Feb 28, 2018

Eating Together

It was hard to gather my children to the table when they were younger.  Getting dinner timed just right and to the table was frustrating. Eventually,  we’d sit down and invariably someone didn’t like what was being served.  Ten minutes later (less time than it took to prepare the meal), the hurricane would leave.  Some nights I wondered if I was doing something wrong and if it was even worth it, though instinctively I knew eating together was important.

Fast forward to the present day and my older children who have left home return, almost on a weekly basis, to not only eat dinner, but to linger at the table for fun family conversation.  This is why it was so important to build those patterns early.

Did you know that 79% of adolescents actually enjoy eating dinner with their families?  And that despite how drawn they might be to “Riverdale” or “Pretty Little Liars,” eating family dinner ranks higher than watching TV, and that teens enjoy dinnertime as much as going on vacation (see below for reference).
If dinner is such a highly ranked activity, why is it on the decline?  Family dinner can be a great protection to our children, but it has fallen to the bottom of our priority list.  In today’s modern world, convenience is our mantra and busy is our lifestyle.  Mom and dad both come home from work picking up their children and dry cleaning on the way.  Many homes are headed by a single parent, and if there are two parents, odds are high that both of them work.  In addition, parents and children are overscheduled and what little free time they do have, often conflicts, not allowing time for families to find a common dinnertime.
Family mealtime is simply not the typical pattern in many homes.  When we first moved into our current area and my children made friends, one of my daughters would frequently invite her best friend to stay and eat with us.  This friend told me that at first, she thought it was weird that we ate dinner together almost every night, but that she grew to enjoy and appreciate the regular sit-down time and conversation.
So what can busy families do to make family mealtime a reality?

First,  Get Creative!  
It’s going to take some creative out-of-the-box thinking to overcome some of the roadblocks to eating a family meal together.  Do you need to assign different cooks for different nights?  Have you tried once-a-month cooking?  One family couldn’t make family dinner work because the six of them were scattered every evening.  To make family time happen, they would eat breakfast together every morning because it was the one time of day they were all guaranteed to be in the house at the same time.
Second, Make it a priority!   
Oprah Winfrey hosted a “Family Dinner Challenge.” In the challenge, families contracted to eat dinner together every night for a month, staying at the table together for at least 30 minutes. At first, the families thought that 30 minutes felt like an eternity. After a month, their perspective of this was very different. They determined that the time together was so valuable that, even though the challenge was over, would continue to eat together each night. The children of these families reported that they enjoyed and counted on this time with their parents at the dinner table.

Above all, remember:

Fruh, S. M., Fulkerson, J. A., Mulekar, M. S., Kendrick, L. J., & Clanton, C. (2011). Continuing
education: The surprising benefits of the family meal. The journal for nurse practitioners,
718-22. doi:10.1016/j.nurpra.2010.04.017

Oct 13, 2016


I think one of the reasons I have Hyrum is to teach me to see little milestones that I've never noticed before.  Well one occurred this evening.

Image result for earthI was feeding Eve and Hyrum came in needing something.  It sounded like he was saying "I need the of" and then some babbling with his arm making a large circle.  I couldn't understand, so he tried again.  "I need the of" with more babble and a large arm swing.  I still wasn't cluing in.  Some more babble and then he said, "the planet."  Ahhh!  They have this night light that changes pictures and the kids prefer the one with the Earth picture to the safari or ocean.  He was saying "I need the Earth."  The milestone was that he knew I was trying to understand what he was saying, but because I didn't understand, he found another word that expressed what he was wanting.  

Jul 26, 2016

Back to Blogging

I have felt for a while that I need to start journaling our days.  They have just been zipping by and I need to record our time together.

We have just started our second week (out of four) of summer school.  Rachel has been tutoring at the Intermediate Center (grades 3-5) and Hyrum has been attending the Entering Kindergarten section so he doesn't have to start school cold on September first.

After dropping the two of them off, Sam, Joshua, Eve, and I drove down to Waltz park.  I fed Eve while Sam and Joshua played.  Sam was excited that it was a pokestop.  After feeding Eve, we went for a walk around the block (along with getting back to journaling, I'm hoping to get some exercise in as well).  I guess we'd gone far enough away because the pokestop replenished for Sam.

Then we headed off to get things for Scout Camp (next week for Sam and Ben) and back to school.  I hate that I'm always a few hundred dollars lighter by the time we're done.  I also get frustrated that instead of being happy with a 24 pack of crayons, teachers want a 24 pack of twistable crayons.  Really??!!

