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This is Heidi’s latest 6-year-old crafty creation, which she’s dubbed “The Acorn Body.” She went into our yard and found the top of an acorn. Then, she glued some craft sticks together with a glue stick to make a body. She used Crayola markers to decorate it and give it clothes, then glued the acorn top to the top to make a head. On top of the head she attached a notebook paper hole reinforcement sticker that she had colored orange. It was a great little project to fill up some time while she isn’t feeling well because of the flu. Try making your own Acorn Body and send us a picture if you do!


Have you heard about the Meet My Grandma story preservation campaign on Family Search? Check it out:

Cool right? Those grandmothers in the video must be amazing, and my own grandmas are at least that awesome. I love the idea of everyone having a chance to see a snippet of what I know about them. It’s like a little treasure attached to a name, making the name relate to the real person it represents. I love it!

My aunt alerted me to the opportunity to write about my grandmothers and save it into my family tree on FamilySearch.org for future generations (and my own cousins) to enjoy later. I went ahead and added a quick little memory about rubbing one of my Grandmas’ feet when we lived with her and my grandfather for a few months when I was little. Read my story here to #meetmygrandma.

So, it took just a bit of figuring to get everything sorted out as I added my story, and my aunt asked me to send her instructions on how to add her stories about her own grandmothers. I thought it might be helpful to some of you out there, too, so here they are:

  1. Go to the Meet My Grandma page here. Click on the blue “Sign in Now to Share” button. Or just go to familysearch.org.
  2. It’ll take you to the familysearch page. Sign in using your username and password (or register).
  3. Click on Add New Story (a big box in the middle that looks like a Polaroid photo with a plus sign in the middle). If you get lost and can’t find the Add New Story box, see item#9 below.
  4. Type in a title, write your story, and click on “add photo” to add a picture to your story  Click Save. I know the story writing is probably the hard part, but I can’t tell you what to write!
  5. Click on Add People on the right, type in the name of your grandmother, and click Add New Person right below it.
  6. Under “People in this story” click on your grandmother’s name, then click on “Attach to Family Tree.”
  7. Click Search on the pop up window. This will take you to a search form to find your grandmother. Once you search, it will bring up a list of people. When you find the person you want, click the blue “Select” button on the far right of her name.
  8. If there are any other people on your family tree  involved in the story, you can add & attach them the same way. You can also input the date & place if you click on the “Event” button on the right of the Story screen under People and Albums.
  9. You can share your story by copying the web address in the bar at the top of the screen and pasting it into an email or on facebook or wherever. Or, if you’re more privacy-minded, you can just leave it up there on your tree without sharing it and let your extended relatives find the story someday. You can see (and edit and add) all the stories you’ve saved by putting your mouse over Memories at the top of the family search page and clicking on Stories in the menu that drops down.
  10. Done!

Now, go put your own stories up there!

2014 LDS Sunday School and Priesthood Lesson Schedule Bookmarks!

We’ve been making these for 7 years now, and we get thousands of downloads per year of individuals, wards and stakes who download the DOC file below, adjust it to their needs, and export a PDF like the one below.  Then you run it to a copy shop, print it two-sided, have them cut it in bulk, and voila.  Yes, making it in Word is tedious and the guy at the copy shop will squirm about how it doesn’t have crop marks, etc., but that’s intentional, because if I made it in Illustrator most of you wouldn’t be able to adjust it to accommodate your own Stake Conferences, etc.  Because Ward Conference doesn’t affect lesson schedules, you only need one per stake.  The internal lines will provide more than enough registration indicators for the guy at the copy shop to be able to line up both sides and cut them.

