Thursday, April 28, 2011


The definition of "Creativity": the ability to improve. I like that. So many times I judge creativity as the ability to sew, toll paint, or do other crafty things. While all of these are parts of creativity, it encompasses so much more.

First I think all people want to improve...improve themselves, their surroundings, relationships, community and many other things. I think that is why we are drawn to the creative process. Our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are the ultimate creators. We are children of God, so we have inherited this ability and desire to create or make things better.
So have our children...I often wonder what makes the natural creativity that children are born with sometimes wither and die. I wonder if we as Mothers nurtured this ability and process more and expanded our definition of creativity, if our children would be happier children and adults.

We need to remember that we can be creative in art, music, writing, problem solving, but also in movement, cooking, learning styles, imagination, science, play, and many other ways. We need to encourage our children in all areas they are being creative. Whether they are drawing or trying a science experiment. We should never pass judgement, let the child be free to explore his creative styles and processes. Often times we want to step in and show children how to do things correctly.

Now don't get me wrong, all children need direction and need to taught the correct way to do
things..but I have found that I save their self-esteem if I teach them in a controlled, scheduled way.
For example I know children love to draw, and they love to be able to draw pictures that others can identify what was drawn, so I give my little ones "drawing lessons". During the summer months or before the kids go to school, I will lead them through a lesson on how to draw simple things. This acti
vity fosters their creativity and esteem...they love being taught, and the finished product. They are then free to use this knowledge the next time they are independently drawing. I would never step in while they are in the middle of a picture and show them how to draw whatever they are creating. I have seen this happen and every time the child quickly gives the picture and experience up.
Being truly creative in music requires lessons, cooking requires a basic recipe, ballet requires the knowledge of the steps... the process is the same for all areas. You must gain knowledge either by trial and error or a controlled lesson.

There are so many ways we can encourage creativity. We need to give our children time to be creative. We should not over schedule our children with lessons, or sports. Non-structured play is a key component to creativity in children. We need to provide plenty of materials for creativity. Each day I try to put out play dough, or paper and markers, paint, construction paper, tape and direction just let the children create. Having good music in the air helps with creativity.
Plenty of outside play also stimulates creativity. Showing and explaining the world around our children fosters creativity. Take your little ones to museums, national monuments, libraries, concerts, plays, etc. and explain what is going on....I have found that a small amount of time on the Internet showing things and places I don't have access to is a great way to stimulate creativity and vocabulary. Read to your children!!! Have your kids with you while you go about your daily activities, it will expand their world and ultimately their creativity.

I also feel their are certain things we do that are a disservice to our children's creativity. Too much TV, video games, and computer time should be avoided.

According to several studies, Children who have been allowed to develop creativity are generally good students, better problem solvers, have more self confidence and are happy.

I hope all of us will try to always foster creativity in our children and ourselves!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Caramel Pound Cake

We had this cake at book club last night and it was wonderful. So by popular demand, here is the recipe!

Caramel Pound Cake

2 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Frosting

1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10 in. tube pan
2. To make cake, Cream butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl mix flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture and milk alternatingly, mixing between each addition. Leave about 1/2 cup of flour in the bowl and stir in pecans. Fold pecan and flour mixture into batter. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

5. To make frosting: In a small saucepan, beat sugars, butter, and evaporated milk. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir at a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Let cool. Beat until thickened, add more milk if too thick. Spread on cake.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mother Education

