Wednesday, January 28, 2015


This week in our journey to have our family learn skills that will help them be prepared for all kinds of life surprises, we discussed burning.

We started our evening with a lesson from the Book of Luke.  Two disciples were on the road to Emmaus, a journey of approximately 12 kilometers, which is equal to about 7.5 miles.  Since they were discussing the events of the last few days (Christ's trial, crucifixion, resurrection and so on) with the fellow traveler and since said traveler was explaining the purpose of those days and expounding upon scripture, I think they were walking no faster than a 20 minute mile.  That would have been a 2.5 hour journey.  Then the two, who were generous and righteous men, invited the stranger to stay with them.  He did.  As he broke bread and prayed upon that broken bread that those who would partake would remember Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, they knew him.  The previously unrecognized traveler was the resurrected Christ.

"And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

Saying, The Lord is risen indeed."
                                                                                                Luke 24:32-34

Last week we learned how to use a lighter and a fire extinguisher.  We also learned about Stop, Drop and Roll. This week we learned how to treat a burn.

The first things to learn in any kind of first aid is to: First, not panic, but to be in control, and Second, shock can be as serious as the wound and can be experienced even with a smallish injury.

Dad taught the family how to treat shock.  Even the six year old can recite the steps to treating someone who might be suffering from shock.

Now that we know how to treat the very possible effect of a burn, we started in on treating the burns themselves.  I wanted the children to be able to quickly identify the difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns.  They needed to see pictures.  1st and 2nd were not that scary, but the 3rd degree burns were pretty gruesome.  Knowing that some of my children are particularly sensitive, I didn't want to freak them out, but I do want them to be prepared!  It was hard to find pictures that told the story without making the children unnecessarily frightened of fire.

At one point, our 9 year old covered her face and groaned, "Why are you teaching us this?!"  I gently reminded her that as difficult as it can be to talk about these scenarios, it would only be more terrifying if one of the scenarios occurred and she had no idea what to do.  Knowledge is power, though there are some things I wish I didn't have to know either!

After the lessons and role playing, we made cold compresses for those 1st degree burns (and other injuries). I'd seen two different recipes, so we tried them both.

#1 = 1 cup Dish Washing Detergent + 1/2 cup Rubbing Alcohol
#2 = 1 cup Water + 1/2 cup Rubbing Alcohol
 I like the one made with the dish soap better because it turned out more gel-like than the other. Now just to see how these hold up with the children!  I'm going to be double-bagging them at the very least!

My favorite ice pack is the dish detergent and rubbing alcohol.  Better gel-like consistency.
There you go!  I'd never made candles or ice packs until I made this goal to teach my family.  It is amazing what stretching you'll do for your children.

Monday, January 26, 2015

You'll Never Believe This

A few of you will understand the 1000 words this picture tells:


Friday, January 16, 2015

Good Fire and Bad Fire

Our Preparedness skills for the week were two-fold.

1.  How to use a fire extinguisher (which also turned into a reminder about Stop, Drop, and Roll as well as a few other fire extinguishing guidelines).

2. How to ignite a lighter.
Everyone had to negotiate the lighter well enough and long enough to light a candle.
There was some pretty serious discussion about the right times and the wrong times to use fire.

Our Family Home Evening lesson was about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fire for refusing to worship anyone (or thing) other than God.
That fire was so hot that the guys who tossed the three into the fire died!
But the three were unscathed, walking around in the fire with Jehovah.
In fact, they didn't even smell of fire.

That is some serious faith.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

American Girl Store

Meet my eleven year old daughter.  She loves her some American Girl!
For her 11th birthday in November, her grandparents gave her Isabella.
Isabella and Becca Rose, the doll she received when she was about 6, are her most beloved playthings.
When we knew she would be coming with us to Seattle, visiting the American Girl Store was her #1 priority.

After dropping Isaac off at his morning workshop, we were on our way!

We knew the general location, but had to wander around and around the GIANT mall complex before we spotted it, in the back corner of a courtyard.
She started running!

Come on, Mom!!

We arrived an hour too early.  No matter, there were tons of windows so she studied each display thoroughly, while the baby wandered around the courtyard.
We have 15 inches of snow at our house and Seattle has daffodils!

After wasting as much time window shopping as was possible and stepping into the Starbucks for a cocoa and banana bread breakfast, finally, finally, it was time for the store to open.  
There was a line of little girls to get in!

This child was in heaven.  She has studied the catalogs and magazines to the point that she knew each and every item available at the store, but she hadn't seen most of them in person.  She was surprised at the detail and care of everything.  Of course, most things in the store were way beyond our price range, but there were a few things that were more affordable.  She picked out a curly pony tail hair attachment and some other hair fixing doo-dads.

