I am beautiful and I am in control.

There's been a topic on my mind for quite some time now.  Self Image and Eating Disorders:  Anorexia and Bulimia.  I'm not sure why this particular topic keeps knocking at my mind's door.  I am unaware of any young woman who is currently struggling with a specific eating disorder - though self image seems to be a common struggle for many.

My question:  "How do we as mothers and leaders instill in our daughters and young women a knowledge that they are beautiful and that they are in control of their bodies?"
Whatever the reason, I am opening the discussion.  Maybe this is for you, for your daughter, or one of your young women.  I don't know.  But, there's a reason it has been on my mind - I just felt like it was time to share.
The following WARNING SIGNS (by Lynn Carol Maynes, Program Specialist for LDS Family Services) were found in the April 2006 Issue of the New Era, "My Battle With Anorexia":
The Thinness Obsession, Dr Harold A. Frost, Ensign, January 1990
Helping Prevent Eating Disorders, Ensign, January 1994
Eating Disorders:  A Deadly State of Mind, Janet Thomas, New Era, February
My Battle with Anorexia, Katie Mae Hess, New Era, New Era, April 2006
The Body, A Sacred Gift, Diane L. Spangler, Liahona, July 2005
Healing Soul and Body, Robert D. Hales, Ensign, November 1998
The irony here is, as much as it has been on my mind, I am probably the last person to lead the conversation.  Even as an adult I find it very difficult to find moments where I feel beautiful - struggling each day to take control of my own health in a positive way.  If I can find the words, I may share the story of my own struggles as a young woman in a later post - but, only with the hope of helping someone else.

In the Graveyard: Games and Activities

Here are just a few games and activities for your Halloween parties. What are some of your favorites?

Supplies needed: lots and lots of toilet paper rolls!
Game play: Everyone will need a partner for this game. One will be the mummy, the other will be the wrapper. The wrappers have to wrap their mummy completely in toilet paper within the time given. The team closest to wrapping the mummy in the time given wins!

Whether you make it part of an official Halloween party or challenge another family (or more) to a game of Which Witch is Which Hunt... I promise you trick-or-treating will a bit more fun.
Game Play: Each team needs to have a camera or video camera and a list of Halloween characters to find while trick-or-treating. Have a meeting place and time for the judging to take place later in the evening.
Example list:
Cartoon Character
Knight in Shining Armor
Football Player
At the end of the night, gather 'round the television set and view or watch each other's video footage. You could always have prizes for:
1. most characters on the list found
2. most unique costume found
3. best decorated yard ... etc.
The good ol' game of O' So Gross! A guessing game, played in a darkened room.
*Read the story below to see what needs to be prepared beforehand.
Game Play: Have everyone sit in a circle. Pass out paper and pencils to each person. Explain the game - A story will be read. As the story is read, cups will be passed around one-by-one. As the cups are passed around everyone will FEEL what's inside - then WRITE DOWN what they think is really in the cup. Shut out the lights and start *the story:
Once in this town there lived a man named Brown.
Twas years ago this very night that he was murdered out of spite.
They say these are his remains:
Here is his brain, which now feels no pain.
(Pass around a cup with something like a wet squishy tomato inside it.)
Here are his eyes, still frozen with surprise.
(Pass the second cup which hold two frozen peeled grapes.)
Here is his heart. Be careful lest it start!
(Pass around a cup with a large lump of uncooked liver.)
Now we have his hair, which once was so fair!
(This cup contains a handful of corn silk or wet fur or yarn.)
Feel these drops of his blood. All the rest turned to mud.
(A cup with a little ketchup thinned with warm water.)
One hand all alone, just rotting flesh and bone.
(A damp plastic glove filled with mud or ice.)
Now touch his ear. He nevermore will hear!
(Pass around a cup holding a dried apricot.)
This is his nose. T'will never smell a rose.
(Use a soft piece of chicken bone.)
These worms are all that's left to feel. For them Brown was a lovely meal!
(Pass around a cup filled with wet, cooked spaghetti noodles.)

When the story comes to an end and everyone has finished writing down their guesses, turn up the lights and collect the papers. As you check their guesses, you can show everyone what was really in the cups.
Supplies: All you need is a package of index cards (or slips of paper), something to write with, and a room full of imagination.
Game Play: Write a line on each card that makes you think of Halloween. Then, pass around the deck of cards, face down. Have the first person choose a card. Have someone begin the story using the line on their card. They have 60 seconds (or less) until the person on their left takes the deck of cards from them. They choose a card and take the story in another another direction using the line on their card. This continues until everyone has had a chance to take a card from the deck (go around as many times as you would like). The last one to choose a card ends the story.
Here are some ideas:
the crystal vase was filled with blood the door opened. It was Count Dracula!
there was a ghost, rising from the grave
in the corner, lay a body. It was...
the candlelight flickered
it was a cauldron, and a skull bobbed inside
it was a giant swamp spider
the hand belonged to a wolf man!
the skeleton shook itself, and moved toward me
the casket creaked
rats scattered across the floor
from beyond the grave
the burial certificate had my name on it
it was a zombie nightmare
the severed head spoke
a ghost coughed
I tried to run, but I couldn't move!

