Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Halloween Message from The Princess of Power



The other thing I like about Halloween:  
the license to be someone else for a night...
or even someone else from one night to the next.

Tonight I was She-Ra for our ward Trunk-or-Treat.

I threw this outfit together in like five minutes, because let's face it, I just happen to know where my She-ra outfit is at all times.

You see, this is my very own original She-Ra costume that I got for my birthday when I was a kid...and loved enough to save all of these years.  I also have my glow-in-the-dark sword, shield, and action figures which my girls play with now.

Sadly, none of the kids at the party had ever heard of She-ra or He-Man.

What is the world coming to?
I ask you...

Happy Halloween from Roller Derby Jocelyn

 

So here's a funny follow-up to my last post...about being sick of Halloween.

I decided to dress up as my friend Tara for our ward Halloween Party last night.
(That's her as the Wicked Witch of the West.)

She's a roller derby queen...no seriously, she joined a local roller derby league and is even appearing in their calendar! She's way in to it! 

You can't see it, but I'm wearing knee pads and roller skates.

Anyway, my friend Amy loaned me her black wig to imitate Tara's long curly hair.

Well, I tried it on the other day and was laughing at the sight of myself in the mirror, then I looked closer and discovered a big old spider IN MY HAIR...a live one!

I freaked out and screamed super loud, and then I busted out laughing, even harder.

My kids and I had a good laugh about the whole thing.

And that's what's fun about Halloween, the thrill of getting a fright, but knowing that everything is all right!

Have a safe, happy, sweet, and thrilling Halloween!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween: I'm not ignoring you, I'm just sick of you!



It's official.


I am the Grinch who stole Halloween.


Confession:  I took all of our Halloween decor down two days ago.


Now before you pass judgment, keep this in mind:  We have been in Halloween-mode around my house since THE FOURTH OF JULY.


No.  I am not joking.


Remember when my kids brought out the 4th of July decorations on St. Pattie's Day?  Well, they caught a full-blown case of Halloween Fever on Independence Day.  We have been drawing ghosts, crafting spooky crafts, telling scary bedtime stories, eating creepy meals by candlelight (We've really enjoyed those!), trying on various costumes, watching the Halloween cartoons, drawing sidewalk chalk graveyards, reading favorite Halloween poems, chanting spooky rhymes, and "BOO-ing" (loudly) in each other's faces since mid-summer.


So far this month we have been to two Halloween parties, visited two pumpkin patches, gone on three hay rides, eaten one bag of candy corn, and carved eight pumpkins (three of which we actually grew ourselves).


And we've still got TWO Halloween parties, a Halloween Parade, and a TRUNK-r-TREAT coming our way this weekend.


So, I ask you...Can you blame me for wanting to lay this holiday to rest???


It's been a lot of fun...but R.I.P. Halloween 2010!




PS - Just when I was feeling my Grinchiest, my visiting teachers from church showed up with this temple-themed treat.  And I could feel my black heart growing three sizes...or maybe that was just my waistline...


PPS - I forgot to mention...Guy wants a "spooky Halloween birthday party" next month.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music to Calm the Savage Beast & Giveaway


Continuing with my Christmas gift idea theme this week with a list of what I consider the best music to have at home.  My incorporation of beautiful music into my family-life is in part inspired by the sentiment given by Quinten L. Cook in the October 2010 General Conference when he said that "We need to introduce into our homes content that is 'virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy."

It's also because my children are extremely high-energy.  I LOVE it!  We have a lot of fun together.  But it can also make for a very loud life at home, plus all of the hardwood in our house causes quite the echo!  So, in order to calm their little hearts and to welcome the Spirit, I like to keep some soft, soothing music handy.  We play the music while we paint, while we cook, or when we just need to take it down a notch.  It's a great alternative to TV viewing.

Here are some of my favorite CDs that might make great Christmas gifts too:

jewel-lullaby-cover-art

Jewel Lullaby

I have been a Jewel fan for some time, but I recently discovered her Lullaby after hearing it at a friend's house.  It is a wonderful collection.  I love the Circle Song, because the message is so sweet and simple.  I put the Youtube link above for you to enjoy.  Go ahead click on it if you haven't already.  The might be other tracks that you enjoy more, but I like the words to this one.

Tchaikovsky At Tea Time: A Refreshing Blend For Body And Spirit


My grandma gave me this CD many years ago.  It's a good one for "quiet time". Currently it's stuck in my car CD player, because one of my kids broke a CD and a piece of it fell on top of my Tea Time CD, and I have no idea how to get it out.  Luckily, this was the CD that got stuck in there, and not something totally obnoxious!

