Friday, May 31, 2013

Garden Update

It's amazing what a difference a few weeks can make in a garden.  Look at my potatoes, they're HUGE!  I've planted several other things, but not much else is big enough to see's growing though.  I love watching it come to life.

Look at my strawberries, they're getting so big I can almost taste them.  It won't be long. 

I find it amazing how very green pea plants are.  So, so green.  And they feel thick and healthy.  They've recently started blossoming and they're gorgeous! 

How's your garden growing?  I'd love to hear about it, or your dreams of having one someday.  In fact, start today, even if you only have one pot, you can begin your garden dream!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Heart of Iron

I started reading this book last week and it's made quite an impression.  It's amazing.  I love Kyle's ability to tell ridiculous stories (like when he was drugged to make his second bone marrow test a little easier and he wasn't sure if it was the doctor or the unicorn dancing around the room that pierced his bone), detail his everyday life and then share something profound.

Seriously profound.  I keep telling everyone about this one part and each time I do, I tear up and can't get through it without sounding slightly strangled.

Kyle shares feelings experienced while waiting in his first waiting room for his first radiation treatment at the age of 17.  While waiting he watches a young boy and his mother and thinks about God.  This is what he had to say,

"Where is God when a young child like that is stricken with terminal cancer?  Where is the beauty in having a promising life snatched away before it begins?

It's in the humanity that the mother and son still maintained in spite of a lot in life that could have easily stripped them of it.  It's in the love that they shared in that small room, on that particular afternoon, that I was privileged to witness.  It's in the hundreds of thousands of people that deal with daily struggles so immense that surely their spirits should collapse - yet not only does that spirit endeavor to endure, it flourishes."

The opportunity to read and learn from the journey of others is a great blessing.  If you have the opportunity, I would greatly recommend this book.  It will make you stop and think.  It will make you thankful and hopefully, give you the urge to love your life and those around you a little more.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

June Sharing Time - I Will Follow Heavenly Father's Plan by Being Baptized and Confirmed

This month's topic follows the path of baptism. 

We'll first learn about why and how we're baptized, focusing on the covenants we get to make.  I love covenants.  The blessings associated with them more than make up for any perceived inconvenience in following the guidance given to us by our loving Heavenly Father.  Only perceived, because in reality, that guidance leads us to true happiness, joy and peace.  Peace in the midst of any storm life can throw at us.

Next, we get to talk about receiving the Holy Ghost.  This is one of the most amazing and important gifts that anyone CAN receive.  Can, because we do not always choose to have Him with us.  Can, because He is always there, waiting for us to ask and seek.  Like I said, amazing.

Then comes the opportunity to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants.  To re-promise to take Christ's name upon us.  To be His again. 

Last, we'll talk about repentance.  Up until the age of 8, our beautiful children haven't sinned.  They can't.  They're perfect in their innocence (yes, I promise, they might not always seem so very innocent, but they are).  They need to quickly learn about another of the wonderful gifts we've received from the sacrifice of our Savior, repentance. 

I've been amazed at how excited I get about the opportunity to teach these truths (and watch them taught) to the children in our primary.  The more I study and learn the more I want to jump up and down while hugging each of them to share and show these feelings with them (I'm not sure how that would look, but you get the idea).

Here are a few talks I've found that look really great.  I'm excited to dive into them and get inspired!

The Covenant of Baptism, by Elder Robert D. Hales

Receive the Holy Ghost, by Elder David A. Bednar

Blessings of the Sacrament, by Elder Don R. Clarke

Born Again, by Elder James E. Faust

This month, we're adding the Shield of Faith to our Armor of God guy.  Everything we do, every principle we teach requires faith to bring us from knowledge to action. 

I found another talk that teaches about this principle (it's got a pretty great title, too).

The Shield of Faith, by Elder Boyd K. Packer

Have a wonderful month and remember, it is the Holy Ghost that will truly touch and teach your kids, He is who you NEED!

PS. I've posted a few ideas for the June's first week of Sharing Time here, I'll post ideas for following weeks the Monday before each Sharing Time.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sharing Time - June Week 1 - Baptism & Covenants

This weeks sharing time focuses not just on baptism, but more specifically on keeping our baptismal covenants. 

To introduce the topic of baptism, ask the kids whose example they follow.  There are lots of good answers: friends, teachers, parents, older siblings...  When they answer, ask who that person follows and so on until you get the answer Christ.  Why do we follow Christ's example (I love why questions!)? 

Then ask what one BIG thing we do when we're 8 to follow Christ's example?  Did you know that both Christ and each of us are or will be baptized for the very same reason?  Does anyone know what it is?  John 3:5 says, "And Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee.  Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  Then discuss that this means to be baptized and confirmed so that we can live with Heavenly Father again.

Preparing for Baptism
In Junior Primary, it's important to talk about how to get ready for baptism and I really love the steps and questions listed on A Year of FHE (I also found these same questions as part of a larger Sharing Time Lesson on lds dot org).

1. Believe in and learn about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Why?  Where can we learn about them?
2. Pray to Heavenly Father.  How can praying help us to prepare for baptism?
3. Be forgiving and love others.  What happens when we forgive? How can we show our love for others?
4. Choose the right everyday.  How?
5. Read or listen to the scriptures/scripture stories.  How has/does this help you prepare?

