Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Our Family's Education Traditions

I love my family and I love "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I love the way it gives me guidance and direction as I strive to strengthen my family. I believe that "the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children" and I am grateful that I can be with my family forever.
It takes work to have a strong family, and over the years my husband and I have put forth much effort so that our family can be the best it can be. Another line in the Family Proclamation states: "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."

One way to fulfill this responsibility and to strengthen families in the process is to establish traditions. I love this thought that I came across a few years ago:

"Of course, the magic of tradition is the wonderful way it takes on a life of its own. The more times you honor it, the more powerful and meaningful it becomes. Shared ritual (be it sweet, silly, or sacred) has woven some of the shiniest threads through the fabric of our family. And I am grateful every day for the glow." (by GrannySue)

We developed many traditions over the years, but today I thought I'd focus on ones relating to education. We currently have four college students, and they didn't get there without some encouragement and help. I imagine many of you place a high value on education as well, so hopefully some of these ideas will help as you establish your own traditions. Most of them aren't terribly original, but I'm here to tell you that they work. Here are some of our favorite.
Read, Read, Read
  • Bedtime rituals involving stories - I read a lot with our first two sons, but by the time the next two came along, I was often exhausted at bedtime and story-time was the first thing to go. As they started school, I noticed that their reading ability wasn't quite as advanced as their older brothers, so I changed my ways and made the time to start reading again with the youngest two. It makes a difference.
  • Library story time
  • Play with letters and numbers
  • Family scripture study - everyone takes a turn reading
  • Read signs everywhere - My husband reads every word on every sign in every visitor center, museum, or nature hike placard. It drove the kids nuts, but now they do it themselves. That's a tradition!

Teach, Teach, Teach
  • Family Home Evening
  • Piano Lessons - In our family everyone knows where Middle C on the piano is. It wasn't always fun, but it was a tradition.
  • Father's Interviews - held on a monthly basis to actively set goals in learning new skills such as budgeting, cooking, laundry, yard work, home repairs, auto maintenance - the possibilities are endless
  • Use new skills to serve others
  • "Do Your Best" - Our most memorable "education" tradition were the Report Card Dinners. We didn't believe in paying for good grades, we just wanted our children to keep improving and doing their best. After each report card we took everyone who had improved out to dinner.
  • Help them explore career possibilities - It was also critical for us to emphasize the importance of being able to provide for a family, and well enough so that our sons' future wives would be able to stay home with their children. As one son mentioned to his new sister-in-law this summer, having a stay-at-home mom is a family tradition.
Set Priorities
  • Put God and family before school - In our family we attended our church meetings, including early morning seminary and Mutual activities, even if there was homework that needed to be done. That helped our children learn how to budget their time. Although I never told them they couldn't do homework on Sunday, they knew that Mom wouldn't help them on that day, because to me it wasn't keeping the Sabbath day holy. It worked for us. (And most, if not all of them, came to that same conclusion on their own. Put John 7:17 to the test.)
  • Focus on being well-rounded - We encouraged extra-curricular activities.
  • Attend events together as a family -such as concerts, plays, sporting events, awards nights, graduation, etc.
Be an Example
  • Volunteer in the schools
  • Value education - Let your children see you reading and learning new skills, and take "first day of school" pictures!
  • Graduate from Brigham Young University - Of course, this may not be for everybody, but in our family that's the tradition. Five down, three to go!

We know that the education we gain on earth is one thing that we can take with us when we die. That's a wonderful, comforting promise. I also know that because of Jesus Christ we can spend eternity with our families, and that is an even more wonderful and comforting promise and blessing.

Here are links to a couple of previously written posts on my blog that explain some of our family traditions in more detail.

WFMW - Report Card Dinner (Feb 2011)

"The family is ordained of God." (Sept 2013)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Family is of God

"The family is ordained of God." 
I believe this truth that comes from The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It's been a guiding influence for me my whole life. I love my family. I wish the whole world could understand the importance of families and the strength they provide to each of us as individuals.
This summer we added a daughter through marriage. We also recently learned that two grand-daughters will be joining our family early next year. We love our growing family, and each member of it.
We recently had the annual Primary program at church and both my husband and I were deeply impressed with the song which was the theme for the year. I suspect the lyrics were taken straight from the Family Proclamation! The truths this song professes are profound. Take the time to listen to it if you're not familiar with it. (You can go here to read the words and music.)

