Monday, June 28, 2010

What should we let our kids do?

I just gave Ashton (he's ten) permission to go with our 9-year-old neighbor to a little pond a five minute walk down the street and hunt for frogs.  They know when they're supposed to be back.  One of them has a watch on.  They know the rules about talking to strangers and not getting in the water or too close to the edge (and the pond is like 2 feet deep).  Am I a crazy mom to let him do this without me being right there to watch him every minute?  Some moms might say yes.

I often let my kids ride around on their bikes around the neighborhood - without me (they have a time limit and know they can only go around the block and we live in a gated community - very little traffic).  And I let all the kids play in the wash (a totally dry river bed) behind our house - wonderful unstructured space.  They know they have to stay where they can easily see our back porch and where I can see them from the back porch - and they're pretty good about obeying (sometimes they're in the trees so I can't see them but they can hear me when I call so that's OK I guess).  Should I allow them to be out there on their own, just checking on them every 1/2 hour or so?  There is a chance they could get hit by a car as they ride their bikes around the neighborhood.  There is a chance they could wander too far in the wash and get lost I guess - plus I've heard that there could be snakes out there but we've studied snakes - they know which ones are safe and what to do if you see a rattle snake.  But maybe someone could abduct them when they're out of my sight.

Personally, I'd rather err on the side of being what some people might call under-protective than be super over-protective.  I think (and this is backed up by lots of good research) that kids NEED unstructured, unsupervised time and space (check out this great post my 10-year-old just put on his blog).  I think that too many kids are deprived of the chance to think and learn for themselves when adults are too ever-present in their lives (I'm not talking about babies and toddlers here - they pretty much always need that ever-present adult).

It seems like a whole lot of children in today's work spend the majority of their waking hours either experiencing virtual reality (TV, video games, Wii) in their homes or participating in adult-led, structured activities outside their home.  In these environments, kids are mostly "safe."  Or are they?  Is it safe for them to have so little experience making their own decisions, using their own imaginations, and coming up with their own ideas?  Is it safe (health-wise) for so many of them to be so sedentary?  I personally feel that it is "safer" to ensure that my kids spend a sizable amount of time in less-controlled, dynamic, real-world situations where there are small and carefully weighed chances that they could be hurt or lost.

Check out this article by a woman who allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the subway home by himself in NYC - much to many other parents' and parenting experts' shock and dismay.  She makes some great points in this article.  Bear in mind that she and her family have lived in NYC forever and her son had been riding subways his entire life.  Having ridden on public transportation throughout the world, I know first hand that it's not a scary thing - especially in the middle of the day and especially if you're used to it.  Perhaps someone who's always lived in NYC would think that my kids playing out in the wash where there could be snakes or coyotes is crazy and someone who's always lived in a less urban environment would think that a child on the subway alone is crazy.  It's hard to judge others when we haven't experienced what they're experiencing first hand.

Plus I know, having had 5 very different children, that every child's abilities and maturity level is unique, regardless of his or her age.  And that parents are the best judges of what their children are ready to do.

Anyway, here's the article - great food for thought:

Would it be possible to keep our kids 100% safe every minute of every day?  Would it be right or possible to watch them every second?  How do we decide what "risks" are safe and which are not?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

California Trip

We spent last weekend in California with the Perrys.  We played at the beach and worked hard on lots of Power of Moms stuff.  It's such a wonderful blessing that our kids really really like each other and so do our husbands!  We put together marketing plans and worked hard on some great new stuff for Mind Organization for Moms and The Bloom Game.  When April and I get talking, we come away with like 100 new ideas every time - and when you throw our husbands in the mix, those ideas are further multiplied.  We often come away feeling an interesting mixture of being totally overwhelmed and totally excited!  But mostly the excitement wins out.

