Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Church (Sunday Journal)

I got the e-mail around nine o clock Saturday night: no church due to snow and freezing rain. Instead of staying up late to finish my Relief Society lesson on "What Lack I Yet?" I stayed up late mixing the dry ingredients for gingerbread pancakes.
Sunday morning, we let ourselves sleep in past seven. The kids were still awake, so I got ready for "church" right away, from my dangle earrings to my bow-toe ballet flats.
I put on my floral apron and made gingerbread pancakes with lemon-buttermilk syrup, while T took his dad for a walk to investigate the snow.

Over breakfast, the scientists in the family got into a discussion about how many states of matter there are. Turns out: seven, if you're including the hypothetical lab-produced states of matter.

After breakfast, we encouraged the children to clear their dishes and get dressed for the day. Two boys put on full suits, another stubbornly stayed in his pajamas.
When they heard we were having church at home, the kids got quite animated trying to plan it out:
"Where will we have sacrament meeting?"
"Can I be the Primary President?"
For church, we:
watched a general conference talk by President Uchtdorf (child still wearing pajamas disappeared during this portion and had a couple books confiscated for the remainder of the day)

practiced the Primary song for January 2016, with the CD
had a lesson from our "Primary President" out of the Behold Your Little Ones Manual, including a coloring page

Had three or four prayers and sang "I Am a Child of God" lots of times
Church lasted a whole hour and ten minutes. Since the pictures don't show any complaining or quarreling, we'll just pretend that part didn't happen, okay?
Well, after church, Cory offered to take the kids and theirs sleds to a small hill nearby before the snow melted. I was feeling doubtful about the Sabbath-appropriateness of this, but after spending five winters in a sub-tropical climate, the kids are really excited about snow, and  I didn't have it in me to object.
I stayed home with Baby Q. We cooked pork and egg drop soup. Four of the five kids loved it, and another said it made her feel queasy.

Recipe for Egg Drop Soup
Bring to a Boil:
6 cups broth (add 2 Tablespoons Better than Buillion to 6 cups water)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
Slowly whisk in an already beaten:
Remove from heat. Allow to sit for one minute, then serve.

After lunch, Q took a nap, and S practiced "Book of Mormon Stories" on the piano. I ran the dishwasher and started rolls in the bread machine while Cory took a nap. By that time, I wasn't feeling well. Since Q was still sleeping, I thought I might try a nap myself. I had barely laid down when we heard him crying. Cory offered to get up with him, and I surprised myself by sleeping for an hour and a half.
I came down just as the bread machine was finishing, so I formed dinner rolls, talked with my husband, and wrote in my online journal. Cory put vegetable burgers on the griddle, and made a triple berry banana smoothie. I reheated the leftover apple celariac mash, and gave Baby Q a pickle to sample. He was much more accepting than last time.
After dinner, I got three of the children to do a five minute chore, then we gathered for Family Home Evening, part 1.

Opening Song: "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus"
Opening Prayer
Announcement: School tomorrow is on a two-hour delay
Lesson: I began explaining the scripture "line upon line, precept upon precept," then we talked about building with Legos. It would be hard to get a big Lego project, and only have the finished picture to look at, with all those little Legos in bags. I had K get up and explain how he had to do one little step at a time to build the space rover he got for Christmas.
I showed the picture of Christ with the rich young ruler, and summarized his story.
Then we briefly discussed the General Conference talk, "What Lack I Yet?" We challenged the children to pray about that tonight. I'm not sure that any of them did, but we tried to encourage it.

The kids are all in bed now.
It's weird. I expected it to be easier to have more family quality time today, since we wouldn't be spending three or more hours at church, but looking back on the day, it doesn't feel like that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 FHE Plan

A Two Night Split
During the adult session of our Stake Conference, the new stake president and his wife shared an unusual tactic for Family Home Evening that they used in their family: split it into two nights.
On Sunday night, they would have their spiritual lesson, then Monday night would be free for a larger family activity, like swimming.
For our family, that solves two puzzles at the same time: what to do as a family on Sunday and how to have more time doing physical activities, like swimming and biking, as a family.
We're trying it out. The kids are funny. We got more done, but they don't like it when we mess with their weekly rituals (like pizza on Fridays).
Last night, we went to an indoor bounce place as a family and had cake and ice cream there (okay, it was a birthday party, but we were counting it). Come 8:00, the kids were asking "What about family night? What about treat?" They didn't like being told that we had already finished it, but I think they just wanted more cake and ice cream.

