Top Topics

Monday, December 7, 2015

Youth Talk - Faith and the Pioneer Trek

This talk was given at church on Sunday 11/22/15 by an awesome young man in my ward named Mitchell. He gave me permission to share it on my blog after I told him how much I enjoyed it.

Good morning brothers and sisters. I was asked by Brother Richins to share some experiences that I had personally on Trek. I’d like to start out by sharing a story from Brother Fielding, the resident cameraman that was taking video all throughout Trek. Throughout the weekend our family had become pretty well acquainted with him, and one night he decided to share a personal experience to us. When Brother Fielding was a teenager, he decided to go on a Joseph Smith-esque journey to figure out if his church (The LDS Church was true). Trying to believe in the Mormon faith was hard for him mainly because he couldn’t read. Brother Fielding had severe dyslexia, and couldn’t really read anything. He had only heard bits and pieces of The Book from stories told by others. But, he decided to make an effort to try to read The Book of Mormon. After much trial, Brother Fielding had finally been able to read the fullness of the gospel. At that time, the Book of Mormon was the only book he could read. He said to us that we may not have the same experiences and miracles that he experienced, but our Heavenly Father is watching us, and he will answer our prayers, and we will be able to be fully converted. He certainly touched the hearts of everyone in my family. This is a great example of how the impossible can be reached through the work of the lord. Prior to Trek, I (for a lack of a better term) was terrified. I’m not in that great of shape, and I don’t really do a lot of exercise.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review - Ice Cream Work by Naoshi

Ice Cream Work is a playful, creative and delightfully quirky book that appeals to children, teens and adults alike.

Naoshi's art work is unique and engaging in Ice Cream Work.  She has mastered the technique of SUNAE. In Japan, SUNA means sand and E stands for drawing.  All the pictures are created using colored sand and there are detailed directions with pictures in the back of the book to show the reader how to make SUNAE on their own.  Each page has beautiful colors and remarkably fine detail (especially considering she created the pictures with sand!).  The illustrations appear to have an interesting texture and depth which you don't see with other types of art mediums.

The tiny visual details throughout the book are amazing.  When I was a young girl, I used to love books that had unusual illustrations that sparked my imagination.  This book rekindles those memories of my youth and causes me to become lost in the amusing and creative fine points in the art work.  I brought the book to the school where I teach and my junior high students loved it.  The pictures kept them fascinated for much longer than I expected.  Many of my students love Japanese art, cartoons and music and the style of this book was very appealing to them.  Although the story line is fairly simple, the artwork is not.  The art speaks even more loudly than the text.  Each time the book is read, there are more details to be noticed and appreciated.

On a literary level, I love the theme of working hard with a happy attitude and also enjoying free time.  Work hard and play hard.  Ice Cream Man goes "cheerfully off to work" and we follow him on his adventures.  Every day brings a new and exciting role - he enjoys life whether he is a party popper, road cone, sunflower, golf ball or night light.  Ice Cream Man could easily represent a boy or a girl because of the way he is drawn so children of both genders can easily pretend like they are Ice Cream Man.

After a long week of work, Ice Cream Man gets to take a much deserved break.  Working hard, playing hard and feeling excitement for what each day may bring - those are things that I can totally stand behind.

A fun addition to the story is the "Look and Find" section after the story.  People can search for the Worried Monkey, Jealous Girl, Pretending Interest Cheetah, Bathing Lemon and so on.  I can't help but wonder if perhaps these items and characters represent something to the author - like a little inside joke that we are left to guess about.

 So if you want an engaging and unusual gift for yourself or a friend, ICE CREAM WORK is a good bet.  It would be fun to put a gift card to an ice cream shop with it.

This book may be purchased through Amazon. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

International Literacy Day

Literacy Day Thank you Grammarly for allowing me to share this infographic on my blog. I am passionate about literacy. I encourage my blog readers to consider helping the cause. Here are some ideas on how to get involved: Donate books or money to your local public library or school library. Volunteer as a literacy coach. Spend time reading with struggling students at your local school. No effort is too small.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Worth the Wait - A BYU Pathways College Assignment

My sister-in-law, Michelle, wrote this awesome letter for a project in her BYU Pathways English class. I was really impressed and asked her if I could share it.  The assignment involved to write a love letter to an object.

Michelle has enjoyed attending BYU Pathways.  She does all the work on-line and once a week she attends a local gathering with other students to discuss coursework.  This has allowed her to work toward her college degree while being a stay at home mom.  It is affordable (around $65/credit) and convenient.  I am so proud of her!  Here is a link with more information in case anyone is interested in pursuing their degree.  

