Friday, March 30, 2018

Tattoo Easter Eggs

We just tattooed our eggs this messy dying. We had so much fun and love how our eggs turned out.  I totally recommend it!  Thanks to It's Always Autumn for the easy to understand tutorial!  

Here are a few eggs that we made, including one egg dedicated to Pres. Nelson, our new prophet.  You can get the image free at Susan Fitch Designs!  

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Looking for an easy and fun way to discuss the events that tell the story of Christ's sacrifice and resurrection with your children?  Look no further.

We did this really fun Easter Photo Scavenger Hunt last night with family and friends during a special Easter Family Home Evening.  

I found the idea for this activity at Arabah Joy  Her photo scavenger hunt was so simple and easy!  However, in the end I decided to make my own, because I wanted to highlight different/more parts of the story with my kids.

You can download the hunt that I made up here: Easter Photo Scavenger Hunt or follow the link above for hers.

Here's how it works:  Depending on how many people are in your group or family, you can split up into teams however you decide.  Each team needs the printed clue sheet, access to the New Testament, and a phone or device that can take photos.  Each team then reads the scripture stories and is prompted to find and take pictures of an item mentioned in the stories.  These items are everyday household items.  Each clue also has a question related to it to help participants think more deeply about the stories and relate to their own lives.

If they can't find an item, they can color a picture of it.  I encouraged our kids to get creative with it and think outside of the box.  Also, if they wanted to represent a different part of the scripture clue, they were free to do that. (The picture below shows one group of girls doing just that.  They decided to depict what the disciples did when they were supposed to be staying up watching on behalf of Christ while he was in the Garden.)  For another clue we found that a close-up of a window pane made an excellent cross, etc.

When the teams were finished, they returned to the living room and we took turns sharing what we took photos of and why.  Each team bore testimony and taught the stories to one another.  This was where answering the questions earlier made this discussion even richer.

There was an incentive.  The first team to finish and return won a small prize (a package of mystery-flavored peeps!)

This was a really fun evening spent with friends and family talking about the peace we receive as we follow the Savior Jesus Christ.

And it ended with treats, of course!  Donuts and donut holes made to look like empty tombs.  You don't have to wait until FHE to do this!  Have fun with it!  And have a Happy Easter!

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Monday, March 26, 2018

The Week Before General Conference

Good Morning, friends.

It's the monday before Easter and General Conference.  So basically, for every Mom, it's Go Time.

I've already enjoyed a little Easter fun as we organized the first egg hunt in our new neighborhood. It was a very positive gathering of neighbors and it was fun to see the children making new friends and playing four-square with each other after the egg hunt.

These are good things.  These are things God would like I see fellow men and women coming together in a positive way.  It felt good.

Now I'm getting ready for the big weekend: Easter + General Conference.

I'm planning a special family home evening for tonight which I'll blog about tonight or tomorrow.  You'll be able to replicate it any night this week as a fun Easter activity.

I am meal prepping and getting ready to do my son's class party at school.  Whew!  Busy.

But I was reminded as I was making dinners this morning of something we can all do to help us prepare spiritually for this big General Conference and Easter weekend.

It's something I did a few Easters ago that really made a difference for me.  I stopped listening to popular music/the radio and started listening only to spiritual music all week long.

I am doing that right now and it makes me feel calm and peaceful eventhough I do have a lot on my plate.

I recently downloaded the LDS Youth App which gives my children  access to all of the youth music.  It's excellent.  I put it on our Family cell phone as well and my daughter is eating it up.

Another thing we did at Family Council last night, is we wrote down questions we each have for General Conference.  If you'll remember I did that pretty earnestly last Conference and received an abundance of answers.  The more sincerely and diligently we see for the answers to these questions, the more answers we will come across.

So here's a quick list of suggestions to help us prepare spiritually for General Conference and Easter:

1.  Let go of listening to popular music or media and replace it with spiritually uplifting music or hymns.

2.  Try harder to follow the Word of Wisdom to prepare your body and spirit to hear the words of the Lord.  Go to bed early and wake up earlier this week.  Find time to exercise and eat well.

3.  Read the Book of Mormon every day as President Monson asked.

4.  Read the entire Ensign.  Look for hints of what is on the minds of the Brethren and learn more about President Nelson.

5.  Write down a list of personal questions you have that you would like answered.  Then pray about them and search scriptures and the words of the prophets for answers before Conference weekend begins.

Ok, the baby is up now! Gotta go. Good luck!!

PS If you do anything fun for FHE/Easter this week, let me know!  Id like to hear about it!

