Top Ten Christmas Movie List

This list inspired to me to make my own (and to watch new ones).  

Our Family Favorites 
(in no particular order)

 1. Home Alone.  It's usually the first one we watch.

2. White Christmas.  No explanation needed.

3. Family Man.  This is one my hubby and I watch alone every year.  It's a great reminder of the importance we do day in an day out as Mom & Dad, Husband & Wife.

4. Elf.  Makes me laugh!

5. Miracle on 34th Street.  Makes me cry.

6. Santa Clause. Tim Allen is one of my favorites.

7. Santa Clause 2.  This was great.  #3, not so great.

8. The Polar Express.  This was the book my mom read every Christmas Eve growing up.  So, when the movie came out I was a bit anxious and ready to be disappointed.  Though not the book, I do think it is a very moving story and the producers did a great job.

9. Holiday Inn.  This is more my favorite than the kids'...but it's still a great movie!

10.  Arthur Christmas.  We just watched this one over Thanksgiving and I instantly needed to add it to my favorites list.  I loved it!


Where is the Time Going?

13 More Days 'Til Christmas!!
We're almost halfway through December!  It seems each day is filled with some activity or another.  I'm enjoying it, but I'm ready for the relaxing vacation to begin as well.  :-)

Years ago I remember a talk that made a great impression on me.  It was actually just one statement really.  The man was talking about his daughter's senior year in high school.  Somehow she had sustained an injury and was "down" the rest of the year.  Being their youngest child, he and his wife noticed a considerable difference between her final year of school and their other kids.'  Then he said, "It was the most beautiful year we'd ever had."  He explained the reason it was so beautiful was because her injury had slowed them down.  They had more time with her.  At the end of it they didn't feel the normal question burning, "Where did all the time go?"

As I was driving from one place to another today, that talk popped into my mind.  When we are bustling and busy, we are bound to ask that question.  On the other hand, when we slow down to read one more story to our children, to play a game, or to just sit and listen to them, we don't feel that loss of time so drastically.  It may just be a minute or two in our day, but that minute or two will be precious to our children...and for us as well!

"Isn't it true that we often get so busy? ...I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem.  I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.  I can't see it.  Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day.  When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved... He blessed them, ministered to them.  
He lifted them up, healed them.  
He gave them the precious 
gift of His time."  
 - - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign Nov. 2012 - - 


My Boy, John!

I know.  I need to face the truth someday.


And, it's time to hold on for dear life because today I am now the PROUD new mother of a TEENAGER.

My mom loved the teenage years of her children.  And, frankly, I don't think they were so bad either. However, since then I have heard the horror stories, seen the looks of sympathy, and cringed at the comments concerning "those detestable years."

Still, I am choosing to side with my mother on this one.  This year as I've watched my son turn into a young man I've realized that I love it!  We've had some social gatherings here at our place in the past few months and I just love listening to the youth enjoying themselves joking, eating and yes...even flirting.  :-)  I have enjoyed watching my son come out of his shell to, heaven forbid, talk to girls.  I really am looking forward to these next (and last) few years as my boy continues to mature and grow.

As for this son of mine...I couldn't have asked for a better first child.  He is obedient and truly desires to choose the right.  He jokes and takes care of his younger siblings, paving the way for them to follow.  He is full of a happiness that lights up the room when he enters.  Today I thought back again to thirteen years ago when I welcomed him two months earlier than expected and marveled in the fact that he truly is a miracle in my life.

Oh, and yes, just yesterday I accepted the fact that....

He is now taller than me!!!

So, Happy Birthday, John.  It's going to be a fun ride!


Have Miracles Ceased?

I like to read a Christmas-based novel aloud to the kids this time of year.  We've read in the past, A Christmas Carol, The Family Under the Bridge and The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens.  This year I have chosen, Miracles on Maple Hill.  

image from wikipedia.org
In honor of this book (and from a suggestion sent by my mother) we created our own Miracle Jar for the month.  Each night before family prayers we are to write on a slip of paper one miracle, blessing or things we're grateful for from that day and place it in the jar.  On Christmas Eve we will empty the jar and read of the Lord's hand in our lives throughout the month. 

