Month: April 2013

GQ: “The Happy Way”

GQ: “The Happy Way”

My step-mom told me once something her nanny taught her: “Share with one another, for this is the happy way.” (At least that is the way I remember the phrase!) Sharing is a happy way to travel through life! This morning my sister-in-law left our…

Mmmm: Quiche Lorraine

Mmmm: Quiche Lorraine

I mentioned that cooking isn’t my ultimate pastime, but I DO love to eat a home-cooked meal with my family. So that means I’m cooking. And meal-planning. I meal plan because it saves me time, money, and emotional energy! “If ye are prepared ye shall…

Captain Moroni Costume

Captain Moroni Costume

When my oldest son was little, his favorite story was about Captain Moroni. We read that story until sometimes I’d try to persuade him to choose another one, to little avail. (It is still his favorite.)

So I decided to make him a Captain Moroni costume, just like the one in the book we read. I painted a shield and sewed a cape and a tunic-armor thing. I also painted perhaps 40 little wooden buttons and embroidered them onto a “breastplate.” It took hours and was truly a gift of heart and soul.

Captain Moroni Costume

He loved it! And he wore it a lot.

And then one day the “breastplate” disappeared. I was so sad! If it ever surfaces–I’m not sure there is another one quite like it–and you happen to see it, will you let me know? I’d sure love to find it.

I know this is an absolutely crazy request, but I’ve had some crazy “finding” experiences in my life, so I figured it’s worth putting it out there! Ask, and ye shall receive….

Happy Wondering,

Liz 🙂

P.S. What is the most fun costume you have ever made for a child?

P.P.P.S.S.

P.P.P.S.S.

P.P. P. S. S. I wasn’t planning on writing a post this morning. I was just checking for comments… (Can you tell I like to add P.S.’s?)

Empty Spam

Empty Spam

When I open up my blog each day, I check for comments. You know what I can count on? Plenty of spam. I have a special filter, thank goodness, that separates the real comments from the ones that are trying to get me to buy…

Catching Butterflies

Catching Butterflies

I noticed, when I walked into the grocery store, colorful butterfly nets on sale. Spring is here! Welcome butterflies! I haven’t tried catching a butterfly in many years.

That could be fun! I should do that with my children!

What I do more of now is try to catch butterflies of another kind: beautiful truths that flitter past me in my daily travels. “Truth is truth wherever it is found,” Bonnie Parkin told her children. Here are some of the truths that flew toward me recently while I read to my children, as I listened to teachers at a Suzuki Convention, as I read a talk about learning readiness,  as I drove and listened to part of a book about nurturing genius in boy with autism, and as I visited with some young mothers during lunch.

1. Motherhood is the most influential job in the world. Linda Case, an expert violin teacher and teacher trainer told how she grew up in an area where everyone said, “You was.” It didn’t matter that their grammar or their papers were corrected at school. The people they loved and lived with at home said, “You was.” It was their “mother tongue.”

That reminded me of two things: that famous line from William Wallace’s poem, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world,” and Julie Beck’s powerful thought: “Mothers who know do less…in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power.”

2. Balance between work and play is important! I heard about practicing schedules and know how wonderfully dedicated “Suzuki mothers,” in general, are. Teaching a child to work is so important and can be such a challenge! Having fun together (in a non-stress-inducing situation) is equally critical, especially so we can have fun as mothers! I remembered what I read last week with my two youngest about Ezra Taft Benson’s growing up years. He lived on a farm and was the oldest of 11 children. By the age of 7 he could do serious farm work, and his father had taught him. But his father had a policy of ending the work by 1 pm on Saturdays and getting on with the fun! They ice-skated, picnicked, played games, along with a host of other amusements, with lots of neighbor children joining in. They knew how to have fun together!

