Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Should I Do When I See Pornography?

This Family Home Evening plan is centered on an incredible video (shown below)

There are a plethora of resources to use to address this topic for LDS families. See other resources here. It's an index for LDS families that includes links to over a dozen Friend articles on the subject of pornography.

A Family Home Evening Plan

"The Lord Gave Me a Temple," (Children's Songbook)
For a fabulous flipbook, head over to OCD Primary Chorister and print pages 1-16 for the first verse (half of the pages are text only. You may wish to print double-sided).


Video Presentation
This five-minute video comes from overcomingpornography.org. Many children will be exposed to pornography for the first time before they are 12 years old. It's hard to put together a feel-good video to address a sickening possibility, but that's what this is.
If you're having difficulty viewing the embedded video, view it instead on overcomingpornography.org.

After the video, ask if any of the children want to talk to you about anything they've seen.

Pornography Drill
Move from computer, to tv, to a book. Pretend a bad picture just came up. Ask your children what they need to do.
Call it what it is. Close it, turn it off, or look away. Tell a parent/trusted adult.


Children's Choice


Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
If you want to get really fancy, add a cream filling.

October 2015 General Conference Plan

I like a good plan. I love a great plan. Here is my plan for one of the most potentially fabulous (and often problematic) weekends of the year: October General Conference!
Fabulous because, wow, a modern-day prophet?!
Problematic because, convincing kids that it's inherently fabulous is neither inherent nor fabulous.
Did that make sense?

Earlier in the week, print and assemble "General Conference Doodle Books 2015, Part 2." 
Arrange creative supplies in neat stacks in the closet or office, including: stacks of old church magazines, markers and colored pencils, pens, glue-sticks, scissors, Legos, Lego Idea Cards, etc.
Buy food.
Clean the house on Friday.
Put up fall decorations.

Please note that where we live, Conference begins at noon and 2 pm. Your mileage may vary.
Morning: attend the birthday party for a four year old in our neighborhood. Eat lunch there and pray that it finishes in a timely manner.
First Session: Introduce the children to the "Creative Conference Corner" (kitchen table) with Doodle Books from Jocelyn Christensen, our special occasion coloring books, and fresh markers and colored pencils I bought during back-to-school sales.
Oh, and their vacuum thermoses filled with water, so they aren't wandering into the kitchen. It's hard for me to focus on anything when I know someone is creating unnecessary crumbs and dishes nearby.

Between Sessions: Encourage outdoor play. Tidy the "Creative Conference Corner."
Put canned soup  (Italian Wedding) in the slow-cooker on high.
Second Session: Set-out old church magazines, scissors, and glue-sticks. Encourage General Conference Collages. Also have the Doodle books and coloring supplies available.

Afternoon/Evening: Eat slow-cooker soup with a side of grilled cheese sandwiches. Encourage the 12 year old to dress for the Priesthood session.
Start overnight maple cinnamon rolls (recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction).

Morning: Finish making overnight maple cinnamon rolls. Enjoy as a special breakfast. Take the kids on a nature walk, looking for the prettiest fallen leaves.
First Session: Set-out Legos and Lego Idea papers. Also have Doodle Books and coloring supplies available.

Between Sessions: Libby's Pumpkin Bread. We made this last year during fall General Conference, and it was wonderful. Allow the children to swing, just to get out of the house.
Final Session: Either set out play dough or printed quotes from the conference summaries that have happened so far, for them to decorate.
If you check lds.org, you should see a link for "talk summaries." Copy and paste your favorite quotes into a word document. I brought the margins in by half an inch on each side, centered the words, and increased the font size for the image below.
Sneak a lasagna in the oven so it finishes baking shortly after conference finishes.

Afternoon/Evening: Take the lasagna out of the oven. Put in Pillsbury French bread. After eating dinner, offer to play Apples to Apples, Jr. with the kids before bed.

Baby Ideas
At almost 10 months, I feel Baby Q is too young to appreciate the toddler conference activities I've seen (we'll reevaluate in six months), so my objective is to keep him happy and quiet as much as possible.
Before and between sessions, I'll try to give Baby Q some one-on-one play time, especially outdoors and active.
Remember meals and naps.
I think I'll assign one baby-helper per session (older sibling). We'll see how that goes.
I could take him out of the room during choir songs to read board books.
He loves a bottle filled with water. We can offer him that and his Cheerios snack container during sessions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two Soda Cans Family Home Evening Plan

For the General Conference Connection, we used the excerpt that appeared in the May 2015 New Era: "Two Soda Cans," by Cheryl A. Esplin.
Shortly before FHE, pour the contents of one soda can in a glass. Save it in the fridge for root beer floats. You may want to rinse the empty can, since some child is bound to shake it.

