Monday, February 16, 2015

This One's For the Boys

The boys in our family are a little outnumbered.  With the female hormones that were going crazy a couple weeks ago, I was afraid the other five of us might scare Hubby and #5 away for good.  But they love us, and now they get props for sticking it out.

 #5 is in an interesting phase where he idolizes his father, tries to be like his father, but is also developing his individual personality.  He likes to run, and talk, and pop his pecs like his dad.  He is comfortable being the center of attention and wearing his heart on his sleeve.  For many years I've been grateful for the truth in the African proverb that says "It takes a village to raise a child."  A few weeks ago in Church, I saw the fruits of that a little bit.  Every first Sunday, the congregation holds a testimony meeting where anyone is welcome to come to the microphone and share their testimony of Jesus Christ, which usually accompanies a personal story.  We've taught our children to wait until the age of eight to share their testimony at the stand.  That was the highlight of #5's last birthday.  Just about every month now, he waits impatiently for the sacrament to be put away so he can go to the front and share his thoughts.  It is incredible to listen to him share a different impromptu message every month, and to see how comfortable he is in front of his ward family.  This last meeting, he testified of the power of fasting and prayer as he saw our ward's combined faith heal his friend's legs.  His friend had experienced complication with a virus that resulted in his legs being paralyzed.  A month later, #5 was up at the microphone telling everyone that he know fasting and praying work because he and his friend were out playing Ghosts in the Graveyard just two nights previously.  #5 looked over at his friend, gave him a wink and a thumbs up, and said, "Right Adren?"  His testimony was so sincere and so funny and so HIM that I wiped away the tears that gushed out as I stifled my laughter.  That kid cracks me up!
Sure, I'm a biased mother, but it seems the rest of his peers also find him quite likable.  Recently, his school held a vote in each grade to select royalty for the elementary school's Family Valentine Dance.  The children were told to vote for the boy and the girl who were the best leaders.  I guess they all recognize #5's friendliness and integrity, too, because #5 was crowned the Third Grade Prince.  He was pretty happy about it, but the title didn't go to his head.  We left the dance a bit early to grab a late dinner.  When #5 left his crown on a table at the burger place to go climb on the indoor playground, another child found the crown and claimed it.  #5 was just happy that the other kid liked it, so he let the younger boy keep it.  He has a very sweet heart.

Speaking of sweethearts, I'm pretty thankful for my own companion.  Most of our marriage has been good.  In the last two years, though, I've fallen more in love with Kent.  He likes to say that he finally reached adulthood at the age of 37.  As he turns 39 this week, I can attest that he's grown a lot recently as he discovered his purpose and has found ways to bring it about.  Kent's purpose is to give validation through valediction.  He wants people to know they are valuable, and why they are.  He wants all people to look for the good in others and express it while we can.  Kent spent the last three months writing a paper (which turned into a book) about the past four years of his life.  He wrote about the depression he's been through, the difficulties of being an entrepreneur, and the risk of trusting others.  He wrote about God showing up when Kent needed Him most, about receiving inspiration to make changes in his daily habits, and about creating a career that he finds fulfilling.  (If you want to read this 100-page book, he is excited to share it with you.  Just leave a comment and we'll figure out how to get it to you.)

I am lucky to be the one at his side as he's progressed through the changes in his life.  I love seeing the positive influence he is on others.  I am utterly grateful to go through the challenge of parenting with him.  He balances me out in our dealings with our children.  Plus, I think he's getting better looking with age, and I like to be the one on his arm.  Kent and I met 22 years ago, and I thank God often for bringing us together. I'm a lucky girl.
Happy Birthday Kent!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Primary Valentine's Activity

For almost a year-and-a-half, I've had the privilege of serving in my LDS ward (congregation) as the Primary President.  This means I get to work with the children under age 12, as well as their mid-week leaders and Sunday teachers.  I admit that this is not a calling I would have chosen for myself.  I really like discussing interesting topics with adults, and so I was at first a little sad to be looking at another three or four years away from the adult classes at Church.  However, the longer I've served in this calling, the more I've loved the work of it.  I've especially come to love the children and spending two hours each Sunday teaching them and having fun together.  Plus, we have five dozen other great adults serving in Primary, and I love getting to know all of them as we serve together.

