Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Reading List for Children

These are the picture books that we read this year to put us in a festive spirit. I wrote about how we actually go about reading the books here.

The books I like the best are found closer to the top of the list.

Drummer Boy by Loren Long (this one is one of my favorites, and I was thrilled to add it to our family's permanent collection)
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Who's Getting Ready for Christmas? by Maggie Kneen
The True Story of Christmas by Nell Navillus
Bear Noel by Olivier Dunrea
Mooseltoe by Margie Palatini
How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky
Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh & J. Otto Seibold
Christmas Tree Farm by Ann Purmell
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
McDuff's New Friend by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers
Christmas Mice by Bethany Roberts
The Little Drummer Mouse by Mercer Mayer
The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt
Santa's Eleven Months Off by Mike Reiss
Misc. winter books by Jan Brett

Recently Read: Maternal Fitness

Maternal Fitness by Julie Tupler

At a recent Relief Society gathering, I overheard a friend talking about her recent pregnancy and delivery and saying how things went well and she felt strong and prepared by reading and following the guidelines in this book. My ears immediately perked up and I had to join the conversation. And then quickly request to borrow the book and read it for myself.

This book spells out the best exercises and strengthening a woman should do to prepare for labor. Labor is the hardest marathon you'll ever do, so of course it makes sense to prepare for it by strengthening the muscles that will be needed to push the baby out. There are helpful diagrams and step-by-step instructions for the entire workout.

I just finished reading this today, so I haven't really got down to work in doing the exercises. But they seem easy to do at home, so I'm excited to try them out. I'll let you know how it goes!

My Gospel Study in December 2009

Among other things, my gospel study in December included the following:
2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
December Theme (and weekly gospel principles): My family is blessed when we remember Jesus Christ.

December Scripture: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth" (Job 19:25).

Chapter 46: The Martyrdom: The Prophet Seals His Testimony with His Blood
Chapter 47: "Praise to the Man": Latter-day Prophets Bear Witness of the Prophet Joseph Smith

General Conference Addresses October 2009

Dallin H. Oaks, “Love and Law,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 26–29
God’s love is so perfect that He lovingly requires us to obey His commandments because He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is. For this reason, God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love. Every parent knows that you can love a child totally and completely while still being creatively angry and disappointed at that child’s self-defeating behavior.

Where do parents draw the line? That is a matter for parental wisdom, guided by the inspiration of the Lord. There is no area of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. This is the work of eternity.

The Friend, December 2009

The Ensign, December 2009

Recently Read: Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I read the first book in this series on Tuesday, and then I stayed up late on Wednesday to read Catching Fire, the second book in the series. It was as equally compelling and engrossing as the first, although the plot was a little predictable. I'm looking forward to reading the conclusion, but unfortunately I'll have to wait until August!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Recently Read: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I finally got my hands on a copy of this book today and it was well worth all the good reviews I have been hearing from my friends. This novel is engrossing and captivating. I picked it up from the library at 9:30 a.m. this morning and finished it at 7:30 p.m. (375 pages). Don't worry--I still put away all of my Christmas decorations today and fed my children (although dinner was leftovers).

As soon as my husband finishes reading the sequel, Catching Fire, I'll be jumping in to that!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Job 19:25

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth"
Job 19:25

Since this was the last Monday of December, I thought I would get in one more Christmas themed lesson. We used this wonderful handmade nativity set (a treasure from my husband's parents) to talk about Christmas activities of our ancestors. My sister-in-law Amy shared some wonderful Christmas stories of our ancestors on her blog. I printed the stories, cut them into individual segments and taped a different story to a different piece from the set. We then took turns choosing a piece, reading the story, and arranging the scene. For the remaining figures I wrote one of the following:

-Sing Away in a Manger
-Share a Christmas memory from your life.
-Sing Silent Night
-What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
-Job 19:25

It was a nice way to wrap up our Christmas season (and make use of the nativity set before I pack it up tomorrow!).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recently Read: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

"At this time of the year my family knows that I will read again my Christmas treasury of books and ponder the wondrous words of the authors. First will be the Gospel of Luke—even the Christmas story. This will be followed by A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and, finally, The Mansion by Henry Van Dyke. I always must wipe my eyes when reading these inspired writings. They touch my inner soul, as they will yours." (President Thomas S. Monson, source).

