Saturday, October 31, 2009

Seminary Game

Here's the "rest of the story" for Friday's spiderweb scripture relay. Don't they look like they're having fun? It was a successful activity!

Counting Down to Halloween #10

Happy Halloween!!!

One of our most favorite traditions is to dump out all the candy received while trick-or-treating. That makes is much easier for the parents to inspect!

These are just a few pictures that I found in the files. You'll notice that they find time to remove costumes before doing the candy inventory and organization.

We've never really had any rules about when and where they can eat their candy. We figure experience is a good teacher. However, if I find any empty wrappers where they don't belong (like on the couch or the floor), I get to confiscate all the rest. That worked quite well to convince the kids to throw away their own garbage.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the budget didn't allow for everyone to receive their own Costco-sized box of candy bars. Sometimes growing older is tough. Maybe they'll each get a bag of candy from the clearance sales next week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #9

Trunk or Treat

If you've never heard of "trunk-or-treating", here's a definition I found here: "A Trunk or Treat is a Halloween event that is often church or community-sponsored. People gather and park their cars in a large parking lot. They open their trunks or the backs of their vehicles and decorate them. Then they pass out candy from their trunks. The event provides a safe family environment for trick or treaters."

Having a trunk-or-treat is traditionally a part of our ward's Halloween dinner/activity. I haven't learned how to take good pictures in the dark but here are a couple from last year.
Someone's truck is decorated and they're ready to pass out candy.The kids going "door to door".

Tonight's the night, and we'll take the camera. If any of the pictures turn out, we'll add them to the post. Last year: "fun candy treats"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #8

Lights and Decorations

Remember, we like simple. A few years ago I picked up a strand of Halloween lights (orange and purple). When we put out our jack-o-lanterns, we just lay them across the bushes, and up and around the front door. The last couple of years we've hung a skeleton on the front door, but this year I finally repaired our wreath (glued the witch back on), so it gets a turn.
I've discovered one neat thing about traditions is that you don't have to think about them. Sometimes it's nice not to have to use extra brain power!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #7

Works for Me Wednesday
Games for Teenagers
One of our newer Halloween traditions takes place early in the morning at seminary. It's typically a "scripture mastery game day" with the activities taking on a Halloween twist. This year Brad's substituting as Michelle's teacher, and he decided it'd be fun to do a spider web relay. (This isn't happening until Friday, so keep it a surprise from the teenagers!) He'll build a web using tables, chairs and rubberbands. The kids will need to crawl through it - after putting on a simple costume and without touching any of the attached spiders - to reach a pumpkin with a scripture clue on it. Then they'll run back to their team, remove the costume, and everyone will look up the scripture. Then it will be the next person's turn. (I may not have it totally correct, but you get the idea.)
Blog posts are always more fun with a picture. This really has nothing to do with games for teenagers, but it does show a teenager-approved activity, and it's the inspiration for the relay race. Here's a picture showing the results of "Operation Stretch-n-Pull" or rubber-banding a friend's dorm room.
Last year we darkened the church hallways and sent out pairs of students with a flashlight. They had a list of scripture clues and we had the answers posted on numbered bats all over the classrooms. They had to use their flashlight to find the bat and match its number with the correct answer (leaving the bats in place for the next team to find).

Most group/relay games can be adapted to scripture mastery, or any educational endeavor. Just ask a question that needs to be answered before the next step of the game. One of our favorites is a variation of Fruit Basket. In the original game you sit in a circle and are assigned one of four fruits. One person is "it" and doesn't have a seat. He calls out one of the fruits. If "apple" is called, all the "apples" have to change seats, and "it" tries to get one as well. The person left without a seat is the new "it." Calling out "fruit basket" means everyone has to switch. To adapt this to scripture mastery, we assigned a scripture instead of a fruit - for example, Matthew 5:14-16, John 14:15, Romans 1:16 and James 1:5-6. "It" would call out a clue - "love one another" or "ask God" - and those who had the answer would have to change seats. Every once in a while he could call out fruit basket just for fun.

One last one, which is really the first one I discovered, is called Pocket Scavenger Hunt. I first played this at a family reunion where we had several groups of 15-20 people. One person on each team was designated to be the runner. The moderator would call out an item - such as a comb, an old driver's license, a button, or fingernail clippers - and everyone would try to find the item and give it to the runner to take to the moderator. The first person there got a point for his team. For holidays, just choose holiday-related items. And in seminary, we'd add a finding a particular scripture (having them written on cards and passed around to the team members helped keep the Bibles intact) to the other "scavenged" item.
Having fun with teenagers works for us. Feel free to ask questions if I didn't explain things clearly. And feel free to check out We ARE that Family for even more fun ideas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #6

Cooking with Pumpkin

As posted last year, our favorite Thanksgiving pie is a frozen pumpkin pie. When we were going over Halloween traditions, this was mentioned. Not everyone in the family cares for pumpkin, but some of us really like it. So, while it stays on the shelf most of the year, we like opening our cans of pumpkin in October and November.

