Recent/Significant Posts:

We often refer friends to our post(s) on our experiences with Ben's Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, as of yet these are:
--- Our introduction to this disease and basic timeline February 2012 through July 26, 2013.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quick Note to Primary "Followers"

Over the summer/fall, I posted a few of my ideas/plans for LDS Primary "Sharing Time" activities. I've been released as a counselor now, though. I'll still get to stay in Primary - co-teaching the CTR 8 class, starting in January - but will not be doing Sharing Time anymore...

My thanks to those who left kind comments --- and especially to those who shared their own ideas! Hope you all keep having great Primary experiences!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Case You Haven't Heard Our News...

If I haven't run into you in a while and/or otherwise neglected to mention it, we are expecting another "Higglet" in the Spring --- in the vicinity of May 25th, most likely.

Yes, this makes 5. And yes, we are delighted! The kids are excited, too, but took the actual announcement rather coolly --- they had been saying they wanted us to have a baby, so in their minds, it was just a matter of time... :-)

The kids all think we should have a boy this time but I have kindly informed them that:
A)Heavenly Father gets to decide and
B)It will be a while before we know... and, last but not least,
C)Baby girls are fun, too --- just look at Esther (who is now two and prone to screaming if the older kids infringe on her personal space but still loves to run up and give them "loves" when they come home from school)

They take these reminders/cautions in stride and then reiterate, "yeah, but we Want a Boy!"
(If they do get a boy, I suppose we know who to send our next Christmas Wish Lists to!)

Here's a little preview:(Higglet #5 at 12 weeks)

So, that's it --- real "news" for a change :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Primary Sharing Time - 4th Week of August, 2010

My turn for Sharing Time again :-)

This week's theme:
Miracles come to those who have faith

Once again, the official Sharing Time Outline is pretty clear and full of ideas/suggestions. I will pretty much be following that:

First, start of with D&C 63:9: “But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe.” (Explain that the word signs in this scripture can also mean miracles.) Points to mention:
- miracles are not always dramatic events
- we must first have faith, and then we will recognize miracles
- even though we have faith, we will still experience sorrow, pain, and suffering, but God is aware of our needs and will care for us.

For the next part, the outline uses the story of Moses and Pharaoh and the plagues to illustrate the point that witnessing miracles does not make someone a believer. (It is suggested you can have the kids do actions along with the story to go along with the afflictions --- croaking, buzzing, scratching, moaning... but I figure I'll play that by ear depending on how wound up the kids are that day...) I figure I'll wrap it up by reading or having an older child read:

Exodus 11:10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

As an additional "bad example", I may mention Laman and Lemuel... I mean, how many times did those goobers see angels and yet they still did not believe... (Like Pharaoh, they only ever relented out of fear, not out of faith or any desire to repent.)

Contrast this story with an example where faith produced a miracle The Outline suggests Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, Daniel and the lions, the brother of Jared, or Nephi and Lehi in prison. I'm going with the story of the brother of Jared. I'll show the kids where the story is locates (Ether chapters 1-3) and give a little background --- it was the time of the tower of Babel, the Jaredites were spared the confusion of languages and told to build barges to sail to the Promised Land, etc. (I didn't come across any good "Jaredite barge" pictures so I'll probably just draw on the chalkboard). I'll explain the dilemna about light in the boats and I have some little glass "gems" to show what the stones the brother of Jared made might have looked like... I also happen to have a little LED "dome" light to set next to them as an example of a tiny light being sufficient in an emergency...

In the "Encourage Application" section of the Sharing Time Outline, it suggests asking a couple families to come in and relate stories of faith and miracles in their lives. I haven't been in town for the last two weeks to line anything up, but our Bishop may come in... If he's not available, or gets held up with other things, I'll fill in with a story of my own or with a couple more scripture stories. (Probably Daniel & the Lions' Den for the Junior Primary, maybe Nephi & Lehi in prison for the Senior Primary).

So, hopefully this will do!


My preview shows my fonts on this post are acting weird and I can't seem to figure out why or fix it... Ah, well --- Sorry!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vacation was Great!

We just got back from 2 weeks in Pittsburgh --- staying with my parents, of course!

It was great fun, and I have lots of pictures to share, but that will have to wait a bit...

I'll come back and "edit" this post later to include fun stories & photos... but now I've got loads of stuff to unpack and a "Sharing Time" to prepare...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Primary Sharing Time - 1st Week of August, 2010

I am doing Sharing Time again this week --- we're juggling schedules a little to accommodate vacations (including mine)...

