Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Ready to ring in the New Year?  Me either, but here we go anyway.  Here's some fun posts to check out from some of my favorite blogs.
  • The Top Ten lists have begun.  Check out Think Fast's Top Ten children's books.
  • Crazy Domestic has her Top Ten posts of the year
  • Somewhat Simple has her Top Ten projects of the year.
  • Vote which version of Peace Is Coming you like best on Seth Adam Smith's blog.
  • Is weight loss on your list of resolutions?  If You're Happy & You Know It has a Biggest Loser challenge that might be the motivation you need.
  • Finally, if your crew is into football, these tasty little numbers would feed your gang during the big game.
I hope all of you have a safe and healthy New Year having fun with your family and those you love!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Scripture Study for the New Year

We finished reading the Book of Mormon just before Christmas.  My kiddos want to study the Old Testament next.  I read most of the chapters we discussed in Sunday School this year and part way through 2 Chronicles consecutively.  I've learned so much from my study and I want to give that to my children, but it's so long and parts of it are very repetitive.  I can't imagine keeping their attention reading it from beginning to end.

I looked around online for a schedule that would be appropriate for elementary school age to teenagers - I didn't really find anything.  I've been using Scripture Study for Latter-Day Saint Families for the other books of scripture; I love the quotes from modern day prophets.  It looks like this will be a good guide for the Old Testament too.  On the chapters could be too much for children, there's a simple summary that I could read and we could go on to the next chapter.

Have you read the Old Testament as a family?  How did you make it work for your family?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keeping the Kiddos Busy

There's still plenty to do between Christmas and New Year's, but I've already heard "I don't know what to do" a couple of times.  (Do you like how my kiddos stopped telling me they are bored?  Maybe they got tired of my suggestions of scrubbing toilets and floors.)  I posted some of our favorite activities over at Arizona Mama.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Good Friend Is Honest

In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas celebration, I had an encounter with someone where I felt unjustly attacked but I also knew that I offended the other person, even thought I wasn't sure what I did.  Talking to a friend who witnessed the exchange, she very nicely told me that I did sound snippy at the start of the conversation with the other person.  

That immediately changed my perspective.  I knew I was stressed and grumpy, but I thought I'd done a decent job putting it aside to do what was needed.  My friend's words changed my perspective of the situation, and because of that change I was able to sincerely apologize.

The more I thought about my friend's words, the more I wondered if I would have the courage to tell any of my friends they were wrong.  There's not many people I trust to tell me something like that, especially not with kindness. Would my friends trust me to tell them the truth they don't want to hear?  When I offer suggestions for improvement, does the love I have for that person come through?

At Wood Badge, we learned that feedback is a gift - it needs to presented as a gift (spoken with love) and received as a gift (with an open heart).  Another life lesson put to the test by real life!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Family Home Evening: Something a Little Different

For Family Home Evening, we had a nice family dinner before heading off to the enjoy the Temple lights.  There was beautiful music playing and scriptures being read at different spots.  We enjoyed being together as a family and topped off the night with Hot Cocoa!  It was truly a spiritual and family focused evening!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Christmas

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly.  ~ Andy Rooney

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve and Favorite Feeds Friday

We made our last run to Wal-Mart on Tuesday and I finished up the grocery shopping on Wednesday (hopefully).  Yesterday we wrapped and delivered our gifts to the neighbors.  Today I have a little wrapping left, some cleaning and of coarse cooking Christmas Eve dinner.  For the most part, I intend to relax and enjoy Christmas Eve.  Apparently so do most of my favorites in Blog land, so today's Favorite Feeds Friday is a little light.
I better get back to my to do list so I can enjoy movies and our Christmas Pageant.  We usually watch the Forgotten Carols on Christmas Eve, but since we just saw the play I think we'll watch another old favorite The Christmas Box.  How do you wrap up your Christmas Eve?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Final Advent Drawers, Christmas Picture Search and Forgotten Carols

This should have been three posts, but who has time for that on Christmas Eve eve?  Let's start off with the last three advent drawers. (I know we still have one left to open,but the 24th is always the same.)

