Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Went to the ZOOOOO!!!

I don't want the title to be misleading. Really we go to the zoo several times a year. Buy a yearly zoo pass, get your money's worth. Know what I mean? If you don't, for us to go to the zoo and just pay regular prices it would currently be $48 ($55 when Erin turns 3!), family zoo pass is $80. When I renewed it last, we went three times within the next month, which rounds us out to it equaling $26 each time, not to mention how the $80 price gets divided even more every time we go (at least five times now). Now that's value!

But that is entirely beside my point. The kids and I decided Wednesday morning that it would be a great day to go to the zoo and we went, only this time I decided that it was high time that there was proof that I actually went with them. All the other moms out there know exactly what I'm talking about. Every family activity shows dad and the kids having a great time, mom is nowhere to be found. Well THIS time, *I* went too.

That results in pictures like this:

I deleted many overly terrible ones, but I got several that weren't too terrible.

Isn't this almost perfect - all of us getting ready to watch the bird show together. Would have been totally perfect if Carolyn hadn't leaned back right when I took the picture.

I also handed off the camera to the kids a few times so they could get something more than a head shot.

All in all, a wonderful day. On the way home we even stopped at temple square to track down where a falcon family is nesting that we've been watching on a live cam. And guess what! I went there too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good Friends

Last week we had a lot of this around (pay special attention to the buckets in close proximity):

When this lovely unexpected package arrived at my door filled with this:

The note says, "a little chocolate goes a long way when you're worn out." A good friend goes an even longer way. Thank you, thank you, my wonderful friend!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Scriptures with Children - Final Thoughts

The ultimate goal in reading the scriptures with your children is to help get the gospel into their hearts. Even if they have hundreds of scriptures memorized in their heads, if it doesn't get into their hearts it won't matter. That's why we pray before we begin - so the spirit can be there with us.

When we put on the whole armour of God we only get one weapon - the sword of truth. What sound does the sword of truth make when it's unsheathed? An unzipping noise!

From President Henry B. Eyring:

“Whether what you do is to correct or to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, you will do it better if you remember what success will be. You are to help Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, make eternal life possible for those you serve. To do that, the Spirit must take a testimony down into their hearts. And that testimony has to lead them to choose to keep the commandments of God, whatever storms and temptations may come.

“With that in mind, the Spirit will guide you in teaching.”

Old Brother Higgins built a shelf
For the old family Bible to rest itself,
Lest a sticky finger or a grimy thumb
Might injure the delicate pages some.
He cautioned his children to touch it not,
And it rests there with never a blot,
Though the Higgins tribe was a troublesome lot.

His neighbor, Miggins, built a shelf.
"Come, children," he said, "and help yourself."
Now his book is old and ragged and worn,
With some of the choicest pages torn,
Where children have fingered, and thumbed, and read,
But of the Miggins children I've heard it said,
That each carries a Bible in his head.

Get reading!

Scriptures with Children - How We Do It

We start our scripture reading with music. We've got a stereo with a timer on it, so I set it to got off at scripture time and let the music call everyone to scriptures. It was a huge help when we started our latest push to read the scriptures almost a year and a half ago. The music reminded me on days when I wasn't thinking about it, and helped make it a habit. It also helps to set the tone, and gives the kids a couple minutes to finish what they're doing and gather. When people start getting slow, I will give a surprise reward (small treat or something) for those that show up on time.

We start with a prayer, and read together for about 20 minutes, taking turns as we go. Even the two littlest get their turn, repeating a few words at a time after me.

When we're done with our reading, we work on memorizing a scripture. Our original goal was one a month, and we were doing it so the kids could learn the Articles of Faith, but they learned those surprisingly fast working on them just a couple minutes a day, and we just kept going. In about 14 months we've learned 28 scriptures, involving about 38 verses.

I got a new perspective on our memorization a few months ago when Jamie read President Benson's vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon during family home evening:

“I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world."

Adam has seven years left before he turns 19. I wonder how many we'll have by then. We just finished learning the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood, we'll do the Young Women's Theme sometime, and we keep talking about doing the Family Proclamation. So far the hardest to learn (I never got really good at it) was Alma 7:11-12. If you memorize it really well let me know the trick.

The cool thing with memorizing scriptures is that even if the kids aren't listening to anything else in church, when they hear a scripture they've memorized they'll look over at me and mouth the words. Of course I make a mental note of the scripture and what they were talking about that included it, and we can talk about it when they get home.

I'll finish this off with a few final thoughts next.

Scriptures with Children - GOALS & OPTIONS

There are a variety of goals you can work towards in reading scriptures with your children, and deciding yours will help make your scripture time more beneficial.

Do you want them to be familiar with scripture stories? Then using the scripture stories for children are fine, or jumping from story to story in the scriptures. Ask the kids what their favorites are and read them. Go in order, or don't worry about the order.

