Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ball

Some kids have a pacifier, others a cuddly blanket. For others it's a raggedy stuffed animal or doll that they can't live without. But for Jesse Bear it's a ball - a half-chewed clear bouncy ball to be exact. He takes it with him EVERYWHERE! It's the perfect size to fit inside his little hand and he is rarely found without it. He sleeps with it, eats with it, bathes with it, plays outside with it and...Yep! Rides his bike with it! As can be expected, the ball's size and elastic properties pose some interesting challenges. He loses it several times a day, but so far between Curious George and I, we've been able to help him find it. Cross your fingers that it will stay that way!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What I've learned from my Kids

Sometimes I wonder if we are given children more to teach them or more for them to teach us. I'm sure it's probably a bit of both, but I think for myself it seems like they teach me a lot more important lessons than I teach them.

One of the lessons that I've learned is about forgiving. Having two very energetic boys in our house, it is to be expected that there are a lot of bumps, bruises, tears and hurt feelings. The same with any family. Of course since Curious George is three years older, stronger and a bit more lively than Jesse Bear he is usually the perpetrator of much of the damage. I've struggled and struggled with how to deal with him in these setting and have gone around in circles trying to come up with ideas. It's been difficult to say the least. I want very much to teach Curious George to get along with other people and especially his brother. I admit it makes me angry when he hurts JB and the mother bear in me wants to protect my injured child and punish the perpetrator. There have been a few precious times when I've waited instead of doing that and have seen greater lessons being taught than those I could teach. Jesse Bear will often come up and say "Sorry" to Curious George and kiss and hug him even though he was the victim. It softens C.G. so that he will say sorry back. I've wondered if I should still punish C.G. in those instances and I usually decide not to. That simple "sorry" from Jesse Bear helps C.G. recognize that he did something wrong and feel sorry about it. Then J.B. forgives, so I should forgive. That's what the Savior would do.

I'm learning that children can often work out their difficulties on their own in a much better way than we can if we jump in. I think as adults we often want justice and to make things right. We especially want that as parents for our injured children. There is a natural instinct that makes us want to jump in and fix it - to put on the bandaid, kiss it better and punish the perpetrator for his crimes. Children are so much better than us at forgiving. They do it naturally. And they forget and move on while we tend to carry the grudge with us like a load of bricks. I've decided that I would much rather teach children about being Christ-like than about justice. If our Heavenly Father put us in a "time-out" every time we made a mistake, most of us would spend most of our lives in "time-outs". Insead all that he requires is true repentance - where we recognize our mistake, confess it, try to make it right and ask for forgiveness. When we've done that, He forgives us completely and forgets that we've even made the mistake. We start again fresh as if we hadn't even made the mistake. Since He is the perfect parent, we can learn a lot by following that example. And our children can help us, it seems so often that they already know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Duck Duck....

Yes we still have the duck and she is growing! She is the sweetest little duck that set foot on this planet. She's extremely tame - almost scarily so. Every morning Brandon goes out to the car to go to work and she comes over and drops her head down for him to pet her. He gives her chopped up tomatoes and apples and she is in heaven. She'll run away when she is chased, but if you stoop down she'll come right up to you. She must have a bit of the migrating instinct. The other day a guy a few blocks down the street knocked on our door at 7:30 a.m. and said she was under the trailer parked in front of his house! We went and rescued her and since then we've been a bit more careful to lock her up when the weather changes. She also has had a few encounters with some dogs around the neighborhood - she even ended up a dog's mouth once - luckily the neighbor rescued her! I think she's got 9 lives.

She's been the perfect pet for Curious George right now. He loves to pick her up and carry her around like a baby doll. He helped her develop her flying skills. He'd put her on this big rock near our house and run away and she'd fly after him. It was funny to watch. Every morning he goes out and gets her and stands in front of our house watching all the school kids go to school. He carries her around and many of them stop and point or talk to him. They all think it is "cool." Another neighbor told me that she saw him standing there holding his duck and waving her little foot at all the cars that pass. She said it was hilarious!

The "duck visitors" still come over. They play with C.G. after school and they all have a blast. I think C.G. has promised each one of them a duckling when they hatch. I'm not sure how that will work, but miracles do happen!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

C is Reading!!

C. G. is officially reading! It is so much fun! He's been sounding out words for a while now, but today he read four of the first set of these Bob books all on his own! I love these books - they are perfect for beginning readers because they only have a few new words in each book. HURRAY!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Fun

Pumpkin patches, Parks, Music Classes, Birthday Parties, Doctor Visits, Duck Happenings, Grandparent visits, Sickness, Leaf jumping, Halloween Costumes, Preschool, Walnut Picking, Business Trips, Yard Work, Basement Clean-up, Apples, Garage Organization, Family History, Horse Rides...FAll!