The Family


Object Lesson

Display an empty soda can. Invite a family member to attempt to crush the soda can with their bare hands. After they have accomplished this, hand them a full, sealed can of soda and ask them to crush that as well. Allow them to make a show of trying and failing to crush the full soda can.
Why could you crush the first can?
(Because it was empty)
Why couldn't you crush the second soda can?
(Because it was full)

General Conference Connection

Invite the family to move to the table.
Encourage them to read the quote, and underline what we should be filled with.
(Light and truth or The Spirit)
How can we fill ourselves with Light and Truth?
(Be honest, pray read the scriptures, go to church, etc.)
Label the cans in the illustration.
Glue the quote in their General Conference Notebook.

7 year old S. wrote Baptism on his full can. I asked him if that was because he would get the gift of the Holy Ghost when he gets baptized. It was.


For activity, play the Animal Game. We did a mythical creatures variation. Think of unicorns, hippogriffs, basilisks, etc.
How to play: everyone chooses an animal name. It can be any animal, except one someone else is using. The person who is it stands or kneels in the middle of the room, holding a pillow with which to tag. Everyone else sits on couches or chairs. One sitting person starts, by naming a different person's animal. That person names another animal. The person with the pillow keeps trying to tag an animal before they name a different animal. If they are tagged, then they are it.


Children's Choice


Root beer floats
You will need half as many root beer cans as there are people. Unless you have growing teenagers. Teenagers might need their own cans.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Back to School Family Home Evening

For a post about back to school family traditions, including place settings and decor, I highly recommend going over to Jen's Blog. I've borrowed some of her ideas as well, but she did them better.
Also, sometime shortly before school starts, I recommend watching the documentary On the Way to School. It moves slowly (it's a documentary, not an action show), but it's so eye-opening to see what getting to school is like in other parts of the world. Even better, it makes them appreciate what they have. At present, the film is streaming on Netflix. It's entirely G rated.

Back to School Family Home Evening


For this lesson, you will need lined school paper, a writing implement, and a "Shield of Faith."
I used the May 2015 conference issue of the Ensign. There is a photograph of President Monson on the back. See how I used permanent marker to take it to eleven?
Or you can print a shield here. This shield is actually in a shield shape, with pictures and words for faith, prayer, repentance, and forgiveness, and a little picture of Christ in the middle.
For the General Conference Connection, I have used an excerpt from the talk "Yes We Can and Will Win" by Elder Ulisses Soares (the previous link has the full text and video), where he tells the story of a young man who refused to view pornography on his friends' cell phones.
An excerpt was included in the May 2015 New Era under "Stories from Conference" (scroll down to see it)
A simpler children's summary appeared in the May 2015 Friend under "Conference Notes." This is what my family used (see images below).

The Plan

"Choose the Right," Hymns 239


What are some temptations you might experience this school year?
Answers might include teasing, cheating, bad words, giving up, bragging, etc.
Write the temptations in big letters on separate sheets of lined paper.
How do we know what's right?
Answers might include conscience, reading the scriptures, praying, or listening to the prophet.
[Child's name], will you hold this? It's the Conference issue of the Ensign. You can use this as your shield of faith, because we have faith in what the prophet teaches us during General Conference. Is your faith strong enough to protect you from the temptation to (read the temptation on one sheet of paper)?
Playfully wad the sheet of paper, then toss the temptation ball at your child, and let them try to deflect it with their shield. Repeat with other temptations, allowing any other children a turn as well.

General Conference Connection
Invite your family to read (or listen to) whichever version of Elder Ulisses Soares' story of a young man resisting looking at pornography (or "bad pictures").
If you are using General Conference Notebooks, give each member of your family their own copy to glue in their notebooks. Encourage them to write down what they can do to be "Strong Like Moroni" and resist temptations.
 This is what 9-year old M. wrote and drew in her General Conference Notebook. I love the temptation balls being thrown at the CTR shield.

Back-to-School Blessings
This tradition is new for this generation of our family, although it sounds like it's been around other Latter-day Saint families for a long time. Each of the children get a turn getting a father's blessing from Dad. I usually request one, too. Just for fun.
If you have reverence issues with the younger ones, you could set up coloring pages in a different room, then call them in when it's their turn.

Your family's favorite playground game, such as 4 Square, shooting hoops, or jump rope. (Our rising 6th grader had a fever, and the other children needed their backpacks double-checked, so we actually skipped the activity this week).