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Monday, March 12, 2018

What to do about Social Media FHE

Warning: This post will be scattered and incomplete and proably won't convey all the thoughts that I have in my head about this topic, because I really don't have time to type that all up, but as the farmer says in the movie Babe "at'll do, pig."

So, let me just cut to the chase.

We let our children know this evening that we would like them to stay off of social media until they are grown...And I guess because we've been leaning in this direction for them for such a long time it must've not been a shock for them in any way, because no one cried or had a meltdown.

I mean, really?

I can only chalk this up to the gospel principles we've taught them, to personal and honest experiences we've shared with them about our own technology use, and good old-fashioned reasoning we've done together about this.

Now, being someone who has used social media for good for quite a while now, this might seem hypocritical, but really I've thought about it and read about it and considered what to do, and lately this has just felt right for us and for my kids.

So tonight as we discussed (under Guy's tutelage) the section in For the Strength of Youth that deals with Entertainment & Media, we worked our way over to the topic of social media and time spent on phones and before I even got the words out, Scarlett declared that she was ok staying off of social media, eventhough her friends tell her "you don't have a phone? I feel bad for you!"

My kids are brave.  I've got to hand them that.  And I reminded them tonight before I broke the news to them that in so many things we ask them to be different and to stand out.  This was going to be another one of those situations.

When "smartphones" came onto the scene just over ten years ago, almost no one that I know even considered that there might be negative effects.  Now a decade later, we are only just beginning to see the effects.  And there are plenty of people who are distancing themselves from social platforms who once embraced them.  

I am reading the book (ironically I'm reading it on my phone) called "How to Break Up with Your Phone" by Catherine Price.  I already had a desire and started taking steps to lesson my phone-time, but this book really drives that desire up about ten knotches as the first half of the book she hits you with fact after fact about what social media and technology does to our brains, to our memory, to our ability to focus and on and on.

We've always taken a wait and see approach with our kids and devices/media.  We've tried to anyway, because we were never quite sure what route was best.  We've dipped our toes in with the kids and media only to pull it back again when we saw how it affected their behavior and when we saw that we weren't ready as parents and didn't have all the answers we needed to navigate this new world with children.  On the other hand, my son Guy was one of the youngest kids I've ever heard of to get into indexing, again under my care and assistance.

One of the phrases from General Conference that has stuck with me in the last few months is this from Elder Stevenson: "Let us also teach and demonstrate the righteous use of technology to the rising generation and warn against the associated hazards and destructive use of it. Viewing social media through the lens of the gospel can prevent it from becoming a spiritual eclipse in our lives." 

Just in the last few days, I finally could come to terms with how I interpret this quote.  I AM modeling righteous use of technology for my children.  I am finding ways to practice good use of technology by giving them brief, supervised access to it, instead of letting them loose on phones of their own and saying "Good luck, kid! Try not to get addicted."

As much as they might have wanted that perceived freedom, I just couldn't do that to them.  I could see what too much screentime does to their happy young minds and I couldn't let them go there.  (My favorite catchphrase for when my kids ask WHY can't they go online or WHY can't they just watch TV, etc in any given moment is "because I'm raising children, not robots, now go outside and play!" Or I'll say, "Because I want you to be a ''real boy'" a la Pinnoccio. Or my favorite sarcastic phrase that stemmed from a real incident, "TV told me to, Mommy" always gets a laugh!)

This article that I read recently really helped me bridge the gap and opened my eyes to how much added unnessary pressure my children would have to face if they were to keep up a personal social identity online in addition to having to figure out their real in-person identity at the same time.

This is pressure I did not have to endure while simultaneously going through puberty.  I was free to figure myself out outside of the public eye.  I want to give my children this same gift.

I understand that in the coming years they might change their mind on this, but as of right now I think they're relieved....the same way they seemed relieved the other week when we taught them about our standards and expectations for them when they begin dating.  The pressure was off.  Now they knew how to respond to questions from their peers.

I can be their scapegoat when their friends ask why they aren't online.  "Oh my crazy parents won't let me be on social media.  Pssh, yeah, I know, crazy, right?" 

And when they are adults, with fully-formed identities, testimonies, and convictions, they will be ready to be a force for good out there in the cyberworld on their own.  Until then, we practice and do these things together.  

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Tribe Pride FHE

 Tonight's FHE started out semi-calm and got weird real fast.

We read and listened to the section in For the Strength of Youth that talks about Family.  (Which, by the way, the narration and the words on the site are not exactly the same, so we listened to and read both.)

I asked the kids to write down or draw pictures of the principles that we learned as we listened, which they did, but apparently the example of 2 year old Val drawing on his face was too much for my older kids to handle.  They had to join in...and so did Dad.  By the end of it, despite my protests, they all had made a messy, funny memory together.