If this book is good enough for President Monson to read every year, then I decided I better read it again. It is a touching story of a change of heart that I always enjoy reading.

Recently Read: Nurture Shock

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

There is a widespread belief that a person who becomes a parent will instinctually know how to be a good parent. "Follow your instincts and your kids will turn out fine". This book went to the root of many of the instinctual claims of parents (and delved into the research that supported the claims) and discovered that many of the previously held beliefs and parenting practices are actually doing more harm than good. Research from the last decade (and this book is very well documented) will cause you to take a closer look at the way you parent your children.

"Nurture shock refers to the panic--common among new parents--that the mythical fountain of knowledge is not magically kicking in at all" (p. 6).

The subtitle of this book is "New Thinking About Children". This book was a very fascinating read and definitely gave me a few things to think about in regards to my parenting practices. If you don't want to read the whole book, you can check out this blog by the authors, which hits on some of the same topics of the book.

Here are my notes from the book:

Chapter One: The Inverse Power of Praise
Myth: If a child believes he's smart (having been told so, repeatedly), he won't be intimidated by new academic challenges.
-When we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them that this is the name of the game: look smart, don't risk making mistakes.
-those kids who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. In other words, telling your kid that they are smart gives them the idea that they should be able to rely on their smarts alone to get them through the world. If something is difficult for them, they give up before expending any effort.
The solution: Teach your children that intelligence can be developed and worked on. Base your praise on something real, on the process (ie. praise them for the hours they spend practicing their foul shot in basketball, don't just tell them they are awesome at basketball).
-teach your children: Your brain is a muscle like any other part of your body. The more you use it and exercise it, the stronger and bigger it becomes.

Chapter Two: The Lost Hour
-Around the world, children get an hour less sleep than they did thirty years ago. The cost: IQ points, emotional well-being, ADHD, and obesity.
Myth: A child can get by on less sleep, just like an adult can.
Reality: Teenagers need more sleep, and they're not getting it. Many of the undesirable characteristics of being a teen (moodiness, depression, binge eating) are actually just symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation.
-sleep loss impairs the brain, which is especially serious for the growing developing brain of a young person.

Chapter Three: Why White Parents Don't Talk About Race
Myth: If you don't talk about race with your children (or acknowledge that some people have dark skin and some people have light skin), they'll grow up not even noticing a difference.
Reality: Research shows that children notice the differences. Even very young children know that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. And they tend to favor the group that they belong to. Children (even as young as 3yrs.) are not colorblind when it comes to race.
The Solution: To be effective, conversations about race have to be explicit, in unmistakable terms that children understand. Start having these conversations young (ie. preschool age).

Chapter Four: Why Kids Lie
-Most classic strategies to promote truthfulness just encourage kids to be better liars.
-Most lies to parents are a cover-up of a transgression. First, the kids does somethings he shouldn't; then, to squirm out of trouble, he denies doing it. But the denial is so expected, and so common, that it's usually dismissed by parents.
-A child who is going to lie must recognize the truth, intellectually conceive of an alternate reality, and be able to convincingly sell that new reality to someone else. Lying demands both cognitive development and social skills that honesty doesn't require. "Lying is related to intelligence, but you still have to deal with it."
Reality: Kids want to make their parents happy. What really works is to tell your children "I will not be upset with you about ...., and if you tell the truth, I will be really happy." Parents need to teach kids the worth of honesty just as much as they need to say that lying is wrong.

Chapter Five: The Search for Intelligent Life in Kindergarten
-Intelligence tests are being administered to young children, the results of which place the children in a gifted program or private independent schools. The problem is that all of the tests are ineffective predictors of a young child's academic success. In other words--IQ tests for young children don't really mean a thing. "The identification of very bright kids in kindergarten or first grade is not on too thick of ice. The IQ measure aren't very accurate at all. Third grade, yes, second grade, maybe. Testing younger than that, you're getting kids with good backgrounds."
-Giftedness is not something fixed.

