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Pool reflections

I was swimming laps yesterday (after doing a little ballet with Anna, which was so fun to have her lead me in a little warm-up-to-the-day exercise), thinking again how I wish I had learned to swim laps as a child.

Today, in the pool again, I decided to work on learning a flip turn. Somehow when I was young, I got afraid of doing things like cartwheels and somersaults and flips. It may have had something to do with a bad experience trying to do a back dive off the side of a pool once when I hit my head on the wall coming back in from my dive: I had forgotten to push away. It hurt so much that I didn’t go back to trying to do it again. Maybe it was just my personality of being afraid of getting hurt!

As an adult, doing a flip turn is something I want to learn to do and conquer. So today Lane patiently helped me figure out how to do the somersault in the water. After maybe 20 tries, I said a prayer for help. After the prayer I was able to do it, slowly, 10 times correctly. Then I was tired: a run and a hike and lots of water somersaults was enough for one day! I’ll have to work on the turn part of that another day.

I feel like I have such a desire to learn new things as an adult that I didn’t have the chance to learn as a child. And it makes me want to help children learn to overcome fears and have fun learning things like swimming and flip turns and somersaults and splits and whatever fun physical activities when they are young so that as they grow they have the courage and self-confidence to know that they can do hard things!

I just love this photo of our daughters and nieces when they were little. Their personalities just shine through their darling faces!

It makes me think: if I were to design elementary age curriculum, I would include much more physical education than I ever had. I would have each grade learn to walk and then run distances. Kindergarten: a half mile. First grade: 1 mile, and up on through the grades until the sixth graders, who can run a 10K when they finish!

And wouldn’t it be great to have a few minutes of yoga/stretching every day in kindergarten? And dance twice a week? And basic gymnastics once a week? And teaching children anatomy and physiology and physics and geometry and culture and geography as you move, right from the start?

Wouldn’t it be so amazing to just plant these seeds of knowledge in such natural ways–to talk about gravity when you fall or try to reach–that the children grow and acquire so much more each year, building on their knowledge?

And music fits so naturally with movement, as does second language learning. There are just so many ways that multiple subjects can be combined to make learning so much more effective and fun!

Well, there’s nothing like a little quiet lap swim or morning run or a hike with my husband to get me brainstorming about things like educational reform!

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Dear Daisy,

I was making dinner and watching (and then eating alone as my family all had to scatter hither and yon to their various commitments) “Don’t Miss This”–I can do that kind of thing since I no longer have children holding onto my legs or standing on food storage buckets to help me cook 😉&😓–when Emily Belle Freeman mentioned a song she loves that I hadn’t heard of: “Let It Be Jesus” by Christy Nockels. And so, as I sometimes do, I looked up the song and listened. I was really touched by Christy’s message and also by the worshipping spirit of those who were at her concert. I love thinking about Christians and other wonderful people of other faiths around the globe celebrating The Good and goodness wherever they find it!

And, as I sometimes do, I saw a link to a song by Ben Platt, a voice that one of my daughters in particular has loved listening to, and it caught my attention. I listened, and loved it. The lyrics reminded me of this week. I mean, it’s only Tuesday, but the weekend was really hard, and Monday was the hardest of all.

If I were to guess, I would say it was my total change of routine from exercise, post-marathon recovery. Because Saturday I went to Pilates, which felt so good, but wasn’t enough of a workout to make up for all the rest days of last week. Then Monday it took everything to get out and run two miles and then run/walk the last almost-mile. But a nap and better night’s sleep and then after swimming laps this morning I seriously felt like almost back to myself again.

The reason I’m telling you all this is that this weekend I was so cranky and out of sorts, and Monday morning I just felt so contrary and sorry for Lane having to put up with the challenge of my emotional rollercoaster. I thanked him for his patience after our morning prayer, because I could see that he had been so patient and kind all weekend, even when I hadn’t been. I was truly feeling gratitude for him. I guess after you have a parent who left your other parent, you never take for granted love and fidelity. You know they are what God expects, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

And so that’s why I wanted to share this song. Because I think that is what marriage is all about: we grow together. I know the song is about a break-up, but I think it can be for sticking together when times gets tough! Lane has been around the block with me enough to know that I don’t want to struggle with sleep (and end up sleep-deprived), and that I want to exercise and never have to deal with hormonal changes and that I want to never have an off day! He knows all too well. But that’s just what I’ve been dealt. It’s my package deal. And he knows I work hard at it, to try to improve how I deal with my challenges and work to make the ups and downs less frequent. But we all have ups and downs! I’m so grateful that Lane believes in growing as we go, and that we both know that Christ will help us pull through the rough spots.

