Emergency Preparedness, Family Fun, Food, One Month Without Groceries

So Much For Preparation. . .

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I was planning on starting our ‘No groceries” experiment in October.  I was waiting for our chickens to start laying and for us to butcher the roosters.  Unfortunately our neighbours dog got in the pen recently and killed 50 of our chickens.  I was devastated.  Those chickens that are left will likely be so traumatized that they won’t be laying for awhile.  Since the weather is nice, I think I am going to try and do the experiment asBaby than planned.  If I can get a chicken coop close to my house made this week, then I think I will go and buy 10 hens that are already laying, and move the rest of the chickens down.  I was really counting on at least having fresh eggs and milk.  Good thing my boys like to fish. . .  Hopefully we will be able to survive. . . .592
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Family Fun, Ponderings

Crowd Sourcing Genealogy Indiegogo Campaign

Eric Proffitt-Crowd Sourcing Genealogy Indiegogo

Instructions to make your own family history wreath

Four years ago my brother-in-law, Eric Proffitt, my sister and five kids came to live with me and my six kids and 18 year old brother  for a few months.

One day, my brother-in-law came home beaming.  The greatest idea hit him while he was struggling to work on a friends ancestral line.  Eric Proffitt had been helping people out with their genealogy for years out of kindness because he loved the mystery of it all.

“What if” Eric asked “we had a website that would let people post small genealogy requests for pictures, grave rubbings or records to be pulled that would help them with their family search”. I love genealogy myself, but at the time I was at a 5 year roadblock and wished beyond wish that I could get some help.  I had already paid 2k to a professional genealogist and I had gotten as far as I could at the time.

Come Join the Campaign

I immediately thought the idea was brilliant “Kinda like being able to Geo-cache but with a purpose!!”  To me, it sounded like the perfect way to get the masses involved in genealogy.  At the time, I had never heard of indexing or crowd-sourcing.  Geo-caching was the closest thing I could imagine to having millions of people around the world involved in one project.

“To make the site more sustainable and appeal to non-genealogist, we could make it so the person requesting the information can put up a fee that they would pay to get their request fulfilled-five dollars being the most common cost” my Eric Proffitt explained.  I was hooked.  I strongly encouraged him to find out how we would make it happen.

Family History Tree

The next couple of weeks Eric did a ton of research.  It seemed that the basic programming fee would cost 30k, and that didn’t include marketing, on-going costs, or web-design, which would be another 10k.  Eric Proffitt flew to Salt Lake and discussed his idea with one of the top genealogy organizers there who loved the idea and told Eric that if he got everything together in time, Eric could present at the up-coming genealogy conference.  Eric Proffitt was stoked, but cost of the whole thing was too daunting, and the idea was put on the back burner.

Fast forward four years.  I had just got so frustrated with the road block I was having with my family tree that my husband found a Ukrainian teacher who happened to be a gifted photographer, to visit my ancestral village.  Our hope was that since we couldn’t afford to go ourselves, that we would send this teacher guy to our village and see if he could take pictures of the location, and try and meet any relatives that still may be living there.  It cost me 1200 dollars to get  him to visit to villages.  With seven kids, the 1200 dollars was hard to come by, but it was thoroughly worth it.  The pictures he sent, and the people he met added a whole new dimension to my family tree.  I was so thrilled.  My husband was like-wise very impressed with the whole process.  It was then we approached Eric Proffitt and Mike Parker,  with looking into the whole crowd-sourcing genealogy idea again.  They were both still interested and in researching the idea again, and were thrilled to find out that the cost to do the whole project had dropped significantly even when he added in the cost of developing an app to go with the website.

Create your own Family Tree Ornaments

Unfortunately the price hadn’t dropped enough to make it affordable for us to do on our own.  It was then we decided to try and crowd-fund the idea-an option not available 4 years ago.  We knew that if the idea was as amazing as we thought it was, that it would catch the vision of other casual genealogist like ourselves and take off.

We now have less than 20 days to finish our campaign and are still short the amount we need to make it work.  If you would love to know more about your genealogy, I would encourage you to visit our Indiegogo Campaign and think about donating. Together we can make this work. . . Updates: Thanks to funders through indiegogo Campaign and other private investors we are ready to launch out new sight within the next month.  The name of this site is called ROOTSBID.  I am beyond excited.  Whenever my husband is overworked, and our bank account is looking slim, I just feel a thrill to think that our dream is being completed right now!!!  

Children, Family Fun, Ponderings, Uncategorized

Raising the Perfect Family by Denna

flowers girls Families can have a profound effect for good in the world.

Ezra t Benson, The family is the cornerstone of civilization and no nation will rise above the caliber of its homes.

Mother Teresa asks “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

Neal a Maxwell said:

Good home are still the best source of good humans.  The greatest leaders and humanitarians will often say that their upbringing was the catalysis for their good works.zin flowers

As a young girl I thought I had foolproof plan to have a perfect family.   Serve a mission, graduate from a church school, marry a returned missionary in the temple, have lots of children and live an enchanted life. We began our family and life seemed idyllic, until, our first child turned two.  Suddenly the dreams I had of raising flawless children without a hair out of place seemed unlikely.