Worth the Wait
My Dearest Love,     I remember the day we reunited again after nearly 15 years. Seeing you there brought back fond memories of why I missed you, and strong desires to never abandon you again. While basking under the sun, I noticed you were resting on a chair. You looked lonely. I nearly heard your silent call for friendship, companionship, and adventure. I was hesitant to greet you, mainly because I did not want to commit to what you had to offer. However, as the gentle summer wind blew your cover open, I could not deny that our time spent together had always filled my own loneliness, and I remembered how much I had missed going on wild adventures with you.     Without further reservation, I picked you up and held you tight to my heart. How could I have left you? Your words, stories, and wisdom had never failed me. I was the one that had failed you! Silently, I cried for your forgiveness. When I finally got brave and picked you up, you gave me butterflies and I was reminded of why I fell deeply in love with you. I was elated to see that you could still help me escape from the daily routine and give me hope and comfort when I needed extra attention. It made me long for more time with you, and I wondered how I could fit you in more often into my life. Why had we stayed away from each other for so long? You surprised me how appealing you had become; you made it so hard to put you down at night. I was even willing to lose a full night of sleep so I could find out what happed at the end of the story. Thank you for changing my life and for stealing me away when I’m having a bad day, or even feeling overwhelmed and need a pick me up. It has been entertaining to visit all these stunning places, solving murders, being inspired, and seeing the girl get her dream guy. You have stolen my heart away as you take me on the journey of a lifetime, and I look forward to being taken away to many more amazing destinations. My love for you grows stronger every day as I find time to spend with you. I love the person I’m rediscovering and I owe it all to you.Love you Forever,Michelle

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Disney TRYit TRYathlon

We had the chance to spend the 4th of July in Huntington Beach, CA this year and boy do they know how to celebrate there!  The have a big parade, parties in the streets, street fairs, fireworks, hanging at the beach, and general fun.

While we were walking near the pier, we were lucky enough to stumble across a set of Disney booths where people of all ages were encouraged to try new things.

It was a Disney TRYathlon.

It was completely free and they were not trying to sell anything which was quite refreshing.  They even gave everyone a free gift bag at the end if you tried out every booth.  Plus they hired people from a local talent agency to work there for the day so everyone was hip and good-looking, some even had tattoos.  Sort of like an acting gig.

They have several other stops planned for their tour this summer in Chicago, Columbus, Minneapolis, and Baltimore so if you're near those cities I encourage you to stop by for some fun.

Even if you can't attend an event, they have fun things you can do obtain from their website - recipes, activities, etc.  The activities involve being active, planting a garden, nature trekking, relay races, learning new stretches, sports, and so on. Go check it out.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Father's Day M&M Printable

Here's a fun Father's Day printable.  Simply print it out and attach to a bag of M&M's.

Feel free to use it if you like it.  I'm all about sharing.

Click HERE to get the PDF that has 10 tags per sheet.

Click HERE to get the PDF that has 6 larger tags per sheet.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cub Scouts - Scout Oath and Law Helps and Printables

Part of the Cub Scout program update involves dropping the Cub Scout Promise and Law of the Pack and adopting the Scout Oath and Scout Law instead.  I personally think this is a great idea because it better prepares the Cub Scouts to become Boy Scouts down the road.

I thought a summary sheet would be helpful for leaders, Cub Scouts and parents.  So I made one.

Since I am a teacher by nature, I always try to think of little tricks to remember things.  When I participated in Board of Review nights with Boy Scouts, I noticed that the boys looked panicked when I asked them to recite the Scout Oath or Scout Law.  It wasn't because they didn't have them memorized; it was because they forgot what they are called.  So I cam up with this little trick to help them.

The Scout Law and Scout Oath are on the back of the handbooks but I also wanted to make these as a resource.

(Note: You can save the PDF file on a memory stick and take it to a copy store and they can print it out on 11 x 17 cardstock for you.  This is a great option for den or pack meetings to help the boys during the transition)

(Note: You can save the PDF file on a memory stick and take it to a copy store like I mentioned for the Scout Law)

Cub Scouts and Faith in God Correlation

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ said this about the Faith in God program: "We encourage you to learn and live the gospel, serve others, and use the talents Heavenly Father has given you to learn and do many good things. Earning the Faith in God Award will help you become the kind of person you would like to be and the person Heavenly Father knows you can become."

The book also says, "Children may work on the activities at home, with their family, or at Primary activity days. In countries where Scouting is part of the Church program, boys work on Faith in God along with Cub Scouting."

Here is a link to the booklet for the Faith in God for Boys program.

Here is a link to a video on that helps explain how Faith in God and Scouting work hand in hand.

If you are a Cub Scout, you can also earn the Scouting Religious Square Knot patch. To do this, complete all the activities with the knot icon next to them.

Note:  In older versions of the Faith in God for Boys booklet, they had some different requirements such as helping plan a quarterly activity.  They removed that requirement and added the one about reading the twelfth article of faith.  Please make sure you are aware of the current requirements. On, you can find the accurate information if you click on the chapter titles but the PDF files are not updated for some reason.  We have contacted church headquarters about the discrepancy.

