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.
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