We've managed to keep busy somehow. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Get Well Note

The other day Curious George came home from church and told us that he wanted to write a card for someone. One of the kids in his church class told him that her Mommy was sick so C.G. had decided to write a card for her. It came as a bit of a surprise since it was kind of random, but he did it and Brandon took him to drop it off at their house that afternoon.

Well, the other day the girl's Mom came to our house with a thank you note for C. She told me how happy his card had made her feel that day. She said that she had had a very hard week and his card came at a time when she really needed it. She said that it is hanging on her fridge and every time she looks at it, it makes her happy.

I still smile inside about this experience and it has taught me that these children can be instruments in the hands of God to bless other people. They are often so much more in tune with promptings from the spirit than we are. It also has taught me that even simple things that we do, that we think really don't matter, can bless other people's lives. Curious George's favorite primary song has been "I'm trying to be like Jesus" for a while now. We sing it for every family night and many times in between. He loves to sing it at the top of his lungs! :) I'm so proud of him for trying to be like Jesus and doing this simple thing that made his friend's mom so happy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Busy Times

We've had a lot going on the last few weeks - here's the condensed list:

1. Harvest Season - we always love our garden, but it is sure a lot of work this time of year. What to do with the excess is always the question - we usually can most of it and give away what we can't can. This year we had some kind friends give us about 6 bushels of pears from their trees. It has been such a treat eating our fill of fresh pears! So far we've been able to can 42 quarts worth. We've also canned 21 quarts of peaches, a few pints of salsa, 7 quarts of tomatoes and several dozen quarts of applesauce (the apples were provided by another neighbor). It's been a wonderful bounteous harvest!

2. Home-Preschool - We decided that Curious George needed to be at home learning this year and I'm really glad that we made that decision. He's learning to read and it's so fun and rewarding to be able to teach him.

3. Preschool Music Class - I wanted to put C.G in a music class this year and I couldn't find one in our area that taught music in the way I wanted him to learn it so I decided to teach one myself. It's been a lot of fun (our first class was today) and I'm really excited about it. C had a blast and so did I - I really love teaching music.

4. Soccer - C.G is in a little pee wee soccer league. It's been so much fun for him to make new friends and learn about teamwork. It's been fun for us too - if you've never watched four-year-old's play soccer, you really haven't lived! It's hilarious.

5. Pre-two-year-old - We're going through the pre-two's with Jesse Bear. He loves to exercise his independence and "do it". He learns more and more words every day. I'm learning that when you have more than one child, it's the combination ages that are difficult. Like for us right now, the combo of an almost 5-year-old and an almost 2-year-old has interesting challenges. For instance, the other day I hopped out of the shower and the entire box of cheerios (that was securely locked in the "baby-proof" pantry) was poured all over the floor. Now I'm sure the toddler was not able to get into the pantry himself, but with the help of a four-year-old looking for laughs- no problem! I come into the room to two boys in the middle of the pile of cheerios gobbling up fistfuls of them at once. I of course was too cheap to throw the things away (after all they were eating them off the floor anyway, right?). So we spent the morning cleaning them up and putting them back in the box. That was less than a week ago and we've had a similar situation repeated with the same box of cheerios two other times. All I can say is, I'm glad I didn't throw them away!! :)

Don't you love life? There are always new interesting phases to experience. The phase I'm in right now is wonderful - I love having little children at home. I love to teach them and I love the things they teach me. There are plenty of rain clouds when mothering little ones, but their little sunshiney spirits can usually brighten even the most dismal of days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Queens Ride By

Here is a link to this wonderful short story called, "When Queens Ride By" written by Agnes Slight Turnbull. If you take a few minutes to read it, you will not regret it!

This story tells so beautifully the feelings I often have as a wife and mother. It was nice to be reminded that mother's important role in the family includes more than just the mundane tasks involved in caring for the children and "home-making" but also bringing joy to the ones that surround us. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Duck Happenings

I didn't know you could learn so much from a duck. Duck? That's right! We are the proud owners of a cute little duck - well, not so little now. But we got him when he was only a day old. Some neighbors gave him to us and we just love him - he actually belongs to Curious George.

We were given two ducks to begin with. C.G. named them "Peck" and "Dot". "Peck was the runt of the litter - so to speak. He was smaller than Dot and a lot weaker. He hatched the same day we got him. The neighbor took him away from the mother because she didn't want her to kill him (ducks will often do that if they have too many). This mother duck hatch about 15 eggs I think! Here's a picture of peck when he was only a few days old. Isn't he adorable?
Anyway, we lost Peck after a week - he died on the fourth of July. He just got sick and died. It was really a sad time. The next week we got another duck to replace Peck. This one was over a week old, wild and very large compared to Dot. He ran away the minute he got out of the box and it took us over an hour to get him back. Then he ran away again and when we finally found him, he was dead. That was another sad time. C.G. cried a lot during these two incidents. It's hard to watch your kids go through these experiences, but it's really good for them. It helps them learn about life and the life and death process.