Chapter Six: The Sibling Effect
-Siblings between the ages of three and seven clash 3.5 times per hour, on average (which adds up to 10 minutes of every hour spent arguing).
-Kids don't have an incentive to act nicely to their siblings, compared to friends, because the siblings will be there tomorrow, no matter what.
-A net-positive (more good times playing in the backyard than fighting) is what predicts a good relationship later in life.
Solution: Get siblings to enjoy playing together. You don't want them to ignore each other, but they need to learn to spend time together and communicate with each other, give them positive skills for interaction. Conflict prevention, not conflict resolution.

Chapter Seven: The Science of Teen Rebellion
-Adolescents who argue with adults is a sign of respect, not disrespect. And arguing is constructive to the relationship, not destructive.
-Teenagers lie to their parents to protect the relationship.
-"Parentsare more bothered by the the bickering and squabbling that takes place than are adolescents, and parents are more likely to hold on to the affect after a negative interaction with their teenagers."

Chapter Eight: Can Self-Control Be Taught?
-Young children learn abstract thinking through play.
-Teach children to think proactively. Develop a plan for their plan (or how they'll spend their time).

Chapter Nine: Plays Well With Others
-The more educational media the children watched, the more relationally aggressive they were.
-In many tv shows (PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, etc). relational aggression is modeled at a fairly high rate. Many shows spend most of the half-hour establishing a conflict between characters and only a few minutes resolving that conflict. Children cannot attend to the overall lesson in the manner an older child or adult can.

Chapter Ten: Why Hannah Talks and Alyssa Doesn't
Reality: Watching baby videso (like Baby Einstein) does not make babies smarter! Infants need a live human speaker to learn language. Parents need to respond to their babies, have a conversation with them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Luke 2: 8-11

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2: 8-11

Our Family Home Evening tonight focused on the symbols of Christmas. We mostly just followed this lesson from Chocolate on my Cranium. I gathered up the objects we would be talking about (a bell, candy cane, wreath, star, angel, candle) and let my children take turns drawing them out of a bag. Then we talked about its meaning, read the scripture, and sometimes sang a song.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Isaiah 9:6

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

We started our Family Home Evening night by watching the First Presidency Christmas Devotional from last evening(since my girls were already in bed when it was originally broadcast). We watched it while eating dinner, and then I printed off these Christmas coloring pages to keep the girls occupied as we listened to the conclusion.

For our activity/lesson we learned about the many different names of Christ. Using the scripture list from this blog, we read the scriptures and then wrote the name for Christ on a green strip of paper. Then we stapled the strips to form a paper chain to display during the week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Caldecott Books in November

Here are the Caldecott Medal Winner books the Ant Bug and I read during the month of November.

1973: The Funny Little Woman, illustrated by Blair Lent
1975: Arrow to the Sun by Gerald McDermott
1984: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by Alice & Martin Provensen
1987: Hey, Al, illustrated by Richard Egielski; text: Arthur Yorinks

Gospel Study in November 2009

Among other things, my gospel study in November included the following:
2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
November Theme (and weekly gospel principles): My Family and I can serve others.

November Scripture: "By love serve one another" (Galations 5:13).

Chapter 42: Family: The Sweetest Union for Time and for Eternity
Chapter 43: "He Was a Prophet of God": Contemporaries of Joseph Smith Testify of His Prophetic Mission
Chapter 44: The Restoration of All Things: The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times
Chapter 45: Joseph Smith's Feelings about His Prophetic Mission

General Conference Addresses October 2009

Richard G. Scott, “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 6–9
Father in Heaven knew that you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness.

Spirituality yields two fruits. The first is inspiration to know what to do. The second is power, or the capacity to do it.

