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Monday, February 26, 2018

Who Built the Ark?

Brother Noah Built the Ark! That was the song we sang as Amara played it on the piano tonight for family night.  It's found in a beginners piano book that we have.  Steve was in charge this week and he just taught Amara's class about Noah's Ark yesterday in primary, so he decided to extend his lesson into our family home evening. 

We paired up and we were told that our team had 10 minutes to learn all we could about the story of Noah and the Ark.  Amara and I were a team and we grabbed her scriptures and I showed her how to use the "Guide to the Scriptures" found in the back of her new Book of Mormon.  We looked up Ark and found that the stories were in Genesis 6-8.  We read about half of that and Amara inserted the things she had learned in class to help me understand.  Then, Steve called time and we all gathered for the game.

 Steve downloaded an app called "Guess Up," kinda like the game "Heads Up," except you can make your own topics and cards, and he had made one for Noah's Ark.  It was really fun! 

It was also fun for me to review some of the details found in the scriptures.  7 pairs of "clean" animals (the ones they would eat- those that "chew the cud and part the hoof") and only 2 pairs of the "unclean" boarded the ark.  Mom asked, "Why didn't they bring the fish on the ark?"  She's always making us laugh! 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Love Abounds- Valentine's Celebrations

This photo was taken only a few hours ago. Steve and I went to China Star for a romantic yet budget-friendly dinner of delicious king crab legs (me) and General Tao's chicken (Steve)!
My mom had volunteered to take the girls out to dinner when she got home from work so that Stephen and I could go on a date. Mom ended up taking the girls to McDonald's where Lily ordered a hamburger, Amara ordered a cheeseburger kids meal, and Grandma ordered a "kidney sandwich." She was playing a joke on the person taking the order. They laughed I think. Then she really ordered their Pico guacamole burger and a fish fillet sandwich. When she went to the window to pick up the food, she asked if she could have a rat with that! Boy, isn't she funny!

When everyone got home, we watched The Studio C Valentines special. We're all pretty tired from a full day of fun. 

This morning, I took the girls to the library for their Valentine's crafts and cookies.  We then went to a homeschooler's Valentine's party and played games and had fun exchanging Valentines. 

The girls got so much candy it's like Halloween all over again!

And yes, we did do some school today. We did a history lesson this morning learning about some of the Explorers like Amerigo Vespucci, Ponce de Leon, and Ferdinand Magellan. We also played the Explorers card game. We did reading and the girls worked on their entrepreneurship projects on the computer while I went with my companion to do some visiting teaching drop offs of Valentine's gifts to our sisters.

And yes, today was a sugar day. Makes me glad that I did Zumba this morning with the girls because my meal tonight came with a coconut cream pie!

The Valentining didn't begin today though. This past weekend, we had a ward adult's Valentine's dinner which the Relief Society presidency was in charge of (that's me) and my mom was in charge of decorating. Needless to say, I had a big hand and played a big part in getting this event together. It turned out lovely.

 We planned for a hundred but only 60 or so showed up, so there was a lot of food leftover for people to take home. I'm not complaining about that because I happen to love that food. We had Cafe Rio type salads or burritos depending on what you wanted to make with the sweet pork and all the fixin's.  We also had a decadent dessert bar which I made tiger butter fudge for.

My mom put a lot of energy and effort for that day and didn't stop to even drink water very much. The place was decorated like a wedding and it was beautiful! 

The elders were in charge of our entertainment for the night and they had us play a version of The Newlywed Game. We had a lot of fun with our Ward Family. I love activities like this when we can get together and get to know one another.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Good Ol' Family Council

 Family councils are something that our church leaders have told us to do. We have had family councils sporadically in our own home, and when we tried to set an exact time for family counseling, it wasn’t a habit so it usually fell through.  Sad, I know.  But, I want to do better.  And after our latest experience with family council, I'm a believer!