After years of workshops, classes, tons of parenting books, and a few more children …I found the secret…there is no such thing as an absolutely perfect family.

That being said, I know there is a process that advances the progress of the family towards successgirl flowers

There is hardly a church meeting that goes by without mention of the many things we can do to strengthen this precious unit.  Each of us is a member of a family, we may have different roles at this time yet all can benefit by working to improve it as a whole.e picking flowers

Patricia P. Pinegar said:

Parenting is a godly responsibility necessary for the salvation of Father’s children and important for our preparation for eternal blessings. Rejoice in your opportunities to love and care for the souls of children. Our Father has blessings and eternal rewards available for each of His children, whether they are married or single, parents or childless. Our circumstances may be different, our opportunities may be varied, but the end result of our righteousness can be the same—eternal parenthood, eternal lives.sisters sunflowers

It would seem that every gospel topic contributes significantly to the success of family life.

I asked my children what had been the most important principle in developing a testimony of Jesus Christ,  I’d like to share a few of their answers.

One child said, developing a conviction on their own, bearing testimony of it often and asking inspired questions that help reflect the true belief.  Can you tell he is a missionary?Papa sunflowers

It is an act of faith as parents begin to make the change from leading children in righteousness to encouraging them to walk in their own light, yet it strengthens and encourages growth and a continued quest for truth.  Asking the right question leads to superior understanding.girls sunflowers

I attended a women’s conference where the presenter was one of Elder Eyrings daughters.  She told us that each morning right before school the family would gather for breakfast and Elder Eyring would ask everyone in the family what experience from the day before indicated the hand of God in their life.  They would each share, go off to school with those testimonies in their hearts and be looking  for more proof of His love.  Can you imagine how that effected their  personal growth?  Each time we see evidence of God in our life it increases our capacity to identify and perceive Him where we couldn’t before.tia flowersss

Our daughter said that her testimony has been strengthened by being around good examples and being exposed to people who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  On a Church sponsored website mormonfamily.net it states that we teach religious values,

“By example and by open teaching.  We should take our children to church with us, but that shouldn’t be the only time we talk about God.  We should share our deep religious feelings with our children, read the scriptures with them, and be interested in what they think and feel about what they read.  And we should act as examples to our children in obeying the commandments.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said: If you can give your children a trust in God, they will have a sure way of meeting all the uncertainties of existence.bevy flowers

Enos shares how his father’s example influenced him,

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nature and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

 3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

Jacob was a powerful model to Enos,  as he remember his father example, and followed it he was blessed .

When I asked my youngest boy what helped him to have a testimony, he said my older brothers and sister!K flowers

I smiled inwardly at this sweet response and asked him to explain a little more not thinking he understood my question.  He said, his older siblings teach him about Jesus, answer his questions and they can also get things from up high.

As I thought about his feelings I was humbled to recognize that each of us has an Elder Brother who teaches us, provides the ultimate answers to our questions and who provided a way in which we may be lifted up to great heights.

Consider if you will what Linda K Burton of the General Relief Society says, Three principles of the Atonement that will increase our faith in Jesus Christana flowers

1. All that is unfair about life can be made right through he Atonement.

2. There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples.

3. The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of the Father’s love for his children.

In addition to these wonderful points we can draw great strength from the power of prayer.

eno sunflowerIt has provided a constant source of guidance and comfort which has been vital in reinforcing gospel principles at home.  As we go to our knees with soul searching questions regarding children and home, each petition to the Lord draws us closer to Him and understanding his will.  Prayer is a powerful tool, I will often listen to the prayers of my children to understand their hearts.  As I hear them I can sense where their spiritual development, if they are growing a deep relationship our Heavenly Father or if they are in need of encouragement to pause and focus on what matters most.e sunflowers

In a similar vein you can teach important truths while on bended knee as we ask in faith for particular blessings for each of the children by name.  We started doing this, years ago and I smile as they now do this for each other in our family prayer.  It is touching to see children who were squabbling moments before to humbly ask for specific blessings on behalf of their brother or sister.

There have been moments in our family where a child is not interested in council from us, they have however never refused when I knock on their door with a bowl of ice cream, as I insist we ask for a blessing over the ice cream I then take that opportunity to ask our Father in Heaven to help them to understand specifics of the particular principle, essentially teaching lesson they didn’t want to hear.

I love our family and consider them a great treasure, there are however those times when even with our best effort and sincere prayer it seems nothing goes right, or yields the results we’d hoped for.sunflowers 1

It has been on bended knee usually in tears that our sweet Father reminds me that, I too am a child, His child.  This cue causes me to reflect inward, to feel sorrow for the times that I didn’t listen or obey, to recognize that I too have caused pain. Suddenly I understand Him better because of my role a parent.  He is all loving, His continued patience and faith in us teaches me to be strong in the face of serious times.