Impressions of the Spirit can come in response to urgent prayer or unsolicited when needed. Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it, such as when you are in danger and do not know it. However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you. As you make this a practice in your life, you will be more perceptive to the feelings that come with spiritual guidance. Then, when that guidance comes, sometimes when you least expect it, you will recognize it more easily.

Vicki F. Matsumori, “Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 10–12
The importance of helping others understand is described in the Doctrine and Covenants. Parents “in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized” are told to help their children “understand the doctrine.”

One reason we are encouraged to pray and read the scriptures every single day is that both of these activities invite the Spirit into our homes and into the lives of our family members.

Because the Spirit is often described as a still, small voice, it is also important to have a time of quiet in our lives as well. The Lord has counseled us to “be still, and know that I am God.” If we provide a still and quiet time each day when we are not bombarded by television, computer, video games, or personal electronic devices, we allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort to us.

L. Whitney Clayton, “That Your Burdens May Be Light,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 12–14
No matter the burdens we face in life as a consequence of natural conditions, the misconduct of others, or our own mistakes and shortcomings, we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father, who sent us to earth as part of His eternal plan for our growth and progress. Our unique individual experiences can help us prepare to return to Him. The adversity and afflictions that are ours, however difficult to bear, last, from heaven’s perspective, for “but a small moment; and then, if [we] endure it well, God shall exalt [us] on high.”1 We must do everything we can to bear our burdens “well” for however long our “small moment” carrying them lasts.

Henry B. Eyring, “Our Perfect Example,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 70–73

Love is the motivating principle by which the Lord leads us along the way towards becoming like Him, our perfect example. Our way of life, hour by hour, must be filled with the love of God and love for others. There is no surprise in that, since the Lord proclaimed those as the first and great commandments. It is love of God that will lead us to keep His commandments. And love of others is at the heart of our capacity to obey Him.

First, I give counsel to husbands and wives. Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion. Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make your companion’s joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion.

I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did and to love as He loves. I can promise you the peace that you felt as a child will come to you often and it will linger with you. The promise is true that He made to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

Thomas S. Monson, “What Have I Done for Someone Today?,” Ensign, Nov 2009, 84–87

I am confident it is the intention of each member of the Church to serve and to help those in need. At baptism we covenanted to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.”8 How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that “oh, surely someone will take care of that need.”

We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes.

The Friend, November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Mosiah 2:17

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Mosiah 2:17

During the month of November we have really tried to focus on serving others and showing gratitude for our many blessings. For Family Home Evening tonight we carried out a family service project. We went to the church building, Clorox disinfecting wipes and spray in hand, and sanitized all of the nursery toys. With all of the flu germs going around, I had heard that our nursery leader was cleaning the toys every week, and I wanted to give her a week off!

This turned out to be a great project for our family, since my small children could easily participate by wiping down the toys. As we discussed the above scripture, the Ant Bug was happy to learn that by helping the nursery children and workers, she is really helping Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Recently Read: Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

This is the second time I have read this book. I saw New Moon at the theater on Friday, and I was in the mood for a little more Bella and Edward. Since it was the holiday weekend I decided to indulge myself by reading this again. Stephenie Meyer gives a great wrap-up to the Twilight series in this book.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recently Read: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This was an interesting pick for our next book club selection. It is the author's memoirs of a very non-conventional childhood with her unorthodox parents. The poverty that she lives in is appalling, but I was impressed by her drive to make something of her life and be a different person then her parents (in my family science training we call that a "transitional character").

Warning: I could have done without all of the foul language of the father.