Do you want them to be able to read well from the scriptures? The language of the scriptures is definitely different. If you want them to be able to read them well, you need to have them reading in the scriptures.

Do you want to be consecutive, reading every day? If that is your goal, then what you read or how much you read might not be a factor, as long as you read something.

Do you want to finish in a certain amount of time? In August 2005 President Hinckley gave a challenge to members of the LDS church to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. If you want to set a goal with a time factor in it, figure out how much you need to read daily and run with it.

Determining your scripture reading goals is a huge help in deciding just what direction you need to take, and also helps in deciding just what you'll read. There are a variety of options really.

When the boys were very young we started with the scriptures stories books for children. We really enjoyed that time and it helped them learn the stories in the scriptures. It got to the point that I felt like they were missing out on the power of the words in the scriptures, things like "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded," so we switched to the real deal. I wish someone had told me it was okay to jump from story to story back then, because I think if we did that we would have stuck with it better. But we didn't, so it stopped being fun for the kids and we got out of the habit.

Another option is to read talks from the most recent general conference. Buy each of the kids their own copy of the conference issue of the Ensign, and choose a day or two each week to read from it.

Use your scripture reading time as an opportunity to teach them about the scriptures. Teach your children to use the topical guide and read by topic, read from the Bible dictionary, or learn the songs that teach the books of scripture in order. Some neighbors of ours are reading from the True to the Faith book and discussing it with their children.

Now that some of our kids are older and some young, I've had to do some reevaluating. We read from the scriptures together as a family in the morning. The two youngest are in and out, and don't listen to much of what we read. I finally realized that I need to start from the beginning with them too, so I've been reading to them from the scripture stories books at night. They LOVE it.

To help children be familiar with the scriptures, draw a simple picture next to the stories so they can find them on their own, like a flag next to the verses about the title of liberty, a sheep next to the story of Ammon, and a bow and arrow next to where Nephi breaks his bow.

Next: how it "looks" in our home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scriptures with Children - WHY?

I gave a talk last night for our Relief Society on reading scriptures with young children, getting them excited about the scriptures, etc. I thought it might be fun to share on here.

First of all, why does it even matter? Even after being diligent about this for over a year, the kids still have their whiney moments or choose to disrupt. Every so often when it gets really bad I make them chant, "We're doing this every day! We're doing this every day!" It's as much for me as it is for them, reminding myself that even though it feels like nobody wants to do this and nobody seems to care, we need to keep going.

From President Ezra Taft Benson:
“I challenge all of us to prayerfully consider steps that we can personally take to bring this new witness for Christ more fully into our own lives and into a world that so desperately needs it.

“I have a vision of homes alerted, of classes alive, and of pulpits aflame with the spirit of Book of Mormon messages.

“I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.

“I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon.

“Indeed, I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon.”

From Gordon B. Hinckley:
“A week ago a conference of the young women was held in this tabernacle. It was an inspiration to look into their faces, thousands of them. One could not do so without a feeling of peace and certitude concerning the future of this work. The theme of the conference was an appeal to the young women to read the scriptures.

“I look back to my own youth. Neither young men nor young women were doing much scripture reading at that time. What a marvelous change has been wrought. A new generation is arising who are familiar with the word of the Lord.”

From Boyd K. Packer:
"The plan designed by the Father contemplates that man and woman, husband and wife, working together, fit each child individually with a shield of faith made to buckle on so firmly that it can neither be pulled off nor penetrated by those fiery darts.

“This shield of faith is not manufactured on an assembly line, only handmade in a cottage industry. Therefore our leaders press members to understand that what is most worth doing must be done at home.”

From Marion G. Romney:
"And so, I counsel you, my beloved brothers and sisters and friends everywhere, to make reading in the Book of Mormon a lifelong practice... I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to that counsel. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity - the pure love of Christ - will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."

To be quite honest, we don't have angels singing in the background in our home, but I do feel like our children are getting their own testimonies, and that our family is blessed for our efforts.

The prophet Haggai rebuked the people with a description of scarcity, saying that the Lord had this message for them: “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages…put[s] it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5-7).

The people had poured their efforts into projects that had not paid off. Even when it gets hard, reading the scriptures in our home is something that will pay off. It definitely takes commitment and sometimes even creativity to make it happen, but we’ve been given promises by prophets that it will be worthwhile. Doesn’t make it easy, but we do have that promise.

Hebrews 10:35-37 states “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

I've got a neighbor that tested the "spirit of contention will depart" promise. She told me they were having one of those night where it feels like everyone is grumpy. She finally told everyone to go grab their scriptures, it was scripture time. They moaned and groaned, but they gathered together and read a chapter. "Are we done?" she asked after each chapter. If there was any griping, they kept going. After four chapters everyone was calm again, the spirit was back, and they stopped.