Raymond Briggs' The Snowman

Raymond Briggs' The Snowman

Ok, so this is actually a video, but it doesn't really count as "TV" in my mind, because it is so pleasant and beautiful to watch and listen to.  There is no dialog.  I don't know where the music came from or if it was written for this story, but it is amazing.  It is the perfect soundtrack for an afternoon nap on the couch cuddling up with your kids.  It's only 28 minutes long.  I bought it last year at Walmart.  Best $5 I've spent in a long time.

Nearer: a New Collection of Hymns


This is a collection of classic hymns that have been redone with an updated sound.  My kids actually really like it.  It's a nice collection of music for every day, because it sounds more current, but still has the same beautiful message.  Very uplifting.

Walt Disney's Fantasia: Remastered Original Soundtrack Edition


This is the soundtrack for Disney's Fantasia.  We actually own this video on VHS.  My mom passed it on to us last year.  Apparently Disney experimented with interpreting classical music with animation and it was a huge flop when it was released, but it has been a huge hit with my children.  Recently, we heard one of the songs on our Tea Time CD that is in Fantasia and my daughter went nuts telling me what the song was "about".  It's neat to know that my kids are familiar with classical music at such a young age...of course they don't know the names, but they recognize the music, and that's a good sign to me.

And Winter Came

Enya - And Winter Came

Enya is another artist that I have really appreciated in the past.  I don't have this CD, but I want it!  I've listened to a few of the music samples online, and as always, her music brings to mind some lovely, peaceful images, and really calms the troubled heart.  This CD is sort of a holiday CD, so would be a nice early season gift to give...or get for your own home.


And here's one that you could win...





Sabbath Morning by The Jenny Phillips Choir


I don't have this one either, but my friend Tami who sings on this CD is giving one away to one lucky reader on Friday, so scoot on over there and enter!

Ok, that's my list for today.  (I'd love to hear what music you keep handy!)

I hope that you will take the time to slow down and listen for the beautiful music in your daily lives...your children laughing or asking for (another) glass of milk, the wind blowing, the leaves falling.  See beauty in the small things...it's there!


An Update...from my Mom on my use of the "savage beast" reference.  I knew that I wasn't getting it quite right, but didn't feel like looking it up.  Didn't know however that it was originally to soothe the savage breast:



Music has charms to soothe the savage breast

Meaning

Literal meaning. That literal meaning may be misinterpreted somewhat as this phrase is commonly misreported as 'music has (or occasionally 'hath') charms to soothe the savage beast'. In fact, at the time of writing (Nov 2006) there are twice as many hist for the incorrect version of the phrase as for the correct one.

Origin

The phrase was coined by William Congreve, in The mourning bride, 1697:
Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I've read, that things inanimate have mov'd,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform'd,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
'Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
The silent Tomb receiv'd the good Old King;
He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg'd
Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
Why am not I at Peace?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas - Educational Toys


We're in the middle of birthday season at our house.

And since Christmas is coming, I thought I'd highlight some of my favorite gifts that my 4, 3, and 2-year-olds have received (or will receive) this year.

Most of them came from CSN Stores.

I did a review for them because I was interested in checking out their educational toys back when I was doing my Life Lessons Preschool series, and I was so pleased with how quickly the stuff I ordered arrived!  The first item arrived the very next day!  (And the others followed soon after that.)  What, do they have little elves working for them or something? I was impressed, because I have sure never received that kind of prompt service from Amazon.

So without further ado, here are some toys that are kid tested and Me-approved:



My soon-to-be 5 -year-old Guy doesn't know it yet, but he is getting this next month for his birthday, and I already know that it's perfect for him.  This toy is simple, colorful, challenging, and smart.  As you can see there are many ways to fit the blocks into the puzzle, but you might not realize that the dots on the base indicate to the child how many blocks should fit in the remaining space.  It's neat.  Can't wait to give it to my son for his birthday.



Melissa & Doug - See and Spell

This is another toy that is waiting to make an appearance.  I think that my 3-year-old Scarlett will find this little number waiting for her under the Christmas tree this year.  I was initially wondering if the letters would be so small that they caused a choking hazard, but I was pleased to see that they actually a great size.




We gave this one to Autumn (my 2-year-old) yesterday for her birthday.  I knew that I had to get this toy because every time we see this toy, my kids have go nuts over it...all of them do (even though we've had plastic versions around for a long time!)  It's well-made, intuitive, makes a nice sound, and because it's wood, it just feels good when you use it.  Great, simple, active toy!