Scripture of the Week: D&C 59:7

"Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things."
D&C 59:7

The Ant Bug said that she wanted to teach the Family Home Evening lesson tonight, and I thought that was a great idea. She wanted to talk about Thanksgiving. The only problem was, after we got through the opening song and prayer and turned the time to her to teach the lesson, she burst into tears. She couldn't remember what she wanted to say. So after some consoling, we had a very random "Thanksgiving themed" conversation ranging from things we are thankful for to turkeys to our 6 ancestors who came across on the Mayflower. The funny highlight was when the Ant Bug mentioned "Cilantro" (aka Squanto), the Native American who helped the pilgrims. We ended with a discussion of the above scripture and a reminder to be thankful!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Alma 17:10

"The Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted."
Alma 17:10

We had a pretty low-key FHE tonight, reading and discussing a few stories from the November 2009 Friend magazine. We read Showing Sorry and did the maze on p. 30, then we did the Making Your Home a Holy Place activity on p. 32. We finished off by reading No Bad Dreams (which is where the scripture came from) and the ideas for combating fears in Feeling Scared?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Recently Read: My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

One of my friends is a pretty avid Jodi Picoult fan. Her books have come up during a number of "book talks" with other friends too, so when Rachel offered me a copy of this I thought I should give it a try.

This is a very emotional book, with a serious and thought provoking ethical debate at its center. I thought it was well written and it definitely held my attention (I finished it in two days), and I got teary eyed in a few spots. I have to warn that this book should be rated at least PG 13 (maybe even R-yikes!) for language and "intimate moments".

Here's the synopsis:
"Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate - a life and a role that she has never questioned… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister - and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable… a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life… even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recently Read: Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

This book tells an amazing story of one person's quest to build schools and educate children in some of the harshest situations in the world, in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. He faced a lot of obstacles but also made important contacts and is a true friend to people who are often hostile (or at least assumed to be) toward Americans. He especially promotes education for women, since "If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a community" (African proverb). The long-term solution to terrorism and poverty is education.

As I read this book I was inspired by all that has been accomplished when just one person strives to make life better for another person. Read this book, and you'll be inspired to do something good too!

This was an excellent choice for our book club, and I'm looking forward to discussing it tonight!

Scripture of the Week: D&C 98:1

"Fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks."
D&C 98:1

This week for Family Home Evening we read a story from the November 2009 Friend magazine, My Gratitude List. After discussing the story, we created our own Family Gratitude List. We used a piece of large butcher paper and together we either wrote or drew pictures of some of the things we are grateful for. We also used FHE idea #3 (from the back page of the magazine) and talked about how having a grateful attitude can make our bad days (days that make you feel like saying "Grrrrrrrrr") go away.

Then we enjoyed some homemade lemon ice cream, something for which we are all grateful for!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Gospel Study in October 2009

Among other things, my gospel study in October included the following:

2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
October Theme (and weekly gospel principles): "The Family: a Proclamation to the World" teaches me about families.

October Scripture: "The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" ("Proclamation," paragraph 1).

Chapter 41: Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion

General Conference Addresses April 2009

Richard G. Scott, “Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need,” Ensign, May 2009, 43–45

When a temple is conveniently nearby, small things may interrupt your plans to go to the temple. Set specific goals, considering your circumstances, of when you can and will participate in temple ordinances. Then do not allow anything to interfere with that plan. This pattern will guarantee that those who live in the shadow of a temple will be as blessed as are those who plan far ahead and make a long trip to the temple.

I encourage you to establish your own goal of how frequently you will avail yourself of the ordinances offered in our operating temples. What is there that is more important than attending and participating in the ordinances of the temple? What activity could have a greater impact and provide more joy and profound happiness for a couple than worshipping together in the temple?

*Talk includes an excellent list of suggestions on how to gain more benefit from temple attendance.

Russell M. Nelson, “Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers,” Ensign, May 2009, 46–49

Thus, the Lord’s Prayer serves as a pattern to follow and not as a piece to memorize and recite repetitively. The Master simply wants us to pray for God’s help while we strive constantly to resist evil and live righteously.

We too can pray for unity. We can pray to be of one heart and one mind with the Lord’s anointed and with our loved ones. We can pray for mutual understanding and respect between ourselves and our neighbors. If we really care for others, we should pray for them.“Pray one for another … ,” taught James, for “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Richard C. Edgley, “This Is Your Phone Call,” Ensign, May 2009, 53–55

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down,” Ensign, May 2009, 59–62

We cannot and we must not allow ourselves to get distracted from our sacred duty. We cannot and we must not lose focus on the things that matter most.