Here are some of the concepts we learned: Families are a great blessing from God.  They take a lot of effort.  Not all families are the same, but they are all important to God's plan.  Families can be some of our closest friends.  (I accidentally wrote "closet friends" which had us all in stitches too.)

The kids took turns sharing their posters with the family and hanging them on the wall for us to look at in the coming week.

Here we are being boring and listening to the lesson...before face-painting hijacked FHE!

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Parenting Middle-Schoolers

As usual, I have about five minutes to blog so I'm going to make this real quick.

I have mentioned a few times over the last year how parenting my oldest as he's turned into a middle-schooler/pre-teen has been a challenge.  Because of the move and all of the added challenges of transitioning to a new life and also being pregnant and adding to our family, it made jumping into a new phase of parenting that much more tricky!

I was trying my best to come up with solutions and strategies, but I was quickly realizing that I didn't have all the answers.

But I'm happy to say that the Lord kept guiding me or putting me in conversations with people who had more answers than I did so that I could take some of their words of wisdom to heart and it has helped.

I wanted to just quickly mention a few books that have helped me develop my strategies as a parent of three tweens!

The first is a book called Unsteady by JeaNette G. Smith.  It is written from an LDS perspective and explains how and why we should teach our kids to save serious or exclusive dating for a time when they are ready to choose a spouse...preferably post-high school and post-mission.

I found her explanation of the six stages of relationship to be enlightening. I certainly didn't have an understanding of this when I was a youth, but now my children will.  Already in fifth and sixth grade my oldest two are having to ask and answer these questions.  They have people pressuring them to "like" someone.  They've been asked out on dates, etc.

As proactive as we have been as parents in explaining sex to our children, there is still suddently a whole new world opening up to them that we need to guide them through...a world of "dating", a world of technology, a world of making friends and on and on.

Although I haven't finished reading this book, it felt like the author really helped me catch-up in being able to reason with my children about the dating standards and helping them come to a logical understanding of why the standards on dating are a wise route to pursue.  And this was an important detail for us to address now as they were suddenly asking a lot of questions which we hadn't yet considered.

The second book, of course, is called "Growing Up Too Fast: The Secret World of America's Middle Schoolers" by Sylvia Rimm.  Now Dr. Rimm is a neighbor of my mother's, believe it or not, and she is also a renowned expert on parenting who specializes and has written many books on parenting gifted children and girls...two areas I need help with.

After mentioning her to me multiple times, my mom finally just gave me Dr. Rimm's book and told me to read it.  But being a busy Mom, of course I wasn't getting far into it.  Finally, one night in the middle of the night, I woke up and thought, "I need to read that book!"  So at 4am I found myself reading her book straight through and highlighting many pages and making notes in the margins.

Now you know any prompting that gets you up at 4am to read a book is legit.

I am so glad that I did this, as her book really helped me to change the way I was thinking about my preteens and helped me to better understand their generation and the things they have to deal with.

Her book really deserves it's own post, but I will just blurt out a few concepts she teaches that helped me a lot:

1.  Consider that because of their exposure to TV/Media/Technology, this generation is dealing with things that are 2 years or more ealier than you did at their age.  So think of yourself two years older than them and then approach their problem with that in mind.

2.  Try to be their "coach" not their "judge."  A Coach assumes the best about them and encourages.  A Judge condemns.

3.  Quality Family Relationships can overcome and prevent many problems.

4.  Don't be afraid to encourage children to be like you.  You are their role models.

5.  The idea of "popularity" is a distortion of the concept of true friendship.

6.  Her explanation of "Erikson's Stages of Psychological Development" was enlightening for me as I'd never learned about it.  It helped me to understand the challenges that my children will and must go through at each stage of development...and therefore I can see better how to help them and facilitate their growth.  It also helped me to see how the standards of dating will help them to develop in a healthy way to adulthood.

And lastly, you know we have been using For the Strength of Youth to teach our children during Family Home Evening the last few weeks.  We are going to continue with this.

Sylvia Rimm teaches in her book that children have more anxiety "thinking" about work they have to do than actually "doing" the work.

Now that I have read up a bit more about how I can best parent my preteens I have a lot less anxiety about it and I am actually looking forward to helping them grow into the young adults I know that they are destined to become.

In addition to talking about language and making friends, we've started having regular weekend evenings where we invite friends over to "practice socializing."  It's been interesting to see how the children do in these little gatherings. 

This feels right to me, to help lead and guide them as they slowly dip their toes into the world of socializing and eventually dating and I am grateful I have been set on a good path too as I parent them through this exciting new phase of life!

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