FHE – Cookie Delivery

On Monday night, for FHE, we did another annual tradition – cookie delivery. In order to get all of this ready for Family Home Evening, the girls and I spent the better part of Sunday and Monday baking. This year, we scaled down…way down, but even with scaling down, it seems like we were a little overboard. Anyone who knows me, knows that our forays into holiday baking are always insane. (And we love it!)

I promise that this is scaled down.  Only three kinds of cookies!!!

I promise that this is scaled down. Only three kinds of cookies!!!

Tiger getting ready to start the delivering.  I hope our neighbors are ready for treats!

Tiger getting ready to start the delivering. I hope our neighbors are ready for treats!

Making Deliveries in the Double Stroller!

Making Deliveries in the Double Stroller!

A big grin from Panda.  Cookies make everyone happy - even if you're delivering instead of eating. :)

A big grin from Panda. Cookies make everyone happy – even if you’re delivering instead of eating. 🙂

We went around to our new neighbors with our creations. It was a good way to introduce ourselves. Hopefully the neighbors like the treats. In any case, we had fun – huddling in the cold (the Phoenix cold – I won’t tell you the actual temperature because you’ll probably make fun of us) and handing out cookies.

Two of my favorite parts of the night: Sasquatch saying, “Let’s make cookies for everyone else…like US.”

Tiger telling us (later on) that she felt the Spirit when she delivered cookies. She felt so happy and joyful to be doing something nice for others.

***
Check out another FHE Experience over at Jocelyn’s blog.

***
For fun, here’s a recipe to one of the “cookies” we made – they were actually mini-pies

Chocolate Pecan Mini-Pie Recipe

6 tablespoons butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1-2 tsp vanilla
Pecans
Pie shells (I use the pilsbury ones that you can unroll)

1. Use a circular cookie cutter to cut “pie crusts” from the pie dough. Form 12 small pies into a muffin tin. Do not bake. Sprinkle pecans on the shells. (More or less depending on how you feel about nuts). Set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, or in the microwave, melt the butter and chocolate. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and salt. Whisk until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs until well combined. Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla and combine.
4. Spoon some of the batter into each pie shell. The Pecans will float to the top.
5. Bake at 400 for about 7 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 300 and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes.
6. Cool and chill. The pies will be scrumptious and fudgey!

***
Can you believe, there are only two Monday nights left in 2012???!!!

FHE – Getting Ready for Holiday Goodies and Giving

As a family, we like to do a lot of Holiday Giving activities. We make cookies and caramels. We figure out gifts for our home and visiting teachers. Of course, all of this takes a lot of time, and it can be hard to coordinate calendars.

So…for Family Home Evening, we spent the evening working on planning out some of our gifts and recipients. We wrapped presents and made fun cards.

Wrapping and Preparing

Wrapping and Preparing

This FHE is really hands on. We don’t have a lesson. We don’t sing or read a scripture. We start with a prayer and get to work. But it is a great FHE because it is all about doing something for other people. It is about service. It is the gospel in action. And the kids love it.

***
What did you do for FHE?

Check out Jocelyn’s blog for another FHE Experience.

FHE – Christmas Ornaments and First Presidency Devotional

Well, last night’s FHE was a yearly tradition. Earlier in the day, I ran to Michaels, bought a few packs of Fimo Polymer clay, and cleaned out my old clay supply.

When Homey arrived home, we began FHE. This activity usually takes a while. We ate dinner as we watched the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional.

The First Presidency Christmas Devotional is shown on a Sunday Night. We used to go to it before we had the younger kids. Now, it is also shown online, and we have a three-year-old and a nearly two-year-old. The option to watch it at home is great. So a few years ago we decided to incorporate the devotional into a FHE. While I miss the excitement of going to the broadcast and focusing solely on the message, I love watching it at home, and listening to the prophets speak with my children. And I love listening to MoTab during FHE. This has really worked with our family.

