Family Pictures

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

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

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

The skies the limit with Brooklynn!

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

Bored, Addie? 

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

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

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

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

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

And they lived happily ever after.  


National Family Week AND National Games & Puzzles Week

Happy Week of 

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

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

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

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


He will Prepare the Way

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

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

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

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

image from www.patheos.com

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

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

Image from orenu.co.il


What do you Know about Jesus?

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

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

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

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

So, what do you know about Jesus?

Are we are eager to share as these little ones?


Buttons Day

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

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


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

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

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

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

Social Studies

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

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

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

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

More Just for Fun!

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

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

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


Book of the Week

image from afrugalfriend.net

I just love this book.  It's so amazing to see life through the eyes of a child.  It's so hard sometimes to do that!  This book helps.  AND I just learned Sally Lloyd-Jones has a series of "How to" books, including How to get Married and How to be a Baby.  I'll definitely be checking those out sometime soon!  

 - - - - - 

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."   - Psalms 8:2 - 


ABC Book

Here is an excellent idea for any homeschool or summer project for kids.  I wish I knew about this idea while homeschooling because it would have made things so simple!

This is my 5th grader's homework every day.  It's an ABC book of people.  Basically, each week she needs to research and write a paragraph about a person whose name starts with the letter of the week.

Abraham Lincoln:  They did this as a class. The border around the outside must have 5 pictures of something that starts with the letter of the week.

That's it.  So simple.  But this one simple project is teaching her how to write a paragraph, how to research, how to pull pictures from the internet, how to organize her thoughts, and even how to review her own work. 

P.T. Barnum
 The best part is that my daughter enjoys it.  She told me, "When the school year ends I'm going to make a book about animals." 

Celine Dion:  A's favorite singer (like mother, like daughter!)
This could be used for science or historical events as well.  Even if you wanted it to be for math you could find a math concept (i.e. addition for A) or mathematicians (haven't gotten her to do a mathematician yet).

Eleanor Roosevelt (This one's for you Andrea!)

 I am just in awe of this project and wish I were homeschooling right now.  :-) 


Mentoring Mothers: Light in the Wilderness Chapter 2

We had our second Light in the Wilderness discussion last week.  It was great, but sadly I didn't take many notes because the discussion itself was so enthralling.  And I think many of us left with more questions than answers, with maybe a few ah-ha moments as well.  

We are discussing chapter 2 of Light in the Wilderness by M. Catherine Thomas.  For those who desire to follow along (and add comments!) the schedule can be found at the "Read Along with Us" tab.  We made a revision and will only be studying one chapter a month so as to really dig deeper into the principles and ideas that are shared in this book.

Whatever Is, Is Right
We started the discussion last week with this question: "How much do we insist on an ideal reality that cannot be realized in this world? (p.18)."  Often times we kick against the realities of our lives, hoping and wishing we could change things (or other people) to meet our perception of what is right.  Through our mortal experiences, often times referred to as trials, we try to figure out how we can change what is happening.  As said in our discussion group, we try to have ore control than we actually do.  And I think that desire for control actually makes whatever we're going through harder.

Alexander Pope has said, "Whatever is, is right."  So, we need to discover, then, what IS?  What is the reality?  This question became an ah-ha moment for one of our ladies when she was like, "So, the fact that my child has this issue is not my burden to carry nor is it some fault of mine (i.e. choosing to homeschool or whatnot)."  Knowing and understanding that what is, is right helps us to let go more and to try to control less.  It actually becomes quite liberating as we place more at the Lord's feet rather than blaming ourselves or keeping that possibility of change weighing on our shoulders.

A More Intimate Paradise
On page 17 we read that entering the terrestial world, going through that separation from God, allowed Adam and Eve the opportunity to make or discover an even more intimate paradise.  One friend related this to staying at a Hawaiian resort.  Yeah, you love it and think it's the most fabulous place you could ever go!  But "we always love coming home, our own four walls."  Home is a place where we work together not only physically but also to build an environment where we want to be and can become better.  I loved that analogy because it makes this world seem so much less barren, more essential and a place to enjoy.  I've often said I don't want to get to the other side, look back at my time in this life and say, "Man!  I wish I'd enjoyed that more."  We need to come to love this experience, the good and the bad, as we do our own homes.

One way M. Catherine Thomas mentions as essential to gaining this perspective is through gratitude.  She says that gratitude amidst trials "opens us to the interior light that always provides something in return for loss....As we express our thanks to Him and to each other we create a peaceful, enlightened, and spiritual atmosphere (p.32)."  Maybe this is easier said than done.  But I remember a friend going through a difficult time.  I said to her, "I'm so sorry you're going through this."  She looked at me and asked, "Why?  I'm not."  She had that eternal perspective that she needed this experience to become more like and closer to her Savior.  What a lesson!

One Final Message
"He's always doing something with us, and He always knows what He's doing."  This life is our opportunity to create that "more intimate paradise" with our Savior.  It can happen as we focus more on His light and love.


Book of the Week

image from bookhouse.indiebound.com
Leo Geo by Jon Chad

Studying the earth anytime soon?  This is a MUST get if you have some middle elementary kids who want to learn about the center of the earth.  The coolest thing is your read it long ways and halfway through the book, after Leo passes through the center, you turn the book around as Leo travels UP the other side!  It's a great book told in comic form.  
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