Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Best of the Block Towers 2012

My husband likes to make these giant towers for the kids using wooden blocks my Dad made for me and my siblings 'back-in-the-day'. The tradition continues!

Here are some of our favorites.


Soren wanted a tower

Tower, eiden is ready to knock down

Tower to the roof








What are your fond childhood memories? Did you build with blocks?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Will Your Children "Live" With?

Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship
he learns to find love in the world.

Wikimedia Commons

I 'borrowed' this poem out of a page in my personal journal, where I keep snippets of inspiring quotes that have helped me over the years. This poem, above, is one that I hung on my fridge when I was parenting a little toddler boy for the first time in my life. I was struggling with understanding him, meeting his needs, being patient, and learning to lead him instead of react to him.

It was helpful for me to read this poem in the difficult moment of my emotion, when my first reaction might have been to restrict my young son or punish him. It reminded me to focus on the kind of life I wanted to offer him that would build him, rather than tear him down.

How I chose to respond to his behavior and his needs (even if he was acting out) was shaping who he was becoming and how he saw the world and felt about himself. I learned to take a moment to choose to respond with kindness, even when gentle correction was needed. Can't say I was batting 100%, but it helped to set the goal and work toward it. Kindness matters so much and is a tool I choose to use in my own style of parenting.

I share this today with you, dear reader, in hopes it will be encouraging to other parents of young children, who may also  need a shoulder to lean on as you are finding your way to raising healthy and happy children. God bless you and keep you, Moms and Dads! Our children need us to put forth our best efforts; they deserve our best. Lean on Christ as he is the one who can heal you, help you, and bring out the best in you, so you can share your best with your children today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Pioneer Day!

What? What's that you say?

Yes, it is a holiday! In the state of Utah, that is.

But many LDS members all around the world celebrate and remember the sacrifice and dedicated lives of early saints, particularly the ones who crossed the United States in the 1800's. They pushed and pulled their meager belongings in handcarts over rough terrain to settle in a wild, unknown land--all in the name of creating a place where they could worship and live life with their families, undisturbed. I think that shows exactly what America is at its core: the place of freedom and opportunity.

Below, I've included a YouTube video of the 2012 Pioneer Day Commemoration Concert, The Joy of Song, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square and featuring guest artist Katherine Jenkins.

The Mormon Women blog has a list of Pioneer Day posts and links {HERE} that are worth a look.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Mormon temple one of 8 'Religious Wonders' in U.S.": CNN

Temples are central to the faith of Latter-Day Saints. They provide families the opportunity to be sealed as a family unit, to be together after death and into the eternities.

More about this at the Mormon NewsRoom.

To take a rare look inside of a Mormon temple, visit this CNN link HERE.
Curious about what these buildings are for?
Wikipedia has a very well-written page about LDS temples HERE.
Mormon.org also has a FAQ about temples HERE.

Did you know that there are 138 LDS temples worldwide?

There are LDS temples in the United States, New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Tahiti, Mexico, Australia, Philippines, Germany, Sweden, Guatemala, South Africa and South Korea.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as 'Mormons') worship weekly at meetinghouses all over the world. Members who have qualified for a special recommend with their church leaders attend the temple, in addition to normal worship at meetinghouses. Some LDS members are married within temples. They are very special places of worship where we connect to God, learn, make sacred covenants, and where what we call "saving ordinances" are performed by those who hold Priesthood authority.

This video explains more about why temples are important:


The temple is a holy place where God's presence can be felt. It is a place my husband and I hold dear in our hearts and love to visit often.

Anyone may visit a temple and walk on its grounds and I encourage anyone with the desire, who can be respectful about the experience, to visit. It is a quiet, sacred space and that feeling can be experienced by anyone, of any faith background.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Greek Feast

Despite the fact I have not a Greek bone in my body, 
I love to cook and eat Greek!

My husband joked this morning before I made a batch of falafel:

"Falafel is awful!"



After these babies were fried up in some nice Non-GMO canola oil...


His response was:

"Mmm...." as he reached for a second piece to dip in Tzatziki
(yogurt, dill, cucumber dip)..."Mmmmmm!" and then:

 "These are WAY better than the ones at the store!"

Then, he went around to our boys, offering them bites....and they all liked it!


The recipe I used to make these can be found HERE

The rest of the feast:


(delicious gobs of) Homemade hummus on falafel in whole wheat pita 
with cucumber, tomato and red onion.
Greek salad, lemony brown rice and tzatziki. YUM!

Lemony Brown Rice:

Depending on amount of ingredients at hand and your taste, combine:

Cooked brown rice, still warm
Finely chopped fresh parsley
Zest of lemon
Lemon juice
Butter + Olive oil

Combine rice with oil and butter, add salt and stir to coat well. Add in zest, lemon juice, and parsley and stir again until well combined. Let sit for a few minutes to mingle the flavors. Serve warm.

