Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Strangely Quiet

The start of a new school year brings with it all kinds of excitement and emotions. Although Caleb has been away for many hours at a time many times the start of first grade has left our home feeling strangely quiet. Caleb is so spirited. He will be missed. I am not often sentimental, but I sure love him. I didn’t think I would be sad saying good-by this morning, but I was. I asked him if he wanted me to walk him to the bus and he said, “why?” I told him that I needed to get my shoes and he said, “maybe you could just walk me to the bus some other day.” My little boy is growing up.

He has no idea what is about to hit him. This summer his “chores” have been reading, doing two pages of “homework”, and practicing the piano. Yesterday he asked if he can not do chores any more since he is starting first grade. I asked what he had in mind, I was thinking that he meant emptying the dishwasher or making his bed, but he wanted to give up reading and homework and just do it all at school. Oh boy, I guess he will learn soon enough how full his new life is going to be.

He is really excited about his new teacher, Mrs. Geddes, and about the friends he already has in his class. Mrs. Geddes is going to have her hands full! In his morning prayer today he prayed that he would be able to make good decisions and that he would be good at school. I hope that he keeps that desire. A couple of weeks ago while we were putting the kids to bed I was telling each of them how good they are. Caleb said, “No, I’m not good! I try to be, but sometimes I just make bad decisions.” I am excited to watch him grow up and learn to make better decisions, which I am confident he will.

We have had a really great week with our final days of summer celebrations. We spent Tuesday at the Redneck Waterslide in Wellsville and yesterday we took a group up to my parent’s garden and farm. The highlight for Caleb though was having his first fall soccer practice and going on a date with his mom. As we drove around getting new shoes and a new soccer uniform for our “date” he kept telling me, “I’m such a lucky boy!” I am grateful that he recognizes his blessings. I love that he is so is so vocal about expressing his gratitude when we do nice things for him. I really believe Caleb has a wonderful life ahead.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Favorite Party

Last winter I went to a "Favorite" party. I have been wanting to blog about it for about eight months now. I want to share some of the ideas from the party.

First, a little background, each person who was invited was instructed to bring a handout with some of their favorite things. The handout could include anything! (We also brought our favorite recipe and the dish to share, but that is a whole other blog entry for another time.) For most of the party we spent time going around the circle sharing our tips with each other. It was AWESOME! Following are some of the tips that I have used (or hope to use) in no particular order:

Favorite parenting resource: Family Information and Resource Center in Logan (www.loganfamilycenter.org) They offer free checking out of books, games, and other family and children's resources (and there are no due dates).

Favorite online family management system: onlinefamly.norton This is a Free online security. It allows you to manage where your children go online, how long they're on and show you what they're doing.

Favorite Pie Crust Dough: You can get it at Anderson's Seed in frozen balls. Ask for it at the seed counter.

Favorite Vacationing: You can rent houses at www.vrbo.com which stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner. It is a great way to travel with a family especially if you are going to be staying in one spot.

Favorite Sleep Aid: Homeopathic Melatonin the drops or spray work great for kids too.

Favorite Helpful Idea: When on a vacation in large crouds, put a lanyard around small children's neck with your cell phone numbers and names in case you get separated.

Favorite Time Saver: Buy precooked bacon at Macey's. Keep it in the freezer in a heavy duty freezer plastic baggie, and the next time a recipe calls for cooked/crumbled bacon - wa la - you don't have to cook it.

Favorite Lotion: Working Hands (at Kitchen Kneeds) in a green container.

Favorite Spiritual Tip: Listen to a general conference talk on CD while you get ready in the morning.

Favorite Hair Blog: www.shedoeshair.blogspot.com is a great resource to get ideas for doing little girls hair.

Favorite Cleaning Tip: Don Aslett's Wood Floor Restorer It takes some work to apply this stuff, but is well worth the time. It is amazing. My story is very similar to the gal who gave the tip. After being in our home four years our wood floor was starting to look worn in spots, but they weren't ready to refinish. This Wood Floor Restorer was like a miracle. It is awesome stuff!

Favorite Parenting Tip: (I haven't bught this yet, but this is what the gal said. I want to get it.) It is Children's Miracle Music "This CD was the answer for me to quit nagging. It lovingly explains each task that a child should do in order to get ready ON TIME in the morning and into bed at night. It truly has been a miracle in our home."