I also like this picture story that teaches the kids exactly what happens once they turn eight found in the family home evening packet on Parenting in the Latter-days.  You could have a recently baptized child come up and tell the story with the pictures (or help you tell the story) and tell the other kids how they felt about being baptized.

Covenant Keeping
Once we've been baptized, we aren't done.  In fact, our journey has just begun.  We made promises when we were baptized.  Promises with a special name, who knows that they're called?  We make 3 covenants, who knows what they are?

1. Take Christ's name upon us (become a member of His church).
2. Aways remember Jesus.
3. Keep His commandments.

To help the kids learn how to keep their covenants in everyday little things, have them play this board game from the Friend magazine.  You could split the room into 2 or 3 teams and have them take turns rolling the die to progress around the board, landing on decisions that have been made.  Each decision teaches about a good or poor choice and the consequences that come from them.  It's simple to print out and pin or tape up in your room!

To teach how covenants are a protection to us, use this fun object lesson I found on Give 'em Heaven (along with a TON of other great ideas) using water, pepper and dish soap.  Ask the kids about things that are hard in the world (mistakes we make) and with each answer, sprinkle a dash of pepper into your water (if you put the water in a clear baking dish, it would be easiest for everyone to see).  Then ask them what's one thing that makes a covenant different than a promise?  It's a two way promise, when we keep our end, Heavenly Father will bless us in certain ways. 

1. He will give us the Holy Ghost to be with us,
2. forgive us when we repent,
3. and let us live with Him again. 

As you give each answer (or have the kids complete the promises with pictures found in the baptism packet from Parenting in the Latter-days), add a small drop of soap and watch what happens to the pepper (if you've never seen it, the soap repels the pepper, it's really pretty cool).  Our covenants protect us from the influence of the world.

I also found a fun idea on the Desert Saints Magazine website that you can use throughout the next few weeks.  As you discuss each of the 3 covenants we make, show them a piece of yarn for each, talk about how each promise is small and simple, but when you braid them together, they get stronger, just like when you keep your covenants, your testimony and faith grow stronger.  You'll have another 3 strands to weave together symbolizing things we need to do to keep the Holy Ghost and a final 3 for the covenant renewal that can happen each time we partake of the sacrament.  After you make your final braid, you will braid all three strands together, showing how they all work together to make you even stronger.

Testimony Challenge
Ask the kids either, what's one way they can get ready for baptism or, what's one way they can keep their baptismal covenants and have them commit to work on it throughout the next week. 

Testimonies only grow through living the commandments every day with faith (if you are doing the Armor of God guy, point to the newly added shield).  Don't forget to bear your testimony of the covenants in your own life!  I've often heard it said that while the kids might not remember what you taught, they will remember how they felt.  Get them feeling the Holy Ghost as often as possible!

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Report Style Book Report

For Makenna's last book report, I decided she should do a more report style book report as opposed to the projects we have been doing throughout the year. 

As I mentioned earlier, she wasn't too thrilled with me for a while, but by the end she told me it was actually kind of fun.  Yep.  She did.  Honest.

I found and saved the instructions months ago and I'm not sure where I got them (so I can't give correct credit), but the outline is fairly general.

For this book report, you will end up with at least 6 paragraphs when you're finished.  Makenna liked how easy the report ended up being because I only had her work on one paragraph everyday, which only took her a few minutes. 

1. Introduction: Introduce your reader to the book.  Including what was interesting about it, the main characters, the title, and author.

2. Setting: Describe where the story takes place and when.  The when can be a little harder if your story is complete fantasy, like Makenna's, but you can still do it if you talk about time in relation to what happens in the story.  For example, if you were reading The Lord of the Rings (which she didn't), you could say it happened during the age of man.

3. Main Character(s): Makenna chose to talk about the two main characters, each with their own paragraphs.  You could talk about one character, a group of characters and split it into as many (or few) paragraphs as you choose.

4. Plot: What's the main problem of the story?  What are the characters trying to accomplish throughout the story?

5. Resolution: How do they solve their problem?  This is basically the ending describing how the characters (and the author) wrap the story up in a neat little package...or do they?

6. Conclusion: This section is your review of the book.  What did you like or dislike?  Is there a moral to the story?  Do you think the author did a good job of teaching it?  Would you recommend it and to who?

In addition to one paragraph a day, she added an extra day to print out and edit her report.  Then one last day to make her title page with some pictures/artwork she'd found showing her favorite characters. 

It turned out pretty good and as you can see, she's very proud of it!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Folder Book Report

For our last set of book reports, I split the kids up. 

Makenna wasn't very happy with me in the beginning.  She loves doing the "fun" book reports with her brothers, but I wanted her to do at least one report style book report this year.  I'll post about her report a little later because right now, I want to show you the boys folder book reports.

They loved doing them.  Anything that lets them draw, cut and paste is pretty fun in their books.  I found the original idea for this report while perusing Pinterest during the year.  You can find it (and a template to download) on Thinking of Teaching.

I made a few changes to the template to better fit my boys and how we wanted to do our book reports.  It turned out pretty darn fun, although different than I originally thought. 

I'm not sure if my template ended up bigger or if the original from Thinking of Teaching had larger folders (do they make them bigger?), but our pieces didn't fit neatly like hers, so I ended up having the boys put some of their pieces on the back.  I also let them put the pieces wherever they wanted, I told them to think of it like a puzzle and make them fit however they wanted.  And they did. 