In his address during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, President Uchtdorf asked of us this question, "Are we gracious receivers?"  We think so much about giving at this time of year; this is good!  But I loved this reminder to be gracious receivers, to be thankful for the blessings given and to remember the greatest gift (and miracle) given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Mormon 9:9-11, 15-20
For do we not read that God is the asame byesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no cvariableness neither shadow of changing?  And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles....
 But behold, I will show unto you a God of amiracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same bGod who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.  And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do ano miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.  Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous aworks of God?  Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his aword the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was bcreated of the cdust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought.   And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mightyamiracles? And there were many bmighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles.  And if there were amiracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he bchangeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.  And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.


Just Popping In...


We're having a fabulous time on vacation.  It took me a day to fully relax from my more stressful than usual packing experience, but after a week I'm feeling great!  Not sure I want to go back home.  :-)

I just wanted to pop in to give us one more thing to celebrate this time of year.  Then, after this week it will be All About Christmas!  

This week is National Peanut Butter Lover's Week.

Ever since my hubby went "Low-Carb" he's all over the peanut butter.
Today I thought I'd share his Peanut Butter Concoction recipe:

Lrg. Jar Adam's peanut butter
Cacoa nibs
ground flax seed
unsweetened coconut

Mix together and enjoy. He eats it by the spoonful or in Flatout bread/wraps.

If you're wanting to be educational this week, study the discovery of the peanut and the life of George Washington Carver.

Another topic of study would be the Thai culture.  Where is Thailand on the map?  Then make some yummy Thai food with their famous Peanut Sauce.


Bon Voyage!

image from theveganmom.com

We're off  (or will be in just a couple of hours, at least).

I am posting this as 1:45 a.m. because I've decided, "If my husband wants to wake up to leave by 4am, is it really worth sleeping?"  Not so sure.  Plus, I still have a few things on my "To Do" list.  I'm crazy.  I can sleep in the car, right?

So, where are we going?

We're off to visit my family for Thanksgiving.

I'm excited to see my sister from North Carolina and her new little guy.

I'm excited for my kids to play with their cousins.

I'm excited to have an extended vacation to truly relax.

I'm excited to just BE!

This preparation has been much more stressful than others in the past, and so I'll just be happy to be on our way!

I may be missing in action as this trip takes way.  I had great plans to get some posts lined up while I'm gone, but taking care of my croup-suffering baby took precedence today.  However, if I'm lucky I'll get some blogging time in the car.  :-)

In the meantime, enjoy some thoughts from my favorite bloggers, eat lots of yummy food, and remember to be grateful for the little and the big.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Inspired to Action

Steady Mom

Design Mom


National Games and Puzzles Week

The week of Thanksgiving made more fun!  It's National Games and Puzzles Week, making it a great excuse to just play with and be grateful for your kids. Here are some of the games in our closet. 

image from en.wikipedia.com

image from en.wikipedia.com

image from looneylabs.com

image from mindware.com
image from amazon.com


What are we Doing?

At Education Week I learned a very interesting (and frightening) statistic.  "The average child today is more stressed than was the most psychotic patient of the 1950's."

"What are we doing to our children?"

The kids' piano teacher just asked that question as I expressed concern about one of my own daughters who is struggling with worry and anxiety (and I thought homeschooling would alleviate all of that pressure!!).  So now I pose that question to you.

I have a couple of theories myself.

1) Competition.  We are a competitive generation, as mothers.  We compete to see if our kids are in the best schools, the smartest kid, the best athlete, etc. Even the best of us constantly asks the question, "Am I doing enough to help my child achieve?" Sadly, we look sideways rather than up when asking this question.

2) Drive.  With this competitive edge in our parenting, we then need to be sure our child is reading by the age of 3, taking music lessons at the age of  5 and playing sports as soon as they can say the word, "Ball."  Why are we so driven to make our kids learn and run faster than is needful, even faster than their brains can literally take in!?  As I get older I realize, "There is time."  We need to relax and not be rushed to create the next Mozart (even though we all claim we're not trying to create a genius, deep down we are, right?). 

3) Satan.  Of course.  We have been taught that Satan's power will increase in the Latter- Days. That is truth.  I've felt for a long time that as parents we are more on the defensive than on the offensive, trying to combat everything our kids pick up in school or in the media.  However, with this mentality I think as parents we've kind of overshot the goal.  I think we've overcompensated and have started to take things to the other extreme (thus, more hanging out among our youth than dating...but that's another topic for another day).

