Monday, 8 October 2012

FHE - made easy

This comes from my friend Heather -

"Something I've been using lately with Kailey for personal scripture reading time is the Gospel Art kit book. We take one picture each day and read some of the scriptures that go with each one (for us we've only read the Book of Mormon scriptures and we're reading them out of Kailey's Book of Mormon to make it more personal). Kailey will repeat the words of a scripture after me so she feels like she is reading them too. Then we talk about the scripture and picture. I've only done it for a week, but I've actually enjoyed doing it and look forward to the time to read scriptures with her and talk about the pictures. I like that the scriptures and pictures are already chosen (no prep work for less thing to worry about and just go with the flow). It's nice that there is something to look at to keep her focused and the thought/discussion is short. We also sing a song first, pray, read/discuss, sing, and pray. It gives us a chance to also practice our children's songs. I'm in the process of trying out some activities I want to do if I decide to homeschool. This is one of those things I want to continue and as she gets older, the lessons will be longer. I call it her "seminary" time. And as I homeschool, I do want her to have "seminary" time each day where she is focusing on learning about the gospel besides other educational pursuits. I think it helps me and it helps her. I just wanted to post how helpful the Gospel Art kit book can be for personal scripture reading with a child or maybe even for a family home evening lesson."

I thought this was such a good idea that I started doing some of my own research.  I went to and found some great links, like this one that lets you browse pictures by topic, and this one that has the pictures labeled in chronological order.  

You can buy the Gospel Art Kit at a distribution center for $3.50.

There is also a Gospel Art Kit app for your smart phone or tablet!  $1.99 buys you access to 600 pages of gospel related pictures.  What a great way to provide uplifting spiritual nourishment for your family!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Choosing to Indulge in the Everyday - Marie

This is a post from my friend, Marie.  What I admire so much about her is that she is smart and capable and dedicated.  She is the kind of person that can simply stick to a decision no matter the difficulty (well, at least it seems that way to me).  With her strength of character, she has the ability to be powerful in the world.  And yet she chooses to be powerful in her family instead.  I have no doubt that Proverbs 31:28 will be her description:  "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her".   Her kids will be so grateful for her skills and for making the sacrifice to be their special mom instead of being a "powerful woman" in the eyes of the world.  She is unselfish and Christlike and very admirable.  I want to be more like Marie.  

Here are her words about choosing to "indulge" in the greatest joy we can find as mothers, our kids -- 

Carpet lines. If you're wondering what the first picture is supposed to be of that is your answer. I love carpet lines--the lines created in certain types of carpet after you vacuum. When I was younger and as I grew older, I realized that I wanted carpet lines. 

The carpet in my house growing up was not conducive to carpet lines. It was bumpy and green. If you've seen Toy Story, you've seen the carpet I grew up with. You might not have realized you saw it, but you did. Now go think back and remember Sid's room. Remember when Buzz and Woody are coming out of the backpack and there are all the reconstructed toys. Can't remember? Just google search "toy story sid's room" and you can see images. Well, Sid's carpet was our carpet.

Now, I'm not saying I was deprived as a child. I remember liking our bumpy, green carpet because it made nice "bushes" for my toy animals to eat. But what I am saying is that that carpet couldn't have carpet lines and that when I finished vacuuming I wanted those perfect lines to appear. Those lines that say, "Look at this lovely freshly-vacuumed floor." I don't know why, but I just knew that if I could have carpet lines vacuuming would be better. And you know what? I was right. For me, creating vacuum lines makes me feel happy and in some weird way accomplished. Vacuum lines are one of those simple pleasures that make doing those "have-to-do" things enjoyable.

You may also notice in that top picture that those carpet lines are just not right. There are itty bitty footprints in those carpet lines! If those footprints made me angry, I would say that they mar those perfect lines. Thankfully, for my sanity would surely be lost, those footprints make me happy. They are another simple pleasure (and complicated pleasure certainly). 

Look at the cute little feet and pudgy legs that made those footprints!

