Monday, March 29, 2010

Latter-day Prophet FHE Lesson (Preparing for General Conference)

This lesson is a great one to use before General Conference.  It teaches about what a blessing it is to have a prophet on the earth today.  My kids really connect with the whole "watchman on the tower" concept. 

It is my understanding that some people have issues printing the lessons, but I've heard that it is much more effective to get a free account with Scribd and download the lessons as PDF files before printing them off. 

Click here to see my other ready-to-print FHE lessons!  As always feel free to email me at if you have any troubles downloading/printing these lessons.  I'd be happy to email the PDF files to you.

Coming later this week:  General Conference Activity Packet

A Latter-day Prophet:  Watchman on the Tower  FHE Lesson (Preparing for General Conference)                                                            

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Parenting Techno-Savvy Kids

Being the oldest of eight children, it is with great empathy that I understand well the plight of being the family guinea pig.  The death of many parenting ideals and theories landed squarely at my feet, while my younger siblings got to enjoy the advantage of more tried-and-true parenting methods.

As Spencer makes his way through the teen years, I feel like his guinea pig status is doubled that of what I experienced.  Not only have Glen and I never parented a teen before, but many of the challenges that this generation of teens are facing are unique in the history of the world.  There aren't  generations of wisdom behind us imparting their ideas of how to deal with texting, portals to the world in our living rooms (internet), and cell phones attached to their hips.  We are the guinea pig parents trying to figure out how to teach a generation of techno-savvy kids glued to gadgets we never even dreamed about in our youth.

I hate to start rambling on about when I was a kid, but here goes anyway.  I remember when I was a kid coming home after an activity and wondering IF someone had called me when I was out.  Now with caller id and cell phones, my kids don't have the experience of wondering, they already know.

 I remember poring over encyclopedias and spending hours in the library looking for just the right books for a research paper.  The other day I  had one of my kids ask me what an encyclopedia was.  They thought I was talking about Wikipedia.

And if I wanted to know what was up with one of my friends, I had to pick up a phone and call them or  even visit them in person *gasp*.   Now with  Facebook my kids know in a nutshell what every single one of their 537 friends' statuses are; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So how can we, as parents, teach/help our teens (and pre-teens) to keep all this technology/instant gratification in a healthy balance?

It used to be that our homes were relative havens from the ills of the world.  Yeah, there was still the tv, video games, and radio that piped their influences into our homes, but compared to the portal of evil that is easily accessed by the internet, it paled in comparison.  Pornography, once a backstreet industry, is now stumbled across by innocent children and adults every day on the internet.  We have arrived to a place literally foretold in the scriptures, where good is called evil and evil is called good.

As evil influences march more boldly and directly into our daily lives, we need to be aware of the tools  that are out there, and be prepared to start utilizing them before we think our kids will need them.  It's time to step up our game as parents.

Here are some things to consider:

*  First and foremost, keep your computer in a well-trafficked, well-lit area of the home.  If you have laptops, make it a non-negotiable requirement that it be used in the public, well-trafficked parts of the home.  Our kids do not have their own computers, but if they did they would be on a strict check-in/check-out basis, so that their access would still be limited.   When laptops are not in use, keep them hidden away out-of-sight.

*  Make all your computers password protected (with a password your kids don't know) and then keep your computers locked every time they're not in use.  It's a bit of an inconvenience to have to unlock the computer every time you (or a child) needs to use the computer, but it is the single best thing we've ever done to keep our computer usage in control.

*  Parental controls on the computer:  Most PC's and Macs have parental control capabilities built into them and my advice is to use them from Day 1, long before your kids are cruising the internet.   Make the kids their own computer account (still password protected) where they will have maximum protection 100% of the time they're on the computer.

* A commercial web blocker.  There are many wonderful programs on the market, but we use Web Watcher and highly recommend it.   It's totally invisible on the computer, so there's no way for them to access it and change the settings themselves.  I love that in addition to its powerful content blocker (blocked by categories and alert words you choose yourself), you can also record chats, emails, and even keystrokes.   It even utilizes a "smart camera" where it will take screen shots  when certain websites are accessed.  At this point we rarely check the recorded data, but use it mainly for the content blocking, where in addition to blocking adult/gambling/weaponry/inappropriate websites, we also keep YouTube blocked, since we felt there was way too much unfiltered content available there.