At Education Week I was cautioned in one class to avoid the "Ostrich Approach."  If we take away all of the stuff we see as bad from our homes, our children will not know how to exercise the art of self-control when they are away.  This does not mean we allow anything filthy to come into our homes, for sure.  We still need to set clear boundaries and teach correct principles while living in the world.  Allowing them choices "within the bounds the Lord has set."

By overcompensating, becoming overzealous in our righteousness, we must be careful of teaching with fear rather than faith.  We are teaching our children to be fearful rather than faithful.  We are creating pressure rather than peace.

When the Brethren stand in conference to speak, I don't hear the doomsday speeches that the end of the world is near or that having video games in our home is going to lead us all down the wrong path.  Rather, I hear messages of hope and happiness and peace.  Warnings, yes, but not out of fear.

As mothers we must be full of faith as we raise our children.  We must know that we are teaching correct principles and allow our children the opportunity to choose for themselves.  We exercise faith by teaching, exhorting and then "cease speaking" (1 Ne. 8:39), recognizing that the Lord will lead and guide them as well as He does us.


Book of the Week: 100 Dresses

To keep in line with World Kindness Week , I chose to highlight The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

My girls and I just read this for our girls book group.  I LOVE this story.  It's short and sweet with an amazingly deep message for young girls to simply be kind toward others, to look outside themselves for those who may be without or lacking in some way.  A great read for the holiday season.

As our project we decided to make paper doll (with dresses) sets for the children's wing of the local hospital.  It would be great to have 100 dresses to donate, but we may not reach that.  At the beginning of next month we will go and deliver them all together.


Coolest "Class" of the Year

My daughter and I were contemplating with fascination today, the fact that we have a bunch of dead animals sitting in our basement.  It's true!  This year we decided to team up with a couple of other families to try our hand at dissection.  It's been awesome!  Here's what we've dissected so far.

Worms ...  sorry no pictures.

Squid  - - so far most of the kids' favorite.

And today we tried starfish.  Word of caution:  the starfish is MUCH more challenging than expected!  I, personally, thought this was the grossest one so far!  We are finding, as the mothers, that the kids really just want to "dig in" rather than actually see the real stuff inside.  The starfish was especially tricky with that and most of them had all their rays cut off by the end of the day!  Still, it's been fascinating to learn about different specimen and then cut them all open.

**You can order dissection tools and specimen at Home Science Tools.


World Kindness Week

'Tis the season to start spreading joy!

Remember the movie, Evan Almighty?  It's so cheesy and yet I do love the message (plus, it's one "safe" movie to watch with Steve Carell).  In the movie he talks about the ark standing for Acts of Random Kindess and how those acts of kindness can basically build a safety net for all of us to withstand the storms.

Well, this week is World Kindness Week sponsored by The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.  This week I thought I would take a moment each day to teach the kids about kindness and hopefully perform some act of kindness in our neighborhood or community. 


image from amazon.com

image from goodreads.com

Math:  Make a Difference....with subtraction! Discuss math vocabulary or work on some timed subtraction problems.  As you do so you can talk about the meaning of making a difference!

Science:  Here's a fun study to read about (and possibly reenact with your kids) on the Science of Compassion.  I recently wrote about how expressing heartfelt gratitude can raise the levels of serotonin in your system.  This is the happy hormone.  We all could use more of that, right?! 

Social Studies:  The article above led me to another idea:  Study different religious works on the idea of compassion and kindness.  For example, the 13 Attributes of Mercy for Judaism and The Good Samaritan for Christianity.  This would be a great time to discuss how there is some truth found in all religion and how we can be compassionate toward those who believe differently than we do.  
 Kindness Academy Awards
Throughout the week watch for the Acts of Random Kindness of your children  (don't tell them you are watching).  Then, at the end of the week highlight the things they did and hand out "rewards."  A friend of mine did this for Family Night and said it was so great to watch her kids' faces light up when they saw their good deeds were recognized. 


A Call to Rise Up

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I wasn't going to talk politics anymore, but my mind is reeling today with all sorts of thoughts.  My sister called me just to see what I thought of the election and it just got my blood pumping as I talked about my feelings throughout the day.

This is the Lord's plan.  That's really all there is to it.  Either candidate winning would have caused some hardship among the LDS population  (again see Elder Nelson's quote from yesterday's post).   And so I find great faith and safety in the idea that this is what the Lord needed for His purposes to come to pass.  Honestly, I take this as a call for the righteous to become more righteous and a call to the wicked to repent.

