Saturday, December 29, 2012

100 Day Challenge

My piano students have just been issued the 100 day challenge!  I'm excited because I always see amazing progress occur during this time and the months afterward.  The challenge is for my students to practice their instrument 100 days in a row without missing one day.  This is a huge commitment on both the parents and the students.  As they do this they are establishing a habit in their life and finding that they can do hard things.

There is something about setting a goal and sticking to it that is so exciting and rewarding!  The new year is a great time to do this.  I'm always saddened to hear of all the people that say, "I'm not going to set any new years resolutions, because I don't keep them."  Aren't we all trying suppose to improve our lives over time.  And what a better time then a new year.

It doesn't need to be practicing an instrument, it could be saying your prayers, scripture study, exercise, cleaning your room, Saying "I love you" to your spouse or children, any thing we would like to change in your life.  If you do something for 100 days it will become a habit!  So why not set a goal and do 100 consecutive days of something.  Give yourself motivation by setting up an awesome reward that makes you excited to do it.  Here is a link to our tally sheet.  If you have trouble opening this put your e-mail in my comments and I will send you the excel file.  Be sure to put your tally sheet in a prominent place in your home so you will always see it.  You should also share your goal with someone you love to keep you in check.  Challenge them to set a goal to and you can help each other.

All my children are doing the 100 days of practicing.  I on the other had am doing 100 days of personal scripture study and personal prayer.  We are going to put our tally sheets in the dining room so we can see it at every meal.  This will remind us all to do our tasks.

I challenge you to make it a family affair and talk with your kids about what habit they would like to establish in their life this year.  I'd love to hear about your challenges,  Good Luck!

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's not about the pants

Front View - Kelsey - Navy

After hearing about this wearing pants at church day.  It has bothered me enough that I need to say my two cents on the issue.  Hear Goes:
This Sunday a new feminist group has made an event called "Wear Pants to Church Day."  They believe women should wear what they would like and feel compelled to wear a dress or skirt.  Stephanie Lauritzen is the founder of a a new feminist group called "All Enlisted".  She claims women are not treated equal in the church and changes need to happen.  This event is only the beginning of events according to Lauritzen.  She says in an interview, "We planned “Wear Pants to Church” Day to raise awareness and visibility: to allow Mormon feminists to say, “We’re here, we’re all in this together, and we’re ready to work to make the Church better. We’re faithful. We’re serving. We’re ready to work.” We also wanted a gentle first step—the action doesn’t even break any LDS Church rules."  Later she says, "I am amazed at just how eager Mormons are to profess their faith and their hope for a better Church at the same time. There are so many really earnest, very devout people who do see room for improvement in how our religion is run"

The comment that we aren't even breaking any LDS Church rules,  Does that mean the next action will?  I find the comment that she sees that our church needs improvement on how the religion is run a dangerous statement. Dangerous in the sense that when we make actions to prove that we are right and the church is wrong we could be heading down a spiritual downward spiral.  

As a member of the church I have a testimony that the church is run by our Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus, who I believe has the best in mind for all of his children, men and yes even women.  Women and Men are different and the more that women try to take over men's role the more they lose the divine part of us that makes us unique, beautiful and special.  Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” Eternal principles are the scaffolding the Church provides. These eternal principles are embedded in the doctrines of the kingdom of God and are reflected in His eternal plan of happiness. We meet as members of the Church to teach and learn from each other the principles of righteousness and to receive saving ordinances so the scaffolding is steady and stable as we build our eternal families."  (as quoted in Elder L. Tom Perry's talk) Our leaders of the church are only following Christ and as a church member I am so grateful for that knowledge that they have the keys to lead and guide us.