I remember two weeks ago–already!!–when I was visiting with my friend at the church as we cleaned windows together and found out that the marathon course had rollers and hills! I had heard that it was “all downhill.” I was SO thankful to Jenn for telling me that it wasn’t all downhill. Then I knew what to expect.

Life is ups and downs–for our course to include rollers. Life is not just all downhill. It’s part of our covenant to hold fast to Christ as we run uphill and down, and sometimes to have sore knees and hamstrings and calves because of it. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Mentally.

Thank goodness we get to grow together as we go. I love my covenant marriage–because my husband works hard to keep his covenants. I love the Maker of our covenant.

Love, Liz

P.S. I found one more video I had to share: Piano Guys (always fabulous) and Charity and Andres. It said it is a farewell dance because Andres is leaving to serve his mission for 2 years.

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The Rewards of Literacy Span Generations

This was a quilt that we made as a stake Relief Society for our new library in Riverton, Utah, about 20 years ago. In the bottom left-hand corner, my mom is reading to Sarah and Nathan.

Literacy is the ability to read and write.

Those who care for newborns through children age three have an enormous, long-lasting impact on that child’s brain development. Love, bonding, and healthy physical food aren’t the only important aspects of parenting: “language nutrition”–or feeding the child’s brain adequately–is critical to that child’s future success.

Literacy matters. A lot.

I like the way one literacy program website put it: “Reading matters. It’s an early gateway skill that paves the pathway for future success. Without it, kids are simply less likely to graduate high school, find employment, or successfully avoid other hardships like poverty, homelessness, hunger, and injustice” (https://smartreading.org/what-we-do/).

Yummy words

“Language nutrition” means the way you talk to, sing to, and read to your child–anything you do that is person-to-person verbal interaction with your child.

In a review of 103 studies on children’s language outcomes, the researchers determined that what you say, how you say it, and how often you say it makes a big difference! (http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Making-Sure-Children-Get-Their-Daily-Dose-of-Langu.aspx).

“Infants are born learning.” (Dr. Patricia Kuhl)

Here are some good, proven ideas for what will help you feed your baby linguistically:

Talk to your baby. Use your best language. Using a “babytalk” voice with babies is great (it’s helps them to pick out words from sentences and is called “parentese”–see the link in the paragraph below), but don’t use “baby talk” with your child: you want to help your child’s vocabulary grow! Children whose parents use better grammatical structures and richer vocabulary…you guessed it…also tend to use better grammar and vocabulary. (http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Making-Sure-Children-Get-Their-Daily-Dose-of-Langu.aspx. See also https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0885200616300151#!).

Hey you!

Make conversation instead of giving commands. For example, it’s better for your child’s brain for you to say, “Guess what we are having for dinner? Here are some clues: It’s red and white and warm and has tomatoes and mushrooms in it! And you really like it!” It uses more vocabulary, imagination, and keeps you on a friendlier plane than simply commanding, “Come to dinner now.”

Change it up. Commands aren’t quite as nice, right? Children don’t like being ordered around all the time; adults don’t like it, either. How many commands do you give in a day to your child? Could you change that up to invite conversation more than just giving orders? Kind works better from the get go. From birth through young adults, inviting conversation is a great relationship builder.

My husband is really good at this; I, on the other hand, could definitely improve!

Word count (as in 30 million)

Talk A LOT to your baby. The more you talk, the better. Let’s go for 30 million words! Your socioeconomic status does NOT have to determine how many words your child hears from you! You can learn to speak kindly, wisely, and well no matter how much you make.