After we finish dinner, we pause the broadcast at a convenient point, tidy dinner, and then begin the next part of FHE – the making of our yearly ornament.

Me, Tiger, Sasquatch, T-Rex, Panda, and Homey...and our creations!

Me, Tiger, Sasquatch, T-Rex, Panda, and Homey…and our creations!

A lot of people have a tradition of purchasing an ornament for each family member. I like that idea. But I also like making stuff. Well, I’ve been making “stuff” out of Polymer clay for years. So, when I got the idea of buying an ornament for my children each year, I decided to really personalize it – and make our ornaments.

I have to admit, at first it was tempting to take control of the whole operation, and make all of the ornaments myself. But, as my kids got older, it was fun to see them express their own creativity. So, we modified the tradition, and everyone makes their own ornaments. The kids look forward to the tradition as much as I do.

For days leading up to FHE, I remind them, “Start thinking about what you want to make for your ornament…” This usually produces quiet squeals of delight, as the kids try to think of what they want to make. Of course, no one talks about it – the ornaments are usually a surprise. If I ask, “What are you going to make?”, the typical response that follows is, “You’ll see!”

It really is a lot of fun.

So, I got out the Fimo, got everyone situated, un-paused the Christmas Devotional, and we all worked hard crafting.

Finally, around eight (this FHE is always a little long), we had completed ornaments: A Putting Green (Homey), a Lemon Tree (Me), A cutting block with cookbook, spatula and chef’s hat (Tiger), a giant number “10” (Panda), Toadette (Sasquatch), and a headless Yoshi (T-Rex).

We were also filled with the inspiring words of the prophets. I loved the messages. I especially loved Elder Uchtdorf’s talk on being a good recipient of gifts. Wasn’t that a great talk?! How often do you try to give someone a gift, and they feel guilty??? That’s not the point. The worst is when you try to give someone something or do something for them, and they keep refusing – as if it is polite! I loved his talk. Being a good receiver really is a show of gratitude and love. And I loved Elder Eyring’s talk. And the Prophet’s talk (of course). I never tire of President Monson’s example of loving service. I really hope I can be more like him one day. I am grateful that the man who leads our church is such a good example of Christ-like love. But my favorite part was singing, in my home, with the Tabernacle choir.

Silent Night is my favorite Christmas song. As the hymn began, everyone in our home naturally stopped what they were working on, and began to sing in the third verse of the beloved hymn. It was a nice moment in our home. (And in case you have been tricked into thinking that we’re some kind of perfect family…I should let you know that the moment was promptly celebrated by a loud screech from the T-Rex!)

What did you do for FHE? Do you have any FHE Christmas traditions?

Be sure to check out another FHE experience at Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – A Child of God

(I know…this is coming a little late, but better late than never).

On Monday night, Tiger taught a brief lesson (like 2 minutes…well maybe 45 seconds) on being a Child of God. She read a scripture and bore her testimony. Then we spent the rest of the evening celebrating the literal Son of God – Jesus Christ – by decorating for Christmas…

The T-Rex smiles and giggles while looking at Baby Jesus.

The T-Rex smiles and giggles while looking at Baby Jesus.

Our family has been collecting Nativity sets for a few years. (We may have gone overboard…) Every year, about 2 weeks before Christmas (maybe less – usually two Sundays before Christmas), we get a little “surprise” left on our doorstep. It is a nativity set – left from Santa Claus – complete with a hand-written card reminding our family of the true reason for the season. Over the years, we have accrued several Nativity Sets.

It is always fun to decorate the house with all of our Nativity Sets. The kids love putting them up. And, thanks to all the Christ-centered decorations, there is no question on why we celebrate Christmas. This isn’t to say that we have no secular Christmas decor. We have Santas and Snowmen, but also have an abundance of Nativities, and they make Christmas really special.

Feeling the Christmas Spirit!

Feeling the Christmas Spirit!

Throughout the month of December, our Family Home Evenings are a little different than the rest of the year. These FHE’s – are traditions – they are basically the same idea year after year. It is fun. Everyone looks forward to them.