Carrie's Favorite Things . . . Online . . .

Saving Money on Groceries:
I am not a coupon clipper, but I check the site PinchingYourPennies.com before I go to the grocery store to see what groceries from that weeks ad are really a good deal. They have a five star system to show the best deals. If there is anything that has four or five stars, that my family uses, I stock up on it. To get to the Utah Grocery Stores use the following link: http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=62. Scroll down and select the grocery store you are going to. It is awesome to know what sale items are really worth buying.

Bountiful Baskets came to Cache Valley last winter. To get involved sign up online at bountifulbaskets.org. It costs $16.50 each time you participate and I figure it is about half of what I would pay at the grocery store for a big basket full of fresh produce. It is so fun to pick up my basket on Saturday morning and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables all week. The trick with this group is that there are a limited number of baskets available each week at each site so you have to sign up on Monday night or Tuesday to get a basket for the next Saturday. Also, everyone is asked to take a turn volunteering about once for every 10 baskets they order.

I use blurb.com to turn our family blog into a book. I have created a book for each year I have blogged. Blurb has a program that downloads all of the photos and text into a book template to give you a great start. It requires some work from you to make things fit just right, but it is a rewarding project. The blog finally feels like the journal it is intended to be now that it is in print.

Vacation Planning:
If you are planning a trip to Disney Land go on KSL.com and go to the classifieds. (If you haven’t shopped on KSL Classifieds before they are awesome.) Search for “Disneyland Tickets.” You can share a six-day park hopper pass with another family. You have to use them within 14 days of each other, I believe, but our family did it last summer and it cost us about $20 per person per day for three days at Disney.

I always knew that Priceline.com was a cool place to get flights, but I didn’t realize the great deals you could get on hotels. The best deals come when you “make an offer.” Choose the number of stars that is the “best value.” Last summer we stayed at a four star Hyatt down town San Diego for $69 a night. Normally, that hotel starts at $200 per night. When you are making an offer start lower than you think will be accepted. You can get awesome deals near Disney Land too.

I really like the Travelocity.com fare watcher program for flights. You can create an account and then pick up to ten destinations that you would like Travelocity to watch for you. Go to the “my Travelocity” tab on the top of the site and select the “your fare watcher” program. I have gotten some awesome deals this way.

Teaching Preschoolers:
When I first heard of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann I thought it was hokey, but it really is a great program. It is scripted and the book isn’t very pretty, but it really does work. You can get it on Amazon.com for $15.

I don’t really believe in parents teaching their own children piano, but with a college minor in music education I thought I would get my kids started. I am a big fan of My First Piano Adventure by Faber. You can learn about the Faber’s programs at pianoadventures.com. Their program isn’t at all like the way I learned piano. It is so fun and intuitive.

Preschool and Early Elementary Kids Web Sites:
(We don’t have a TV, but my kids keep up on the latest with these great sites. These sites were the best thing that ever happened to me while I was pregnant with number four.)

Click on “kids” at the top of the page. You will find hundreds of games and episodes. My four year old can navigate this part of the site with no problems and with very little help she can play almost all of the games. If your child is new to using the web and the computer I would start with this site.

My kids could spend countless hours on this site. This section of the site is designed for preschoolers with Playhouse Disney episodes, games and interactive stories.

I really like this site because the episodes and games are more educational, but it requires an early elementary child to navigate it independently.

Summer Sanity

One main thing that helps me to be sane in the summer is our summer group coop which is why I am blogging right now. (Caleb and Cara are currently gone.) Caleb and Cara go to "summer group" for three hours every Monday. I take my turn to host one week a month. The brake is good for all of us. Last week Cody (my brother) came and did what has become our annual rocket launch. It is so fun for the kids and for Cody.

First, Cody talked to them about the rockets and taught them how to get them ready to launch.

The kids helped prep the rockets.

They counted down and took turns launching them.

This one the parachute didn't come out and it came down like a missile head first into the park.

What a fun tradition.


The other day I walked into the nursery where I had left Ali in her little chair and this is what I found.

Cara was "fixing" Ali's hair. Ironically Ali is almost completely balled except for a little patch of hair in the back. Cara loves her little sister and Ali is such a good sport about all of the attention she receives.

I love it when siblings where matching cloths but having boy, girl, boy, girl gender order puts a damper on that. I did find these cute little summer dresses that match for Cara and Ali.