I had the immense pleasure of watching my 2nd Daughter and her new husband graduate from college this last weekend! I was so proud and so full of emotion. I couldn't help thinking about the little girl Darci had been. I thought about how hard of a 2 year old she was, I thought about how hard she worked on her studies all her life. I thought about all the tennis matches, young women's camps, piano recitals, band concerts, and other events that Darci was in. I remembered how shy she was, and how she has always been so soft spoken. It is wonderful to see your child grow-up...I always love seeing the progress and learning....And that got me thinking about how much learning I have attained since becoming a Mother.
I do not have a college degree, but feel I am very educated. I am an expert in the kitchen. I have not always been, but since becoming a Mother I have learned. Like so many of the things I have learned to do since becoming a Mother....most has come from necessity. I have had to learn how to manage money, shop smart, garage sale, mend clothes, and make cute birthday cakes all because we did not have a lot of money. I have learned to sew, crochet, cross stitch, toll paint and other crafty things so I could decorate my home. (I am terrible but I do know how to do them).
But even more than all the home management and homemaking things I have learned over the years, my children have given me the opportunity to learn so many other things.
Through a multitude of school projects, I know more than the average person about polar bears, raccoons, med-evil midwifery, black smithing, Egypt and many other things. Having my sons in Scouting has taught me A LOT about camping, cooking outdoors, and survival skills, not to mention all the merit badges that I have helped with.
The most enjoyable parts of my "education" has been what I have learned because I wanted to. I have had time to learn since I am home. I have been able to learn photography skills, I know so much about history and politics just from reading. I have learned how to garden, and from that how to properly preserve and store food. I know a multitude of finger plays, nursery rhymes and wonderful children's literature and music.
Due to the challenges all mothers face with their children I have had to learn many skills..from dog-traing,and simple home doctoring, to advocating for and knowing the law to help my learning disabled son.
From all the books, classes, and trial and error, I am an expert in Child Development and Child Rearing.
Being a Mother has stretched me much farther than any other "career" I could have chosen.
I hear too often that many Mothers who stay at home feel like their brains are turning into peanut butter. That they are bored and can't remember who they are. All I have to say to that type of thinking is, GO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!!! Don't be afraid of failure. Too many women won't try something for fear of failing, wasting materials, or lack of the skill. My advice is to just jump in with both feet!! I can't tell you how many times I have messed up before getting it right. I still mess up a recipe, picture or part of my garden every once in a while...but I always learn something from my mistakes. Don't give up.
We are on this earth to learn...and being a Mother is a fantastic way to go about it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Garlic Deviled Eggs

Looking for something tasty to do with all those Easter eggs? This deviled egg recipe is delicious!

6 Hardboiled eggs

1/3 cup mayo

1/2 tsp. mustard

2 green onions with tops, chopped

1 garlic clove minced

1/8 tsp. salt

Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out yolk. Lay whites aside on a tray. In a bowl, combine yolks and all other ingredients. Mix. Spoon mixture into plastic baggie or a cake decorating bag. cut an opening in the corner. Squeeze the mixture into the empty egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Artsy Pizza

A child's experience with food can be just as important as the actual eating of the food. Make a child's first experience with a certain food a good one and they are more likely to eat it. I think it is especially important to get your kids involved in the kitchen. When kids know where food comes from, what goes into preparing it, etc, they are more likely to take pride in their food and hopefully eat a little healthier!

Now Pizza isn't something that most kids turn their nose up at...but vegetables can be another story! However, Pizza can be the perfect vehicle for getting some fruits and vegetables into your picky eaters tummy!

Now you can make this as simple as you want, or really play it up and turn your kitchen into a pizzeria complete with dough tossing, red checker tablecloth, menus, use your imagination!

Think of as many toppings as you can (healthy ones preferably), try and get as many different colors on your table as possible. Here are some ideas.

White sauce (Alfredo) Really make it artsy and put paintbrushes in the sauce

Red Sauce (tomato)

tomato chunks



pepperoni/bacon/sausage/chicken/or make it a meatless meal!

cheese (white and yellow)

peppers, get one in every color!

red onions







* You may want to steam these before putting them on a pizza

For the crust I like to use premade Pillsbury stuff or Rhode's rolls, but if you want to make your own more power to ya! I also like to bake my dough for about half the suggested time before putting toppings on them, it keeps them crunchier.

Now give each kid their "canvas". Tell them to use the ingredients on the table to make a work of art (word it however you want). Sit around the table and talk about what each of you are making. Family dinners are about more than just shoveling food into our mouths. Have a conversation!

Stick the pizzas on a cookie sheet, put it in the oven and bake!

Will this be messy? Yes! Will it be fun? Yes!

Bon Appetit!

Wishing Tree

This is an activity for older children who can write, or at least dictate to you what they want to write. I got this idea out of a parenting magazine and have always wanted to try it. They called it art, I don't know about that, but it still seemed fun.