1st FHE in December – Make Christmas Ornaments
2nd FHE in December – Deliver Christmas Cookies/Goodies to friends
3rd FHE in December – This year we will celebrate Panda’s birthday. Other years we will go out for a drive to look at Christmas lights while singing Christmas Carols.
4th FHE in December – This year it is Christmas Eve. We will read the Original Christmas Story (in Luke), make cookies for Santa, make reindeer food, and basically have the best night of the year!

How was your FHE? What kinds of things do you do for FHE during December?

For more FHE experiences, check out Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – Visiting Family

Yes…We are still having FHE…even if I haven’t posted about it.

We just moved! (Into a more permanent living situation). We are excited, but are going crazy – unpacking, getting settled, and it took about a week for the internet to start working. So I haven’t had much of a chance to post anything.

But we are now getting into the swing of things, which is nice to have life back to normal right before the holidays.

Last night, we visited Homey’s Grandma. She has Parkinson’s disease, and has suffered with it for years. Things have made a turn for the worst recently (she has stopped eating and drinking), and everyone thinks that it may be a matter of days before she passes. So, we went down to Mesa to visit her.

(I forgot to take pictures there, of course…but it may be just as well…she wasn’t looking well. I didn’t think anyone would appreciate me taking pictures).

When we got there, she was resting in her bed. We all gathered in her room – with Homey’s sister and her son, too. Grandma lives at Homey’s Uncle’s house, so he was able to update us on Grandma.

I have to admit, I was actually really ashamed. We’ve been living in the valley for six months now, and haven’t visited Grandma! Homey and I had talked about visiting her, but never made the trip. How horrible! How is it that we can forget our own family? And then I thought about my grandma – how she lives at my mom’s house, and I haven’t been writing her or anything. I felt a lot of guilt and sadness – understanding how much I love my children, and imagining how much I’d love my grandchildren. I can imagine how my grandma feels about me and my kids, yet I forget about her. Shameful.

Despite the shame we felt, it was good to go down and see Grandma. She wasn’t waking up for a while – everything took so much energy. We stood in her room, chatting with Uncle D, and then Grandma started mumbling something. Finally, it was audible – I love you. I am proud of you.

It brought a tear to my eye.

This is the first time someone in our family has been close to death (since the death of my brother). Many of the emotions that I had with Sean’s passing came back. Family is what matters. At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, it is our family we have. Do we say I love you enough? Do we tell our children, our husbands, our parents, our siblings – I am proud of you? Do they know? Are we taking the opportunity to show our love, concern, and care? This life is short, and there are times when I let myself get caught up with things that seem so important right now, but in the long run are pretty stupid.

It was neat to hear Grandma’s loving words. I picked up Sasquatch (our three year old), and helped her to pat Grandma’s hand. Grandma took it and shook it. I was proud that Sasquatch wasn’t scared. This is the first time that Grandma has met Sasquatch or T-Rex. (We lived out of state for a few years). They won’t remember this experience, but I’m grateful that we took them to see Grandma. She had a few more good experiences before she will pass. She will have a few more good memories. She has met more of her own posterity.

After visiting with Grandma, we chatted with Uncle D. Uncle D(2) showed up as we were leaving. We chatted with him, too, then finally made the trek back home.

T-Rex kept everyone happy on the way home…in his own brotherly way.

For more exciting (she just had her baby!) FHE experiences, click over to Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – Jesus Declares He is the Messiah

First of all, let me say that it pays to study your scriptures.

Originally, we were planning on carving pumpkins last night, but, as life goes, things got crazy. We are moving this week, so I had a few chores to take care of in the afternoon. Before I knew it, the time was 3:38, and we hadn’t even had dinner! We had pumpkins, but I knew that we wouldn’t have time to get the kitchen cleared away (boxes everywhere) in time for dinner and pumpkin carving, so that idea was shelved.