Kid O Exploring Fractions Pegged Puzzle

This one is being saved for a rainy (or snowy) day.  I was torn between getting this one or another puzzle, but figured this one taught more concepts:

Leap Frog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set (HC29)


CSN actually has a car set, but my parents gave the animal one to Autumn for her birthday.  This is another toy that my kids go nuts for at other people's houses, so I knew she'd be thrilled with it...and she was.  She danced around with this thing for a long time yesterday.  I took a 4-minute video, but due to a downloading snafu, I lost half of the photos that I took on her Birthday...boohoo. 

Guidecraft Housekeeping Stand - G96030

Guidecraft - Housekeeping Stand

Autumn's Grandma and Grandpa gave her a broom set for her birthday, and she loves it.  They bought their set locally at The Purple Platypus.  It was a simple broom, hand broom, and matching dustpan, but what a great gift idea!  Now my little helpers can really help and not have to fumble around with an adult-sized broom.

Plus it went really well with the little apron that I gave her that I found at a local Mennonite fabric shop:



So there you have it!  A few of my favorite toys for tots.
I hope it gets you thinking about gifts, because Christmas is coming, my friends!

But first, I need to go carve pumpkins with my kids! :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Autumn Frost!



Happy Birthday to my Sunshine Girl, who has been an absolute joy and a treasure to our whole family since the day she was born...two years ago now!!

Happy Birthday Autumn!



I've got blue fingers from icing that Cookie Monster cake, but it was totally worth it!

Look how it turned out!

Can't wait to celebrate some more after church today!

Happy, happy day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best Places to Raise an LDS Family




Oh, my dear Mormon friends...someone at the Mormon Times was clearly not paying attention to my blog, as I have time after time given examples of why Pennsylvania is such a great place to live.  But alas, you don't have to take my word for it, because now it's official:


The book "Best Places to Raise an LDS Family" ranks State College, Pennsylvania as the #1 PLACE to raise an LDS Family Outside of Utah!

Again...no surprise there!  We actually live an hour east of State College now, but we did live in State College for two years of our marriage and that is where my first two children were born...In a hospital over-looking Penn State's Beaver Stadium...and a field of sheep!

To determine the best places to raise an LDS family, they looked at data that generally fell into seven categories:  LDS Culture, Education, Crime, Economic Environment, Health, Household Characteristics, and Housing.

Pennsylvania is a peaceful, beautiful place.  Things are simpler here, calmer, more real.  People work hard and know how to have good clean fun.  People are helpful, good neighbors, kind, generous, faithful, and they care about their communities.  And they love children here.  They love families.  When I am out and about with my children, people are so supportive and kind.  If you are raising children, this is THE ideal place.  I wasn't sure how I'd like it here long-term when we first moved here, but I didn't have children yet then, and I had moved to State College straight from Washington, DC, so it was a bit of a huge change of pace for me.  But now that we have a family, our needs are different, and this place, these people bring us a lot of joy.

Right now, we are waiting to hear the latest developments on our promised Temple in Philadelphia, PA...the first temple to come to our state.  I hear things...like the temple might end up coming a lot closer to us than Philly, but we'll just have to see about that...

Seriously people...what more proof do you need?  Move here...now...there's an open lot right next to mine just waiting to be built on.  We could be neighbors!  :)

You can read the rest of the rankings here.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christmas Ornament Exchange


I wasn't going to blog today, but then Carrie of The Rowdy Stroudy's invited me to participate in a Christmas ornament exchange...and well, you know how much I love Christmas, and parties, and ornaments, and such, so you know I just could not resist.

I signed up, and so can YOU!

In fact, I want you to sign up...The more, the merrier!

All you have to do is make one ornament and send it along, then you will receive one ornament as well.  Just click on over to Carrie's blog to sign up or email her at carriestroud@gmail.com.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Increasing Religious Observance in The Home




Oh, what can I say about the last few weeks of my life? 


I've learned so much.  I've pondered a lot.  I've been inspired by what other bloggers have said about living in the world, but not being worldly--and what our leaders have said in the recent General Conference.  I've felt the Spirit opening my eyes to patterns of behavior that needed to be tweaked in my life and in my home in order to more fully align our lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in order to strengthen and fortify our home from evil influences.