Howl at the Moon: Halloween Songs

A few years back, I was Activities Director (just one of my many responsibilities) at a wonderful Assisted Living Facility in Orem, Utah. In my search for something fun to do with the residents, I found these Halloween Carols along with many more. The tunes are easily recognizable and easy to sing or even hum along with. These are also fun for children's Halloween parties.
(Tune: Jingle Bells)
Dashing through the streets,
Meeting goblins as we go,
Wearing contour sheets,
Wishing it would snow.
Bells in doorways ring,
Making spirits bright,
What fun it is to come and sing
And get some food tonight.
Trick or treat, trick or treat, trick or treat we say!
Try to get the treats before the ghost takes us away!
Trick or treat, trick or treat, trick or treat we say!
If you don't have treats for us we'll never go away!
(Tune: Deck the Halls)
Deck the halls with poison ivy,
fa la la la la, la la la la.
'Tis the season to be slimy,
fa la la la la, la la la la.
Don we now our strange apparel,
fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Halloween carol,
fa la la la la, la la la la.
See the goblins rise before us,
fa la la la la, la la la la.
As we sing the Halloween chorus,
fa la la la la, la la la la.
Follow them as they ascend,
fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Join with all your loony friends,
fa la la la la, la la la la.
(Tune: Winter Wonderland)
Screech owls hoot, are you listening?
'Neath the moon, all is glistening.
A real scary sight, we're happy tonight.
Waitin' in a spirit wonderland.
In the streets, we're begging for some candy.
We've been waiting for this night all year.
We've tried to embarrass everybody,
And to make a costume filling you with fear.
Later on, while we're eating
What we got trick or treating.
We'll share all our sacks
Of Halloween snacks,
Waitin' in a spirit wonderland.
(Tune: Santa Claus is Coming to Town)
Oh, you better not shriek,
You better not groan,
You better not howl,
You better not moan,
Great Pumpkin is coming to town!
He's going to find out
From folks that he meets
Who deserves tricks
And who deserves treats;
Great Pumpkin is coming to town.
He'll search in every pumpkin patch,
Haunted houses far and near,
To see if you've been spreading gloom,
Or bringing lots of cheer.
So, you better not shriek,
You better not groan,
You better not howl,
You better not moan,
Great Pumpkin is coming to town!
Songs for the little ones:
(Tune: I'm a Little Teapot)
I'm a little spider,
Watch me spin.
If you'll be my dinner, I'll let you come in.
Then I'll spin my web to hold you tight,
And gobble you up in just one big bite!
(Tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)
We are pumpkins big and round, big and round, big and round.
We are pumpkins big and round sitting on the ground.
See our great big shiny eyes, shiny eyes, shiny eyes.
See our great big shiny eyes, looking all around.
See our great big laughing mouth, laughing mouth, laughing mouth.
See our great big laughing mouth, smiling right at you!
(Tune: This Old Man)
This old ghost, he played one,
He played peek-a-boo on the run.
With a Boo! Boo! Boo! and a clap, clap, snap!
This old ghost is a friendly chap.
This old ghost, he played two,
He played peek-a-boo in a shoe.
With a Boo! Boo! Boo! and a clap, clap, snap!
This old ghost is a friendly chap.
This old ghost, he played three,
He played peek-a-boo behind a tree.
With a Boo! Boo! Boo! and a clap, clap, snap,
This old ghost is a friendly chap.
(Tune: Farmer in the Dell)
The goblin in the dark, the goblin in the dark,
Hi ho, Halloween, the goblin in the dark.
The goblin takes the witch, the goblin takes a witch,
Hi ho, Halloween, the goblin takes a witch.
The witch takes the bat, the witch takes a bat,
Hi ho Halloween, the witch takes a bat.
The bat takes the ghost, the bat takes a ghost,
Hi ho, Halloween, the bat takes a ghost.
The ghost says, "BOO!" The ghost says, "Boo!"
Hi ho, Halloween, the ghost says, "Boo!"
(Tune: Yankee Doodle)
A witch went riding on a broom
On a cold October evening;
She met a ghost and a big black cat,
And down her neck they were breathing.
"Jump up on my broom," she said,
"Let's come out of hiding,"
"Jump up on my broom," she said,
"And let's all go a-riding!"
(Tune: Darling Clementine)
In the graveyard, in the graveyard,
When the moon begins to shine
There's a doctor, crazy doctor
And his monster Frankenstein.
Oh, my monster, oh, my monster,
Oh, my monster Frankenstein,
You are looking very scary,
Sweet old monster Frankenstein.