Let's look at what's gone on in my own life this past month.  First, at General Conference we heard the prophet, President Monson declare the change of age for missionary service.  This statement signified that it is time to gather His people more quickly than ever before.  For me, personally, it called me to be raised to a higher standard in my home, preparing my own children for missionary work and to become stronger parents themselves.

Next, this weekend our community experienced a stake change.  We had two stakes combine to create a third stake.  It was very exciting to hear the General Authorities and those men recently called to lead in this area declare their witness of personal revelation and testify of the growth of the Lord's kingdom upon the earth.  Again, I was revitalized and encouraged to raise the bar, only this time in my own community.  Strengthening the stake in Zion right here in Richland.

Finally, the election this week.  I feel this election was yet another call to fortify my home.  Sean Hanity said something like this today, "We're talking about the government here.  You still have control over the values you teach in your home.  You still have the ability to raise your children any way you want to.  This is just an opportunity for you to ask yourself how you are doing in your own home to strengthen, teach and fortify your children."

As I have studied for my lesson this coming Sunday I recognize, too, that the one way I can personally strengthen my home and raise my children with fortified faith is to immerse them in the scriptures, teach them the doctrines of Christ, and help them make the word of God their foundation so they can withstand the afflictions that will surely come.

Elder Robert D. Hales has said, "We must remember that we have control over who we are no matter how difficult the world becomes. . . . Throughout all the wars of past century and the conflicts that rage today, Latter-day Saints survive because they hear His voice through the scriptures." 

So, to all you mothers out there worrying about your own children and the world they face ahead:  Be Strong!  Study the word of God personally so you can have the strength of His words behind you as you raise your children in "love and righteousness." And remember as President Monson declared so boldly, "The Lord is involved in the details of our lives."

I know He is.  I know there are great things happening and with those great things will come hardships.  It is ours to build up the kingdom, and we begin in our own lives and in our own homes.  This truly is the Lord's plan.


Face the Future with Faith

I cried last night.

Not entirely because of who won as our president, I've never been that emotionally involved in politics.

I cried because of other issues being passed in my own state and in the country.  Issues that open the door to further, more troubling decisions that will come up in the lives of my children. 

I cried as I thought of the hardships that will come their way as they continue to grow and raise their own children. 

I cried at the thought that I need to set my feet more firmly on the ground defending not only the sanctity of marriage and the family, but also the upcoming struggles that will come regarding religious freedoms. 

In his conference address from April 2010, Elder Russell M. Nelson stated something that has really stuck with me since, "Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested. The Apostle Paul warned that in the latter days, those who diligently follow the Lord 'shall suffer persecution.'  That very persecution can either crush you into silent weakness or motivate you to be more exemplary and courageous in your daily lives (emphasis added)."

Of course, after tears are shed I need to turn back to my own faith.  Last night in our family prayers I expressed, "Please bless those still voting with inspiration to vote for the leader who will help lead us in establishing Thy kingdom."  When I said that, I was not referring to the Mormon candidate alone.  I believe I was simply asking the Lord for my own heart to be willing to accept that the man elected would be who the Lord needed to prepare His people for His coming.  Persecution and destruction will be inevitable in the final days.  We need to be prepared.

And so, I leave with one more message from Elder Nelson, a thought about the faith we must build as we get closer to the day of the Lord's coming. 

"...we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith.   

Start with your children. You parents bear the primary responsibility to strengthen their faith. Let them feel your faith, even when sore trials come upon you. Let your faith be focused on our loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach that faith with deep conviction. Teach each precious boy or girl that he or she is a child of God, created in His image, with a sacred purpose and potential. Each is born with challenges to overcome and faith to be developed (emphasis added)."

Again I say, God Bless America!


Who's it Going to Be?

Yesterday I sent my daughter to the websites I mentioned here.  Minutes later she ran into my room exclaiming, "Mom!  It would be so fun if we had an election for family night tonight.  We can put up posters and give speeches.  It would be so fun!" 

Well, I was planning a patriotic-type lesson anyway, so I said sure.  I didn't know what a fire would be lit!  I left for a lunch date and came back with posters all over the house.  My daughter, B (I found out later) even called my hubby at work 3 times and simply said, "Vote for B" and then hung up.  Great campaigning, don't you think? 

So, after a brief lesson on the Constitution and how we can be good citizens, we listened to each of their speeches on why they should be President of the Home for a day. 

