Daily Family Traditions

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Play everyday…sometimes with blocks (as above), or sometimes store, camping, airport, hospital…any number of highly imaginative games.

Wake girls up (usually)

Read scriptures

Pray

Eat breakfast together (and dinner)

Read stories after scriptures and before bed.  (I usually read one to one girl and Scott usually reads one to the other.)

See if the dog around the corner (his name is Bear) is there everytime we drive past.  And if he’s not, he’s usually eating a “teddy bone” for lunch.

Wave at daddy every morning and flash the outside porch light at him as he rides his bike to work.

When Daddy gets home, the tradition is to either squeal and run to the garage door or squeal and hide from him.

Funny things overheard at our house this week

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Teddy bone: what a dog might chew on for lunch (aka doggie bone)

Katie has been wanting to learn all the verses to the Primary song, “Follow the Prophet.” Singing at the top of both her and Rachel’s lungs on the way to church is the following version of the fourth verse.
“Abraham the prophet, prayed to have a son.
So the Lord sent Isaac as the chosen one.
Isaac beat up Jacob, known as Israel
Jacob’s sons were twelve tribes, so the Bible tells.”

A request:
“I want to go to the mall and ride the alligator.” (aka elevator)

“Rachel drew a most excellent person.”

Mazagine:  a magazine

Parenting tips: Self esteem

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I got called out a bit this week for not updating my blog…especially the parenting tips portion.  So sorry, to all of you.  I guess I took a little blogging break…not intentionally, more lazily I suppose.

This week’s parenting class was about as much for teaching me self esteem as it was for teaching my children self esteem.  Children seem to sense if a mother struggles with her self esteem.  How do you improve your self esteem? The only way I know of is to go the source of all love and happiness Himself, our Heavenly Father.  (see yesterday’s post.)

Why is it hard to have a healthy self esteem in this world?   Because the world only values about four things:  1.  Athletic ability 2. Beauty 3.  Intelligence 4.  Wealth  And if you don’t have any of those things, you’re not valuable.  Only a small portion of the population has any of those things.  However, we know differently.  We are all valuable because we are all divine.  Each one of us is a child of Heavenly Parents.   We have unique talents and abilities and special missions to perform here that only we can perform.  And that’s how we can teach self esteem to our children.  They have to know and understand the special significance of being a son or daughter of Heavenly Father.

Ways to Instill Positive Self-Esteem: (from the syllabus of the class)
1.  Examine and improve your own self-esteem (Can I enjoy doing things without trying to please others all of the time?)
2.  Help children discover who they really are (“I am a child of God,” their prayers are heard and answered)
3.  Establish a root system (to foster sense of belonging)  (family tree, helping them know extended family, gospel)
4.  Fall in love with your children (spend one on one time with them, write love letters to them)
5.  Give children positive affirmation (show faith in their abilities, don’t recall past mistakes)
6.  Implement positive discipline (teach positives–what you want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do)
7.  Eliminate self-gratification (teach them to work to earn what they desire)
8.  Turn off the TV (takes away from interacting and bonding with the family)
9.  Eliminate competition and create environment of safety (find joy in other’s successes, NEVER compare children)
10.  Teach them to think about and serve others (take them to attend each other’s activities, family service projects)

This is a huge list of to-dos.  Pick one or two and figure out a practical way to accomplish it in your family. And if you have any suggestions of something that works in your family, feel free to post it in the comments.  My goal this week are to help establish their root system by finding pictures of our extended family and getting them ready to print.

Our homework this week was to study Doctrine and Covenants Section 46 about spiritual gifts and pray to know the spiritual gifts of your children.  I have also included myself and my spouse in my prayers hoping to discover our spiritual gifts as well.  (This will include rereading my patriarchal blessing.)

How to find Heavenly Father’s love

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If you googled, “how to find Heavenly Father’s love,” or “how to find God’s love,” you are looking in the wrong place.  But I can direct you to where you can go to find it and that is to the source Himself.