But we didn’t want to shelf FHE altogether, so…I checked out the Bible Video page on the Mormon Channel. As I considered which video to show, I was reminded of the list I pondered a few days ago – when Christ announced His Messiahship.

I loved what I learned a few days ago, and thought it would be a nice springboard for a discussion with the family. So we watched this video:

We watched through it a first time. Then, we watched it a second time, taking a moment to pause after he discussed each point of how He is the Messiah, and what he was anointed to do.

It was a nice conversation. We were able to talk about how the Savior preaches the gospel, heals us, delivers us, gives us sight, and liberates us.

We also took a few minutes to discuss the reaction of the people in the synagogue. I had the girls imagine a boy from their class (who is rather rambunctious) one day being called as the prophet. Tiger’s mouth gaped. Panda said, “That would be crazy.” I told them that this is, essentially, what the people in the synagogue thought, too. There was nothing special about Jesus. He was just the carpenter’s son. They couldn’t believe that Jesus was The Christ, the Promised Messiah.

Their lack of acceptance of the Savior wasn’t because they were unfamiliar with the scriptures, commandments, or traditions of the gospel. Their lack of acceptance was because they were unfamiliar with the Spirit.

Tiger mentioned that if these people would have had the Spirit, then maybe when they saw Christ, they would have reacted the same way the woman did who washed the Savior’s feet with her tears. I loved that remark and insight. It told Tiger, “You are absolutely right.”

It was a nice discussion for a somewhat crazed Monday Night. I would have liked to carve pumpkins, and I know that the kids would have, too…but life is a little crazy right now. So it pays to have personal scripture study daily – so we can be blessed with the Spirit and always prepared to teach.

For another FHE experience, head over to Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – The Sacrament

Last night, Tiger and Panda teamed up to present Family Home Evening. Both of them are working on their Faith in God goals. One of the goals instructs them to teach a lesson on the Sacrament, and they decided to work on it together.

Together, Tiger and Panda planned and presented Family Home Evening.

The T-Rex had fun playing with a washrag. I love how he is entertained by basically anything.

Sasquatch listened happily. After the lesson, when it was announced that we’d be eating M&M’s, she gasped with delight…Silly girl.

We began the lesson by reading the sacrament prayers. We discussed the promises in this ordinance.
We promise to:

  • Take upon ourselves the name of Christ
  • Always Remember Him
  • Keep the commandments He has given us

In Return the Lord Promises:

  • We may always have His Spirit to be with us.

We then discussed ways that we can prepare for the sacrament, and what we can do during sacrament meeting.

It was a nice, FHE. I love to see what the girls come up with on their own. As I have usually found – for them, FHE is not always about the actual presentation of the lesson. They are blessed with good experiences as they research the subject and create a lesson. It was especially cool to see them working on it together. FHE is more than just the sum of its parts. The planning, the learning, and of course, the actual event all bless our families in so many ways.

For another FHE experience, be sure to check out Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – General Conference Favorites

Last night was a laid back kind of FHE. We are still basking in the general conference glow. We decided to talk about General Conference – our favorite talks and moments – as we ate dinner.

First, here a few pictures from the day before…

Panda – taking notes during General Conference

Tiger watched General Conference from a make-shift table/tent.

Sasquatch watches general conference…we had a lot of chocolate available during conference (as you can tell by the corners of her mouth!)

The T-Rex is a little young to really appreciate conference, but he loved hanging out with all of us stopping by and playing with us throughout the conference.

Here are the favorite moments we had during conference:

Homey: The priesthood session talk given by Anthony Perkins. He spoke in the Priesthood session – about overcoming temptation through scripture study and prayer. Scripture study and prayer, while simple, can really empower our lives.

Tiger: The talk given by Elder Eyring. He spoke about how there are sometimes “pavilions” we create that cover the light of the Lord from our view. She mentioned that we can uncover these by doing what we must to stay close to the Spirit.