22 - Christmas Journal activity.  I found these cute journal pages at Grace is Overrated.  We all filled in the blanks and colored the cute stocking.
23 - Gift exchange with our awesome neighbor!
24 - Christmas pageant

I promised more information on our Christmas Picture Search.  It's posted over at Arizona Mama!

Finally, we were able to see the Forgotten Carols live last night, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa.  We've been watching the DVD on Christmas Eve for the last few years and love the story.  The energy and the after the play performance were amazing. I wasn't sure how my kiddos would like watching it in a theater; they were riveted!  The only thing they liked more about watching it at home was being able to talk during the performance.  My favorite part was the entire auditorium singing Silent Night a Capella!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It Finally Feels Like Christmas

I've been struggling to find more than glimpses of the Christmas spirit this year.  I know I can't fake it, and I worry that my kiddos notice. 

Yesterday there was a flurry of wrapping and many more gifts were placed under the tree.  One of my children said, "There's finally gifts all around the tree.  Now it feels like Christmas!"

Who knew it was so easy?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Third Week of Advent Drawers

I hope you are ready, because the big day is almost here!  We're still busy, but now that the kids are out of school we've been celebrating more!  I know you are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to see what kind of Christmas shenanigans we've been up to, so here you go.

15 - Visit with the Bishop for tithing settlement.
16 - Christmas caroling with our Cub Scout Pack.
17 - Make Christmas ornaments.  I found the ones I lost last year, so I was ahead of the game on the planning!
18 - HOA Christmas party.  There was snow, soup and Santa!  We even won a few things in the drawing.
19 - Temple lights.  The Mesa Temple is decked out with lights galore and they have an amazing nativity!
20 - Christmas Photo Search.  I'll post the details of this fun game soon.
21 - Read the Christmas Blizzard.  This is my favorite fun Christmas story.  I love to read it every year.

How have you been celebrating Christmas this last week?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hot Chocolate Cookies

I love cookies, but lately I've been craving something new and different.  Even though  I had cookies in the freezer and I made No-bake Cookies for my son-in-law; and despite the fact that I was in the kitchen most of the day baking a cake and making a big family dinner - I took the time to make Hot Chocolate Cookies for the ladies I visit teach.  Boy am I glad I did!  These were just what the doctor ordered!  They were delicious and different and not that time consuming - especially since I left out the part where I was supposed to chill for 30 minutes.  I broke my wooden spoon mixing in the chocolate chips and I didn't want the dough to get any firmer!

I found the awesome recipe from the even awesomer Leanne from Your Homebased Mom.  (I would love to eat her cooking all day long -not that I have ever tried her cooking, but she has so many great recipes!)  If you're feeling a little restless with the same old cookies, these are definitely worth a try!

Do you have any new cookie recipes to share?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Family Home Evening: Christmas

We had a fun and simple FHE.  For our lesson, we watched Mr. Kruegar's Christmas.  It's such a sweet movie!  We followed that up with a Christmas Scavenger Hunt for our activity which led us to our treat of homemade English Toffee!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Christmas

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~ Burton Hillis

Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

You can tell Christmas is close by most people's blog posts!  I hope these ideas will help bring holiday cheer to you.
  • Somewhat Simple has not one, but five giveaways today! 
  • Crazy Domestic shares seven great Christmas projects from homework. 
  • I decided to check out what homework had posted today and found pretty napkin rings for your next winter party.
  • I'm sure my kids would love Joy the Baker's Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies.
  • This Christmas story might right up my alley.  Thanks to Booking Mama for sharing the review.
Have you found any helps for this week before Christmas?  Please post a comment and share with the rest of us!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts always add a little excitement to a normal day, so what could be a better way to celebrate the excitement of the season?  As I mentioned in a previous post, we found a scavenger hunt in one of our advent drawers earlier this week.  I have our clues and the rest of the details up over at Arizona Mama for your reading enjoyment. While your there, leave me quick "hello" in the comment section!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Never Give Up

I'm not sure why, lately the smallest amount of bickering or sassy voices sets me on edge.  I've been on edge a lot lately!  Everything came to a head on Sunday.  After chewing everyone out, I was ready to go lock myself in my room and spend the day observing the Sabbath as I saw fit.  I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere with teaching my children the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy - among other things.  I wondered if I was asking too much; lots of other parents don't seem to be teaching their kids, so why should I?  I was pulling out all the decorations for my own little pity party.  Fortunately, there was too much going on to fully wallow in it.