Sister Sheri L. Dew, who served as a counselor in the general Relief Society presidency, counseled, "Sister, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged.  They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman.  We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge 'armed' with power.  The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all the righteous against the powers of darkness.  Most significantly, the fullness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together."  (pg 128 of Daughter in My Kingdom)

I am so grateful for my knowledge that I am a child of God who is loved and important.  I know that any calling in the church I have is very valuable.  Just as women have the privilege and responsibility to rear and raise children and serve in the church, men have the privilege and responsibility of the priesthood.  I'm grateful for that!  The Priesthood is the sacred power of God given as a gift to bless and strengthen us.  The Proclamation of the Family states clearly the individual roles of men and women as they pertain to our existence here on earth.  When I read that, the spirit confirms my importance of my role.  I am equally important!  Two more quotes to end on that are awesome:

President Heber J. Grant (1856–1945) said, “Without the devotion and absolute testimony of the living God in the hearts of our mothers, this Church would die.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled the women of the Church:

“It is so tremendously important that the women of the Church stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord. …

“We call upon the women of the Church to stand together for righteousness. They must begin in their own homes. They can teach it in their classes. They can voice it in their communities.” (both quoted in Pres. Uchtdorf's talk "The influence of righteous women."

I pray we will stand strong and immovable in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That this strength will encourage our children and all around us to be more like Christ.  What will I be wearing to church this Sunday?  I will wear my most feminine dress I own and that's for sure!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kindergarten Ready: 2. Learning the Alphabet

Part of getting ready for school is learning the alphabet.  Knowing the letters are important.  I've heard some say that preschoolers don't need to know their letters before kindergarten, but I think it is harder for those who don't know their letters.  They seem to struggle later on more with reading.

There are a lot of fun (key with preschoolers) ways to learn the alphabet, here is some ways I've tried.

1.  Have a letter for the week or day depending on how long they need to learn it.  Have them carry a letter in their pocket.  They are the babysitter for that letter.  Throughout the day you can ask them if they still have their letter and what it's called.  As you read with them point out that letter throughout the book.  Think of words with that letter.

2.  Alphabet Flashcards.  There are so many games you can play with a simple deck of alphabet cards.  I would suggest getting two of the same kind so you can play games like, go fish, and memory with them.  You can also play a hide and seek game with them.  As they find the letter they tell you the name.

3.  Sing the Alphabet Song--Be sure to pronounce the fast letters clearly,  L M N O P.  Those seem to get lumped all together in their mind.

4.  Alphabet Bingo--Just learning to identify the letter on a bingo card is great progress.  Later you can just say a letter name and they can practice finding the letter without the visual cue card.

5.  Learning a musical Instrument:  This really helped my daughter to learn her letter quickly.  Pairing the name of the letter with a musical note helped her conceptionalize it.  You only get A-G but it's a start.

6.  Magnets on the fridge:  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and by having letters on the fridge I could help teach letters while I'm cooking and cleaning.  They can also start forming sounds and words by putting the letters together.

7.  Letter Associations:  I have a puzzle with the letters on it.  Each has a picture with something that starts with that letter.  This really helps pair sounds with the letters.  You can do this with alphabet picture books too.  I would suggest buying the Dr Seuss ABC book and read it often.

8.  Ipad/phone games:  We have found some fun Ipad games that teach the alphabet.  There are a lot of apps to choose from.  One I like is Monkey Preschool Lunchbox by THUP

9.  Computer Games:  I love  This website is for all ages because once you get to the home page you can click what grade your child is in and then the game appropriate for that age comes up.

10.  Upstart:  Free At home preschool program.  It's hard to get in but worth the effort. (If you have an upcoming preschooler go today and register!) Two of my kids have had the opportunity to participate and it is wonderful.  It goes through the entire alphabet and doesn't move on to the next level until your child has mastered it.  The music in the the program is catchy and fun and helps the children to remember the concepts.  Can't say enough good about it.  You have to be in Utah to participate in the free program.  But they do have product available for purchase which I would highly recommend.

Friday, December 7, 2012

New Dinner Menu Plan Revolution

What's for dinner mom?

I'm finally recovered from not having our dinner group.  Check out the link for more info on that idea.    It was just so nice to have one meal of the week to worry about.  But alas I now enjoy cooking dinner daily on a much smaller scale.
Before a couple months ago, I would spend an hour or two writing in the dinners I wanted to cook for that month.  This was a monthly project and took too much time!  So I decided to try a monthly calendar that doesn't change.  To choose the meals, I started by asking each of my kids, what dinners they enjoy the most.  I put that into the menu plan then I asked my husband to choose some of his favorites.  Then I plugged in other meals we enjoy and whalla I had a monthly plan that has been working for a few months now.  I love not having to guess what we are going to eat.  We are eating a variety of meals and ones that my kids enjoy and eat.  I thought I would get tired of the same meals but I'm really not.  I planned six weeks.  The meals that are on those first and sixth weeks don't always get made depending on what day of the week starts the month out.  So figure that in, maybe some of your not so favorite meals here or ones that take more care.  I also allow for flexibility depending on time I have to cook and what is available in my pantry.  Here is a link to view our dinner meals.  It may just give you an idea for your next dinner creation.  Happy Cooking!  Remember "All great change in America begins at the dinner table".  Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kindergarten Ready: 1. Reading

