Sunday, March 31, 2019

Young Women New Beginnings- Welcome Amara!

 This year's New Beginnings for Young Women welcomed our very own Miss Amara!  With the recent changes to when children are advanced from primary into young women, my little Amara got to join the Beehives class as an 11 year old~ wow!  As soon as she could, she got a temple recommend and we went and did baptisms in the temple.  Everyone was amazed at how little she was.  She was one of the very first 11 year olds to enter our temple.  That's pretty special.  We went the very first day they were opened after the announcement.  She loved it so much and has wanted to go back every day ever since.  We've been a few times now.  I love her enthusiasm!

They introduced Amara with a spotlight she had filled out earlier.  I enjoyed seeing that her favorite food was oranges.  That's new to me!  She hardly ever chooses to eat them when we have them in the house.  She told me later that she just wrote that because she couldn't think of anything.
The gym was decorated with some hearts the beehives made for the event.  We all had a heart on our seat with a little written note.  The theme was "As I Have Loved You."
 Each of the young women had to come up and say something they loved about their parents.
 I don't remember everything that was stated, but I remember Lily loved me because of all I do to teach them at home.  And she loved her dad because he reads to them each night.
 Then they sang us their mutual theme song.
 Dessert was so many delicious homemade cookies!

 Oh yeah, they had the audience play a game and try to guess the young woman that the baby picture belonged to.  They had me submit a baby picture of Amara, which I couldn't choose just one, so I gave them all of these.  Most are poor quality because they're just screenshots from my phone as I snapped away at digital home videos.  But, isn't she SO CUTE?  I miss holding that tiny little thing.  I still love holding her, though.

Valentine's Day Dinner and Party

 Well, well, well...
Our special thing we did on Valentine's Day this year was a simple pizza dinner.  Mom mentioned she'd buy crab legs for everyone, but I thought we could keep it simple but still fun. 

I baked off totinos pizzas and cut them into shapes to resemble hearts.  While they were cooking, we ate our salads as an appetizer.  Then for dessert there were store bought cookies and cream puffs.
 Amara and Lily set the table for us. There were floating candles and colorful paper hearts.  Our tablecloth was a lavender-colored twin sheet and we used the heavy square dinner plates and bowls.

Salad appetizer

Mint-chocolate cookies and cream puffs for dessert

Amara and Lily planned a Valentine's Day party with their friends.  We did it on a Saturday at 10am, two days after Valentine's day, so more people could come and stay longer.  They played some really cute games, like hot potato, but with a bag of clothes and you had to put on something from the bag if the music stopped and you were the one with the basket in front of you.
 The clothes were all random things from my closet.

They also decided to heart-attack their Young Women's leader's house.  She had just had surgery near her eye, for skin cancer.  Poor thing.  So these sweet girls cut out a bunch of colorful hearts, wrote nice messages on them, then my mom and I drove them to their leader's house and the girls secretly taped the hearts everywhere.  When they got caught, they just told her to go back inside and they'd knock when they were done.

They did finish and when they brought their leader out, she was so sweet and her eye was swollen shut, and they sang to her:
"We love you Becky,
Oh, yes, we do,
We love you Becky,
We do,
Oh, Becky, we love you!"

It was such a sweet gesture my girls did with their friends.  I'm glad they thought of her and brightened her day. 

When they got home, Steve had been slaving over the waffle iron to make waffles for the 8 girls and us 3 adults, of course, and we were all ready to eat.  We had a waffle bar that included homemade berry sauce, whipped cream, chocolate chips, diced bananas, maple syrup, butter, and blueberries.
 The waffles were a hit.

After lunch anyone who could stay and play longer was welcome to.  Almost everyone stayed.  They played hide and seek in the house, went outside to jump on the trampoline, came inside and painted nails, went outside for a snowball fight... etc.  They all had such a fun time together. There were so many that stayed, that I was glad I had leftover soup to feed them all when they got hungry in the afternoon.  They all really liked the chicken noodle soup leftovers!  I ended up taking everyone home around 5pm.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Chore Callings in the Christensen Kingdom

Actual picture of the excitement and anticipation of the "big surprise" mom and dad were about to reveal.


We implemented a truly life-changing chore system.  It took a bunch of creativity, but luckily in this household, that is not on short supply.  I bet you're wondering how all this came about.  Well, it went something like this.

So, Steve and I talked about how we were doing a swell job of ignoring the growing issue in our home of chore meltdowns.  It shouldn't have to be this hard!  I've seen kids on TV who wake up before dawn cracks and they are stoking the fire and milking the cow with not a word of complaint.  After a couple hours of chores under their belts, they mosey in for breakfast with smiles on their faces and energy in their souls ready to begin their mile-long walk to school. Why wasn't that happening in my home?

Is it because we don't have cows to milk or a fire to stoke or a mile-long walk to school?  I think so.  So, it was time to come up with some cows to milk and fires to stoke.  A cow on our property would be impractical, especially a milk cow since we only go through about a gallon of milk per week, so I looked around and lo and behold, there was a floor to be swept, dishes to be done, books laying on the ground, shoes in the middle of the entry, and various half-finished projects strewn on every flat surface we owned.  "I think I found our cow." I thought to myself as the momentum began to build in my mind.  We would have a system of chores and we would commit to it as an entire family and it was going to be epic!