Closing Song
Children's Choice

Closing Prayer

Rolo Pencils 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

General Conference Notebooks

It started on Pinterest, thank you. An Activity Days leader had used school composition books to create General Conference notebooks for her girls to take notes during conference. Then an idea formed-- what if there was, instead of a book for taking notes during conference, a notebook/journal for studying it after? A receptacle for those delightful quote graphics? A place for colorful pen doodles? A Family Home Evening resource?
It must have been inspiration, because the idea had barely formed before I found myself shopping the back-to-school sales. Composition books, 2 for a dollar. Sold.
I chose the lightest color  available  (yellow) so I could cover them with less showing through.

1composition book
1rectangular sheet of scrapbook paper (2 if covering the back)
printer paper or sticker paper (and a printer)
Glue (we used generous amounts of school glue stick. Seriously)

How to
Open a word document and select 2 columns. Then type "----'s General Conference Notebook," using copy and paste until you have enough for each person in your family. Double space between each label, and center all text.
Allow each family member to select a favorite font and color. After selecting a font, increase the text size as much as possible (this will vary, depending on the font). I used a smaller font for the words "General Conference," to keep them on the middle line together.
Glue a sheet of scrapbook paper to the front of a composition book, lining up one edge of the paper with the edge of the black binding, and another edge with the bottom of the book. Open the book and use scissors to carefully cut off excess paper. Repeat with back cover(optional).
Cut out the "labels," and paste on the cover.
Initiate victory dance.
Repeat as needed.

To give credit where it is due, my 9 year old daughter pioneered the scrapbook paper idea. She is quite proud of herself.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fairy Stone: Day 5

Hike to the Dam and Spillway
On Thursday, M and I discovered a trail just beyond the driveway for our cabin. We explored it far enough to find a couple little fairy houses and a large muskrat (?) house by the lake. It took some coaxing, but we got the family to go on one final hike Friday morning.
It ended up being the favorite hike for the week. Baby Q fell asleep. We discovered an overlook that appeared to have been built by the CCC in the 1930s. There was an animal print in the trail (deer?), and a tree that appeared to have been gnawed halfway through (beaver?).

Baby Q found hikes exhausting. He was a good sport, nonetheless.

The dam was small and earthen, covered with grass and blackberry bushes. There was a trail across the middle, then down to the spillway. The water level was low, the spillway was wide, and the drop-off short, so I felt comfortable allowing the children to explore a little. If I'd had a toddler, I would have been worried, though.
Peeking over the edge of the spillway.
Dad and M on top of the earthen dam. She is showing a clam she found.

Virginia Museum of Natural History
A cute little small town museum with a good display of dinosaur bones, we were in and out in about an hour. T was happy to get a pressed penny. It's his newest hobby.
Our family enjoys a good museum, but found this a little too small to be worth the drive. So of course we stopped by the next day on our drive home.
We forgot the stroller at the museum.

Floyd Country Store and Jamboree
On a map, the town of Floyd looks close to Fairy Stone. After driving on the prettiest roads that wound through the Blue Ridge, I was disillusioned, and a little car sick.
On Friday nights, Floyd has a Jamboree. We considered purchasing tickets for the inside show, but were afraid we would spend the whole time pulling the kids away from the open bins of candy.
On summer evenings, there are groups that play in the alley and park near the store, so that became our Plan B.
We bought ice cream from the Country Store, then listened to a group with several guitars and a double bass.
Baby Q wore his straw fedora, and got lots of attention from admiring strangers.

Fairy Stone: Day 4

Iron Mine Trail
It took some coaxing to get the kids to agree to go on another hike. I guess they were a bit traumatized by the three hour experience on Tuesday. I promised that the Iron Mine Trail was much, much shorter. It was.
We saw the old entrance to the mine.

One of the overlooks provided a view of Fairy Stone Lake, including the beach.

Water Activities
That afternoon, we canoed across Fairy Stone Lake to the Spillway and Dam. They were much smaller than dams I'm used to, but since we were canoeing up to them, that was a good thing. 
Cory was in one canoe, with T and S. In my canoe, K sat up front to help paddle. M sat low in the canoe with Baby Q, and succeeded in putting him to sleep.

 After canoeing for an hour, we were ready to enjoy the beach. The shallow area had a lot of anchored-down floating things, like this lily pad that M and Baby Q are on.
 Camp Cooking
The cabins at Fairy Stone have outdoor grills and picnic tables, but no fire pits.
We did foil dinners in the grill one night. The coconut curry pork was amazing.
Thursday night the kids were asking for dessert. I asked Cory to toast marshmallows with his blow torch. We floated them on hot chocolate.