The Family is of God, by Matthew Neeley

I'm grateful for parents who taught me by example. They learned from their parents, who were also a great example to me.
With both sets of my grandparents at my wedding.
Our son with both sets of his grandparents at his wedding.
Another hymn, which we sang recently during a family "scripture and prayer", also has a great message. As we turn to God, we will receive the knowledge and support to help us strengthen our families, not matter what our current situation may be.

Our Father, by whose name all fatherhood is known,
Who dost in love proclaim each family thine own,
Bless thou all parents, guarding well,
With constant love as sentinel,
The homes in which thy people dwell.

As thou thy Child didst fill with wisdom, love, and might,
To know and do thy will and teach thy ways aright,
Our children bless, in ev'ry place,
That they may all behold thy face,
And, knowing thee, may grow in grace.

May thy strong Spirit bind our hearts in unity,
And help us each to find the love from self set free.
In all our hearts such love increase,
That ev'ry home, by this release,
May be the dwelling place of peace.

I look forward to recreating the "grandparents" picture with each one of these sweethearts at their weddings.
We'll give them a few years to grow up first!
Remember, "God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to be." Among other things, he wants us to be happy and successful. He wants our families to be happy and successful as well. It's possible.
This post is part of Celebrate the Family Proclamation. Go here or here to find what others have to say about the importance of families!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Tale of the Lost Ring

A Family Story: The Tale of the Lost Ring
Here's the picture we took of our rings on our wedding day. They were nice and new and shiny then! Mine still is, but your dad's looks a bit different. I figured it was time to remind you of the story behind the replacement wedding band, so that you will be able to tell it to your children some day.

I guess it's not much of a story, but last month on our anniversary I was reminded that while many things have lasted for 30+ years, this wedding ring wasn't one of them. Maybe someday you'll wonder why.

It all begins with your dad's goal to hike every single trail in every single national park. We first went to Capitol Reef National Park in 1989. (See here.) However, we weren't able to hike all of the trails that first trip. (Here's the post for our Labor Day trip in 1991.) Capitol Reef also has several trails that just aren't conducive for family hikes with toddlers. So, on the Memorial Day weekend in 1990, Wayne decided to go to Southern Utah with his brother Greg and his sister-in-law Vicki and do another hike. They went to Brimhall Arch.

After they had been hiking a while, his fingers started to swell, so he removed his wedding ring and put it in his pocket. Many miles and hours later, when they had returned to the car and he decided to put it back on, the ring wasn't in his pocket. That's when he also discovered there was a hole in his pocket. Since he wasn't about to re-transverse the sandy, difficult trail again to try and find it, we dealt with its disappearance.** Who knows, maybe it was the answer to prayer for some later hiker who might have discovered it!

Brimhall Arch and Hall's Narrows
If you want more information so you can take this trail again - after all, maybe the ring's still buried in the sand - here are some links to websites describing the trail to Brimhall Arch, complete with maps and more pictures.

Capitol Reef National Park - Things to Do

Natural Arch and Bridge Society

Brimhall Natural Bridge - Utah.com

David Muench photo

Brimhall Double Arch

**Since we live on Wayne's salary, and it just didn't feel right to have him pay for his own ring, we waited a couple of years and I saved the money I earned personally through giving piano lessons. Then we went ring shopping again. Because we had learned more about each other's likes and preferences over the years, we both actually like the second ring better! And just to have it documented for posterity, the second purchase with "piano money" was a freezer for the garage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Darling Daughter!

It's your birthday! You survived being a teenager! In fact, I would say you thrived during your teenage years, and we're looking forward to seeing the amazing things you'll accomplish in this next "Decade of Decision." You're well prepared. (See this wonderful talk by Elder Hales.)