Aren't they just the cutest?!? These feet and legs belong to the smallest love of my life and he is constantly leaving marks all over. Special touches and dashes of light. Messes I will miss because he no longer wants to spend his time near me or he is "too big" to make them anymore. I'll enjoy the piles of books he asks me to read while he still asks me to read them. I'll make towers for him to topple while he still needs me to help build them. I'll do my best to enjoy each question and answer it as best as I can. I'll cherish every cuddle even those that are a bit clingy.

Those beautiful feet make perfect footprints that adorn my carpet lines. Those carpet lines accent those footprints, making it so they are noticed, highlighted, showcased. Reminding me of how lucky and blessed I am. Reminding me to appreciate all the moments because I get to experience them. Those footprints are most definitely a simple pleasure--and a huge blessing.

I'll let Owen continue to show you some of the other simple pleasures I enjoy. I absolutely love hearing Owen say and call for "Mommy" and "Mom."

I sure hope he knows that Mommy loves him!

I wondered for awhile whether he knew the word mom. He would say dad so easily and often. All I had to do was say, "Let's go see Dad," and he'd start looking around for and repeating "Da. Da. Da." Every time we come home whether it is from a friend's house or from the store, Owen starts repeating "Dad" as we get out of the car, walk up the stairs and get inside the house. He's asking if Dad is home; no matter what I respond, he will keep asking and look expectantly for Dad when we enter.

The first time I remember him really saying "Mom" was when he called me from the other room. I'd left him in his highchair with food I knew he wouldn't choke on, so I could go to the bathroom. Moments after I left, I heard him calling, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" I was so excited! There was proof that he knew the word mom and that he knew mom was me. I need to remember how wonderful it felt to be called as he gets older. I still love it now when he calls for me in our little apartment.

Another simple pleasure of mine is watching Owen read.

Obviously, he isn't reading words yet (though he does a pretty adorable job of it), but he does look at pictures and flip through pages as I've shown before. He loves to be read to and read by himself. I just love watching him pick out a book and read it. When I realize that all those books off the shelf came off because he was reading them, I don't mind so much picking them up again. 

The last simple pleasure I'm going to share today is watching Owen discover the humidifier (and just about any new discovery makes the list). 

Perhaps you noticed my croaky voice in the "mommy loves me" video. Well, I got a minor case of bronchitis which came with a nasty cough. To try and get some sleep, I followed the doctor's suggestion to try a cool mist humidifier at night. When Owen came to wake me up in the morning with his daddy, he discovered it. It became an instant favorite.

I definitely feel like I can't let these moments slip away. It's so easy to feel busy and to be busy. When I try to do too much and take things too fast, I miss these simple pleasures. It's the little things that make life meaningful and fun. The little things forge relationships and bring happiness. I've noticed that on those days when all I want is for nap time to come or Tyler to come home or Owen's bed time to arrive, I'm letting all the moments pass and I'm not happy. I'm waiting for the next day. And then I realize that there isn't anything coming up. All I'm doing is missing everything huge and special because I'm taking it for granted! I'm missing my baby being a toddler. I'm missing this amazing amount of free time, couple time, and family time with Tyler. I'm letting it all go by and not enjoying any of it. I know that later, I'll miss this time and I don't want to have regrets about not taking advantage of this time with Tyler and Owen. I feel like I just have realize it anew every day. If I keep remembering then I can be the wife and mother and woman I want to be. I choose to remember. I choose to indulge in my everyday.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

School Lunch - Made Easy

It's October and school is in full swing.  Getting bored of making school lunches yet?  My friend Ashlee submitted this awesome link about making school lunches more fun and more convenient:

I love it!  Even though I don't have school-aged kids yet, I still use this cheat sheet from time to time.  I included the list here...

lunch box cheat sheet


  • Place a frozen juice box in your kids’ lunchbox. – it’ll keep the food chilled and will be thawed by lunchtime.
  • Go for variety. Make sandwiches using whole grain tortillas, bagels or pitas.
  • Pack antibacterial wet wipes so your kids can clean their hands before and after eating.
  • Add grated veggies to sandwiches and wraps for crunch – your kids won’t notice they’re eating something that’s good for them!
  • Use small resealable bags to pack dressings. Kids can open one corner and simply squeeze onto salad, then discard.
  • Get dipping! Pack salsa, hummus, yogurt or salad dressing for your little ones to dunk their sandwich, veggies or fruit into.
  • Make bite-sized and mini versions of regular foods like sandwiches. They work well for small appetites and are more likely to be eaten.
  • Add a quick note to say good luck on a test or “I love you” – it will brighten your child’s day.

