Understanding the hearts of the youth

“Mother, Father, are you in there? Grandpa, Grandma, are you there? Being there means understanding the hearts of our youth and connecting with them. And connecting with them means not just conversing with them but doing things with them too.””

“It is impossible to overestimate the influence of parents who understand the hearts of their children. Research shows that during the most important transitions of life—including those periods when youth are most likely to drift away from the Church—the greatest influence does not come from an interview with the bishop or some other leader but from the regular, warm, friendly, caring interaction with parents.

“When we sit down at the dinner table, is our whole family there? I remember as a young man asking permission to play baseball through dinnertime. “Just put my meal in the oven,” I said to my mother. She responded, “Robert, I really want you to take a break, come home, be with the family for dinner, and then you can go out and play baseball until dark.” She taught all of us that where family meals are concerned, it’s not the food but the family interaction that nourishes the soul. My mother taught that the greatest love we give is within our homes.

“Similarly, mothers and fathers, as you drive or walk children to school or their various activities, do you use the time to talk with them about their hopes and dreams and fears and joys? Do you take the time to have them take the earplugs from their MP3 players and all the other devices so that they can hear you and feel of your love?

For our interactions with youth to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen—yes, listen and listen some more—even hearken with spiritual ears!

“I ask the Lord’s blessings to be with the parents and with the youth who are brought up in faithful homes, that they will understand the joy it is to be in a home and family where they can be loved, directed, and guided. It is my prayer that we may have eternal families and be together forever in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Robert D. Hales, “Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation,” Ensign, May 2010, 95–98

Ready for School

Okay, I know I said I was going to take a break from this blog this month. But my oldest child is starting kindergarten in a week, and I’m a little anxious. I’m sure she’ll be fine, but still, I’m sending my baby out in to the world! Will she be safe? Will she have a kind teacher and make nice friends? Have I taught her everything she needs to know?! Ack!

So of course, as is my habit, I’ve been doing some research to make sure I send my little girl off right. Today I’m sharing some of our preparations, and some of the interesting ideas I’ve found.

School Shopping
For clothes, shoes, supplies, etc. Our school district just implemented a uniform policy that requires shirts with collars and solid colored bottoms. My friend and I were resourceful and dyed our own pink polo shirts to appease our girly-girls and their need for pink!
The Ant Bug picked out her own cute backpack, with attachable lunch box.

Don’t you love new art supplies? My cupboard is now stocked with 7 bottles of glue and 13 glue sticks to fill the Sweet Bee’s need for glue throughout the year.

Making Lunch
We’ve got the lunch box, and we’ve got the containers. Most importantly, I’ve made sure the Ant Bug can open everything by herself.
Have you heard of Bento lunches? They seem to be all the rage now. You can get all the details on Bento Box Basics from the alphamom. Basically the gist of the idea is to make lunch cute and appealing to your kids. Use cookie cutters for shapes and cute little containers to section out the food.

I’m not a good enough mom to think that I can make some of these impressive cuties everyday, but I think I can handle a star shaped sandwich, some flower-shaped cheese slices, and a little cup of fruit on occasion.

Simply Modern Mom has a great post with lots of ideas for making kid lunches fun and healthy.

I like the idea of the Ant Bug finding a surprise little love note in her lunch box. Teach Mama has some great templates available to download here.

A few recipes that I would like to try:
Family Fun Peanut Butter Balls
Snackpicks After School Muffins

For the First Day (and the night before)
My husband grew up with the tradition of receiving a father’s blessing with the start of each school year. We’ve done this in previous years before starting preschool, and it is an important tradition in our family now. I take notes on what is said to include in the Ant Bug’s journal.

On the morning of the first day we’ll have our camera in hand, ready to document the monumental occasion. I like the idea of having your child hold up a large cut-out letter showing what grade they are in (see an example here).

I’m thinking about holding a special “Back to School” dinner, either the day of or the night before. We’ll serve “alphabet foods” like alphabet noodles or cereal. I like the idea of giving a little gift with a card wishing good luck in the new school year. There is a cute card template here at Sugardoodle, but I haven’t decided what the gift should be yet. I like this Back to School bag idea, but it might be better for older kids.

Reading Books
I just picked up a stack of kindergarten prep books from the library today. There is a plethora of books available on the subject, but one that looks really fun is Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper.

Routines for School
Once the excitement of the first day (or week) wears off, it’s important to have routines in place to keep things running smoothly. I have plans for a morning check-off chart which will include things like get dressed, eat breakfast, make lunch, brush teeth. We will need to be out the door by 7:15 each morning, so there won’t be much time for anything else.

I’ll also be adjusting our daily schedule, making time for homework, piano practice, housework, and playing. Meck Mom has lots of helpful ideas for organizing your home and routines for back to school here.

Lastly, I was reassured with the Ant Bug’s abilities when I read this article: What your child should know before starting kindergarten.

Now tell me, what back to school traditions do you have? What tips do you have for a first-time mother of a kindergartener?

Show unwavering dedication

“Oh, that every parent could understand that children come from a premortal experience and have possibilities that often are far beyond what we might expect. We should spare no effort to help our children reach their full potential. Is it any wonder that Jesus brought the little children unto himself to teach and bless them?

