Monday, January 31, 2011

What Works For Us: Family Scripture Study

We have tried several different ways of studying the scriptures as a family, but could never get the kids to sit still and never got into really good habits until this year. Since I was always looking for ideas, I thought I would share what has finally worked for us. I know it won't work for everyone, and please don't feel like I am saying this is what everyone should do, but here you go:

First, what we have tried in the past that didn't work for us:

*Reading right before bed. We would get the kids bathed and in their PJ's, and then read with them before tucking them in. This didn't work because they tend to get really rowdy at the drop of the hat during this time of the day - looking for any excuse to prolong the bedtime routine. Being calm during scripture study just became one more thing to fight them on every night.

*Reading the scripture stories online from the children's versions, as found here. This worked better than some methods, but the problem with it was that not everyone had a place to sit, and it quickly got old to stand in front of the screen. Attention spans were very limited.

*Reading one verse a night. It was better than nothing, but I just don't know how much anyone got out of it.

*Reading before school. It worked some mornings, but other mornings....woo-eee. Nope.

So, onto what does work for us:

*We now clean up the dinner table and immediately gather in our front room to read. Since we are pretty good about having dinner together every night, it is an easy transition from the table to the couch. The kids are not fighting us at that time of the evening, everyone is pretty calm, and it is easy to remember. All our study materials stay in that room so we are always prepared.

*We read from New Testament Stories (shown below), which is put into easy language and has pictures. We bought it off the LDS Online Store for $7. Gabe usually reads from the book and then Colin reads directly from the scriptures that are listed below each little section. This works well for us because the kids are hearing everything twice -first with easy to understand language, and again in scriptural language. They are both highly involved so their attention doesn't wander, and Colin gets great practice at looking up specific scriptures. We decided to do the New Testament this year because that is what is being studied in gospel doctrine, so Chad and I are studying it in more depth on our own as well.

*We pretty much let Ollie do whatever he wants. Sometimes he even watches Dora on Chad's i-pod so that he will be quiet and calm. For now, this is part of what makes it all work :o)

A few things that don't work well with this method:
*If we eat out, we totally forget to read.
*I don't know what we will do when sports start back up and we aren't always able to have that time free in the evening.
*When Chad travels I am pretty tired after dinner.

I think the keys here are being prepared, finding the right time, and above all, consistency - like Elder Bednar said:

Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes.

We are still far from perfect, and Chad and I have noticed that if we go a few nights without reading, our family starts getting pretty grumpy with each other. We are gaining a firm belief that studying together brings the Spirit into our homes, and our kids are gaining a true appreciation for scripture study.

So, tell me, what have you found that works for you? I know that I have some aunts and uncles out there who have been there/done that, so please share!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How do we celebrate? FOOD!

When I was looking over the pictures from Chad's birthday celebrations, I had to laugh to myself. Everything was centered around food!

There was another thing that made me laugh - our cheapo date on Chad's birthday. I mentioned the other day that a week after we moved to Charlotte, for his birthday I got Chad a pair of jeans (from Walmart) and a new phone for our apartment. For dinner that night we used a gift certificate from Papa John's for a free pizza that we had gotten as a part of a welcome package in the mail. Chad had just graduated from college, we had just moved across the country and had not yet been reimbursed for it (this was back when companies actual did that!), and Chad hadn't received his first paycheck, so we were absolutely broke. It was okay though - actually one of the most exciting times of our lives really - because we knew that things were going to be better very soon, and even though it was a lame celebration, Chad did not mind in the least.

However, we laugh about that birthday and sometimes Chad teases me about it...which brings me back to this birthday. I bought him a hoodie from Old Navy (which he is wearing in all these pictures) and some sweats from Target. We had Bobby and Sabina babysit our kids for us while we went to Outback using a gift card that Chad got for Christmas from a colleague, and then we went to a movie for free using coupons that we got from the back of cereal boxes. Six years have passed, we make twice as much, but Chad just hasn't changed that much! Everyone knows that free food tastes better anyway!

So here we were on his birthday - Bloomin' Onion, my delicious wedge salad (don't worry, that was just a side, I haven't changed on you either), and ribs. YUM! We had a wonderful time.

Chad had a ton of work this week, but managed to work from home the day after his birthday, and Colin had school off that day, so we did our family celebration then.

I made sausage and monkey bread for breakfast. In this picture we are all waiting for him to finish a work call so he can join us. We ended up starting without him, which was good because he didn't get off the phone for another 40 minutes.

Poor guy!

We went to Red Robin for a late lunch. I couldn't stomach a burger, so I tried this fish sandwich. Even though it is fried fish it sounded like it would make me feel better than red meat. The first two bites were awesome, and then the breading on the fish got soggy and it was kind of gross. And yes, I got a salad on the side instead of fries. What is going on?! I will tell you what - pregnancy has not been kind to me lately and Tums are becoming a close friend. Chaddy got the faithful Whisky River and was as happy as ever with it.
For the first time in probably two years they didn't bring out a "surprise" birthday sundae. The kids were pretty bothered by that. We stopped on the way home to get some ice cream to go with his birthday cake.

I was planning on making him a cheesecake, but when I was at Target I saw this peanut butter brownie mountain thing that looked perfect for him, so I got that instead.

And finally, the only part of the festivities that wasn't about food - we lit some fireworks to celebrate the most popular member of our family.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Happy Birthday to the love of my life, the person who makes me laugh most, the biggest blessing in my life,

My Chad,

who just gets better with every year.