*I shared some of my thoughts after reading this talk here.

Henry B. Eyring, “‘Man Down!’,” Ensign, May 2009, 63–66

The Ensign, October 2009

The Friend, October 2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

Caldecott Books in October

Here are the Caldecott Medal Winner books I read during the month of October. I have to confess, I actually only read A Story A Story to the Ant Bug, and she thought it was just okay. I wasn't too interested in the other two, and I didn't think she would be either, but I probably should have given her the option. Now that she is in preschool everyday we have lost some of our regular reading time, so I need to work on making that more of a priority.

1951: The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous
1971: A Story A Story, retold and illustrated by Gail E. Haley
1998: Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky

Scripture of the Week: Galations 5:13

“By love serve one another.”
Galations 5:13

President Monson's talk from this past General Conference was one that really touched me and has left me pondering how to apply his teachings. Titled, What Have I Done for Someone Today?, President Monson encouraged us all to ask ourselves that question daily and do something to help another person. His talk was the subject of our FHE lesson tonight, and I also drew a lot of ideas from this lesson at The Family Home Evening Spot.

I shared the story of Dr. McConnell and the question his father asked him every night: "And what did you do for someone today?" Then we discussed President Monson's birthday wish, and how primary children all over the world responded to his hope. We decided to start our own warm fuzzy jar, which we will work on filling up this month as we find ways to serve others. To start us off tonight we drew pictures and wrote a letter to family members who live far away.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

In the last month my entire family has been sick with something. Nothing terribly serious (mostly coughs and runny noses and some fevers and ear infections) but enough to be annoyed by all the sickness. So I saw this great lesson on staying healthy at Family Home Evening Planner and decided it was just what we needed tonight.

I gathered each of the items pictured above and used them as props to discuss the following ways that we can work at staying healthy.

Hand soap--wash hands with soap and water, rub the soap all over the hand surface for as long as it takes to sing the ABC song (this included a demonstration!).

Hand sanitizer--rub a dime sized amount of cleanser all over the hand surface until it evaporates (this also included a demonstration and practice run!).

Toy food--eat healthy, nutritious foods and limit sweets.

Toy dishes--don't share dishes, food, or drinks.

Medicine--use medicine as needed (but only when Mom or Dad give it!). Keep a supply on hand for emergencies.

Pillow--get enough sleep.

Tissue--use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, or use your arm and not your hands (another demonstration and practice run).

We also talked about the importance of getting regular exercise, but I didin't have an object for that.

I chose this scripture for the week to remind us of the additional strength that we can receive from the Lord. I certainly want to "run and not be weary"!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scripture of the Week: 3 Nephi 13: 23-30

"Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin;
And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith."
3 Nephi 13:28-30

For Family Home Evening tonight we celebrated the birthday of our Sweet Bee, but we still had a brief lesson. We chose a scripture to discuss that has her name in it! We talked about the meaning behind the scripture and listened to the beautiful arrangement of Consider the Lilies performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. If you like that song, you might be interested to read a little background on how it was written.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Recently Read: Specials

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

I had to read this third book in the series, to finally get some closure to the story. Thankfully, most of the details got wrapped up nicely. This series is an interesting take on a futuristic world.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scripture of the Week: D&C 4:4

"For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;"
D&C 4:4

This scripture was chosen to go along with our Family Home Evening lesson on missionary work (specifically ways that we can be missionaries now). We played a game that I created for a Sharing Time last year, and ended the evening off with some silly magic tricks from Dad and Grandpa.

My Gospel Study in September 2009

2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
September Theme (and weekly gospel principles): Prophets teach me how to strengthen my family.

September Scripture: "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken,...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38).

Chapter 40: How Glorious Are Faithful, Just, and True Friends

General Conference Addresses April 2009

Boyd K. Packer, “Counsel to Young Men,” Ensign, May 2009, 49–52

President Clark described youth as “hungry for things of the Spirit [and] eager to learn the gospel.” He said: “They want it straight, undiluted. They want to know … about our beliefs; they want to gain testimonies of their truth. They are not now doubters but inquirers, seekers after truth.”

