Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Leila, Book, BBC

O.K., Leila update...the doctor did not seem too worried, so I will not be too worried. He even said to go ahead and put her back on cows milk. I personally think I am going to give that a little more time--we are going to stick with almond milk and formula for a while longer to give that poor little tummy time to feel better.

Also, the parenting book I am reading. It is...AMAZING! I can't hardly put it down. I love the ideas she presents. I am almost halfway through the book thus far. I'll write more about it later...

BTW, I love BBC movies. Why is it that British cinema is so much better the American Cinema? Sorry, I know that was way random.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Of California Poodles

Conversation between Arden and Maile while on a walk.

Arden: Look, it's a poodle!
Maile: It's a FRENCH poodle.
Arden: No it's not, it's a California poodle.

Too funny!

Time to Whip My Kids Into Shape!

The parenting breakthrough : a real-life plan to teach kids to work, save money, and be truly independent
Boyack, Merrilee Browne.

The above is the title of a book from the library that I have just begun reading. The author is a San Diego gal (also an LDS chick, it turns out!). The book appealed to me because the cover had a photo of a happy 10 year old swishing out a toilet with a bowl brush. I want my kids to be that happy toilet swishing kid, but we have a LOOOONNNG, and do I mean long way to go to reach that point!

So far I am loving the book. The author is so down to earth and humorous...and she lets her three year old kid make his own sandwich...on the kitchen floor...and she is O.K. with that!

I am so excited to see what her plan is to get kids to work, as that has been on my mind a lot lately. I've got great kids, but I am ready to be done with their ingratitude for all that we do for them--I think if they participate more with chores and learn to be more independent, they will appreciate things more. Maybe I'll just have Enoch crack the whip when he comes out here for a couple of months! Yeah, that's a good idea!

Progress report to follow!

Of Lifting Burdens

This morning, early, as I was sitting on the couch reading my scriptures, the kids both came in and snuggled next to me under the blanket. I have been studying about the atonement the last couple of weeks, and for the kids' enjoyment, I went to youtube to see if I could find anything that might be of interest to them on that topic. I found the following beautiful video. I love in the middle, the piercing words of Jeffry R. Holland, then especially Dieter F. Uchtdorfs words at the end. How blessed we are to have apostles and a prophet to rely upon for council and revelation in these troubled times of the world. It gives me great comfort to know that these men are in communion with the Savior, and will guide us as needed, to strengthen our families and protect us from the adversary.

Mounds of Chocolate!

What a great Valentine's weekend it has been. We had a delightful party on Saturday with some wonderful friends and neighbors, loads of good food, and great games for the adults and crafts for the kids. A huge thanks to all who helped make that possible!

Last night I invited all the neighbor kids over to make chocolates. (Did I mention, we have the best kids ever in our neighborhood? Well, we do!) It was so fun to pull out all my chocolate molds and do that with them. For the centers, I had made homemade caramel, Resees Peanut butter filling, and truffles. YUM! The kids had a ball, and we all stuffed ourselves with chocolate! I was hoping we would have a chance to go doorbell ditching with them to give some to our friends, but it got a little too late. Oh well, maybe next year!

Today has been a lovely Valentine's Day. I guess not the ultimate in romantic terms, but wonderful, nonetheless. I woke up just after 5:00 to make breakfast for a gal who is divorced--she has to leave every day for work at 6:00--eeks! I got back in plenty of time to read my scriptures for a bit, and go for a long walk before coming home to a lovely breakfast that Curtis made for that family. Last night Curtis and I made some fun Valentine's baskets for the kids, which we left on the table for them along with their Valentines from each other. It was so fun to see the joy and excitement on their faces when they walked into the living room and saw the table all decorated and pretty, with beautiful baskets waiting for them.

Oh, and did I mention, I have the most AMAZING husband ever? He is so sweet and good. This morning I found several love notes scattered throughout the house from him. He is so good to make me feel like a million bucks, even though I feel slightly frazzled most of the time, and just a step or two behind the game. He is never negative or belittling about things though. What a great guy I married.

How I love my sweet family. They bring me so much joy and happiness.