Frustrations Escalate

Our family attends the ward choir, not really because everyone wants to, but because the choir needs our voices.  The ward choir is something that I have felt strongly that we should participate in as a family.  I have had difficulty with trying to get everyone on board.  Because Stephen is trying his best to support me in this, the girls pretty much have no choice because they are left at church anyways, so they might as will participate.  Lily has come to grips with this and has stopped complaining, but Amara has fought it every week, and has made her will known by several different means. Sometimes she would sit by me but would slump in the chair and mumble instead of sing, or purposely sing like a tone deaf monkey, sometimes she wouldn’t sing at all and would just sit silently, sometimes she’d curl up in a ball on the chair and pretend to fall asleep, and very rarely did she put any effort forth in trying to be a good choir member.  There was no punishment for her lack of participation, only a scolding if her behavior was too rude.  There was just an expectation that she would participate because her mother asked her to and because we were doing this as a family.  I’d do my best to ignore her groans, eye rolling, etc..  Instead of reprimanding, I'd politely ask her to sing with us, to no avail.  Sure, when we'd perform, she'd sing because everyone was watching, but week after week was an incessant complaint session followed by disrespectful and sometimes obnoxious behavior.

She would often use the excuse that she was hungry or tired, both of which were probably true, because we all feel that way after a three hour block meeting that begins at 11 and ends at 2pm. To stay an extra 45 minutes feels like a lifetime. I get that. Steve gets that.  Yet we plow through.  But when we would get home, it’s not like she would immediately grab food and take a nap. No! In fact, when I would get food out of the fridge for everyone to dish up, she would often refuse it because she was already busy doing something else and wasn’t interested in eating.  And the only nap takers are Steve and I, and only on occasion.  So, I thought if she brought a snack, that would solve the issue. We tried that for few weeks, it didn’t help, because that really wasn't the issue.

Last month, she decided to exert her will further by not sitting with the choir and sitting a few benches away just so everyone knew she was not going to participate. And, she did not just sit there, she would turn around and face the choir and make a grimacing face and glaring eyes at me. I would ignore her evil looks and periodically motion for her to sit by me and with all the friendliness I could muster I’d encourage her to come sing with us.  She’d slowly and emphatically shake her head “NO,” and turn her back on me (and the choir) for around 60 seconds, then start the shenanigans all over again. It was rude. It was distracting.  It was embarrassing, and she knew it.

 I wanted to explode on her. I wanted to drag her out of those choir seats and lecture her till tears ran down her face. I wanted her to feel as bad as she was making me feel. But, I recognized that those lines of action would not be consistent with my beliefs and would land me on the floor repenting and regretting it all. But, I also knew I couldn’t just sit there anymore and ignore it. We had to talk about it. And it wasn’t just her that needed to talk. Our entire family needed it.

We got home from church and did our normal thing. Time went by and we were having a calm Sunday evening, everyone absorbed in their own device, alone, watching things and listening to things that didn’t exactly set this day apart from any of the others. It bothered me to see our Sabbath observance being something that only happened when mom "made us do it."  Yet, I was to be held responsible at the judgement bar of God for teaching my children to walk in the ways of righteousness and teaching wasn't something I was doing.  I was ignoring things because it was easier to not teach one more thing, and I felt alone, and I was either lazy or procrastinating or both.  Guilt trip.

Family Council

That’s when I decided it was time for a family council.  Of course, when I called the family together no one really wanted to do it, me included.  I just knew it needed to be done.  The kids dragged their feet and attitudes onto our king-sized bed (where the council would be held), assumed they were in trouble, and Steve sluggishly stowed his device away.  I began the council by stating there is a problem going on with with our Sabbath day observance and with Amara's participation in choir practice.  I wanted solutions and no one was in trouble.  I started asking questions to get the ball rolling, to get people to talk and put in their two cents.  It took some time for everyone to be comfortable ready to talk about things, but when they did start talking and sharing their souls with one another, we were finally able to make progress as a family!

We needed that talk to be able to get anywhere.  I asked Amara straight out what we could to so that she would want to come and participate in choir willingly, without complaint, every week. She said that Sundays are so boring and if she had something to look forward to like playing Star Stables computer game for one hour, then that would help.  I shouted, "Hallelujah!"  Yes, literally.  I held out my hand for her to shake and said "Done!"  It was a deal! She raised her eyebrows at me like she did not expect it to be that easy. She knew the rules against playing computer games on Sunday and so assumed it would be out of the question.