We decided to not replace that one, so now we just have Dot. C loves him. Dot follows C around like he's his mother. It's so cute to watch.

I say "he" but we really don't know if that's true. In fact, we are hoping it's a "she" so that she'll give us eggs to eat. We've heard duck eggs are good. We'll see I guess.

Dot is about 7 weeks old now. He is going through "adolescence" where his quiet little peeps are turning into quacks. It's been fun to watch. He's growing wings and getting a little more scared of people. All except C.G. He still lets him pet him and hand feed him. He's still his mama. :)

The duck has been a great confidence builder for C. C loves that he follows him around everywhere. Another good thing the duck has brought are the "duck visitors." That's what C calls them. We live in kind of a quiet, older neighborhood where there are not a lot of kids C.G's age. There are some girls down the street and they happen to love animals. When they found out we had a duck, they've been visiting almost every day since then. C.G. loves the attention and it has been a great learning experience for him. After they "see" the duck, the duck visitors usually stay and play with C for quite a while. It's been a very good thing.

So anyway, we've been working on building Dot's cage. It took a while, but we're happy with how it turned out. Here's a few recent pictures of him in his new cage.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sweet Uplifting Video

I loved this little video. I'm not sure where it originated, but a friend sent it to me. It was a good reminder of the love that the Savior has for each of us. I loved the music and the beautiful child's voice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Jesse Bear is at that age where he falls A LOT! With summer in full swing and his little bare knees we've had a lot of "Boo Boos" and bandaids. The other day I was looking at a book with him and he kept saying "Banay, Banay" and pointing at these frogs. I couldn't figure out what he was saying until I realized the frogs had red bands across their knees. Of course! He thought the frogs had bandaids on their knees!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Go First

You know who made my day today? A little boy - probably 3 or 4. I didn't know him. We were hiking on a narrow trail back from a beautiful waterfall. We were tired from hiking and camping. A little grumpy, maybe. You know how things are camping with little kids - dirty clothes and fingers, crying kids throughout the night, mosquito bites, toddlers almost falling into the fire, dirt-encrusted food, not enough cups or plates or diapers or whatever, and I could go on and on. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy camping, but camping with small children is a little stressful for me. I guess I just worry too much or something.

Anyway, as we came to a point where this little boy and his dad were hiking toward us I heard the little boy say to his Dad, "wait, Daddy." Then he and his dad moved to the edge of the trail and the boy turned to us, gave us a huge smile and said, "You go first." I couldn't help but smile after that. I'm still smiling about it actually. That kind gesture this boy showed us brightened my day so much. It reminded me once again that kindness really does make a difference. Aren't children so often the best examples of this? I've seen it in my own kids too. So many times when I want things to be "fair" my children remind me that it's better just to be nice. When I find myself trying to take my fair half out of the trail in life I hope I can remember that little boy and step aside for other struggling travelers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Message I Needed

I love the July Ensign - I've already read the whole thing! I just wanted to share with you this little story from it that touched me so much! I've thought about this a lot since I've read it and it has brought a lot of peace to my heart. This story helped me see more clearly how the work of a mother fits in to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Was I Living the Gospel Fully?

By Carolynn R. Spencer

Carolynn R. Spencer, “Was I Living the Gospel Fully?,” Ensign, July 2009, 71

My scripture study would have to wait. All three of our sons had awakened—and much earlier than usual. The youngest, Caden, then 18 months old, was screaming in his crib. I went into his room and saw instantly that he was sick.

Thus began a Monday of one challenge after another. At one point, shortly after I had changed Caden’s clothes and tried to feed him, he flung a large jar onto the floor, spilling applesauce everywhere and sending shattered glass across the kitchen. As I was cleaning up the mess, I thought about all the things I wasn’t getting done: family history, service, home storage, missionary work.

“How in the world can I do everything I know I should be doing when I am barely managing the basic tasks of my day?” I wondered. By early evening I was exhausted, but I set aside discouraging thoughts during dinner, family home evening, and the boys’ bath and bedtime routine.

Finally, with the children in bed, I sat down to do what I had not had time for earlier. I picked up the May 2006 Ensign, which was open to a talk by President Henry B. Eyring titled “As a Child.” My eyes fell on a passage I had previously marked: “To keep the blessing of [changed natures] in our hearts will require determination, effort, and faith. King Benjamin taught at least some of what that will require. He said that to retain a remission of our sins from day to day we must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and help people spiritually and temporally” (Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 17).

Immediately, I again felt that I wasn’t living the gospel fully. I wondered, “How can I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and help people spiritually and temporally when I can scarcely take care of my own family?”

That’s when I experienced an overwhelming feeling of divine approval. It was so clear, precise, and tangible that I knew I had to write it down so I wouldn’t forget. I could see my day replay in my mind—full of feeding the hungry, doing laundry to clothe the naked (I changed Caden’s outfit multiple times), gently caring for our sick baby, helping our five-year-old prepare a family home evening lesson on missionary work, and then discussing the power of example with my family—in other words, helping people spiritually and temporally.