The term 30 million word gap (often shortened to just the word gap) was originally coined by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley in their book Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children,[1] and subsequently reprinted in the article “The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3”.[2] Hart and Risley physically recorded an hours worth of language in each home once a month over 2.5 years. Families were classified by socioeconomic status (SES) into “high” (professional), “middle” (working class), and “low” (welfare) SES. They found that the average child in a professional family hears 2,153 words per waking hour, the average child in a working-class family hears 1,251 words per hour, and an average child in a welfare family only 616 words per hour. Extrapolating, they stated that, “in four years, an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words.[2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_gap

I’d like to point something out

Use gestures. Babies use gestures a lot. Name what your baby is pointing to. what your When you use gestures as well, you help them pick up language. It helps the child to focus on what you want to show or tell them. ((http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Making-Sure-Children-Get-Their-Daily-Dose-of-Langu.aspx).

When your child reaches for something—like a ball—what happens? You probably say something about it, like, “Ball? You want the ball? Yes, that’s a blue ball. I can get you the blue ball. And look! This ball bounces! Look how high we can bounce the ball! Oh no, the blue ball just landed in the potty. Bye bye, blue ball!” So with one simple gesture toward an object, your child got you to talk (and talk and talk) to him about it. And hearing all those words was a boon to his language acquisition abilities.

Amber Ankowski, “Using Gestures to Boost Kids’ Language Skills,” 21 January 2016 (https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/using-gestures-to-boost-kids-language-skills)

Baby ASL

I loved “Signing Time” for our children when they were young! Rachel Coleman, a mother of a deaf daughter, created Signing Time to help hearing children communicate with others–even if no one around them is hard of hearing.

Signing Time is just one resource for helping children learn ASL. I loved being able to communicate with my children using signs during church or other quiet venues when I didn’t want them to speak out loud! Baby Signing TIme is free on YouTube. When you watch it together, then you can practice together and acquire the skills together! Learning is the really fun parts of motherhood!

“A, You’re Adorable, B, You’re so beautiful” ♫

Sing to your baby. “C, You’re a cutie full of charm.” Singing is such a fun way to verbally interact with your child! Our oldest daughter’s spoke her FIRST word one night when I was rocking her in the rocking chair and singing to her as I always did, night after night. I sang at least 2 songs to her every night: “I Am a Child of God” and “Families Can Be Together Forever.” One night I started singing “I am a child of…” and she said, “God” before I did!

I was astonished!

Twenty-five years later, we still sing together. And when something funny happens that reminds us of a line from a song, we often quote that, too. Or a childhood book that we read over and over.

There are so many songs that have beautiful, varied vocabulary. Be sure to sing the BEST songs you can find that are appropriate for your young child.

I had a great time reading The Bad Seed aloud on my birthday to my family.
Reading aloud can be SO fun!

What shall we read today?

A landmark study about parents reading to children discovered that “children of mothers who read to them frequently have larger vocabularies than kids who aren’t read to” (https://www.aecf.org/resources/the-30-million-word-gap/). That might sound really obvious, but the difference it makes to that child later in life is really big!

If you are reading to your child, you will both grow your vocabulary–if you select books that are interesting, varied, well-written, and non-fiction as well as fiction. (Check out @RACFLP on Instagram for ideas of books that I recommend!) You will both be better educated and have more fun. You will grow closer together. And you will help lay the foundation for success in your child’s life.

“Turn off the TV and open a good book.”

The video above from the University of Washington describes why TV is not an effective substitute for face-to-face interaction by a loving caregiver. In this video , early childhood language development expert Dr. Patricia Kuhl explains that infants who were exposed to very clear, recorded audio and video of the same live language sessions that other infants received, learned essentially the same amount as the control group (nothing). (The study linked above on hanen.org notes the same results in the review of 103 studies–that babies do not learn from TV and audio in the same way that they learn from live caregivers.)

If you want your baby’s brain to develop well, talk to her. Read to him. Sing to them! Teach them nursery rhymes and fingerplays and patty cake clapping games.