Wish you could stop by...

Since you girls live so far away, and will not be knocking on my door anytime soon, I wanted to show you what you would find if you were to stop by.  I created this wreath using a grapevine base, laurel leaf garland, and fall berries.  Tied it up with a bow.  A wonderful nesting place for my little friend.  Do you like?  :)

Hank Smith, "Will you inspire us in person?"

Have you heard of Hank Smith?  A wonderful LDS speaker.  My girls (and I) adore him!
We discovered Hank Smith when my mother-in-law gave one of the girls this CD:  "Be Who You Are".  We (not just the girls) have listened to the CD a number of times.  It still makes us laugh and still inspires us.
My girls listened to another one of Hank Smith's Cd's the other night.  "Break Up With the World".  (One of my cute Mia Maids has been telling us about this CD for awhile now - and made sure we had our own CD to listen to.)  I could hear them laughing as I was making dinner.  My understanding is they had already listened to it separately.  But, they wanted to listen to it again - together.  :)  One of them even deactivated her FACEBOOK page after listening to this particular CD.  Quite an impact.*
Here is one video of Hank at BYU Education Week:
These talk Cd's are available at Deseret Book for about $12.00 each.
We have 4 of the 6 Cd's.  You cannot go wrong with any of them.
Click individual images for info.

"We live in (or near) the area you served you mission (figured this out from your lion story).  Wouldn't it be wonderful to visit your old stomping grounds?  :)  Oh, and while you're in town there is a group of young men and young women who would love to laugh with you and be inspired by you.  (it could be a very large group)  We promise we will not serve Kentucky Fried Chicken.  :)
ROAD TRIP IDEALast Christmas our YM/YW visited the Oakland Temple, which is about a three hour drive from where we live.  In preparing for this activity I made a CD for each vehicle.  The car is a great venue for learning.  :)  A captive audience for sure.
The CD was a mixture of Holiday favorites, both fun (at the beginning of the CD) and music to invite the spirit (later part of the CD - to prepare us for our arrival at the temple).  In the middle of the CD the youth were introduced to Hank Smith ("Be Who You Are").  He reached a number of youth with his fun and witty ways.  It has been almost a year, and there are some who still make comments about "Hank from Utah!"  :)  (you'll just have to listen to the CD)


I created a flower arrangement using various shades of orange flowers - representing Choice and Accountability.  I added a green ribbon around the vase - representing Knowledge.  A framed picture of Christ was placed on the table as well - always as a reminder to look to Christ in all we do.
Note:  This is simply a list of ideas used throughout the lesson - not a lesson outline.
The lesson begins with the question:  "What are some important decisions you must make about young men?"  Ideas were written on the board as they were discussed.  After the list filled the board I wrote the word CRUSH in capital letters above it.  Asking them if these things were true in repect to the young men they were currently "crushing on".
We also discussed the importance of being the kind  of person you would eventually like to marry.  This is where I gave them all this handout.
The question of steady dating came up.  Here was my response, read from "Unsteady Dating":  President Hinckley said, “When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage, then is the time to become so involved. But you boys who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls”
As part of the lesson I shared this Mormon Message:  "Chastity, What Are The Limits?"  It was perfect.
It took a bit of thought, but this is what I finally came  up with:  "Choose Righteously Understanding Sacred Honor".  We discussed that their Sacred Honor as daughters (and sons) of God were the covenants they made at baptism, then we re-read the Young Women Theme.  The young women were all given a can of CRUSH soda. 
As I was preparing the lesson my mind was trying to create an analogy to go along with the CRUSH soda.  I wasn't sure if what I finally thought of was going to be appropriate for the group.  But, at the end of the lesson (at this point all the girls were holding their can of soda) one of the leaders made a comment that led perfectly into this particular analogy.  (this is just a brief outline of what was discussed)
  • I asked what would happen to the can of soda if I were to open the lid and let it sit for awhile.  The answer they gave was that the soda would lose it's fizz.  I also mentioned the same thing would happen if I were to puncture the can in one or more places.
  • I invited the girls to imagine that the soda can represented each of them, and the soda inside the can represented their spirit in respect to their virtue/chastity - this could even work well in discussing the effects on the spirit in dressing immodestly.
  •  We discussed the effects on their spirit in the choices they make as they interact with young men.  Good/Virtuous choices protect their spirits.  Poor choices lead to them losing the spirit.
  • IF NEEDED:  This is where you could discuss the atonement - the Savior providing refills.  :)
  • I also threw in a thought about marrying their future CRUSH:  "Imagine what happens when you take a full can of soda, shake it up, and open it."  The girls all laughed at the thought.  I then said, "Remembering what the can in your hand represents, imagine how much more thrilling and meaningful it would be to go to the temple with a young man who has kept his spirit protected - and you have kept yours protected." "And just think of how much more thrilling your wedding night will be - saving it for that special night."  This is where they laughed, were probably a little embarrassed, but they understood.  I know because of conversations afterwards.  :)

