Book of the Week

image from bricksandbloks.com
I know this may seem like a silly book to feature, but if you've got boys who love legos you have to get this book! This book would also be fabulous for the reluctant reader who loves legos because each page just has a short character sketch on a lego guy. 

My 6yo and 8yo fight over who gets to take this one to bed every night!  To me, any time I find my kids immersed in one book (so long as it's appropriate, of course)...I call that a winner.


Last week of July

I cannot believe we're entering August already!  This summer has been eventful, fairly productive and unstructured.  I'm starting to itch for a more predictable schedule...but not quite there yet!  These last few weeks of summer I hope to make great.

So, this week here are a few ideas to say good-bye to July with a bang:

Monday, July 29th:  Lasagna Day
Make a yummy lasagna for dinner and then watch a few episodes of Garfield (because lasagna was his favorite meal, you know).

Tuesday, July 30th:  Cheesecake Day & Father-in-Law Day
Kill two birds with one stone by celebrating this day!  If your father-in-law lives nearby, take him a cheesecake and show him some appreciation.

Thursday, August 1st:  Spiderman Day
Make it a movie marathon day and watch the Spiderman trilogy.  For younger kids, just find the cartoon episodes and watch those for a little bit.  You can also make these really fun spider pops and treats to celebrate. 

Saturday, August 3rd:  Watermelon Day
Get a seeded watermelon (yes, they still sell them) and have a seed spitting contest.   Then find Peter Spit a Seed at Sue to read with the kids.

Enjoy your last week of July!!


How to be a Successful Missionary

With all this talk on missionary work, I think it's time to step up the bar for ourselves.  I think this quote from President Monson sets the perfect stage of how to do just that! 

"Today our challenge is to be more profitable servants in the Lord's vineyard.  May I suggest...a formula that will insure your success: ...Search the scriptures with diligence! ...  The scriptures testify of God and contain the words of eternal life.  They a become the burden of your message even the tools of your trade.  Your confidence will be directly related to your knowledge of God's word."  
 - - President Thomas S. Monson, CR Oct. 1969 - -



I like to plan and have big dreams and ideas.  That doesn't mean I actually do all of it.  Sometimes it takes getting another person involved to really follow through with one of my grand ideas.

So I did!

Earlier this month my hubby was out of town for TEN DAYS.  It was a long time.  So, I decided to take that opportunity to decorate our back porch (one of my grand ideas he was not terribly excited about, but I knew once it was done he'd love it).  This may not seem like such a big deal for some, but for me it's all a grand accomplishment!

Fortunately, I have great friends to give me even greater ideas and who help with the follow through.  Here's what it turned out to be...and yes, my hubby loves it!

On the far left side my hubby is going to build a sink and counter.
There will also be a built in bench right underneath the wall hangings here.

I found this wall hanging at a yard sale for a couple of buck and I used my newly learned flower arranging skills to fill it. 

I reupholstered the cushions...first time ever!  Took a little longer than expected, but I'm pleased with the finished result.
I spray painted this clock as well.  

This is where my amazing friend stepped in.  Abby helped me tile this table!  The base was free on the side of the road...the tile cost we won't mention.  :-) 

Now I just need to have a party!  :-)


Favorite New Food

With our new dietary changes (basically, no processed foods, sugar or white flour) I have been searching for recipes.  I'm not one to love being in the kitchen more than I absolutely need to, so this has been kind of exciting and challenging all at the same time...finding foods that will feed the family and satisfy my own needs.

I have discovered one type of food that makes everyone happy (and actually is supposed to help my health because of the high content of coconut milk, turmeric and ginger in their recipes)...


I love it!  And it's easy which makes me love it even more!!

Here are a couple of my favorite new recipes in the Thai department...

Thai Chicken
3/4 c. coconut milk
3 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 1/2 TBSP fish sauce
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or as desired for spice)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 TBSP ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 lbs. chicken, cut in strips
3 Shiitake mushrooms
5 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. chopped basil leaves

In bowl mix milk, soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce and pepper flakes.  Set aside.
In skillet heat oil.  Stir in onion, ginger and garlic, cook till browned.  Mix in chicken strips until browned.  Stir in milk sauce and cook until liquid is reduced about 1/2.  Mix in mushrooms, green onions and basil.  Cook until heated through.

Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 TBSP olive oil
2 cans coconut milk
2 c. water
2 TBSP minced ginger
4 TBSP fish sauce
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 TBSP sliced green onions
1 TBSP cilantro

Cut up chicken and saute in oil 2-3 minutes, until white.  In pot, bring to boil milk and water.  Reduce heat.  Add ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, turmeric & ceyenne.  Simmer until chicken is done (10-15 min.).  Sprinkle with onions & cilantro.


Considering the end of thy Salvation

Consider: to think about and be drawn toward


I think we like lists.  Lists are easy to follow and to "check off" as they get done.  The Lord gives us a fair amount of lists in the scriptures as well. Let's look at the verbs in these verses, for example: 


D&C 46:7 - But ye are commanded in all things to aask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all bholiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, cconsidering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and dthanksgiving, that ye may not be eseduced by evil fspirits, or doctrines of devils, or the gcommandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.