* Cell phone parental controls:  I won't lie, there's not a whole lot available here.  The few things we did was to not buy a data plan.  We have the internet at home and felt like there's no good reason for kids to be perusing the internet when they're out of the house too.  Time away from home is the time to be active and be social and internet access does nothing to enhance those experiences.  The second thing we did was that we blocked picture mail completely from Spencer's phone (we did this by calling our cell phone provider).  We heard too many stories about sexting and people sending inappropriate images through cell phones, that we just felt like it was easier to block the capability altogether rather than to trying to keep up with monitoring what friends and acquaintances might send to him.   A friend of mine says that her cell phone company offers a way for the kids' phones to essentially turn off certain times of the day.  She sets it so that every night at 9:00pm her son can only receive calls or texts from the parent's home and cell numbers.  Sprint did not offer that service, or we probably would utilize that too.

* For cable and satellite TV, take the time to use the parental controls available.  Keep all movie and other questionable channels  blocked with password protection and DO NOT tell your kids the passwords.  It seems obvious, but I know way too many kids (as young as 4-years-old) who know their family's TV password and can access any channel they want.  We keep almost all of our channels blocked and change our password every few months to ensure that the kids haven't figured it out.  Again, the inconvenience of having to physically come and unlock a channel they want to watch is worth the peace of mind of knowing that when we're out of the house, they can't access the garbage.

*Video game systems have never been a big part of our children's lives, but I know they're very popular in a lot of people's homes.  It is my understanding that a lot of these video game systems now have interactive capabilities that gives them access to the internet as well as opportunities to network and chat with other gaming strangers.  You need to take the time to be aware of what your system can do and take the appropriate precautions to keep your kids safe there too.

While I believe that parental controls are invaluable tools in this new day and age, if nothing else to prevent most of the accidental garbage getting through, ultimately though the best thing we can do is to teach them well.  Talk to them frequently and with openness about the dangers they're facing.  Give them examples of situations they may face and talk them through what they can do.  And most of all, teach them to recognize and heed the spirit's promptings.  All the parental controls in the world installed at your house won't do a bit of good once they walk out your front door and sit down at a friend's computer.   They have to be educated.

We have to be educated.

Our youth … need the help of their parents in resisting [temptation]. They need a tremendous amount of self-control. They need the strength of good friends. They need prayer to fortify them against this flood tide of filth."  President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 51.

I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth."  D & C 93:40


Monday, March 22, 2010

Ten Commandments FHE Lesson

Due to Verizon's complete ineptitude at providing reliable internet service to us, I will not be able to publish the General Conference lesson as previously promised.   Barring anymore unforeseen difficulties I will strive to have the lesson up for next week. In the meantime if you have a good ISP you could recommend to us, we'd highly appreciate it.  2 weeks with slow/sometimes non-existent internet is getting old quickly!

This lesson on the 10 Commandments is the last of my back-up lessons I had saved for a crazy day and today definitely qualifies us for crazy day status.   I like this lesson because it teaches us about the history of the 10 commandments AND how they relate to us in modern day.  My kids love the participation story and I love the matching game where they get to match the ancient commandment to a way they can live it today.

Click here to see my other ready-to-print FHE lessons!  As always feel free to email me at if you have any troubles downloading/printing these lessons.  I'd be happy to email the PDF files to you.

Ten Commandments FHE Lesson


Monday, March 15, 2010

Jesus Christ's Atonement FHE Lesson (Perfect for Easter)

We always use this lesson about Christ's atonement the week after the fun lesson about the Symbols of Easter.  While last week's lesson reminds the kids why we celebrate Easter and how to see the teachings of Christ in the fun of Easter, this lesson focuses more about helping children to truly understand the significance of the atonement in their lives.    I think that "The Parable of the Ketchup," in particular, is perfect for helping kids to understand what the atonement is (although for very young kids the story may need to be summarized to a shorter length).  The Visual of the Pits is a powerful hands-on activity for delving even deeper.  I say this almost every week, but this is one of my favorite lessons.  :)

*Check out the newly added  Atonement and the Tree of Life, which includes scriptures, videos, and quotes about the atonement. 

Click here to see my other ready-to-print lessons (with more to come every Monday).  Upcoming lessons include General Conference and Latter-day Prophets. 

***If you're having trouble viewing/downloading/printing these lessons, feel free to email me at and I will email you the PDF files.

Jesus Christ's Atonement FHE Lesson (Perfect for Easter)                                                            


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sugar Free FAQ's

I've had a lot of people asking me questions about my new quest to be sugar free, so in the true spirit of divulging TMI on the internet I've compiled a list of my most frequently asked questions and answered them all for you right here.