This is the front.  It includes a little information about the book with most of the room taken up by a picture which is always their favorite (both boys LOVE to draw).

Here's the inside for both boys.  Ben's is all brown, while James wanted his to be multi-colored.  It's interesting how they so fully express their own individual personalities in just about everything they do. 

We tried to make all our flaps different, just to make it a little more interesting.  This set of flaps shows a picture of the boys very favorite parts from their respective books.

This next set asks them to describe their favorite character.  It's interesting that James (the Kindergartner) will sit and write for a few minutes, but getting Ben (the 2nd grader) to write is, and always has been, like pulling teeth.  But they both got it done.

The fold-out-flap (my technical term, do you like it?) was by far their favorite to make.  This works on their summary skills by asking them to write about the beginning, middle, problem/resolution and ending.

The last flap is their review of the book.  They were to write how well they liked it, what they liked about it and who they would recommend to read it (if they would).

Here's the back of each of their book reports.  In addition to the flaps, they drew a picture of their favorite character and wrote the title, author, genre and who the report was by.

We did one section a day, cutting out the borders and gluing on two separate days at the end.  It went really quickly and the boys had fun.

I love learning with my boys, teaching them and watching their eyes light up with understanding.  It's one of the greatest gifts in my life. 

Do you have any favorite book reports?  I'm on the lookout for some fun ones to fill next year and would love to hear about any you've done or come across!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Nuggets of Wisdom

Have you ever heard of LDS Nuggets?  If you go to their website, you can subscribe to their service simply by entering your email address. 

And what do you get in return?  A "golden thought to treasure" every week.  At least, that's what they say. 

The quotes are always good, but there have been a few that have resonated with me.  Made me stop in my busy day and re-read (and sometimes re-read again).  Then ponder why this passage touched my heart and what I should do about it. 

I just had another of these moments yesterday when I received this quote by President Henry B. Eyring from his October General Conference talk last year,

"The Holy Ghost is sent to you and to those you care for.  You will be strengthened and yet inspired to know the limits and extent of your ability to serve.  The Spirit will comfort you when you may wonder, "Did I do enough?" I testify that the Lord will be with you and that your way will be prepared and marked for you by Him in your service to those He loves in their needs and trials."

When I read or listen to a General Conference talk, I read it as a whole and sometimes miss little pieces of it.  Or perhaps I don't miss them, but they affect me differently in the context of the entire talk.

It took pulling this quote out on its own, to strike me and make me ponder about the service I give in all areas of my life.  I try to not second guess and worry about what I could have done, but it happens.  I worry about my abilities as a mother, a friend, a visiting teacher, a member of the Primary Presidency. 

This quote brings peace to my heart and I'm pretty sure was meant just for me.  Okay, maybe not just for me, but it's a blessing how much it inspires and comforts me.

If you'd like to try out LDS Nuggets for yourself, click on the link and subscribe!  Just do it, maybe one day, when you're struggling, you'll open your email and find just the piece of wisdom you've been looking for.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sharing Time - May Week 4 - Word of Wisdom

If you gave the kids a challenge to pray about or practice the law of Tithing last week (or any other challenge), don't forget to check with them to see how they're doing!

This week we're talking about the Word of Wisdom.  There are so many different ways to talk about this topic and I've found so many games and object lessons my head is sort of spinning.  I want to share many of the fun ideas (even ones I'm not going to use) so instead of one distinct outline, I'm going to list ALL my favorites for you this week.

Intro Object Lesson

I found a fun idea on A Year of FHE for a shocking object lesson. 

First, print out a pretty picture.  I've been thinking what would be good here; a picture of a temple, a nice picture of my family, or maybe a beautiful landscape picture. 

Second, wrap the picture so that a primary child can unwrap it as you start your lesson.

Third, exclaim about how nice the picture is, and doesn't everyone just love it?  Then proceed to rip, tear and smash it to pieces. 

Hopefully someone will protest or ask you what you're doing and you can ask them why it's wrong to destroy something you've been given.  Then, relate this to our bodies and how they are one of God's greatest gifts to us. Read 1 Cor 3:16-17 and ask if we've been given any commandments that teach us how to protect our bodies.

I absolutely love America Janes's idea.  It's adorable and would be seriously funny.  Make two sets of cupcakes, one normal and in the others, hide a tablespoon or so of dirt in the middle of the batter before baking.  Leave the normal cupcakes plain, but frost and sprinkle the dirt cupcakes to make them more appealing.

Tell the kids that you'd advise against the dirt cupcakes (not telling them why), but they can choose for themselves. 

Now, this one isn't really practical for primary, but you could make it work by just taking a poll and asking which one the kids would choose.  You could either break a few open to show them what their choice would have meant or choose a guinea pig to come up and taste from the cupcake chosen by the majority.  Compare this to how sometimes Satan makes things that are bad for our bodies look appealing, but through the teachings of our prophets, we can know how to keep ourselves healthy. 


Read through Doctrine and Covenants 89 to find all the Promises and Commandments it lists.  To keep their attention from wandering while you make your way through, you can have the kids come up and write them on the board for you and take turns reading.  Even with that, I would probably only attempt this for Senior Primary.  I love this idea because it's simple and it get's you into the scriptures, which is always a good thing.

I found several really great ideas on this Sharing Time on lds dot org.  My favorite ideas are found in the other ideas section closer to the bottom (there are several).  My favorites are under number one. 