Linked to:

Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Faith

"Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith."
                                           --LDS Bible Dictionary

courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

When Faith Endures
I will not doubt, I will not fear,
God's love and strength are always near.
His promised gift [the Holy Ghost]
helps me to find an inner strength
and peace of mind.

I give the Father willingly
my trust, my prayers, humility.
His Spirit guides, his love assures
that fear departs when faith endures.

--LDS Hymn no. 128
Words by Naomi Randall

 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
            2 Timothy 1:7

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Kid Concoctions

This is a post I originally wrote for Latter-Day Homeschooling.

Summer seems to be a time when my kids like to have lots of fun and get messy.


Well, mine gravitate toward fun and messes any time of year, really!  
How about yours?

Whether you're a new homeschooler or a veteran, this month chances are your thoughts turn to organizing yourself, gathering materials, and thinking ahead to the learning experiences you want to provide for your children this coming year.

Homeschooling allows families to have the kind of time they need to make fun memories together and learn. So, if it's still hot at your house right now like it is at mine
and your kids still feel like summer fun is in the air,
why not give that homeschool planning a break--
it'll keep for an hour or so--
and make a little time for some more fun together?

Just as you don't have to be a professional to be a good-enough parent,
you don't have to have a degree in art to enjoy creating with your kids!
(and it doesn't have to cost a lot, either.)

   Keep cool indoors while you
take these ideas for a spin...literally

Concoction #1:

Spin painting

 Here's what you need:
  • Salad spinner
  • Tempera paint (washes off easily )
  • Paper plates, trimmed to fit inside spinner

Each child takes a turn squeezing out drops of paint of his or her choice on a paper plate that has been placed inside the salad spinner. Experiment with various ways of getting the paint on. This is also a great way to experience cause and effect for any age: "If I squirt it on thick here, or thin here, how will it turn out?" or "Will the colors mix and create a new color?"

It looks like this:

Secure the lid tightly and the child spins away!
Remove the lid and the child discovers his / her own unique creation.
Let the artwork dry in a safe place and repeat, repeat, repeat!

Concoction #2:

Fake Spill

Want to make Dad quake in his shoes? How about a shriek from Mom or big sister?

These harmless pranks produce excellent results, without causing lasting damage.

 My kids picked their unsuspecting Dad to pull this silly prank on. They wanted to put it on his laptop keyboard to see how surprised he would be!  
Do they know what makes their parents tick or what?

Oh, no! A strawberry shake spill!

Materials needed:
  • White glue, about 1/2 c. per spill
  • Tempera paint, add 1 T. at a time until desired effect is reached
  • Cups, lid, straw
  • Wax paper

Mix together the paint and glue in a paper cup until the color is reached and then pour into the desired container, which is carefully place on its side on wax paper. 

Drizzle the glue/paint mixture on the edge where the spill cup meets the paper, ensuring all parts of the items in the 'spill' are connected by glue.

*Tip: Be sure to let the 'spill' dry completely on wax paper on a cookie sheet out-of-reach before you use them. This can take a day or so depending on how thickly the glue is poured.

Choose your victim, place the spill discreetly... 
and try not to give away your hiding place by giggling!

Other ideas:
  • Milk and cereal. Cheerios are very convincing. *Tip: Stir in white paint with the glue before pouring as white glue dries clear.
  • Yogurt cup spill. Use an empty yogurt cup and plastic spoon.

As someone wise once said...

"A creative mess is better than idle tidiness."

Here's to more happy memories-in-the-making!
(and good luck with your homeschool planning, Moms and Dads!)

More fun art activities to do with children: 
Fun in the Making: A 'green' crafting website with sustainable living tips by Hester Jane
Dick Blick's Art lesson plans online for grades K- 4
Super Art Activities by MaryAnn Kohl @ Bright Ring

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Last Word

Of course, after reading over the last post I wrote, on Obedience & Habit Training, I feel the need to add one important "last word" to child training: Connection. You've got to begin from the place of connection, heart-to-heart, because no problem to be solved is worth losing your connection to your child over.

Wikimedia Commons

When I find my children less willing to comply to requests given to them, sometimes that just means we all need to loosen up and make time to just enjoy each other for a little while so that we can come back to the "business" of life refreshed. I need that "relaxation" frequently!

I know a few of you out there are nodding your heads to this   :o)

What is the wisest advice about raising children that someone gave you?
Who inspires you by their example of parenting / relationships?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Obedience & Habit Training

Have you watched the TLC Channel show 19 Kids and Counting? I have, regularly, and anytime the Duggar parents share wisdom, I take notes!

Michelle Duggar has a phrase that she often repeats for her little ones as she teaches them to listen and do what she and her husband tell them.

"When I say it, you obey it." She teaches this with such obvious love and gentleness.