I remember our Stake President talking about how the Sabbath Day should be a delight and what that means. He had 10 children.  Do you think they went home after church and wrangled the kids to open their scriptures and read until bedtime?  Anyone with children knows that such a task would turn the Sabbath into drudgery, not delight.  And, it actually would be near impossible to have successful scripture study under such circumstances.  To "rest from our labors" for children might actually mean going outside to jump on a trampoline for half an hour with their siblings, or in our case, playing the Star Stables computer game for an hour.

Let me tell you, there was a lighter feeling among all of us sitting on our bed as a consensus was made. Our council lasted close to an hour, and Steve expressed how time is going too fast, and he wanted to go on dates with his girls each week!  So much good came out of this family council that I wish we had done it sooner! Now we can attend choir without complaints.  Now, the girls get to spend quality time each week with one of the earth's finest men, their daddy.  We've made some great changes and I now have a testimony of the importance and goodness that comes from family council.

Farkle is a game Steve and the girls played for a date night.  They had so much fun with it that the next night, when I was around, they wanted to play it all together.  It really was fun!  Steve may have broken the record for how many times in a row he threw a Farkle!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

One Year Older and Wiser Too! Happy Birthday to Me!

Rose from my mom, Gerber daisies from my Stephen (he also gave me a mango dark chocolate bar- yum)
 Well, I've enjoyed 36 years on this lovely planet.  I'm pleased to report my health has been good, and I'm so blessed with a wonderful family!  I felt so very loved on my birthday! 

My kids and husband made me breakfast in bed!  I had toast, bacon, an over easy egg, a yogurt parfait, and water.  Then, when I got out of bed to start Zumba with the girls, I was surprised by all the decorations around the living room including crepe paper strung from one end to the other with other dangling strands spaced along it and a shiny gift bow at the end of each of them.  But the biggest surprise was the homemade confetti Amara lovingly made and threw right in front of me as I came out!

Lily is behind the camera.  Picture is blurry, but Amara is bringing back my breakfast tray and she and Lily were getting set up to surprise me with confetti.
 Then, as if I hadn't already had enough surprises (which, by the way, there's never enough surprises), my mom comes waltzing in the door announcing she had taken the day off work and wanted to take me out to lunch out on the Wasatch Front.  So, since that's a couple hours drive away, we had to leave right away so we could eat and then be back before dinnertime.  I considered it.  It was a long drive, but I honestly had no other plans other than doing school with the girls, so we just cancelled that and hopped in the car!  I decided to eat in Provo at Sam Hawk Korean Restaurant. 
 During the drive out there, we contacted Micah and April to see if they could meet us for lunch, and we were so pleased that they both were able to come.  April even brought me a box of my favorite chocolates, Merci.

Amara is getting to be quite the artist.  She drew this frog on the napkin at the restaurant. 
 I've been craving Korean food for some time.  My sister-in-law, Missy, keeps inspiring my taste buds with her Facebook posts of the Korean goodness she gets to eat far more often than I do.
Side dishes: kimchi, spicy cucumber salad, sesame bean sprouts, sweet beans, braised potatoes. rice
 The restaurant is known online for it's good food, but also it's slow service at times.  I figured a weekday lunch would be good timing and hopefully they wouldn't be too slow because I knew my brother had to get back to work.  Neither of my kids seemed to be huge supporters of my choice to have Korean food for lunch, but I think I made both of them believers after having tried it.  Amara particularly liked the noodles.  Lily liked the pork bulgogi served with leaves of lettuce to wrap it.


Pork bulgogi

Spicy Fusion Chicken Kalbi with rolls of chewy rice cake, just a little spicy.  Perfect.

Beef Bulgogi
 We didn't have to wait too long before the side dishes came out (one of my favorite things about Korean food).  The dishes seemed to come out one at a time.  They would bring out one dish, then it seemed they would go cook the next one and bring it out, then they would go back and cook the next one and bring it out.  It almost seemed like a 5 course dinner the way they did things.  April ordered soup for her and Tommy and it ended up being the last thing that came out.
Tommy eating soup.  I love watching him eat.  And I love that he LOVES soup.
 We were all very pleased with our food and the company was priceless.  When we finished, we went to the Asian market so we (I) could stock up on Kimchi!  And of course, we ended up stocking up on a bit more than Kimchi.  I found Vietnamese Lemongrass Salad dressing (SO GOOD!), Pho bouillon cubes, wombok, lau lau, and kimchi dumplings (WHAT?  That's a thing!).  Amara bought her favorite little cookies called "Hello Panda."