We love you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Writing a post in 20 minutes or less

I don't have much to say folks. I know you all love blog posts that begin like that...they are sure to be so entertaining, but there you have it. My mind is January, third-trimester, brain-dead-ee-o. I read back on my blog yesterday and have seen been chastising myself since for not keeping up like I used to or putting in the effort that I used to. So here is the keep-up, without the effort. May the effort soon follow.

What is going on in our lives:

Chad's birthday is this week. He says not to get him anything. I told him that if I at least got him a pair of jeans and a plug-in phone that one year when we had been living in Charlotte for a week and were broke, I was sure gonna get him something this year. My goodness.

Got to go to the temple last week, thanks to my parents. As always, it had been way too long. We ended up in a spanish-speaking session, which was really okay because it meant we got to add headphones into the mix. Well, I did.

I think Gabe gets the same winter blues that I do. I really need to find a way to get him out of his funk. He is not happy these days. His favorite things lately are word searches, Harry Potter, and Spongebob.

Ollie is getting over an ear infection. He now seems symptom-free, but if you ask him how he is, he will furrow his brows, frown and say, "I'm sick" even if he has been scooting wildly around the house. He has been back into mischief lately and is now tall enough to reach the water dispenser on the fridge.

We have been letting the boys ride their scooters in the house since Christmas because of the bad weather. One of the many benefits of wood floors! No broken bones or furniture yet.

I am officially uncomfortable, and I already can't fit into to some of the clothes that I wore at the end of my pregnancy with Gabe. Strangers are already asking me how much longer I have. 11 weeks people! It's not even soon enough to start a countdown. I think it would have bothered me with my first or second pregnancy, but it makes me laugh now. They always follow it up with asking if it is my first.

I got to sit around talking to Colin for a half hour tonight while Chad put the other two down. That kid is growing up so quickly, but is still such an innocent sweet boy in so many ways. We talked about who his best friends are at school (all girls still) and what his favorite "special" is at school (PE). He got new primary teachers on Sunday and when asked to tell them two things about himself, he said, "I have too much energy" and "I'm good at math."

20 minutes are up! Have a good night.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keepin' It Real Wednesday

Last night we drove home from McDonald's with the kids. We had been sledding at my parent's house before that. Sounds like a fun evening, right? Well, it had been the opposite of fun (tantrums, yelling, snot-nosed punks), and as we drove, I asked Chad if he could put off the three hours of work that he needed to do that evening, so that I could have some time away from the kids. He told me to take all the time that I needed and then asked,

"When do I get my time?"

He was kidding, of course, but I stared out the window and asked him if he really thought I was in the mood for jokes.

I got the time I needed and used it wisely to peruse facebook, where I saw a status from my next-door neighboor stating that school had been cancelled for Wednesday. Heaven help us. Really. Please help us.

I consider myself a homebody, but this is getting ridiculous. We are on our 12th day in the year 2011 and so far I have spent 9 of those days completely or partially confined to our house because of injury, sickness, or weather. As I write this, a chapped-faced Oliver is breathing his snotty breath into my face.

I keep picturing Ma Ingalls, cooped up in a tiny dugout on the banks of Plum Creek, snowed in with her three kids. If she can do it, I can. Right?

I gotta admit though, that this picture does nothing to console me, as I replace her face with mine and then picture myself beating my head on the dirt wall and screaming, as my kids look on, open-mouthed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Date: Cabo Fish Taco

Since we heard that Cabo Fish Taco was on Triple D, Chad and I have been dying to go. Good Baja-style Mexican in Charlotte is a rarity, and it also happens to be the one of our favorite types of food. However, Cabo Fish Taco is a good half hour drive from our house, so we just never took the time to go. We finally went there for a date over Christmas break, and we were not disappointed.

Well, I take that back. We were disappointed with their chips and corn salsa. Fresh tortilla chips can be one of my favorite things in the world, and these were hit and miss, all in the same basket. The corn salsa was tasty by itself, but on corn tortilla chips? Just wasn't quite right.

Chad got the BBQ Mahi Tacos - "Grilled mango BBQ Mahi-Mahi tacos stuffed with Cabo slaw, tomato, avocado, mixed cheeses & finished with our cilantro white sauce." Oh my. A lot of different flavors were stuffed into those tacos, and the pay-off is a taco unlike any taco you will ever have. And can I just tell you that the tortillas were the most perfect I have had in North Carolina? Here is a clip from Triple D about these very tacos.

I ordered the beer-battered shrimp tacos. My tacos were much simpler in taste, but the taste and textures together were perfection. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the batter had just the right crisp to it. There was a lot less going on, but I they were still just as delicious as Chad's. By the way, we each had one of each of the tacos - one more thing I love about my husband is eagerness to try new food right along with me, and we almost always trade plates half-way through.

The sides were pretty mediocre, but it it really didn't matter. If those tacos were good enought to make me forgive the chips, I can certainly forgive the sides.

Chad and I haven't been this excited about a new restaurant find in a long time. We have talked about it over and over again since going and even though it is half an hour away and we have no coupons for it, we will be back. SOON.

Cabo Fish Taco, located in the NoDa neighborhood.

Also forgiven? The hipster-doofus neighborhood. Tell me where the phrase "hipster-doofus" comes from and you get some brownie points from me.