Check ’em out, and please please give us some feedback and validation so we know these are being used. (Even if they’re not, I’ll keep making them for myself forever…)

A Productive Day

I decided it was time to go to Old Faithful Geyser of California.  I decided this as I drove home from dropping off Degen and Maggie at school and had to plug it into the GPS to find out if I could squeeze the trip to Calistoga in before I had to be back to pick up Maggie from Kindergarten.  Yes, I could, but just barely.  We went home, I showered, Heidi got her shoes on, I printed a coupon for $1 off admission from the web site, and we hopped back in the car.  Halfway down the hill, realizing that if the literature was right and the geyser only erupts every 30-40 minutes and I only had about 30 minutes to stick around before I’d have to head back for Maggie, I called the Geyser office to find out their predictions for the eruption times today.  At first I thought the heavily-accented woman who answered the phone said “in 10 minutes,” but was delighted on further inquiry to discover that she meant “every 10 minutes.”  Hooray!  Something about how there’s been a lot of rain lately…

Heidi and I continued the beautiful drive up to Calistoga, with 20 minutes of winding forest road at the end, and made good time.  We walked into the gift shop to purchase my ticket (Heidi was free) and I realized that I’d left my coupon on the printer!  So sad, but at least it was only a dollar.  Admission paid, I realized I’d left the camera in the car!  Lots of forgetting today.  Back to the car, find the camera, back into the gift shop, out the door down the long bamboo-lined “hallway” to the geyser viewing area.  The grounds were small and simple, but clean and tidy.  In the center of a lawn was a little pond, in the center of which were some boulders with a small cloud of steam hovering around them.   A handful of other visitors wandered around the pond, waiting and chatting.

Heidi avoiding the breeze.

See the cloud of steam?

Suddenly, I heard a gurgle and then water shot out of the steamy boulders!  The eruption continued significantly longer than I expected, maybe 45 seconds or a minute.  Long enough to take plenty of pictures, for sure!  Heidi was slightly scared, but impressed too.  I probably took too many photos and didn’t spend enough time watching.

Thar she blows!

Then Heidi had to go to the bathroom, so we visited the clean restrooms near the geyser.  Heidi noted that they were for boys AND girls and painted white inside, which she said is a boy AND girl color.  When we got back outside, we walked around the lawn and read plaques describing why one should not throw rocks into the geyser or touch the boiling water.  Another one explained that we were smack dab in the center of a volcano that hadn’t erupted for a long time, but that it had been involved in making the mountains surrounding us.   Hmmm…

Here we are, together at the geyser--pink day!

Then the geyser went off again!  More photos, more delight.  Less panic from Heidi.

Not covering her head the second time

Heidi at the end of the second round

We saw signs labeled “4 Horn Sheep” and “Llamas” and “Fainting Goats” and followed them to the fenced pastures of the aforementioned livestock.  Those sheep really had four horns each!  I wonder how/why that happened.  And the Fainting Tennessee Goats really fainted when startled, as demonstrated by the gentleman feeding them at the time.  Just like on Mythbusters.

They really have four horns

We even saw some black and white spotted baby lambs on the way back to the gift shop.  So cute!  Driving home, we stopped at a roadside cherry stand and got two pounds of juicy red cherries to munch on.  Sitting in her car seat, Heidi did a great job putting her pits in a little Dixie cup I gave her for the purpose.  Good job Heidi!

Picked up Maggie close enough to on time (three minutes late) and went home for a lunch of cherries, strawberries from last nights trip to the farmers market, a tuna sandwich for me and a peanut butter one for Maggie.  Heidi wasn’t all that hungry.  Then the girls went down for a nap.  Sort of.  Heidi stayed in her bed, but sand and talked to herself for quite a while before dropping off.  Maggie protested until I said I’d read a chapter of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle to her.  I read, she listened to the first chapter, then we switched for the next chapter.  I fell asleep while Maggie was reading, but woke up to her fast asleep next to me when I had to leave to pick up Degen from school.

Degen was happy to report that he’d had PE today and played a game called Burpees, which doesn’t involve burping but he giggled for a long time when I asked if that was the premise of the game.  We filled up the gas tank–ouch–after my morning trip, then went home for homework time and a snack.  Degen ate the last of the cherries and practiced his spelling words while I took out my library book of touristy locations in our area and started picking out favorites for my next excursion with Heidi.

Homework nearly done, the girls woke up and I started making dinner–shrimp tacos.  It was a partially improvisational recipe, assisted by a fish tacos recipe from my healthy cookbook from my beloved America’s Test Kitchen.  I have no affiliation with them, except that their recipes are super-reliable, and thus I love them.  Check it out.  Anyway, Heidi and Maggie helped me set the table and make the tacos and the brown rice (a new item for a few in the family) while Degen finished up.  Adobo sauce, mayo, and lime are a killer ingredient combination, by the way.  And next time I make brown rice I’m definitely going to use more water.