God’s love is strong and deep, more powerful than we can comprehend.kids sunflowerss

Richard G Scott offers some advice to those who love a family member who is not making good choices, he said,

That can challenge our patience and endurance. We need to trust in the Lord and in His timing that a positive response to our prayers and rescue efforts can occur. We do all that we can to serve, to bless, and to submissively acknowledge God’s will in all things. We exercise faith and remember that there are some things that must be left to the Lord. He invites us to set our burdens down at His feet. With faith we can know that this straying loved one is not abandoned but is in the watch care of a loving Savior.  

“‘No other success can compensate for failure in the home. … The poorest shack … in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than [any other riches]. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles. … Pure hearts in a pure home are always in whispering distance of Heaven’”  DAVID O MCKAYflowers girlss

There is a perfect plan for strong, beautiful families; it does not involve a check list of accomplishments but a simple implementation of precious eternal principles.ana sunny

Children, Family Fun, My farm, Uncategorized

My Farm: Auction Newbie Comes Home With 3 Calves And A Dying Goat

fences 1Our first time buying livestock at an auction!!  What a fun(ny) adventure that was!!

Since our fences were almost up, and some sweet neighbor gave me a flock of newly hatched chicks, my sister, brother and I decided to venture to the local animal auction to see if we could pick up a few more birds.  My brother lives in town (and they don’t allow chickens 😦 ) so I told him that I would love to house a few birds for him.  My sister lives beside me, so we like to do as much together as possible to share the stress, research, and work. chickens Unfortunately there were not too many chickens at the auction and so we naively went to check out what livestock they had there.  While touring the maze of stinky barn stalls my brother asked me if I would go in on a cow with him.  I had seen a few babies go for about 50 dollars so I agreed on the condition he figured out how to get it to my yard, helped me finish the fences and build a shelter for it.  If he did that, I agreed to pay for half the animal (and feed) and feed the cow.  I also informed him that I only had 50 dollars to spend total that day and reminded him that each calf we get will probably need about 150 dollars worth of milk replacer if they are still bottle fed!!

With new purpose we sat down in the front row.  This was the third auction I had watched and felt confident that I would not get caught up in the moment. Ha!!!  Little did I know I was about to embark on the ride of a life time.  By this time, my sister-in-law and my little nephews had arrived and we made a bit of a stir trying to squeeze them into the front row of an already full room.

One by one the animals came in.  Scared, dirty and confused, they got hustled through one door-pushed around a bit and sent out the next door to meet their new fate.  They started with goats.  This obviously was not the goat crowd because the goats were going cheap.  100, 100, and 50,50, and 20, 20,20 SOLD!!!  My brother got so excited.  On and on the goats shuffled through the gates and finally one last goat came in.  She was all alone, very scared, skinny and pregnant.  First she walked forward, the auctioneer kept lowering the price and nobody had started bidding yet.  Then the goat turned about and the whole audience gasped. DUSTIN GOAT There before my eyes was the biggest bulge I had ever seen.  It was NOT natural and couldn’t believe anyone would even attempt to sell this goat.  Who in their right mind would buys such a sickly, abused problem goat?  SOLD!!!  The auctioneer announced pointing to my brother.  Grinning proudly he bragged “I got her for a dollar!”  His wife squeeled in disbelief when she realized it was her husband who was bringing that goat home.  I tried to hush her (thinking that my brother just spent a dollar for a walking problem but not wanting to make him feel worse than he would be once reality sunk in-something was definitely wrong with that goat) and hoped that nobody else noticed that we just bought the worst animal at the auction.  It didn’t work, everyone was staring at us and smirking.

Gratefully the cows started coming in through next.  In came a mad bred cow.  She was snorting, she was huffing, she was racing around the room glaring at us all.  My son and nephew backed off as far as they could go, and to the amusement of on-lookers, two  clamoured to the next row back. I just sat as still as I could-she was scary.  Then came calves.  You do not know how delighted we were when we bid on a calf and actually won the bid at 110.  two cows feedingsThere were three in the lot and we picked biggest of the three. As they were leading our calf out, I heard my brother ask if we could take the medium calf for the same price.  The auctioneer agreed and I was secretly thrilled to have two calfs.  I couldn’t believe I was the proud owner of two calves.  If my husband was here he definitely would not have been impressed, but somehow, sitting beside my two equally naive optimistic siblings it seemed perfectly wise.  Then to make matters better, the auctioneer started off the bid for the last of the three calves and nobody was biting. . . except my sister who slyly got the third calf for 20 dollars!!  Wow!! What fun!! ana feeding cows We were delighted (except my sister-in-law who kept asking us ‘Why do we need three cows?’ to which nobody had an answer to).