The next morning's scripture study was very clear on my responsibility.  Moroni 9:6 states "And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."

The prophet Mormon spent his time teaching a people bent on destruction, but he kept trying because he loved his people and so he would not be under condemnation.   Even though I'm not a prophet, I think the charge also applies to me as a mother.  Even when I don't feel like my children are listening, I need to keep teaching and loving.  Even when I see them choosing paths that break my heart, I need to keep teaching and loving.  

I'm grateful that my Heavenly Father keeps teaching and loving me!  I'm grateful the words I needed to hear came to me when I most needed them, that He encourages me and shows me the right path.  I'm sure He is often disappointed when I don't listen to Him or when I choose a path that breaks His heart.  He knows how I feel and He knows the path I need to follow.  I need to listen and keep on keeping on!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Second Week of Advent Drawers

Can you believe we are two weeks into December?  We have two weeks of advent drawers under our belts.  We found a couple of new-to-us activities last week.
8.  We learned about how Christmas is Celebrated in Spain, thanks to Chocolate on my Cranium!
9.  Candy
10. Our Ward Christmas party
11. Candy
12. A Christmas scavenger hunt - I'll post more about that soon.
13. Candy
14. Candy

Another busy week, but we still managed some celebration, family time!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Drawing Game on Arizona Mama!

Want a fun activity for kids of all ages?  Head over to Arizona Mama for the instructions for a drawing game that is sure to bring plenty of giggles and snickers.  We had a lot of fun with it and I'll bet you will too!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Family Home Evening: The Good Samaritan

While not a typical Christmas story, our lesson about the Good Samaritan fits well with the Christmas season.  It's a story of kindness, compassion and service.  Isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be about?  I don't know about you, but this year I'm struggling to keep the excitement and joy of the season in my heart.  That's why I especially appreciated reading the parable of the Good Samaritan.  After we read the story, the snowflake ornament Grandma sent last Christmas was pulled out and is currently floating around the house with many simple good deeds.  

Our activity was decorating the Christmas tree - and the banister.  I think my tree is shrinking; it can't seem to hold as many ornaments as last year!  When I worked in the Christmas department at Macy's before we had children, we were trained how to load the branches with more ornaments than seemed humanly possible.  Next year, I'll have to train my kiddos to do the same to fit all our precious ornaments on the tree - and the banister.

We enjoyed some Christmas fudge for our treat.  I love the recipe on the marshmallow cream label! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Peace

If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having.  
- Henry Miller

Friday, December 10, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Our Christmas celebrations are in full swing, I just wish the rest of life would stop interfering!  I found some great ideas from my Google Reader feeds this morning.  Here's my favorites.
  • Kendra at My Insanity has some beautifully painted Butter Cookies along with a cookie recipe link party.
  • Not necessarily Christmas, but definitely nostalgic, Booking Mama celebrates 50 years of Green Eggs and Ham.
  • There's a great teacher gift idea at My Spare Time.
  • Your Homebased Mom has really pretty and simple gift wrapping ideas.
  • It gets cold in the winter, even here in Arizona (at night anyway).  Joy the Baker shares a yummy Hot Chocolate recipe to go with her homemade marshmallows. ( There's something else on the list I want to make someday!)
  • Having a party?  I love this foodie Christmas tree decoration at Celebrations at Home!
What are you doing to celebrate?  Or what cool ideas have you found in Blogland to share?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brownie Covered Oreos and Cub Scout Meetings

I work with our Pack's Cub Scout leaders to keep the Pack running smoothly.  We had our monthly committee meeting last night.  Since I had to change the night of the meeting from Thursday to Wednesday, I made an extra special treat, Brownie Covered Oreos I saw over at the Picky Palate.  I used my homemade brownie recipe, minus the nuts.  They were extremely yummy!  I can already hear my kiddos asking for these warmed up with ice cream and chocolate sauce on top.