Panda: The new policy change for missionaries: men at 18 years old and women at 19 years old. I have to admit, I’m super excited about the change, too. I always wanted to serve a mission when I was younger. It was a dream of mine, but wasn’t meant to be. This is not a problem for me because I can see the wisdom that the Lord had in directing my life in another path. However, I think that more women will be able to serve now that the age standard has been lowered. Mostly I’m excited because this will help the missionary efforts throughout the world. And it will also be a blessing to women. There are so many women who struggle to remain active during the Young Women’s / Relief Society transition. I figure this will really help that problem.

Sasquatch: She mostly told us gibberish…Her favorite part of conference was the monkey and his friend the squirrel (no idea where this came from!). We asked her about the Prophet. She knows him: President Monster. So cute! And she told us that the prophet will get the badguys!

Me: I mentioned the talk by Dallin H. Oaks. It made an impact on me. I recognize that he probably didn’t particularly enjoy giving this talk. I mean, what he spoke on was relatively obvious. Yet we need His reminders in this world – that Children truly are a gift from God – a heritage of the Lord. As I listened to his talk, I felt myself validated for my choice to be a stay-at-home mother.

I have received a Bachelor’s Degree. I once had hopes and ambitions – Worldly ones like profession, etc. Yet, I also have hopes and ambitions that are way bigger than something like a job. I want to live with God again. I want to be what He sees in me. In fulfilling this dream, I know that motherhood plays a significant role. Yet, sometimes I feel the pressure. That I’m not really doing much with my life. That I’ve wasted my education to stay at home. It was a good reminder to know that nothing I do for my children is a waste. In fact, I felt motivated to be a better parent.

I also loved Elder Holland’s talk…but more on that later.

How did you like conference? What did you do for FHE last night?

For more real-life FHE experiences, head on over to Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – Perception of our Bodies

I try to teach a chastity/body/modesty – centered FHE at least annually. When my children were younger, we usually were fine with this happening once a year. As I prepared this FHE, I realized that this theme will need more than one FHE lesson. My oldest is 11. Talking about modesty/chastity/body image will take more than one Family Home Evening.

A lot has changed in the last year. We have moved, the girls are a year older (duh). My oldest daughter is sweet, yet seems to be taking on some of the “typical” teenage characteristics. She isn’t as open as she used to be. There are times when she’s a little defensive. She is also beginning to get more private and quiet. I know that this is a normal part of the process of growing up, but I still worry!

As I thought about this FHE, I realized I needed to get a baseline reading – of how the girls feel about their bodies. They don’t seem to talk about it much, but I wasn’t sure if they were starting to have doubts about their bodies. I think that for a lot of young women, they are tempted to dress immodestly and break the law of chastity because they have doubts about their self-worth. They begin to buy into the image that a woman is mostly a sexual being. Many young women feel like if they want to be considered valuable by another person – boy or girl – then they need to dress more provocatively. Young women want the acceptance of their friends and the boys they like. It is hard to remember that we are worth so much more than our sexuality.

Obviously, I wasn’t going to launch into a speech like that. Instead, we drew pictures.

Here we are drawing…Everyone had fun.

We drew three abstract pictures using manila paper and oil pastels. Oh, and each of us, including me an Homey, drew. I didn’t want the girls to feel like they were on the spot.

First we drew what we liked about our bodies. Some of the things included: thin (Tiger), Creative Brain (Tiger), Silky Hair (Panda), Imagination (Panda), Fit (Homey), and Brain (Mom). I was interested to see that the girls tended to include things that were more aesthetic (thinness, pretty eyes), yet they also included functions of their body that were not visible (but just as important, if not more so!). I’m glad that they were able to recognize that they could find so many things they liked about their bodies. It is something I need to remember!

Next, we drew what we didn’t like about our bodies. This included: Chapped Lips (Tiger), Cavities (Panda), Migraines (Homey), and Appetite/Blobbiness (me). I was happy to see that the girls had a difficult time thinking up things that they didn’t like about their bodies. I thought of dozens of things I don’t like about my body. Some of them are the effects of age. Others are the effects of bad choices. And other things are simply ways I’m not being grateful for the blessings of a mortal body.