Here's another really easy recipe that we love: Pumpkin Whip. Basically it's combining butterscotch pudding with pumpkin and whipped cream. And here are a couple I plan on trying this year: Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies and Chocolate Pumpkin Torte. (Can you tell everyone does like chocolate?)
Even if you have family members that don't like the taste of pumpkin, you can still enjoy pumpkin shapes. If I had planned ahead, we would have had last night's spaghetti served in orange peppers. And that would have allowed us to keep our "carving jack-o-lanterns on the Monday before Halloween" tradition as well!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #5

Memorable Monday Moments
Pumpkins and Cookies and Fun!

We've noticed that sometimes traditions have to change. I guess that's called adaptation. Anyway, we used to always carve jack-o-lanterns for family night on the Monday before Halloween.
(20 years ago) (10 years ago)
However, the first year we were in humid Florida, we discovered that they rot and disintegrate before the trick-or-treaters come if done too early. And this year Halloween isn't until Saturday!

So, we're going to bake and decorate cookies. And that takes care of my "refreshments" assignment. If we decide to carve pumpkins this year, we'll do that Friday or Saturday.

Last year: visiting the pumpkin patch. That would make a great family night activity as well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #4

We don't go all out for decorating, but it's nice to do something. Holidays are also a great excuse for pulling out and doing a craft project. Here are a couple of pumpkins that the boys painted in a ceramics class years ago.Here's one of our newest. Yeah for after-the-holiday clearances at the craft store!Here's one of my favorites - little creatures that we did several years ago, which means it's probably time for some touch-up paint..
They work great for the dining table centerpiece.
What are some of your favorite Halloween craft projects?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #3

CANDY! CANDY! and more CANDY!!!
Nothing says Halloween more than candy. I wonder how much business it generates for dentists! As we were discussing our traditions the other day, I was told that a favorite memory was being given the Costco size box of candy in exchange for giving up trick-or-treating. I don't remember that, although I guess it's possible. (I do remember buying a small bag of fun-size candy bars for each teenager.) Now I'm trying to convince the three kids that if we go the large-size route this year, they can share one box, they don't each need their own!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #2

What would Halloween be without them? Maybe we're not doing such a good job of celebrating Halloween, because we've been lax in that area. Can you figure out what Steven and Michelle were last year?The answer is "nothing!" I don't think they've done anything since the "witch with the broken leg."
Or the "wear a hat and call it a costume" year.
We did much better in the costume area when they were little. Check out last year's post for "20 Years Worth of Ideas." I guess we ought to come up with something more than just googly eyes for next week. What are you doing?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Counting Down to Halloween #1

We had so much fun last year with our Halloween Countdown, the we decided to do it again this year. I asked the kids what tradition we should share and we came up with a few. There weren't ten, though, so we may need to start some new ones!

The first one on their minds - probably because they arrived that day - isn't really our tradition, it's the grandparents'. However, because they are faithful, we have a fun tradition as well. Every year they send each grandchild a Halloween card with a $2 bill inside. In the early years, we'd use that money to go to McDonald's and get Happy Meals. Now the money probably goes to the movie theater, but that's okay. It's a fun tradition. I wonder if we're going to have to keep it up with our own grandchildren!

And here's last year's post - "Edible and Non-edible Ghosts" - HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Assignment Wheels

Memorable Monday Moments
Making Assignments Ahead of Time

Last week I left preparing a family night lesson until after dinner, so I just grabbed the Family Home Evening Resource Book and figured I'd flip through it until something caught my eye. Wayne (who loves to do things in order) suggested we just do whatever came next. Because we had done the section on participation most recently, the next idea was to make an assignment wheel. That seemed silly to me, because, #1, I thought we'd outgrown that and our current system seemed to be working, and #2, we'd already had that lesson years ago so why should we do it again. Boy, was I wrong!

