...


 I love that in these two pictures (above and below) the kids have some secret going on while the parents are completely oblivious.  Makes me wonder how many secrets they really hold!

 Look at that hair!  J. insisted we don't cut it until after the pictures  (it was gone the very next day!). 
 "What did we get ourselves into?" 
 Weirdos!
 Despite sickness, this girl was a superstar!

The skies the limit with Brooklynn!





 Chasing after little D...this was a common occurance the whole time!
But these really were some of my favorite from the whole day...My children gathered around me on a bench in front of a used book store.  Priceless!



Bored, Addie? 


"You had me at hello."  Love this bookstore shot!!




Can't believe he'll be 14 next week!!!

 More secrets...Which I'm sure the girls have so many more than I'll ever know!

 So G.Q. 
Our photographer captured him perfectly...the shy shoulder shrug, silly grin and adorable dimples!


 "What kind of family was I born into anyway," says David.

And they lived happily ever after.  


11.24.2013

National Family Week AND National Games & Puzzles Week

Happy Week of 
Thanksgiving!


I LOVE this week because for me it's all about FAMILY.  Growing up we didn't live near any of our extended family so there were very few occasions to celebrate with them.  So, my Thanksgiving memories really are of just my immediate family - - mom, dad, brothers and sisters - - gathering around the table.

 My mom is the EXPERT of Thanksgiving dinner!  A natural nurturer, my mom cooks this meal to perfection.  And I get to have her here this week!  I'm so excited.  I remember a perfect a warm kitchen with Christmas music playing in the background, a fire in our wood stove burning (thanks, Dad!), and the smells and tastes of delicious food all around us.  I love those memories.  I think these were some of the happiest moments from childhood. 

This week I plan on just being present with my family.  I plan on getting some stories of my parents' lives in writing.  I plan on letting go of normal, every day cares and just being with those around me!  And I plan on playing lots of games (one of our favorite things to do as a family). Here are some of our most recent favorites:

\
Gobblet
ALL Sequence games are great...
States and Capitals, Numbers and Letters





11.20.2013

He will Prepare the Way

image from ststephensfred.blogspot.com
In Amos 3:7 we read, "The Lord doeth nothing save he revealeth His secrets unit his servant, the prophets."

In a way, through personal revelation we become prophets for ourselves and our families and are entitled to knowing what is to be before it happens.  Just as we can watch the signs of the times and know that the second coming is nigh, we can also watch for personal signals.  Elder Bednar stated, "We...are blessed by spiritual early warning signals as a source of protection and direction in our lives (CR April 2010)."

Similarly, M. Catherine Thomas attests that "...small and great truths can leak through from the other world....many have picked up on these signals and thus might know even years in advance...great revelations (Light in the Wilderness, pp.43-44).

This principles of personal revelation his me as I connected it with D&C 38:30 which tells us, "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear."  How do we know for what to prepare?  Because He will tell us what is to happen before it happens.  We know there are to tumultuous times in the last days.  He has also revealed to us how to prepare for those times, as a church and as a family.  I believe this can be done so individually as well.  We can know how to conduct our lives because He can reveal unto us what we are preparing for.  

image from www.patheos.com

With this same thought in mind we are also told that there will be no trial given that we cannot bear.  WHY? Because He warns us of what is to come (good and bad) so we could prepare and then He gives us the time to prepare.  We just need to be aware and listening for those signals.  Our paths are charted for us.  "...all things are governed by that wisdom which flows from God, and all things are right and calculated to promote every person's eternal welfare (John Taylor, Light in the Wilderness p. 27)."

Once we know these principles to be true and start recognizing His hand in all things we can then "submit cheerfully" all things to Him, knowing He is guiding our paths and preparing the way.  Then, through personal revelation, patience and faith in His Atonement we the Lord will strengthen us so that our burdens may be light (see Mosiah 23:21 and 24:15).

Image from orenu.co.il

11.14.2013

What do you Know about Jesus?



Last week was my first sharing time in Primary (yes, I am now working with the little guys at church and it is so much fun!).  I will say it was much different preparing a 15 minute primary lesson after teaching gospel doctrine for two years!  Let's just say I had to pare it down a little.  :-)

Anyway, we were discussing testimonies.  I first started by reading Alma chapter 32.  Each time I read the word "seed" the kids were to stand up or sit down.  Then, I held up pictures of the main subjects of a testimony and asked the kids, "What do you know about....?"

While teaching Junior Primary, when I held up a picture of Joseph Smith there were a few answers.  Again this happened with the pictures of the church building, and the Book of Mormon and President Monson.  But when I held up a picture of Jesus and asked, "What do you know about Him?"  My heart just burst as every single one of those little hands shot up into the air, each child eager to tell what they knew about Jesus.

My testimony was strengthened that day.  My desire to share what I know about Jesus increased.

So, what do you know about Jesus?

Are we are eager to share as these little ones?

11.11.2013

Buttons Day

Botton Day is coming up!  I love buttons!  But I've never done anything with them really.  Sure I use them on cards or for clothes...but there are some fun ideas out there for buttons!

First off, since it is Veterens Day today I think a button flag would be appropriate to make.  Just get red, white and blue buttons.  Glue them into a flag shape.  Easy.

Literature:

We LOVE the Pete the Cat books!  So fun.   Have the children write a song about something they really love as an activity to go along with this book.



Great book about problem-solving!  Have the kids write what their solution would be to finding replacement buttons for Daddy's britches.

A great adaptation to Stone Soup!  Talk about how each member of the family has something to add to make the home feel delicious.

For older children try The Mystery of the Traveling Button by Elspeth Campbell Murphy

Social Studies

How to Keep People from Pushing your Buttons by Albert Ellis
What does the phrase mean, "Stop pushing my buttons?"  If anyone knows where this phrase originated, I'd sure love to know.  I searched, but found nothing.  Still, it's a great discussion topic with kids to figure out what pushing buttons means and how we can control our own buttons (on both sides of the coin).

Science
Belly Buttons!! Why do we have belly buttons?  Great time to discuss how babies are made and how they survive in Mommy's belly.  This article, probably more interesting for adults than kids, I thought had some fascinating food for thought.

Math
Create a graph with buttons.  How many blue?  How many red?  My kindergartner is loving graphs right now, so this will be perfect for us this week.
Count and compare the number of buttons on each person's clothing in the house, neighborhood or classroom.  What has the most or the least?

History
Read about the history of the button and explain it to your children.  What would life be like if we didn't have buttons?  What could be used instead of buttons?

More Just for Fun!

I thought this was a cute idea and easy for kids to make to hang in their rooms.  

Right now we're working on teaching my 2 year old his colors and E is learning the colors in Spanish.  So, this would be a perfectly fun activity to do with colors.


This artwork is perfect, I think, for this time of year.  Fall colors are in season.  :-)

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