After listening to Quentin L. Cook's talk in General Conference, I started to look more closely at the influence that TV has over my young children and over me.  He said:




"An ever-present danger to the family is the onslaught of evil forces that seem to come from every direction. While our primary effort must be to seek light and truth, we would be wise to black out from our homes the lethal bombs that destroy spiritual development and growth. Pornography, in particular, is a weapon of mass moral destruction. Its impact is at the forefront in eroding moral values. Some TV programs and Internet sites are equally lethal. These evil forces remove light and hope from the world. The level of decadence is accelerating.5 If we do not black out evil from our homes and lives, do not be surprised if devastating moral explosions shatter the peace which is the reward for righteous living. Our responsibility is to be in the world but not of the world.
In addition, we need to greatly increase religious observance in the home. Weekly family home evening and daily family prayer and scripture study are essential. We need to introduce into our homes content that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.”6 If we make of our homes holy places that shelter us from evil, we will be protected from the adverse consequences that the scriptures have foretold."

I used to be someone who would get pretty annoyed when I sat in a conversation where people talked of Television as if it were completely "of the devil".  And people who wouldn't watch any TV, forget it, I didn't get them at all.  I hated "TV bashing".  After all, any tool can be used equally for good or evil, right?  

But now, as a Mom, and as time passes, more and more often than not, the seemingly innocent programs that I watch, with my children even, are full of false, deceiving, and offensive messages that I do not want my kids to absorb.  Not on my watch.  

As I pondered this new awareness, I realized that it wasn't necessarily the content that my kids are seeing right now that is bothering me, but the relationship that my children are building with television.  It is this relationship that I believe Satan is banking on for future influence in the lives of my children.

Now I had a career in Television for crying out loud.   If anyone should KNOW about TV...it's me.  I know the good, the bad, the ins, and the outs.  I know the power that TV wields.  I know.  I am a Mother who knows.  And I know that I want my children to have a better relationship with their scriptures than with a TV.  And I know that what Sister Wixom said in General Conference this month is also true:


“The world will teach our children if we do not.”
"What we want them to know five years from now needs to be part of our conversation with them today."
and
“When we are intentional about holding them and teaching them of Heavenly Father’s plan through prayer and scriptures, they will come to know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.”


As I have thought about our family's relationship with these two things...TV and the Scriptures, I also asked myself, which do we spend more time with?  Which comes first in our day, sitting down to study or turning on a cartoon to keep them from crying and to give me a minute to get breakfast on the table?


After seeing how some brave Mothers get their kids up at insane hours to study scriptures, I knew that that is what I must do too!  My kids are generally awake way too early anyway, so instead of shooing them off to bed again, we have started having scripture study in the early morning hours with our 4, 3, and nearly 2 year-olds.


And I love it.  I think that they love it too.


Nothing else happens before Scripture study, because I want them to know what is most important to me...I want them to know what comes first.


I should amend that...Two things happen before we actually read our scriptures.  


First...we snuggle...a lot.  We turn on the little space heater in our play room, wrap up in blankets and snuggle and giggle and laugh and tickle.  (Which is so funny given Sis. Wixom's advice about intentionally "holding" our children.  It is so true!  Children need to be held, no matter the age, and showing them affection during scripture time is a great way to express joy and love for them and to create happy feelings that can be associated with family togetherness and family scripture study.


Second...I get them all dressed...when the snuggling has run its course.


And Finally, we read.  Verse by verse.  Each child "reads" by repeating the words that we whisper in their ears.  We only read about five verses or so a day.  Then we sing a favorite Primary song, and then we say Family Prayer.


Then we march downstairs for breakfast, and do you know what?  No one is cranky or crying or fighting.  Everyone is (generally) very happy.  And this new routine is working for us...so far.


On Saturday morning, I had to leave early to go to a Stake RS meeting...My kids would NOT let me leave without reading and praying together.  I like that.


It has been a very good change, and we are already creating sweet memories together because of the simple advice of our church leaders.


There are many more changes that need to be made in our family, I am sure.  


What changes are you making to "greatly increase religious observance in your homes?"


I would love to be inspired by your ideas...


genconfbutton1

...also if you are looking for a way to study the words of the prophets, you might want to join this General Conference Book Club...I am really enjoying it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wholesome Recreational Activities



After a long day of work (both at home and at church) on Saturday...
We decided to go for a nice long hike together.


Bright, smiling faces...


totally beautiful...totally worth it.


And for my Mom, proof that I do get in the photo from time to time.

Also, I said a few things over at House of Sarager today for her
"Impact Week"...so check it out, won't you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

bon anniversaire à moi


I'm celebrating my 33rd birthday today...Yay!

I love my family.  I love my friends.

I love my life.  

There is no better gift than that!
I have been truly blessed.