We don't hold many non-Sunday activities for the entire Primary, but at one of the first trainings I attended, someone recommended that wards could hold separate activities for their Junior and Senior Primaries.  We had a lot of fun with the three-to-six-year-olds at a Saturday Easter activity for the Junior Primary last spring.  The older children, ages seven to eleven, had a summertime service activity that ended with ice cream sundaes.  Today, we held a Valentine's activity with the younger children, and it turned out great.  In this calling, I've come to learn that the internet is a great resource for ideas, so I figure it's my turn to pass along our activity ideas in case any other Primary leaders out there might be looking.

I worked with three other ladies on this activity.  One friend, Anney, made invitations and delivered them to every family in the neighborhood that has young children.  At the activity itself, the rest of us each ran a rotation.  As children gathered in the Primary room at the church, we played Hug Hug Kiss, which is just like Duck Duck Goose.  I had an inflatable pair of lips that the kids used to tag each other.  We then settled down a bit with a prayer and a song and divided the children and accompanying adults into three groups.  Each rotation lasted 12  minutes and we allowed three minutes for finishing up and moving to the next room between rotations, so the entire activity lasted only an hour.  

One leader, Tamara, put together a yogurt parfait bar.  The children layered granola and berries in yogurt cups, and enjoyed visiting while eating their treat.  Another leader, Amy, prepared a craft.  Each child was given a picture of a tree to color and stick heart stickers and paper hearts to the branches.  They were supposed to think of something they loved about someone, or something loving they could do for each heart on their tree.

I chose to plan the game rotation, and we held a treasure hunt throughout the church building.  I modified a treasure hunt found on to make it a little shorter and easier for young children.  Each clue was printed on a white card stamped with a heart, so the children knew what to look for.  To avoid sprints in the church hallways, I gave the children the options of speed walking or skipping.  It was a joy to see each herd of pre-and-grade schoolers skipping toward the next clue!  Here are the clues we used:

Clue 1
Don’t drag your feet!
Walk fast, not slow!
Go find Clue 2
by a piano
 (I taped the clue to the piano in the Relief Society room.)

Clue 2
Wasn’t that fun?
Are you ready for more?
Go find Clue 3
by an outside door.
(The clue was taped inside an entrance breezeway.)
Clue 3
Move right along,
as quick as a wink,
Boys find Clue 4
Hidden under a sink!
(It was funny to watch the mental gears turn as the kids tried to figure this one : boys' bathroom.)

Clue 4
You’re halfway through
With your inspection!
Girls will find Clue 5
by their reflection.
(Girls' bathroom.) 

Clue 5
You sure are impressive!
Are you starting to perspire?
Go find Clue 6
near the tool that puts out fire!
(Fire extinguisher.)
Clue 6
Are you having a good time?
Are you in a good mood?
Go find Clue 7
Where we make tasty food!
(Taped to the microwave in the kitchen.)

Clue 7
You’re doing great
Playing this game.
Now go find the treasure
Near the missionary hall of fame!
 (I hid a gift bag full of supplies in the waiting area outside the bishop's office.)

You’ve found the treasure!
Now here’s what you do:
Leave a heart attack for the bishopric,
To them, from you!

Inside the gift bag, I had paper hearts, washable markers, and tape.  We leaders rolled bits of tape for the bishop's office door as the children wrote their names and little pictures on the hearts.  They stuck their hearts to the tape and covered the door.  I also left a large heart with this little verse:

With all the sunshine things you do,
The smiles you share, and singing too,
With all the teaching you make come true,
It's good to have a bishopric like you.
With love from, the Junior Primary

This treasure hunt took the exact amount of time for each rotation, with a little help from me pointing which hall to skip down.  They had just enough time to make their paper hearts before skipping back down the hall to their next activity.

After the rotations, we gathered again in the Primary room where we stood in a circle, holding hands.  I told the children that when our family prays together at home, we hold hands, and sometimes we'll give the person next to us three quick hand squeezes, which means, "I love you."  I told the children that we leaders love them very much, and then we all squeezed hands three times before sending them off with their parents.

The entire activity was quite simple, and I think everyone--adults and children alike--had fun and enjoyed being together.  If you have great Primary activities to pass along, I would love to read about them in the comments.  Happy Valentine's Day!