Tag: Small and Simple things

Cécile Pelous: It’s the little things

Cécile Pelous: It’s the little things

I just love this. Talk about raising amazing children. I love how she sold her home to build an orphanage. Someday, in another stage, I hope I can help many more children (along with my own) learn and be happy like Cécile, . My favorite 

3 principles for teaching children to clean up after themselves

3 principles for teaching children to clean up after themselves

Cleaning up after ourselves is an eternal principle. I imagine that if we are to learn to create worlds, we have to learn what to do with all the resources we are provided. We begin learning about creation and resources when we recognize what resources 

Preparing happiness

Preparing happiness

IMG_0299Have you ever thought about the ways you “prepare happiness” for your children?

This morning I read 2 Nephi 9:43, and it was one of those verses that reminded me how being a parent is preparing me to become like Heavenly Father. In this amazing chapter, my understanding is that Jacob is telling us about Christ, and how if we come unto Christ, we will have many gifts open up to us, both on earth and in heaven: wisdom, knowledge, love, grace, forgiveness, joy, purity, eternal life. In verse 42, he says that a key to being able to receive these gifts is humility, considering ourselves “fools before God.” Then he says,

“But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever–yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.” (Saints meaning “all those who by baptism have entered into the Christian covenant.” See Bible Dictionary, “Saint.”)

I love to think of Heavenly Father preparing happiness for me. It motivates me to action, to consider that life is not going to always feel so hard, that there will be pockets of happiness to look forward to. Sometimes, in the middle of challenges, I feel like the hardships will never change. That doors are only closing around me and resolutions to my problems are just out of my grasp.

But experience has taught me that my feelings alone are not an accurate measure of what is real or true, just like the child who looks at learning their multiplication tables as impossible.

Amidst my challenges, I have had so many fun moments as a mother “preparing happiness” for my children.

inner tubeI think about planning and preparing for birthdays and outings and vacations.

Captain Moroni CostumeI think about sewing a costume for a child, spending hours on each part so it will come out just right and bring them hours of imaginative play.

Piles of booksI think about the books I have collected over my lifetime in our family library that we can sit down and enjoy reading together. I think about the wonderful music I share with my children.

Lemon drop cookieI think about Monday nights when we have planned a special Family Night, including a yummy dessert to enjoy together. I think about a surprise date I have planned for my husband, or one he has planned for me. I think about a day when I have prepared something special for an after-school snack, and it’s warm out of the oven and the whole house smells good.

photoI think about setting the table at the beginning of the month to “welcome” the month: placing colored placemats that I have accumulated year by year and bright fabric napkins that I have sewn, and folding the napkins in some fun way. Then hanging up a sign or putting some festive decor in the center of the table.

Skewered BreadsticksNext comes planning the meal and making something that sounds delicious. As the children come home from school and see a bright table, they have something to look forward to. As we kneel around the table in family prayer, giving thanks for being together and for our blessings, we feel happy to be together and excited to eat something good together.

I think about presents that I call “from Heavenly Father” that I have ready for a birthday that are just exactly what I know a child wanted or will love, and waiting with anticipation as the child opens the gift to see the expression on his or her face.

I think about helping a child get ready for a first day of school, for a first date, for a first job interview.

Birthday WishingI think about preparing a special meal for a child’s birthday, graduation day, or shopping together for a new dress or reward when a child has finally achieved being prepared their first solo music recital.

I think about planning a family outing after a Saturday morning of working hard together.

Sarah's baptismI think about preparing a child while they are growing up for baptism, and then when they turn 8, getting to watch them go down into the water and come up so happy! They each did! They were each so happy! And then watching and listening as they were given the gift of the Holy Ghost, surrounded by all their loved ones on that very happy day–the happiness that sinks deep into your soul, that you can’t buy or make yourself. It comes only from God, and you feel it and wish it could stay that rich and wonderful every day the rest of your life!

I think about talking with a child as they desire to receive a Patriarchal blessing and then helping them be ready, go through the interview process, and then taking them to receive their blessing. Talk about Golden Moments!

Nate's CallI think about being with a child when they open a mission call! And going through the temple with a child! Or getting that first letter (and each letter each week!) Talk about joy!

And then there are the moments we haven’t experienced yet: having a child date their future spouse; having a child get engaged; watching a child get married in the temple to their soon-to-be spouse; hearing about a first pregnancy; holding a grandchild in our arms.

All of these gifts, these Golden Moments, are part of the happiness that God has prepared for us and that we get to help prepare for our children.

When you think about it, isn’t it awesome! It makes me want to get out of bed in the morning today. I wonder what happiness I can prepare for today?

#preparinghappiness #goldenmoments

Small, service-minded goals (#frosty)

Small, service-minded goals (#frosty)

Happy New Year! It’s going to be the BEST year so far! If there is one principle that Heavenly Father continues to teach me over and over, it is “…that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass, and small means in 

Green Christmas (reusable gift tags)

Green Christmas (reusable gift tags)

I think the term “green” is interesting, because in our house, “being green” is simply practical, everyday living. There are many things we do all the time in a big family to reuse, save, and recycle because it makes sense and saves us money! We 

GQ: Adapted to the lowest capacity

GQ: Adapted to the lowest capacity

Christ and lamb

A friend recommended to me yesterday a speech given by Elder Bednar on “The Character of Christ.” I have just barely begun to study it when I came across this quote: “The revelations of the Lord to his creatures are adapted to the lowest capacity, and they bring life and salvation to all who are willing to receive them” (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 124).

That contains a beautiful truth!