We returned just in time to pick Hyrum and Rachel up and go home.  After taking care of Eve, I thought it would be fun to try out letter boxing.  Moroni and Adam weren't too keen on it, but I dragged them with me, anyway.  We first stopped at Cave of the Mounds.  We couldn't find anything there and the instructions said that there were ten more letter boxes, just stop in at the visitor's center and ask for directions and clues.  When I inquired, I was told that they're redoing them, so their boxes aren't currently out.  Argh.  Then we went to the ball park because there were supposed to be two there, but we couldn't find those either.  Then we went up to Blue Mound State Park.  By this time everyone was tired, hot, and frustrated.  We decided to try a geocache and embarked on a trail Moroni, Ruth and I had been hiking on last week.  We were so excited to actually find the geocache.  An older couple was just passing us and stopped to watch us open it.  There were just a couple of stickers in it, but we were so excited to finally find a treasure box, you'd have thought it was Blackbeard's Chest.  haha

We then tried to find a couple of other geocaches, but no luck.  Then we grabbed dinner from Culver's and headed to Volleyball in Dodgeville.  Sam played Volleyball while Ruth, Moroni, Adam, Hyrum, and Joshua played at the park.  I fed Eve.  After Volleyball we stopped to try to find three other geocaches.  Still no luck.  Maybe the good ones are just down hiking trails.  Who knows.  At least we had one rewarding experience.  It'll keep us looking for others.

I think the great blessing today was just spending time with each other.  I'm quite blessed to have children that enjoy being with one another.

Nov 6, 2015

Same Sex Marriage

Resources to aid in a discussion:

Elder Bruce C. Hafen speaks on Same-Sex Attraction

Born That Way: Facts and Fiction about Homosexuality

When a Loved One Struggles with Same-Sex Attraction

Same Gender Attraction by Elder Oaks


Wholesome Family Recreation

Note from Mom

I know that we have many family traditions ranging from our daily meals and prayers together, to watching “The Gift” during the Christmas season.  My own family had many traditions too and they hold many fond memories for my siblings and me.  When our house burned down we lost all of our Christmas decorations and paraphernalia.  We had a Christmas record that we would listen to every Christmas season and, of course, this was tragically lost in the fire.  I, and my siblings, hadn’t realized the memories that that dorky album held.  It wasn’t until my first year in college that my brother found it on CD and burned us all copies.  We have traditions because we hope that you, our children, will delight in many family memories.  We want you to enjoy being together, for we hope to be an eternal family.

"Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."

View the "Wholesome Recreation."

What makes an activity "wholesome?"

What is the purpose in participating in "wholesome recreational activities?"

What are some activities we already do that are wholesome?

Image result for tin pails
Let's make a bucket list of activities we would like to try together as a family.

"Meaningful recreation does not just happen; it must be prepared for, cultivated and privately defended."

Family Traditions/Rituals
"Familial benefits of religious rituals included strengthened relationships, more family togetherness and unity, increased communication, less contention and more kindness, [and] better parenting." (p233)

"Family meals, a traditional family ritual, have also been found to be beneficial for families.  Professional literature relates positive outcomes to family meals: family communication, family cohesiveness, healthy eating patterns, imporved literacy, better academic performance, and better mental health of adolescents." (p233)

Things as They Really Are


Note from Mom

I know that we have a large family and it requires a lot of work and participation from everyone.  Until recently, I felt about work the same way you do, as a necessary evil that we need to get through before we enjoy and partake of the more fun parts of life.  I now realize that work isn’t an “evil” but it is a series of opportunities for us to focus on our family relationships and grow closer together.  I hope that you will joyfully engage with me in the years to come.

The family proclamation says, " Parents have a sacred duty to  to teach [their children] to love and serve one another."

Work is an opportunity for families to grow closer together.

Read "Working Together" from the June 1975 Friend.

Watch "The Fence"

What are obstacles that prevent us from enjoying work together?
Brainstorm ways to remove these obstacles.

What are some family projects that we could do together?

"One young mother recalls pondering during scripture study why family work constantly requires every hour of every day.  While reading about the law of Moses, she realized that 'just as the law was designed to remind the people of the Lord, our family work has been designed to point our hearts toward the central reason we are here on the earth -- to build a family.'  If children were never underfoot and only had to be fed once a day, parents would get distracted.  'But because they are spitting up on us, whining to us, dumping cereal on our floors, and saying "Mommy?" all day, there's no way we can forget [were] our focus needs to be.'"