Fairy Stone: Day 3

The Legend of the Fairy Stone
Once upon a time, about two thousand years ago, the fairies around Sugar Loaf Mountain were gathered to sing and dance to thank their Creator for the coming of Spring. Their joyous celebration was interrupted by a strange elfin messenger from a faraway land. He brought news that the Son of the Creator had been killed on a cross. In their sorrow, the fairies sprinkled the ground with their tears. Instead of drying away, these tears crystallized into crosses. If you visit there today, you can still find little cross-shaped stones.

Hunting for Fairy Stones

Monday evening, near the Farmer's Market, the Rangers brought a trough filled with soil and rocks. They encouraged the children to sift through it for Fairy Stones. Wednesday morning we drove out to the Fairy Stone hunt site, which is a wooded area people are permitted to look for stones, provided they don't bring digging tools.
I honestly think we had better luck in the trough of soil. The hunt site seemed rather picked over.
There is a little convenience store that shares a parking lot. By their register, they have perfect crosses, with an eyelet through them for necklaces. I was sorely tempted to purchase, but thought that might discourage the children with what they had found.

Mabry Mill and Rocky Knob
We drove to Mabry Mill for lunch. I recommend the sweet potato pancakes, as well as the pulled pork. If I'd noticed Ed's Special: pulled pork and cheese between two cornmeal pancakes, I would have ordered that. The gift shop was charming. There was a small section that included "Made in America" items. The cute bags of grain with an image of Mabry Mill on the sack would have been more tempting if the grain was actually ground at the mill. Baby Q got a board book with photographs of deer to look at in his high chair while the rest of us enjoyed lunch. T got a pressed penny.

The walk around the mill was enjoyable. The boys recognized the trestles from a scene in Tangled, and said so. We walked through the mill area. The outside wheel turns, but most of the inside components are not hooked up. Most amusing was the moonshine display down in the woods (sorry, no picture).
Mabry Mill is bordered on one side by the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had been disappointed to only drive about a hundred feet on it getting to Mabry Mill, so we decided to drive a few miles to Rocky Knob. The view was beautiful! I wanted to at least hike the one mile Picnic Area Loop, but the children wanted to go swimming and get dinner, so we just enjoyed the overlook for a few minutes.

Fairy Stone: Day 2

Little Mountain Falls
After a yummy breakfast of flapjacks with real maple syrup and chocolate milk, we were well energized for our hike of over three miles. It was late morning when we arrived at the trailhead for Little Mountain Falls Trail.
The hike was longer than we expected, in part because the mileage on the map did not account for the hike from the trailhead to the beginning of that particular trail.
The Little Mountain Falls was little, but since the children hadn't seen a waterfall in close to six years, they were impressed. M and T immediately climbed it.
 The trail went up, up, up. At the peak, we could see Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. There was a stump cut into a chair, and a bench. In all, we spent about three hours on our hike. This was about twice the time we expected it to take. Thankfully we brought water and a dozen granola bars.

The rest of the day was a blur. I think we went swimming at the lake.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Our Adventure Soundtrack!

Preparing for our "camping" trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we discovered the amazing Okee Dokee Brothers. A couple years ago, they hiked the Appalachian Trail, passing near some of the areas we explored. Then they wrote an "Adventure Album" inspired by that trip. Their CD, "Through the Woods," became our Adventure Soundtrack! Everyone loved their music, from Baby Q through Dad.

Fairy Stone: Day 1

We were on the road in the wee small hours of the morning (hoping to complete most of our drive before Baby Q was awake for the day).
We arrived at Fairy Stone State Park before lunch. The gravel driveway for Cabin 24 was steep. The pathway from there down to the cabin was also steep. And muddy. It had rained earlier. I'll never know if we made the cabin floors dirty carrying everything inside, or if it had been left like that.
Then we went to build Fairy Houses with one of the Rangers. Yes. Fairy Houses. Little shelters from sticks and stones in the woods. The oldest boys made a big show of disgust, but got into it after a while.
That evening we hiked to the shelter near the entrance to the Farmer's Market that sets up weekly. We bought a dozen eggs (blue, green, brown and yellow), one bag of potatoes, one bag of little onions, blackberry jam, carrot cake jam, salsa verde and pico de gallo. T kept eating the "sample" of the salsa verde, so we felt obligated to buy two containers. With chili, chips, and cheese, it was a great dinner.
When we walked back to the cabin, there was a deer waiting for us. To our surprise, it allowed M to get within fifteen feet.
We continued to see deer every day that week.