Of Families Forever

There is a saying in our church that when a boy leaves on a mission he comes back a man. It is so true. That two years spent as a volunteer serving people and serving the Lord, and teaching others about Christ in their own language really does something to one's soul. Where most 19 or 20 year old guys would be off partying at college, young men in our church are out serving, constantly thinking of others, helping out in many, many ways. I have a brother who is currently serving a mission in the Phillipines. He is there mostly on his own dime (with, I think, a little help from the folks!), and it is amazing to hear his stories, and hear about the spiritual growth he is experiencing. His stories of the natives also put me in awe when I think of our relative circumstances, and how very little the Phillipinos have compared to us. It makes me want to serve more and be better, to show my gratitude for all that I have.

My Dad sent the following e-mail out to the family last week,(I have edited out all the basketball news!) and I wanted it to be posted on my blog to be archived for my kids to read when we print this off. It is a beautiful reminder of what is important in our lives, and brought tears to my eyes when I read it. The talk is from a Phillipino lady--she gave a devotional recently at BYU. Anyway, enjoy, dear readers, and take a moment to ponder her message and it's significance for you, personally.
Here you are:

There is one more journey that my heart holds dear. It happens to be a story within a story, my family's journey of conversion. In the Book of Kings is an account of faith by a widow in Zarephath, who, in time of drought and famine, gave up her family's remaining food for the prophet Elijah:

...As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse...16

The gospel came in our lives at a time when we had been sufficiently humbled by trials. The most that we could literally offer at the altar was not even a morsel of bread for we had none, but our very faith. It was all that we had. Thus, I liken the widow at Zarephath to a widow in the Philippines, the widow of Tondo with seven children. She is my mother. Let me tell you our story....

Without a stable breadwinner and with seven children left to a mother without a job nor a college degree, our finances were tenuous. We grew up in poverty, not just income poverty, but also a scarcity of opportunities. We were too poor to get an education, but my mother persisted in her dream to have each of her children complete a college degree. She believed in the power of education to enlighten and transform lives, to equalize social standing, and as the vehicle out of our dismal circumstances. She borrowed money even at high interest rates to keep us in school. I remember rejoicing in being able to take exams (Yes, those were joyful not dreadful moments) because it meant that my mother was able to pay our tuition. Eventually, the only way for us to go beyond high school was to qualify for scholarships....

Four years after my father died, two young American men knocked on our door looking for my mother. They introduced themselves as missionaries. Behind them was a throng of Filipino children, fighting for their attention and calling out, "Hi, Joe." Under the sweltering Philippine heat, these young men stood out in their white shirts, and ties, and black briefcases that for us they looked like a toss-up between James Bond and CIA agents. I was about to tell them that my mother told me that she was not home when my mother's friends and their children, who came with the missionaries, showed up. My mom overheard and motioned to me to let them in. I quietly asked myself, "What are we getting ourselves into?" To invite these Americans was social suicide as my mom was known in our community for her staunch devotion to the dominant faith....

To our surprise, our mother listened to the missionaries. She even attended an area conference at the Araneta Coliseum presided by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball. That was an act of boldness to go against the predominant religion. This was the 70's. People's minds were strongly averse to changes. It must have exacted much willpower from my mother to stop drinking coffee and to stop smoking just because two foreigners, barely in their 20's, said so ---at a time when nicotine patches were unheard of. It must have taken real faith to part with a widow's mite for tithing....

What did the missionaries offer? They offered us the opportunity of knowing that families can be together even beyond death, ---something my father had always hoped we could be. The missionaries taught us that we have a Heavenly Father who knows each of us by name and who loves us dearly, ---a concept so foreign, for the God that we knew lashed out punishments and heard only memorized prayers. The missionaries taught us that our bodies are sacred. They taught us the value of preparedness, temporally and spiritually. The missionaries taught us where we came from and where we were going. The missionaries offered a message so sweet that it was most desirable above all things. It filled us with joy, not just momentary bliss, but peace and radiance that continued to sustain us through difficult times....

(Me again) That was the excerpted version--I am guessing the while talk is archived on the BYU website. Beautiful though.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Costco Again

Does anyone else find it mildly insulting that Costco associates have to check your receipt every time you walk out the door? I know of no other store that does that.

Billy the Book of Mormon Bandit

For the last several months, any time Arden prays, he is sure to pray "that our scriptures will be safe," despite Curtis and I's assurances that no one is going to waltz in to our house and kaif our Bible or Book of Mormon. We stand corrected. Saturday morning, we found a note on our table from "Billy the Book of Mormon Bandit." Can you believe the nerve of that guy? He actually STOLE our family Book of Mormon! Thankfully he left us a trail of clues to follow around town to get our Book back. We had to go to the beach, the park, the mailbox, and finally, to Chick-fil-a, where we recovered our BOM in the children's playplace. Since we were already there, we decided to enjoy a nice family breakfast while we were at it.