I would have liked to stay and watch more of the auction, but the truth of our situation was quickly sinking in.  Here were were, owners of 5 chickens, a goat and three cows and no way of getting them home!!  My resourceful brother took it all in stride.   With more class than I would have imagined he coolly showed up to pick up his livestock a few hours later with a rented u-haul trailer!!  We had got looks when we bought the calves, and those looks got better as we drove off leaving a trail of calf urine leaking out the floor of the trailer.  We didn’t care.  It was so fun doing things together, and laughing at ourselves and enjoying the moment.  Unfortunately we were not prepared for what awaited us back home.3cows

Since my sister is pregnant, my brother sent her home with his wife to rest and get our families prepared.  Five hours after purchasing our calves we drove up to “The Land”.  The kids were all eagerly waiting to see our purchases but my sister was not so pleased. “Did you know. . .” she began the minute I got out of the suburban “that Houlstein cows are the most dangerous cows out there?  Did you know they killed a thousand people last year.  And the bulls are the worse, they are nasty, they just turn on you the minute you aren’t looking.  And I read on the internet. . .” she continued hardly pausing for a breath “THE BOTTLE FED BULLS ARE THE WORSE!!!”.  She stopped and stared at me, letting that statement hang in the air before asking “Did we get bulls or heifers??” I stopped too and admitted sheepishly “I don’t know”.  My brother opened the door and to our dismay three skinny (they looked better at the auction), scouring bulls stumbled from their confinement (we had stopped often to open the back and let fresh air in).  “That’s it!” my sister cried “everyone out of the pen.  These bulls are going back.”baby eating cow

“They can’t go back” I argued “nobody is going to buy three skinny sick calves.  We have to at least fatten them up a bit.  Maybe if we casterate them they won’t be so bad.”

My sisters face lit up “That’s right the internet said that if you casterate them they change from being bulls to being girls.”

I was working with the goat when she said that and stopped “They DO NOT turn into the girls” I countered

“Yes they do” she insisted “I read it on the internet!”

“Dear sister of mine” I scoffed (yes I need to be gentler) “there is no way that casterating a bull turns them into a female.  Haven’t you read the proclamation to the family-gender is part of our pre-mortal existence”

She laughed “I know but the internet said “if you casterate a bull it becomes a steer!”.  I burst out laughing then, and was pleased to at least know that “a steer is a casterated bull-not a female cow”.  Good naturally my sister laughed at her mistake.

“Fine, but I am asking Brother Still (a local rancher) to tell us what to do. He is already on his way because I called him about milk replacer, and he called the feed store and convinced them to stay open longer so we can pick up so we can pick it up.” she retorted, still upset.Et feeding baby cow

Well it wasn’t long before Brother Still showed up.  Without even cracking a joke or smile he looked over our ‘herd’.  “Brother Still, what should we do with all our bulls” my sister  asked desperately (my sister is very dramatic).  With this question he looked over at her still poker faced and responded “These are all heifers, not bulls!”   Everyone cheered at that announcement, though the adults were very embarrassed (but relieved).

Thankfully Brother Still educated us on cow anatomy, how to feed baby calves, how to keep them safe and healthy.  Everyone took turns feeding, petting and loving the poor scared creatures.  After Brother Still left my sister and I just looked at each other and laughed.  We sure have a lot to learn, and doing it together makes the whole journey way better!Daisy eating

Children, Devotional, Family Fun, Stories that Teach

The King and His Hawk

THE KING AND HIS HAWK

Once upon a time a great king was crossing the sultry desert. He had been hunting and now was lost. On his shoulder perched his trusted Hawk. Thirsty the King yearned for a drink, desperately he looked for a stream. After much searching he chanced upon a fountain of clear water. Kneeling down he was about to drink the water, when out of the sky the hawk swooped down and pecked his hand. The King was shocked at his hawks behavior but intent on getting a drink that he once again kneeled down to drink the water. Again, the hawk pecked at his hand. In a fit of rage, the thirsty king drew his sword and when the hawk came down the third time to knock the freshly dipped cup from his hand, the King killed the bird. With the dead bird laying on the ground the King bent one final time to get a glass of cool water to sooth his thrist. Just as he was about to drink the water the King noticed something in the water. It was a very poisonous dead snake. Instantly the King understood his hawks actions. A single sip of that water would have killed him. He sat beside the dead hawk and moaned, “I have lost you because of my blinding rage. All you were trying to do was to save my life!”

Family Fun, Food, Uncategorized

General Conference, A Feast For The Body And Soul

Every early April, my kids wake up early one Saturday morning thoroughly excited.  The feeling festivity and excitement is almost tangible, for that day begins the start of General Conference Weekend.  Without worrying about breakfast, kids tumble out of bed, and make their way to the table.  There before their excited eyes is their own personalized Conference picnic.  Eagerly everyone scatters to get dressed, get their buddies dressed and to prepare the room for our Conference Feast.

About 8 years ago, when I was struggling to juggle the needs of four kids-the oldest only being 6 years old, I lamented to my husband that General Conference time was missing that special feeling I felt listening to the words of God should have.  For the last 6 years we had tried all sorts of things to make it so that my husband and I could listen to the speakers and their inspired words of wisdom they prepared so thoughtfully for us.  I always felt that Conference time was mediocre at best.  I was grateful to know that I had the internet available so that I could, at a later time, listen by my self to the talks.  As my husband and I discussed our vision for this time of the year, we both felt strongly that the feeling of anticipation and excitement was definitely lacking with our children.  Through much prayer and study, we came up with a plan that has changed the whole feeling in our home.