For senior primary, have them do a scavenger hunt using the topical index for words like corn, bread, wheat...(there are lots more suggestions on the website).  I love that it gets them in the scriptures AND that they get to learn how to use the index.  Make a list of your chosen scavenger hunt words and after they find them, have leaders close by to sign off that word/scripture so they can move on to the next one.  Only do this for a pre-designated amount of time so you can talk about what they've learned and have time to wrap up.

With Junior Primary, print out some bodies that you can cut into different parts.  I really like the Melonheadz Armor of God boy and girl, but I've got some other armor of god people linked on this post (or you could use something else you already have).  The kids get to  put together the bodies as they draw pictures out of a bag/bowl/basket/whatever you have lying around your house.  The "good" pictures add a piece and the "bad" pictures take away a piece.

I want to add a short caution here, I would encourage you to not stick cookies in the same "bad" or "evil" category as alcohol and cigarettes.  If you would like to talk about them, a third category titled Moderation, might work better.  Generally, all food can be good for you (our bodies do need some fat), we just need to make sure we eat a variety in moderation.  Thank you, I'm getting off my soap box now, promise.

You can put together your own pictures, or if you're goal is to be as lazy, I mean, to make things as easy as possible, I've found some cute pictures on Parenting in the Latter-days and Primary In Zion that you can download, print and cut up.  Easy, peasy.

A third idea I like I found in a few different places with some slight variations.   This idea focuses a little more on what we see and hear than what we ingest.  Many of us don't think about how amazing our brains are, how quickly we can learn something, and how very fast images and music can be imprinted in our minds.

To show the kids how well we remember things we see for only a few moments, show them a picture and then take it away and ask them questions about it.  You can find a random picture in the Parenting in the Latter-days packet or find and print your own. 

I am much better at remembering music.  When I hear certain songs I immediately recall movies, friends,  and experiences I've had.  You can do a couple things to illustrate this.  Hum a few bars to see how fast your kids recognize different songs.  Then, have your pianist play different kinds of songs pausing to ask how each song makes everyone feel.  Music has such an impact on our moods, I find it astounding.   
If nothing you've read so far floats your boat, how about a good old game of Tic Tac Toe?  Sugardoodle calls it Primary Squares and it's really very simple.  Your board will consist of nine kids (or leaders) sitting in three small chairs, three regular chairs with your last three standing in the back.  The contestants are asked questions, but they don't give the answers, they pick which "board piece" they want to answer for them.  Now, the "board piece" can answer any way they like (correct or incorrect), which leaves the contestant to decide if they're right or not.  If the contestant guesses correctly, they get that square.  Sugardoodle even has thirty-three questions waiting for you, which means even less work!!

Testimony Challenge
This has been a really great month.  The opportunity to study more about our modern day prophets and the great blessings that come from following them has been very fulfilling.  If you have any specific stories from your own lives detailing blessings received from obeying the word of wisdom, now would be the perfect time to share them.  Even if you haven't, bearing your testimony of the protection (think Armor of God) given by obeying our prophets counsel will touch the hearts of your primary. 

I really like the challenge on Sugardoodle asking the kids to watch or listen to nine separate General Conference talks.  Even if the kids are too young to really understand, if they are listening, their families are also and it will be a wonderful blessing for all of them!

I hope your Sharing Time goes wonderfully!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Garden Beginnings

I've kept a garden for the last several years with varying degrees of luck.  My very favorites to plant are potatoes, corn (which I haven't planted yet...I'm slacking), and tomatoes.  Yum. 

I thought it'd be fun to take pictures of my garden over the next few months to sort of track it's progress.  It's always amazing to me how the barren garden can spring to life so very quickly.

This first picture show the kids area.  The garden always ends up with a slightly different configuration each year and after thinking about getting my kids more involved, I'm finally doing it this year. 

Each of the kids gets their own 4' x 4' area to plant whatever they want (out of the seeds I already have floating around).  They've been working on weeding it over the last week or so and James finally got his planted today (his is the just watered, darker square).  Josh and Makenna still have a little more weeding to do.

I finally planted lettuce, swiss chard and some spinach today (I'm late with these, too) and can't wait to see them poking up out of the ground!!

Here's my potato bed, already going to town.  I just finished weeding it today, doesn't it look nice?  I can hardly wait to pull our first potatoes out, you wouldn't believe how white the flesh is when you cut them open, amazing (plus, they taste pretty good, too)!

And the garden as a whole.  Well, almost, you can't see my trellis on the right hand side where my peas are languishing because I haven't put up any netting yet.  I should probably do that soon.

Happy gardening!!! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is school over yet?

I love my kids and I love the opportunity to spend every day with them.  We learn so much together, not to mention the fun we get to have.  But lately, there are also those days where I sort of just want to send them outside and lock the door behind them (just to be clear, want does not equal action in this case). 

Does that happen to anyone else? 

We are blessed to live in a close neighborhood with many children, my kids can literally walk next door or just across the street to play with friends and because of that, we have chosen to keep our school schedule aligned with our local public school district.

What does that mean?

Our school is out for the summer in a week and a half.  I can't wait.  They can't wait.  We really can't wait. 

As I look back over the year, it has been a resounding success.  Adding two more kids to our school year (moving from one to three) was a little rocky, especially with my sixth grader who'd never been home before, but it worked out and has been so (honestly?) wonderful.  I'm looking forward to new adventures next year.  New things to learn, new curriculum to try and more time to be together.