Another little birthday blessing was the chance to hold my little nephew that always gives me smiles.  He's soooo precious!

And, I think I'll note here that this winter has been remarkably dry and warm.  It made it easy for us to travel and make this impromptu trip.
Amara snapped our picture right outside the Asian market.
Then our 2 hours were up and we had to get back home, after all, we had sushi from the store awaiting us for dinner.  When I got home, there was a bouquet of gerber daisies waiting for me with a delicious chocolate bar with mango bits.  Another surprise!  And this one from my dear, loving husband.  I felt so bad leaving him having to work while I went out on the town for a day of fun, but he didn't see it that way.  He was just happy for me and glad that I got to have fun on my birthday.  He's really the best!

I was looking forward to my birthday dinner the night before, but it actually was a bit dried out and hard being a day old on my birthday (sushi is really best fresh).  It still tasted good, but after such a flavorful and filling lunch, dinner didn't need to be amazing.  We were all still so full that we really only ate a little of the sushi.  I ended up giving the rest to my neighbors.

Earlier, I had found a recipe in a cookbook I got from the library (Six Sisters' Stuff Desserts) for No bake Nutella Cheesecake.  It had a chocolate cookie crust, a thick nutella-cream cheese filling and a rich ganache layer on top.  It was delicious.  It was also so very hard to eat because I was still full from lunch.  I only had a couple bites, but it was all I needed.  It was perfect.

The next day as I went on visits with the Relief Society presidency I got to take home my birthday gift, a sweet little rice bag I can use as a heat pack or an ice pack.  These are what the Relief Society president has made to give out to everyone for their birthdays.  I'm a huge fan, they're so cute and perfect.  She also gave me a a little angel figurine made by Willow Tree.  I have a small collection of those and I do love them.  It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift.

So, all in all this birthday was full of wonderful surprises and I thank all my family and friends for making it so special! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

RS Activity: Stop the Bleed

I'm the new 1st counselor in the Relief Society presidency of the Ballard North Ward serving with Marne Tucker (president), Melinda Hicken (2nd counselor), and Leslie Thorne (Secretary).  With this new calling comes new responsibilities, one of which is the weekday Relief Society meetings.  FUN! 

The first few activities were already planned, including January's activity- Stop the Bleed.  We had Bro. Ken Womack (RN, Paramedic) come and teach us about how to control bleeding in emergency situations and when and how to use a tourniquet. 

I used smilebox to create this flyer.
We provided a children's class and invited spouses/ friends to attend.  The children's class was in the primary room and my two sweet daughters agreed to be babysitters.  We set up a TV with Charlotte's Web playing, had a few games available (twister, candyland, twister hopscotch), and a coloring table.  I sent around a sign-up sheet in the Young Women's class on Sunday for more babysitters, but no one signed up.  However, I was told by Sis. Phelps that her 2 daughters would be there to help.  Sure enough, when 7:00pm rolled around, those two girls joined my 2 girls to babysit, and I'm glad they were there.  We had 6 kids ages 1, 3, 3, 6, 10, & 10.  According to Lily, one child was an escape artist who thought it was a game to leave the room.  One of the 10 year olds and his brother, a 6 year old, kept leaving the room, too, but not as a game, just to wander the halls.  So, these sweet babysitters had their hands full.  The one-year-old thought it was hilarious to watch the kids run around the classroom (playing tag) and she would laugh really hard every time a child passed her.

While all that action was happening in the Primary room, we were busy having a very informative evening in the gym where we set up a classroom.  We had 31 people in attendance, which is a really great turn out for us.  As people came, they could grab a plate of munchies (we did a munchies potluck), and find a seat. 

At each seat, we had a bottle of water, writing utensil, a short pop quiz they could fill out while they waited to begin.

Bro. Womack had set up a TV hooked up to his laptop with a Power Point presentation.  He also had a table at the front with some examples of tourniquets, trauma kit, and props for demonstration.