The impression flowed with such an overpowering feeling of peace that I knew the Lord was telling me He had accepted my offering. In caring for my family, I was fulfilling the admonitions of King Benjamin and President Eyring.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Curious George was supposed to be napping this afternoon. We didn't push it too much because he's beeen taking pretty good naps the last few days. Well, he came in while Brandon and I were working on our family history projects and asked for some tape. We didn't think too much of it because he likes to draw pictures and hang them up all over the house. He came back a few minutes later and said he needed lots more. We gave him several more pieces. We forgot all about the incident until I went in the bathroom a few hours later. Curious George had decorated the bathroom with toilet paper!

"Happy Father's Day, Daddy!"

Don't you just love four-year-olds?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Going to Rain

It's been raining a lot here where we live. This much rain is very unusual for our climate this time of year. Today Curious George and I were talking about the rain. We checked out a book at the library on Tornadoes and Hurricanes. It's one of those big, fat eyewitness books (and it's Jesse Bear's favorite book to read right now :). Anyway, I was reading it to Jesse Bear and one page had this picture of a pine cone on it. I was reading that one way to predict the weather is by looking at a pine cone. If the pine cone's spikes are open, that means the weather is dry and hot. When the pine cone's spikes are closed that means there's humidity in the air. So I guess if you're looking at the open spikes on a pine cone every day and one day you wake up and they are closed, then you could predict that it might rain that day. I really didn't think much of this method - it seemed a little far fetched to me.

So anyway, it must have inspired Curious George because we were walking to swimming lessons today and he picks up this pine cone. "Hey Mom," he shouts. I look back and he shows it to me. "It's going to rain so we won't be able to go to the park." (We had planned on going to the park with some friends after swimming lessons). Sure enough,the pine cone's spikes were closed. I told C.G. that since it's been raining all week there's a lot of humidity in the air so the pine cones haven't had a chance to dry out and open their spikes. The sun was shining, and it really didn't look like it was going to rain today. Plus I was trying to be optimistic about going to the park. Well, we got through swimming lessons, the sun was shining and it was beautiful. But sure enough, just as soon as we got to our friend's house, the rain came. So, there you go. I'm outsmarted by a four-year-old again. And now you know how to predict the rain in case you're ever wondering... :)

Fun Family History Activities for Kids and Youth

I just got sent a really fun link about a family history program for kids this summer. There are cool projects on this page for children and youth of all ages to get excited about their family history. These would be great activities for after church on Sunday or another day.

While we're on the family history subject, Brandon and I have been trying to get back into doing some family history lately. We've been scanning a lot of Brandon's Grandmother's old family photos. We planning on sharing those photo scans with any family member that is interested. It's been a really fun project. I think it's very important to preserve these pictures for our children and our children's children so that they can get to know their ancestors a little better. If you're interested in learning more about preserving your family photos, here's a few great sites:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Big Helper

Jesse Bear is a big helper. He always loves to help clean up the toys, wipe up spills, throw away garbage, do the dishes, etc. Once when he had barely learned to walk I was out of the room when the timer went off on the oven. I was a little late getting in there and by the time I did, J.B had pulled out the hot pads in the drawer (one in each hand) and was reaching as hard as he could to pull open the oven door. Of course I overreacted because it really scared me, but afterward I thought about it and that was the sweetest thing - he was just trying to be a helper and get the food out of the oven for me.

Just for Laughs

We refer to other members of our church as Brother or Sister followed by their last name. One of our neighbors is Brother Fawson. This man has been friendly to Curious George and he thinks he's pretty neat. Well, a little while back we had a leaky faucet that Brandon was fixing. Brandon was explaining to C that he needed to fix the sink. C asked Brandon, "Why don't you just call Brother Faucet and ask him to fix it?"

Friday, June 5, 2009

O Remember, Remember

I watched this clip today and it gave me just the boost I needed. I love how it points out that we should notice the hand of God in our lives every day. There are blessings all around us, sometimes it just takes opening our hearts and looking for them. Here are a few things I'm grateful for today:
  1. Curious George crossed the street on his bike today in front of a car. I'm grateful that the driver saw him and he was protected.
  2. We met a good friend and her kids at the park today and I'm very grateful for her. She has been there for me on many occasions when I've needed her.
  3. We went to the Library today and I'm so grateful for it! We go there to check out books almost every week and I don't know what I'd do without it. It keeps the kids busy for a long time after we check the new books out. We love reading them together and learning new things.
  4. There's so many more...but speaking of library books, I've got to go read them to Curious George now. He just informed me that I've got one more minute. :) Aaaah, the life of a Mom.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Circus Fun!