Anyway, while we talked about Power of Moms stuff, our big kids worked together on ideas for their Power of Kids site.  They are so into this site and it's fun to listen in as they brainstorm what sorts of posts would "help kids help make their families totally awesome."  Here they are working away:

And we had a great day at the beach.  It felt so good to snuggle with my little kids (it was a little cold) while watching my big boys body surf.  Eliza and I had a great walk along the beach and she found a half-alive starfish which was a true highlight.  There's nothing like the beach - the sound of the waves, the feel of the wind, the delight of sand and water.  I do miss living near the beach like we did in northern CA for years.

On the way home we stopped off in Vegas to break the trip up a bit.  We watched the Bellagio fountains (they never cease to impress).  We parked in a parking garage and rode on elevators and escalators (the twins' favorite part).  We checked out the gorgeous flower displays at Bellagio and the amazing architecture and design at the brand new Aria hotel/resort/shopping mall - I got my little art and architecture fix.  We met the cutest little old man playing an accordion on an overpass.  It was short and sweet.

Last but certainly not least, we celebrated Father's Day for the best father in the world before leaving for CA (we knew it would be hard to really celebrate Jared on Father's Day itself when we were with another family). We did a surprise Father's Day breakfast the Friday before we left on our trip and the kids were so cute about making the breakfast themselves and picking out really thoughtful gifts and making cute cards for their beloved dad.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some days are just crazy...

Here's how yesterday went for me (after the regular packing of lunches, brushing of hair, reading of scriptures, finding of homework, etc.):

TALENT SHOW: After I got the kids off to school and I sat down for a phone call with April, Ashton called me to tell me that the 4th grade talent show was RIGHT NOW and he needed the keyboard to play his song (why is there so seldom advance notice of these things?).  So I pushed back my Power of Moms call with April (we've got so many things going right now - we so needed a call but oh well), loaded up the twins, and took the keyboard to him - and it turned out to be really nice to be able to be there to watch the talent show.  He won for all of 4th grade!  He's going on to the school wide talent show on Monday (but as always, the time and date of things is a bit fuzzy so I hope I'll be able to be there!).  

PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE:  Since I was already there and had been meaning to talk to the principal about these ongoing lack of communication issues (I'm the PTA parent communication chair), I headed into talk to Mr Porter for a while.  I sort of laid down the law with him that this last-minute emergency calling from my kids about random things I should have been informed of in advance and all the other big parent communication issues must stop (like when I showed up last Wednesday night for Isaac's violin concert only to find out that he'd just missed the concert - they changed the time w/o sending home a new note and lots of parents were confused).  Oliver and Silas crawled under the chairs and did handstands on the chairs in Mr. Porter's office while we talked.  Some not-so-great moments!  Who knows if it will make a difference, but I felt like I really had to say something.

GROCERY STORE: Then we ran to the grocery store to get the donut holes Isaac begged me to bring to his class since they were having a party for everyone with summer birthdays at 10:45. It turned out that they had two classes combined for the birthday celebration and I didn't really have enough donut holes for everyone but there were lots of other snacks and it worked out great.  I got hugs from a bunch of kids and got to see a couple kids' talents as they practiced for the 3rd grade talent show (some crazy dancing and one kid who could tuck in his ears then pop them back out - pretty neat trick).

MEALS WITH MOMS:  Then I hurried to Wendy's and got 5 burgers so I could do "Meals with Moms" (moms were invited to join their kids for lunch any time this week - being Friday, I figured I'd better do it!)  and surprise the kids by bringing them lunch and sitting with them and having the twins delight at eating at school too.  The kids were really excited about the burgers and having me hang out with them and their friends for lunch and the twins happily snarfed down several chocolate milks and some fruit pie things that the big kids' friends kept giving them until they said their tummies hurt.  I got some good photos of the kids with their friends in the cafeteria and was there to help Isaac when he got kicked while playing soccer at lunch recess.  I love really knowing so many of my kids' friends.