We Mormons believe that a person can ask God and receive an answer.  This belief is based on the scripture in James 1:5, “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (see other scriptures about this here.)  We believe that if you want to know something, you can ask, with real intent, the source of all truth and light, and expect an answer.  It is knowledge that can only be revealed to you.  So if you are truly searching for God’s love in your life, to be uplifted, and encouraged in your life, find a quiet place, kneel down, pray, and then listen.  And I promise you that if you truly ask and truly listen, you will hear.

If God could answer the prayer of an “obscure boy” of fourteen years of age, He can answer you.  (See Joseph Smith’s story here.)

Sweet Dreams

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I’m a sucker for seeing my sweet babies sleep.  It just warms my mother heart to see them so peaceful and beautiful.  Rachel is getting to the point where she has a hard time settling down for a nap, so I usually have to go in and lay with her.  I love to watch her fall asleep…struggling against the heavy eyelids for a time and then succumbing as they fall and hearing her breathing get heavy.  It’s probably one of my favorite things…I used to watch Katie with the same struggle.  And every time as I watch them, I feel the Spirit affirming to my soul the importance of motherhood.

Valentine’s Day

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Instead of trying to fight the crowds going out to dinner for Valentine’s Day, we opted to attend a morning session at the temple and then stay home in the evening and have a late dinner after we put the girls to bed.  We pulled out the china Scott’s grandma gave us and had a “fancy dinner.”  (At least for us) On the menu:  Chicken Cordon Bleu, salad, green beans, jello salad, and homemade cheesecake topped with dulce de leche.  I had never made cheesecake before, but found an awesome recipe online.  And besides messing up the water bath a little, it came out delicious!

I had planned on giving Scott something practical he needed (like jeans) but he spent all of his gift money on really exciting things like batteries and bike stems.  So instead, he had to settle for:

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A personal apple pie.  I found the link to make this cute little pie box here. It reads, “A little pie for the apple of my eye.”  But you know, he really likes apple pie, so I think he really liked the gift.

Parenting tips: The Essential Things

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“These are essential things which must be done before nonessential things. These are simple, indispensable practices that almost seem mundane when we talk about them… No one can do these things for us—these are personal practices and habits that set us apart as strong and immovable for that which is correct.”  (Sister Julie B. Beck, General Relief Society meeting, October 2007)

“Some uses of individual and family time are better, and others are best. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”  (Dallin H. Oaks, October 2007  General Conference)

Four things which are essential to strengthening home and families:

Family Home Evening

Every Monday night.  And make sure each one includes gospel instruction.

Meaningful Family Prayer

Twice a day.  President James E Faust in the October 2005 Ensign of an experience that a bishop had with President Kimball.

“Years ago, Bishop Stanley Smoot was interviewed by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985). President Kimball asked, ‘How often do you have family prayer?’  Bishop Smoot answered, ‘We try to have family prayer twice a day, but we average about once.’ President Kimball responded, ‘In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.’”

Family Scripture Study

Each child has their own copy of the scriptures with a marking pencil.  The scriptures are a workbook.  Each child should also have their own copy of the General Conference Ensign and there should be family home evenings taught of that.

Temple Attendance

Attend regularly and consistently.

The parenting class teacher encourages us to do, with exactness, those four things.  I first took this class a year ago (yes, it is my second time in the class…and if you think I need to retake it, just know that there are others that have been attending 5+ years!) and I have to admit that I have made great strides in those four areas–I am not quite to the exactness part, but I have improved immensely.

How I am doing:
Family Home Evening–we are pretty consistent and usually have gospel instruction.  I would like to add more lessons coming from talks from General Conference.
Meaningful Family Prayer–we do alright at night prayers, but we could improve our morning prayers (like actually have them) and improve the “meaningful” part.
Family Scripture Study–We do great at reading…but we should improve the “study” part.  Occasionally we ask the girls questions about what we read.  I am going to improve my efforts when checking for understanding and application.  (See this post about understanding and application.)
Temple Attendance–This is the area where I have seen the biggest improvement in myself.  Thanks to several friends who have helped me get there by inviting me and being so consistent when going.