First, we changed our own perspective of General Conference.  Together, we decided that watching General Conference live would be the time that we focused on the children.  Our whole objective would not be how many notes we could write, but how positive of an experience we could make this for the kids.  That meant that  during conference, while we insisted the kids were reverent, we spent more time talking to them during conference, paraphrasing the stories or doctrine for the kids as they were being told during conference.

Next we started increasing our kids anticipation by talking about General Conference weeks before it was to happen.  We would gather crayons, paper and print out home made ‘conference bingo’ cards.  We made sure we showed them pictures of the Prophet and apostles.  My husband is good at remembering fun stories from past conferences, and with the recent years, we make sure we put on lots of ‘General Conference Stories’ an wonderful podcast for kids (and adults).  We also make sure we go shopping for lots of food.

Since General Conference is definitely a weekend where we get to spiritually feast on the words of Christ, I naturally thought of making it a time for us to feast physically.  This is by far my kid’s favorite thing to prepare for.  We make lists together, hunt up new recipes, go shopping and prepare days and sometimes weeks in advance.  While this takes work, it has been a great way to strengthen relationships and build memories through righteous traditions.  After the feast is prepared, our kids have the freedom to eat any time they want to during conference.  This has helped keep them quiet while watching.  We try to make healthy food for our feast instead of junk food and sweets so that we don’t associate feeling sick with Conference 🙂  As we have experimented with different kinds of ‘feasts’ we have found giving the kids their own personalized picnic basket full of food and a garbage bag minimizes the need to get up, lets them eat at their own pace, gives them a place to keep their food (and mess) contained while they watch and take notes.

Finally, we realized that it is important that the words listened to during conference sink deep into our families heart.  After a few years of mulling over this issue, and trying different things we have found a delightful way to encourage thoughtful discussion and note taking.  To do this we collaborated with other families to set up an evening where the older kids (8 and up) could get together to share their feelings, thoughts, and impressions about conference.  We call it ‘Conference Sunday’ because afterwards the kids get sundaes as refreshments.  Knowing that they are expected to carry on the  encourage the older kids to write notes and discuss their notes with each other to prepare for the evening.  When we first started this tradition, the kids were very young, most just turned 8 years old.  These discussions ended up being mini-conference lessons that the mom’s did.  As the years have passed on there has been a decided shift from parents doing most of the talking to, parents doing most of the listening.  Though it is hard for me to be quiet about gospel subjects, I have been richly rewarded with my effort to ‘talk less and listen more’.  I have got insight into my kids’ minds that I otherwise would not have had.

All of these things to make Conference time special, have taken a lot of work and preparation on the part of my husband and I but the effects of this effort have been well worth it.  Many times during the years I have heard “I love Conference time”, “Yah it is Conference”, “Hurry clean the house so we are ready for conference” and lately I have heard more tender expressions of  “I love Elder Uchdorfs” talk” or “Remember that story last year. . .” or “Mom, when I hear the voice of the Prophet I feel his love”.   I hope that as the years compound upon one another until they truly come to hunger after the words of Christ.

Family Fun, Uncategorized

17 Super Fun April Fools Jokes For The Family, Friends and Neighbors

In our home, humor is appreciated.  With seven kids, 3 dogs and a dozen of cousins running around, you need a good sense of humor.  My oldest son especially has this sense of weird micheviousness about him.  His wit gets him into lots of trouble in classes (because he always is making wisecracks) but it also makes him able to enjoy a good joke.

Tricks And Fun At Home
Tricks And Fun At Home

I remember one year, his tooth fairy was a little late in coming because he didn’t write her a note. Frankly, he was too old to pretend to believe in a tooth fairy by this time, but he staunchly insisted that she needed to come and that he would write the note soon.  I was out with my girlfriends one day, and came across this shrivelled up fairy on sale.  It was really ugly and so I bought it.  That night I put it by his pillow with a note that basically said “I am sorry you have not written me a note for so long.  I waited and waited and while I waited I got very old.  As my time on earth is almost over I thought I would have a statue of me made for you to always keep and remember”.  When he woke up that morning and saw this ugly figurine he gave me this “Is this for real look?” I just laughed and laughed and laughed.  After his shock, he laughed and showed his friends the ugly gift he got from his tooth fairy.  His friends were kind enough not to mention that fairies weren’t real and they all laughed before throwing the figure down and running off to play.  As they left, I saw my 4 year old daughter grimacing at the fairy and then she said “Mom, I sure hope this fairy dies before my tooth falls out!”.  I still chuckle at that joke and every now and then when the ugly fairy pops up we all laugh.

With this in mind, it is no wonder my kids love April Fools day.  I have worked hard on helping them learn the difference between a mean prank and a nice one.  They all have to okay their pranks with me before they proceed just to be safe.  I am constantly reminding them that pranks should always be used to make the person being pranked upon feel happier. This take planning, but so far it has worked great in our home.  Last year we had a blast together.  We stayed up really late the night before and played a ton of pranks on their uncles and aunties.  They had a hoot.