But in the mean time?  I want to go to the park and pretend that school doesn't exist.  Never happened.  School?  What's school?  And I have to keep telling myself it's only a week and a half, I can finish.  I really can. 


Monday, May 13, 2013

Sharing Time - May Week 3

This week we're shifting gears a little bit and going from talking about the many different teachings we've received from our prophets to delving into one specific topic, tithing.

The plus side of a specific topic is that it's easier to find lots of good ideas, the downside to one specific topic?  There are so many good ideas! 

I want to cover the basics of tithing (getting a little deeper with the older kids, but still staying pretty basic) by talking about some Hows, Whens, Whos, Whats and Whys.

How do we figure out how much money to give for tithing?  I found a few cute poems to help the kids remember this and we'll use one from A Year of FHE that starts (there's more to the poem, but I'll introduce that section later):

My Tithing
by DaLee Clegg James

A dime from every dollar,
A penny from a dime -
One in ten is for the Lord;
I pay him first each time.

There are also a few different games you could play to teach the kids how much money to pay (and to test Senior Primary) like this cute file folder game on Green Jello with Carrots that has you match the tithing amount to how much you earned.  Or this ice cream game in the tithing lesson on Parenting in the Latter-days (this lesson is pretty awesome and I'll talk about other parts you can use during Sharing Time later on).  If you don't want to print out a game, you can always make up your own just by writing an amount on a chalk/white board and asking the kids to help you figure out how much tithing you owe. 

I also like the idea of blowing up a tithing slip and using it to talk to the kids one of two ways.  First, you can just show them HOW they'd fill it out (you could even have one of the kids do it for you, talking about the different sections as you go) or you can cut it up (making it a puzzle), hide the pieces around the room and write each of the questions (how, when...) on the back, talking about them as they're found.

When talking about how to pay tithing, it's very important to stress paying FIRST.  There are some super cute ideas out there to illustrate this.  It would be hard to do my favorite object lesson with a whole primary, but you could have a teacher/leader help you out. 

Give the leader 10 small candies (like Skittles or M&M's) and tell them they can eat 10, but please save one.  Then, go on to do some other activity (or leave the room for a second to "get something") while the leader quickly eats them all and then stares at the last candy acting as if they really, really want to eat it (if you have a leader who would be willing to ham it up, that would make the biggest impression) and then you could either have them eat it at the last minute, or save it for you making sure everyone knows how hard it was.

Then give your helpful leader 10 more candies and ask for the one candy first.  Ask the kids if they think it was easier for the leader to give up one candy at the beginning or the end and compare this to paying our tithing.

Who do we give our tithing slips to?  You can talk about where the slips are located in the building and that they can give them to any member of the bishopric or even mail it to the bishops house.  You can also explain, that even though that's who we give them to, that's not who ultimately gets our tithing money.  The bishopric gives it to the financial clerk who records exactly who gave the money and then they send the money to the church office building in Salt Lake City.

So, once the church office building gets our money, what is it used for?  If you go here on Mormon dot org, you can see a list of what's done with our tithing money.  I'm pretty sure I've not been paying enough attention to tithing lessons in the past because I didn't know all of these. 

I'm going to put up (or read) the second part of the My Tithing poem here:

My tithing's for the missions
And for building temples too.
He asks so very little,
It's the least that I can do.

There is also a story and a wheel in the FHE lesson from Parenting in the Latter-days (I linked to it in the How section above) that tell you what's done with your money.  The story is about a little girl who has to decide if she wants to pay her tithing and talks to her mom about what her money is used for.  You could tell the story asking the kids to stand up (or raise their hands) as soon as they hear one way our tithing is used or go through the wheel in a similar fashion.

Now, this is the best question of all, why do we pay tithing?  Why in the world would someone give up 10% of their money?  Is it because they just really don't need it?

If you used the story from Parenting in the Latter-days earlier, you could ask if Emma could have used her money and then ask why she gave it anyway?

I love an idea from Sofia's Primary Ideas to have a leader standing outside a window so that as you read Malachi 3:10 to find out why we pay our tithing, the leader throws a bag inside the primary room (the windows of heaven opening).  Now, you'd have to make sure and try this out before because the windows of any church building I've been in do not open very far.  You'd have to make sure they'd be able to get the bag in without too much trouble and try out which location would work best. 

Instead of just having stories inside the bag, I would also have words to represent the reasons why we pay our tithing.  You could have the word commandment, humble (paying it keeps us humble), gratitude (we show how grateful we are by paying the Lord back 10% of all He's given us), this great quote by President Hinckley talking about how our tithing helps build the church, and a story or two.  My favorite is the last story titled, A Nudge in the Right Direction.

Testimony Challenge
We are blessed to have prophets who can give us counsel and direction in our lives.  So very blessed to have the opportunity to receive amazing blessings by obeying the commandments!  The only way to gain a testimony of any commandment is to LIVE IT!  So, I want each of you to make a goal to pay your own tithing.  If you don't yet earn money, ask your parents if you can hand the bishopric your family's tithing envelope.  Pray and ask Heavenly Father if tithing is really His commandment, if you really want to know and ask, Heavenly Father will always answer your prayers!!