After his training, we had a table set up at the back of the gym for people to put together their own simple trauma kit that they could keep at home or in their car or emergency kits.  It included a dishtowel, scissors, gloves, 2 disposable tourniquets, and 2 packs of gauze all packed into a gallon-sized ziptop bag.

It was a fun and successful evening.  I'm looking forward to more classes like this!

I made sure our babysitters knew we really appreciated their help and gave them a little treat as a thank you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


This is my week for leading scriptures and family home evening.  On Sunday I chose to read a story about kindness from the January 2018 Ensign called "Letting Go of Contention."  It spoke of serving those who have done you wrong and we discussed how contention affects our access to God's spirit in our lives and the importance of doing all we can to welcome the holy ghost in our lives.  Sometimes that means doing hard things like forgiving those that don't deserve it and serving those we don't like, and letting go of contentious feelings. 

For FHE, I continued with the kindness theme and focused on Mosiah 4:30, the admonition to watch our thoughts, words, deeds, and keep the commandments.  I focused on the impact that unkind thoughts, words, and actions actually has.  We watched Vernie DeMille's (Steve's cousin's wife) 10 minute Youtube video about the "Rice Experiment" and how cooked rice responded to kind words and unkind words over a 2 week period.  

The findings were astonishing and the lesson was clear that our negative words can and do more damage than we realize.  We decided to make rice and do our own rice experiment for a couple weeks.  As per Steve's idea, we'll be putting our findings together in a video.  With the leftover rice we cooked for the experiment, we made a maple rice pudding for dessert and it was super yummy!  Everyone loved it, except mom who wouldn't even try it because she hates rice pudding so much.  
Maple Rice Pudding 
1 1/2 c cooked rice
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg beaten
1/3 c real maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
  1. Combine rice and milk in saucepan and stir over med-hi heat until thick and creamy (15 minutes or so).  
  2. Beat together egg and syrup well and slowly add to the thickened rice-milk mixture while stirring vigorously so it tempers the egg.  Cook another 3 minutes on med heat while stirring.  
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

For tonight's scriptures, continuing with my kindness theme, I read a story from the New Era about a girl who was able to console her sister who was sad about not being asked to dance by anyone at her 9th grade dance.

With the recent passing of our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, I felt the strongest message I learned from him was to just be kind to everyone, ourselves included.  I loved our prophet and I'm glad I could watch his funeral broadcast on the internet. 

Today, President Russell M. Nelson became our new president of the church.  I look forward to his service.  There's been so much change in the church for me lately since I was released a month ago as secretary of the relief society and then put in as the first counselor over weekday relief society meetings.  Then, they changed the curriculum for relief society and the mode in which we teach implemented this month.  Also implemented this month, they changed the visiting teaching program to having sisters rely fully on the spirit to guide their watch care and ministry.  And now we have a new prophet.  I'm honestly incredibly excited for all these changes and a little overwhelmed trying to implement everything and feeling like I'm not doing it right yet.  I know that's my conscience letting me know I need to let God in more, counsel with Him more, listen for Him more if I am to really take this responsibility I've been handed where He wants it to go.  So I'm gonna try my best. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father and I'm grateful for the many blessings they've bestowed upon me and my family.  This is a beautiful time to be alive with much amazing good going on including the preparations for the coming of Jesus, something we are privileged to take part in.  

Lily's FHE - God's Army

Remember God's Army?  It came out when I was a teenager and I realized the other day when I saw a clip from the movie that my kids hadn't ever seen it.  So, we got a free trial for the streaming of Living Scriptures movies and watched it for Lily's family night.  It brought back memories to Steve, me, and my mom of when we first saw it, the controversies associated with it, and the way it brought Steve back to the memories of his own mission life.  We had a nice discussion after the movie as we adults walked down memory lane and the kids listened to our stories. Steve told about how he had a companion that went home early from his mission.  Our kids love hearing their dad's stories.  He also reminisced how he and his companion set up an appointment with some girls only to give their info to the sister missionaries and have them go see them, just like what happened in the movie.

It was good to see it again, but now I'm a little nervous about having to cancel with Living Scriptures.  Steve said they are known for making cancellation a royal pain.