Here are some of the pranks we pulled:

1) We sprayed cars’ with fake snow

DSC_0018 1

April Fools Day 2012
April Fools Day 2012

DSC_0015

2) Put a for sale sign up on my brother-in-laws new suburban asking only $1000

April Fools Day 2012
April Fools Day 2012
Fake For Sale Sign
Fake For Sale Sign

3) We made fake cupcakes out of spray foam and cocking

DSC_0051 1

Fake Cupcakes Aprils Fools Day 2012
Fake Cupcakes Aprils Fools Day 2012
Fake Cupcakes April Fools Day 2012
Fake Cupcakes April Fools Day 2012
Bathroom Filled With Newspaper-April Fools Day 2012
Bathroom Filled With Newspaper-April Fools Day 2012

4) We snuck into an aunties house during a party and filled her bathroom up with crumpled newspaperDSC_0021 2

5) We toilet papered one of the cousins back yard

6)  We filled an elderly neighbors freshly turned garden with fake flowers

Cookie Noodles And Sauce
Cookie Noodles And Sauce

7) We made home made spaghetti and sauce out of cookie dough and jam, and brought it over to our neighbors.

It was one of the funnest outings I have had with my kids for a long time.  They laughed so hard and I have to admit that it made me feel like a teen-ager again (I used to do such fun silly things).

Not to let my kids down, the next day was General Conference, and for their ‘conference feast’ I played all sorts of tricks.

1) I put makeup on all of them when they were sleeping 🙂

2) I opened their chips bags and filled them up with carrots, resealing them so they didn’t know until they opened the bag.

Fake Cupcakes, Jello Eggs, Jello Juice, Pre-sliced Banana's, Tricky Chips
Fake Cupcakes, Jello Eggs, Jello Juice, Pre-sliced Banana’s, Tricky Chips

3) I cut their banana in pieces using a needle (so when they opened it it was already sliced).

4) I made them jello drinks.

5) I toilet papered their bedrooms.April Fools Day toilet papering boys room

6) I actually even hallowed out some eggs, and taping the bottom hole shut, filled the egg with jello!!

For me it was so fun dodging their pranks

1) They put food coloring on my toothbrush (my toothbrush was green for months).

My Toothbrush Was Green For Months

2)  They stuffed their Daddies shoes with toilet paper so it felt really tight when he put them on.

3) They turned the toilet different colors (thanks to easter egg dye).

4) They froze water in the breakfast bowls and then covered the top with cereal so when we went to eat our food we hit ice.

Our jokes became the talk of their friends and cousins.  This year all the youth and kids came to me for advice on new pranks to pull on new  ‘victims’ friends.  Some of our new ones to try are:

1) I got my toothpaste tube filled up with salad dressing-yuck-he was supposed to do that one on his siblings NOT me!!

Mine Was Full Of Salad Dressing-Yucky April Fools Day Prank

2) My 10 year old son made a pan of Brownies for breakfast.  He made a treasure map and when the kids get them they are going to see a pan of ‘Brown E’s’ 🙂

3) We are buying some oreo cookies and replacing a bunch of the middles with toothpaste 🙂

Yummy Toothpaste Oreo Cookies April Fools Day

4) This morning, when I woke up the whole living room was turned around, couches upside down, picture frames backwards ect. . . (they thought of that one all by themselves)!

5) For lunch I am making grilled cheese sandwiches out of white cake and icing.

Grilled Cheese Pound Cake April Fools Day

6) For our neighbors we are going to hand out a plate of ‘sponge cake’ -a decorated cake with a sponge in the middle.

My sisters were wondering why I spend time on such foolishness.  While I admit, I really love tricking my kids, it is actually more work than I normally would want to do.  The reason why I do do it, and why I am going to start planning better for such shenanigans in the future (my kids are getting older and tired of the normal tricks) is because of the bonding that happens with my kids and I over it.

Having them come to me in secret to get a new idea, or share with delight in what they figured out themselves is priceless.  Hearing them laugh at their sweet tolerant uncles and aunts not only make my kids like their relatives better-it helps form a history of stories to share with each other in the future.  Not only that, my kids’ friends have started to come to me for idea’s, which bonds their friends to me (which helps bond my kids to me 🙂  )  Like Gordon Nuefeld says, there is a ‘collecting dance’ parents and adults need to constantly do with their kids in order to keep them close.  This dance takes time, effort and lots of ‘thinking ahead’.  While this dance is definitely worth doing, it can be exhausting, especially with 7 kids.  I have found though, that the more effort I put into this dance, the more I realize that Sister Hinkley was right when she counselled to her daughter that “It is the relationship that matters most”, and the easier parenting gets.  Unfortunately I don’t always remember this.