President Clark continued: “You do not have to sneak up behind this spiritually experienced youth and whisper religion in [their] ears; you can come right out, face to face, and talk with [them]. … You can bring these truths to [them] openly. … There is no need for gradual approaches.”

David A. Bednar, “Honorably Hold a Name and Standing,” Ensign, May 2009, 97–100

These scriptures help us understand that the process of taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ that is commenced in the waters of baptism is continued and enlarged in the house of the Lord. As we stand in the waters of baptism, we look to the temple. As we partake of the sacrament, we look to the temple. We pledge to always remember the Savior and to keep His commandments as preparation to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, in the ordinances of the holy temple we more completely and fully take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.

The Ensign, September 2009

The Friend, September 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Scripture of the Week: D&C 64:33

"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."
D&C 64:33

For Family Home Evening we talked about General Conference and some of the things that we learned. This led to a discussion about families and things that we like about each member of our family.

I have been thinking a lot about this scripture and thought it would be a good one for our family to focus on this week.

Recently Read: Pretties

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

This is the second book in the Uglies series. It was an interesting read, but like the first one it really leaves the reader hanging at the end. I'll have to hurry and put the last book in the series on hold at the library to finally get some closure!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Amos 3:7 (again)

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
Amos 3:7

We spent our Family Home Evening this week preparing for General Conference. We used this lesson again to talk about what a prophet is. Both girls had fun playing follow the leader, and then we played Where's the Prophet? To round out the evening we ate ice cream and watched our favorite Mormon Messages videos on YouTube.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Recently Read: River Secrets

River Secrets by Shannon Hale

As the third book in the Books of Bayern, River Secrets was a little more predictable. but I still enjoyed reading it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scripture of the Week: James 5:16

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed.”
James 5:16

Our Family Home Evening lesson tonight was on the theme of "I Will Say I'm Sorry". The lesson I used was a compilation from the following three sources:

Behold Your Little Ones, Lesson 16
Primary 1, Lesson 29
LDS Nursery Color Pages

Make mistakes—say I’m sorry
-drop something
-hold picture upside down
-call child the wrong name
-spill crayons/paper

Explain that as we are growing up and learning to choose the right, sometimes we make wrong choices. These are not just mistakes like putting a picture upside down; these are times when we do something that is wrong, something that Heavenly Father and Jesus and our parents do not want us to do. By making wrong choices, we may make ourselves and other people unhappy.

Show a picture of Jesus Christ (Nursery manual p.106). Jesus taught us how to be happy. Saying kind words can make us happy and it can make others happy; when we make a mistake or do something that isn’t nice, we need to use these kind words: “I’m sorry”. Invite the children to say “I’m sorry”.

Sometimes we make mistakes. Saying “I’m sorry” makes you feel better and makes the bad feeling go away.

Sometimes we do things that make other people feel sad. Saying “I’m sorry” makes them feel better.

Introduce scripture of the week (James 5:16).

Show the picture of Nephi building a ship (Nursery manual p. 70). Tell story of Nephi and his brothers building a ship.

Remind the children that when we say “I’m sorry”, we can be happy and help others be happy. Invite the children to say “I’m sorry.”

Use a smiley/frowny face puppet.
-You push somebody (frown). How do we make him smile? Say “I’m sorry” (smile)
-you take a toy away
-you hit your sister
-you spill your water
-you break a toy
-you won’t share

Have the kids color and then decorate the bear with “I’m sorry” band aids.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Recently Read: Uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

This book is the pick of our book club this month. I thought the premise was interesting: a futuristic world where everybody is considered ugly until they reach age 16 and receive an operation that makes them dazzlingly beautiful. Eventually you discover that there is a little bit more to the operation.