GROCERY STORE AGAIN:  Then there was no point going home before I'd need to pick up the carpool 45 minutes later so I did my grocery shopping.  I searched and searched to find sour skittles for Eliza's best friend Olivia since I told her I'd get her any candy she wanted for the movie night Liza gave her for her birthday that we were going to celebrate that night.  I never found them - crossed my fingers she'd be OK with regular skittles.  The twins insisted on weighing everything they could find on the scales in the produce section and were delighted when a nice lady asked them to please weigh some of her produce for her.  I love it when people take the time to be extra nice to little kids!

SWIM PARTY:  Then I picked up the carpool, ran the kids home, put together treats for their little end-of-the-school-year pool party with their friends, answered a few emails, ran down to the pool, and hosted the party (luckily only 8 kids showed up and there were several parents there so it worked out just right). Somehow in the midst of the craziness of the pool party, Ashton decided to take off with a friend without telling me and I just had to cross my fingers that he was safe somewhere since it wouldn't work out well to leave all the rest of the kids to go find him. That was pretty frustrating.  He had to miss the movie tonight (sadly, since it was October Sky - all about kids building rockets and winning the national science fair - I really got the movie with him in mind.  Oh well.  But it's a great movie with so many good lessons....).  I don't know what got into him.  Plus Isaac wasn't being the best host to his friends at the pool party - wouldn't play what they wanted to play and was sort of being a spoil sport about everything. I found myself threatening him with the ludicrous threat - "If you don't get back in that pool and play with your friends who are begging you to play, you're never having another party again!"  

WORKOUT:  Then I decided I really needed to squeeze in a workout (there's a workout room right there by the pool) before heading home for dinner and the special movie night for Olivia - had 40 minutes, should work.The kids fought over which show to watch while I tried to get a decent workout in - and I kept getting distracted by worries about the new carpet in the workout room that got installed yesterday  - I picked it out but it didn't look as good as I thought it should plus there seemed to be some shoddy installation issues so my mind kept going back to worries about that - guilt that maybe I picked the wrong carpet, worry about how to get the installers to fix some problems when I have too much on my plate.  Why do I get involved with these things???

GETTING HOME:  Then when we got ready to go home, sweet Liza took it upon herself to gather up all the towels and pool toys plus the backpack with sunscreen and swim gear and try to carry it all up to the house herself to be a good little helper (she's really working on the Self Starter award this week - she decided to clean the twins' nasty toilet yesterday all of her own accord - what a girl!).  Unfortunately, though, the car keys were in the backpack so by the time I finished loading stuff and people, I found that the backpack was way up the street on Eliza's back.  And it was 105 degrees and I was tired and the kids were beyond cranky from staying up late to be with Jonah's kids last night (they came through on their way to CA - the 5 of them plus Aja's sister and her daughter and their family chicken that is travelling with them - such a fun group!).  

MOVIE PARTY:  But we got the keys and made it home in time to shovel in some dinner and host another mini party/movie night for Eliza's Olivia (plus two other little girls - and Olivia thought the regular Skittles were just great) and the movie was nice (although the twins kept doing flips and somersaults and bugging everyone through much of it).  

YEAH FOR ME!  I stayed calm and mostly pretty kind through everything.  I've seriously come a long way with patience since becoming a mom!  I deserve a serious pat on the back, I think.  Jared wasn't even around to help - he's up in Idaho helping his mom who's struggling with some serious health issues and we'll join him there in a few days.  

Oh what a life!  There were lots of beautiful moments mixed in with the crazy ones today.  And some day I'll be so happy I wrote all this down, I bet.  I'm exhausted but life is good. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Send an email and change a few lives

I think this email I just received points out how easy and important it can be to share The Power of Moms with others.  You never know when you could really change someone's life by simply pointing them in the direction of the website!

