Friday, February 25, 2011

Rudolph Day - 12 Days of Christmas

Maybe we will celebrate Rudolph Day each month this year after all! (Don't hold your breath.) But I didn't have the time to post about this in December, and now I do. We were surprised to find a beautiful box on our porch on December 13th with the following attached:

The 12 Days of Christmas is the song that we sing
And in this box 12 presents we bring.
December the 13th is when you may start;
Unwrap one a day with love from the heart.
Merry Christmas!

And this is what was inside:

Each gift was labeled with a number, and inside was a treat with one of the poems below. (I'm sure you can figure out which was #1, etc.!) Day #6 was the most clever - melted circles of white chocolate with a yellow M&M in the center to make candy eggs. We had the most fun with Day #11, and of course Day #2 was my absolute favorite.
Fifteen years ago we were also the receipients of a 12 Days of Christmas surprise, one that came daily. In the years that followed we tried doing it ourselves many times, and it was always a lot of fun. Knowing that we weren't going to be around all 12 days leading up to Christmas, we had to drop that from the to-do list this year. Now that we know it's possible to deliver in one try (although admittedly not quite as fun), maybe it can go back on the list for this year!
Now in the song, it's partridge and pear -
But when I looked, my trees were all bare.
So I ran to the store at a hurried pace;
Pears they had plenty, but no birds in the place!

Did you know two turtle doves are extremely hard to find?
So here are Turtles 'n Doves - the chocolate candy kind!

Hens are chickens, not sure if they are French or not!
But here is chicken soup to heat in the pot.

When calling birds cackle their mouths get all dry
And they lips start to crackle, so give this [chapstick] a try!

Only five golden rings? There really are more
Of gold pineapple rings I got from the store.

*Sigh* We're back to those birds!
I tried stealing their eggs, but their cries could be heard.
So I gave up again and went to the store.
These eggs won't hatch, but don't drop them on the floor.

The swans were still swimming in water so clear,
It sparkled and shimmered, I shed not a tear.
Instead I felt thirsty, a drink would be nice.
I sent sparkling water, now you add the ice!

The maids were all milking, milk foaming like suds.
And then they all vanished, just leaving "Milk Duds."

The ladies danced all night long,
but when they looked down something was wrong.
From dancing all night they had aching feet.
So here are some bath salts to give your toes a treat.

Ten lords a-leaping; who could reach the stars first
To send back to us these delicious "Starburst?"

Eleven pipers piping, what a wonderful sight.
Because they blew bubbles and watched them take flight.
Here are some bubbles so you can play too.

Oh, how the drummers hurt my head;
They gave me such a headache I had to go to bed.
Music should be soothing, a listening pleasure;
So here is a CD for you to treasure.

You can find examples of others who used this activity here and here and even here (each one is just a bit different).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WFMW - Report Card Dinners

Works for Me Wednesday
Report Card Dinners

When our oldest started school and brought home his first report card, as parents we had a discussion on whether we would "pay for good grades" or not. It just didn't feel right to bribe our children to do well in school, but we wanted to encourage them. We also didn't necessarily want them competing against each other, and we wanted to forestall any "I got all A's and B's and you didn't!" comments. At that point we didn't know what type of students our children would be; we just wanted each of them to do their individual best. We wanted to be able to work as a family team.

So, we decided that our "have a good report card" incentive would be dinner at a restaurant. (Since in those early days we never ate out as a family, this was a big deal.) I'm pretty sure we let the kids choose, but knowing that at age 6 their favorite restaurant was McDonald's we weren't too worried about cost. Everyone whose grades improved from their previous report card (and we looked at both academic and conduct grades) got to go with Mom and Dad. Those who didn't stayed with the babysitter. If you had one "perfect" report card, you had to keep getting them to earn the dinner. Then, while we were eating, we'd discuss what needed to be done during the next grading period so that each could continue to strive to reach their full potential.