Too often I let undone chores, messy school work, untrained dogs and ‘a problem to be solved, matter more than a person to be loved’.  Not only does focusing on ‘outcomes’ with my kids wreck havoc on our relationship, it also makes parenting harder to do, which ends up causing a cycle of destructive parenting ‘skills’ to be used (time out, grounding, missed privileges ect. . .).  When I watch an amazing mother at work, like Michelle Dugger for instance, I notice constantly the kindness and love in which those mothers are using when directing and interacting with their kids.  Often I am more like a military sergent, “do this”, “do that”, “not good enough” and “hurry up” are said way too much in my home.  To help combat that I try hard to follow the Arbinger Parenting Pyramid-repeating often “It is the relationship that matters most”.

Arbinger Parenting Pyramid

In Abridgers Parenting Pyramid, it is important to remember that if what you are doing is not working well, the answer lies in the level below it.  For instance, if you find that your kids aren’t wanting to be ‘taught’ by you, you need to work on your relationship instead of looking for more ways to teach.  Or, if you find that your relationship with your child is poor, you need to focus working on your relationship with the child’s  significant other first-which in my case would be their father.  When the problems on the level below are solved, often you will find that the problems on the level of concern have been taken care of.  While very simple, this pyramid has been one of the building blocks of my parenting philosophy.  It has helped me diagnose the ‘real issues’ with my kids when nothing else seemed to work.  It also has reminded me over and over the important role taking care of my relationship with my Heavenly Father through daily scripture study, it reinforces my desires to make sure my husband and I are strongly connected, and it is a constant reminder for me to take time to build my relationship with my children (instead of constantly focusing on their mistakes and correcting them).

April Fools day-or pulling harmless fun pranks is a great way to build these relationships as long as every one plays nice.  We have some very clear rules about playing jokes.

1) Can’t wreck anything

2) Can’t hurt anyone

3) Must be something that makes the recipient feel good, and laugh.  Some jokes are funny for some people and not so for others, we talk about each person we prank to be sure they will like it.

With these rules, my family has formed a great tradition of laughter, creativity and fun.

Devotional, Family Fun, Holidays, Uncategorized

Free Download Holy Week Pictures and Scriptures

Today I read a brilliant talk explaining some of the lessons we can learn studying the last week of Christs life-known as the Holy Week.  The yucky flu is running around our home, so tomorrow, instead of going to church I am going to discuss this talk with the kids.  I have really been wanting some pictures and scriptures to put up depicting Christ’s last week, known as the Holy Week.  Since I couldn’t find any already done, I did some my self.

Holy Week Sunday
Holy Week Sunday
Holy Week Monday
Holy Week Monday
Holy Week Wednesday
Holy Week Wednesday
Holy week Wednesday
Holy week Wednesday
Holy Week Thursday
Holy Week Thursday
Good Friday
Good Friday
Easter Quote Saturday-Read The Intercessory Pray
Easter Quote Saturday-Read The Intercessory Pray
Holy Week Sunday
Holy Week Sunday
Holy week book free download
Holy week book free download
Family Fun, Holidays

Meaningful Christ-Centered Easter Traditions and Activities

FROM PAST YEARS AND FOR YEARS TO COME!

I started blogging because I needed a venue to put my thoughts, pictures, activities, and to share any exciting thing I stumble across.  I want to keep a record of what I am doing with my kids, what works and what doesn’t work.  So far I have enjoyed blogging more than I ever imagined I would.

Remember Easter Past
Remember Easter Past

With Easter just around the corner I wanted to create a space for my past and hopefully future traditions to help keep this holi-day Holy.  I am grateful for the plethora of idea’s others have shared to help keep the holi-days, especially Easter and Christmas, Christ focused.  Reading their idea’s and experiences has helped me be more deliberate in my celebrations (for instance, this is only the second year in a row that I actually thought about Easter more than then week before).

Morning Devotionals are the one thing I try really hard to do each day, especially during Christmas and Easter. Last year I made up some devotionals for the week before Easter and I still refer to them.

Some of our favorite Easter activities-many coming from the devotionals are:

Orange Oil Lamp-clean out a half orange leaving behind the white pithy part (kinda hard-better with a thick peeled orange). Pour in olive oil and light.

–Making Clay lamps- if you let them dry they really work.  We also make lamps out of orange halves 🙂

Easter Tree Tutorial

—Putting up our Easter Tree-we love to put it up and decorate it with different clay doves that represent the “Names of Christ” (over 200), and other objects the testify of Christ and His mission-this year I found some branches that light up at our local thrift store.  We just glued tissue blossoms on them and ‘ta da’!!

Repentance Box Tutorial and free graphics

—Putting out our repentance box-it doesn’t get used as well as it should-I need to work on recognizing my sins and repenting of them better.

Clay doves tutorial

—Making Clay dove and stamping them with different ‘Names of Christ’

—Writing in our Easter Journal-Each year we try and write things we are grateful for during the Easter season.  We pack these journals away each year and bring them out at Easter.  It is so fun to read what we wrote there.

Drawn by my 10 year old niece
Drawn by my 10 year old niece

—Easter Art-Spring is a time of creation and birth.  We celebrate this by making unique Easter art each year.  My kids love painting, getting messy and creating.