I just wanted you to know what an amazing thing Power of Moms really is for women. I sent out an email to a bunch of friends telling them about it and I had some great responses back! One of my sister-in-laws wrote me back and said she joined Power of Moms and was super excited about it and thanked me for letting her know about it. Then I just met another mom - young, newly married with a baby. She shared with me how she misses being a working woman and just doesn't know how to do the mom stuff. Oh, how my heart ached for her! I told her what motherhood means to me and how I love being a mom - and yes it is hard but it is worth every minute!  Anyway, I gave her the website and she looked at it and has since told me thanks so much for the suggestion to get on the website - she's been finding exactly what she needs!
- Brianna Monson

There are SO many moms out there who need the ideas, encouragement and comraderie they can find at The Power of Moms.  We need your help so that we don't leave anyone out.  Send off a few quick emails to friends right now - and I bet that'll make you feel pretty darn good.  Doesn't it always feel good to tell someone else about something that has really helped you?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Car Trips 101

After our California trip last week (I'll blog about that soon) and prior to our big month-long trip to Ashton, Idaho and Bear Lake for all of July, this Question of the Week on Power of Moms has been very timely for me.

For any of you going on trips this summer (probably this would mean ALL of you), there are some GREAT tips on packing and planning and making your trip more of a vacation and less of a hassle right now at The Power of Moms.  Click here to see everyone's great ideas.  And here are a few ideas I've figured out over the years (or stolen from others) that work really well for us:
  • Only bring 2 outfits per child (plus an extra shirt or two for younger kids) and plan on doing some laundry somewhere if at all possible.  The less "stuff" we're lugging around, the better. And if the kids' clothes are only a little dirty, I spot clean.  Super clean clothes just aren't worth the bother on vacations.
  • Pack kids underwear and socks all together in a smaller bag inside the larger bag so it's easy to find.  Pack all the pj's together (again in a smaller bag inside the larger bag) - you often need them so kids can put on their pjs in the car and fall asleep in the car and easily transfer when you arrive.
  • Pack a bag with just everyone's sweatshirts (separate from the rest of the stuff) - then they can just stay in the car for when you might need them.
  • If you need Sunday/dress-up clothes, pack everyone's Sunday stuff (shoes, socks and clothes) in one garment/hang-up bag.  You'll just need that stuff one time so it's great to have it all together and put it away all together when you're done with it.
  • When all 7 of us travel, we bring this: a large duffle with all the kids' clothes (2 sets of clothes each, a bag of 3 pairs of underwear and 3 pairs of socks each, a bag of everyone's pjs), a small bag each for me and my husband, a garment bag with everyone's dress-up clothes (if needed).  My husband and I can carry all this in one load, easily.  Works great.  Of course, we used to have a stroller and port-a-crib (or two) and quite a few diapers and wipes stuffed into the kids' duffle bag - but still, we travelled relatively light and that made trips nice. 
  • Snacks in the car:  we have a small collapsible cooler that we fill with fruits and veggies and a few other snacks.  We give out the fruits and veggies to tide people over until a meal break, to be sure they're getting better nutrition than fast food or convenience stores alone can provide, and to keep them hydrated.  Looslis don't get to drink very much in the car because drinks=bathroom breaks and we try to minimize those.  If they're thirsty, an apple or carrot helps without making the bathroom break need imminent!
  • We play lots of games in the car and try to hold off on DVDs until we're really needing them.  We play "I Spy" and the alphabet game.  We tell stories where each person adds onto a silly story.  I read from chapter books or we listen to books on tape.  Sometimes I sit in the back so I can do story time or a fun game and one of the big kids sits in the front with Jared to enjoy a little one-on-one with him.
Add your own ideas here or add them to the Question of the Week at Power of Moms!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A girls' night out that really WORKS

I keep meaning to write about my Learning Circle but life keeps getting in the way!

