Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Family: A Proclamation (and a fun gift for grandparents!)

Fifteen years ago, the leaders of my Church, who we sustain as modern prophets, gave a powerful statement of our beliefs about families. Elegant and profound, I love the words of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." If you've ever wondered why Mormons feel so strongly about families, all you need to do is read this proclamation.

Last summer, I downloaded a wonderful digital booklet someone had made with the complete text of the document, with space to add my own photos. So for Christmas, I created the following book using the Proclamation and my own family photos. I'm giving a copy to each set of Grandparents and keeping two for our family.

The following is our book (with my commentary in parentheses)

We, The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
(This page is one of my favorites -- we are a little unbalanced in gender in our family!)

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.
The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. (Lillian with her namesake, my husband's Grandma, who passed away less than a year after this photo was taken)

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.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife.

We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. (Don't you love this picture with this text?)

We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan. (isn't Katherine beautiful?)

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).

Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God.

Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. (Both of these pictures were taken when we were engaged -- don't we look young?)

Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith,


repentance, forgiveness,

respect, love,



and wholesome recreational activities.
(the easiest to find pictures for!)

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.

Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. (and what a lot of work that is!)

In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Christmas Book & Movie, Plus a Free Christmas Download (Favorites Friday)

If you've never read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, then this is the year to buy the book and share it with your family. It's a hilarious and touching look at what the story of Christmas can do for a rag-tag group of hooligans. We read it as a family every year and it never gets old. I always get a bit teary at the end.

There's also a delightful movie that is just as wonderful.

And speaking of traditions, a few weeks ago I created a book of 25 true Christmas stories. Many of them are from LDS Church magazines, so there is a fair bit of LDS culture in them -- we call each other "brother and sister so-and-so," and there is one story about tithing and a few others about missionaries, for instance. The last two days include the story of Christmas from the Book of Mormon (what was happening on the American continent at the time of Christ's birth) and the Bible.

You can download a Word document with the stories to create your own 25 Days of Christmas book by clicking on this link. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Glorious Fall (Wordless Wednesday)

Fall is so wonderful! One minute you'll be looking at a lovely scene like this . . .

. . . and the next, the sun pokes its head up and you'll get this kind of brilliance

And it makes a lovely background for portraits.

The only thing I don't like about fall is that it means winter is coming. Don't remind me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Teaching Children Responsibility ~ Notes from Mother's Guild Meeting

We had the privilege of having a wonderful empty-nester lead the discussion for our mother's group this week. Mary Hall brought two of her daughters along and we got to hear from all three of them about their ideas about teaching children responsibility.

When I asked Mary to lead, I had in mind the "teaching work" part of responsibility and expected to hear lots of ideas about chore charts, chores, and the like. I was pleased to hear instead many ideas I'd never considered that were an important part of teaching children responsibility.

Here are a few of the points that stood out to me:

* Mary opened with this quote from President James E. Faust: "In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life."

* Teaching children responsibility ideally requires both a father and a mother working in partnership. "Nothing compares with a father who is responsible and in turn teaches his children responsibility. Nothing compares with a mother who is present with them to comfort them and give them assurance." (by President Boyd K. Packer)

* Mary Hall's family would use different chore charts each Saturday to teach work. At the bottom she would include different activities they could do together to celebrate finishing -- things like going to the library, riding bikes, or making brownies. Her grown children remembered that being an effective way to teach responsibility.

* Mary encouraged us to recognize and thank our children for the help they give the family.

* It's important to let our children feel responsible for their choices and allow them to experience the consequences. When one of Mary's grandsons comes home from school after having experienced a consequence, she listens compassionately and is encouraging. Mary shared another story where a grandson was riding his bike on a camping trip. The path was rough and gravelly and his mother wanted him to wear a helmet. He insisted he wouldn't crash and agreed that if he did so, his bike would be put in time out. Sure enough, a little bit later, his bike did fall over and he scraped his legs. His grandma was with him, but he didn't even let out a whimper. He just picked his bike right back up and kept riding. It was a great way to let him learn from his choices.

* One mom shared a story of trying to constantly keep her young child out of some water when they were on an outing. Finally, she decided that since the water wasn't deep enough to be a real danger, she would simply warn her daughter and let her experience the consequences of not listening when she fell in a bit later. It was a way to safely let her daughter understand the need to listen to her mother.

* We need to let children experience the effects of their choices when they're young because as they get older, the stakes are higher and the need to choose well is much more important. One mother suggested that sometimes it's better to have kids be really challenging when they're young because they learn more quickly and then are easier when they're older.

* One of Mary's daughters is the mother of four teenagers. She shared how they've handled the internet at their house. They use Safari as their browser and it allows them to set helpful controls, such as only allowing the internet to be used during homework time and filtering out questionable images.