Today Curious George and I made a circus! It all started out when I found a picture of a circus tent. We each colored one and then I thought it would be fun to mount it on cardboard. The idea snowballed from there and before we knew it we had decorated big top with a fancy piece of wrapping paper and streamers. The next step was creating the tightrope (a couple of suspended ribbons) and circus ring (the inside cardboard from a masking tape roll). His little rubber animals were the performers and one of the plastic firemen ended up making a perfect ringmaster. C.G. figured out that the plastic dog could perform a great act by balancing on the tightrope by his toes. With a little help, he could even do a flip and land on his feet. The pterodactyl was another high wire performer, sliding down the wire with the greatest of ease. Some animals performed atop a toilet paper roll with amazing skill and balance. Others used the toilet paper roll as a tunnel. C.G came up with the idea to suspend some animals from the tightrope so we made little seats out of egg cartons for them to slide down the tightrope in. All of these acts and more were performed in our circus, the greatest show on earth! When the circus was over and time for the animals to go to sleep, we realized that we would need some cages for them. We quickly remodeled some empty food cartons so they would have a place to sleep. Here are some pictures of our amazing circus.

The Big Top and Animal Cages
Close-up View of the Big Top
Close-up View of the Animal Cages
Side-View of the Big Top with the Flying Pterodactyl
Front View of the Tent Opening with a Tunnel for the Opening ParadeWe had a great time. When Jesse Bear woke up from his nap he realized he had missed out on something and was upset so I had to make him a few animal cages as well. Before he went to bed, C.G. informed me that I'll need to make J.B. a circus tomorrow. So I guess the fun will continue! Hurray for recycling!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Goodbye Grandma

Today was my Grandmother's funeral. Isn't she adorable? She died last week of "old age." She was 91. As the family gathered for the family prayer and closing of the casket, the man conducting asked if there was anyone who would like to come up and say their last goodbyes before they closed the casket. A few family members moved forward, but it was completely silent. All of a sudden my three-year-old nephew broke the silence with words that we all wished we had said, "Goodbye Grandma. Goodbye. Goodbye Great-Grandma."

I said my goodbyes to her the last time I saw her alive. I told her I loved her. She squeezed my hand and smiled. She has the most beautiful smile. "I love you," she said. I didn't know that would be my last time seeing her in this life, but something told me to capture that memory and I did. I hope that I will always remember.

It's hard when someone you love passes on. You miss them because they are no longer with you. I appreciated the Bishop who spoke at the funeral. He quoted a scripture, D&C 42:45 which says, "Thou shalt live together in love, inasmuch as thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die." He explained that it's okay to weep when someone dies. We don't weep because we believe that's the end. But we weep because we miss them being with us and we shed tears of gratitude for their life and their teachings.

My Grandma taught me many things. She was not a perfect person, but the thing that I admire most about her was her faith. She had an unwavering faith. I remember many times sitting next to her holding her hand. She'd ask me about something going on in my life and I'd tell her of some troubles I was having. She'd squeeze my hand and smile and say, "I'll pray for you." I knew she would. And I knew that everything would work out. Her prayers were heard. She knew that and I knew it.

I know that I'll see my Grandma again. I know that although her body lies in a grave now, her spirit is alive as ever. I know that in the resurrection, her body and spirit will be reunited, never to be separated again. I'm so grateful for that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wonderful Readers

I just discovered a wonderful series of books that are great for teaching children to read. Curious George is just barely learning to read, but gets overwhelmed with books that have more than one or two words on each page. I really like the books in this series because you read the words on the left pages and the child reads just a few words on the right page. It makes for a great interactive reading experience and CG loves it. They increase the words that the children read as children learn to read more. I just love the concept of these books so I thought I'd share.

Here's the site:

Here's a few that we've read together from Amazon:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Message of Easter

We enjoyed a beautiful weekend watching General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The talks were wonderful and inspiring and uplifting. If you're interested in watching or listening to the conference, you can find the audio and video archives here.

Next Sunday is Easter - when Christians around the world join together to celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I would like to add my testimony to thousands of other faithful Christians in declaring that Jesus is the Christ. I know that He lived on this earth and performed countless acts of service and miracles during his earthly ministry. His teachings as recorded in the Holy Scriptures are true and will bless our lives if we follow them. I'm grateful that He suffered in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for me and for you. I know that when He died, His death was not the end, for He rose in the morning of the third day as a glorified and resurrected being. Because He rose on the third day, Christ made it possible for us to be resurrected as well. I know that if we are righteous, we can live with Him and our Heavenly Father again. This is the wonderful message of Easter. In the words of scripture, "...the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ."

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter and take the chance to think about the Savior and His life and teachings during this season. I love how the world renews itself during this time of year with new life abounding all around us. This rebirth in nature to me is symbolic of the resurrection. I know that because of the resurrection, I can be together with my loved ones after we have died.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Becoming Self Reliant

This topic has been on my mind for a while now. I wanted to post this about 3 weeks ago and haven't had the chance. This is a wonderful article by Elder M. Russell Ballard on becoming self-reliant. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this article:

“To become self-reliant, a person must work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. It is a basic source of happiness, self-worth, and prosperity. Through work, people accomplish many good things in their lives. …

“As people become self-reliant, they are better prepared to endure adversities” and are “better able to care for others in need.”