JW (12) got up and pretty much brown-nosed the whole way.   I have to say, I was tempted to vote for him when he promised changing all of D's diapers for a day! 

B (11) was next with her plea for somewhat socialistic happiness.  Equal work, equal pay and the promise to "make you happy!"  :-) 

A (10) was the most surprising and well put together.  I didn't know she could write so well.   Here is what she had to say:

 If you vote for me I promise that I will make the Hathaway Home a happier place.  I will also make the Hathaway home run smoother in great peace, love and happiness.  To do this I will direct those having struggles.  For example, if people are fighting I will go and figure out a way for each person to be happy.  

I will also make sure everybody has an equal part in the dishes.  For example, the person who gets clean table for breakfast will get a harder job like sweep for dinner.  But I will also gaje (guage) jobs on age.  But that does not mean that the oldest will get a hard job both meals, it means that someone will help the younger ones.  For example, if you get clean table for breakfast your harder job for dinner may be load and help the younger ones clean an easier big dish.  

Now, when I said earlier in my speech I will make stuff even for cleaning, I was talking about myself as well  (big smile).  To create more peace in the Hathaway Home I will figure out a way to make mean teasing into goofy teasing and fun laughter.  

Thank you for listening and good luck voting!

In the end, our "Make Everybody Happy" child won this election.  And so, Wednesday she will be our president and lead our home.  Let's hope it does bring peace!   

Let's also pray today that whatever the outcome of today's real election will bring peace and happiness, the the leader chosen will uphold the constitution and remember the true foundation this country was built upon. 

God Bless America  & Best Wishes to the Candidates!  


Election Time!

This will be an exciting election to watch!  Here are a couple of websites and activities that might get your little ones more involved.

Congress for Kids - my favorite website for helping kids get a grasp on how our government is supposed to work.

The Electoral College - if you click on the link that says "electoral college map" you can see an interactive map detailing the geographical and numerical voting trends of America.  There's also a simple and fun game to play here.

Gallopade - This website looks really fun for older kids.  

Print off a picture of the presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Barak Obama.  Type up some facts about each one.  Have the kids match the statements with the pictures. 

Have a Politics in America Family Night Lesson

Doctrine & Covenants 101:77-80
  According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

Two other great articles to reference:  
Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom by Elder Quentin L. Cook
Our Divine Constitution by President Ezra Taft Benson 

Create a Mock Debate on many different topics.  Include some of the Youth Standards from the For Strength of Youth pamphlet as well as other political issues on the ballot such as charter school acceptance and same-sex marriage. 


Trunk vs. Trick

So, for my final post on the week's festivities, I have some breaking news.

Halloween Party at the Last Election Year..
.Can you Guess who we Are? 

I like Halloween again!

You know, back when the kids were little I would dress up with them, get all excited for them and enjoy the day.  Well, maybe it's because I got more exhausted as more kids came along and it became more of a chore than a joy, but somewhere along the line I lost my excitement.

Until Halloween Night 2012.  Yes.  I LOVED IT.   What made the difference?

For years we've been going to our church activity, the Trunk-or-Treat.  I've never really liked it and have protested in previous years, but went to appease my hubby and children.  This year I got a little grumbling from the kids, but was surprised there was not a peep of protestation from my hubby.  So we spent the evening doing the traditional trick-or-treating just in our very own neighborhood.

Why do I not like the trunk-or-treat idea?  A few reasons.

1) It just seems like instant gratification for the kids.  They don't even have to work for the candy they get!

2) Crowds.  It's like herding sheep.

3) I would just sit in the back of my van, shivering in the cold, not even recognizing half of the people who walked by because of the crowds and rush, and hoping my family would hurry so we could just go home.  Then by the time we got home I'd be in no mood to take them anywhere else so we'd knock on a few token doors just to say we did.

Halloween Night I discovered one more reason why I prefer the door-to-door way so much better.  It was pure joy watching the elderly people open the doors with lighted faces to see the kids at their doorsteps.  It was delightful to hear the kids yell, "Trick-or-Treat" with a little more fervor (not trickortreat, trickortreat,trickortreat, like trying to say it ten times fast in the parking long).  The girls even made up a song to sing at a few doors and Christmas carolled at another. It was even beautiful to actually hear the thank yous as the children received the candy.