One wise leader (a very well-spoken and highly educated man), Gordon B. Hinckley, said,

“If we could follow a slogan that says, ‘Turn off the TV and open a good book,’ we would do something of substance in strengthening another generation. Do not misunderstand: There are so very many things of value that come over television, but we must be selective and not be as dumb, driven slaves to the trash of many writers and producers.…

“These are vital issues concerning parents and children. Let us teach and learn goodness together, work together, read good books together, pray together. These things can be done notwithstanding the frenetic pressures of our lives. They can be done with children and particularly when children are small. Sometimes it may seem too late when they are in their teens. Yet, remember my thornless locust tree. Surgery and suffering brought about something beautiful, whose later life has provided welcome shade from the heat of the day.” (“Four Simple Things to Help Our Families and Our Nations,” September 1996 Ensign; adapted from a 5 March 1994 address given to the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Brigham Young University Management Society, emphasis added.)

That phrase, “Turn off the TV and open a good book,” shaped my motherhood. It is, in part, why my children are the way they are.

One of my favorite photos of Lane reading to Rebecca, Julia, Peter, and Eliza.

Will you read to me, Mom or Dad?

“The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gilliand used to be framed and perched on a shelf in our family library. We don’t have to be wealthy to give our children a rich vocabulary and enchanting linguistic experience. Fathers are fabulous readers, too, of course! My father left an indelible impression upon my heart when it came to making read aloud time fun. I like to think I have some of him in me when it comes to wanting to make reading aloud as fun as possible.

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.

Source: “Too much time staring at our phones is hurting our kids’ feelings” https://www.canadianbusiness.com/innovation/parents-and-smartphones/

No phone zone

Cell phone usage by young mothers is also causing a decrease in brain development in children because they aren’t getting as much face-to-face interaction as they need. The neglect inadvertantly caused by parents using their cell phones is also causing problems in social emotional development. Several recent studies reviewed in Psychology Today explain the importance of putting down our phones to be present as parents. I know my teenagers like it when I give them my full attention instead of spending time with them on my phone. (And I appreciate the same courtesy!)

Best friends

Emilie Poulsson (1853-1939) wrote books for children and gave lectures on parenting–all while being blind. This verse she penned has even more meaning knowing that she used her fingers to read Braille:

Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure;
Books are gates to lands of pleasure;
Books are paths that upward lead;
Books are friends. Come, let us read.

Reading to our children doesn’t end when they are 3…or 5…or 8…or 12. We can read together as families at the dinner table, in family book clubs. We can read books together and then go see their movies.

The books picture above are the books one of my daughters took with her to college that she couldn’t leave behind: The Book Thief, Kisses for Katie, Little Women, The Hobbit, King Lear. (Her children’s books are packed up in a box for another time.) I think each of my daughters brought Little Women with her when they left home. It’s such a dear story! I bet they never cracked it open once while there, but “books are friends.” It’s comforting to have the ones you love not far from reach, right?

What is funny about this photo of my mom reading to Sarah and Nathan is that they are reading Mulan. We didn’t own any books based on animated stories, so I don’t even know where this one came from! LOL.

What we read to our children in childhood and what we provide for them to read as they grow into adults will stay with them forever. In turn, they will read to their children, who will read to their children. The reward of literacy will span generations to come, as long as the parents keep loving and talking to and reading to their children from the best books they can!

Long story short…

In summary, words matter. The way we speak to our children–from birth onward–matters. As the “30 Million Word Gap” report said,

“The ways in which parents and children interact at home shape early differences in literacy development. Parents can tailor their child’s vocabulary development and critical thinking skills to prepare them for school by engaging in frequent conversations in academic English. As children mature, parents may increasingly use complex sentences, narrative structures and diverse vocabulary (Huttenlocher, et. al. 1991, Hoff-Ginsberg 1991, Hart & Risley 1992, Haden 1997, Weizman & Snow 2001; Goldberg 1989; Azevedo, et. al. 2007). Children who experience this kind of instruction at home have larger vocabularies and greater syntactic and narrative skills than do children whose parents do not enact such instruction. Differences in children’s oral language skills emerge as crucial once children have mastered basic decoding and the focus shifts to reading comprehension around the 2nd and 3rd grades. (Raudenbush Proposal 2010).”

The Orem Public Library is a treasure trove of literary resources for the entire family!