She was one happy girl!

Right away, we had to jump back in the car to retrieve Isaac from his workshop.
One goal he made from the first day of this ballet adventure is that whenever possible, we would go to church.  That means sometimes missing classes, arranging flights and driving early mornings or late nights. 

It was a very good meeting and the closes church building happened to be right next to the temple.

Hug! Hug!

The grounds of the temple are so pretty, even on a dreary January day.

After visiting the temple, we had about three hours.  We decided to run downtown and wander around some of the iconic Seattle places that the children hadn't seen.  

At first, cities woo me, what with their pretty architecture, amazing shopping variety, and cultural feasts, but all of that is forgotten when one drives around for three hours with nary a stop because one is stuck in traffic or can't find parking to enjoy what the city offers.

I'll keep my rural living, even without any architectural delights or cultural feasts.  
At least I have Target and Costco.

After an evening audition, we were back on the road.
We pulled into the driveway right about midnight after a wonderful weekend.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Year of Preparedness Skills

I was in a class recently where the question was asked:  
Do your children know how to use a lighter?

Uh, no.  They know how to use the long lighters with a trigger and they know how to swipe a match on a rock, but they don't know that tricky function of igniting a lighter.
The thing is, I'm sure they could all do it with no problem, but they've never been given the opportunity.
I decided that I would make sure and show them how to do that.

That got me thinking about all the preparedness skills that aren't necessarily difficult, but that a parent should teach a child.
Skills such as finding dry wood when it's raining, how to treat shock, how to use and sharpen an ax, how to sew on a patch or a button, what to do in a stranded car, how and where to shut off the water and gas, and how to use a fire extinguisher.  
Then I made a goal.

My 2015 New Year's Resolution is to teach my children one new preparedness skill each week--or most weeks.  
(I know how life goes and I don't want to beat myself up for missing a week because of sickness or vacation or Mom's Grumpy.)

We started last week.  I'd found these instructions on Pinterest on how to make 50 hour candles on the cheap.
I'd never made candles before, but we lose electricity frequently out here in the woods so I thought it would be a good idea.

Placing wicks.
Melting the wax flakes.  I put a #10 can in a pot of water since
I don't want to buy a fancy candle making set-up.
I bent a spout with pliers.
It worked well.

Almost melted.  Don't stir or you'll have bubbles--at least that's what other people told me.
While we were waiting for the wax to melt (we did several batches because I bought 10 pounds of soy flakes), we had our Family Home Evening lesson:

After the wax, we used tinfoil lids to hold the wicks in the middle of the candle.

The wax begins to solidify.
After a couple of hours, we had 24 candles!  
We didn't add scent because if we are living by candle light, I'm sure the heavy scent of a room full of candles will get a bit heavy.
After the candles were cooled completely, we trimmed the wicks, replaced the lids and have them stored in the kitchen where we can access them easily without light.

This was the easiest thing ever and we all learned a new skill!  

Monday, January 12, 2015

YAGP Seattle

Last weekend was Youth America Grand Prix in Seattle, Washington.
We were able to drive this time which saved us so much money, especially since gas prices are low!  The hours in the theater are long, so I brought my 11 and 13 year old daughters to tend the 1 year old.  They were good sports and it made my weekend much better.
Stretching and getting into the zone in the hotel room.

It was Isaac's first year in the Senior Division (ages 15-19) so we really didn't know what to expect.
I don't have any photos of him in costume or on stage.

You'll have to use your imagination:
imagine a powerful, yet gentle dancer
doing his thing.

He was awesome. 
Not awesome as in the slang for hip, cool, neato, fierce, sick, or hot.
Awesome as in causing or inducing awe.

I'm his mom and, though I do try to be objective, it is hard to not think your own kid is the best thing in the universe.

Sisters waiting for the awards ceremony to begin.
They were not as bored as this picture seems to declare!

This time the judges, and seemingly everyone in the audience, agreed with me.
He won!

First Place in Senior Contemporary
Third Place in Senior Classical

Congratulations, Isaac!!
Big weekend for you, kid.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Digging . . . But Wrong

I sent the text to my husband, 
"I can't even tell you how happy the sound of heavy equipment in my yard makes me."

Last week, the gas company came and dug a long trench, put in a gas line and meter and the phone and cable line.  They left the trench open so the electric company could come and lay their lines.
It was the next step toward heating the house which needs to be done before mud and tape can happen.

Turns out, the electric company won't use the same trench so somebody needs to come and fill in the trench.
Also, they dug the mess in the wrong place and cost us $3000 because of their flub.
Good grief.  Every step of this process has been a struggle.

Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust.

It will all workout in the end.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Big Snow

We got about 14 inches one night, a week after a 10 inch snowfall.

He lost his gloves, but wasn't bothered by it.
He was only bothered by the fact that he couldn't walk!

Big sister to the rescue!

I LOVE where we live!
After playing in the snow, they came in and cuddled with Bobo Bear.
She was showing him Mr. Rogers on my phone, but he kept dropping it or accidentally touching the screen (which closed the video).

So she crawled in right next to him . . .
and they both fell asleep.
She is sound asleep, but is still holding onto the phone.
Skills, man.

Isaac and Dad both agree that Bobo is so comfy, that if you cuddle up, you're going to fall asleep!

Thanks for the nap, bud.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Time with My Girl

Last year, as in 2013, we gave Eliza the Gift of Time for Christmas.  
Each month of 2014, we went on a date.  
It was usually she and I, but sometimes Dad took her, sometimes we both went with her 
and one time her younger sister and Grandma came along.

Last week, we went on our last date of the year.

We were supposed to get a steamed milk while we browsed at the bookstore, but we were both starving, so we went out for Mexican food before hitting the bookstore.

This small, but fierce girl is such an absolute treasure to me.  She does heaps for our family and it was nice to take her out, one on one, each month.  To spotlight just her.  To listen to her alone.
Oh, my goodness.  I love her massively.

She got a laptop for Christmas this year.  
She is an author, but always has to share the family computer.  It was hard for her to find time to write.

As happy as she was to get the computer, she was a little sad that she didn't get more dates.
I was, too.

I am going to miss our dates!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Book of Mormon Reading Marathon

We called it a Read-a-thon because it was a marathon reading of the Book of Mormon:  
531 pages in 23 hours and 59 minutes.
There were 24 of us who were there for basically the whole time (a couple had to leave for basketball practice, but they came back when it was over) and three more who could only come for one day.
They were praiseworthy days.
(The apostle Paul would have approved.)

After doing my research, I discovered that reading 24 hours in a row wasn't the best way to accomplish the goal.  Not only am I not a big fan of sleepovers (I don't even think the Church allows them anymore), but reading through the night means people are sleeping through too much of the book.  
Our hours were 8 am-8 pm, Friday, January 2nd and Saturday, January 3rd.  
It was before school was back in session, but after most people were home from Christmas trips.
We had almost all of our youth attend, which, admittedly, isn't a giant group, but I was thrilled with the turnout.  The turnout was so good, in fact, that I feel really bad for the small handful of kids who missed out.
I've already had requests that we make it an annual event, so maybe they will show up next year.

I told the youth to wear comfortable clothing and to bring yoga mats, sleeping pads, pillows and blankets--whatever they would need to make the hard floor bearable.  As it was, the couches and chairs from the foyer were dragged in after only one hour!  I did make the stipulation that only siblings could share a blanket and no one could wear pajamas.

I prepared and prepared and finally went to sleep at about 11 o'clock the night before the event.  I usually don't wake up on my own if I have to get up early.  I needed to be up by 6 to get showered,younger kids ready to go to the grandparent's house for the night and to the church for final preparations.  I awoke in a panic, realizing I had forgotten to set my alarm.
It may seem lucky, but when I saw the time, 5:58 am, I knew that the Lord wanted the event to happen.
Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives!

We read in the gym because I wanted the kids to experience this together.  I'd heard of other youth groups meeting separately, boys at one house, girls at another, but I thought it was worth the discomfort of the hard floor to be together.
The being together turned out to be one of the very best parts of the read-a-thon.
The unity of our group was mightily fortified.

The gym was decorated simply, with every Book of Mormon story depiction I could find.  I raided my own supply and that of the library and tacked them to the walls.  At different times during the two days, I saw young people staring at a picture,
with new eyes, methinks.

I posted signs on the doors of the gym since our church building hosts regular visitors, meetings, and worshipers.  This is what I posted:

I emphasized paper scriptures for fewer distractions and only had to confiscate one phone.
Everyone was generally compliant with the no electronics rule.

There were long tables with butcher paper at one end of the gym for meals.
On one wall was a giant standard that my husband drew up for us.  
Every time we finished a book (Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, etc.), we gave up a giant cheer,
then marked off the books on our chart.
It proved to be an motivating progress report.
On the second day, we began adding quotes, scriptures, and references to the poster as well.

The actual reading was done several ways.  We listened to the downloaded audio version about 75% of the time because we could listen to it fast.  1.7x was about as fast as we could go, I thought 1.5x was optimal.  I've heard other groups listened to it at 2x speed, but we felt that was too fast and made it hard to focus on anything.  It took some getting used to since there was no time for pondering, questions or discussion.  That is a different type of study for a different time.  All ways have good effects.