Blog posts aren't as much fun without pictures, and I tried planning ahead, but didn't make much progress. Now it's your birthday and I don't have access to all the pictures from your growing-up years. But that's okay, because I posted your birthday cake pictures last year, and I did find a few others on the flash drive I have with me.

Do you see the common thread in these few pictures? It kind of goes along with the idea of the teen years being a time of preparation. This morning I was reflecting on how well you lived the Young Women Theme, and I'm positive that it's laid a great foundation for the rest of your life. In particular, I'm grateful for your example of virtue and modesty. I know it wasn't always easy being different, but I'm glad you were willing to do so. You'll be forever blessed because of it.

So, this isn't really much of a birthday post (welcome to the world of adults!) but we do hope you have a wonderful day celebrating you. Thank you for bringing so much joy and happiness into our lives!


Maybe your latest post started me thinking about this subject, so I'm linking it here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Visiting Atlanta - The Georgia Aquarium

Now that the kids are off to college and we have an empty nest once again, we get to do some of the things we've been looking forward to for years. One of those things is having me accompany Wayne on the occasional business trip. Wasn't it convenient that he had one scheduled for early September? And it was even more convenient that it was to Atlanta, where Brad is living with his family. So, we came up early to spend the weekend with them and are having a wonderful time.

Many people have raved about the Georgia Aquarium so we decided that it should be at the top of our list as we played tourist. It did not disappoint. First, however, we took a detour to stroll through Centennial Park, where Brooke had a chance to play on the playground, and Wayne had a chance to pick up some pamphlets which gave him plenty of ideas for activities during future trips!

The first order of business at the aquarium was giving the dolphin a giant hug.
 Then it was time to start exploring.
I think I was most fascinated by these little eel-like creatures that were in the bottom of one of the tropical tanks. They just kind of stood there, and would retract into their holes as the other fish passed over them.
I could have stayed there for hours just watching them. There were many places I could have stayed for hours! Watching fish swim back and forth is just as relaxing as sitting on the beach and watching the waves come in over and over and over.
What a great variety! Imagine the work that went into creating all these unique creatures!
After going through the tunnel under the giant tank, you reach another place where you could sit for hours.  Hopefully having the people in front gives you some idea of perspective.
This was a huge tank filled with beautiful and magnificent fish. (You can click here to view the webcam if you want.)
I may have been able to sit for hours, but not a toddler. So, we moved on. There was still a lot to see!
Although disappointed that her favorite part (where you can touch the star fish) was closed, Brooke was able to show us how much fun the penguins can be.
Then we ended the morning by watching the dolphin show, but we were asked not to take pictures during that, so I didn't. I guess you'll have to go yourself someday to see what that's like. (I also didn't get any good pictures of the beluga whales, but the aquarium has a webcam for them as well.)
We enjoyed our visit to the Georgia Aquarium, but we enjoyed being with these awesome tour guides even more. They did a great job!

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Yellow IOMEGA Hat

The predecessor to Green Hat was Yellow IOMEGA Hat. I felt it deserved to be honored as well. Although its life with our family wasn't quite as long, it was just about as memorable. And the story of its demise is quite exciting.

For the first nine years of our marriage, Wayne wore a variety of hats during our outdoor adventures. Here are a couple of them.
However, in 1991, on our family vacation to Grand Teton National Park, the Yellow IOMEGA Hat made its debut. We kept it busy!
And it enjoyed several more years of fun and memories, including Great Basin National Park (where it climbed to one of the highest points in the continental United States - Wheeler Peak), Yosemite National Park,
and Lassen Volcanic National Park (the top of that peak was COLD!)
In 1998 our annual vacation was to Kings Canyon National Park. This is last picture I could find of Yellow IOMEGA Hat.
One night on that camping trip I awoke to strange sounds, and made Wayne investigate. Sure enough, there was a bear in our campsite. There wasn't any food available for it to take, but Yellow IOMEGA Hat was hooked on a nearby tree. We thought that 8-10 feet up would keep it safe, but apparently not. The bear took the hat and wandered off into the forest. And that was the end of Yellow IOMEGA Hat.