Story Excerpt:
That’s when I experienced an overwhelming feeling of divine approval. It was so clear, precise, and tangible that I knew I had to write it down so I wouldn’t forget. I could see my day replay in my mind—full of feeding the hungry, doing laundry to clothe the naked (I changed Caden’s outfit multiple times), gently caring for our sick baby, helping our five-year-old prepare a family home evening lesson on missionary work, and then discussing the power of example with my family—in other words, helping people spiritually and temporally.
The impression flowed with such an overpowering feeling of peace that I knew the Lord was telling me He had accepted my offering. In caring for my family, I was fulfilling the admonitions of King Benjamin and President Eyring.
(July 2009 Ensign, "Latter-day Saint Voices: Was I Living the Gospel Fully?")

Homefront Video:

Pray For and With Each Other

Note from Mom

There is a special spirit that comes to a married couple as they pray together.  I am grateful to your father for always taking the lead and grabbing my hands as he kneels by the bedside.  We pray for each other and we pray for each of you.  My favorite family prayers are those where you are thoughtful of your siblings and include their welfare in your prayer.  Keep loving each other and praying for each other.

A young couple fold their arms and lean their heads together while they pray.

"Husband and Wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other."
~ Family Proclamation

Prayer can heal failing marriages and strengthen good marriages.  Here is some advice that President Monson received when he married his wife, Frances:

On October 7, my wife, Frances, and I will have been married forty years. Our marriage took place just to the east of us in the holy temple. He who performed the ceremony, Benjamin Bowring, counseled us: “May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day? Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another.”  (October 1998 General Conference, "Hallmarks of a Happy Home")

"Prayer can be a key component in coming to perceive a marriage relationship as sacred.  Coming to view the relationship in this way can be a protective factor, buffering the marriage against certain challenges (such as infidelity) that can diminish or destroy a marriage" (Lambert, 2012).

Teaching Prayer to Young Children:
Great already prepared family home evening lesson that teaches families that they need to invite Heavenly Father into their family and that they should pray together.


Lambert, N. M. (2012). The eternal family: A plain and precious part of the plan of salvation. In     A. J. Hawkins & D. C. Dollahite & T. W. Draper (Eds.), Successful Marriages and families: Proclamation principles and research perspectives (pp. 196-200). Provo, UT: BYU Studies.

Temple Covenants

Note from Mom

    Because I love you guys as much as I do, the most reassuring fact I know is that your father and I were sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.  Because we were sealed, you were born into this marriage covenant.  We are told that because you are born in that covenant, you will be our children through all eternity.  I know of no sweeter blessing.  You know the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch?  In it this refrain is sung several times, “I’ll love you forever.  I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”  As beautiful as this sentiment is, the covenants that your father and I have made allow this to go much farther.  *I* can say, “I’ll love you forever.  I’ll like you for always.  Far into the eternities, my baby you’ll be.”

"Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally."
(Proclamation on the Family)

Object Lesson:
"Using a Ziploc bag, fill it with little people toys or things to represent the family.  Don’t zip it up.  Turn it upside down and show what happens to our family when we are not sealed.  Then show how we stay together when the bag is sealed."
(Thanks "Connie's File Cabinet")

Learn About Temples:
from Mormon.org 
from the Church's publication "Temples"

Activity for Young Children
Give each child a strip of paper.  Have them write their name on it and decorate it to represent themselves.  Then staple together to create a chain and talk about how the temple unites us together eternally.

"The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours—long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, [but] God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend."  
~ Orson F. Whitney
(as quoted in October 1987 General Conference by Vaughn J. Featherstone)

A Father's Role

Note from Mom
    I want you guys to know that I found you the very best father for you that I could.  He is loving and giving and cares for you very much.  All that he does outside of the home is aimed at providing for you inside our home.  He is selfless and sacrifices so much for your well-being.  Please don’t forget to tell him how much you love him.

Image result for Superman Logo

"The only superman I know is my dad."

What does the proclamation tell us that a dad's job is?

"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."

Preside means to exercise guidance or direction, to lead.  

"A worthy man is given the priesthood so he can preside in the home and bless his family. It is the father’s responsibility to gather the family together for family home evening and for family councils. When we join together, we develop greater love for each other as we share our testimonies and experiences. Fathers should also have prayerful, periodic interviews with each of their children. As the father listens with love, both father and child will be richly rewarded."
(Presiding Righteously in the Home, Ensign, February 2004)

Fathers are supposed to "provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."  How do fathers do this?  I'll bet you haven't thought of the many ways that your father provides for you.