I also learned that if you cook brownies in muffin pans, they cook much faster!  It's always good to have the ability for faster brownies.

Our meeting went good, we ironed out the details for this month's Pack Meeting - caroling.  We also pulled together more details for the Pinewood Derby and the Blue and Gold Banquet!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Christ Centered Christmas

We had a lesson on Christmas at church last Sunday (shocking, I know!)  Several ladies shared their Christmas tradition.  I had heard most - half of them were part of our family's traditions too.  

One stood out.  One woman displayed her nativity set, manger and all, under the Christmas tree.  She added a piece to the scene everyday.  It wasn't until all the pieces were displayed that gifts could be placed under the tree.  Their family drew names and everyone received only that one gift.  This family focused on Christmas celebrating the birth of our Savior, even to the extent of singing Happy Birthday on Christmas day.

I would have a hard time with only giving one gift, but I love the idea of keeping the gifts stashed away until just before Christmas and keeping the manger scene under the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The First Week of Advent Drawers

Only 18 days until Christmas!  My kiddos opened up a week's worth of drawers in our advent calendar.  I thought I'd share what we've found in our drawers so far. 
  1. Christmas chains - (really a paper that said "Christmas chains".)  We made them while watching a Christmas show before bed.
  2. Letters to Santa
  3. Candy
  4. Candy
  5. Christmas Devotional
  6. Christmas word search 
  7. Candy
I like the activities more than the candy (actually I like both, if I was a festive mom...but there is so many treats around as it is.)  Some nights are just too busy for an extra activity.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Gifts for Jesus

In an effort to focus on the best part of Christmas we're expanding our tradition of giving gifts to Jesus.  Please read my post on Arizona Mama for the details. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Christmas

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.   – Norman Vincent Peale

Friday, December 3, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Ah! The first Friday of December; too soon it will be the last Friday of December and the end of the year.  Buckle up and hang on through the Christmas rush.  Enjoy the season and the year-end with some of these great ideas:
What are your fine finds this lovely Friday?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Is More Than the Gifts!

This morning I was reading a series of short Christmas stories on Latter Day Woman.  There was one story called A Happy Christmas by Lori Nawyn that especially touched me.  She talked about there being two kinds of people at Christmas, those who focus on the gifts and those who focus on gratitude.  I'm not sure the distinction is so clear.  I know there are times every Christmas season that I yearn to give more and there are times when I can focus on the joy of the season.  But I do agree that I feel His peace and comfort when I focus on the greatest gift of Christmas.

This is the gift I want to give my children at Christmas, the Savior's birth is the gift - everything else is the icing on the cake!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November Numbered

November has come and gone, and way too quickly, I might add.  This has been a month of ups and downs - when it rains it pours.  Fortunately there was a lot of good raining down with the challenges!

1 - Successful giveaway!
2 - Books read.  Hoot by Carl Hiaasen and A Light in Zion by Bodie Thoene.  It was so good to read for pleasure again!
4 - Family history names checked for accuracy.
5 - Pies to enjoy on Thanksgiving.
8 - Articles written for the Homemaking Cottage and Arizona Mama
12 - Happy faces around the Thanksgiving table.
14 - Scrapbook layouts completed - only 6 short of my goal.
27 - Blog posts.
30 - Leaves on our Gratitude Garland.
45 - Christmas cards crafted in about an hour!
817 - Page views!  Not only was that another record, it was more than 200 above last month!

