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