Local Resources

The Orem Public Library has story time, music and movement time, baby time–how much time would you like to go and learn how you can have fun with you baby and young children? Check out their calendar to see what works for you! They also have many other wonderful resources, such as chess club, that we went to years ago.

The United Way of Utah County can help you learn more about how to care for your baby and help you improve your parenting. Stephanie Anderson is a specialist there who would love to help you find any resources that you might need!

Just Serve can help you find opportunities to tutor young readers or serve your community in lots of other ways. Or if you need some help, they might be able to connect you to someone who can help you!

@RACFLP on instagram is my account for sharing tips on teaching literacy and nurturing children, families and communities. I give away and share about my favorite books on this account. My goal is to build a person-to-person circulating library of some of the best books ever! Need a book recommendation for a specific age, topic, or circumstance? Feel free to message me on that account!

The Orem City, United Way, and Just Serve’s “Read Early Read Often” Book Drive will officially begin December 9, 2019. Links for more information or to donate money will soon be available on the United Way Utah County’s website.

Project Read

Other helpful resources

“12 Things Not to Say to Young Readers” by Brad Wilcox (BYU Magazine, 2003 Issue)

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease are both highly recommended booklists for parents, litearcy volunteers and teachers who want to read aloud in their homes and classrooms.

There are so many resources! What do you want to learn? Message me on my Instagram account (@RACFLP), and I’ll sdo my best to help you find the answer to your nurturing literacy questions.

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Our first marathon run-down (pun intended)