Turn a tree in your yard into a wish tree. Put up a sign that reads "Wish Tree" and some directions of what to do. Somewhere by the tree and sign put a container with your "supplies". All you need is some scrap paper, a writing utensil and string. The idea is for people to write down a wish and hang it in the tree. You probably want your family to write down some wishes and hang them in the tree first so that people get the idea.

This would also work really well as a Thankful Tree, Why I Love America Tree, etc. depending on the time of year and what you want your family to think about.

Don't have a tree you can use? You can draw one and hang it somewhere inside your house, or use some sort of necklace hanger, or even bring a few branches of a tree inside your house and set them up. Have fun seeing what your kids or neighbors are wishing for!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Check out this author: Iza Trapani

I just recently found Iza Trapani books and they are a huge hit in this house. My kids love Sing Along books. Iza Trapani takes common kids songs and then makes up several new verses, usually about going on adventures and what not, then she illustrates them beautifully, binds them as a board book, and Wah-La, instant hit!

So far we have only read I'm a Little Tea Pot and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Miss J had me read the Tea Pot book over and over again, and as soon as I opened up Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star she got this huge smile on her face that was plastered there the whole book.

There are lots of titles to choose from so check her out!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Homemade Birdfeeders

I love to make homemade birdfeeders with my daycare and own children. We hang them on the tree outside our kitchen window, and enjoy watching the birds. They are very easy and quick to make, and I think it teaches the children compassion and service. Children love knowing they have helped the hungry birds.

You will need: One pinecone for each feeder
Peanut Butter
Wild Birdseed (Grocery stores will have this in the pet area)

Take pinecone and with a butter knife spread a thick layer of peanut butter all over it. Small children can do this with help from Mom. Then roll peanut buttered pinecone in a bowl of birdseed.
Wrap some thread, yarn or twine around the middle of pinecone and tie to a tree branch. Enjoy the may take a week or two for them to find the cones, but they will find them.

I took this picture of a sparrow enjoying a snack last week!

Earth-Friendly Mothering

This Friday is Earth Day. I think it would be great if we all decided to try and do one thing to be a little more eco-friendly in our homes. Not only can you feel good about going "green", but a lot of times an eco-friendly change can also save money! Here are some ideas.

Switch from Paper towels to dish rags
Make one dinner a week a meatless meal
Wash two loads of laundry a week on cold
Try hanging your laundry to dry
Make an exerted effort to turn off the lights when you leave a room

Buya few reusable grocery bags
Buy a good water bootle and give up bottled water
Plant a garden
Bring some plants into your home
Look into homemade cleaning products using lemons, vinegar, baking soda, etc.
Unplug chargers when not in use
Plug all of your electronics into a power strip and then turn it off each night when you go to bed to reduce phantom energy drain

Need more ideas? I really like the website It has some great ways to go green, that aren't totally crazy, as well as helping you get started on things like composting, eco-friendly yard maintenance, etc.

I personally really need to work on shutting off the lights (speaking of which I should go turn off the lights in the kitchen right now), I also want to try and put a plant in every room of the house.

Leave a comment below to share what you are going to try!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Making the Case for Mothering Those Not of Our Own