He also talks about 5 principles that can help us prepare to become more self-reliant:
  1. Find Answers through the Spirit
  2. Appraise Our Lives and the Needs of Others
  3. Choose between Good and Evil
  4. Think Straight
  5. Seek the Lord’s Guidance
I really feel that this is such an important principle to be reminded about - right now especially with all the economic turmoil that we are experiencing. I'm interested in your feedback. What do you think about this topic?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Makeshift "Air" Hockey

Curious George came up with an activity this morning that was a lot of fun. I had gotten out some wide-mouth canning rings to show Jesse Bear how you can loop them over a bottle of water (which he loved). Curious George obviously wasn't as thrilled about that activity as J.B. so he came up with one of his own. He used one of the rings as a puck and started pushing the puck across the table with another ring. I played with him and we hit it back and forth. He loved it and I thought - who needs an air hockey set when you have a couple of canning rings? It worked great - the rings were just the right weight to fly across the table. Our table is pushed up against a wall and that helped to only have three sides where the puck could fly off. We had a great time! I'm going to have to remember this one on the next rainy day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reward System

We've found that effective discipline for children requires a lot of patience and self-control for parents. When we've been too harsh or expected too much of our kids, discipline (as a teaching tool) doesn't work - it just ends in a big battle. Other times we've focused too much on negative behavior and have forgotten to give enough encouragement and praise for the positive. During those times, discipline doesn't work either. Punishment gets overused instead of using it only for those times that it's really necessary. It’s hard to find a good balance. And since children are so different, what works for one doesn't always work for another. It's all about trial and error and finding out what works.

So with that in mind, I just want to tell you about one thing that we've discovered that has worked well for Curious George. C.G. thrives on praise, encouragement, and attention. He loves it when we point out things he's done right and he'll often do it for us if we've forgotten. He needs constant feedback and ongoing reassurances that he's doing a good job.

After reading books, talking to friends, and experiencing a lot of failed attempts, I designed a reward system that seems to be working for him. I made a chart for C.G. that has his schedule broken down into small segments - wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, jobs, activities, eat lunch, run errands, etc. I can change the schedule depending on what our plans are for that day.

C.G. is able to earn points for each block of time (they’re not equal blocks) during the day. The idea is to help him feel good about all the good things he does during the day. If he does an extra good job at something, then he gets two points or even more. If he misbehaves, he doesn’t earn any points for that segment, but we always reassure him that he can earn bonus points for other things he does throughout the day. One thing that is really important is to not take points away once they are earned. We use the points as a positive thing, not as a punishment thing.

We let C.G. spend his points on things like an extra movie, TV or computer time, a special family outing, an extra book at bedtime, an outing with Dad or Mom, etc. He knows that he can spend the points as long as he has done all his jobs for the day and his points aren’t on hold. We put his points on hold (and they can’t be used) when his misbehavior merits a time-out. After he does his time-out then the points get taken off hold again.

Sometimes he’s had some pattern misbehavior that is hard to correct with just the system I described above. For example, he was in the habit of throwing toys whenever he was angry. For that one, I decided to take away a toy whenever he threw a toy. He could earn it back with points. That way, I wasn’t taking away the points directly and that seemed to work for him. And it seemed to correct itself after only a few times of having to take away toys.

C.G. cares more about earning the points than he does about spending them. He might ask me once every couple of days what he can spend his points on, but he reminds me several times a day how good he is doing and that I need to reward his points. He loves to watch me figure out how many points he’s earned. It makes him feel so good to get a bonus point for something that I noticed that he tried hard to do. And I’ve tried harder to look for those things because I know he needs that encouragement so much.

Since we have put this system in place I feel like we notice so much more the good he is trying to do and we’ve tried to be in the habit of praising him for those good things. It obviously isn’t a perfect system and we still have our days (plenty of them). But I just wanted to share this idea in case there’s anyone else out there that’s struggling in a similar way. I’d love to hear any ideas you have to share also. Or any other reward systems you have found to work.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Toilet Box House

The boys needed some new entertainment options the other afternoon. They both had colds so I didn't want to take them outside while it was cold and windy. So in desperation we pulled out the toilet box that our new toilet came in from our bathroom remodel. With just a few cuts, we had created little windows and a little house. They loved it and enjoyed playing in it for a long time. It was an entertaining afternoon.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cute Moments

Well, we all thought it was spring, but I guess we were all fooled because the snow has decided to come again. That's okay with me. I was enjoying the Spring weather, but we need the snow too. Our crocuses were just beginning to peak out and now today they are covered in snow. And we were going to plant our Winter garden tomorrow. It's probably a little early yet, but we were going to give it a try and see what happens. I guess we might have to wait another week or two.