We got on the bus around 4:45 am. It was cold and dark. I had sleep about 3 hours plus some restless, wakeful sleeping full of nightmares about missing the bus. I didn’t feel like doing ANYTHING except going back to bed. I’m smiling here because I love being with Sarah, not because I feel like running!
It was cold outside as the bus drove up the race route. But it was a whole lot colder once we got off the bus! The wind was whipping, and we were shivering within seconds.
I asked a random runner if she could take our photo at the Start Line. I had no idea, that out of 7800 runners, this was Sarah’s friend from back home!
Brrr. It always helps to hold onto each other tightly in the cold!
We sat huddled on the ground until they lit the bonfires near us. Then we went in between several fires and were much warmer.
7:05 am. 15 minutes from our start. First blurry photo as I begin my run. Dawn was emerging. It was beautiful and quiet.
7:15 am. I love the sky changing. The route is nice downhill the first three miles. I tried to keep a slow pace. That was challenging!
7:31 am. Sarah is already feeling sick and needing to stop. She didn’t say anything about it and kept on running except for the stops. She is stoic.
7:46 am. Nearly an hour in, and we are on target for our goal pace. We wanted to finish under 5 hours.
7:50 am. One hour done, and I can see the first cinder cone. Pretty cool!
7:58 am. Sarah and I got to stop at these our entire race. LOL. I was feeling great! Sarah, not so much. But she didn’t tell me until about mile 8, as I recall.
8:27 am. Heading up the mile-long hill. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Tendermercies!
9:08 am. Flat is just fine! There are rollers and a couple of hills in this race that before the Monday before, I didn’t know about. I was so grateful to get to visit with my friend, Jenn, as we cleaned the church windows together. She gave me the complete rundown on the race route! That was so helpful to me. I also attended the “first timers” meeting at the expo the day before the race and learned more about the route. That helped me feel peaceful and ready.
9:49 am. I was totally inspired by the runners who pushed fellow race participants in wheelchairs for 26.2 miles! I loved what this man’s shirt said: “Hard ≠ Impossible.”
10:06 am. Two things I was excited about: Seeing the live brass band I was hearing, and seeing my family! I could hear them yelling for me as soon as they saw me. That sure made me feel happy!! I was already smiling as much as I could while I ran. Golden said it would make me run faster. Plus, I just like smiling. I mean, why not?
10:06 am. I sure love my family! They were the best cheerleaders ever! I also loved those who were all along the ENTIRE race route, cheering us on whether they knew us or not. Isn’t that fabulous? It sure makes a difference.
10:16 am. I took this picture to remember how deliberate I was about fueling every 30-40 minutes. I alternated these gels (which are plain) and my Honey Stinger gummies and Clif Blocks. I drank quick gulps of water and Gatorade at every aid station, as I had been advised to do. I didn’t carry water on me for this reason. I loved using up each gel because then I had less stuff crammed into my pockets! LOL.
10:23 am. I finally was able to figure out how to listen to general conference. I had not listened to music or audio books to this point because I wanted to be able to hear conference and didn’t know how my phone battery would perform live streaming for the last 2 hours of my race. It did just fine.
11;11 am. I had been running alone for the last maybe 9 miles? I was trying to get connected with Sarah so that we could run the rest of the race together. She had to make lots of stops, which slowed her pace down significantly. I was so grateful that she was still feeling well enough to run! I ran “slalom” downhill, but still my thighs were SO SORE the few days following the race!
11:53 am. We found each other around mile 18 (I think) and at this point were getting closer to town. Pretty exciting! We kept our pace slow and steady.
12:20 pm. Photo credit: Marathonfoto. I was apparently checking a text from family, I’m guessing. I loved getting encouraging texts from Lane.
12:17 pm. Mile 25! I wasn’t feeling so great. I ate some Otter Pop-type popsicles that they handed us at mile 23, and they made me feel sick to my stomach. Sarah, too. Oops! Lesson learned. I just have to say that the aid station volunteers in this race were some of the most amazing people EVER! Wow, they were so kind and helpful and hardworking at every single station! Thank you, thank you, all you volunteers!
12:19 pm. I thought this sign was pretty funny!
12:24 pm. The St. George Tabernacle. I so badly wanted to pick up my pace, but after the popsicles, I didn’t dare. I didn’t want to be sick at the finish line.
Photo by Marathonfoto. Not sure when. But so fun to have pics of us running together!
Marathonfoto. Getting to the very end!
Marathonfoto. We sprinted to the end the last maybe 100 yards? I wanted to do it sooner but felt too sick. Next time! (Will there be a next time? I haven’t decided yet.)
Coming into the finish! Lots longer than we planned, but we didn’t plan on Sarah being sick. She was an absolute champ! Not a single complaint. Just ran the whole marathon regardless.
Finished! At exactly the same time! That was my favorite part: finishing together. Sarah is the best racing companion. If any of our other children want to run a marathon together, I will hopefully be able to do that for them. That was the best part of this whole experience for me.
And this!
I was so touched that my children wanted to give me a hug even when I was all sweaty and stinky! That’s love in my book!
I could not have completed this goal without his marathon of loving support.
All the celebratory photos.
This pose was because I nearly toppled the number 6–it was made out of something like styrofoam, so when I went to catch my balance on it, it started to rock to the side! We got a good laugh, and I did the muscle pose pretending to be super strong….
Such a fun day! Such a supportive crew!
The medals are made from the sandstone that St. George is famous for. Some of my pioneer ancestors who helped build the St. George temple knew about sandstone, I’m guessing. They did much harder things than running marathons.
When I got back to our home, I checked it off my bucketlist.
What a dream come true!
This picture is representative of all the people who helped me accomplish my goal. Family, friends (this is a friend from our old ward, whose parents first really inspired me to run. This son, Golden, who grew up with some of our older children, is a phenomenal runner, and started his own shoe business–Altra), and even strangers that I met along the trail who are out with their children or who are senior citizens keeping up their health. You all inspire me. Thank you!
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Nutrition colors and quiz

As a follow up to our Family Night on nutrition, the next Monday at dinner I shared why eating a variety of naturally colorful foods in important: it helps us get more of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to funtion well! I found a flyer online (click here for the source), printed it, and posted it next to my “Way to Eat” signs on the fridge.

These visuals have been good reminder to me of my goal to choose well what I put into my body and when I meal plan for my family.

I also wanted to remember the questions that our FHE guest asked us a few weeks ago in her little “nutrition quiz.” The purpose of the quiz was to help us individually evaluate where we were doing well and where we might want to improve.

She asked us 10 questions. She asked us to write down a number between 0-10 to answer the question. With percentage questions, 10=100%.