I miss the days when I'd discuss the meaning of life alongside other much less deep but very fun topics with roommates and friends back in my single days.  I love a good conversation.  And while my kids certainly seek out some conversation with me (everything from "Want to hear another knock knock joke?" for the 500th time to "Do you think aliens really exist?") and my husband and I squeeze a few conversations in here and there, I miss hanging out with other women without our kids crawling all over us.  I do.

Thanks to my Learning Circle, every 3rd Wednesday night at 8pm, I can plan on a seriously uplifting, fun and idea-filled evening with some great women.  We trade off meeting at different group member's homes.  We all read a thought-provoking but pretty short article on motherhood (provided by Power of Moms) and then we get together to discuss the concepts in the article with the help of some great discussion questions (again, provided by Power of Moms).

Last night we talked about this article called "I was Cute, Fun and Smart - and Then I Became a Mom."  We all talked about what we miss about our pre-mother selves - and what we've gained from becoming mothers.  We talked about ways to infuse more fun into our lives, to feel a little "cuter" and to pursue our talents and interests in ways that work well with our current primary pursuit of motherhood.  People brought up some great points.  Then we all left with the challenge to make some resolutions that build on what we discussed - and share those resolutions with each other.  Here's the resolution I just emailed to my group:

"I'm going to keep a list of all little things I do to make regular old life more fun with my family this month (as I go about my regular day, I'm going to keep asking myself in the moment, "how could I make this fun?" - like we talked about).  Maybe I'll even blog about some of the good things I'll hopefully come up with.  I can be fun.  I can I can I can!"

And here are my friend Rebecca's resolutions - she's putting my lame resolution to shame!

"Hopefully I will be cuter after finally getting my hair done tomorrow (hallelujah!). Plus, I am going to smile more. I have just posted signs all over my house that say, "S.M.I.L.E." and I am hoping that my children will notice them, ask me about them, and then remind me of my resolve to smile more. In doing so, I hope the smile will resonate through my voice and interactions with my family.

I am also going to learn how to use one new option on my camera AND look into taking a photography class to start learning how to take better pictures of my cute kids!

Also, I have started a list of fun things that I do with my family and I'll keep adding to it.

Whew--wish me luck!"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Treasuring the "Doing"

“The biggest mistake I made as a parent is the one that most of us make. . .I did not live in the moment. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get to the next thing. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
- Anna Quindlen

I've been making this mistake.  Yep, I sure have.  I treasure getting things done.  I love that "rush" I feel when I finish a blog post or a load or laundry or a new program on Power of Moms (just launched our new Bloom Game last night - wow that felt good).  It felt GREAT to finish the Retreat and see everything come together so well.  I think we all need to get things done.  When we're not progressing and accomplishing things, it's easy to get down on ourselves and life can look a little bleak.

But maybe sometimes the "doing" IS the accomplishment.

When I sit and read books with my kids the goal is not really to finish the book.  It's to enjoy the process of reading the book together and learning the lessons it offers.  When I go to my Learning Circle meeting (like I did tonight) the goal isn't to get the meeting done.  It's to enjoy the meeting and learn from each other and have fun together.

I need to apply this to more things in my life.  The main goal of bedtime shouldn't really be to get the kids in bed (although some nights that goal is paramount!).  Shouldn't it really be about snuggling with my kids, praying with them, reading to them, feeling a nice little end-of-the-day connection?  And maybe the goal of cleaning up the kitchen after dinner with my kids should actually be to talk and laugh while we work together. (The article "What's the Point of Housework?" taught me this).

I need to work on enjoying the "doing" and accepting the process as part of the goal.  It's the present that really counts.

My dad had us memorize this quote by the Sanscrit poet (whoever that is) when we were little and I haven't thought of it as much as I'd like:

"Yesterday is but a dream.  Tomorrow but a vision. But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.  Look well, therefore to this day."   

P.S. Now that I think of it, the Bloom Game actually helps with this - teaches us to seek out and savor the precious unplanned moments that come up in our lives while pursuing progress.  You actually get points in the game for the "serendipity moments" you notice and take advantage of in your daily life.  You can try the game for free and see what it does for you.  I seriously just put the thoughts of this post together with this game...