—Memorizing the Living Christ-We have been working on it for two years and this year I think we will nail it thanks to our inspired Bishop who suggested that we all memorize it as a ward 🙂

Easter Garden
Easter Garden

—Planting a Easter Garden-Early in the month we plant an Easter Garden with wheat grass and any available potted plants-this year we planted tulips, it will be interesting to see if they will grow.  Last year I filled part of my Easter Garden up with crushed Oreo cookies and used it to teach a lesson on faith.  My kids still remember and requested for that lesson again 🙂

Easter Quill Pen
Easter Quill Pen

—Making a Quill Feather-One of the ‘Names of Christ‘ is Author and Finisher.  We love making our own ‘pens’ out of feathers, and ink out of berries or juice.

—Learning about the Apostles-Since Easter always comes around the time General Conference is held, we spend much of the month learning about the lives of different apostles

Ukrainian Easter Eggs
Ukrainian Easter Eggs

—Dying Easter Eggs-Since Jesus died for us, we make sure we spend a few different days during Easter to ‘dye’ for him too 🙂  We do normal dying and dying Ukrainian Easter Eggs.

Click for a free download

—Participate in a Passover type activity-Some years we do a mini passover, meaning, we eat lamb, bitter herbs, ect.  . . and discuss the symbolisms.  Other times we do a big dinner with a script, and other times we do a passover rotation activity.  During the passover rotation activity, 5 adults make passover stations where different families can come one at time to learn about the ‘four questions’, blood of the lamb ect. . .  We ask participants to dress up (now you know why I like it) in a biblical (AKA-bathrobes) garb. It is really great.

—Singing-We love to sing to the Elderly, especially at holiday times when they may be especially lonely.

—Secret Service-We try doing as much secret service during Easter as we can.  This usually is done in the form of making goodies, and dropping them off at someones house, ringing the doorbell and running.  My kids want any excuse to do this.

—Family History-Since Easter is all about the Atonement and Resurrection, I think doing family history work, indexing or learning about your ancestors is a great way to celebrate the fact that the Savior ‘broke the bands of death’.

—Visiting our neighbors baby lambs-This is one of my kids favorite activities.  They love visiting the lambs, and if possible feeding them. It is one of my favorite too.

—Watching Ten Commandments-Sometimes we just watch the ‘Passover’ part, or we did one year watch “The Prince Of Egypt” and the kids really like that 🙂

Wrap pastry dough around large marshmellows and cook

—Resurrection rolls-On Easter Sunday night we made resurrection rolls last year.  We just made a yummy white bread roll recipe and wrapped the dough around a big marshmellow.  This sight shows you and even easier way to do it.

Recently, while browsing the internet I came across a blog that listed a whole slew of websites that have idea’s to make Easter more Christ centered.  I have spent a little time on the different sights and can’t wait to try some of their ideas, especially the one about visiting a family grave on Resurrection Monday.  I love it when someone does all the work for me when planning activities.

Devotional, Family Fun, Food, Holidays, Uncategorized

Lamb of God-Christ Centered Easter

Cousins
Cousins

I was driving home from cubs when I caught a glimpse of my sister disappearing into her vehicle.  I wondered out loud where she was going, and then remembered.  Earlier she had issued an invitation that I barely acknowledged, caught up as I was in the state of my house and my empty stomach.

Now,  I had a chance to replay our conversation.  What a gift that invitation represented, and how ungratefully I had responded.  Ashamed, I rushed home and gathered my crew.  “Our neighbor has a whole batch of new lambs and wants us to come and help feed them”.  My kids roared with excitement.  With squeals of delight and a mass of confusion and chaos, we found ourselves loaded and on our way.

The farm smelt of sweet musty hay.  The salt of the earth neighbors greeted us warmly and showed us the sheep.  Those lambs, so small, so energetic eagerly came to the kids hands, sucking on fingers and nibbling on boots.  A little black lamb was picked up and passed from child to child. The noise was deafening.  Bleeting and snorting mingled well with the squeals and laughter of children.  It was warm outside, and even warmer inside.

Drawn by my 10 year old niece
Drawn by my 10 year old niece

Once the kids were tired out of holding lambs, mimicking mothers, petting horses, chasing puppies and wading through mud, we moved to the backyard.  The sun’s slow descent painted a blush on the cheeks of the sky.  In it’s rosy light, the kids jumped and played tag, thoroughly enjoying each other and the crisp mountain air.

Parents discussed trees, sheep, wind and gardens until it was time to return home.  Tearfully kids gave hugs, ran around the yard one last time and then tumbled back into the suburban.

Surely He was Without Blemish
Surely He was Without Blemish

We talked of lambs, of spring, of hope and of THE LAMB.  Why did Christ come to earth ‘like a lamb’.  The Lamb of God, so pure and innocent, calls each of us.  His invitation is clear; it is sincere.  As stated in the LIVING CHRIST, “He entreats all to follow his example”.

This Easter, our family committed to do all we could to come closer to the Savior and follow Elder Holland’s Easter plea:

That these scenes of Christ’s lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosain our present day. . . —may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,”  for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.