We've had some great times at those dinners over the years. Once they were teenagers, we'd invariably get the "why don't you just buy us a new video game instead of taking us out to dinner - it would last longer" argument, but we didn't cave. A couple of times we even had our "restaurant" dinner at home, with barbecued steak and lobster, but it was still the kids' choice. And, yes, there were times when someone didn't get to join us, but they made sure they could the next time.

Report card dinners worked for us. Feel free to hop on over to We are THAT Family to see what works for others.Good report cards were on my mind this morning, because yesterday the official announcement was made. Congratulations to the Bloomingdale High School's Class of 2011 Valedictorian!
We're proud of you!
(He had to accomplish something that his older brothers didn't, and he did!!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We we're surprised and thrilled to receive homemade Valentines in the mailbox today.  (The non-homemade one came last week, and that was fun, too.)  Thank you so much!

This holiday is celebrated quite a bit differently with teenagers than with elementary school kids.  (In fact I was surprised at the bitterness I sensed surrounding Valentine's Day as I quickly surfed through Facebook.  So sad.)  I do miss the excitement of class Valentines, although I don't miss the stress of preparation.  We had one teacher who used the tradition as practice for addressing mail.  Not only did our first grader have to write his name on the actual Valentine, he had to fill out an envelope with the classmate's address, and his own return address, and use a sticker for the stamp.  It actually was a pretty good idea, and she gave them a month's warning, but addressing 30 envelopes is a huge project!!

Since we're keeping things simple, we just used food to mark the special day.  I was planning on making heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast, but honored the last minute request for French toast instead.  That was actually a better way to show my love.  For dinner we tried this cute/corny idea I read about in the Family Fun magazine while waiting at the orthodontist earlier this month.  Of course we had to adapt it a bit.  A hot dog is a hot dog, but we had to do something, and I think it went over better than the beet soup we tried one year!
We hope all of you had a fun-filled day of love celebrated with family and friends near and far.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Two in One Lesson

Memorable Monday MomentsLast week it was Michelle's turn to teach the family night lesson. She's always so creative. She started with an activity where I guided Steven's hand (while his eyes were closed) to make the picture she told us to. Then, because the white boards were handy, we wrote out our answers to a series of questions after reading a few scriptures.

Part two was a review of stake conference, and she pulled out the cards I had her make years ago for a seminary lesson. There's a card for each letter in STAKE CONFERENCE. We'd take turns choosing one of the letters. She'd read the corresponding question and the answer would start with that letter. For example, for K the question could be "President Jensen spoke on what attribute from the 13th Article of Faith?" and the answer would be kindness. I'll admit that sometimes you have to stretch to come up with questions with answers that match the letters, but that just makes it fun. The person (or team in seminary) who answers the question correctly gets to keep the card, and the winner is the one with the most cards at the end. Steven won handily. (It helps to be at the meeting that generates the questions!!!) All in all, we had a great time and are looking forward to pulling the cards out again after the next stake conference.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Red Letter Day!

After 14 years we've finally reached our goal. Everyone has straight teeth! Except for a brief six month hiatus several years ago, orthodontist visits have been a regular occurrence for a long time. I think I'm ready to move onto something else. Princess is excited that she completed the process before it's time to take senior pictures. That was a big concern a couple of years ago, but she had to wait her turn. One at a time is plenty. Now, everyone, keep wearing your retainers!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentine's Treat from Long Ago

It's been a while since I've done a "Works for Me Wednesday" post, and I've missed it. Since this week's theme was Valentine's Day Ideas, I've been thinking all morning trying to come up with something. What I finally remembered was a treat we tried many years ago, using an idea from the Friend magazine, the February 1985 issue to be exact. (And just because I think it's fun to look at old photos, this is what we looked like then):"What's the treat," you ask? Well, I'll tell you - Fortune Cookies. Since I didn't have pictures of the original attempt, I had to try it again today. Just as I remembered, they are very time consuming, but for a special occasion every once in a while, that's okay.
Head on over to my recipe blog if you want the recipe adaptation I used today.
So, making memories, even when they're not remembered for a very long time, Works for Me. And I hope it works for you too!