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Big Retreat

Last week, things were SO crazy busy getting things ready for our Power of Moms Retreat that I found myself in tears and wishing I could just give up at a couple points.

But this Retreat turned out to be a truly magical weekend for everyone there - including me.  Sure, it was stressful being in charge of presenting quite a few sessions plus dealing with various hiccups with the facilities.  But as everyone arrived on Friday morning, this positive energy and beauty took over and I knew this was going to be an extraordinary Retreat.  

The presenters all did a fabulous job and complemented each other very well (it was especially fun to present with my mom and sister Shawni).  The agenda flowed even better than I'd hoped (ideas for taking care of "the person inside the mom" first then moving on to concrete ideas for effective family systems then capping it all off with tools for living lives with increased purpose and progress and decreased stress).  The setting was peaceful and lovely (and thankfully, the super hot weather of last week turned into perfect 70 and 80 degree weather for the two days of the Retreat).

But what really made the Retreat amazing was the feeling.

The energy, motivation and sheer goodness of the women who came made for a thick feeling of love and learning that permeated every part of the Retreat.  Every comment made and thought shared was inspiring.  During meal times and free times, everyone helped solve each other's problems and brainstormed wonderful ideas.  I came away seriously loving each and every woman there and wishing I could hang out with all of them for much, much longer.  It was hard to say goodbye!

Check out all the great photos on April's blog here.  My sister Shawni was the official photographer so she'll have some great stuff but she's in DC with her family right now so it may be a few more days on those photos.

During one of the last sessions, when I got to sit there as part of the group and listen for a while, I felt this welling up of hope and joy as I thought about the POWER of that existed in that room full of 35 valiant, motivated, deliberate mothers.  No matter how much bad stuff there may be in this old world, the goodness of a few great moms can create ripple effects that never end.  This quote came to mind:

"When I think of the heroism of mothers, I gather hope for poor humanity; and this dark world looks bright because, whatever else it is not full of, it is at least full of mothers."
-Charles Kingsley

At the close of the Retreat, we held a train-the-trainer session for those who wanted to replicate these sorts of events (workshops as well as full Retreats) in their own communities.  We had 6 people signed up for this session before the Retreat - but by the end of the Retreat, 11 women had decided to stay for the session and certify as trainers.  Now they can go forth and get these ripple effects going big time.

This weekend made the vision that April and I have for Power of Moms more real and imminent for me.  The stuff we've put together for Power of Moms WORKS.  I wish with all my heart that all moms could feel what we all felt at this Retreat.  So I'll keep doing all I can to make that happen! 

Here are a few quotes from moms who were at the Retreat, just to give you a few other people's thoughts on how things went:

"I'm leaving this Retreat not just with my fire lit but with it BLAZING!  I have a passion for my role as a mother and now an extreme desire to bring this to others.  I love the specific tools we got to implement all the great ideas...I feel inspired - truly inspired!"

"So enriching, enlightening, motivating and comforting!  Great to bond with wonderful like-minded mothers.  What a fabulous supportive atmosphere!"

"Amazing, empowering plus very useful and practical.  I can't wait to change my life and my family 
for the better.  It was everything I dreamed of and more.  I'm so excited to become the best me I can be."

"It was so enjoyable to be in an atmosphere of women who seemed to care about each other even before we knew each other's names.  Just knowing we had the common goal of wanting to be better moms made us immediately accepting of each other."

"I loved the chance to take a break and soak up true goodness."

"Truly life-changing."

"Fabulous, fabulous, FABULOUS"

"Awesome, rejuvenating, educational, motivating and also realistic."

So yeah, I'm feeling pretty happy about how things went!  Can you tell (at least a little bit) how amazing these women were from their comments?