Overall, it was a pleasant night just being with my family.
Oh, and Watcher in the Woods was a hit, by the way.  A must see if you haven't already.  :-)

I hope your week was great and you enjoyed a bit of family time, friend time, and just time to interrupt the week to celebrate something.

Happy Weekend, Everyone!


What to do with All That Candy??

image from flickr.com

I just had to smile today as I watched my kids completely obsessed with their candy.  In the past it's really bothered me, but today it was actually quite enjoyable.  And I cured the "candy wrapper issue" I wrote about a couple of days ago.  I simply told them if I found a wrapper they would pay me with a piece of candy.  They fessed up and paid up better than I expected...and I only had to "charge" them a few times.  It was fabulous!

We were all happy today because we used the candy for our math lesson today.  Here are some things we did or you can do:

** Candy Graph.  Sort, count and graph the candy by kind and/or color.

**  Estimate and Weigh.  Use a balance to estimate and then weigh your candy.  Create a math page of greater than & less than problems  (you can also do this with a kitchen scale as well, good for older children).

** Candy Lines.  Again, sort by kind of candy (chocolate bars, lollipops, licorice, boxes, little packets, etc.).  Have them line each kind up in a line and see which type of candy makes the longest line.  Measure and record your answers.

And then, of course, learning the art of persuasion and negotiation as the kids trade back and forth...All. Day. Long.


Happy Halloween

I'm pretty much a grinch when it comes to Halloween.  It's not my favorite.  The dressing up is kind of cute and fun.  Trick -or-Treating brings great memories to mind as a young person myself.  The candy?  I do like getting a little bit of chocolate.  :-)   So, I'm not really sure why I don't like this holiday.  I guess it's just the hassle of it all. And the endless amount of candy wrappers I find all over the house for weeks on end (okay, had to get that out for some reason). 

Still, there are a couple of very fun traditions at our house I do love on this day....

1) Dinner in a Pumpkin - - yes!  This meal is cooked inside a pumpkin.  One year I actually made small, individual-sized pumpkin bowls for the family.  Here's the recipe:

1 small pumpkin
1-4 oz. can mushrooms (or fresh, sliced)
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of chicken
2 TBSP olive oil
1-8oz can water chestnuts (sliced)
1-2 lbs. ground beef
1 1/2 c. cooked rice
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP brown sugar

Directions:  Clean out pumpkin.  Brown ground beef with onion.  Cook the rice.  Mix all ingredients together and place inside of pumpkin.  Place pumpkin on a cookie sheet and bake @ 350 for 1 hour. 

2) Family Movie Night
Every Halloween night, after the trick-or-treating has ended, we come home and watch a scary movie.  Well...scary by kids' standards anyway.  We let the kids inhale their candy all they want during the movie, too  (which somewhat minimizes the candy wrapper scenario). 

We've watched thusfar:
Jurasic Park
Harry Potter #2 (it had just come out)
The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock)
Monster House
Some random Hansel and Gretel movie that my hubby and I slept through (that was a bad year)

This year's movie:  Watcher in the Woods
Do you remember that Disney movie from childhood?  Yeah.  I hope it's as scary as I remember it being then.  Unfortunately, my oldest will not be present because of a dance (I tried to persuade him otherwise).  So, really it will just be our girls watching with us (the little boys will be watching Jurasic Park earlier in the evening). 

Do you have any movie suggestions?  Let me know...'cuz I'm always searching!

 “God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.”  - - James Barrie (Scottish poet)


Ghastly Book of the Week

As promised...here is the new Halloween classic in our home.

image from akalak.nupo.ur

WARNING:  This one is NOT for the faint-hearted.  Be prepared to be appalled. 

However, if you're tougher...be prepared to laugh.  A LOT.


Cemetery School

When I was in high school and attending early morning seminary, I laughed when a non-LDS friend of mine said, "What?  You go to the cemetery every morning?" 

Well, now my kids can say, "Yes.  We go to the cemetery for school!"

One day this week we will have what I like to call "Cemetery School." 

Math:  Using subtraction, have the kids figure out how old the person was when they died.

Reading:  Find a name that starts with each letter of the alphabet (first or last).  Good luck with X!

We also like to read a story of some sort...something about cemeteries or Halloween.  Tomorrow I will share this year's book (be ready, it's becoming a classic at our house!).

Science:  Okay.  This was a fascinating science fair project I stumbled upon.  If you don't do it yourself, it's at least really cool to read and tell your kids about.