The other 25% of the time, we either took turns reading (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 verses each, we'd switch it up) round robin style or had one person read a couple of chapters to us.  A few parents came for 30 minutes here, an hour or two there.  We had them read when they came.  It was nice to have variation.

I'm not great at cute stuff, so there was no twine, scrapbook paper, origami or centerpieces.  If you do that kind of thing well, there are lots of ideas out there.  For my sanity, I went simple on the handouts.
Each reader got a small notebook, a scripture marking pencil, a regular pencil and a Book of Mormon reading chart, with boxes for each chapter that could be checked off as we progressed.

One thing that I did go all out on was the food.  I knew that if they were hungry, they wouldn't be listening.  I also knew that if they had a ton of junk food, they would be sleeping and their bodies would feel crummy.  This is where I got the ward involved.  While I provided (through the ward budget) and prepared the snacks, the auxiliaries provided the meals.  Everyone ate breakfast at home, then we provided the rest.
(I did have hot water with cocoa and apple cider packets when they arrived in the mornings.)
Here is the menu, with instructions for the least amount of interruption as possible.

Those providing the meals did an excellent job.
I was so grateful for them.  I'd mostly prepared the snacks ahead of time so I wasn't in the kitchen very much.  I really wanted to be reading with the others!  It could have been very easy for me to be in the kitchen all day.  I decided to let the messes happen so I could participate.  If the members of the ward didn't bring in meals, I for sure would have been in the kitchen all day.

You'd be surprised how hungry you can get sitting around!

We had a strict reading schedule, but we are still human.  I made sure we had a break at least once an hour.  As respectful and reverent as the youth were during the reading, things were different during our breaks.

The afternoons were especially hard so we found ourselves pacing the gym while following along, running outside in the snow during breaks, snowball fights, camel fights, basketball, jumping jacks and lots of laughter.

You can only hold so still for so long!

Can you guess which one is the dancer? Ha.
Here is our schedule.  
We mostly kept to it, though several times we voted to delay a break or a meal if we were close to finishing a book.  They were really committed to finishing!

We were much slower when we read, versus the sped-up audio file.  There was better focus and concentration when we read, though, so I did try to have us read as much as possible.  I got us a little ahead of schedule with the audio file so that we could read much of 3 Nephi together.

Most of the time we were scattered all around the floor and stage.
For this part, though, we put chairs in a circle, knees practically touching.
We started in Chapter 10.

I felt the Holy Spirit burn in my heart as he declared to my spirit the truth of the words.
Jesus Christ did come to the people.
They did feel the prints in his hands and feet.
He did pray for them and bless their children.
I know it is true.

I learned so much reading the Book of Mormon this fast.  You know the book's title is The Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  In this speed-reading version, I was astounded by the frequency of the witnesses of Christ.  It seemed like every five or so chapters, someone else was adding their witness to the record, either through a personal visitation by Jesus Christ himself (pre-mortal or post-mortal) or through a vision of his birth, life, death or resurrection.  Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin, Mormon, Alma, Abinadi, and the list goes on.  The book truly lives up to its name.

There were some kids who attended who I'm pretty sure did not have a testimony of the Book of Mormon prior to the event.  In fact, one mother was especially concerned her son was going to want a way out.
She sent me a text telling me that.
I responded, in complete honesty, that her son didn't want to leave.  He was all in.
They all were. 

 By hour 22, things were starting to get a little dicey with the younger boys, but it never got out of hand.  A snap of the fingers and a bit of stink eye and the boys shaped up again.

Beautiful, fun and virtuous young women.
We enjoyed being together, but it was more than that; we were united under the same ensign.
We were marching in the same army, fighting for the same cause.
We were there because we wanted to be there--
even if those who didn't want to be in the beginning, they did by the end.

At 7:55, we sat back in the circle to read the final chapter of Moroni together.
I took the liberty of reading it to my so loved youth.
I challenged them to accept Moroni's challenge:

We completed the Book of Mormon in under 24 hours.
We made it!  It was by the skin of our teeth, but we made it!
There was a lot of clapping, cheering, and general merry making.
This incredible group of the Lord's mighty army accomplished a difficult goal.

By this time, even the chairs weren't high enough to reach the topmost of our chart.

And here we are.  
(There were three more that could only come for the first day.)

I love these people.
Every one of them.
I'm so thankful that I was able to serve with them.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

We will remember this for the rest of our lives.
The friendships that were strengthened.
The testimonies that grew.
The Spirit that was felt.

With this manual as our guide,
the future is in good hands.