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Mission Prep

Our eldest son, Josh, is preparing for a mission to the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo East. He enters the Dominican Republic MTC mid-August.

Josh graduated from high school over a year ago and completed his freshman year at college away from home. He didn’t go to a BYU school, but he participated meaningfully in a student ward and institute. He took a few road trips, got a job, and played a lot of pick-up basketball. This summer before he leaves he is spending time on splits with our local missionaries here in SoCal. He is working and drinking deeply the magic of Los Angeles in the summer. He’s excited and happy.

When I ask him if he’s worried about his mission, he says he’s worried about teaching and baptizing. His answer makes me feel relief. How does he already know that these are the only two things worth worrying about?

As always, Josh is doing things at his own pace, with or without our help, ignoring peer influence. I’m sharing how this is all working out just in case someone needs to hear that this kind of timing might be a blessing. Make no mistake: my husband and I were only peripherally involved in Josh’s decision to attend school before a mission. He made it a matter of personal prayer. But I do believe this past year at school has been a key turning point in Josh’s life. Irreplaceable. I don’t know if this gap year is right for you or your missionary, but I’m an advocate of giving it true consideration.

Additional thoughts about missions and the temple here.

Merry Christmas 2016!

2016 was full of new chapters for the Davis family. Our first high school graduate and subsequently our first college drop off. My first job since college! I’ve been working part time since spring. We have our first Eagle Scout. Our last preschool graduation. We became a band family (that’s a thing) because Lucas plays the euphonium in the high school marching band. We had an epic trip to Lake Powell. Lots of Disneyland. EFY. Basketball. Pioneer Trek. Refugee Relief. Yoga. Lots of low brass. Lots of noise! Lots of boys.

We’ve never been so busy. I feel like we’ve never juggled so many big changes for so many of us. I’m learning to find a new kind of balance. Grappling with the necessity to choose best rather than good. Coming to terms with living in the middle of life, where the end seems closer than the beginning. Leaning in to the changes makes it easier to say: 2016. Was. Awesome.

With love from my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

2016 Cub Scout Updates

Cub Scouts just revamped their whole program. Fun!

Below you’ll find updated tracking sheets as well as a “Welcome to Cubs” booklet. It’s designed specifically for LDS Cub Scout packs, so there is no Tiger tracking and there is Religious Knot and LDS Faith in God info too. If you’re interested in a one-page Faith in God printable, I created one that is available here.

The biggest difference is that there are 3 fewer adventures required during the Webelos/Arrow of Light year, but they also shifted and reorganized almost all of the other requirements for every adventure in all three dens. Why not? The details are here and the FAQ’s are here.

Just to be clear, though, the ENTIRE program is now different. For example, check out Call of the Wild for Wolves, old compared to new. You can’t say to your den “Complete Requirement 6 in Call of the Wild.” They are completely different with this revamp. I would say about 80% of the requirements and advancements have been reshuffled and changed. I don’t think the changes will feel very different to the boys–the activities they do at den meetings will feel about the same. But the organization and tracking is VASTLY different. All the printed materials are obsolete. This is not a minor shift. Heads up.

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Here’s the one-page update. This one page could follow one (LDS) child through his whole Cub Scout career. Assuming that the Cub Scouts don’t revamp the entire program again in one year. There’s also some space for various electives at the bottom. Click to get the printable below.

2016-individual-cub-tracking

Then I’ve got one sheet for each pack: the Wolf and Bear dens have three tracking boxes per page. The Webelos/Arrow of Light pack has two per page. These are better suited for use with a whole den. You could fit 2-3 boys per page.

I like the simple pamphlet I put together for our pack. It explains Cubs in very broad strokes. It’s updated with the new details. It’s designed to be printed in color, two-sided, and then folded in half. I like to use this at our Baptism Preview.

2016-welcome-to-cubs

welcome-to-cubs-interior

Good luck!

 

Feast Upon the Words of Christ

This year I had one single goal for our Primary: more scripture study. To help the Primary kids and their families finish strong, I put together a new, simple reading guide that I hope will encourage them all to read through the end of the year!

Just for context, we’ve been working on scripture study for all of 2016. We started off with the Feast Upon the Words business cards, re-emphasized this program in June with new bookmarks, and celebrated memorizing the books of scripture in August. Additionally, each child was able to redeem their business cards for some kind of treat throughout the year: for every 30 days of reading they earned a treat. These have been varied, starting with buttons, replaced by squishy stress toys (a favorite) and now we’re using food-themed erasers.

feast-place-setting

But we’re all getting pretty tired and I think we need one final push to get us through the end of the year. I also think that the one focus that has been missing with the earlier “Feast” scripture program was the latter part of the phrase “upon the words of Christ.” So for the final months of the year, I made a reading chart with 30 scripture passages related to Christ, if not actual words that He said. I’m hoping our families will read one passage per day, mark off the circle and then return the completed page for a treat, as per our earlier 30-day agreement.

feast-4per-copy

In an unusual move, I’m printing these in full color. I almost always just do black and white because it is so much less expensive to photocopy. But I want this last scripture study push to have some extra sparkle. So I’m paying extra for full color. There is one available in a full page size and then some that are four-per-page. I’ll probably print about a dozen full page versions for parents and then give a quarter page one to each child. I’ll be printing these on white card stock.