What made your November?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Card Tradtion

Do you have a family Christmas card tradition?  Or is your family's tradition that you take care of the Christmas cards?  Head over to Arizona Mama or Today's Mama to see how we finish around 45 Christmas cards in about an hour!

While you're there, check out their daily Great Toy Giveaway!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Family Home Evening: Thanksgiving

It is only fitting to have a Family Home Evening lesson on Thanksgiving this time of year.  We talked about Thanksgiving's importance is more than the food, which is a shocking concept for our family.  Thanksgiving includes being thankful, or having gratitude, and the important aspect of giving thanks or turning gratitude into an action.  As part of our lesson we used the Topical Guide to look up scriptures about Thanksgiving or thankful in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.  Any topic the Lord discusses in all four books must be important!

Our activity was another game of Harry Potter Uno and we warmed up to our treat of Hot Cocoa with marshmallows.  A child or two stirred their cocoa with a candy cane. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day
we acknowledge
our dependence.
- William Jennings Bryan

Friday, November 26, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Welcome to today's Favorite Friday Feeds.  I only have a couple today because I'm not a big Black Friday shopper.  I don't care for the crowds and I'm mostly done with my shopping (yeah!). 
  • Poca Cosas has the perfect Arizona snowman!
  • Travelin Oma has a great re-post on traditions.
I already filled my MP3 player with Christmas music; now it's time to take down the Thanksgiving decorations to get ready for our Christmas decorating!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pie Day Is Here Again!

Today I'll be up to my same antics as last year.  In addition to preparing pies and the stuffing foundations, I've been busy doing laundry, cleaning the house and getting a jump on next week's homework.  I've already finished my long overdue project of purging the file cabinet and packing the last few year's tax papers away!  

What do your Pie Day activities include?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Coupon Caddie

Yesterday, I finished my Thanksgiving shopping.  Even though I went around 2:30 in the afternoon, the store was pretty crowded.  It is good to be ready to start baking pies tomorrow and take advantage of some great deals, like 4-packs of batteries for only 48 cents!

This is how I organize and transport my coupons.  A friend of mine gave me this awesome box because she wasn't using it.  (I don't understand it myself, but I'm very grateful!)  It has 200 tabs, so if I'm looking for a coupon for mustard, it's under mustard - not grouped with a bunch of other condiments.  Besides the numerous categories, it also has handy little tabs to easily flip to the correct category.  It is much easier for me to use than the binder method I was using before.

While I was grocery shopping yesterday, I probably could have sold at least two of these little beauties.  I even gave one lady the website on my awesome coupon caddy, only to find the page no longer exists.  You could do make your own specific categories for the binder method, it just wouldn't have the easy to flip through tabs. An even better alternative is the Deluxe Coupon Organizer II with 80 categories or the Deluxe Coupon Organizer IV with 130.  The list at the top assigns a number to each category.  If I was looking for my deodorant coupons, I'd scan the list on top down to "d" and see that it is tab number 64 is deodorant.  I flip to tab number 64, and pull out my deodorant coupons and look for the brand that's on sale.

Yes, I was stocking up on deodorant and batteries and this handy coupon caddie is a great tool to help me build my food storage and save money!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am Every Woman

We women are a varied group, but we often have so much in common.  Women seem much more likely to be going in 10 different directions at the same time.  I know my interests are varied and there are so many things I want to learn and skills I want to acquire, that I have a hard time focusing on any one thing at a time.  

A quick peak at my blog's thought cloud shows some of the range of my interests.  Many overlap, but there are over 20 interests that I've talked about on my blog in the last year and a half!  And I'm not the only one, although some bloggers are good at keeping their blogs to one subject - but they often have multiple blogs for other interests.  

I don't see men having so many or so varied interests.  No wonder women in general are overwhelmed so much of the time!  We want to be so many things, we want to keep learning and improving our selves.  And we want to be good at everything (or is that just me?)  

I think it's interesting that a typical "woman's magazine" like Better Homes and Gardens primarily focuses on cooking and decorating the home.  While many of us are interested in these things, we are often interested in much more.  I thought about how many magazines would it take to cover all of my interests.  And where would I come up with that kind of time to read them all?  It would be nice to have  all my interests in one place.