This week, I'm excited to focus this week on my own motherhood and take a little break from so much Power of Moms work to enjoy my wonderful children more fully.  And I'm going to "take care of the person inside the mom" a little better too (I'm TIRED!).  I'm armed and ready after this last weekend!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Introducing "The Power of Kids"

Yesterday I took Ashton on a little "mommy date" to the grocery store.  In the car on the way home, I asked him about the best and worst parts of his life right now (best= "how awesome I am - just kidding - training to be on safety patrol next year" and worst= "that my cherry fritter is gone" - I'd just bought him a cherry fritter as his mommy date treat).

I told Ashton how much I appreciate what a great job he's doing as the oldest kid in our family.  I told him that he's such a good example to his younger siblings and that a lot of what he's doing now in our family is really shaping what our family is and will be.  I remember my parents having similar talks with me when I was about Ashton's age and feeling so glad that the efforts I was making were being recognized.  I think my parents did a great job of really treating me and my sister Shawni (the two oldest in our family) as their partners and allies in the job of raising the younger children and helping things run smoothly in our family.

Then an idea popped into my head.  "Ashton, do you think maybe you and Isaac would want to run your own little website or blog to help kids see what they can to help their families be strong?  I mean, Power of Moms is helping lots of moms be what they want to be, but I don't think there are really any websites out there to help kids be the kind of kids and siblings that they want to be."

Ashton got all excited about the idea and we came right home and shared the idea with Isaac (who was even more excited) and started a new blog.  The boys did most of the work to design a blog header and design and dictated exactly what they wanted the blog title and description to be.  Then they started brainstorming ideas for posts.  Between yesterday and today, they've written (or dictated, in Isaac's case) quite a few posts that I think are pretty good (I may be just a tad biased).  

Kids really can make a huge difference in their families and communities.  They have real power that can truly bring about wonderful things.  I've always loved this quote by Emma Goldman: “No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education [or upbringing] should be to unlock that treasure.”

It's been so fun to see the light in my boys' eyes as they've felt excited about sharing their ideas with others.  Isaac said a few times today, while we were doing other things, "It's so cool that we have our own blog now!"  Ashton keeps telling me new ideas for posts.  I'm so glad they're so into this.  And it's been so interesting to see what information they feel is important to share with other kids out there.

So check out The Power of Kids - and share it with your kids - and have them share their ideas with my boys.  Ashton and Isaac are so excited to hear all the good ideas your kids come up with and great things that they do to make a difference in their families and beyond.  We'll see where this goes!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Choosing Peace

I just read a great article called "Want Peace?  Get Laryngitis" on The Power of Moms.  It really made me think about how I've been communicating with my family lately. 

I've been pretty stressed out off and on as I get ready for this Power of Moms Retreat next week.  I've been squeezing in a lot more work than normal during the day (the twins have rejoiced in some seldom-granted extra TV time) and I've been working on stuff every evening once the kids are tucked into bed.  I've been trying to set a bedtime for myself - but somehow that bedtime comes and goes as I keep working away, thinking this "one last little thing" will be done so soon and will ease my stress enough that it's worth a little less sleep.

Too little sleep and too much stress is generally a recipe for lack of patience and not-so-nice words from me. And as the saying goes "when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."  Our house hasn't felt all that happy in the last few days.

I KNOW that it makes a huge difference when I choose to speak peacefully to my children, choose positive words, and make sure to give them the time that they need (check out my post on Choosing My Words from a while back).  But sometimes I let things slide a little and before long, I find myself in a bit of a rut of saying not-too-nice stuff to my kids in a not-so-nice tone.

So before I get struck by laryngitis to force me to be sweeter, I'm going to go ahead and choose peace by choosing my words and my tone more carefully. 

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Memoializing on Memorial Day

Seems like every year AFTER all the swimming and BBQ's of Memorial Day are over, I think of how it would have been great to do something as a family that would help us think of loved ones and ancestors that have passed on.  This year, I finally thought of this idea in advance and acted on it.