The boys were so cute today. Curious George was helping me with the vacuuming. He loves to vacuum the house for me. Afterward he always comes and grabs my arm and says, "Look at your nice clean house, Mommy!" Then of course I have to ooh and aah at it. Really, it's not much cleaner than the way it was before he vacuumed it, but he likes to help so I let him. Today I looked up from washing the dishes and Jesse Bear was right next to his brother with one of those push-along luggage on wheels. He was pushing it just the way C was pushing the vacuum. It made me smile. Then later C went to get some blocks and J followed him and got another set. They both sat at the table with their individual sets of blocks playing together. What fun to have two little brothers that can play together!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why we Support Proposition 8

I appreciate the comments on the last post. The comments helped me understand even better that this is an issue that people feel strongly about on both sides because both sides feel like their rights are being infringed upon. Here are a few documents and links that I hope may be helpful in understanding why we believe in defending proposition 8:
  • The Family: A Proclamation to the World - this document defines what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe marriage is. It also talks about why we believe that families are so important and the God-given laws associated with marriage and families.
  • The Divine Institution of Marriage - This is a document produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to explain its reasons for defending marriage between a man and a woman as an issue of moral imperative.
  • Other Links - These links are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's Newsroom that explain the Church's position on Same-Sex Marriage and Proposition 8.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Proposition 8 Update

For those who have been following our blog for a while, you know we are strong supporters of California's proposition 8 and traditional marriage. We believe that marriage is defined between a man and a women. We are grateful that proposition 8 passed in California this past November. The sad news is that proposition 8 is still under attack! Next Thursday, March 5, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to determine whether the sovereign will of the people should be upheld, and whether marriage between only a man and a woman will stand. Here's a quote from an e-mail we got from the chairman of the yes on 8 campaign and

"We are declaring this Sunday, March 1, to be a Day of Prayer for Marriage. Proposition 8 was supported by over 7 million voters, and we call on those who support traditional marriage to pray for it to be upheld. Please ask the Lord for wisdom for the Justices of the California Supreme Court. Pray, also, for those who oppose this amendment to our Constitution, that they would understand our motivation is to affirm traditional marriage, not to offend any person or group."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Beautiful Message

This video has a beautiful message. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Buffalo

Maybe someone out there can figure this out for me. I haven't so far. Curious George has been calling the middle loop that you thread Jesse Bear's seat belt through a "buffalo." It's very cute, but I can't for the life of me figure out where he got that!! Any ideas?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Showing Love (Continued...)

In a previous post, I talked about showing love. I asked you if you think it's important to show love for those that you love. I read this quote today by Spencer W. Kimball and thought it was very applicable to this topic:
"Love...cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestations of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness" ("Oneness in Marriage," Ensign, Oct. 2002, 40).
I think that's very true. When love is fed, it grows. When it is not, it diminishes. I think that's the reason it's important to show love for those that we love. I believe that love can last forever between couples and families when it is continuously nourished by manifestations of love. Feel free to leave any ideas or comments.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Measuring Cups

I found a fun activity for Curious George today. We got out 2 glass bowls and filled one with water and put blue food coloring in it. Then I gave him some measuring spoons and cups and had him measure out the water. He explored things like how many 1/3 cups were in 1 cup, how many tablespoons were in 3/4 cup, etc. He loved it. It worked well because he's old enough that he keeps the water pretty much contained most of the time. If you don't want to use water, you could also let them do it with rice or beans or something. After he got bored with that, I had him stack all the measuring cups from biggest to littlest. That was challenging, but he had fun with it.

Bathroom Remodel

I've been meaning to post pictures of our bathroom remodel project that we undertook in December. Brandon had 3 weeks off and he spent a lot of that time tiling, installing toilet and cabinets and trim work and painting. We finally finished!

Here's the before picture (actually this was about 4 years ago - since then the medicine cabinet had cracked - it was designed poorly - and the wallpaper was peeling off the walls):Here's during:These were taken before it was painted and the finish work was done:

Here's the beautiful finished bathroom!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Showing Love

In honor of Valentine's Day tomorrow I've been thinking about this topic as I've been wondering what to do for Brandon. I know that people show love and feel loved in different ways. Some people like hugs and others like gifts. Some people like to do something nice for the ones they love. Others like to hear that they are loved. So this is what I decided to do...I actually go the idea from this article. I hope he doesn't read this before tomorrow or the surprise will be ruined. :)

I decided that for Valentine's day this year I'm going to ask him what makes him feel loved. Oh sure we've discussed this over the 7 + years since we've been married, but I'm going to ask him to write 10 things down that complete this sentence: "I feel loved when you _____." (Fill in the blank). I want to paste this list somewhere I'll see it often to remind me what to do to show him that I love him (in the way he feels loved).