This week's theme is: Jesus Christ is a God of Miracles

The (official) Sharing Time Outline is pretty simple and clear this time, so I'm pretty much following that.... (Guess the word "miracle", define it for the kids, tell 2 stories of miracles, let kids act out/do actions to stories....)

Two cool ideas I'm swiping from other people, though:

1) To go along with the story of Jesus Calming the Storm, Amy Gerber on Sugardoodle had a neat idea for actions, etc.

2) Deborah Raymond had the idea of using fish as a tie-in to the two stories suggested in the outline and a couple other miracles, including feeding the multitudes and walking on water... She's making an incredible little craft to give her Primary kids --- which is way more ambitious than I would ever be! However, she also designed a simple handout (and even thoughtfully provided it in black-and-white) and I think I'll probably go ahead and print that (or make something similar).

I'm so glad people are willing to share their ideas!

Oh, and thanks to whoever put my link for the last Sharing Time I did onto Sugardoodle --- I'm flattered!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Primary Sharing Time - 3rd Week of July, 2010: Results

(This is the follow-up to my previous post about planning this week's Sharing Time)

Well, I think my attempt at actually presenting this Sharing Time went ok; my one problem (as is often the case) is judging how long activities will take... With this particular one, my timing mistake was basically that the songs are too long to have the kids to hear/sing the whole thing - or even the 1st verse, really....

For both Junior & Senior Sharing Times, I set up by placing the various posters all around the room --- propping them on chairs, the chalkboard, the windows, etc. I also had a cd player set up for the music.

With Junior Primary (ages 3-8) I read the scripture to them, showed the picture of Christ's example, then let them pick a "modern" equivalent picture. I played the first bit of the corresponding song, having them raise their hands when they recognized it. Then I played the rest of the song and talked a little about it --- or at least I did that for the 1st set! Then I realized my time was already half gone... For the rest I mostly had them match the pictures and played only a couple of the songs they were most familiar with. (My apologies to the teachers for going over, though!)

So, for the Sr Primary kids (ages 9-11) I read the scripture, had them find both pictures, and then played the instrumental version of the song, only --- again having them start singing (or at least raise hands) when they recognized the song. I left the song playing while I summed up each topic... I did get through 6 of the 7 that way...

The (official) Sharing Time Outline suggested splitting the kids up and having different groups/classes look up the scriptures, match the pictures & songs, etc. I couldn't see that working with our particular Primary group at this time, though. We have a fairly large and extremely "lively" group of Juniors, and most of them are under the age of 6 and can't read much, etc. It isn't easy to get them focused in the first place, let alone splitting them and then bringing them back together, etc. For the "Senior" group we might have been ok, but we only have them split into 2 classes....

Anyway, I think it worked out ok....

Thanks to all who left kind and encouraging comments on my initial post! I don't know if/when I'll have anything particular to share in the future, but I'll certainly be more likely to post ideas when they occur! In the meantime, I plan to lurk around eclaires singing and sharing time blog now and then because I like what she did with this one, too! (She commented on my initial post and then posted her own "results")

Good luck to you all with future Sharing Times! Oh, and if you are inclined to post/share your own ideas/experiences with Primary on your own blog (or whatever), feel free to leave a comment telling us where to look!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Primary Sharing Time - 3rd Week of July, 2010

I'm second counselor in our (church's) Primary these days, and working on a Sharing Time for the upcoming week. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it --- I'll soon go back to yapping about my kids' Birthdays and other earth shattering family "news"... or, you are more than welcome check out the 2010 Outline for Sharing Time page on the official LDS (aka Mormon Church) website!)

Anyway, the theme for this coming week is: Jesus Christ’s Example Teaches Me How to Live. One suggested activity is to have kids match up pictures of Christ setting an example of a gospel principle (such as prayer, baptism, etc) with Primary Songs about the topic and, of course, with related scripture references. There are four suggestions for "matches" in the outline and I thought of a couple more. I also decided I want to use two pictures on some examples - one of Christ and one of "modern" people doing the same thing. The pictures I'm using are all in the Gospel Art Book (GAB) and the songs are from the Children's Song Book (CS). Here's my list:

1. Christ's Example: praying, praying with family
pictures: "Jesus Praying with His Mother" (GAB 33) and "Family Prayer" (GAB 112);
song: "A Child's Prayer" (CS 12-13)
scriptures: Matthew 19:14 and D&C 112:10