Back to Parenting in the Latter-day's, if you want to send home a simple handout, you could use the maze at the end of their lesson.  It reviews all the steps from needing to pay your tithing, how to go about it, who to give it to, where it goes and what happens to the money you've given.  It's a really great review!

Have a wonderful week and a great Sharing Time!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Temple Hopping and Yummy Restaurants

Over the last few months, we've been getting together with some friends once a month to visit all the temples in our state.  For many of you, that might mean lots of long drives (or not so many if there's only one or two temples), but I live in Utah and am blessed to live within an hour of several temples.

As part of our temple excursion, we also try to find a little (aka: often hole in the wall) restaurant to try out.  We've done some looking on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and asked around and have ended up at some pretty good places.

Last month, we went up to Brigham City (beautiful temple, one of my top two Utah favorites so far) and stopped by Daddy D's.  Seriously amazing. 

This is the Hot Mess.  What is a Hot Mess, you might ask?  Well, it's a square glazed donut with a bacon cheeseburger inside.  Yes, you heard me right.  Yes, it does sound strange.  And yes, it is awesome. 

Do you see the plastic in both top corners of the photo?  Those are gloves.  I'm pretty sure any meal that requires the use of gloves has got to be good.   

Here's my good friend demonstrating how to go about eating your yummy Hot Mess. 

I kept taking a bite, tasting the donut and thinking, "Yum, this is so good."  Then, I'd taste the bacon cheeseburger section and think, "Man, this is so good."  After which, I'd stop and think something along the lines of, "This is so strange, but seriously good."  And I pretty much did that with every single bite.

There's a lot more to the menu, like a grilled cheese burger which uses two full grilled cheese sandwiches for the buns, with your patty in the middle.  Not to mention, TONS of deep fried desserts (my husband is of the philosophy that everything is better fried and Daddy D's seems willing to put it to the test).  If you're ever up near Harrisville, you should stop by and check it out.

We're always on the lookout for good places and if you know one in Utah, I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 Primary Bulletin Board

Okay, I know it's a little late to be posting about a bulletin board, but I only just got one.  Well, I sort of asked for one.  I know, I'm crazy like that.

A few months ago I noticed a bulletin board in our church building that didn't seem to be in use.  There were a few pictures up, but nothing auxiliary specific and I finally remembered to ask about it a month or so ago. 

I already have a tri-fold, movable type board that we put out in our primary room every week, but I thought it would be fun for the kids to be able to show their parents the things we're talking about and working on and this is what I came up with.

I tried to make it as simple as possible by using things I already had and not making it necessary to change the whole thing monthly.  We used this picture of Christ with the children on our binders this year and I really love it.  I got the yearly and monthly theme posters from Simply Fresh Designs (as well as the border for my Armor of God piece description).

Every month I will change out the Monthly poster and the Armor of God piece description while adding the matching piece to our guy.  That bottom, left-hand section encourages the kids (reminds the parents) to work on memorizing our monthly scripture with this quote from Elder Richard G. Scott,

"Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high."

Doesn't that make you want to run out and memorize a bunch of scriptures? 

I'm pretty excited about the new addition to our building and hope it gives the kids a chance to talk with their parents more about what they're learning during primary!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Report Quilt

A few months ago, I let the kids choose the next book for us to read together.  Makenna excitedly convinced her brothers to pick Fablehaven and even though it was a little rough getting into the first book, they absolutely love it now.  No, I'm not still reading the first book, we finished it some time ago and are now in the middle of the 3rd (I didn't realize I was signing up for 5 books when we got started).

After finishing the 2nd book, I thought it would be fun to do a group book report and after looking through the ideas I'd found earlier this year, I picked out the perfect one.

I found this quilt book report on the internet, copied the instructions and saved them in my book report folder.  Unfortunately, I did't save where I found it so I can't give correct credit, if someone knows who came up with this brilliant idea, let me know, I'd love to acknowledge them!

I think it turned out pretty darn good!  Each column is the work of a different child and each row has a different theme.  Our top row is all their favorite characters (Vanessa, Seth and Kendra).  The middle row is their favorite part and the bottom row (from left to right) is the setting (he chose one part of the larger setting of Fablehaven), the plot and the conclusion.  One of the things I love is the opportunity to customize, you can have your kids make any kind of square(s) you'd like!

As you can probably tell, I adapted it a little for each child's ability (although it was still pretty easy for my 6th grader).  James only wrote a sentence or two, Ben wrote a litte more and Makenna wrote a lot.  They loved making it and love showing it off to anyone who comes anywhere near our house (okay, I might be exaggerating, but only a little bit).

We only have one more book report left until our school year is over and we'll be getting started on them this week (I'll show them to you when we get'em finished).  Do you have a favorite book report or activity?  I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pinterest Heaven ='s Rolo Cheesecake Bars

Seriously.  I'm not even joking.  Cheesecake with Rolos inside is so very delicious.

The cheesecake is creamy and pretty amazing on its own, but then you throw in the chewy, carmel-ey Rolo goodness and it's even better.

If you look at the corner closest to you in the picture, you can see the darker brown of a Rolo.  It's just sitting there, tantalizing you.  Well, it tantalized me.  And so I ate it. 

You can follow my pinterest board (to see my other yummy looking pins) or you can skip right past Pinterest and find the recipe on Hugs and Cookies.  I highly recommend it. 

Happy baking!