I got to work creating what I deemed a fair share of the chores.  I divided them into areas of the home and I created a sheet so we could remember what chores were ours.  Steve goes to work every week day, that's his chore.  On the weekend he is in charge of helping one of his children with their Saturday responsibilities, this way he gets some bonding time doing hard work with his kids, and he also can help train them on what a good job looks like.  
After I got everything organized and typed up, Steve and I talked it over and came up with a way to present it to everyone.  We called a family meeting on Saturday morning, which piqued everyone's curiosity, and we made sure to keep things secret so we could reveal it as a big surprise.  We brought out our book-safe and in it contained 4 small rolled-up scrolls of paper.  This was very official and everyone could tell we meant business!  Amara could hardly contain herself.  She couldn't wait to see what was on those scrolls!  Lily looked less than impressed, I think that's because she saw me printing our old chore prize sheet earlier that morning, so she had a clue-in on what this might be.

So, we let Amara go first.  She took a scroll and read, "You are hereby called to serve in the washroom region of the Christensen Kingdom..." She couldn't finish.  Steve and I began cheering loudly with much excitement for her.  She paused and realized this "surprise," was somewhat disappointing. Her smile turned from genuine to fake in about .3 seconds.   She went on to read, "You are assigned to labor in this region for this month.  Your responsibilies will include..." and it went on describing her chore mission.  She had to try hard to keep the tears from breaking from her eyes, but she accepted her call with the best attitude she could muster.  We then took the book of scrolls around to Lily, grandma, and me (Steve actually read mine because I was video recording this), and we each one by one read our calls aloud and cheered for one another.  

When all the calls were issued, we answered questions and laid out our expectations.  We then announced the opening of the Christensen Kingdom Store.  It is open on the 15th and last day of each month.  As daily chores are done, gold tallies are earned and may be spent on any number of goods at our store.  The kids helped come up with the store prizes themselves several months ago (when we tried a different chore system that was based online.  That worked for a whole week). We have our gold tally tracker and store prize sheets hung up on our wall in the kitchen.

We started that day, so everyone got to work on their Saturday chores and did a phenomenal job cleaning!  I am happy to report that this system has been in effect for over a month now and it has been amazing.  My kids know their responsibilities for the day, and they do them because if they put it off, it's more work for them and no gold. 

The first store opening was a hit.  Amara purchased a "candy certificate" for next time we were at the store, and a snow cone at the Soda Shack.  These are more special than before because we also have implemented a no sweets policy in our home unless it's a holiday.  Treats served at birthday parties or mutual are fine to eat a serving when you're there, but treats in our home are reserved for special occasions now.  We have even packed away the sugary sweets into a tote so they wouldn't be tempting. 

Lily decided to save her gold tallies so she could accumulate enough for some new cute boots.

Another win is the fact that our house is definitely cleaner and my load has been lifted.  I'm also really proud of my kids for doing housework.  It's building their character whether they realize it or not.  It warms my heart to walk into my bathroom and smell the lingering scent of clorox wipes and see Steve's pajama pants neatly folded on his hamper.  I melt when I grab a pan from the dishrack and it shines my smile back at me or I open the microwave and it's clean.  But what really makes me happy is seeing my family willing to work together to make our home a happier one. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Steve's 42nd Birthday

Steve has such a winning smile, doesn't he?  He should model it for millions, shouldn't he?
How does opening a gift on every 42nd minute of the hour sound to you?  Super fun?  We thought so too, so that's what we planned to do for Steve's 42nd birthday.  The girls and I bought him many small gifts so he could have something each hour.  We wrapped them all and had them on display on the TV stand for a few days prior to his big day.

To start his day off, Steve walked down the hall to the decorated living room.  Amara threw a container full of colorful homemade paper confetti in the air and it rained down right after he passed by, he's such a cheetah!

Then it was 9:42 and we had him open present #1.  It was the BEST!  Not the best present, just the best idea.  Until it wasn't.  After the present was opened we all felt this overwhelming void. Silence filled the room.  Time seemed to move like it was trudging through mud.  The next present was to wait until 10:42.  It suddenly seemed a dumb idea to wait so long.  So, we changed the rules.  New rule- we'd open a new present every 42 seconds!  Yes, much more fun.

Here's lotsa present pictures for you...

After opening his gifts, he decided it would be appropriate to eat his mini cookies as a breakfast.  He shared and with the girls ate these sweet bowls of bountiful British biscuits with milk poured over them.

Some other fun things we did for Steve's birthday-

  • We ate lunch at China Star
  • Played Scattergories
  • Watched Easter Parade (Steve likes to introduce us to old musicals)

For Steve's birthday cake, we had a brownie sundae bar.  Such a tasty celebration!
Lily's brownie sundae.

Steve is an amazing man.  He is kind and good and an enrichment to the lives of all who take a moment to get to know him and listen to his intricate ribbons of idea.  He is naturally curious and therefore a good person to ask a question to.  ;)  We love him lots and feel very blessed to have him as the man of our home.