I think Memorial day was really started to memorialize those who gave their lives in the armed services.  But given the abundance of flowers in every cemetery on Memorial Day, I think it's a safe bet that many people do focus on loved ones who've passed away on this holiday - so I went the route of celebrating our ancestors and loved ones who've moved on.

I pulled out the great compiled family histories, journals and ancestor stories that we're lucky enough to have and had each of the older kids choose an ancestor to learn about and present about.  Ashton did Frederick and Elizabeth Jacobsen who joined the church in Denmark and lost all but one of their precious children to black measles on the boat to America but who went on to help found Bear Lake Valley.  Isaac did Samuel Washington Orme who was part of the fateful Martin Handcart Company.  Eliza did Dan Swenson (we got to read his account in his own words - he wrote out a great history when he was in his 80's) and how he and his 9 siblings and parents lived in destitute conditions in Sweden, making ends meet by embroidering and selling aprons and living on nothing but potatoes.  Despite their hardships, they were able to scrimp and save to send the whole family to Zion, one by one.

I know the stories we learned (or re-learned and remembered in my case) made a real difference to me.  And it seemed like they really sunk in for the kids as well.  We're in a tight spot financially right now - so it was great for us to compare our life of relative luxury to the hard-won lives our ancestors lived.  And we all felt such gratitude for all they did to lead us to the beautiful lives we have now.

So we've got a new tradition and we'll do even more with it next year.  I think we'll throw in some meals that our ancestors would have eaten.  And maybe we'll go tell our stories in a cemetery - even though we don't have loved ones buried nearby, we can still enjoy the peace of a cemetery.  Jared's father used to take them to the cemetery each Memorial Day and tell them stories and I'd like to carry that tradition on in memory of him.  Plus I think I'll do a new "ancestor wall" in our front entry way.  I've been thinking of this for years but the idea of getting so many nice frames and nicely-reproduced photos has been daunting.  Maybe if I just focus on adding a few photos each Memorial Day, the project will actually happen bit by bit!

Thank you ancestors.  We love you.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Rules You Never Imagined You'd Have to Make

I just got a great email from my sister-in-law, Kristi. Here's what she wrote:

I left the kids (McKay, 4, and Lyla, almost 2) for one minute to go feed the baby in the bedroom and as I sat down, I heard McKay screaming "Ah Mom! Lyla's eating the mouse trap!"

Me: "Oh shoot!! McKay please take the mouse trap from her!"

Lyla: screaming bloody murder, "Mine, mine, mine!"

Mckay: "No no Lyla. We don't eat the mouse traps. It will pinch you really hard!"

Great moment, huh?

As a mom, I've had to declare a lot of things off limits that I never would have imagined! "We don't eat mousetraps" hasn't made my list yet - but here are a few "rules" I've had to make on the fly:
  • "It's not OK to try to flatten your brother's head by smooshing it into the ground" (I just had to say this a minute ago)
  • "We don't try to walk on ledges with our eyes closed to see what it feels like" (or you just might end up with stitches in your chin - Oliver found out the hard way)
  • "We don't say awesome things are dumb" (Silas just asked me to declare this rule in response to Oliver's response to something)
  • "It's not allowed to do flips on the beanbags in the TV room when you have friends over because they could try to do it and break their necks." 
  • "We don't eat things off the floor when we don't even know what they are." (I tried "we don't eat things off the floor" but that just wasn't realistic...) 
  • "It's not OK to dump out all the pinto beans in the pantry."
  • "Do not use Vaseline as furniture polish (especially on upholstered furniture)."
I do try not to say "NO" too often (read this great article about saying yes). And I try to explain the "no's" as much as possible. But what's obviously not OK to an adult, is often quite obviously fun and fine to a child. So the new rules and "no's" and explanations must go on!

What are some of the crazy "rules" you've had to make with your kids?


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