After dinner I worked on my memrise garden, learning the Arabic alphabet, while the kids got their pajamas on.  I’d forgotten how hard it is to learn a new alphabet, and even knowing a related one was only slightly helpful!  Slowly but surely…

Yesterday our washing machine broke and I’ve got to do a bit of research on whether we can fix it or not before the Memorial Day sales–a good time to break, if it has to break at all.  And I want to take the kids camping soon (Redwoods or Yosemite?) and need to do some legwork on that project tonight.  And I have got to get serious about some healthy-food research related to the new diet Colin’s doctor ask us to go on.  Colin even came home with a Craigslist juicer this afternoon after his karate class.  Lots and lots to think about.

Plus, while I do all that browsing, I’m excited to listen to this BBC interview of a panel of Mormons.  One of the panelists is the author of the Mormon Midrashim blog I’ve been a fan of lately.

Heidi’s favorite thing lately is to pretend to be my cat.  She lies on my bed and “meows” and crawls around a lot.  This morning she added the super-hero element to her pretending and said that she needs to have her special book to know who to save.  Ah, this super hero thing is short-lived.  I asked her who she’s going to save and she said she’s not a super hero anymore.  Then she brought me a small book and said “This is a message for you.”  I asked what the message says.  She said “It says ‘Don’t supervise people on the trampoline.'”  Three-year-olds are really unpredictable.

Heidi-cat taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. Say "Cheese!"

Heidi has been potty training the last couple of weeks and it’s coming along.  She really likes to wear panties, but doesn’t mind so much if they get wet because then she gets to try on another pair!  She’s getting there on her own once in a while, though, which is great progress from running to the bathroom after the fact.  Boy, it’ll be nice having all three out of diapers.

Happy even after having her hair done

Maggie normally hates having her hair done and refuses to let anyone touch it, except the almost-daily brushing Sonja or I give her while she protests loudly.  Today I convinced her to look at some hair styles online with me and I let her choose one.  She chose this one, but with ponytails instead of messy buns.  Maggie’s aesthetic sense is really distinct.  Given how much she normally hates having her hair done, I was surprised how pleased and emphatic she was about her hairdo choice and her alteration to the plan.  She LOVED the idea of having three ponytails–not two, not four.  And she wanted her bangs a certain way, pushed to each side symmetrically.  In the end, she let me tie all three ponytails together into one at the bottom, adding up to five rubber bands in her hair at once.   When she looked in the mirror, she pronounced it “kind of pretty.”  I’ll take that over screaming and kicking any day!

Five ponytails at once

2014 Bookmarks are up!  Click here instead!

This is Colin. I’ve created the 2012 Book of Mormon Sunday School/Relief Society/Priesthood Lesson Schedule Bookmarks. Over 3,000 people came here for last year’s bookmarks and schedule for studying the New Testament (link below), so we’ll keep making them.

So what we have here are bookmarks that say what lesson you’re on each week, 3-up and made painstakingly in Microsoft Word so you can adjust them to your ward’s schedule and print enough out for everybody. They will thank you for them, and you can get more next year. There are 53 Sundays this year, and 48 lessons–so 53 minus two Stake Conferences minus two General Conferences still leaves one Gospel Doctrine week with no lesson. Priesthood and Relief Society have more lessons than weeks, so you’re okay there. But someone will have to make the call in your ward as to what to do with what is listed in the bookmark as December 30th. But no matter what, you’ll have to make some adjustments since you’ll have different ward conference and stake conference dates than I.

LDS Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson Schedule (PDF format)
(right-click link to save file)

LDS Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson Schedule (editable DOC format)
(right click link to save file)

And here are links to previous years’ bookmarks: 2011 New Testament, 2010 Old Testament, 2008 Book of Mormon.

Please comment below–it motivates me if nothing else… 😉 Of course holler if you need any help.