It has a pretty abrupt ending, so now I'm left waiting for the sequel to come in at the library.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scripture of the Week: Family Proclamation

"The family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."
The Family: A Proclamation to the World

For Family Home Evening tonight we talked about our family tree and ways that we can help our family to be strong. I used this file on Sugardoodle for our activity, which had two parts. I opened the file in Publisher and made three copies of the page. On one of the pages I removed all of the words from the fruit. On another page I removed the words from the fruit and instead added the names of our immediate family members and grandparents names. The other two pages I kept the same. After printing the four pages I cut out the fruit names and one set of the fruit activities, leaving me with two sheets of papers with trees on them. For our FHE we glued our family members onto the blank tree, and then played a matching game to glue the family strengthening activities on the other tree. It was an activity that kept little hands busy while we talked, and it went over well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Recently Read: Enna Burning

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

This is a follow-up book to The Goose Girl, and just as enjoyable.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Recently Read: The Demigod Files

The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan

This book contains three short stories about Percy Jackson, as well as some other trivia information about characters in the series. If you've read the other books in this series than this will be an enjoyable quick read.

Caldecott Books in July and August

Here are the Caldecott Medal Winner books the Ant Bug and I read during the months of July and August.

1960: Nine Days to Christmas, illustrated by Marie Hall Ets; text: Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida
1961: Baboushka and the Three Kings, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov; text: Ruth Robbins
1976: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
1978: Noah's Ark by Peter Spier
1979: The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
1989: Song and Dance Man, illustrated by Stephen Gammell; text: Karen Ackerman
1997: Golem by David Wisniewski
1999: Snowflake Bentley, Illustrated by Mary Azarian; text by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

The Ant Bug really enjoyed Song and Dance Man, and Noah's Ark is wonderfully illustrated (there are no words). The other books are meant for a more mature audience than my 4 year old, so she didn't have much interest in them.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recently Read: The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This is the second book I have read by Shannon Hale (the first was Austenland), and I found it quite enjoyable. It is a retelling of a Grimm's fairy tale, enhanced by the author's imagination. Written for a young adult audience, this is a fun quick read. I'll be looking for more books by this author!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Gospel Study in August 2009

2009 Outline for Sharing Time and the Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation
August Theme (and weekly gospel principles): Temple blessing unite families.

August Scripture: "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heave: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).

Chapter 38: The Wentworth Letter
Chapter 39: Relief Society: Divine Organization of Women

General Conference Addresses April 2009

Allan F. Packer, “Finding Strength in Challenging Times!,” Ensign, May 2009, 17–19
"We need to be acquainted with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and we need to practice and apply gospel teachings until they become natural and automatic. These promptings become the foundation of our testimonies. Then our testimonies will keep us happy and safe in troubled times."

Thomas S. Monson, “Be Your Best Self,” Ensign, May 2009, 67–70
"Although our journey through mortality will at times place us in harm’s way, may I offer you tonight three suggestions which, when observed and followed, will lead us to safety. They are:

1. Study diligently.

2. Pray fervently.

3. Live righteously.

These suggestions are not new; they have been taught and repeated again and again. If we incorporate them into our lives, however, we will have the strength to withstand the adversary. Should we ignore them, we will be opening the door for Satan to have influence and power over us."

"To those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace. Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer."

Thomas S. Monson, “Until We Meet Again,” Ensign, May 2009, 112–14
"My brothers and sisters, may we strive to live closer to the Lord. May we remember to “pray always lest [we] enter into temptation.”2

"To you parents, express your love to your children. Pray for them that they may be able to withstand the evils of the world. Pray that they may grow in faith and testimony. Pray that they may pursue lives of goodness and of service to others.

"Children, let your parents know you love them. Let them know how much you appreciate all they have done and continue to do for you."

Elaine S. Dalton, “Come Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord,” Ensign, May 2009, 120–23
"As you live a virtuous life, you will have the confidence, power, and strength necessary to climb. You will also be blessed with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Follow the promptings that you receive. Act upon them. Like the cairns on a trail less traveled, the Holy Ghost will show you all things you should do (see 2 Nephi 32:5). He will teach and testify of Christ, who has “marked the path and led the way” (“How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, no. 195)."

The Friend, August 2009

The Ensign, August 2009