This phrase is one she uses to teach what she calls "first time obedience", which means that the child obeys the first time he or she hears the request from Mom and Dad.

Imagine: no more begging, pleading, or complicated rewards systems to get our children to comply. This program comes at no cost, except from the parent, as an effort to open the mind, expand the understanding, and perhaps try something in earnest that may be new to him or her. Child training, with love!

I find it encouraging that the Duggars talk about this as training, meaning it's training for parents and children alike. It also takes time, and that's normal! It takes consistent, focused effort, but after it is learned, guess what! It works! The child willfully obeys and sometimes even happily.

Why? Isn't obedience tedious and dreadful? Isn't it limiting?

Most child development courses and books will teach you that children thrive when they understand clearly what expectations their parents have for them. Leaving them guessing and then punishing them when they misunderstand and then do something contrary to a parent's wishes makes them anxious and depressed. They feel like they can never measure up and that they are constantly failing!

Children naturally desire to be happy and they desire to please us, their parents--some children moreso than others, but there is that little spark in each of them. If you as a parent address that spark positively the first time, it will:

1. Build their own confidence in themselves
2. Build their trust in you
3. They will accomplish the tasks required of them
4. Positive character traits will grow in them that they can take into their adulthood

Now, isn't that result worth the kind of training it takes initially?

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

(Proverbs 22:6) 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Baby Blessing

Last weekend on Sunday at church, our fifth baby, and second daughter, received her name and blessing by her father. It was a special day with many of my husband's family in town to attend church with us. My family just happened to be out of town, unfortunately, but one fun fact is that she was blessed on my Dad's birthday, which is pretty neat.

She looked so lovely! Her Daddy gave her such a nice blessing.
I had to take this photo below later because we had few pics that day. Lovely visits, though!

                                                              ------------> she did wear socks that day, I promise  :-)

Here is some evidence we have a lovely, ahem, and normal, family.

Zooooooom! He's outta there!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wee Winkies

Why, hello! What do we have here?

"I'm 2 months old this week!"

"And lovin' it!"

{ Love that 'winkie' smile! }

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence

With America's Independence Day coming up here on the 4th of July, I was searching for a fun way to teach my kids a bit about why we light fireworks, listen to patriotic songs and barbeque. What a pleasant surprise when TLC Book Tours contacted me and invited me to participate in a blog tour for the children's book Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence, written and illustrated by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes. I read a copy of this book that TLC Book Tours sent me with my 7 year old son.

Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes
Published: 2012
Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-59698-792-0
Source: TLC Book Tours

From the Publisher: 
"On the 4th of July, Liberty Lee proudly tells how he and his friends helped the 13 American colonies win their freedom. For years the king of England had unfairly taxed them--he taxed their sugar, molasses, and teas. What would be next? Macaroni and cheese?"
"From the Boston Tea Party to the "shot heard 'round the world", at Lexington and Concord....follow Liberty Lee and his patriotic friends as they fight for the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--for people and mice everywhere!"

My Review:
What a fun way to bring history to a child's level of understanding. The book introduces real history facts, like the 13 colonies, the Boston Tea Party, Battles at Lexington and Concord, and penning of the Declaration of Independence through the experiences of the fictional mouse.

Animal characters often appeal to children; using a mouse for the narrator was a great idea to reach the younger reader (or listener, as the case is at my house!). My 7 year old son really liked looking for the eagle hidden on each page, too.

I believe this book would be an engaging read for a child as young as 4 and up to about age 10 or so.

Liberty Lee is filled with charming illustrations. My favorite page was the illustration which combined a scene of farmland and people engaged in everyday tasks. This scene was right next to a map illustration of the 13 colonies, in bright colors delineating them each along the Atlantic. It was helpful in order to give the reader an idea of where the colonies were located. The details of the farmland scenes draw the reader in to examine the page and what each tiny vignette is depicting: men picking apples in an orchard, children feeding chickens, women at work in gardens, bees buzzing around a beehive. Perfect for little eyes to look at and minds to stay engaged as they listen to the words read aloud.

I was really impressed by the pages that have short descriptions of each of the first 19 battles of the Revolutionary War, including whether they were American or British victories. The authors really fit a lot of useful information into a short format!
The rhyming text gives the story interest to read-aloud, both to say and to hear.

My favorite lines are these:

"Now many years later, our hearts full of pride,
With our fellow Americans here at our side,
The twilight is gleaming with red, white and blue,
Giving proof through the night that our dream has come true!

For out in the distance--oh, say, can you see?--
It's America's future--it's great destiny!
We leave it to you, with your hearts pure and strong,
For we have faith in you--and we have all along!"

For more reviews about this book, you can visit TLC Book Tours online.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for writing this post and all opinions here are my own. 
I was given a copy of this book in order to read and then write a review.