Our 2016 Family Home Evening "Curriculum"
Cory and I had a good discussion about this one. We decided we would give ourselves permission to vary from our plan if something else came up that we felt was important to cover, but otherwise we will be using the Priesthood/Relief Society lesson topics for our Family Home Evening lessons.
One of the perks of this is that Cory and I will both have listened to a discussion on the topic earlier that day at church, which may bring some interesting stories and ideas to mind. It will also greatly simplify preparation.
1st Sunday: The First Presidency Message, a General Conference Talk, or Parents' Choice
2nd and 3rd Sundays: Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, one chapter
4th Sunday: Teachings for Our Times, a.k.a. General Conference talk (Bonus! I currently teach this in Relief Society, so I can prepare Family Home Evening lesson at the same time as I prepare for Relief Society! Much easier.)
5th Sundays: probably a discussion of whatever the Bishopric felt was important for our ward
Now, last week was Stake Conference for us. What did we do? Well, our Stake Presidency told us at Stake Conference that they wanted every family to have a "Sabbath Day Plan," so we discussed and filled in ours.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sunday Journal

This is my first (hopefully not also my last) "Sunday Journal" post. In my attempts to make Sundays sacred, I thought it might help to keep a record of our family's attempts for a few weeks.

My day began at 5:15. I showered and attempted to finish my Gospel Doctrine (Sunday School) lesson before the children awoke. I ate a bowl of cereal with my husband before he left for his early meetings. 
I delay-started dinner roll dough in my bread machine to finish around when we got home.
We went to church.
During church, it started to snow. After delivering a Gospel Doctrine lesson from 1 Nephi 1-7, I spent  the Relief Society hour wandering the halls with Baby Q, who couldn't quite fall asleep for his nap. About ten minutes before the end of church, I decided we might as well go warm up the van and text daddy to send the older children out at the end of their meetings.
Baby Q fell asleep on the way home (hurray!) and Cory stayed for choir. The older children changed and were allowed to investigate the snow (a short-lived endeavor, as only a little was sticking), except for one child who was serving a time-out for the length of time he disappeared during Sacrament Meeting for.
While the children were occupied, I formed dinner rolls and started a meat loaf. 
Cory got home.

Lunch occurred around 1:30 (they were all starving!). We had French Green Beans with freshly grated Parmesan, meat loaf, macaroni and cheese (several children had asked for it) and mini-rolls with fig preserves.
While I was finishing some crepes (for later) and straightening the kitchen, Cory got the children playing a variation on the Animal Game in the living room (everyone had to choose an animal whose name started with an "R"). Then we all tried to play Chinese Checkers, which K had brought home from the free shelf at church. It was fun for a while, but the game took a lot longer to finish than any of us expected, and we had a number of deserters.
For afternoon snack, we had hot cocoa (which I had denied requests for right after church because I was afraid of spoiling appetites).
By then it was after 5, and Daddy-Cory pulled the Sunday nap card. Thankfully I didn't need one, because Baby Q obviously wasn't going to let both of us get one. The children were told they could either be quiet downstairs (where Curious George episodes would be allowed) or in their rooms. 
During nap time, I typed a lot of this post, played with Baby Q, listened to the first chapter in the new Howard W. Hunter manual (our family night lesson) while continuing to play with Baby Q, and played a game with S when he brought one in. Yes, it was a long nap.
Around 7 I preheated the oven and we began Family Home Evening, which consisted of a song, prayer, going over the calendar, and a very brief "lecture" about Howard W. Hunter and the basic gist of the chapter. A couple of the children were being grouchy, so I decided to change tactics.
"What can we do to make our home more Christ-centered?" I asked the two children who looked most cooperative. S suggested putting up word strips all over the house saying, "I Believe in Christ." K suggest putting up pictures of Jesus. That led to a discussion of whether people had favorite pictures of Jesus we might like to put up. K mentioned the "Second Coming" painting, which is also a favorite of mine, T went into the office and found a tiny "O Jerusalem" print that never got hung (well, at this house), S mentioned a print of Jesus with children that he had gotten from primary that we never hung, and I thumbed through our illustrated LDS hymnbook, hoping to find some other favorites (I love the one of Christ with the sparrows). Later in the evening, my husband and I had a brief discussion about budgeting for some large gospel art sometime soon.
We knelt for prayer, which closed that portion of Family Home Evening, doubled as dinner prayer, and tripled as bedtime prayer (it was a good prayer).
Dinner was mostly leftovers, followed by absolutely amazing banana chocolate crepes.
I dictated a 5-minute chore to each child (S picked up the baby toys, K and T each unloaded one rack of the dishwasher, and M cleared what was left on the table).

With the table clean, we sat down for our family scriptures (1 Nephi chapter 7).
As we were about to put the kids to bed (it was late for us--9), Cory's mom called, so I tried to send them upstairs and get them to brush their teeth (we had a couple ornery children last night).
Once he got off the phone, Cory turned on the audiobook in the hallway and took care of Baby Q while I did the dishes.