“To teach our children the gospel of Jesus Christ and to protect them from the influences of a wicked world, love must abide in our homes. We should cherish and care for our children with unwavering dedication. The older we grow, the more precious our family becomes to us. We come to see more clearly that all of the wealth, honor, and positions of the world pale in significance when compared to the precious souls of our loved ones. You young parents who are beginning your families must guard against seeking financial gain, worldly comforts, or achievement at the expense of your children. You must guard against being so anxious to get to work or to a meeting that you do not have time for your family, especially time to listen to anxious little voices. Always remember this timeless counsel from a prophet of God, President David O. McKay: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” (Improvement Era, June 1964, p. 445.)

“We cannot and we must not allow the school, community, television, or even Church organizations to establish our children’s values. The Lord has placed this duty with mothers and fathers. It is one from which we cannot escape and one that cannot be delegated. Others may help, but parents remain accountable. Therefore, we must guard the sanctity of our homes because that is where children develop their values, attitudes, and habits for everyday living.”

M. Russell Ballard, “Teach the Children,” Ensign, May 1991, 78

Make sure your children know you love them

“To you who are parents, I say, show love to your children. You know you love them, but make certain they know it as well. They are so precious. Let them know. Call upon our Heavenly Father for help as you care for their needs each day and as you deal with the challenges which inevitably come with parenthood. You need more than your own wisdom in rearing them.”

Thomas S. Monson, “Abundantly Blessed,” Ensign, May 2008, 111–12

My August Projects (and a little break)

The list of projects on my “to do” list keeps growing longer and longer, and I haven’t been making much headway on it lately.

Some of the projects on my August “to do” list include:

-get the Ant Bug ready for kindergarten (shopping for supplies and clothes–a good deal on uniform polos is proving to be a challenge!)

-revise our family budget for 2010-2011 (being graduate students, this is the fiscal calendar that works best for us)

-sort through our paper files

-prepare for a new year of teaching piano lessons

-a temporary contract job doing some design work

-clean my house regularly (this has been a little more difficult to accomplish with 5 people in our house now!)

-enjoy the last weeks of summer (swimming, splash park, beach-although in reality the heat will be with us in Florida for awhile yet)

-work on dejunking the living area and master bedroom

And spend some quality time with my three little cuties! And my awesome hubby too!

But if I’m going to get any of this done, I need to take some time away from this blog. So except for the regularly scheduled LDS quotes on mothering and parenting, you won’t be hearing from me anymore this month. Feel free to browse back and read some of my older posts you might have missed.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and I’ll be back in September!

Gospel Study in July 2010

Among other things, my gospel study in July included the following:
The Book of Mormon: Mosiah 3-Mosiah 12

Ch. 13: The Priesthood
Ch. 14: Priesthood Organization

General Conference Addresses, April 2010

Keith B. McMullin, “Our Path of Duty,” Ensign, May 2010, 13–15
“As men and women and boys and girls do their duty to God, they feel impelled to do their duty to one another, to their family, to their church and nation, to all things entrusted to their care. They are duty bound to magnify their talents and to be a law-abiding, good people. They become humble, submissive, and easily entreated. Temperance conquers indulgence; obedience guides their diligence. Peace distills upon them. Citizens become loyal, communities become benevolent, and neighbors become friends. The God of heaven is pleased, the earth is pacified, and this world becomes a better place.”

Koichi Aoyagi, “Helping Hands, Saving Hands,” Ensign, May 2010, 36–37
“Sometimes we feel that we are weak and lack the strength to rescue others, but the Lord reminds us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).”

David A. Bednar, “Watching with All Perseverance,” Ensign, May 2010, 40–43
Early warning system for parents to be watchful of their children includes,
1) Reading and talking about the Book of Mormon
2) Bearing testimony spontaneously
3) Inviting children to act
Read his excellent talk for all the details!

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” Ensign, May 2010, 44–46

“Why is lust such a deadly sin? Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about—as I am about Sister Holland; we shout it from the housetops. But lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine—the later and darker the hour the better, with a double-bolted door just in case. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.”

Refer to his talk for ways to guard against temptation.

The Ensign, July 2010

The Friend, July 2010

Sweet Innocence

“Have you seen the future when you gazed through the hospital nursery window and saw the bassinet wheeled into your view? You see that beautiful newborn infant for the first time. A new spirit comes into your life as a son or daughter, grandchild, or child of a friend, and you know that your life will never be quite the same again. How often have you had to blink back the tears as you stood in awe and contemplated the miracle of a new life? This newly arrived spirit has come in sweet innocence from the presence of God.

“Every human being is a spirit child of God and lived with Heavenly Father before coming to earth. He entrusts his spirit children to earthly parents who provide a mortal body for them through the miracle of physical birth and gives to parents the sacred opportunity and responsibility to love, protect, teach, and to bring them up in light and truth so they may one day, through the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, return to our Father’s presence.

“These precious souls come to us in purity and innocence. As parents, we assume an immense responsibility for their care and well-being. Parents share this sacred trust with brothers and sisters, grandparents, teachers, neighbors, and all who touch the lives and impress or influence the souls of these precious children. King Benjamin admonished parents many years ago, “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:15.)

“The critical nature of the first tender formative years cannot be overstated. These little ones are like seedlings in a plant nursery. All look much the same in the beginning, but each one will grow to become independent and unique. Parents are to nourish, tend, and teach their children so they will grow to their full stature and potential.”

M. Russell Ballard, “Teach the Children,” Ensign, May 1991, 78