All of God’s truths and commandments are accomplishable.

In my mothering, I have tried to find solutions to many problems. Often, I have had an idea and have applied it in a most complicated way. I didn’t realize it was too complicated at the time. And it wasn’t that the ideas per se were wrong, but that I needed to simplify my application of them.

And I didn’t recognize it until I had tried it out for a while.

Take the time card, for example. Or the job chart. Or any organizational system or plan! I learned, after time and multiple applications and revisions, that the best system or plan or lesson is the one that accomplishes the task (or teaches the principle) while being the simplest to understand and easiest to perform.

I have now taught music to kindergarteners for three years. Since I have been creating the curriculum, I have recycled the same principles and lesson plans, teaching them in various ways to different children. Each time I have learned something. What have I learned the most? It helps to simplify something so that each child can accomplish what is asked.

This doesn’t mean that God (or a parent or teacher) doesn’t know how to adapt something to a child who wants or needs more challenge. The principle itself needs to be taught plainly and simply, and then further growth can come to one who is ready and wanting.

The second concept about this quote, in my mind, is how much God desires for us to understand Him and His plan. He isn’t trying to complicate anything so that we can’t do it. He wants us to learn and accomplish. He allows us to stretch to learn, only because He knows we can do it. And He will provide whatever support along the way that we require.

Sometimes I have noticed that when something feels too hard, I have panicked internally. I have believed it was too hard and that I couldn’t do it. I have sometimes wanted to be coddled like a baby by God instead of simply encouraged and helped back up like a toddler. God wants me to grow up and learn to walk, not just be carried or pushed in a stroller my whole life, figuratively speaking.

This quote reminds me that I CAN DO IT. And if I simplify something, I can help a child learn to do what is needed for their growth, too.


Happy Adapting,

Liz 🙂

P.S. This quote reminds me of a favorite scriptural passage of mine. It’s the story of Jacob when he meets his brother Esau after some 2 decades or so. They embrace in reconciliation and then Esau invites Jacob travel with him. Jacob declines, saying,

“And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.

“Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.”

This passage has always suggested to me that Jacob understood about working patiently with children and pregnant cattle. He knew that making them and the pregnant cattle go too fast or too far isn’t good for them, so he slowed his pace to accommodate them.

I’m so glad this story was included in Genesis so I could remember that sometimes I just need to slow down and take things a little more easily. Adapt to the pace of my family and accommodate the children, and then we’ll all be a lot happier. 🙂

SOS: What we really need to accomplish

SOS: What we really need to accomplish

I thought this talk was so fabulous for mothers, especially young mothers who can take a deep breath about what they really need to accomplish. I am so grateful that these have been priorities in our home. I believe that family prayer, scripture study,  have 

3T: Personal history boxes

3T: Personal history boxes

A long time ago, I read an article by President Boyd K. Packer in which he described how he and his wife started their family history. He said they got a box. I figured that if a mother and father of ten children who have 

3T: Sister Livingston, check!

3T: Sister Livingston, check!

(Liza was searching for a commercial aimed at teens  when we came across this one.)

I’ve been driving children around town for 19 years now. I’m a big believer in wearing seat belts because 1) it’s the law and 2) it can save lives.

As a child, it wasn’t the law to wear seat belts. I was riding in the back seat of my family car next to the rear passenger door when my door opened and I rolled out onto the road. Thankfully, my mom was driving in the far right-hand lane, so I couldn’t get run over falling next to the curb, and I had my blankie with me, and it rolled around me as I rolled out, apparently. Tendermercies!

I had an experience with seat belts as an adult that might not seem like a big deal to some but was a big deal to me. Our street had been blocked off from traffic for some road work for some time, and then the road block was removed. I had gotten accustomed to backing out without checking behind me to the left. As I recall, I backed out one morning when a car driving down our road, a little too fast through a neighborhood street, hit us. I had Sarah, Nate, and Julia all in the back buckled in car seats. I was also buckled in. No one was injured. I felt very grateful I had taken the time to buckle everyone, including myself, in.


But getting 7 children buckled seemed to be a regular opportunity for contention. So one day I had an idea: we’d sound off by age, saying our name and “Check!” after we had gotten buckled. So I would get into the car and say, “Mommy, check!” Then the children would go down the ranks, sounding off: “Sarah, check! Nathan, check!” until everyone was accounted for. After that, it was more a question of arguing about who got to sit where than it ever was about buckling up.

When we started having carpools to drive or friends to take home, I decided to include them in our “game.” I would say, “Sister Livingston, check!” because most of the children we have been around are Mormon, and we call each other “Sister” or “Brother” instead of “Mrs.” or “Mr.” in our church. (When I had friends who are not members of our church, I just used “Mrs. Livingston.”)

Gratefully, the habit of buckling up has been established for each of our children. If ever I had a child who simply refused to buckle, I mostly would just tell them I would wait and didn’t drive. Sometimes I’d have to get out and do it myself. But now they are all old enough and do it.

I was grateful they do when two of our children got in an accident the first day of summer last year. The car was wrecked, but they weren’t.

Buckled seat belts may not always save lives, but I’m grateful I’ve had the chance to teach my children safety.

Happy Buckling,

Liz 🙂

P.S. The image above comes from a woman’s website who creates music to teach children. She wrote a cute song about wearing seat belts. Music is such a GREAT way to teach children to do good things!

3T: Add V-8

3T: Add V-8

I mentioned how when I went to California for Christmas, my mother-in-law made so many great meals. I learned a great tip from her: add V-8 to your can of soup to extend it. It made every soup she served (with crackers, cheese, grapes and