Note: Until Green Hat took over in 2002, there were a couple of other hats who enjoyed our family activities with us:
Extra note: It looks like BYU Cougar Hat enjoyed some fun before being relegated to the box in the closet. I hope it's happy it finally gets the place of honor on Wayne's head.
Kings Canyon - 1998
MacArthur State Park - 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

R.I.P. Green Hat

One of the more memorable moments of this summer was the final demise of the infamous Green Hat. I felt it would be a good idea to immortalize the email chain that ensued after that event. I love the way it showcases the personalities of each member of our family.
Family, As you know Dad's ugly green hat came to an end today after 18 years of faithful service. Dad lost it while riding the Flying School roller coaster at Legoland today. During the ride Dad was holding his hat in his hands and his glasses started slipping off. In order to save his glasses he had to let go of his hat. After the ride the Legoland workers told him no way when he asked permission to recover it. We all said goodbye as it lay lifeless in the grassy fenced-in 'restricted zone.' 
We made him smile for this picture, but he was definitely mourning the loss of his green hat.
Upon our return home dad pulled out his hat collection (which has over a dozen options) and selected the next hat on the basis that it will "wear out the fastest." RIP Green Hat Go Cougars! How long will this one last? Will it be THE LAST?  My prediction is that this next hat will perish during a foreign excursion after retirement.  Love, Dave

Wear out the fastest?!? I hope this one lasts longer than its predesessor!  Go Cougs! (And Go "Flying School"!)  -WW 
Did he select the green hat on the basis that it would wear out the fastest? If so, the new hat should last at least 19 years!  -Brad
To avoid any confusion, the green hat was chosen because it had a flimsy plastic tightening mechanism in the hat band that I thought would break quickly.  Maybe my head got so hot that it melted into place??  Don’t know why it lasted so long.  I had it set to the tightest and it was still a little loose.  A miracle to why it lasted as long as it had.  I have stood on the tops of many windy cliffs and it never blew off.  It took a kiddy rollercoaster ride to do it in.

The BYU hat was chosen because it has a plastic snap mechanism for sizing the hat.  In the past, I have had the snaps break off thereby making it impossible to tighten the hat.
Now you know the rest of the story.
Love, Dad
You wore a hat that didn't even fit for 18 years!?! -- Brad
It was close enough.  -- Dad
you know, some families correspond like this via text...  Jeff
Jeff, at least 5 of the people in our family do not have group text.  (Michelle)
I am very sad that I was not able to witness the death of Dad's hat.  I already miss it.  Hiking will never be the same.   (Elder Whitaker)
The following is a short pictorial history of Dad's Green Hat:
The green hat seems to have made it's debut at our 2002 camping trip to the Everglades. (So, I guess it's really only given 12 years of faithful service, not 18.)
It visited a lot of different national parks.
It climbed mountains.
It read maps.
It enjoyed being with family.
It helped welcome grandchildren into the world, and it played with them as they grew.
It helped drive, row and even rested sometimes.
It helped cook, build fires, play cards, and read books.
It hiked the first five segments of the Florida Trail.
It was a world traveler, visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina.
Sometimes it got caught in sticky situations.
But most of the time it fearlessly led our family.
It had many, many adventures.

Adventures involving more than one generation!
As mentioned above, it's very last adventure was to Legoland.
The grandkids loved Grandpa's green hat. (This is the very last picture we have of its existence.)
The green hat was a family icon. It was a source for good-natured teasing. For example, Dad threatened to wear it for Jeff's wedding pictures; after all, it fit the color scheme. Last winter when someone wanted a hat to wear while painting we contemplated using the green hat, but decided against it. Afterwards Wayne informed us we missed a great opportunity to have it retired as the hiking hat. Oops! Later someone thought about just throwing it away and seeing how long it would take to be missed. We're glad he decided against that. Just like the demise of the previous hat (which will be shared at a later date), this hat needed a fitting story for its last adventure. The green hat will always have a place in our family's hearts.
Fortunately, it was just a thing and is easily replaced. We're looking forward to making many more memories with the BYU hat along for the ride.
The replacement hat on its first excursion.