Friday, January 30, 2009

Silver Spring, Maryland (1966-68)

Flashback Friday
When I was a little girl, we spent about two years in Maryland while my dad attended law school in Washington, D.C. I don’t remember a lot, but one memory came back as I was preparing for a class I’m teaching next week, so I thought these little experiences would make a great Flashback Friday entry.The class is on the importance of food storage, and what I remember is our “food storage” bookshelves. Cans of wheat supported the wood shelves that held my dad’s books. At one point during our years there, the bishop asked our family to eat using only food storage for two weeks and then report on the experience to the ward. I don’t remember the report or the experience, but I know my parents were able to comply with the request.
I remember playing with my sister in our closet. We had wood floors and there was a little ledge – probably for shoes – that went around the perimeter. It was the perfect size for playing.

I was supposed to ride the bus to kindergarten. I don’t remember much about school, other than having graham crackers and milk for snack, but I remember the two days I missed the bus. One of them was before school, so my dad put me up on his shoulders – it was in the winter and there was muddy slush along the way – and walked me to school. The other time I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t get off at my proper spot. We lived in an apartment complex with more than one stop, so I got off at the next one and trudged the long way home.

(That's my kindergarten class. I'm in the 2nd row, 2nd from the right, wearing a blue dress.)

I remember helping with the laundry which was in a small room under the outside stairs. Our apartment must not have been on the ground floor. I also remember my little brother being in charge of the keys. Sometimes we waited a long time to get in the car or front door because he had to do it without any help. He must have been really young, because we moved back to California just before his 2nd birthday.

My parents wanted to take advantage of living on the East Coast, so we took a lot of Saturday drives. The only one I vaguely remember is driving through the long tunnel. I think it went under Chesapeake Bay.

These are really just vague impressions, and most of them I probably remember because my mom did record them. So, don’t forget to write things down when they’re happening!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rest and Relaxation - The 2009 Version

Wacky Wednesday
A cruise that didn't go according to plan
But was still a lot of fun

A couple of weeks ago Wayne and I had the chance to get away for the weekend. The whole idea was to read and relax, and we got started even before leaving Miami on the Majesty of the Seas.

The next day we were supposed to read and relax on hammocks and/or floating mats at Coco Cay.We also thought it might be fun to hike around the tiny island.However, the wind and waves didn't cooperate. The harbor was too small for the cruise ship, yet it wasn't safe to ferry passengers across on the tenders. They had enough trouble "docking" just to get supplies for the snack shop on the island:

So, we stayed on board, kept on reading and relaxing, and made our way over to Nassau.We still got to see pretty blue Caribbean water up close.Since we were in port on Sunday we made our way to church, arriving just a little late in a police cruiser. (The map was wrong. There was an empty Assembly of God tent on the vacant lot where the LDS church was supposed to be. We found a police station nearby and asked them for directions. They said they'd call a cab because our building was still a few miles away. After a few minutes of waiting, they told us to hop in their car and they'd take us.) Wasn't that nice of them? My blistered feet really appreciated it.And of course, for three days we had all the beautiful and delicious food we wanted.
I guess we'll just have to try this itinerary again someday so we know what Coco Cay is really like!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Challenges from the Stake

Memorable Monday Moments
more topic ideas
At our stake conference in January 2005, everyone was challenged to teach the specific gospel principles from chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel in family home evening that year. It would have worked to do them in order, and the logical, sequential, members of the family would have preferred that. However, we went with the intuitive, "what does the family need this week" method. So, we jumped around, and sometimes combined several into one lesson, but we did cover all of the following topics:

God is our loving Heavenly Father
The gospel blesses families
Gospel dispensations
The Savior's earthly ministry
The Great Apostasy
The Restoration: Joseph Smith
The Book of Mormon
Prayer and the Holy Ghost
Pre-earth life
The creation
Agency and the Fall
Our life on earth
The Atonement
The spirit world
Resurrection, judgment, and immortality
Cleansed from sin
Faith in Jesus Christ
The gift of the Holy Ghost
Endure to the end
Pray often
Study the scirptures
Keep the Sabbath day holy
Baptism and confirmation
Follow the prophet
Keep the Ten Commandments
Live the law of chastity
Obey the Word of Wisdom
Keep the law of tithing
Observe the law of the fast
How to donate tithes and offerings
Obey and honor the law of the land
Priesthood auxiliaries
Missionary work
Eternal marriage
Temples and family history
Endure to the end (again!)
That was a few years ago. After he left on his mission, Elder Brad challenged his younger brothers to work together and teach them again as a companionship. This time they went from beginning to end (although we didn't make it to the end before Jeff left for college). Those were some memorable lessons as the "baton" would pass from "Elder Jeff" to "Elder Steven" and back after each little section. I'm not sure how spiritual the lessons were, but I have full confidence that these future missionaries will remember the FHE teaching experience on their actual missions.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Family Scripture Study