Trust in the promises of the prophets, and get started!

Next - what are your scripture goals?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I've been making fabulous rolls for a few months now, but I made my best loaf of bread EVER yesterday. Not only did it look good, it was soft, moist, and yummy inside. I've been playing with cooking times/temps a bit. This loaf cooked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then 350 for 20 more minutes, so maybe that's the secret. It was about half wheat, half white flour.

I'm addicted to this bread. I'm excited for my new wheat grinder to show up in a couple days so I can play with that too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Life is But a Weaving

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the skillful weaver's hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern God has planned.

--Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There Might Be a Different Way

A few months ago I was at a meeting. Something came up in that meeting that two of the other participants had very different and very strong opinions about, and a VERY HEATED argument ensued. I'm one of those people that sits through a fight, then 20 minutes later (or the next day or week even) I think of great things I could have said to drill a point home, but in the middle of the fight I go blank and curl up inside thinking, "Can't we just all be friends?"

I was so uncomfortable that night that I went home and started looking at books online about how to argue, and how to debate. I brought a couple home from the library and perused them, but never made it very far. The books were intriguing (why would you not want to learn what Homer Simpson can teach us about arguing?), but I ended up taking them back to the library hardly opened.

At women's conference at BYU the other day I was sitting in one class trying to listen while I was also trying to decide where I was going next, reading through class descriptions. I found one that sounded intriguing, called "'Our Hearts Knit Together in Unity': Women as Peacemakers," with a description that mentioned finding "joy, peace, and common ground" and differences being "opportunities to learn to love and value one another." I immediately thought of that terrible meeting. This is what I need! To learn to be a peacemaker and calm things, instead of learning how to jab and parry with amazing argumentative skills.

The class was excellent! I feel like I was directed to the right road I need to be traveling, with some keys I can use to start unlocking what I need to study, and learn to become someone that can be effective in a Christ-like way, without curling up inside and wishing myself away.

My point - your first answer might not always be the right answer. There can be a better way to accomplish the same goal. Maybe even accomplish a higher goal. I'm grateful that my Heavenly Father cares about me enough to guide me to those things.

My other point - give peace a chance. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Because I Love Numbers

The kids and I were just out having a lovely picnic lunch this fine and beautiful day, when Carolyn (our 5 year old monkey) walked over and commenced to swing on the branches of a tree. For the 7th or 8th time.

The phone rang so I ran in the house for a minute, and before I made it back out again, I heard lots and lots of Carolyn crying. I dashed out to see what the problem was, and found Carolyn laying on the grass under the tree, a pretty decent scrape on her leg.

I carried her into the house to get a bandaid, and offered her the choice of either Big Bird or the Count. Through all her tears and sadness, one of those moments I wish I had a video camera running, she answered, "The Count, because I love numbers."

Kids rock.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Becoming Together

At stake conference we were blessed to get to listen to Robert D. Hales and a new Seventy, Kent F. Richards. They both talked about counseling with one another in marriage, and while I appreciated the message, the visual was just as great - both their wives spoke for a few minutes as well. It was very easy to see that both of these couples are amazing because of their great spouses. That not only were they wonderful people themselves, together with their spouses they become even more. Part of Elder Richards' message was that as we work together and counsel together, together we can become.

I am blessed to have Jamie as my husband. Not saying things are easy sailing, but I do think we compliment one another. Always room to grow, but we compliment one another. One of these days (years? centuries?) after lots of practice I hope we can become that beautiful couple of oneness, excited about the things we've been able to teach one another.

We are practicing, though probably not really on purpose (maybe if we tried on purpose it would happen faster?). One day I mentioned to Jamie that I was asked to prepare something about scriptures and kids. "Are you taking your scripture music?" One of my favorite scripture reading with kids methods, calling everyone together with our scripture music. Though I had been thinking about the request all day, that tip hadn't even occurred to me.

The other day I was talking to the kids about foods. One had been unwilling to try a blackberry the day before, and suddenly she announced that she likes blueberries. She's been anti blueberries for a few years at least, so to have her announce that out of the blue (pun not intended but it works) was surprising. In explaining the silliness of not being willing to at least try new things, I told the kids that there are gobs of foods I had never eaten before I married their dad, and the same was true that I had introduced new things to him as well. Silly not to try new things, just silly! (Dang it Jamie, after all that maybe I have try sushi sometime.)

Did it ever occur to you that the only member of your family you choose is your spouse? Parents, nope. Siblings, definite nope. Children, triple nope. These are carefully planned blessings I'm sure, but the only person you get to have any kind of control in adding to your family circle is your spouse. I know I need him so I can be my best, and I hope the reciprocation is true as well.

(I’ve been working on this post for a couple of weeks, and though it still doesn’t feel done, I’m just posting.)