Monday, May 6, 2013

May Family Home Evening Plan

My plans are still working great at keeping me on track.  In fact, they're working so great, I wonder why I didn't try this before.  It doesn't take too long and it's awesome!

I do have one small confession (which probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone), I don't always exactly follow my plan.  Sometimes life sort of gets in the way or takes us in another direction.  And I've been going with the flow.  Me.  I know, maybe it should be surprising.

Anyway, my point is, make a plan, but be willing to change it if your kids ask you a good question or if you happen to get free tickets to go to a museum.  Any plan should be there to support, not restrict.  It's one of the many reasons I love them.

Just a quick review of my family home evening purpose.  First and foremost, our family home evenings are a place for us to be together, helping each other grow.  To meet this purpose, I try to plan family home evening's that helps my daughter meet some of her Personal Progress requirements and my son pass off some of his Cub Scout achievements.  In addition to this, we focus on teachings found in the most recent General Conference talks whenever possible. 

Now, onto May!

Week 1
We always spend the first part of the first Monday talking about and checking progress on our 2013 goals.  If you haven't made any yet, it's never too late!  The kids love to set their own goals, see what everyone else chooses and to set a few for our family as a whole.  It's a really great experience that we all love.

With spring finally warming up (for us, sorry if you just experienced a blizzard, that's just rude), this is a great time to talk about our earth and how we can take care of it (this will almost pass off Achievement 7 for my Cub Scout aged son in Wolves). 

This lesson is pretty short so you can get to the real fun,the activity.  We'll talk about respect, what it means in reference to people, animals, and our planet.  Next, we'll talk about how the earth gets dirty (I'm just talking litter here) and how we can help.  Is there recycling in your area?  What sorts of things are recyclable?  Are there other things we can do aside from recycling?  Things like turning the lights off or keeping your thermostat not too cold (or hot). 

After our short discussion, we'll head out to pick up trash around our neighborhood.  We'll just do a quick loop around our neighborhood, but you could go as long or far as you have energy for.  We are also going to use thin plastic (or rubber?) gloves I've got in my school-room to use for various projects.  Afterwards, my favorite thing to do is eat Popsicles outside (if it's warm enough) at the park, if you've got one close enough. 

Week 2
I found a great website called FHE in 5 that has a very fun series talking about prophets.  It uses the Primary song Follow The Prophet as it's spine (so there are 9 weeks to go along with the verses) and we're going to do the the first week for our family night. 

This is going to be another very short lesson so we can get to the activity portion quickly.  We will talk about prophets, sing the first verse of Follow the Prophet and then watch this short video from lds dot org about Adam and Eve.

Then we'll talk about how Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden and how we can make our home like the Garden of Eden.  Which leads right into weeding our flower beds, vegetable garden and getting my kids started in planting their sections in the vegetable garden.  If you don't have a vegetable garden begging to be planted, you could plant in a flower pot or a plastic cup or whatever you have lying around.

Week 3
Makenna is going to be working on another faith value experience for her Personal Progress.  This time she's going to work on Faith #3 and before our family night she'll read about faith and how it leads to action.  She's chosen to teach us about the principles found in the 10 commandments and how living them requires faith.

I found another amazing FHE on Parenting in the Latter-days that I'll print out for her to give to us.  It's got a fun participation story where the kids get to hold up pictures whenever their word is said, some matching cards to translate the scriptural language of the 10 commandments into easier to understand kid language, a finger play to learn the story of Moses getting the 10 commandments and some more detailed information for older kids.  It's very well put together (like all her lessons) and will be perfect!

I'm also excited Makenna chose this particular topic because it goes along with one of the most recent General Conference talks.  I'll have her talk about that as she gets the lesson started to keep conference in my kids minds.  President Monson said, "A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God."  Now, he's not just talking about the 10 commandments, but we can talk about what truth we learn as we discuss each of the commandments and how we can be more obedient to them.

Week 4
For months (okay, years) I've been wanting to get involved in family history.  I feel like this great pressure has been building up inside me and is finally getting to the point where it's just about ready to burst.  And the pressure isn't really aimed at temple work (currently), I want to know about my family.  I need to KNOW them.  Where do I come from?  What are the stories of these nameless people that helped to bring me here?

I feel more than slightly overwhelmed, which is probably why I haven't done anything yet.  But I'm going to.  I recently attended the General Primary Auxiliary Training and when a 12 year old boy was asked what advice he would give to someone who wanted to start family history he said, "Just get started."  So I'm going to.

Step one: We're going to have a lesson on family history.  We'll start with some super cute videos about family history (probably just one of them, but I can't decide yet, they're so darn cute..seriously, you should watch them). 

After that, we'll talk about our family and use a cute object lesson I found at America Jane Speaks.  We'll make a paper chain with every one's names.  I'll have the kids pick a color for their section, Steve and I will be another and we'll add their grandparents in a third color.  Then, I'll ask them if they know who their great-grandparents are.  We'll see how far we can get on our chain (it probably won't get too far past grandparents without some help) and between now and the night we do this, I'm going to see how many stories I can rustle up about our closer ancestors.  We can tell the stories as we add each link to our chain. 

I've been wanting to start a family tree wall (since Memorial Day last year) and we'll start that also.  I've been waiting to figure out how to arrange them, buy frames, and pre-gather all the stories.  I'm just going to start, the organization can happen along the way, right?  We'll laminate the pictures and stick them on the wall.  I know, it's a little tacky, but it's better than that blank wall just staring at me (this way I can rearrange them until I find what I like best).  Even if we just start with us, it will be worth it to get moving.