Magnets and Labels

This morning I stayed half-asleep as the kids stood in the hallway negotiating (part playing, part arguing) about the magnets on their chore chart.  Colin came in eventually and woke me up the rest of the way so that I’d have time to get ready for the day, and I discovered that they’d been making pyramids of the round colorful magnets.  In color patterns.  I didn’t ask, but I think they were negotiating the color pattern of their building material.  By the time I left my bedroom and made my way to the hall to appreciate their masterpiece, Heidi had mischievously knocked all the magnets off the boards, ruining all their hard work.  Of course, Heidi was sincerely pleased with herself and grinned as she ran away, grinned as she ran back when I threatened a counting-to-three, and grinned as she picked up all the magnets and refused to apologize because “I have to pick these up first!”

Now Maggie has taken on her favorite motherly/teacherly role with Heidi and is carefully writing (with much better handwriting than she does her Kindergarten homework) labels for everything in the house on pink Post-Its because she’s “teaching Heidi to read!”  This process involves a lot of questions for me.  “How do you spell ‘microwave’?”  “How do you spell ‘Jesus’?”  That last one was the baby Jesus in a manger in our nativity scene.  Heidi just asked Maggie to spell a gibberish phrase.  “Can you spell ‘magnet adkhadkjwei’?”  Maggie said “no, I don’t know how.”  Being a teacher of smart people is tough, I tell you.  They ask questions you don’t know the answer to!

Maggie has a strange combination of hating getting dressed, being extremely opinionated about what she wears, and loving to accessorize.  Every morning and every evening we have an all-out brawl where I wrestle her out of her current clothes and force a new shirt or nightgown over her head.  She hates all of her clothes until they’ve been on for 45 seconds, then she doesn’t mind at all.  I guess it’s just the transition.  When I figure it out, and figure out how to make it a more peaceful process, it’ll be a great day.  In the mean time, Maggie loves to wear scarves and jewelry, and the last couple of days she’s been playing around with her socks.  On Sunday she wore three full pairs, only partially matched, and got upset when I didn’t want her to wear a pair of Heidi’s tights as a finishing touch.  She said she wanted her feet to be warm (it’s really not that cold here in California, but it was cool out).  And she wanted everyone to notice how beautiful they were together.  When we got to church, all the socks came off at once, tossed carelessly to the floor, and I had to carry six socks in my purse for the rest of the day.

This morning when I got up Maggie had dressed herself.  Wow.  This is a big deal.  I told her how great I thought that was.  Then she showed me her socks.  Two socks on one foot, none on the other.  That’s the plan for the day at Kindergarten.  I asked her to go get matching socks for the other foot.  She eventually agreed, but I haven’t checked on her progress yet.

Heidi just brought me “a present,” as she calls it.  “Four presents!” she corrects herself.  A diaper, a container of Costco-brand wipes, a Heidi sized-shirt, and a pair of 2T pants.  Then she walked away.  I gotta go help her get dressed.  :-)

Bedtime with Heidi

Heidi recently learned how to climb out of her crib and tonight she tried it for the first time in a see-if-I-can-push-bedtime-later attempt. Of course, I took her right back to bed and she didn’t want to. As I put her in bed and firmly commanded “Do not get out of bed again,” she asked her favorite question. “Why?” Inspiration hit me and I answered with the standard “Because it’s time to go to sleep” and then added “and because tomorrow is Tuesday.” She looked at me with wide eyes, nodding with understanding and said “Oooohhh.” She quietly put her head down on the pillow. Hey, sometimes absurdity works!

We’re reading a bit of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol together each night this month. Degen and Maggie both love it and almost invariably ask for more when I close the book for the evening (might also have something to do with lights-out after reading time). Heidi, on the other hand, isn’t interested at all and loves to sing and talk loudly to herself while I read. Tonight I was at the part where the Ghost of Christmas present sprinkles his “peculiar incense” on people and houses and food to bless them. Heidi proved that she actually was listening a bit by chiming in with “What’s peculiar mean, Mommy?” I answered “It means ‘special.'” “What’s special mean, Mommy?” she returned. “It means different from everything else.” “Okay, Mommy.” Vocabulary building for nearly-three-year-olds by Charles Dickens.

Maggie Says…

This morning four-year-old Maggie was writing a note to her brother (Mom, how do you spell “sorry?”) and she looked up at me and said “How does….” and then stopped to think of how to phrase it for a while.  Then she said “How does God know how to write?”

I wonder what question she’s really asking, then answer “Well, God knows everything.”