Now my birthday wish is for all of you to go out and have an ice cream cone, sit in the sunshine, listen to the rain, take a nap, call a friend, hug your children, see the world with new eyes, be positive, be appreciative, and just make it a great and glorious day!

Thanks to everyone in my life who gives me a million reasons to smile every day of the year!
Thanks to my husband for throwing me a fun surprise party, to my friends for celebrating with me, and for all of the well-wishes!


XOXO

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Today Looks Like


The Sleepy Time Gal asked what fall looked like in our hometown.

Well, here it is...our fall day with Grandma & Grandpa at the Farmer's Market.

How delightful!


Autumn pointing to the roosters in her little Amish bonnet that Grandma bought her today.


We sampled some pretty delicious cider and just had to buy some.

Sorry I don't have pictures of "The Pickle Man", "The Tupperware Lady", the Candy Counter, the necklaces that we found, but that SUNSHINE just says it all.

It's sunny and beautiful here in my corner of the world.

What's it like where you live today?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mr. Von Clean

I realize that not everyone likes to believe in mysterious beings bearing gifts...but we do.  And this last week has been full of speculation about and anticipation of the arrival of Mr. Von Clean.  We have spoken of him so often that our whole neighborhood has been anticipating his arrival.  Well, last night he finally made his appearance.


Mr. Von Clean is a character from my husband's youth.  He comes to check on little boys and girls to see how well they have completed their chores.  If he is satisfied with their work, it is said that he leaves small gifts for them.  Mr. Von Clean speaks in a wee bit of a Scottish accent and bears an uncanny resemblance to Grandpa Christensen, which he assures us only makes sense since they are distantly related.


No speck of dirt goes unnoticed by Mr. Von Clean...and no neatly made bed does either, for his magnifying glass reveals all!  


I think that in every childhood a little magic must dwell, else what would be the sense in letting such lovely imaginations go to waste?  I also would like Mr. Von Clean to leave Mommies a gift too for our diligent efforts! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Stand All Amazed



I love my job.

Have I mentioned that before?


Each day of Motherhood is a mix of the mind-numbingly monotonous, the dizzyingly divine, and the completely unpredictable.


Take last Wednesday, for example.  One moment, I was changing a diaper and running donations over to the Goodwill, and the next I was discovering one of the oldest and most complete dinosaurs ever unearthed, with my kids.

Right now I am *supposed* to be making my house look semi-clean before my in-laws arrive, and I'll need to keep my kids happy and get a nice dinner made some time in the next three hours...all while holding a nearly two-year-old to keep her from crying/screaming.  I have had many a high-stress job in my lifetime.  I sort of thrive on that kind of pressure. But the job of Motherhood is by far the most demanding and tries my skills day in and day out.

I will be turning 33 years old on Friday.  And I have been a Mother for nearly five years.  I've earned my fair share of wrinkles and extra pounds during the time, and the Lord has taught me a LOT...but I am happy to report, that I really enjoy my career as a Mother, and there are still things in life (like old dinosaur bones) that amaze me and fill my mind with wonder.  

I hope it stays that way for a long, long time.






Looking for some more inspiration this week?
I am participating in Impact Week over at House of Sarager.
So hop on over there to check out what she is talking about today!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Giveaway Winner & Blog Awards


I'd like to thank Lu over at I Am Just Lu for choosing me for a "Lovely Blog Award".
Cute!  Thanks!  I guess she really enjoyed the Family Proclamation Celebration that we did last month!  If you missed it, you can find links to all of the posts here.


Here's how the award works: 
  1. Accept the award. Post in on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
  2. Pay it forward to 5 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
  3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.
And here are the exceptional blogs that I've chosen to pass the award on to.  Each woman on this list has inspired me and brightened my days over the last little while.  (Truly, I wish I could pick about 25 bloggers...not 5, but such is life!)
I've linked to specific posts of theirs that I have really liked:


1.  Samurai Mom


My Photo


2.  The Sleepytime Gal


IMG_2728


3.  Simple Inspiration


Picture 83


4.  Women in the Scriptures


My Photo


5.  Recipe Cut Outs






In other news, Stephanie of Diapers and Divinity gave special recognition to two of the posts from our Family Celebration last month:  Misty's post about Making Service a Way of Life for your Family and my Mom's post on the Warnings and Forewarnings in The Family Proclamation.  That was pretty cool!  Thanks, Steph!


And last, but certainly not least, the winner of the book "Jesus Calling" is 





Naomi Carmen of Mangostar.  
Naomi, I love your blog...I love your uniqueness, 
and I hope that you and your kids enjoy the book!
Congratulations!