I also heard a wonderful description from Kristine Barnett, author of the book I’m listening to (called The Spark) of how she realized that all of the therapy she was having her three year old son do to try to help him come out of his autism was preventing him for simply being a child. She took him on a “date” to a favorite lake nearby to play in grass, lay down and gaze at the stars while the popsicles they were eating dripped down their necks. She told how once she realized the lack of simple, childhood fun in their lives, she started helping her son do things that would help make happy childhood memories. In turn, she saw how much more relaxed he was and how much better his therapy sessions went.

I loved reading the end of Pippi Longstocking to my children and watching an episode of “Granite Flats” together. These were nice, relaxing moments.

3. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Teaching a child does not equate learning in the child. They had to do something about the learning to “own” it.  Trying to force them to learn something is about as effective as pulling up a flower in order to make it grow. Not gonna happen! (Funny how I’ve tried to do that over the years…) We can do a lot to help prepare a child to learn as to how we nurture and prepare them. But in the end, they have to want to do, to try, to learn.

Elder David A. Bednar addressed a group of C.E.S. educators and reminded them of the importance of a person’s choosing to act on the learning they receive. He taught, “In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of agency—the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not only to be acted upon— especially as we seek to obtain and apply spiritual knowledge.

“…Consider the question posed by Heavenly Father to Adam in the Garden of Eden, “Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). Obviously the Father knew where Adam was hiding, but He, nonetheless, asked the question. Why? A wise and loving Father enabled His child to act in the learning process and not merely be acted upon. There was no one-way lecture to a disobedient child, as perhaps many of us might be inclined to deliver. Rather, the Father helped Adam as a learner to act as an agent and appropriately exercise his agency.”

Three beautiful butterflies of truth that we could discuss for days!

Happy Butterfly-Catching,

Liz 🙂

P.S. What experiences have you had that have helped you discover these truths? What “butterflies” have you “caught” recently? What fun times have you had with your children this week? Write to me and share! I’m not an expert, just a mom like you. I’d love to post them on my blog! My email is liz@raisingamazingchildren.com

Thursday’s Terrific Tip

Thursday’s Terrific Tip

Have you ever had a hairbrush missing from your bathroom drawer…right after you just bought another one to replace the first that went missing?! Here’s a terrific tip! Attach a very long piece of elastic to the end of your hairbrush (it helps if the brush…

Cleaning Up Before Moving On

Cleaning Up Before Moving On

I had a delightful surprise visit from a dear friend in March. She stopped by to introduce me to her very handsome, furrow-browed, new baby. He was the most adorable, serious-looking little boy ever! Ooh, I miss new babies. I love my current stage, but…

RTW: In Training

RTW: In Training

I have some espalier apple trees in our yard. Espaliered trees have been pruned and trained to grow into a specific shape. There are many varying patterns that espalier trees have been fashioned into. Some are beautiful works of art!

I didn’t know anything about espalier trees when one of our home teachers told us about his trees. When I heard him say that he had fruit trees that were growing well and producing fruit against the sides of his home and garage, I thought, Presto! That solves one of our problems for where we can grow some fruit trees! We went over to see his trees and they were lovely. He told us that they needed some trellises to support them and train them on, and we could see that would be true.

I knew about the importance of training trees from a story that President Hinckley told. He recalled how, being responsible for the landscaping of their yard, he planted this one tree and then “largely forgot it,” and how it grew so quickly and bent the wrong direction. He explained, “When it was first planted, a piece of string would have held it in place against the forces of the wind. I could have and should have supplied that string with ever so little effort. But I did not, and it bent to the forces that came against it.”

After the trip to my home teacher’s house and successfully persuading my husband, we planted the fruit trees. Our trees have grown, also with not too much attention. My husband and I have pruned them a little here, a little there, each year, and fertilized them a little. We have missed sprayings. They began to bear fruit last year, and we were so excited. But we have never provided a trellis to support and train them yet. And the trees keep growing, thicker and stronger each year. Without the trellis to fix them to the wall, they are growing away from the wall at about a 40° angle. I am hoping that this year we will be able to anchor them in such a way as to correct the problem.