Fun times!

Maile's prayer today--that Billy the Book of Mormon bandit wouldn't come back and steal our scriptures again!

Of Red Lanterns and Red Crosses

Thursday was such a delightful day. Midway through the day, the kids and I decided to host a spur-of-the-moment Chinese New Year's party for a few neighbor kids and friends. Nothing too fancy, but we had a good time with it. I pulled out my bin of Japanese stuff for decor (Hey, Japan is close enough to China, right?!), and we made a grocery run for fortune cookies, chocolate to dip them in, stuff to make pot stickers, and stuff for a do-it-yourself sushi bar. YUM! We read books about the Chinese New Year and learned about some of their customs, and we made a couple of crafts, including Chinese lanterns, and some oregami. (Not entirely sure the oregami is Chinese--obviously we are not too authentic!) It was fun. Thank goodness sweet Kayla came over a bit early to help us pull things together!

Right after that, I zipped over to our Relief Society activity thinking to at least make an appearance. It was great. We had a little first aid review of what to do in various emergencies, then we assembled 72 hour kits. I actually have pretty comprehensive kits already (although I need to update them and swap out some of the food and diapers!), so I just visited and ate yummy food (Cooked from a sister's food storage!). I have to say, I love my Relief society homegirls! I love that not a meeting goes by (including our Sunday meetings!) where chocolate is not brought up. Usually there is some sort of chocolate involved! Definitely chicas after my own heart!

You Read Too Much Interesting Things Without Me!

We have been reading this book about the Revolutionary War together. Maile had missed a few pages because of joyschool, and when she discovered that we had read a bit without her, she stomped off in a huff, saying angrily, "You guys read too many interesting things without me!"

I love it! So, homeschooling update for anyone who cares. I feel like I am finally starting to figure things out a little. I am realizing that I need to back off a little and not try to cram too much into one day. SO, what worked pretty well for us last week was a little math each day, a lot of daily reading, and one other subject per day. (ie; geography, science, art, history, etc.) We've still got bugs to iron out--it's definitely a work in progress, but we are improving! I hear from many people that the first year is the hardest.

So, school the last little bit:
Geography: Unit on Alaska, made an Alaskan flag with blue paper and glitter paint.
California unit: Rode the California Trolly (in the living room!). Made a California mission out of salt clay, went to Mormon battalion event in San Diego and participated in rag doll making, panning for gold, making bisquits on a stick, rope making, quilt square making, story telling about Indians native to CA, heard live bands, gunny sack races, tug-of-wars, and more. Very fun.

(Of course, all of this is accompanied by tons of subject related books! We love to read!)

History--kind of went along with California geography, but also have continued our study of the Revolutionary War era. I don't know how many times Arden has asked me if the "Patriots" were the good guys or the bad guys. I think he finally remembers it, though! Also read about Paul Revere, George Washington's Spy network, the Boston Tea Party, and much else, including a book on George Washington's teeth, or lack thereof! (Made us grateful for good dentists!)

English: Made a big wall mural and stuck pictures cut out from magazines under the headings of either adjective, verb, noun, or plural. Did a bunch of mad libs. The kids love those. Still trying to figure out how to incorporate spelling and handwriting practice. Will work on that. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Math: Introduction to fraction action, involving cinnamon toast cut in to different fractions, and discussed numerators and denominators. Pulled out the measuring cups and talked about fractions as it relates to cooking.
Also learned how to tell time on a non-electric clock.
Introduction to multiplication/math wars game with multiplication tables.
Worked a bit on map reading skills with a map of the botanical gardens which we went to with our dear friend Mandy, and her boys. AMAZING PLACE!

Art--lots of Valentines stuff/Chinese New Year stuff.

Science: Library story time with gal from the Fleet Science Center. Talked about different forces (gravity, drag, friction, etc.) and made our own rollercoasters (marble runs using styrofoam tubes cut into halves.).

Read "Why the Sea is Salty, made "spotting scopes" out of two liters, and visited the tide pools.

P.E. Tons of bike riding, park time, etc. A bit of night jogging by the beach on occasion.
Anyway, all is going well!