We pulled out a couple of our last rotation schedules and had fun reminiscing. We recalled some of the assignments we had years ago. One of our favorites was the "talent" assignment, but that wasn't listed on our most recent one. In addition, we've had a few kids leave home, so their name tags had to be moved to the side! But then we decided we should make a new chart. After a great deal of discussion we came up with the five assignments: conduct the meeting (which includes reminding others of their assignments), lead the music, play the piano, give the lesson, and prepare refreshments. I had totally forgotten the value and importance of this initial statement: "Many home evening discussions must be prepared well before they are given. There is no substitute for good preparation, and home evenings are more effective and enjoyable if all family members participate in their preparation." All week long it was neat to see everyone reminding each other of their assignments. And last night we had "the best family night ever" which is high praise, because we've had some pretty good ones.

To top it off we actually had refreshments - Dump Cake.

Next week will be interesting - it'll be Dad's turn to play the piano!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Great Basin National Park

Friday Flashback
National Park Series #10

Steven was two weeks old when we took our annual camping vacation, this time to Great Basin National Park, but he didn't seem to mind, even if he couldn't eat any marshmallows. The older boys had fun pushing him around the campground loop in his stroller; however, we had to stop them because they were scaring the other campers with their speed. You'd think they would have been tired out after hiking all day!
The entrance to Lehman Caves Making it to the top of Wheeler Peak - 13,063 feet in elevation
Spectacular views everwhere!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trying New Recipes

Works for Me Wednesday
Recipe Blogs
If you saw that picture, wouldn't you want some too?
Theirs looks prettier, but at least I could actually taste mine. And it was delicious.

Over the past few days we've tried several new recipes. That's because over time I've come across several different websites that have recipes that look too good NOT to try! Today I decided that I wanted them all gathered into one spot, so I made a "blog-roll" and added them to the side information. Some sites have only recipes, and some include other information. Some sites are maintained by people I know personally and and some by people I don't know. And while there's no way I'll be able to try every recipe, it's great inspiration for when I am trying to decide what to make. So, have fun!
And of course there are probably a million more out there. What are your favorite sources of dinner-time inspiration?
Trying new recipes Works for Me! To see what works for other people, head on over to We are THAT Family.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Exploring Buenos Aires

Memorable Monday Moments
Since we were in Buenos Aires on a Monday, and since when we're on vacation, family nights turn into family days, adding pictures counts as a "Memorable Monday Moments" entry!

Here's the view of Av. Callao from the balcony where we stayed: First stop was the Casa de Rosa - the Argentinian White House:
And then several blocks away the congressional building:
No visit is complete without going around the Obelisco on Av. 9 de Julio a few times:
On Monday we toured a few museums, including this one on an old training ship - Museo Fragata Pte. Sarmiento:
It was fun hefting the huge tools and exploring every nook and cranny:
Buenos Aires is a vibrant, intriguing city, and someone is already planning a return trip!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rite of Passage

Family Almanac for October 7th:

1983: Weston starts crawling
1998: Weston starts driving
1999: Jeff receives Bear rank at pack meeting
2001: Pres. Hinckley's talk - lower decibel of home
2006: yard work - pressure wash screen - boys jump off ladder into pool - take out 4 dead trees

2009: We decide that we can't miss the opportunity to have Michelle's first driving experience on the same day as her older brother's!
And for the first time, Mom doesn't have to be the adult in the next seat:

(ran out of memory on the camera so had to quickly make more room)
There's a reason Jeff calls this vehicle "The Beast!"We survived!!!

The Last Day in the Life of a Missionary

It's hard to believe this day was two weeks ago, and yet it's also hard to believe it was ONLY two weeks ago. Wow, does time fly by!

Anyway, here's "The Last Day in the Life of a Missionary," at least from his mom's point of view. We'll assume he got up, ate breakfast, read his scriptures and finished packing. After pulling three suitcases the four blocks to the mission office, we finally got some hugs. (This is the front door of the mission office in Resistencia, Argentina.) Then it was time for a tour of the office. The mission slogan: Meeting President del Castillo: The office missionaries' apartment:Across the street and behind the tree is the mission home (Sister del Castillo was making sure the brand-new missionaries were getting off to their first areas without any problems): Pointing out the giant maps of the mission and the areas he served: Stopping at the church building to turn on the hot water for the baptismal font: Using the timer button on my camera for the very first time, with hymn books as a tripod:Taking a lunch break at the "best" restaurant in town (amazingly still less than $20 to feed five people!): One final "discussion" (this was my absolute favorite part of the day):
Taking a pleasant walk from Virginia's house to the church for her baptism:President del Castillo was able to attend:Concluding the day with all the "honorables" (those returning home):Making sure the suitcases get on the bus okay:A final wave good-bye:

The End.