Ali also started solids this month. She looks at me like I am trying to poison her when I feed her, but she doesn't cry. She just hates it. I hope that will end soon. This picture is a cute little girl in our ward, Malory, who loves babies and is always willing to help with Ali.

It may not look like it in this picture, but it took me to my forth to figure out that gravity really helps when feeding a baby solids. I have always used a high chair making it much easier for them to spit out their food. If I lay them on the floor it just slips back and they have very little choice other than to swallow.

Mutton Bustin

This summer Caleb and Cara have done a little mutton bustin. Caleb was too big to sign up to do it at That Famous Preston Night Rodeo and he was sad about that so he took his turn riding a sheep at the 24th of July Celebration in Mendon. He was really scared and went very last. By that point they weren't even letting go of the sheep and they were letting the kids ride backwards. They said that they could hold on better and didn't have as far to fall. So here is Caleb riding a sheep backwards being held onto, just like he wanted. He was still scared!

Cara rode hers at the rodeo. Here she is pre ride.

Unfortunately the picture of her coming out of the shoot turned out like this.

She is a brave little soul, but she wasn't very happy about coming off. Grandpa Neil was right out there to help her. I think it is just as fun for him as it is for the kids. I am pretty sure that he gets more nervous about it than they do. I wondered if I am a bad parent putting my child on a wild sheep, but heck you only live once.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gather Joy

Gather Joy was the theme of an Academy for Girls Reunion/Retreat I went to last weekend. Going to this overnighter in Midway with 40 of the most outstanding women I have ever known was just what I needed. It was so "Academy", I mean, there is a special magic about the details and the spirit that I felt as I worked three summers before my mission at Academy for Girls. The magic was at the reunion and the spirit was so thick. There are a few things about this reunion that I would like to remember and that might bless you as well.

First, it seems that many people are struggling to find JOY. I highly recommend you take a look at this talk by "Finding Joy in Life" Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1996, 24. I hope that it will help you on your quest to Gather JOY.

I want to share some of the ideas that struck me as I sat in the workshops at the retreat. If I can remember them and implement them consistently they will make me a better mom, wife, and person.

"Teaching Our Children from the Scriptures", Cheryl C. Lant, Ensign, August 2010
Pattern for teaching children from the scriptures:
1. Clearly identify the doctrine.
2. Help the children understand the doctrine.
3. Help them apply the doctrine to their lives.
4. Encourage them to pray for a witness of the Spirit that what they are learning is true.

Josh and I are fairly diligent in having regular family scripture reading and prayer, but I really want to do better at studying the scriptures with the kids, not just reading them. Someone said, "Reading the scriptures is boring, studying the scriptures is exciting." Some other ideas for family scripture study are singing "Scripture Power" every day before reading, reading while the kids are eating breakfast so they are quiet still and listening, and reading until you find something that will inspire you for the day.

I would also like to put my gospel art kit into a binder with page protectors. (The old one that has the stories on the back of the pictures. They don't sale it any more, but it can be printed online.) Someone said that their parents would let them pick a picture each night and they would read the back for the bedtime story. What a great way to teach children the scripture stories.

I am coming to the conclusion that Sunday is a VERY important time to teach children and that part of keeping the Sabbath Holy is to have gospel centered discussion. One idea was to have children each share something they are learning in their personal scripture study on Sunday afternoons. There seems to be a big emphasis on teaching children PERSONAL scripture study and prayer habits not just doing it as a family. My kids are still little, but I believe it is possible to create those habits. I just need to become more dedicated to making that happen. Josh and I have tried a few times to have a formal testimony meeting on Sunday afternoons. I would like to do that more consistently and I believe that I also need to make time every Sunday to have one on one "interviews" with my kids. Of course I talk to them all the time, but I don't often have one on one time with them. I think that tend to stand back as women and hope that our husbands will have interviews with the kids. I went to a fireside given by my stake president recently and he said that we as women have every right, and we should be conducting personal "interviews" with our children just as regularly as our husbands do.

The following quote puts things into perspective for me. "Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home." "mothers Teaching Children in the Home", L. Tom Perry, Ensign, May 2010

I am so grateful to be a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ and for the awesome support it provides for the family. There is a seemingly bottomless supply of quotes, thoughts and resources to help the family. I hope that we can all Gather JOY.

Best wishes to my dear Academy friends. Thank you for being an inspiration in my life. I love you!