What would would your perfect magazine look like? 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Family Home Evening: Queen Esther

We had a great lesson about Queen Esther from the Old Testament.  We talked about her the courage she had to approach the king and ask for him to spare her people. By doing this, she added her life to those who were already endangered of losing their lives.  Part of what gave Queen Ester the courage to approach the king, was the faith that her people had in her and the Lord.  They fasted with Queen Ester to be successful.  

This story continues to teach me!  I usually think of this being a lesson of courage and faith, but what struck out to me this time I heard the lesson is how we can support and encourage others by fasting and praying for them.  

Our activity was our making Christmas cards; and our treat was Peanut Butter Cookies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Thanksgiving

What we're really talking about is a
wonderful day set aside on the fourth
Thursday of November when 
no one diets.  I mean, why
else would they call it 
- Emma Bombeck

Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

I can't believe it's the last Friday before Thanksgiving!  (Wasn't last week the last Friday before Halloween?)  Despite time whizzing by, I'm very excited about next week's festivities - and a week with no Biology homework!  I better get my act together and nail down Thursday's menu, or I could show you some of my favorites from today's RSS feed.  (I'll plan my menu this afternoon, I promise.)
  • Pardon the self promotion, but there is a great article on our family's Thanksgiving Traditions at Arizona Mama!
  • These place mats at Crazy Domestic would be so cute on the kids table!
  • I've been contemplating making homemade rolls instead of using Rhodes frozen rolls.  I'm loving the Idea Room's Thankful Rolls.
  • Why wait until next week for something to celebrate?  Your Cup of Cake created Harry Potter Cauldron Cakes in honor of the 7th Harry Potter movie opening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing Improvements

I've been reviewing old posts and correcting a few things here and there.  In the process I've noticed the improvements in my writing and in my blog overall.  When I started my blog, I wanted it to be a record of my journey to become a better mom, and a better person.  I hoped that others would benefit from my lessons and find their own journey just a little easier.

That's still my basic goal, but in some ways it has broadened and in other ways it has narrowed.  My first posts back in May of last year, were fairly timid - they often lacked personality and humor.  I've been trying to include more of myself in my posts, which led to features like Favorite Feeds Friday.  

Originally I shared my personal goals and my progress.  It was a great source of accountability for me, but pretty boring for everyone else.  Instead I have a list the monthly numbers in a post at the beginning of each month.  Same purpose, but condensed and much more fun and interesting.

Besides the quality of the writing, the look of my blog has improved.  Just by increasing the font size so posts are easier to read and adding pictures more regularly has helped the aesthetics of my blog.  I still have some design changes in the works, hopefully I'll be able to roll them out before the end of the year.

Judging by the increase in traffic, all these things have started to pay off in the last few months.  Another landmark was last week's great give away!  It pleases me to be able to look back and see growth because often growth is so gradual it's hard to notice.  

Most important is you!  Thanks for spending a few minutes of your day sharing your journey with me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's Mama Giveaway

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
  • I'd like my family to safe, healthy, and obedient.
2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
  • We get up at 4:30 am to open gifts.  When the gifts are unwrapped, we enjoy our traditional Christmas Breakfast.  (Yep. That's it's name, Christmas Breakfast.) Some wimpy family members take a nap.  The rest of us shower and play for the rest of the day.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? 
  • A new car.  I'm not enjoying temporally being a one car family.
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
  • The best parts of Christmas don't require spending money.  There are hundreds of Christmas movies to watch; you can pretty much find one on TV any time in December.  And there's listening to Christmas music, and baking holiday goodies, and Christmas crafts.  I could go on, but I think you get the point.  The main reason for even having Christmas gifts is so I can torment my family with a song about me knowing what they are getting for Christmas. 
5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
  • One of my best childhood memories is playing games with my mom.  We played Crazy 8's and Rummy with a plain deck of cards.  We also played Uno, Aggravation, and Pay Day.
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
  • The only tradition I can remember from my childhood is decorating the Christmas tree as a family.  I do that with my own family, but we decorate the whole house!
7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
  • I'd prefer an away-from-home trip after Christmas.  I really enjoy being home for Christmas and basking in the traditions.
  • For my after Christmas trip, I'd love to go back to Italy!
8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 
  • My kids would love to get in on the Rock Band movement.  (I know, we're so behind the times)
  • They would also enjoy Lego Harry Potter.
  • Finally, we'd all have fun with Just Dance.
That was fun and now I can enter in Today's Mama amazing giveaway.  You can too!  While you're there, say hi by leaving a comment for me at Arizona Mama.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