UPDATE: PP - A Pattern for Life

I received a copy of the skit script for our "Personal Progress - A Pattern for Life".
"Thank you for sharing Amy!"
I added it to the original blog post.
Here is the link:  PP - A Pattern for Life
Hopefully it can still be of some use to those who have asked for it.


Our little dinosaur turned four this year!  And once again he asked for a dinosaur birthday party. How long will this obsession last?  :)
We kept it simple.  He's four.  He likes dinosaurs.  He likes his friends.  Simple.
Here's my birthday boy, enjoying his simple yellow cake, topped with dinosaur toys and four candles. Easy to please.  Love him!
His guests were greeted by his new favorite dinosaur, T-Rex!
My daughters read the children dinosaur stories while we waited for everyone to arrive.
Robbie set up his very own Dinosaur Museum. :) The one and only exhibit included his personal collection of dinosaurs. He was excited to show his friends!
We did this last year, but Robbie insisted that we go on another dinosaur egg hunt. Here is the recipe I used:
2 and 1/2 cups Flour
2 and 1/2 cups Dirt
1 cup Sand
1 and 1/2 cups Salt
small toy dinosaurs (one per egg)
Mix together all dry ingredients. (except for the toys)  :)
Gradually add water until the mixture holds together.
Shape a handful of dough around one of the small toys and form into an egg shape.
Place the eggs onto a cookie sheet covered with foil.
Let them sit in a dry place until they are dry (about 4 days).
In a rush, I have also placed them into a warm oven to speed up the drying process.
We made our way into the Ice Age. I simply placed small dinosaur toys into an ice tray, added water, and froze them overnight.  The children had a race to see who could free their dinosaur first.  Honestly, they could have cared less that there was a race.  They just enjoyed watching the ice melt and the dinosaurs appear.  :)
They each made their own dino terrarium.  Started with a mason jar, a scoop of pebbles, a layer of Spanish moss, a cup of soil, a small rock or twig, and their dinosaur discoveries from earlier.  Nothing too complex, they are four years old.  :)
Robbie's guests all went home with their own exploration bag (a small garden tool tote found at the 99cent store). We tucked surprises into every pocket:  dinosaur toys, sweet treats and there was even room for their new dino terrarium.

Grandparent "Western Round-Up" Dinner

This Grandparent Dinner was served up last week.  Simply stated:  "A great night filled with lots of fun memories." - Kim
An opportunity for the youth to build relationships with the Grandparents in their ward.  Something they can build on each Sunday (but definitely not limited to Sundays :)). 
(to come)
We went with a classic "Old Time Western" theme.  Here are some of the pictures I blew up and placed around the gym for deco.
I also made some post card sized prints, placing them along with the vases on each table.
This is how we decorated each table:
  • red and white checkered table cloths
  • mason jar filled with fresh cut sunflowers (as well as another yellow flower I found in the fields)
  • a basket lined with red and white gingham fabric (for rolls)
  • a jar of homemade jam (with a red fabric lid insert)
  • place settings for each  person (salad already at table upon arrival)
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Green Salad and Fresh Baked Rolls
Warm Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
We put four youth and four Grandparents at each table.   The youth were in charge of serving and cleaning, as well as conversation with the Grandparents.
Bar J Wranglers (Thanks to our papa).  Set the mood for the night.

After dessert was served, each class (Priests, Laurels, Teachers, Mia Maids, Deacons, and Beehives) took the stage and presented a skit of their choice.  They did such a great job!
  • It would have been cute to have a simple sunflower boutonniere and corsage for the youth to present to the grandparents as they arrived.
  • A western themed photo opportunity also would have been fun.  A group photo of all the Grandparents and the Youth.

Good Clean Fun

We were awesome.