Mosiah 4:16 And also, ye yourselves will asuccor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the bbeggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish...I would that ye should bimpart of your substance to the cpoor, every man according to that which he hath, such as dfeeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

One phrase in the above scripture caught my attention, "considering the end of thy salvation."  I think that generally we are pretty good at giving service when asked or when we see a need.  But what of the addage, " ...and when thou art bconverted, cstrengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32)?"

If we are to truly serve as the Savior, we must learn as He learned.

"And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel (Luke 1:80)."

In addition, forty days before He entered His mission and ministry among the people, He separated Himself from all others to fast, to pray and to receive the spiritual strength to overcome the adversary.

Should we not follow that example?  We may not be able to take the 40 day solitude challenge, but what if we did the equivalent of that in our daily scripture study? 

If we took a cup and filled it with a rock for every thing we are "supposed" to do...pray, read scriptures, help the needy, feed the poor, visiting and home teaching, tithing, etc...etc...we become weary and weighed down, right?  Not only that, but there are gaps between the rocks.  Who is it that will come and fill in those gaps if we let him?  That's right, the adversary.

However, what happens when we fill that glass with water....living water?  That glass isn't heavy, rather it quenches your thirst and rejuvenates your energy and spirit.  You can see through it, more clearly than with the rocks anyway.  Most importantly, there are no holes.  It is filled with light so much that it cannot be penetrated.

D&C 88:67  And if your eye be asingle to my bglory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light ccomprehendeth all things.

 As we fill ourselves with light  we can then truly be ready to serve as the Savior served.  Why?  Because we will then feel for others the way the Savior feels. As we truly become converted through a study of His words we will naturally yearn to follow Him and do those things that are needful. Why?  Because we don't only learn about Him by reading the verses, we become familiar with Him and know who He is. 

Just before King Benjamin gave us the list of service were are to render he spoke of this love.  Here are his words:

And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have atasted of his love, and have received a bremission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own cnothingness, and his dgoodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of ehumility, fcalling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing gsteadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the alove of God, and always bretain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the cknowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
 And ye will not have a amind to injure one another, but to live bpeaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due  (Mosiah 4:11-13)."

Action and obedience are necessary for the Lord's work to move forward, but if we are to be strong enough to withstand the wiles of the adversary we must understand the scriptures with our mind and our heart. We must consider the scriptures daily  in order to truly know God when we see Him.  

I'll end with these words from President Joseph Fielding Smith:

We have the right to the guidance of the Holy Ghost, but we can't have that guidance if we wilfully refuse to consider the revelations that have been given to help us to understand and to guide us in the light and truth of the everlasting gospel. We can't hope to have that guidance when we refuse to consider these great revelations which mean so much to us both temporally and spiritually. 


Family Home Evening

I remember hearing this from Elder Bednar a few years ago and wondered how I could possibly apply it in my own home.  He said,

Imagine...a family home evening in which children are invited and expected to come prepared to ask questions about what they are reading and learning in the Book of Mormon—or about an issue that recently was emphasized in a gospel discussion or spontaneous testimony in the home. And imagine further that the children ask questions the parents are not prepared adequately to answer. Some parents might be apprehensive about such an unstructured approach to home evening. But the best family home evenings are not necessarily the product of preprepared, purchased, or downloaded packets of outlines and visual aids. What a glorious opportunity for family members to search the scriptures together and to be tutored by the Holy Ghost. “For the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; … and they did all labor, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26).

For the past 8 years we've had one of those cute little family home evening boards in our home, rotating the responsibilities for family night like a mechanical robot....and that's what it was becoming!  More recently our Monday nights were a bit rote and stagnant.  It was time to change things up, but I didn't know how.

Our first step was to just get rid of the board.  I was sad, because it was really cute and I liked the structure.  But when I took it off the wall and proclaimed it dead, my husband sighed with relief, "I've never really liked that thing!"

Step two was to create a binder.  Each week we would have a different child conduct family night.  With that responsibility the child was to create an agenda and then  write a little something afterwards about what we discussed and did as a family.  This kind of worked.  If nothing else it helped us to get out of the rote mindset for family night.

Step three kind of happened on it's own and has been quite exciting.

A few weeks ago my husband gave a lesson where he asked everyone to write down a topic of the gospel they thought they knew a lot about and a topic they didn't know much about.  We were then asked to find a scripture on the topic that we knew about and share it with the family.   This led to a discussion on tithing  (the most common "we know" topic) and an assignment for the next week:  to find & share a scripture on the topic we didn't know much about.   That second week we had a great time sharing what we found so we decided to try it again.  Only, this time we decided to have a gospel topic for the whole family to study rather than each finding different topics to share.

Our first "all family" topic was prayer.  During the week, each person was to find a scripture on prayer and write it on the white board whenever they found it so we wouldn't duplicate verses.   As we discussed each verse, we took notes on what we learned with regards to the topic of prayer.  Then we issued a challenge (like the Come Follow Me curriculum guidelines suggest) that everyone pray that week about how our family can become a part of the missionary efforts of the Church.  The next week we were to come with a scripture on missionary work for family home evening.  Again, another special discussion ensued and the spirit was strongly felt that night as we discussed our missionary efforts and all the Lord expects of us.