Flashback Friday
bringing "Evolution of Family Scripture Study" up-to-date

It took a few years, but eventually meeting together every night as a family to read scriptures before family prayer became a habit. I've lost track of how many times we've read the Book of Mormon, but after reading it a few times in English, we decided to read it in Spanish. David was on a Spanish-speaking mission at the time and we thought it would be a good way to stay close to him while he was away. In addition, Brad and Jeff were taking Spanish at the high school, and I think even Steven was in beginning Spanish. Since Wayne was already fluent, that left just me and Michelle to struggle along. Michelle was given the option to follow along in English and just read in Spanish when it was her turn. However, having TWO books on her lap was too much work! We discovered that we really understood quite a bit anyway, and by the end our Spanish vocabulary had greatly increased.

At some point in the last few years, we added singing a hymn to our nightly routine. The patriarch of our home decided that this was the perfect way to follow the prophet's counsel found in the preface of the hymnbook:
"Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music. . . The hymns can bring families a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among family members. Teach your children to love the hymns. Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time."

After completing the Book of Mormon the last time, we started with Genesis again. We realized that the last time we did it all the way through, our youngest were not born and missed out. Hopefully we'll make it all the way through to the Articles of Faith by the time Steven graduates from high school in a couple of years. But if not, we know he'll be able to finish on his own.

There's always room for improvement. Now that this is a habit for Sunday through Thursday evenings - whoever's home reads, sings, and prays - we're working on remembering to make time for scripture reading on Friday and Saturdays. The tendency is to stay up too late and just say a quick family prayer before bed. We're making progress, but even then, some nights are just like this:

(Somewhere there's a Bible within reach, and the eyes opened enough to read when it was his turn!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pictures from Elder Brad

Summertime (which would be now on the other side of the world) is watermelon season!I guess it's also rainy season.
Here's one way to collect water:
He called himself the butcher in this picture:
They'll probably never have a smaller Christmas tree: Different ovens have different results, but he said the Christmas morning cinnamon rolls were delicious!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Year of Family Nights

Memorable Monday Moments
More "Evolution of FHE"

At various times over the years, I've tried to keep myself organized by using the SHE sisters card-file system. After using it for a while, I started jotting down what we did for FHE each week. Just to give you some ideas, here's the list of lesson topics or activities for 2000:

Family rules
Jeff’s family birthday party

Steven’s talk – Scout contracts
Book of Mormon dinner (finished reading it celebration)
Family picnic – drive to Port Costa
Share favorite Book of Mormon stories
“Brad’s receiving the Priesthood next week” lessonSoccer awards ceremony
Book of Mormon story pictures
Apostles – Attitude – Agency
Temple Dedication
Learning at home
Importance of FHE
Weston: prayer
Michelle: patriarchal blessings
Brad: journals
Memorial Day picnicJeff: service
Steven: Samuel the prophet
On vacation – family day/weekPioneer Day Barbecue
Small things
Steven: bishops
Baptism – help compile questions for Primary
Jeff: Mosiah 2 – service
Michelle: hands
David: brothers
Brad: President Monson’s talk(If you count, you'll notice there are less than 52 ideas here. That's because we moved across the country, and my file box was stuck in a moving box for a while. But as we crossed the country, we visited each set of cousins. That has to count for building family unity!)

Stake conference review
Temple and priesthood blessings
Service project – clean the church building
Christmas planning session
Decorate the Christmas tree
Friend 1st Pres. Message – make graham cracker housesFavorite Christmas stories

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to You, Jeff!