2. Christ's Example: studying the gospel
pictures: Boy Jesus in the Temple" (GAB 34) and "Joseph Smith Seeks Wisdom in the Bible" (GAB 89)
song: "Seek the Lord Early" (CS 108)
scripture: Luke 2:42-49

3. Christ's Example: being baptized
pictures:"John... Baptizing Jesus" (GAB 35) and "Girl Being Baptized" (GAB 104)
song: "Baptism" (CS 100-101)
scripture: Matthew 3:13-17

4. Christ's Example: calling apostles (their example of willing service, etc)
pictures: "Calling of the Fishermen" (GAB 37) and Any picture of the current apostles (out of the Ensign or whatever you can find --- our library has one)
song: "Come Follow Me" (Hymn 116 --- regular adult Hymn book)
scripture: Matthew 4:18-20

5. Christ's Example: sharing/teaching the gospel
pictures: "Go Ye Therefore" (GAB ___?) or "The Sermon on the Mount" (GAB 39) and Pictures of Modern Missionaries (GAB 109 and 110, or photos from own ward if available)
song: We'll Bring the World His Truth (CS 172)
scriptures: Matthew 28:19-20

6. Christ's Example: healing, serving the "afflicted", loving regardless of physical condition
pictures: "Jesus Healing the Nephites" (GAB 83) and Any poster/picture you can find with kids helping each other or visiting sick or such (I ended up with a poster showing a little boy helping a little girl ride a trike --- it's all I could find so far...)
song: "I'll Walk with You" (CS 140-141)
scripture: 3 Nephi 17:7-9

7. Christ's Example: His continuing love for us and His promise to Return
pictures: "The Second Coming" (GAB 66) and "Christ and Children from around the World" (GAB 116)
song: "When He Comes Again" (CS 82)
scripture: Matthew 16:27 (and Matthew 19:14 again!)

Just to be clear, #2, 3, 5 & 6 are the ones mentioned specifically in the official Sharing Time Outline, the rest were what I felt good about after looking through the various songs we are using this year and paging through the Gospel Art Book.... If you thought of some I didn't, PLEASE SHARE!

Also, since I figure our Primary Chorister is plenty busy already --- and since she goes into the Nursery and such while we are doing Sharing Time, I am just putting the songs I need onto a CD... The MP3s are all free to download from the church website, and, in fact, from the "Songs for Use During Sacrament Meeting Presentation in 2010" page, nonetheless :-)

Oh, and although I'm having the older kids look up the scripture references in their own Bibles, etc, I also printed them off in larger type for the younger kids --- very easy to do thanks to the church's online scriptures!

Hope this saves someone some time --- or that I get comments suggesting more!

- Jen

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Emily's (Birthday) "Garden Party"

We had the idea for Emily's birthday party way back in April, and I'm very glad she didn't change her mind.... When I saw a bunch of cute little Easter hats in the dollar bins at Target, I thought it might be fun to let the girls decorate them with fake flowers, etc. Then, because we were shopping for birthday presents at the time, I realized that might be even more fun for Emily to do with her friends. So, I introduced the concept of a "Garden Party" - and told her that's like a Tea Party except with lemonade and ice cream.... The important part is you still get to "dress up"! Fortunately, she thought that sounded great --- and even more fortunately, she stayed enthusiastic about it through the ever so long months until we finally reached her Birthday!

We sent out invitations to 3 girls from church and 4 from school (2 of whom are twins, so Em got around my usual guest limit - you can have as many guests as the age you are turning). I experimented with how to attach the flowers and reluctantly settled on hot glue. (Luckily the low-temp kind held ok so I escaped without any blisters this time!) Many thanks to Julie and Cheryl for lending me glue guns!

When the guests arrived, the girls took turns playing some little card games and such in the front room and coming back to the kitchen to decorate their hats. I thought it would take me half the party to glue them, but my aunt, Jana Boschi, came to join the party and jumped right in to help! One of the little girls' grandmothers, Barb, also stayed to help, and I'm glad Natalie and Esther took an immediate liking to her!

After the hats were completed, we took the young ladies out front to play (an extremely simplified version of) Croquet. When they tired of that, we came in to open presents, and then have cake and ice cream. Then I herded them back outside to play until their parents came. I had wanted to teach them Bocce, but didn't find a set in time, so we just used the croquet balls again and bowled them at one of the posts...

All in all, I think things went quite well! (No tears, at least, which is saying a lot for 6-yr-old girls!)