This is a great list.  Looking back, now I know why mom my mom used to put a frozen juice box and ranch dressing in my lunch.  I loved how my drink turned into a slushy, and dipping my carrots in ranch dressing made me feel pretty cool.

Did you know that kids LIKE hummus?  It's so healthy!  I can get my toddler to eat so many vegetables as longs as I have hummus around (and if we run out of veggies, we eat the hummus with a spoon).  My favorite hummus recipe is this:

Easy Blender Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans (save liquid)
1 clove garlic
2 tsp cumin
1-2 Tbs peanut butter
splash of lemon juice (optional)

Put all ingredients in a blender and turn it on low.  While blending, slowly add saved liquid into the blender until you reach the desired consistency (I use about 2/3 of the liquid).  Serve with bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, pita chips, cauliflower etc.  

Speaking from personal experience, I love the convenience of disposable resealable bags.  For $2, you can get 100 tidy sandwich bags that can be used for so many things!  I like to put partially used food items (like onions, bananas, avocados etc) in the bags and stick them in the fridge.  Then I re-use the bag if it's still good later.  I'm all about cheap convenience.

Another tip I recently started using (and I'm probably the last mom in the world to try this one) is frozen Go-Gurt.  It turns into a delicious push-up popsicle!  Yeah, it's not the most healthy snack, but it's a perfect treat for a toddler who doesn't know the difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt :)

Be sure to browse the rest of the website!  There are lots of ideas about healthy and easy lunch ideas.  Another little gem is this page:

Some days you just want your kids out of the kitchen.  But other times it can be enriching to let your kids "help out" a little bit.  And I bet that your kids will remember those special moments when you let them have the extra freedom, even if it means a bit more work for you.  In fact, here is a list of easy recipes your kids will enjoy making and eating:

One last tip.  We recently had to clear out one of our cabinets for a new dishwasher.  Well, the dishwasher didn't happen as punctually as we thought it would, so the empty cabinet naturally became a secret hideout for my 2-year-old.  And it's hilarious.  And it's convenient.  So when I need some space, I can send her to the secret hideout with a little snack and her favorite toy.  Works almost every time.  It has been so fun that I'm almost sad to install the dishwasher.  (Almost.  After all, it's a DISHWASHER.)  I think I'll just empty out a different cabinet so we don't lose the secret hideout when the dishwasher comes in next week :)

What are your favorite lunch time tricks?

It's been awhile...

Please forgive me for being gone for so long.  I think you would understand if you were in my shoes.  One reason for taking such a long break was because I was in the middle of making a huge life-changing decision and simply didn't have the free time to write much (I didn't update my family blog during this time, either, which is a big deal for me).  In the past month and a half, I have gone from thinking I would be a stay-at-home-mom forever to being full-time graduate student.  Yes, I'm going back to school!  Ah!  But more on that decision later.  

The more important reason for my absence is the fact that I feel more content in my job as a mother, so I'm not as driven to seek answers as I was before (you can read my reasons for starting this blog in the tabs above).  This blog has fulfilled a desperate need for me, and for that I am extremely grateful.  It is a beautiful feeling and I want all mothers to feel this way.  That is why I am going to keep going with French Braids & Freezer Meals.  I know that our lives as mothers are constantly changing, and so it is very possible that I will be desperate for answers again next month, or even next week.  It's all about the journey and adjusting our attitudes, perspectives, and practices to help us and our families find that happy medium no matter what situation we're in at the moment.  

Just because I haven't been posting doesn't mean I haven't been collecting valuable information from my vast pool of super-moms, though :)  So stay tuned...