* Teach children how to repent and listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost.

* We need to teach our children in positive ways about human intimacy and modesty. More than a few of us mentioned that we had received very little teaching about the subject in our homes. It was wonderful to hear from Mary Hall's grown children about the training they'd received. Mary was a nurse so she was able to teach her children in appropriate, respectful terms about the way the body works and kept an open dialogue with them.

* One mother said that in preparation for a recent discussion with two of her children about the subject, they watched some videos of when the two of them were born. It brought the Spirit in and they felt the beauty of life and its sacredness and it was a special way to introduce the importance of guarding the powers of creation that God has entrusted to us.

* We can start when our children are young to teach modesty and respect for our bodies and let them know that there are private parts of their bodies that other people shouldn't touch.

* Four suggestions Mary gave for teaching children: 1. Reading the Book of Mormon together daily teaches about the wise use of agency and the consequences of it. 2. Tell your children the stories of Jesus. 3. Family Prayer should happen morning and night. 4. One-on-one interviews with each child.

* On Sunday evenings when Mary's children were young, they would put the kids to bed and then Mary would sit down and consider each child. She would think through what they needed to learn physically, what they were doing well at, what challenges she was having with them and what she could do to help each one. She said that there were no computers back then to turn to for answers so it was easier for her to turn to the ultimate source of help, our Heavenly Father. He knows our children and wants to help us help them.

* We have what we need in the gospel to teach our children. We can count on the Lord's help and inspiration as we look to the many different sources of help in teaching our children.

Mary suggested a few additional sources for reading about this subject:
* Reward Them and Teach Responsibility (talk by Eugene Mead)
* A book by Brad Wilcox called Growing Up is a great resource for teaching children about human intimacy.
* Teaching Gospel Principles to Children Part 1 and Part 2 from the Marriage and Family Relations Manual.
* A Parent's Guide

What ideas do you have for teaching children responsibility?

If you were at the meeting, what points did I miss?

Are you a reader? (Favorites Friday)`

Have you discovered Goodreads yet?

I've been using it to keep track of the books I read for several years now. It's a wonderful way for me to remember that book I read, the one about the boy, oh what was it's name again? My reviews aren't masterpiece reading, as they're meant more to trigger my own memory in later years. Often I'll include some of my favorite quotes so that I can quickly find them again when necessary. You can sort the books you've read by date you've read them, by how you rate them, and in other ways and you can add books to various lists if you want, such as "books that would be good for teenagers" or "favorite parenting books." I have a list of my top favorite children's books, for instance. There's also a "books I'm currently reading" page, but I use that mostly for books I've checked out of the library and have had to return before finishing so I'll remember to pick them up again.

You can connect to friends, like in other social networking sites, and then you can get updates on what they're reading and how they rate their books. My two favorite features of the site is one, being able to see what my friends are reading and how they rate those books, and two, the to-read bookshelf. I love being able to keep track of books I'd like to read sometime and then putting them on hold at my library on occasion.

Here's a few of the best books I've read and rated 5 stars since joining the site:

The Screwtape Letters

The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing

The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio

Moving in His Majesty and Power

Broken Things to Mend

You can see my entire "read" list here, sorted with the highest rated first.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One of my favorite rooms (Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

I designed our house five years ago to be a great place to raise a large and growing family. One of my favorite rooms is the nursery. It's connected to the master bedroom with two sliding doors. I love that we're close to our kids. Eventually, when we no longer have babies in that room, we can open up the doors and use it as a library or a sitting room.
Last summer, I put up these pictures on one wall and filled the first seven with one of my favorites of each child as a baby. It's so fun to be nursing a baby and looking up and remembering how one of her siblings looked at that age (and yes, we DO need to add one of Katie to the wall).
Here's what the room looks from the master bedroom doorway -- each of my children's blessing outfits adorn the wall above the cribs.
Harmony sleeps in the brown crib, Katie in the white one. Once Harmony starts climbing out of her crib (hopefully not TOO soon), we'll move her to a toddler bed in the room Eliza and the twins share.

And here's the view from the doorway. The very-raggedy Raggedy Ann doll was mine as a child and the quilt was made by my mother for Eliza when she was a baby -- I love it!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Six Months

Six months ago, we were blessed with a special child.

She's intense and focused.
She never stops moving.
She brings joy to the world with her smiles.

She's a little goofy.

Everyone loves her.
She's a special gift to us from a loving Heavenly Father.
We're grateful she's an important part of our family.

Happy Half-Birthday, Katherine!

Halloween! (Wordless Wednesday)

All eight in costume!


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