  1. What percent of what I eat has NO added sugar?
  2. How many servings of fresh fruits or vegetables do I eat per day? (1/2 cup=1 serving)
  3. What percent of the time do I eat whole grain?
  4. What percent of my fruits and vegetables are raw?
  5. What percent of the time do I eat healthy fats?
  6. What percent of the time do I eat organic* foods? (Foods that haven’t been treated with pesticides)
  7. How many cups of water do I drink per day?
  8. How many times during the week do I eat dessert?
  9. What percent of the meat that I eat is NOT processed*?
  10. What percent of the time do I NOT eat animal products*?

*Our teacher has strong feelings about organic, non-GMO, and animal-derived foods. That is why she included those questions. I found I do not share all of her concerns, but the test was still helpful to me!

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The new Children and Youth initiative

Sunday I didn’t teach the Primary children. I got to sit next to Lane and be with Peter and Anna all together in the chapel as we watched the worldwide broadcast of the new Children and Youth initiative.

My happy anticipation was rewarded with feeling the Spirit as I watched and listened to our leaders share their vision of this simplified, home-centered program.

I thought how I wished every family knew about this!

So I’m sharing about it!

We talked about what we saw in church for a minute on Sunday, but it was Anna’s birthday dinner, and so we waited until Monday night during family night (which we do partially during dinner) to hear what they thought. We asked Peter and Anna what they thought and felt during the presentation. Pete said he thought it was “pretty cool” and really liked it. Anna also liked it. Then they shared their goals with us that they set during the presentation in each of the four areas of personal growth (spiritual, intellectual, physical, social).

When we read the vision statement, I commented that we should put it somewhere in our house to remind us of our purpose for these goals. Anna suggested we put it under out painting of Christ in the kitchen. We thought that sounded great! So I typed it up and taped it to the wall:

We have our monthly goals as a family and inidividuals (one each) posted in our kitchen on our calendar, but I thought it would be helpful to write what our family goal for the week is. So I wrote this and stuck it in the kitchen, along with a quote that inspired me (found here). When we get an opportunity to set our goal for this week, I’ll write it on there. We normally set goals at family council on Sunday, but this week we didn’t get to because of our late birthday celebration the night before! We all slept in!

I’m excited to set family goals that can incorporate supporting Peter and Anna in their goals.

We had a really good feeling as we read together parts of the Inroductory Guide for Parents and Leaders last night and this morning during family scripture study. We’ll keep reading it, short parts at a time as we are able. I like doing it in bite-size moments so we can think about it a little more and hopefully allow the Spirit to make suggestions as to how we can adapt this to our family and circumstances.

Isn’t it amazing to have a living prophet and other inspired leaders guide us along our path back to Heavenly Father? I know that this new vision is going to help our children who are still at home, and our grandchildren to come, to achieve more of their mission on earth as they grow closer to the Lord through personal revelation, become more self-motivated to accomplish good in the world, and work together with family and others to establish more loving and happy relationships.

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Sunflowers and answering life’s questions

When I was a young missionary, Ruth Dickson (my mission president’s wife) told us a story in zone conference. As I recall, she was preparing to decorate tables for a Relief Society dinner that day and wanted to put cheery sunflowers (the kind that grow wild) in jars for the centerpieces. So she popped in her car and drove away.

After searching for some time in vain, she returned home disappointed.

To her astonishment, as she was pulling up to her house, she noticed in the vacant lot next door that sunflowers were growing in abundance.

Sister Dickson told us how surprised to see that the answer to her need and desire was right at home. Then she explained how this is just like general conference: we have questions and problems that we need to answers for. All we need to do is to make a list of our questions and concerns, pray to hear the answers, and then listen attentively to general conference. The answers are right there if we have ears to hear!

She handed out papers to assist us in this process. They looked something like this:

This was the first time I had really ever done this in my life. I wrote down my questions, and to my delight, I got my questions answered during general conference!

I have always remembered this lesson, and I have shared it with our children–often in the Family Home Evening before general conference.

This year, when a large sunflower plant grew in our little orchard, I was delighted! I remembered Sister Dickson and her story, and I knew I wanted to share it again with you!

To learn more about general conference–what it is and when it will be broadcast–go here!

To download the question page for printing, click here.