One Family Home Evening activity in November is always hand-making Christmas cards.  I design a simple card with several steps so everyone can have a job (or two).  This year we made 45 cards in about an hour.  I don't have a picture of the final results because I didn't want to take away the surprise of our family and friends.

Now I just need to write the Christmas letter, get a family portrait, and address all those cards.  At least I get the family to help on one part!

Monday, November 15, 2010

And the Winner Is...

I've seen other people use to choose a winner, or pick a number out of a hat.  I decided to try something a little different - my Bingo game.  I put 17 balls in the cage, one for each of your wonderful comments, and rolled it until the first number came out.  It was B 8; comment number 8 was left by Kirsten!  Congratulations!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Home Evening: Joseph Smith's First Vision Revisited

Have you ever wondered where I get my fantastic Family Home Evening topics every week?  We have a simple chart that divides the responsibilities.  Every family member rotates from lesson to treat / conducting to scripture and so on.  I like this method for two reasons. One, it's a lot less work for me.  Two, and more important, it gives my children ownership in FHE and the experience of planning, preparing and executing their responsibility.  When they were little, I'd help them plan their lesson (sometimes even help them find a topic).  Now they usually do it on their own.  I'm still making or helping with the treat half the time, and that's OK because it's good quality time with my children.

One downside is sometimes the lessons, activities or songs get a little repetitive (sometimes even the treats)!  I pulled the bad mom card and banished a certain lesson because it felt like we were having the same lesson every week.  I do like the "Hold to the Rod" activity as much as the next person, but after four or five times in a row I was in desperate need for a change. 

One of my children chose the First Vision as a lesson.  Although we had the lesson several months ago, it was a good review.  And thanks to some awesome youth leaders, the lesson was well prepared; he even had cute little visual aides on a stick.  I was again impressed how different parts of the same lesson stand out.  This time we focused on scripture study, prayer and faith.

Our activity was one of our favorite games - What If?

I introduced our gratitude garland.  

One of the kiddos volunteered to bear their testimony for double treats.  You bribe your kids one time ... but it was nice to hear their testimonies again.  The double treat thing worked out because I made brownies and we had vanilla ice cream in the freezer!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Thanksgiving

Not what we say about our blessings,
but how we use them,
is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
- W.T. Purkiser

Do you like our Gratitude Garland?  Hop over to Arizona Mama to read the article!  

Time is running out to enter the CSN Stores $35 giveaway.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Welcome to the November 12 edition of Favorite Feeds Friday.  Can you believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away?  We made some serious progress on our Christmas shopping and even a little cleaning yesterday!  Here's my favorite feeds I found on Google Reader today:
  • Raimi from If Your're Happy & You Know It gave a touching Veteran's Day tribute.  And she took me on a little trip down memory lane with her picture of my childhood hometown.
  • The Mother Huddle shares some non-dinner Thanksgiving traditions.  Did I mention Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away?  I'm so excited!
  • Celebrations at Home has a great DIY gift box and candy recipe!
Thank you to all who have entered my drawing!  I'm so excited that CSN Stores is sponsoring the $35 giveaway so I can help one of my fantastic readers with their Christmas shopping.  (I won't tell if you spend it on yourself.)  If you still haven't entered, find out how here.  Remember to comment by Sunday at midnight!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Shopping Help - a Giveaway!