Activity - 
Play Jenga:  With each block that you pull out, name or describe a way that your father provides for you.
Spill the Beans: Before placing your bean, name something that your father provides.

For Younger Children:
Read this story from the friend and discuss the question at the end.
My Dad, My Friend

For a fun craft/activity you could make these Super Hero Tootsie Pops (without the valentine).

Find instructions at "Little Bit Funky"


A Mother's Role

Note from Mom
I love you and I absolutely LOVE being your mom.  I think I’ve always wanted to be a mom and I was fortunate to find a loving companion that would support this desire.  
When I was a child I knew that my mother loved me, but I didn’t realize how much my mother loved me until I had children of my own and felt the love that motherhood brings.  I know that I’m not a perfect parent, but I always try my best.  You are my greatest love and my greatest joy.  Don’t ever forget that!

My favorite quote on Motherhood, shared by Elder Neil L. Anderson in General Conference October 2011: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”

Highlights from My All-Time Favorite Conference Talk
(and it happens to be on mothering)

Mothers Who Know
Sister Julie B. Beck, October 2007

Mothers Who Know Bear Children
Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are “becoming less valued,” in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children. Prophets, seers, and revelators who were sustained at this conference have declared that “God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”3 President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that “in the eternal perspective, children—not possessions, not position, not prestige—are our greatest jewels.”

Mothers Who Know Honor Sacred Ordinances and Covenants
Mothers Who Know Are Nurturers
To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking.

Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate.

Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (seeD&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work.

Mothers Who Know Are Leaders
Mothers who know build children into future leaders and are the primary examples of what leaders look like. They do not abandon their plan by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting. These wise mothers who know are selective about their own activities and involvement to conserve their limited strength in order to maximize their influence where it matters most.

Mothers Who Know Are Teachers
“[Use] family scripture study, prayer, family home evening, mealtimes, and other gatherings to teach.”

Mothers Who Know Do Less
They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. 

Mothers Who Know Stand Strong and Immovable
We are led by an inspired prophet of God who has called upon the women of the Church to “stand strong and immovable for that which is correct and proper under the plan of the Lord.”6 He has asked us to “begin in [our] own homes”7 to teach children the ways of truth. Latter-day Saint women should be the very best in the world at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families.
These mothers have made and honor temple covenants. They know that if they are not pointing their children to the temple, they are not pointing them toward desired eternal goals.

Social Science Research on Mothering

As found in Erickson J. J., (2012). Mothers as nurturers. In A. J. Hawkins & D. C. Dollahite & T. W. Draper (Eds.), Successful Marriages and families: Proclamation principles and research perspectives (pp. 128-139) Provo, UT: BYU Studies.

“Children seem to do best when mothers show love by communicating about and being aware of their activities and behaviors.  Expressing love through listening, communicating, and monitoring enables a mother to be warm and supportive while setting and enforcing appropriate limits” (Erickson, 2012, p. 133).

“Children’s academic success and healthy behaviors have also been tied to their mothers’ involvement in talking with them, listening to them, and answering their questions” (as cited in Erickson, 2012, p. 133).

“One of the primary ways mothers nurture growth and development is through helping create an environment of safety, peace, and learning.  A central part of creating that environment is through organizing the home and family so that routines and rituals are carried out effectively” (Erickson, 2012, p. 133).

Emotional Work: “Mothers do this emotion work by facilitating conversations about feelings, listening carefully to family members’ feelings, recognizing the importance of feelings and offering encouragement, expressing appreciation, and asking questions to elicit family members’ sharing of feelings” (Erickson, 2012, p. 133)

“Research findings suggest that the hours after school may be particularly important for mothers in sharing experiences and monitoring children” (Erickson, 2013, p. 134).

“Mothers continue to provide cognitive stimulation . . . when they read to their children and teach them concepts” (Erickson, 2013, p. 134).

“A recent study of a large sample of Latter-day Saint parents found that a mother’s private religious behaviors -- including fasting, personal prayer, scripture study, study of other religious materials, and thinking about religion -- were a more significant influence on the quality of her parenting than the family’s religious behaviors” (Erickson, 2013, p. 136).

Videos on Motherhood

Other Great Conference Talks on Motherhood
Mothers and Daughters

Scripture Story
John 19:26-27