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Liberty and Fruits of the Spirit

Someday I’d love to take a graphic design class. Until then, I’ll just keep trying my hand at making signs, charts for my family to help us all learn scriptures and good habits.

I like to make a sign when we memorize scriptures to help us. I put the signs up in the bathroom and on the bookshelf. Here’s my sign for this week that goes along with our Come, Follow Me assignment of the book of Galatians. Click here to download it.

I also did a vertical format of Galatians 5:1. Click here to download it.

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Teaching them what to eat

Image from clipartwiki.com (Click on link to go to image.)

Last night at Family Night, I invited a running coach to share some thoughts on nutrition with our family. She was so awesome: she came on very short notice and did a great job helping us evaluate what we put into our bodies and to set a goal to improve, all in 30 minutes!

As I was reflecting on the children’s comments about what they learned, I was interested that, overall, they understand correct principles. Now I just need to see how to inspire them bring their choices in alignment with their knowledge.

I considered how I am working on this these days:

I’m taking pictures of each meal I eat, as a way to account to myself for my choices. I could invite them to do that. (Below are the photos of what I ate this morning.)

I started with pumpkin seeds, walnuts, raisins, and sliced banana…
…and added steel cut oats…
…to enjoy this. They were long gone when I finished cooking my oatmeal. Mornings are a rush! If I don’t get started on making breakfast right after family scripture study, it’s a piece of toast in the hand for them right now…or a piece of fruit…or a cup of hot chocolate to go, like one child made.

I am trying to set a good example by what I eat. Sometimes I do better than other times!

Last night I saw again why I need to plan our meals: because it is probably the best way that I invite good nutrition choices. If we have wholesome food around, they can choose from it!

I can prepare more wholesome meals more often. Now that’s an obvious choice, but I’m not alone in carrying the load here. I love how Mary Ann, the running coach, told the children that they can help achieve the goals they set. They can help me plan, shop and prepare. Pete and Anna are absolutely old enough to participate even more in the planning and execution of healthy meals. Lane, too! Especially because often they prepare their own breakfast. And, for the most part, they are supposed to make their own lunches.

So in considering how to inspire them, I decided one thing I could do to help was to create these two pages of visuals as reminders of the kinds of choices we want to make in body substance input. You are welcome to print these out at home if you find them helpful! (Click on the links to download: Page 1 Page 2. Note: These are screen shots of the actual pages. To make them 8.5×11″, you can click once on the image–at least on my Mac you can!–to enlarge it once and then print it out. I was having size limitations because of the photos but don’t have any more time to work on reducing them.😉 )

I’ll try to get back to you on what progress we make!

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Dear Daisy (no.3)

Photo credit: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media-library/images/category/spring?lang=eng

Dear Daisy,

Try as I might, I have not gotten back to writing to you lately. School started, along with company that came, a new (additional) church calling, the rearranging of the family schedule that always happens at the start of school, and marathon training, which takes more time than I imagined. Lots of good stuff going on, just not lots of writing time.

It’s all good.

I have had some days when I felt overwhelmed, for sure. These are often tied to hormone changes (joy!), and so mostly if I just ride out the wave, I resurface unscathed. But during the time when I feel like I’m underwater–like I’m raising my hand and crying out, “I’m drowning!” –it’s pretty discouraging. I just want to climb into bed and stay there until I feel better.

Life is like that sometimes, right?

Well, I was talking to my missionary daughter about this very thing: what to do when you don’t have ANY energy or ANY motivation and your emotions are right at the surface, so that if someone asks you the wrong question (or any question, depending!), you answer as fast as possible and leave so that you don’t burst into tears.

I thought almost immediately of the story of Nephi and Lehi in prison, when the walls came “a-tumblin’ down,” and the people who witnessed it who were immobilized by the dark cloud and the fear that possessed them. The Nephite man, Aminadab, responded to their cries to know how to be freed from their immobilized state:

“You must arepent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have bfaith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and cAmulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you.

“And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed.” (Helaman 5:41-42)

This works for me, every time. When I get to that point of desperation–so hungry for help like those baby robins, I literally cry to the Lord and plead for help. Without fail, some kind of help comes.

It did today.

The cloud will lift. Christ is real.

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