Writing:  Draw a picture of your own tombstone.  Write your own epitaph for your grave.  

History:  Find the grave of a veteran.  What war did he/she fight in?  Did he die during the war or after?  Take a minute to discuss the circumstances surrounding the time period in which he/she would have fought.

Art:   Tombstone Rubbings:  Place a sheet of paper over the grave stone.  Using the long side of a crayon (peeled), rub along the tombstone and see the picture show through.

FUN:  Have a picnic lunch with Tombstone pizza!  :-)   

Play the backyard game:  Ghosts in the Graveyard (if possible in the daylight)


Bill Cosby Tonight!

It's true!  For my birthday this year my hubby got me tickets to see Bill Cosby!

I'm sure I am not the only one out there raised on The Cosby Show.  To this day I still like to watch episodes for great parenting advice.  Like the time Vanessa got "caught" playing a game with bourbon and came home drunk.  Her older sister tried to hide it, but parents do have a way of finding these things out.  So as "punishment" instead of a lecture the parents decided to "play the game" with Vanessa  (secretly with apple juice instead of bourbon). 

Yes, I would love to be such a parent.  Maybe I would be if I had a script to follow!  :-)  It doesn't hurt to have role models, though, fake or real.  :-)

So, tonight I will hopefully be laughing and enjoying a childhood idol.

Hope your weekend is just as fun!


Book of the Week

image provided by amazon.com
 This book is fabulous for those who love comics like Calivin and Hobbes.  It's great for those who are reading independently but not ready for longer books yet.  It's just a great, fun book to get the kids an overview of American Hisotry.  My son, JL, is loving it!  There are also versions on Physics and Chemistry.  Check them out!


Weekend of Weekends

Variety Show Dancers  (yes, I'm the gangsta')

Okay!  I wish I could just share with all of you the amazing-ness (yes, I'm making up that word) of the Women's Retreat I was able to attend a couple of weeks ago.  It was so good!  It's just amazing when you can put 25 ladies from all walks of life (young, old, married, single, divorced, widowed, with children, without children, etc...) into one space for 48 hours and watch them learn to accept and love one another.  It was a weekend of great awakening for me as I truly experience the love of the Savior there.

I came home full of gratitude to my Father in Heaven for placing in my path the people I needed to get me to this spot in my journey.  Deinse sponsered the 8th Annual women's retreat this year.  She truly has a gift and I was honored to be a guest speaker at this year's retreat.  I met Denise thorugh a mutual acquaintance.  She had no clue who I was when I approached her with my own message to share, and yet she took a leap of faith and gave me this opportunity.  There is so much more that went into this experience, I can't even put it into words.  I am just truly grateful to have been there. 

The theme this year was Choose to Become.  We had a hike with challenges to overcome.  We had Zumba and a very funny variety show!  I was able to provide the devotional on "Choosing to Become Spiritually Minded" and there was another speaker/workshop on "Choosing to Nourish."  As a finale we had a team-building activity which led to tears on my part as I recognized yet another weakness of mine.  :-) 

As I said though, the weekend really wasn't about the activities so much as it was about how the women came together in love and unity.  I look forward to seeing these and other beautiful women in the future because I think I have discovered where I need to be and what I need to be doing with my own desire to strengthen and uplift women of the Church and in my community. 


Mentoring Mothers: Weaknesses

 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them. - - Ether 12:27 (Book of Mormon)

Does anyone really like to look at their weaknesses?  And yet at the same time, don't we all see our weaknesses more than our strengths?  It seems to be a Catch-22, doesn't it? 

As Mentoring Mothers we  had a great discussion a couple of weeks ago about discovering our missions in life by understanding our weaknesses.  Randall Wright mentions that in order to undestand who we are we must acknowledge our weaknesses. 

I remember sitting in a Relief Society meeting and someone made a comment about discovering our weaknesses.  The gal sitting next to me muttered, "Oh!  I already know mine."  I couldn't help thinking, "That's not what she (the commenter) means."  There's one thing to belittle ourselves over our weaknesses and another to fully acknowledge before God the characteristics that we lack to fully become one with Him. 

Recognizing our weaknesses is not saying, "She's good at that and I'm not."  Recognizing our weaknesses is an act of humility when we can go to our Father in Heaven and say, "Tell me what I can work on so I can be more like Thee." 