On Your LDS Blog I found another fun idea for making a file folder game of a family tree.  This way, the kids get to know who their ancestors are as they place them on the family tree (over and over).  I won't have each of my kids make one, but I think we'll do one for the family and as we "find" more ancestors, we'll print out pictures to add to our tree.  Hopefully, it'll be overflowing in not too many months.

Good luck with your FHE plans for the month and remember, the most important (above ANYTHING else) is to have it.  It's not what or how, it is that you DO.  So, "just get started."

Family Tree

I just wanted some videos on youtube about geneology and family history.  No, they're not boring.  They involve kids (who are never boring) being asked questions.  You never know what a kid is going to say and it makes for some pretty amazing cute-ness.

We're going to use one (or a few) of these short videos in an upcoming Family Home Evening lesson, but I wanted to tell you just a little about one of the videos.  When asked what a family tree was, one cute little girl said it was like a Christmas tree. 

In an instant I was overwhelmed with the picture of a Christmas tree full of twinkling lights.  I love lots of lights on my Christmas tree.  Lots and lots of beautiful lights.  Then, I thought of what happens when one light breaks.  When one little part of the strand stops working.  The lights stop from that point on.  And all of a sudden, I had tears in my eyes.  One light.  One person lost.  Lost.

Now, I know there are newer light strands that just keep right on working with only that one light out.  But didn't Christ leave the 99 to find the 1?  Oh my heavens.  I really need to learn how to do family history.  Has anyone else ever felt like this?  Did you figure it all out.  I know I can, I just have to start.  That's all there is to it. 

I've got to get my Christmas tree as twinkle-ey as possible.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Changes for Primary Sharing Time Weeks 1 & 2

Even when I make plans, I often decide to do something different or maybe just a little bit more.  The second is what's happened in this case.  I wrote about weeks 1 and 2 for Primary Sharing Time earlier this week and I decided to do a little more work on it.

I've added some quotes and pictures to the post that I'm going to use for my lesson, so please hop back if you'd like to check them out.  I would be happy to send them to anyone who'd like to use them!

Hope your plans are going wonderfully!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Sharing Time - Prophets Teach Us to Live the Restored Gospel

This month we get to spend 1-2 weeks learning about prophets, who they are, why and how to follow them and then another 2-3 weeks talking about specific principles we can follow.

Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy said, "We all must learn that the only sure and secure road to protection in this life comes through trusting in and obeying the counsel from the prophets of God."

We are so blessed to know about and have access to modern day revelation.  In fact, we don't just "have access," we are commanded to listen and then to receive our own revelation confirming the truths our prophetic leaders teach.  This is an amazing principle.

In our primary this month, we will also be focusing on our new Armor of God piece.

We will be learning how we can walk where the prophets ask with our "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel (Ephesians 6:15)."  This is so very perfect for me as I'm all about being prepared.  I love the gospel and the more I learn, the more I submerse myself in it's teachings through study and practice the happier I am.  Although happy isn't quite a strong enough word.  I feel joy, peace and a quiet assurance that I'm headed in at least the right general direction.  It is a wonderful feeling that I try very hard to keep as much as possible.

I'm excited to teach my primary children this month.  To show them my love and hopefully their Father in Heaven's love for his prophets.  For the wonderful principles they teach and the gifts that come from following in their footsteps.

Like last month, I have a few articles I've printed out and am trying to get read this week, both to increase my learning and to get me pumped for teaching this inspired topic.

Our Very Survival, by Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy

Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, by President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve

Obedience to the Prophets, by Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy

Give Heed unto the Prophets' Words, by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Joshua 24:24 says, "And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey."  Christ has also said that by His voice or the voice of His servants, it is the same.  The prophets' voices are equal in weight to our Saviors.  Equal weight!!!  I've said it before, but I can't help but say is one more time, we are so very blessed.

Have a wonderful month!

PS. You can read more specific ideas for your Sharing Time for weeks 1 & 2 here.  I'll post ideas for following weeks the Monday before each Sharing Time.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

World Penguin Day

Last Thursday was World Penguin day and we celebrated by watching a few short videos on YouTube (done by BBC, they were AWESOME!) and working through a few projects. 

The kids favorite, by far, were these little penguin guys.  I love that each of my kids put their own spin on every activity they do. 

This is Josh's picture and I have to say, I'm pretty proud of him.  At 3, he traced my pattern, cut out all the pieces and glued it together all on his own.  He's definitely my most independent child (I hope it stays a good thing).

James loves to do whatever everyone else around him is doing.  He followed the pattern pretty close, until he saw Makenna making a baby penguin and then he had to get in on that action too.

Ben walks to the beat of his own drummer.  He's not in your face about wanting to do things his own way (like Josh), but if you give him the chance, he'll take any project in a direction that never would've occurred to me.  These are his ghost penguins (I guess you don't really need feet when you're a ghost).

Then there's Makenna.  She takes any project and makes it better.  Does more than required (especially when it comes to any sort of art) and it always turns out adorable.  I had already taken a picture of her penguins when she asked for a second one showing how the baby sat on it's daddy's feet.  I couldn't help put this one up instead, you can see how excited she was.

We hope you had a fantastic World Penguin Day!!
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