The other morning, I happened upon this.

Scenes like this make me so grateful to be a mother and see my girls serve each other.  Rachel loves stories…and Katie offered to read her a story.  I was so touched that I couldn’t even make Rachel get dressed before Katie read her one.


Simple dessert: Brownie sundaes



Hot Fudge or chocolate sauce
Vanilla ice cream
Whipped cream
Peanuts and/or sprinkles

This is a really easy dessert that you can dress up the presentation or just glob all the good stuff on top.  You can use a brownie mix to make the brownies or try making your own brownie mix (maybe one like this one).  For the brownie sundaes I made a couple of weeks ago, I used hot fudge sauce that was from the store.  For the one I made above, I made chocolate sauce and used this recipe.  It turned out really good!

Food storage room


When we bought this house, we knew there would not be enough storage space for all the food storage we hoped to store–especially for when our family grows larger.  So we decided to wall off a portion of our garage and make it our food storage room.  Scott framed, insulated, sheet-rocked, taped, and added a motion dector light (for when the girls go out to get something and forget to turn off the light.)  Most of our long-term storage is in the white boxes, but we also have some of our bottled fruit.  On the other side of the room are more shelves to store the white boxes and some really neat adjustable shelves for other sizes of cans and boxes.  There are only a few details left to be finished–mainly adding an air conditioner to keep it cool in the summer when the temperature outside raises the temperature in the garage.



For Christmas this year, Scott’s parents gave the girls a dollhouse.  They began the designs way before Christmas and then began building it themselves.  They even built all the furniture and painted each piece.  They also decorated the rooms with wallpaper and paint.  And the girls love it!  Katie even made Scott play dollhouse with them last weekend.  And I love the way it turned out and I love that it has sentimental value…something that their grandparents made with their hands.


This is the kitchen table.  Painted, of course, in the favorite color around here, pink.


This is my personal favorite–the bathtub.


As you can see, the dollhouse is quite large…bigger than Katie.  But they designed it with the idea in mind that one day, the girls won’t want to play dolls as much.  So you can remove the roof and it becomes a bookcase.  This is something that we can keep and love for a long time.

Parenting tips: Four levels of learning


I went to college to become a teacher.  And somewhere during those four years, I learned about Bloom’s Taxonomy–it is stirring some memory deep within my brain, but I haven’t visited that school part of my brain for approximately four and a half years.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a hierarchy of learning that educators use to get their students to think on a higher level.  For example answering a question such as “What is____?” requires less brain power than answering a question such as “How would you compare and contrast___?” or “Do you agree with_____ and why?”

Not only have I forgotten Bloom’s Taxonomy, but I never thought about applying it to my parenting.  In our parenting class, we talked about a hierarchy of learning similar to Bloom’s, but only discussing four levels:  Knowledge, Understanding, Internalizing, and Application.  Then we applied these levels to teaching the gospel to our children.

Level 1: Knowledge.
Knowledge is teaching the story.  This is the easy level and the one I usually teach.  (It is also the most common one taught in Primary, YW/YM, and Relief Society.)

example:  First I pick a topic and then I use the levels to teach the topic.  If I want to teach obedience, I can start with the story from 1 Nephi when Lehi asks his sons to go and get the plates from Laban.  I will teach the story by explaining what happened, possibly using pictures.  This level is the foundation–they need to know what is going on first.

Level 2: Understanding
Check the child’s understanding of the story.

example:  Once I have taught the story of getting the plates from Laban, I can check to see if they understood it.  “How did Laman and Lemuel feel when their father asked them to go get the plates?”  “What did Nephi say?”  “How did Lehi feel about what Nephi said?”  I can also use other methods to check understanding–role plays, have them repeat the story, or have them give the lesson about that story.

Level 3: Internalizing
This level is when the child can see that the story can apply to him/her.

example:   “Why do you think Lehi was ‘exceedingly glad’  when Nephi said he would go and get the plates?”  (because he chose to obey) “Do you think the Lord is glad when we obey?”  “What are some examples of when you obey?”

Level 4: Application
This is the action part of the lesson.

example:  “What can we do as a family this week to obey?”  (answers could be listening to Mommy and Daddy the first time, doing what the prophet has asked, etc.  We would then pick one thing to focus on.)  Then I think it is important to follow up with everyone.  Next Family Home Evening, we might come together and talk about times that we were obedient during the week.

My job as a parent is to create opportunities for my children to learn on each of these levels.  Conversion doesn’t come until the application level.  In fact, in many areas of my life, I have knowledge, but I am not truly converted.  “To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be “converted,” which requires us to do and to become.” (Dallin H. Oaks “The Challenge to Become”)

(By the way, I feel overwhelmed when I think of how much creativity it takes to come up with the application activities…if you have any ideas please share!)

Peter Pan?


Talking about setting goals in Family Home Evening:

Me:  I read Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  Then I explain to Katie and Rachel that just like Jesus grew in these areas, so should we.  We should get smarter, grow bigger, and learn to be more spiritual, and to be better friends to other people.  (Of course I tell her all this is language she can understand.)

Katie:  Did Jesus have any friends?

Me:  Yes.

Katie:  Who?

Me:  Well, Peter, James, and John to name a few.

Katie:  Peter Pan?

Me:  Uh…that’s not really the Peter I was thinking of.

Resolution: Something lasting beyond the week


(Not such a happy product model today…although she insisted in being in the picture!)

This week, I started working on my three month storage again.  When I originally began thinking about it, I got frustrated and gave up.  The problem was that I didn’t know if I should plan my meals around non-perishable foods or not.  And when I started to plan the meals, I realized that many of my meals required perishable ingredients.  So I gave up.