My baby is less then a year from starting Kindergarten and that pretty scary!  I feel like I'm getting old but also it's really sad how fast the time goes.  I've been really reflecting lately on what things I can do as a mom to prepare her for school.  I'm going to several posts each one a different idea.
The first one is Reading.

Of all the things my older kids have needed in their tool belt that I feel has helped or hindered them the most is their ability to read.  Each child is different in how fast they have caught on to reading.  I see it with my preschoolers everyday.  Some have a knack for it and catch on really quick.  Others are slower to understand.  Regardless of how fast they catch if they capture the love of reading then you have it made!  Here's some ideas:

1.  Read to them everyday.  Start when they are babies.  Make it part of their routine.  I like to read at nap time, bedtime, read scriptures as a family in the morning.  So reading is just part of their regular day.  My four year old is now reading me one book a day and then I read her one book a day.  We have started the I see sam series.  It is very simple and helps early readers be successful quickly.  With my preschool I use the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" by Engelmann.  A very comprehensive reading approach that I also really like.  
2.  Have many books at home   These don't have to be books you buy they can be library books. It can be the newspaper, or magazines.   Just having reading material around to use will foster a love of reading.
3.  Read yourself.  If you take the time to read a good book then your children will more likely also want to experience this joy.  As a busy mom, I know how hard it is to find time to read.  I like to have a few books I'm reading at the same time.  It drives my husband crazy sometimes.  =)  But I will put one in the bathroom, one by my bed, I like take one in the car when I'm waiting for the kids to come out from school.  If the books are around they are more likely to be read.
4.  Read together as a family.  When we travel in the summer we like to find a good book to read together in the car.  I would like to say we do that year round but we don't and I think that would be awesome.  We have started the "Lion Witch and the Wardrobe" series by CS Lewis.  
5.  Have your older kids read the books before the movie program.  We made a deal with the kids that if there was a movie they wanted to watch and it was based on a book, they had to read the book first before they watched the movie.  This has been a really great motivator.   We have limits on ratings because there are some that are rated PG-13 that we don't want them to see.  
6.  Scripture Reading.  Our first grader has improved so much this year on reading and I believe a lot has to do with family scripture study.  She reads one verse a day and she is sounding out some big words and it's been fun to see her confidence grow.  To help everyone following a long.  After everyone has read one or two verses we alternate by only reading to a punctuation mark.  Sometimes you only get to read one word and then it passes on to the next person.  Everyone has to pay attention or you get lost and it's your turn.  It's a lot of fun and it helps to keep the focus.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Devotional-Family Tradition

Tonight is the First Presidency Christmas Devotional Broadcast.  The Broadcast begins at 6:00 pm.  Ever since I was a little girl I remember watching this Christmas Devotional and it was a wonderful way to begin the Christmas Season.  Hearing Beautiful Christmas messages and music brings the spirit of Christmas in your heart and home.  I hope you can make time to watch the devotional with your family this year.  You don't have to watch it tonight, the great thing about the internet is it will be available to watch at your convenience.  It would make a great Family Home Evening. will offer live video of the devotional in 16 languages—American Sign Language, Cantonese, Cebuano, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog, and Tongan—and live audio in several languages. These video and audio files will be archived on shortly after the broadcast.

Live audio and video of the devotional will also be available in English and Spanish on

Various broadcast, cable, satellite, and Internet television stations and broadcast, satellite, and Internet radio stations throughout the world will also carry the devotional. Check local program listings for availability in your area, or visit or

The First Presidency Christmas Devotional will also be broadcast or rebroadcast over the Church satellite system in more than 50 languages. Check with local leaders for more details.