I was sitting in church yesterday...being terribly annoyed. A little boy, age 11, was sitting on my bench making a total scene. He was punching his brother, talking very loudly, standing up, trying to walk along the bench etc. He did not have any parents with him, the missionaries had invited him, and he and his brother showed up. As I watched the helpless Elders try to keep this little guy in his seat..I realized those 19 year old boys had no idea how to help this little boy, but I did. I then had to make the decision, "do I help out, or sit here annoyed that my Sunday was being ruined by a little heathen". This little boy smelled of cigarette smoke, was dirty, obnoxious, rude and a Son of God. This little boy had no training on how to be reverent. He did not have someone at home making sure he was clean and presentable for church, he did not have anyone teaching him how to be polite...he was on his own when it came to a lot of parenting issues. I made the decision to help this guy get through the meeting. Now I am a mother of teenage children, the days of bags full of books and crayons are well behind me, so I had nothing to keep this young man entertained. I asked the Elders to send "Joe" down the bench toward me, they happily agreed. Joe was suspicious of me at first...ready for me to scold him. But when I offered to play a game of tic tac toe with him on the back of my sheet music, he perked right up. We played tic tac toe, I was amazed that nobody had shown him how to win such a simple game, so I did. He was delighted to "beat me". After that we played several games of hangman using words we found from my bible. When we could not figure out the word, we drew clues (anything to extend the game and his attention span). When it was time to sing the closing Hynm he told me "I don't sing, only in my school choir"... "I told him he should try and that he probably had a good voice since he was in the choir". He responded timidly at first, but I as showed him how to read the lines, and continued to tell how good he sounded he sang with gusto. I also explained quickly what we were singing about...he nodded his head and kept trying. When the song was over, he kissed my shoulder and snuggled his head into me for a brief moment. He readily went to Primary and when church was over, he wanted to stay. I am so happy I chose to nurture him instead of judge him. I am so happy I chose to see him as the Savior does, a child full of potential, ready to bloom. After church, I was tired and feeling emotionally empty, but full of gratitude that I was able to help a little one feel better about himself, and find church a fun place he wants to stay. As women we can mother so many in our reach. How many are out there that can use a kind word, or some one on one time. In a time when so many women are abdicating their God given role, the need to Mother those not our own is huge. I hope all of us will reach out more to all the little and big ones around us and nurture them.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hawaiian French Toast

Talk about an International Meal! ;)

You will need:

1 loaf of Hawaiian Sweet Bread (you can buy it at a deli, or make it yourself using a mix found in stores where you just add water and yeast)

3 eggs

milk (add however much you usually add for french toast)

dash of vanilla

coconut flakes

Beat eggs, milk and vanilla. Slice sweet bread and dip in the egg mixture so that both sides are soaked. Put on greased griddle. Sprinkle coconut on bread, add as much as will stick. Cook both sides until done. Serve with powdered sugar, mandarin oranges, bananas, and pineapple.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Colored Ice Cubes

Colored ice cubes are a great way to spice up water play in the tub or in the kitchen (I like to pull out bowls and spoons with some water for the kids while I cook). I think Miss J actually thought she was cooking. As soon as her ice cube melted, she would ask for another one to stir around in the water. This can also be a great way to teach mixing colors. For cleaner play, put two different colored ice cubes in a ziploc bag and let your child swish them around and melt the colors together.

These are also fun to throw in the wading pool! See who can find the most blue ice cubes, etc.

I don't think I need to give directions but just in case...

Mix water and food coloring together. Pour into an ice cube tray, being careful not to mix different colors. Freeze. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our "To Be" Lists

I was inspired by Lynn G. Robbins General conference address "What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?" I especially loved his idea about making "to be" lists. I have decided to start doing Family Home Evening lessons around this idea.

Each month we are focusing on a different thing we want to be. This month it is 'obedient'. We talk about what it means to be obedient and then learn a scripture story about someone who was obedient.

Although I haven't gotten around to it yet, I would like to make some form of a "to be" list to add these traits to each month and hang up in our home.

Every Monday I will post an outline of our lesson. Feel free to use and adapt these ideas to your own family home evenings.

Just as a sidenote, my children are very young. Our FHE's are very short (under 5 minutes) and we like to focus on things several weeks in a row, because repetition is a toddler's cup of tea. If you have older children you might only need to learn about your trait for one week, and you can get into more complicated topics like loyalty, virtue, etc.

Baby Gym Books

Everyone loves snuggling a sleeping baby, but some of us feel at a loss as to how to interact with our little bundle of joy when he is awake. I want to talk and interact with my baby...but what do I say? Maybe you have memories of silly songs and fingerplays your mom did with you but can't remember them exactly.

If you are looking for new ways to engage your newborn then you should check out Baby Gym Books. There are four different board books in this series from Child's Play.

Each book has 4-7 different activities to do with your child. They usually involve a song or nursery rhyme as well as the actions and illustrations of parents and babies doing the activities. The ideas are very simple, but they are good for when you feel like you are staring at your baby with nothing to say!