In searching online for this post, I could hardly believe it had been nearly 20 years since I originally heard President Hinckley tell about his tree. It was October 1993! How quickly time passes! Check out what he said back then about the state of our nation and world:

“We in America are saddled with a huge financial deficit in our national budget. This has led to astronomical debt.

“But there is another deficit which, in its long-term implications, is more serious. It is a moral deficit, a decline in values in the lives of the people, which is sapping the very foundation of our society. It is serious in this land. And it is serious in every other nation of which I know.

“Some few months ago there appeared in the Wall Street Journal what was spoken of as an index of what is happening to our culture. I read from this statement:

” ‘Since 1960, the U.S. population has increased 41%; the gross domestic product has nearly tripled; and total social spending by all levels of government [has experienced] more than a fivefold increase. …

” ‘But during the same … period there has been a 560% increase in violent crime; a 419% increase in illegitimate births; a quadrupling in divorce rates; a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200% increase in the teenage suicide rate” (William J. Bennett, “Quantifying America’s Decline,” Wall Street Journal, 15 Mar. 1993).

“The article concludes with a statement from Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

‘ ‘The West … has been undergoing an erosion and [an] obscuring of high moral and ethical ideals. The spiritual axis of life has grown dim.’

“One need not, of course, read statistics to recognize a moral decay that seems to be going on all about us. It is evident in the easy breakup of marriages, in widespread infidelity, in the growth of youth gangs, in the increased use of drugs and the epidemic spread of AIDS, and in a growing disregard for the lives and property of others. It is seen in the defacement of private and public property with graffiti, which destroys beauty and is an insult to art. It is expressed in the language of the gutter, which is brought into our homes.

“The endless sex and violence on network TV, the trash of so many motion pictures, the magnified sensuality found in much of modern literature, the emphasis on sex education, a widespread breakdown of law and order—all are manifestations of this decay.

“What is the answer? Is there any way to change the course of the ethical and moral slide we are experiencing? I believe there is.

“What is happening is simply an ugly expression of the declining values of our society. Those who are concerned with the problem advocate more legal regulation, large appropriations for increased police forces, tax increases to build additional jails and prisons. These may be needed to deal with the present problems. They may help in the near term. But they will be only as a bandage too small for the sore. They may help in taking care of the fruits, but they will not get at the roots. In searching for remedies, we speak of a greater work that must be done in our schools. But educators have largely abdicated their responsibility for teaching values. The Church is looked to—this and all other churches. I am grateful for what the Pope recently said in Denver in warning against moral pitfalls. I am pleased to note that the Baptists have begun a campaign for chastity. We as a church are doing much, very much, and I think we are accomplishing much. But it is not enough.

“When all is said and done, the primary place in building a value system is in the homes of the people.

“I read the other day of a father who pleaded with a judge to lock up his son because he could not control him. I do not doubt that he has tried. But it is now too late. Attitudes have been fixed. Habits have become rigid. If we are to turn this tide, the effort must begin with children when they are young and pliable, when they will listen and learn.”

I am grateful that I heard him speak twenty years ago, just days before I found out I was pregnant with our first child. I had a huge desire to learn how, How, HOW to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).

In the twenty years since that day, I’ve focused constantly on motherhood and training children. I may not be a great gardener–I’m certainly no expert on espalier trees–but I have learned a few valuable lessons about training children. What have I learned since then? That is a post for another day. And another day. And…

Happy Training,

Liz 🙂

P.S. What is one of the most important lessons you learned since you had your first child?

Mmmm…: A la table, tout le monde!

Mmmm…: A la table, tout le monde!

This is one of our family “phraseologies:” it’s what I say often when I’m calling everyone to dinner. (It’s French for “to the table everyone!”) Now, I love to gather my family for dinner, but I freely admit that preparing dinner is not my favorite…