Maggie: But how did he learn how to write?

Me: He probably had to practice. (trying to encourage her to practice, too)

Maggie: But who taught him?

Me: I don’t know, Maggie.

Maggie: Yeah, you don’t know that much.  But Daddy knows everything. At least he says he does.

Me: Should we call him and ask?

Maggie: Okay

I call Colin on the phone and repeat the conversation.  He says “Tell her His mommy probably taught him.”

I repeat it to Maggie.

Maggie: Well who taught her?

Colin: Her mommy.

Maggie: What about her mommy and her mommy and her mommy?

Colin: Their mommies.

Maggie: That’s silly.

Colin: It’s not silly!

Maggie: It is silly. Her mommy and her mommy and her mommy.  (in a sing-song voice as she walks away)

Whoah.  What’s next?


Easter Preparation

Colin’s mother’s family has started holding their annual family reunion on Easter weekend.  I really like the idea of helping the holiday to be special by getting together and connecting as a family.  This year we’ve got fancy dinners and traditional Cuban food and an easter egg hunt and all kinds of fun planned.

I’ve been thinking about Easter and its religious significance, and I wanted to make this year’s celebration a more personal and spiritual experience for myself.  So, when I read Eric Hunstman’s article (here) on how his family observes Easter, I jumped on his tradition of reading in the New Testament each day of the week before Easter about that day on the last week of the Savior’s mortal life.  For each day of the week, he’s posted a simple list of scripture references from the four Gospels detailing what happened on the correlative day of the week of the first Easter.  I’m sure this isn’t a new idea and that I could probably find a similar list in the LDS Bible Dictionary or by googling it, but that’s where I found it and I give him credit.

Each day’s reading so far has only taken a few minutes to read, and I’ve found myself coming away wanting to know and understand more.  So I checked out the New Testament institute manual lessons about that time period here.  It’s really helpful to have the added context of maps and historical details and discussions of how the passages of scripture relate to each other.  I definitely recommend spending the extra time reading about the events of Easter there.

Easter and Passover overlap this year, and I’ve been thinking about their intertwined messages.  Since I was a little girl when we lived in Israel, my parents have participated in a Passover seder every year.  I haven’t been able to join them in a long time, but I remember our seders as some of the most meaningful celebrations of my life.  I miss them!  I really should find a community seder to attend someday.  I wonder if Colin would want to go with me.  I just looked it up and there’s one in Berkeley tomorrow.   That would be a totally appropriate Family Home Evening…but it’s $45 each!  Eeek.   And how would I explain the wine to my kids… and our no alcohol thing to the hosts?  Maybe another year.  And I have a box of Matzah in the cupboard for my own mini-celebration of the Exodus.   There is a lot to be grateful for this week.

Speaking of Family Home Evening, we should have an Easter FHE tomorrow.  If we do, and it were to go the way I planned it (it never does), this is how I’d do it:

Song: Did Jesus Really Live Again?


Lesson: Watch the DVD of “To This End Was I Born” (or on YouTube here), or the shorter “Lamb of God” video if we have less time

Talk about what we saw.  Discuss how the symbols of eggs and flowers and Spring itself point to Jesus Christ and the resurrection.

Activity: Dyeing eggs is an obvious one.  Or we could perform our talents for our family reunion talent show–Grandma wants at least one of the kids to recite the 13th Article of Faith. I’m not totally confident that any of them will be able overcome their stage fright, but maybe practicing would help.

Song: I Know That My Redeemer Lives


Refreshments:  How about these cute little chocolate “nests” with jellybeans for eggs?  They look super easy.  They have the added advantage of being gluten-free, which is good because we found out a couple of months ago that Colin is gluten-intolerant so he has to eat food that has no wheat in it.  If we wanted to get more complicated, I’ll bet we could use our favorite 5 Minute Cookies recipe to make the nests.

Hummingbird Nests

Simpler, we could just distribute Peeps.  I’m not all that into them taste-wise, but have to admit they are cute.  And it would get the kids in bed sooner.

Possibly more yummy, but certainly less dessert-y, would be deviled eggs.

The Classic

Hey, these bunnies are adorable and look easy and kid friendly!

Marshmallow and coconut bunnies

Can you tell I like dessert?

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