Someone has a birthday today!
Happy Birthday to You!
You started earth-life at 8 pounds 11 ounces, 19 1/2 inches long, with three adoring older brothers.
1993 - One of your first interests was cars. You really wanted a red Herbie car cake for your 3rd birthday. I felt really bad when the red food coloring (and I even bought the paste stuff especially for the occasion) turned out pink. You were such a good sport!
1998 - There's the smile that could melt the hardest heart :)
2001 - Another one of your interests was soccer.
2004 -You'll always be a star!
2007 - Sorry we're not around to make you a cake this year. Fortunately, Grandma is. Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Birthday to our favorite 19 year old!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Evolution of Scripture Study

Flashback Friday
More Family Scripture Study

Last week I chronicled the start of our family scripture study. Having it in the morning worked for a few years, until we moved and Dad had a 1 1/2 hour commute each way. He left before six in the morning, otherwise it would have been a three hour commute into the city. Trust me when I tell you, you don't want to wake up pre-schoolers at that hour if you don't have to. So, we moved our reading time to after dinner and before bedtime. That worked.

As mentioned, we started by having Dad read the entire standard works while the rest of us listened. To get some participation, each evening we would start by reciting the books of the Bible, going as far as we were reading. (For example, when we were in Judges, we'd say "Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshusa, Judges" and stop.) Once we finished Malachi, we started the New Testament and added Matthew, Mark, etc. Then we went on to the Book of Mormon. We didn't recite "1, 2, 3, etc." when we got to the Doctrine & Covenants, but we did go all the way from Genesis to Articles of Faith by the time we were done. Since it took us a few years to finish the cycle, even the pre-schoolers were able to memorize the long list.

Brad remembered another trick we used for helping the kids pay attention. That was to give them a word to listen for and count how many times it was read. I guess it worked!

Once we made it through the Pearl of Great Price, we all listened while the Book of Mormon cassettes played. Then we went through the Book of Mormon again, but this time everyone had a chance to read a verse - oldest to youngest. We moved again the summer before Michelle started 1st grade. Because Florida had a different (as in earlier) "turn 5 by this date to start kindergarten" rule than California did, Michelle was a full year younger than most of her classmates. Her teacher saw her birthdate and was quite concerned that she'd be able to handle the academics. However, then she heard Michelle read, and said, "Don't you dare put her back in kindergarten!" Unfortunately, I didn't make the connection while still discussing the subject with the teacher, but I'm positive Michelle was an early reader because of the Book of Mormon. That's just one of the blessings of reading scriptures together.

I discovered another blessing of reading every day the fall of 2001. Wayne had started a new job 250 miles away from our house, which wasn't selling. So, for about six months every Sunday evening he'd drive to Clearwater, work there for the week, and then drive home on Friday. Remember I had learned that scripture study works best when the patriarch of the home is the leader? Well, we stopped having it Monday through Friday. After a few weeks, I noticed there was more bickering between the kids and the noise level at home just seemed louder. It wasn't making sense, until I made the correlation to lack of reading the Book of Mormon every day. As soon as we started reading again, even without Dad, the teasing and decibel level went down considerably.

The promise the prophets have given us really is true:
“There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (see D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance. These promises—increased love and harmony in the home, greater respect between parent and child, increased spirituality and righteousness—these are not idle promises, but exactly what the Prophet Joseph Smith meant when he said the Book of Mormon will help us draw nearer to God" (President Benson quoted by Pres. Eyring)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Finishers Wanted

New Year's Day as I was thinking about what goals I should set, or what I wanted to accomplish this year, the phrase "finishers wanted" kept coming to mind. This has actually been a mantra (can't think of any other word but one of my tricks to prevent getting side-tracked is to keep repeating that phrase in my head) of mine for a while, ever since I read President Monson's talk by the same title. Here's how the talk begins:

On sunlit days during the noon hour, the streets of Salt Lake City abound with men and women who for a moment leave the confines of the tall office buildings and engage in that universal delight called window shopping. On occasion I, too, am a participant.

One Wednesday I paused before the elegant show window of a prestigious furniture store. That which caught and held my attention was not the beautifully designed sofa nor the comfortable appearing chair that stood at its side. Neither was it the beautiful chandelier positioned overhead. Rather, my eyes rested on a small sign that had been placed at the bottom right-hand corner of the window. Its message was brief: “FINISHERS WANTED.”

The store had need of those persons who possessed the talent and the skill to make ready for final sale the expensive furniture the firm manufactured and sold. “Finishers Wanted.” The words remained with me as I returned to the pressing activities of the day.

In life, as in business, there has always been a need for those persons who could be called finishers. Their ranks are few, their opportunities many, their contributions great.