Happy Feasting, friends!

Best Word Ever game

best-word-ever

I am totally in love with this game I just posted on Or So She Says: it’s a bunch of fabulous words pulled together into brackets so you can play together and countdown to the Best Word Ever. It was super fun to pull together. My husband printed off the pages last week and they’ve been doing the Final Four list at his office–he knew they would like it but he’s been surprised at just how much everyone has gotten on board. It’s originally based on the awesome idea at Ted McCagg’s blog. His top word ever: diphthong.

Go check it out and download your brackets and words. It’s a great game for families with older kids, YSA, or family home evening.

There are two versions–one where you decide the best word per every letter of the alphabet (long game) or one where you debate between the best word ever for just the top letters in the alphabet (short). Both would be super fun. Here’s a glimpse at the complete list, below.

best-word-ever-jump-start-list

Book Review: Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families

Go Buy This Book!

My Mormonism runs deep in my bones: it is the faith of my fathers. My life’s work–my children–is bearing the fruit of this faith. Undeniably one of the more unique aspects of my religion is the doctrine of family. A child of divorced parents, a great-great-great-grandchild of polygamists and pioneers: my understanding of family has been subject to a mature interpretation of Mormonism itself. Capturing the clarity of our doctrine on family while simultaneously allowing room for the complexity of true family life is this lovely book by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding, the authors of Girls Who Choose God.

Families Counsel Together

 

The book is not a narrative story: it’s organized around fifteen key ideas that would easily lend themselves to lessons for Family Home Evening, Primary Sharing Time or Visiting Teaching. Short paragraphs support these key ideas, reinforced by quotes from leaders. Similar to their earlier books, each key idea also includes questions that provoke discussion and thought. For example, in the section titled “Families Creat and Celebrate,” the questions include: How do you create with your family? What is one of your favorite family traditions? And, what tradition would you like to start? The quote is from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Our birthright… is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things….Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before–colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.”

Families Work and Play

It’s hard to over exaggerate how lovely the illustrations are, all by Caitlin Connolly. Each one is imbued with rich symbolism and imagery that complements the key idea at hand. The art is a stark departure from much recent work for LDS children. It is so much more brave and opinionated. It reminds me of the kind of art work in My Turn on Earth: memorable, evocative and bold. Highly stylized, but purposeful. I love it.

Our Heavenly Family, Our Earthly Families is exactly the kind of book I am happy to support in every way and will treasure in my home for years to come. Pick up a copy online or at your local church bookstore.

Feast Upon the Words Scripture Study Program Refresh

At the beginning of the year, our Primary kicked off a program to Feast Upon the Words designed to help encourage the kids and their families to read the scriptures every day! You can find the business card sized printables here, and a quarter page printable here. We continue to reward the kids with 1-inch buttons, but we also added the option of choosing one of these fun squeezable fruit stress toys. The kids love this new prize.

Tomorrow I’ll share our ward Summer Scripture Challenge–it’s cereal-sly cool. Stay tuned.

For our fifth Sunday lesson in May I decided that I wanted to re-emphasize this program, so we discussed how to improve scripture study.  I sent the kids home with a new bookmark. The front has the same food imagery that you find on the Feast Upon the Words cards.

Feast Upon the WordsObviously, the kids are meant to color in the images above. I made this bookmark in two parts: I printed the food images on white card stock and cut them out. Then I printed the back (below) with ways to study the scriptures better on green card stock, cut them out and glued the front and back together.

The reverse side of the bookmarks included a list of ways to make scripture study better, found on lds.org. I taught a slightly different lesson to the Junior Primary and the Senior Primary, so there are two versions. The more complex version is for the older kids.

Feast JUNIORvBookmarks Backside

Feast Bookmarks Backside

 

Summer Screen Rules

Summer Screen RulesTrying to figure out what to do about screens (TV, iPhones, xbox and all that jazz) this summer? Me too. I don’t think this checklist will work for my sullen teenage boys, but I’m thinking it’s a great fit for my 10 year old! Grab your printable copy below.

You could laminate this and use a dry erase marker every day, or slip it into a sheet protector for the same affect.

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