I had a harsh awakening at Education Week this year.  I was literally squirming in my seat, uncomfortable as I realized that the mesasge was to me and I didn't really want to hear it (though it did sink deep into my heart).  The topic was  (dare I admit it!)  on getting defenisve and being offensive.  

The funny thing is, when the Lord reveals a weakness to you (in many different ways), it's not so hard to swallow (as opposed to my husband telling me my weaknesses).  :-)  I almost found the information refreshing because I suddenly knew exactly what I needed to work on so I could be closer to true discipleship  (and I'm still working on it!). 

Another thing I appreciated from Acheiving Your Life Mission was how the author put weaknesses in a positive light.  For instance, President Hinckley was not a man of great patience and yet it was his impatience that got 100 temples dotting the earth in a short amount of time.  So, there are benefits to our weaknesses that we need to seek and learn from.


Food Day

Wednesday is Food Day
Doesn't sound too exciting, maybe.   But for me it's just what's on my mind! 

For awhile my husband has been eating low-carb.  Really low-carb.  Which also means no sugar.  For two years.  Yeah.  He's got more willpower than I can even dream of having. 

And yet, as he's talked about it and lived it for so long, I can't help but think about it myself.  With my own health issues that arose with my last baby's delivery, I got online to read about building one's immunce system.  Guess what?  You guessed it.  Low Carb, no sugar. 

So, I've been thinking about this for awhile.  And am finally reading more about it.  The book Eat to Live landed in my hands this week.  As I've read the book I've had in my mind (and in my prayers) one specific question:  What small step can I take that will help me change for good?  I really would like to just change tomorrow and never look back.  I don't like slow-process change.  But that just isn't realistic (especially when feeding six children who will not change so drastically). 

I liked a couple of thoughts from Eat to Live:  Salad is the main dish and fresh fruits & vegetables should make up 90% of your diet.  This is a very pro-vegetarian book and I don't know that I'll go quite that far (yet) but I do like the idea of just increasing my veggie intake.

Okay, so now that I got all of that out of my system...what does it have to do with Joyful Mondays?  Well, I guess we can just take a moment to evaluate our own diets and then educate our children on taking care of their own bodies.  We teach them not to say no to drugs, alcohol and smoking, so why not take it a step further and teach them the good stuff we can put into our bodies for nourishment and health? 

"Yea, and the herb, and the agood things which come of the earth, whether for food or for braiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;  Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the abenefit and the buse of man, both to please the eye and to cgladden the heart;  Yea, for afood and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to bstrengthen the body and to enliven the soul."
 - - Doctrine & Covenants 59:17-19


My Grandma

I know my posts have been sparse the week.  I have so much to share...women's retreat, Mentoring Mothers, more great books to share!  However, this week has been a bit of whirlwind as I've tried to prepare for yet another weekend away.  My grandmother, Lucille Evans Pack, passed away this last Tuesday and so I am heading to her Mermorial this weekend.  Just me.  So, I've been trying to get things done here at home so I can leave with as little chaos as I can.  :- )

Grandma with David 2011
My grandma was/is such a sweet, sweet lady.  All I remember of my grandma are sweet smiles, lots of laughter, and just a positive feeling all around.  We didn't grow up near her and so my memories consist of our few visits down to St George as a child.  I remember playing Concentration at her house many times (I think it's still there in her home!).  My sister and I were always giddy to choose which cute plate set we'd use at Grandma's;   Raggedy Ann and Andy was the one I remember.  Most of all I just remember the peace that I felt in her home.  

The great blessing for me and my family is that we were able to be there to visit her just a year ago this week.  I had kept saying year after year, "We need to go see Grandma."  Now I see that had we pushed it off one more year, we would have been too late.  The kids just remember her laughing a lot.  She went out of this life happy.  :-)

Death is always such a bittersweet experience.   This was definitely her time.  I want to say she just turned 99 this last month (but it might just be 98).  And she's been alone for nearly 20 years.  I can just imagine the sweet reunion she had with my grandpa after being separated for so long.   Her joy for life will be felt for generations. 


Cake Time!

Happy Monday!

TODAY is one of my kids' favorite days...
(October is full of favorites for us!)


(This pictures are from a few years ago...
Look how young my kids look.  Sigh)

This one is pretty simple to celebrate.

Just bake a cake for each of your kids, get some frosting...and start decorating. 

We also like to read the following:

image from genesisartandbooks.com

image from thehomeschoolmom.com
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