From the very beginning to the present time, a fundamental question remains to be answered by each who runs the race of life. Shall I falter, or shall I finish? On the answer await the blessings of joy and happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come.

So, thinking about projects that I wanted to finish, that day I took a few "before" pictures. The living room actually wasn't too bad, so that's where I started.
You could tell that we were enjoying watching bowl games in the family room . . . and that we were in the process of de-decorating.
Then I peeked into the laundry room, and got discouraged.
And it was even more disheartening when I opened a cupboard.
After documenting the piles in the computer room, I didn't dare go into the bedrooms!However, I decided that my "home teacher" goal for 2009 will be to each month FINISH at least one of the things that's been on my perpetual To-Do List, some of them for years. A lot of those to-do's are cleaning out closets/cupboards and organizing papers. Some of them are unfinished craft projects. The rest I'm not even sure about, because obviously I don't look at the list very often. But I AM going to make progress - hopefully weekly, but the goal is monthly.
Soooo, to start, today I finally boxed up the wedding gifts that didn't fit in the newlyweds' suitcases. They're ready to go into the attic later today and I've made a note on my calendar to pack them in the car this summer when we visit Utah. (If there's not room in the car, we'll have to come up with Plan B.) However, now I can look at this corner of my bedroom without cringing! I first put the boxes on that chair, until I decided what to do with them, last May . So, that qualifies as a long-term unfinished to-do that is now done!
I even unburied my reminder note (clearing off the bulletin board will happen another day) and I've posted about this as a way of making myself accountable.

One of the reasons these nagging items don't get done is that in the grand eternal scheme they're probably not really that important. At least, that's one of the reasons I use to justify procrastinating. However, cleanliness and order are god-like traits, and I always need to be improving in that area.

President Monson went on to say that we are not left without guidance in our decision to be finishers. Vision, effort, faith, virtue, courage, and prayer will help us succeed in all of our righteous goals.

Hmmm, I wonder what the next project should be?

Monday, January 12, 2009

FHE Chore Charts

Memorable Monday Moments
"Evolution" of assignments

Once the kids were old enough, we decided it was important for them to participate. And the easiest way to do that was with a simple "chore wheel" - kind of like one found here. For a long period of time, one of the assignments on our chart was to share a talent. This wasn't necessarily singing a song or playing the piano, although that was definitely allowed. We saw a lot of pictures, lego creations, soccer or hula hooping demonstrations, and even recitations of the alphabet or times tables. The one I remember most is a 2 year old demonstrating "karate moves" using his little Power Ranger figures.
When our little paper wheel finally disintegrated, we used a typed agenda in a plastic page protector with wordstrips taped on top that we'd rotate each week. Here was the agenda:

Presiding: (always Dad)
Welcome: (rotated among everybody, along with the other assignments)
Opening Song: (chosen and announced by the welcome person)
Music Conductor:
Opening Prayer:
Closing Song:
Closing Prayer:

Another important part of these early family nights was teaching the children to lead music. It's a skill that our missionaries and seminary students (which means everybody!) have really appreciated having.
Because our agenda plan worked so well for us, when the RS made these cute FHE assignment charts (the assignment was written above the peg, and the family's names on the hearts for rotation), we turned ours into a reminder of our family motto.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Keeping Busy

I've been told that my posts are not current enough, except when they're talking about yard work. So, I'm trying to rectify that!

We had a great time with the college kids and miss them now that they're back at school. We wish them well in their work and studies - and fun - this semester. While they were here, we spent some time working on a couple of puzzles. (Boys, the missing piece was hiding under the couch!)
Then they went to the beach.
(Guess who's playing GameBoy under the towel?) And, of course, you do need the shed update! It's almost done. Wayne spent time painting the white spots he made after filling and priming the screw holes. Steven's job was to get the unused concrete from pouring the ramp into the truck so they could dispose of it properly.
(Better too much than not enough, right?)
Michelle got to vacuum the beach sand out of the van, and then wash the car. Throw in changing light bulbs, brushing the pool, spraying for weeds, putting the last of the Christmas lights away, spreading new topsoil to keep them nice and productive. However, they were actually done by early mid-afternoon and got to relax (or do homework) before we ate Wayne's yummy dessert and watched a movie together. We try not to work them 24/7!

So, this was still mainly Saturday stuff, but the rest of the week is pretty routine - seminary, school, work, eating and sleeping. Someone needs the assignment to do something super interesting!