The best sugar cookie recipe

img_0548-blogTry this recipe…it’s finger lickin’ good.  (Well, at the least the frosting is…that’s all she ever eats.)

This is the best sugar cookie recipe…at least if you like your sugar cookies soft like I do.  And this recipe doesn’t have to be refrigerated before cooking.

Sugar Cookies
1 c sugar
1/2 c milk
1 egg
1/2 c margarine (room temp)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3 c flour

Combine sugar, milk, egg, and margarine.  Mix well.  Add baking soda, cream of tartar, and flour.  Add more flour if dough is sticky.  When dough is not sticky, turn out onto lightly flour surface and roll out to approximately 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.  Cut out with your favorite cookie cutter.  Then bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.

Then for the frosting, I use Wilton’s Buttercream frosting recipe.

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One year ago

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Look at how little Rachel was!  I can’t believe that only one year ago she looked that small.  And those cheeks!  So cute.  I am already mourning that my girls grow so fast.  I tell them that they have to stay little forever.  But I have to be careful how often I say that because Katie gets sad.  I’m sure she is having an internal battle–wanting to grow big, but wanting to please her mommy.  The last time I said it, Katie started to get sad and said, “But mom!  I want to be big!”  So I had to assure her that I wanted her to be big too.  And that’s true…I do want her to grow up and learn to do things herself because that is Heavenly Father’s plan.  But there is a part of me that grieves when I look back at these pictures.

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(Katie doesn’t look she has changed that much)

I’m sure that is part of being a mom…I have heard many moms talking about how they miss their kids when they are all at school and how when the last one goes to college it takes some time to adjust to that.  So I know I am not the only one who mournes as the children grow.

It makes me think of President Monson’s talk from last General Conference, “Joy in the Journey.”  He says, “If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will–to your surprise–miss them profoundly.”

What’s the key to finding joy in my journey?  I found it in President Monson’s talk:  “Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings.”  Gratitude…that I have had two beautiful girls who keep me laughing and loving every day of my life.  And the other key?  (This one is not in President Monson’s talk…it is loosely based on The Family: a Proclamation to the World, paragraph 7) Making memories with them.  Finding time to spend every day playing or doing something fun together creates memories that I’ll have forever even if I won’t have Katie at four years old and Rachel at two.  And of course, I take lots of pictures and my goal to start using our video camera more during everyday activities at our house.

Speaking of everyday activities…have you heard of this?  You take pictures of your daily activities on the 12th day of every month for a year.  I think I might try it…it would be a great way to document your everyday life.

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3 month storage spreadsheet/menu list

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You guys asked for it…and I am sorry to report that I have no idea how to upload my spreadsheet into my blog.  However, if you really want a copy of my chicken-scratch spreadsheet, let me know in the comments and I will email it to you if I have your email address.

However, here are my meal ideas, keeping in mind that I am also counting on using my freezer as part of my three month storage.

Breakfast:  pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal

Lunch:  sandwiches (ham, tuna, peanut butter), quesadillas, soup, and macaroni and cheese.

Snacks:  granola bars, fruit leather, dried pears, smoothies, crackers, popcorn, and trail mix

Dinners: Tuna noodle casserole, spaghetti, pizza, chicken noodle soup, rice casserole, Hawaiian haystack, stir fry, marinated chicken (in BBQ sauce or Italian dressing), corn chowder, chicken enchiladas, goulash, sloppy joes, tacos.

At this point, I have not planned a lot of side dishes with our meals…I am planning on using our bottled fruit, frozen and canned veggies, and whatever else may be on hand.  And I have not included in my list of supplies to get bread or anything else that I can make with the flour, yeast, sugar, and other baking supplies.  I usually have at least a three month supply of most of those items.

If any of your have questions, comments, or ideas on any part of my three month storage plan, please leave a comment!