Here is the little "scrapbook" we put together about the party:
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Garden Party
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
This free digital scrapbook generated with Smilebox

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Michael's Treaure Hunt

For Michael's 6th Birthday, he decided he wanted to do a Treasure Hunt. We decided not to really do a Pirate theme, but be Explorers, instead. So, after much pondering (and countless lists), Mike finally invited one boy he knows from church, and 3 boys and 2 girls from school. (I've imposed the same rule as my Mom did - you can have as many guests as how old you are turning... and after age 8 or 10 it will theoretically turn into just a couple friends for a sleepover or equivalent activity)

So, guest list made and invitations sent, we eventually came up with several "adventuresome" games: an obstacle course, "Sinking Rocks" (a cross between musical chairs and a cakewalk-type game), "Storm" tag (like freeze tag except you "sink"), and "Don't wake the Guard Dog" (which is like Red-Light Green-Light --- trying to sneak up on someone without getting caught moving). Unfortunately the weather was nasty so we had to build an indoor obstacle course, which I (of course) neglected to take a picture of... We also swapped the tag game for a signal flag matching game (with international nautical flags copied off the internet).

Instead of individual prizes, the kids earned pieces of our "Treasure Map", and when they put it together and figured it out, it led to a group reward: little treasure chests Mike had helped me paint, filled with glass "jewels" and very shiny pennies. There were also candy bags for each of the kids, too. (The map was a simplified diagram of our house that Matt drew for me and the big treasure box was in the oven.)

Fortunately that killed enough time to move on to presents and then cake & ice cream. Matt had been entertaining Esther (and keeping her from getting trampled) for most of the party, but he joined us in time to offer to help cut the cake --- with his chainsaw!

I think the kids had fun --- they certainly were Loud Enough! Sheesh! I guess I should have expected as much... So, here is a little collage of the whole shebang....

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Mike's 6th Bday (Party)

And this (just for fun) is the really cool e-card I wish we'd found in time to send for an invite:

Click to play this Smilebox invite: InteractiveTreasureMap
Create your own invite - Powered by Smilebox

Monday, February 22, 2010

Natalie's "Super Why" Birthday Party

Natalie loves the PBS kids show "Super Why" and we decided that would make a fun birthday theme. The show is about kids who live in "Storybook Village" and turn into Super Heroes to solve problems. They go into storybooks to find the solution by using "Alphabet Power", "Spelling Power", "Word Power," and, of course the "Power to Read." Throughout the story of the day they find "super letters" that spell out the solution to their question/problem.

With that general structure in mind, I made a super-computer cake with a cardstock screen that I wrote the "problem" on: "Natalie is 4 today, What Should we do? _ _ _ _ _ !"

To start off I had the kids color and draw pictures of themselves as Super Heroes while all the guests arrived. In attendance were our cousin Evie (and her mom and little sis & baby brother), a friend from our old ward, Carissa, and the little boys Natalie plays with when I go up to the school, Joseph and Ethan (and their mom). Michael and Emily weren't officially guests, but they were my super-helpers, guiding the younger kids through the games.

Our first game was an alphabet treasure hunt. I hid prizes around the room, stuck letters near the hiding places, then had the kids draw letters from a hat and match them up to find the treats.

Then we played a letter "bingo" game. I made 9-square grid cards with various common letters and bought some cute party favors for tokens. Instead of saying the name of the letter for them to cover, I showed a picture and had them decide what sound/letter the word started with... It went pretty well!

By then we had discovered our five "super letters": P-A-R-T-Y
That meant time for presents and cake!

Here's a collage of the festivities:

Click to play this Smilebox collage: Natalie's 4th Bday
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox

All in all, I think it was a success. The cake turned out ok, the games held the kids attention and we wrapped it all up in two hours. Guests went home with a small bag of candy, a set of magnetic letters, and a copy of the "bingo" game board and tokens. (Hopefully the parents won't silently curse me for the number of small pieces this ended up being!)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

**Continued Update Efforts**

Note to anyone who has been (patiently?) checking our blog now and then:

Well, still slogging along and adding in posts full of pictures/projects I never got around to finishing up with....

(I am forcing posting dates that match the events, rather than having everything stack up at random)

Thanks for your patience!
- Jen

List of add-ins as of 01/08:
Mike's Bday in May
Em's Bday in July
First Day of School in Sept
Trip to the Domes back in March

01/13: Easter Activities (in April)
01/14: Tea Party at Jana's (in August)

(01/18-20: everyone is sick again! sheesh!)

01/21: May in PA --- our trip to my parent's house in Pittsburgh