I posted around Christmas about meaningful gifts - I've been thinking a lot about how to make gifts and giving more meaningful. I think if we show love to our spouse in the way he/she wants to feel loved, that is meaningful.

What about you? What are you doing for Valentine's Day for the ones you love? Do you think it's important to show love for those that you love?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

C.G.'s Firehouse

I got a great idea from a friend's blog. She keeps her kids entertained by making toys out of things lying around the house - cereal boxes, paper towel and toilet holders, etc. So yesterday when I was trying to come up with something to entertain Curious George I remembered her idea. We decided to make a firehouse for his firemen that he had gotten in his stocking (from the dollar store). It was a blast. I made it out of an old shoe box and some paper towel holders. He loves it and has spent many hours enjoying it - he likes to slide the firemen down the paper towel holders. I got so into it that I even made a firetruck out of a shoe box and some toilet paper holders. The wheels don't spin and it looks kind of tacky, but he doesn't care. The wonderful thing about children is that their imagination fills in the gaps. To them it's as good as the real thing. They don't need expensive toys - the nice thing about these is that it's like you are recycling twice - you make use of something that's been used for something else and then send them to the recycle center when the kids get tired of them. I know we're going to be making a lot more toys like this in the future.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Learning from Others

Here's a topic that Brandon and I recently discussed. I wonder if you have any opinions about it. What kind of people are easy to learn from and why? What kind of people are easy to teach? Do you feel that every person that you meet has something that you can learn from? Do you ever feel like others don't really want to listen to your opinion because of your status? What are things that turn you off from wanting to learn something from someone else? What ways do you try to learn from others? Anyway, if you care to comment, go ahead - be anonymous if you want. We'd love to hear what you have to say.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jesse Bear’s Baby

For Christmas a neighbor gave us this beautiful board book illustrating the song, “Mary did you know?” and the CD by Kenny Rogers & Wynonna Judd. The song is about Mary the mother of Jesus. It asks her if she knew that her baby would walk on water, save, deliver, give sight, calm the storm and rule the nations. J.B. calls the book his “baby.” From the very first time that he heard the song and looked at the pictures, he loved it. We played the song several times on the trip to Arizona to calm him down when he was fussy. Sometimes I sing it to him when I rock him to sleep. Almost immediately on hearing it, he calms down and listens. He loves to look at the pictures. Sometimes I see him turning the pages and softly cooing to himself "baby." It’s the only book he really enjoys to read with me. It’s so interesting (but not surprising) that little children learn so quickly to recognize and learn the name of Jesus and reverence Him.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Enjoying the Wonders of the World

Curious George loves to plant. Today we planted some starts for our garden in little plastic cups. Last week we planted some onions and today I showed him how they were starting to pop up. He loved it. "That's happy!" he said. Then I showed him how my houseplant (Cyclamen) that I've had for about 3 years was blooming. "That was nice of it," he said. I couldn't agree more. It blooms every year around this time and I love it. Beautiful pink flowers. There's nothing like a flower to brighten your winter days.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Turkey Cookin'

We cooked a turkey breast in our crock pot the other day for a dinner with some friends. It was too large to fit in our 7-qt crock pot and the lid kept popping up, which of course lets all the steam escape and makes the turkey not cook. This was my inventive husband's great idea on how to keep the lid on. It was quite a contraption, but it worked great!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wonderful Wedgits

Curious George and I were playing with wedgits today. For those of you not familiar with these imaginative, linking toys, they are great. My mom says they are the best toy invented since legos. I think she's pretty close on that. Most of the boxes say they are for children ages 3 to 103. And it's true! I love to play with them. :) These toys utilize your 3-D and geometric skills as well as your imagination. It's fun to discover new ways to link them together and look at the shapes you can make at all different angles.

Well, we were playing with them today and C.G. says, "Mom, look it's pointing to heaven!" He was right. Maybe that's why I like them so much. They are intricate enough for a scientist to love, yet simple enough to point a young child upward.

Here's the website in case you're interested:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Family History Facebook

I'm going to throw this idea out there. Maybe some of you have already thought of it. We recently got back from a family reunion and a large part of it emphasized family history. So I've been thinking in that mode lately. I was on facebook the other day trying to find some of my cousins and I had this idea for a family history facebook. It could be set up in the same way as facebook with individuals and friends, but you could also submit names of your ancestors and all of their data. Then people could connect with their ancestors in a similar way that you connect with friends on social networking sites like facebook! I haven't come up with a solution for duplicated ancestors...that's always an issue when dealing with things like this. But you could chat with live friends about family history finds and post them on your "wall" and form family groups and pedigrees and family trees and wow! The possibilities are endless. I don't know...maybe something like this already exists! :) I don't know much about some of the family history sites that cost money (maybe one of those has something similar), but I think this would need to be free like facebook to be successful. So...what do you think?