Who wouldn't like a little help with their Christmas shopping?  I have just the thing for you, a $35 gift certificate to CSN Stores!  I've only heard of CSN recently.  They sell housewares, office supplies and furniture, bedding and other home decor items.  They even sell bathroom cabinets for your home remodel!

I recently won a CSN Stores gift certificate from Fun Snacks 4 Kids and have a great Christmas gift on its way as we speak.  I wish I could tell you what's coming - but Christmas secrets are too much fun!

So if you are interested in an extra $35 to help with your Christmas shopping, here's the details:
  • Leave a comment and share the best Christmas gift you've received.
  • Contest ends Sunday, November 14 at midnight.
  • Contest is open to those living in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The winner will be picked at random and announced Monday.
It's a pretty simple and straight forward contest, so comment away.  Good Luck!
This contest is now closed.  Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Preparations

I know if you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, you are probably thinking about the areas of your home you would like to deep clean before the big day.  I have a few things in mind too, but a big part of my Thanksgiving preparations is making room for the food!  November is the month to stock up on turkey, ham and baking supplies.  

Today I decided to get the stockpile of frozen chicken breasts out of my freezer and into the canner. I canned 18 jars of chicken, which worked out to about 16 pounds.  Since it's a long process, I figured this would be a good day to defrost the freezer (so I'd have room for a few turkeys and hams), clean out the pantry and the fridge, pack up the Halloween decorations and do my Biology lab.  I guess you could say my eyes were bigger than my schedule!  Do you ever do that too?

I did can my chicken, defrost the freezer and I finished my Biology lab.  Not to mention the not-so-quick trip to the store and an unexpected trip to the school to drop off a needed item.  I finally drug my aching body to the shower at 3:30pm.  I was rewarded with a "Thanks for canning the chicken Mom" from one of my kiddos!

I guess the Halloween decorations will stay piled on the floor for one more day (at least), along with the messy pantry and dirty fridge.  

What preparations do you want to complete before Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Barbie can Bend her Knees!

I played with Barbie dolls when I was a young girl, but the whole only child thing cut my Barbie years short.  They weren't much fun to play with by myself.  One of the most fun parts of playing with Barbie was bending her knees; it made a cool a cool sound and it felt neat.

A friend made fancy Barbie dresses for a couple of my girls.  Unfortunately the necks on both of the dolls cracked and couldn't keep their heads on - I'd never seen that happen to any Barbie, and then it happened to two in one week.  We were playing with the poor decapitated Barbie when I mentioned my favorite part of Barbie was her knees.  The kids looked at me like I was a little off my rocker until I showed them. How did they not discover that Barbie can bend her knees in all of those hours of play?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Family Home Evening: Gratitude

This week's lesson is about Gratitude.  For me this is a lesson that gives itself, we have so much to be grateful for in our lives.  Gratitude is a matter of focusing on the good things that happen.  We did have a very cool visual aid to go with our lesson.  As one of my kiddos talked about what we can be grateful for he poured water into a cup.  Then we listened to part of the story of Job and how he remained faithful to the Lord despite all that he lost.  Water was taken from the cup as we listened to all that Job lost, but his cup was never completely empty.  After he remained grateful through his trail, he was blessed with more than he had originally.  At this point more water was poured until the cup overflowed.  (Thank goodness it was in a bigger bowl to keep it from being messy.)  I like the reminder that the Lord has a desire to bless us with more than we can even imagine - and I can imagine a lot.  He is waiting for us to be open to all the blessings He wants to give until our cups are overflowing.

We had a unique activity.  We gathered on the floor around a bunch of Lego's and spent a minute building something we were grateful for, then passed to around the to let someone else add to it while we added to the person's on the opposite side of us.  My Christmas tree turned into a whole Christmas scene by the end!

Our treat was homemade caramel corn.  It was only the second time making it, I still have some room for improvement.  Everything but the burnt parts tasted good.  (I'll ignore the recipe and not even try to bake it next time!)


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