When I revisited my three month plan, I realized that I had not read the counsel (linked above) closely enough:

Build a small supply of food that is part of your normal, daily diet. One way to do this is to purchase a few extra items each week to build a one-week supply of food. Then you can gradually increase your supply until it is sufficient for three months. These items should be rotated regularly to avoid spoilage.”

Foods that are in my “normal, daily diet” include perishables and non-perishables alike.  I decided that my meals would include ingredients that could keep for three months–including both non-perishables and items that could be frozen for that long.

I have almost completed an Excel spreadsheet of two weeks worth of meals that have ingredients with shelf-lives of at least three months.  I will then repeat those meals for the remainder of the three months.  The spreadsheet calculates all the ingredients and tells me how many of each I need to store.  Then I will keep my eyes out for sales at the grocery store so that I stock up quickly and as cheaply as possible.

Family goals and predictions


I found this idea on someone’s blog, but I just went to go find it and I don’t remember where I saw it.

At the beginning of 2008, we each made some goals and predictions in Family Home Evening.  It is fun to go back to the previous year and read what was predicted.  Katie wanted to learn her ABCs which she did.  Out of Scott’s four predictions, he was right on three of them.  And I right on none of mine.

We fill out answers to each of the following questions and then make a few predictions of things that might happen during the year.
Fill in the blanks:
1.  I want to learn:
2.  I want to read:
3.  I want to make:
4.  I want to visit:
5.  I want to change:
6.  I want to be better at:
7.  Most of all I want:

This year we included Rachel in making goals and predictions.  Some of the girls’ answers really don’t make sense, but they had a good time deciding what goals to make.

Katie’s answers:

1.  I want to learn: to read
2.  I want to read: “Pinkalicious” (she calls it “Pinkdelicious”)
3.  I want to make: macaroni and cheese
4.  I want to visit: Aunt Charlie
5.  I want to change: the movies in the DVD player
6.  I want to be better at: learning to go to school
7.  Most of all I want: write letters better than I do today.

Rachel’s answers:

1.  I want to learn: baby
2.  I want to read: “Pinkdelicious”
3.  I want to make: oatmeal
4.  I want to visit: Grandma
5.  I want to change: my poopy diaper
6.  I want to be better at: kindergarten, preschool, and school
7.  Most of all I want: to go to kindergarten

Katie predicts that she is going to swim in the ocean with her Daddy holding her.  With our planned vacation this summer to the ocean, that might happen.  But my prediction is that she is going to put her toe in the water and decide she doesn’t want to swim in it.  (We are planning on going to the Oregon Coast.)  Rachel predicts that she isn’t going to want to put her face in the water.  And I think that will probably be right.  🙂

Parenting tips: Changing percentages


I feel really lucky and blessed to be able to take a parenting class here in my area.  Every Tuesday, I drive fifteen minutes to the class where my girls go to the gym with the other children and I join other mothers (and some–maybe two) fathers for a two hour class on parenting.  It is phenomenal.  I come out of each class with more information and more items on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish in a year.

Luckily, our teacher stresses changing percentages.  Doing a little better today than you did yesterday, a little better this week than last.  It sounds a little like this approach.  I am trying to take that to heart.  Getting frustrated at my girls a little less than yesterday is a good start.  That’s manageable.  A lot like the gospel.  “Line upon line, precept upon precept.”

This week, I am working on these three homework assignments:
1.  Listen to how I correct my children.  Is it negative or positive?  And if it is negative, stop and repeat it positively.  For example saying, “Don’t slam the door,” is a negative correction.  And they don’t hear, “Shut it softly.”  Instead, I need to stop and say, “Come back and shut it softly.”

2.  Study D&C 68:25-31.  This is my to-do list as a parent.  It is scary to think that when the Lord is saying He is not well pleased with “idlers” among the inhabitants of Zion that He is talking to a people before TV, video games, movies, and the internet.

3.  Pick one of “Basic Tools for Teaching” to work on.  I am choosing to Keep my word.  That means that if I say I am going to read a story to Katie, I better do it.

How I got six boxes of popcorn for -$1.50


(Doesn’t she just look like a great product model?  Especially with that dirty face!)

When we were college students, a lady came to our Enrichment and taught a class on how to use coupons to combine with store sales to get really great deals.  I thought it was great and tried to start, but soon found that I fizzled out on the whole couponing thing.

I’ve gotten back on the bandwagon now and I am finding great deals.  The other week at Albertsons, I bought 6 boxes of popcorn for an overage that was applied to the rest of the groceries I bought.  And the other great thing about shopping there is that they give you five cents off a gallon for every $50 of qualifying groceries that you buy.  When I needed gas this week, I had earned enough to pay only $1.10 a gallon.

Finding great deals like this help me build my food storage more quickly than if I had been working on it without any sales.  It takes a little work to research the sales and find the coupons, but it has been worth my time and effort for the last three or four months that I have been working on this.

My favorite site to find deals is Pinching Your Pennies.  That’s where I usually find the grocery store deals for the week.  They have a star method of ranking where four and five star items are the best deals.  They also match up coupons for you and give you a final price including sales and coupons.

There are also a number of blogs that are devoted to finding great grocery deals.  Being Frugal is Fabulous, Money Saving Mom, and The Obsessive Shopper are just a few.

And if you are looking for ways to decrease your grocery budget (that doesn’t include what is on sale this week) check out Be It Ever So Humble…she has a great list today of common sense ways to cut back.