It's been so great to see the blessings and rewards of following the counsel of our leaders.  Our children are learning and gaining confidence in the scriptures, the parents are learners and listeners (something I need to practice), and we are all being edified together. 

"There is peace in righteous doing!" 
Choose the Right, Hymn #239


Mental Motherhood

I just went to my husband and said, "I'm having a 'feel like a bad mommy morning.'"

He responded, "You just have to remember that being a mom is like being an athlete;  it's 70% effort and 30% mental."

I laughed.

It's true.

Once you start feeling like a bad mom, then you start acting like a bad mom.  At least, for me when I think I'm messing up I get more controlling (as if that will fix anything).

So, the trick is to always think you're a great mom and then you'll act like a great mom!  :-)

I watched a movie with my kids  yesterday and heard the line, "Be the father you always wished your dad was."  Well, I had a pretty great mom and so have a good example to follow.  But with that example I also have my own ideal of what I look like a great mom.  If I could visualize that greatness and keep that image in my head throughout the day then maybe I'll act more the ideal part.

Maybe that's what it means to "always remember Him."  If we could visualize what the Savior was like, imagine the stories as a reality in our own lives, and keep those images in our minds throughout the day I can just imagine how we would act.

I guess that's what being spiritually minded is all about after all.

"...to be spiritually minded is life eternal..."
2 Ne. 9:39


The Learning Potential of Children

"If children have interest, then education happens."


Book of the Week

image from rainbowresource.com

This is the BEST I Spy type book I have seen because it introduces the kids to true classics.  My kids spent lots of time in this book while we borrowed it from our local library.  It's on my purchase list.  I think it would be great for car trips!  AND I just discovered there is a whole series of them!



July 11th is World Population Day.

Apparently, on July 11, 1987, Matej Gaspar was proclaimed the five billionth person on the earth at his birth.  One of my sons was obsessed a few months ago with the world population counter;  he would watch it obsessively for quite some time (I found it quite fascinating myself).   We are now counting 7 billion people worldwide.  This in and of itself can spawn some great discussions with your children. Online you'll mostly find some negative aspects of population growth, but we can make it more positive for our children to understand this somewhat serious topic!

Here are some ideas on how to share this day with your family:

Read The Family:  A Proclamation to the World and learn of the importance of having children and raising families.

Missionary Work.  Use this number to get the attention of how important missionary work is as we are to spread the gospel to "every tongue and every nation."   Compare numbers in regards to the growth of the Church.  Elder Neil L. Anderson gives us some numbers in his most recent conference talk.  You could also compare statistical reports for the last 40 years and chart them on a line graph  (kids love graphs).

Debate the topic.  What is Zero Population Growth (ZPG)?  Have a one side of the family research reasons to support ZPG and another side to oppose the ideas proposed by this group.  Have them check out what is happening in other countries who have limited birth laws. Watch out, things could get touchy!

image from wikipedia.com

The Among the Hidden series by Margaret Peterson Haddix will help put into perspective what could happen to a society when birthrates are limited.  I loved this whole series!

Make it personal.  What is the population of your city?  What was the population when you were born?


Independence Day

Independence: State of being not dependent;  a state of mind in which a person acts without bias or influences from others;  self-direction

In a time when the word freedom is becoming more a tool of the devil than for truth, it's good to go back and remember the true definition of such words.  And in these last days it's good to remember personal peace comes from remembering our own strength, power and obligation to stand as lights in a darkening world.

"Posterity!  You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom!  I hope you will make great use of it!"  
- - John Adams in a letter to his wife - - 


Mothers are All Alike

I stole these words from my mom in an email she just sent out to her kiddies.  This story touched my soul.  Oh, how I wish I could have been sitting by my own mother as she watched this bird mother send off her little ones out into the open air.  I guess we're all going to have to watch them leave someday.  :-) 

 It's been fascinating to watch the growth and progress of three baby robins in a nest just outside of the front door of the small cabin. I took a picture of the three of them yesterday that I will attach. This morning, I went out on the porch to check on them, and one had already flown the coop; a second one was perched high in the nest and looking eager to be gone, too. He was so quick to be on his way. It was like he was saying, "I'm outta here! So long, Sister!" He appeared to be 'the strong, silent type'....as he never made a peep....just tended to business. The third one was still snoozing away. As I watched, the little guy took off flying to a nearby aspen branch. I have a picture of him and his mommy....who hovered nearby....and then went over to him on the branch and either gave him a treat or a kiss.*:-* kiss

 I have been watching the third little one all morning...waiting for her to fly. I'm sure she's female...because she was a real chatterbox; was taking her own sweet time!; and was doing a lot of primping! (grooming her feathers, etc. for the big event). She took hours before she finally got out of the nest and sat precariously on the rain gutter. Because it was slick, compared to the nest, she slipped off. She ended up on one of the big red rocks below the nest. She wasn't hurt....but she didn't fly. She just hopped away. I just checked on her and her mother is still feeding her as she's still down on the ground.

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