What prompted the no sugar diet? I felt like I was addicted to sugar and the temporary burst of energy it provided. I was finding it harder to keep my weight stable and I was growing increasingly worried about my long-term health and the example I was setting for the kids.  

How are you doing it? The way I'm doing it is that I'm completely avoiding sugary foods six days a week and indulging in something special once a week (usually Sunday).  

Is this permanent? At this point, I'm viewing it as a permanent thing. Eventually I hope to get to a point where I'm not as obsessive with my sugar fixation and that I will be able to indulge in those special treats that come along (even if it's a couple times a week). But for now I feel like I've got a long way to go, before I can reach that kind of self-control.

How do you handle the cravings ? At first, it was just pure mind over matter and not wanting to cave in front of my kids. I've been chewing gum like crazy too. One of my biggest challenges here is that I found myself subconsciously filling the hole that sugar left in my diet with other carbohydrates, like homemade bread and cereals. While my homemade bread is whole grain and my cereal choices were healthy, I still realized that I was plugging a hole. Now that I'm more conscious of it, it's not as bad. I'll still use a bowl of Cheerios as an afternoon snack, but not the mindless eating of them by the handful. I still struggle day-to-day with cravings, especially on stressful days, but they've become much easier to handle now.  

Did you get headaches? I did get headaches (and stomach aches) occasionally from the withdrawal, but I found the hardest part was being tired. I had been using sugar to keep my energy level artificially up and I really missed those jolts of energy that sugar gave me. With that though, I quickly realized that while I missed the jolts, I was also missing the crashes that inevitably followed the burst of energy. I feel like I have been much more even since beginning this quest. Even-energy wise and even-tempered.

What about Cami's treat baking? Do you still always have treats in the house? Well, let's see....right now we have a heaping plate of peanut butter bars Cami made on Sunday for our FHE treats and 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies we ordered before we started our quest. They're both hidden out of sight, but it's common that we have treats of one form or another in the house at any given time. Having said that, one of the quickest benefits of Glen and I embarking on this journey, was that it was not as rewarding for Cami to bake treats as often as she had been. She is now focusing her efforts on making more special treats for Sundays, which have to last until FHE too. It's been a very good change for the whole family.  

What about social eating? While I still struggle more with my private eating habits, social events have been difficult too. Like last night at Enrichment night, there was a homemade cake on every table and everyone was sampling all the different kinds. I had to intentionally throw away my silverware and refuse the plate, so I wouldn't try to snitch just a bite. I also find that the more people I tell, the easier it is to refuse, because I don't want to embarrass myself by cheating in front of knowing eyes. 

Have you lost any weight? I have no idea. We just bought a scale on Saturday, but I do feel more svelte and calm if that counts for anything.

Any suggestions or techniques you want to share? It's much easier if you can get your husband on board with it too. Glen had always been very resistant to any kind of drastic dietary changes like this, but he finally realized that this was a moderate approach that thus far has been very maintainable to us. Granted we're only about 6 weeks in, but I'm hopeful that we can keep this up for the foreseeable future! I also believe that accountability is huge. That's why I talk about it on the blog and openly tell friends and family about it.

Have you ever tried drastically changing a bad habit before? What kinds of hurdles did you face? Any words of wisdom for me?


Monday, March 8, 2010

Symbols of Easter FHE Lesson

***If you're having trouble viewing/downloading/printing these lessons, feel free to email me at and I will email you the PDF files. *** 

This fun lesson has become a family tradition in our home.   The kids love the story of how the Easter Bunny came to be and I love how it gets them to recognize the symbols of Easter in the fun and hubbub of the holiday.    

Click here to see my other ready-to-print lessons (with more to come every Monday).  Upcoming lessons include The Atonement of Christ and General Conference. 

Symbols of Easter FHE Lesson                                                            


Monday, March 1, 2010

"Zipping Your Lips Against Profanity" FHE Lesson

***If you're having trouble viewing/downloading/printing these lessons, feel free to email me at and I will email you the PDF files. *** 

This lesson is designed to teach family members that when they use bad words (whether they be swear words, potty language,  taking the Lord’s name in vain, or just speaking unkindly to others) that they are offending other people and more importantly the Lord. My kids think this lesson is wildly funny and combined with the message that it teaches, this is a fun and valuable lesson for children to learn young. 

Click here to see my other ready-to-print lessons (with more to come every Monday).

Zipping Your Lips Against Profanity FHE Lesson