Here are some links about the new Duty to God requirements involved with Cub Scouting.
New Cub Scout and Boy Scout requirements explore duty to God (from Scouting magazine)

A Utah Blog that explains the Religious Emblem/Faith in God/Duty to God in Cub Scouting and the LDS church. (Contains the helpful explanation posted below as well as correlations between Cub Scouting and Faith in God.  FYI There is one mistake on the correlation sheet in regards to the religious knot.  They put it next to the Word of Wisdom requirement instead of by the Joseph Smith FHE one.)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bullying - STOP IT!

Here's a wonderful anti-bullying video made by my son's 5th grade class.  As a substitute teacher, I am very aware of bullying at school and try to stop it in it's tracks.  But it still happens and it hurts my heart.  I've also seen it happen among adults.  I'm not sure how we can totally eliminate bullying but I do think video projects like this make a difference.  I know this particular group of 5th graders will be more aware after creating this as well as their families and friends who have viewed it.

My son's teacher also made this anti-bullying video the next year.  What a worthwhile tradition. #breakthecycle

I also thought this video called "Bullying - Stop It!" was very moving.  We can examine our own lives and see if we need to adjust our behaviors.

Here's a great article by President Uchtdorf (the man who is speaking in the video) that talks about being merciful and forgiving toward each other.

This is one my favorite parts of the article:

"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

Stop it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The 5 Love Languages

Feeling loved is a primary emotional need for all humans.  There are countless poems, letters, stories, books, and songs written about love.

Here's one song that kept running through my mind as I contemplated writing this post -
Everybody.  The chorus repeats, "Everybody, everybody wants to love, everybody, everybody wants to be loved."  So, so true.

In Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages," it says, "Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic that the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted.  With an adequate supply of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult.  Without that love, he or she will be emotionally and socially challenged." (You can listen to this book on YouTube).

Dr. Chapman shares a wonderful metaphor to illustrate the importance of feeling loved.  He heard this metaphor from Dr. Ross Campbell who is a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of children and adolescents.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The 5 Love Languages - Ideas for Couples

Click HERE to read my original post about The 5 Love Languages.


Need some ideas on how to speak your spouse's love language?  Here are some from Dr. Chapman's book:

The 5 Love Languages of Children

Click HERE to read my original post about The 5 Love Languages.

The 5 Love Languages aren't just for couples - They apply to everyone you interact with.  As a mom of three boys, I found this information very helpful in my parenting since I spend so much of my life focusing on my children (and my spouse).  We all know that each child is unique and that they each need different things from us.  After learning about the Love Languages, I feel that my parenting skills have improved.  (Too bad I didn't read it 19 years ago!)

Here are descriptions of The 5 Love Languages in regards to children:

Harry Potter Party

My brother and his darling family came to town for Spring Break.  My niece and I decided to throw an epic Harry Potter party.  What spurred this craziness?  Well, my niece was super bummed that she was going to miss a Harry Potter that the girls at her church were coordinating since she would be on vacation at my house instead.  So of course I told her we would have our own party.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Talk - Follow the Prophet

One of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter series is Dumbledore. He is wise, calm and often times can be found encouraging and counseling the Hogwarts students, especially Harry. On one occasion he says, “dark and difficult times lie ahead, soon we must all face the choice, between what is right and what is easy.”

We know and have seen many dark and difficult times during our life. Perhaps it was last week with terror acts, perhaps it was yesterday with a family member, perhaps it was over the past few years with wars and natural disasters. And what Dumbledore said was key, because we all have the choice to choose between what is right and what is easy.

It has never been entirely easy to follow the Prophet but we know it is right. Let’s take for example a few stories from the scriptures. Noah, a Prophet called of God to preach repentance to the people was met with ridicule, death threats and mockery. God, using his Prophet tried to preserve not only the temporal life but spiritual life of the people, but they would not listen. Why? Was it just plain easier to follow the crowd rather than follow the right? And, I have to wonder if there were times when Noah thought that too? But rather than giving into the easy, he put his complete trust in God and built the ark and gathered the animals and provisions even on the driest of days. And this is the best part – he and his family were blessed because they put their trust in God and in the Prophet. President Eyring teaches, “The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Grammarly Study - People with Stronger Writing Skills Are Better at Their Jobs, Get Paid More

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I love grammar, spelling, root words, vocab, etc.  I am a self-proclaimed Word Nerd.

When I substitute teach, I try to persuade students to understand that writing skills are crucial to all careers and that people are more successful when they can communicate effectively (both verbally and with the written word).  I bring language arts into all subject areas - science, social studies, and even math.  With the new "Common Core State Standards," students will be expected to have even stronger writing skills than ever before.

In the infographic below, Grammarly provides data and statistics to support my argument in this area.