As usual, I think I learned the most from FHE.

I want my kids to have a good example in me. I want them to feel confident about their bodies. I want them to be happy.

For our third picture, we drew pictures of how we think Heavenly Father sees us. I hope that this is what my kids will remember. I know that I need to remember it. I know that Heavenly Father doesn’t see me as a lazy blob, so why do I choose to see myself that way? I recognize that by seeing myself differently than how Heavenly Father sees me means I’m listening to some other voice – not a good one. I want my children to remember they are beloved daughters of God, and that they can be (and in many ways are) the beautiful daughters he sees in them.

It was a nice family night.

What did you do for FHE? How do you keep your body image positive and healthy? How have you taught body image to your children?

For other FHE adventures, check out Jocelyn’s Blog.

FHE – Faith

Last night, homey taught FHE. He taught a simple lesson on Faith.

He referred to Alma 32 where Alma taught that having faith is like planting a seed. It requires work. It requires an experiment. It requires us taking a chance.

But, our chance will be rewarded. We will know whether or not that seed is good. It will either grow or it will not grow. Faith is worth that chance.

As we spoke about faith, our two older daughters have the “standard” answers down pat. But I had this feeling, like I really needed to probe a little bit more. I’ve had that feeling a lot lately. As they get older, I can see that they know what they are supposed to say. But I want that to begin to transition into them saying what they believe.

So we talked about that. Homey shared a time when he really started to feel his faith grow into a testimony. It was when he was fourteen and he went to EFY. I told the girls that sometimes, when my faith is being confirmed by the Spirit, I feel enlightened – like everything just makes sense. We encouraged them to do the things that would help them to cultivate their faith and testimony.

We talked about how, if you plant a seed, and it begins to grow, it is good. But, if you don’t take care of it, then it will die. If our plant dies because of our negligence, then it is foolish to blame the seed. Likewise, if our testimony dies because of negligence, it is foolish to say that the gospel isn’t true. The gospel didn’t fail us. We failed in nurturing our testimony. The girls seemed to understand this concept (it helps that we have dying basil plants on our back porch!). We talked about the things that they need to do if they want to feel more of the Spirit in their lives.

Anyways. FHE wasn’t anything crazy or spectacular. I’m still pretty down and out – getting better, but I still get tired and am not contributing as much as normal. So, Homey had to go it alone. Plus, Tiger had a volleyball game, so we got a late start. But the discussion on faith was the perfect thing…

I’m not sure what the girls took from FHE, but I had my own thoughts. Again, I realized that we are nearing a threshold. They are getting older. Tiger will be a young woman next year. I felt impressed that there is much I need to keep teaching them. And I won’t be able to do it the same way that I teach Sasquatch and Rex (the three year old and one-year-old, respectively). I will need to be more attentive and flexible. I will need to open up a discourse for my daughters. I will need to be able to be the kind of parent that they can trust, but without being too “friendly” or permissive. There is a lot to learn, but I am hopeful.

Since my kids were really little, I’ve had the thought that what I did with them as a child would lay the groundwork for what our lives would be like when they became teenagers. That time is nearing. I know that I need to improve. I want our home to be filled with love, acceptance, and kindness. I want it to be a place where they feel free to grow and learn. I want them to develop their own testimonies. I want them to learn to love the scriptures. I want them to develop their own relationships with the Savior. I feel a heavy burden as their teenage years near, but I am also really comforted. We have instituted the practice of FHE. We speak openly about the gospel and scriptures. We pray together. I know that these small and simple things will bring to pass great things for the lives of every member of our family.

Anyways…a simple FHE. We had no special activity or treat. And that’s totally okay. We did have the Spirit – that is the key ingredient. 🙂 I’m amazed at how much FHE teaches me.

What did you do for FHE? As you prepare and execute FHE, what are some of the things that you learn? How does FHE help you?

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