Sunday, December 7, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Merry Literary Christmas

(My oldest daughter falling in love with The Hobbit)

A Merry Literary Christmas

When Christmas shopping time draws nigh,
And I am faced with gifts to buy,
I think about one relative
Who always had one gift to give.
Year after year her present came,
And every year it was the same.
While other gifts were round and fat,
(Their secrets hidden) hers were flat,
Rectangular, the corners square,
I knew exactly what was there.
I'd pass it by without a look -
My aunt had sent another book!
I'd only open it to write
A "thank-you" that was too polite,
But every year when Christmas went
I'd read the book my aunt had sent,
And looking back, I realize
Each gift was a treasure in disguise.
So now it's time to write her here
A thank-you note that is sincere.

So - thanks for Alice and Sara Crewe,
For Christopher Robin and Piglet and Pooh,
For Little Nell and William Tell
And Peter and Wendy and Tinker Bell.

Thanks for Tom and Jim and Huck,
For Robinson Crusoe and Dab-Dab the duck,
For Meg and Jo and Johnny Crow
And Papa Geppetto's Pinocchio.

For Mary Poppins and Rat and Toad,
King Arthur and Dorothy's Yellow Brick Road,
For Kipling's Kim and tales from Grimm,
And Ferdinand, Babar, and Tiny Tim.

I loved them all, I'm so glad I met them.
They're with me still, I won't forget them.
So I'll give books on Christmas Day
Though I know what all my nieces will say -
I know it from the way the write
A "thank-you" that is too polite.

Alice Low 

Monday, November 24, 2014

This video was shown at our Relief Society Visiting Teaching Conference yesterday. I really appreciated the message and thought I would share. It's a little long, but well worth the time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Deliberate Gift Giving

 I LOVE this time of year! There are so many reasons I love November, but one that I find especially fun is that this is the month I do all of my Christmas shopping. I always try and wrap all of our shopping up by Cyber Monday. I like to have all of my shopping done by the start of the Christmas season so that I can spend time with my family enjoying all the other wonderful activities the season brings.

Christmas shopping for my children is one of my all time favorite things to do. Maybe because it's the only time of the year I've ever really been able to buy them gifts??? Whatever the reason may be, I look forward to it all year long. Over the years I have found that Christmas shopping for my kiddos naturally lends itself to a thoughtful evaluation of how each of the children are doing physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. It's been a great time to remind myself of both the short term and long term goals I have for my each of my children individually. This is where the deliberate gift giving comes in.

As I think of an individual child's interests and what he may be struggling with, I try and give gifts that will help him along his short term and long term eternal path. For example, I want my daughters to love and throughly enjoy mothering. Because of this goal, I have tried to give gifts that inspire and cultivate this desire. My mother often told me that she always felt it was her responsibility, as a mother, to help her children identify their talents and then help them to develop those talents. As my children have gotten older, it has been important to give gifts that help them enhance their talents and interests. For example, my two oldest children play the violin and cello. To help them further develop this talent, they will each be receiving fun music they enjoy to play on their respective instruments.

This is often so much easier said than done! As my children have gotten older, they have been more influenced by the passing fads and whims of a very commercialized world. It has been very tempting to buy my oldest son the latest and greatest gaming system, but as I step back and look at the long term goals, the question becomes, 'Will this gift really help him with his physical/spiritual/emotional/mental well being?' Now, don't get me wrong, we have a gaming system and we ALL love to play it! :) I just don't feel that, this year, using our allocated Christmas money for this purchase would help our son in the long term.

Now you are probably thinking we are mean parents who never get our kids what they really want, they are just kids after all and not everything should be about reaching goals! When our oldest was very young we set the rule that he could ask for one thing from Santa each year (it was all we could afford at the time) and we didn't want his gift list to breed greediness. This rule has stuck and that one request must be in writing to Santa no later than Black Friday, with no mind changing after that! ;) Our kids almost always get the one thing they ask for, in fact I can't think of a time they haven't. With their other few gifts they receive, I try to find something they would adore within the realm of what will strengthen them either spiritually, physically, mentally or emotionally.

So, I return to where I started. I love this time of year, because it offers up  a time to reflect on each child's progress, talents, interests, needs etc. and then allows me to find small gifts that will encourage their short and long term growth and well being.

Happy Christmas Shopping!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Becoming Like Him

This past General Conference was amazing for me. I didn't realize just how spiritually depleted I was until I listened to His servants. One very strong impression that I walked away with was that both my family and I needed to make a much more concerted effort to develop attributes of the Savior. While the answer for how to do this with my family came easier, for myself I spent more time pondering/praying and was reminded of Chapter 6 in Preach My Gospel, "How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?" - just what I needed!

I took a very honest, at times painful, look at myself as I went through the Attribute Activity at the end of the chapter. I have a great deal of work to do, but I am excited to have a focused plan as I move forward.

The first attribute I am working on is Faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Him is foundational and if I am lacking in faith the development of the other virtues really won't matter. At the moment I am working through defining faith and developing personal questions to answer as I study faith in greater depth. I am hoping to periodically check in here (the title of this blog is Becoming after all) about this great adventure I am embarking on, that of making a very honest, focused, personal, exceptionally imperfect, but sincere attempt to Become more like Him.

Would anyone like to join me?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Super Hero Madness

This is my cute little three year old boy. How I adore this boy. At the moment he is obsessed with super heroes. I am honestly not quite sure how it happened. His older brother, now 13, was never interested in super heroes in the least bit, so this whole super hero thing has caught us way off guard. My little one has never seen any super hero movies or tv shows, so I am guessing that he became drawn to them due to the incredible (and excessive in my opinion) amount of super hero paraphernalia he sees when we are out and about.

Batman is his favorite. A dear friend of mine gave my little one this Batman costume for his birthday in September and I don't think he's taken it off since. He spends most of his day and night pretending he is Batman and saving the world from the bad guys.

When I say he is crazy about super heroes, I really mean he is crazy about them. I've always been somewhat uncomfortable about the obsession for a variety of reasons. As I have been praying about ways to help redirect some of this enthusiasm, I have felt that moving in the direction of Scripture Super Heroes would be a good thing.

While I know that this idea of Scripture Super Heroes is not a unique idea, it will be something unique for our family. After receiving this impression last week I've been made several trips to various dollar stores to try and put together a Scripture Super Hero costume trunk. My little one LOVES to dress up, so I am hoping the costumes will initially help him be interested. I've also been on the look out for pictures of various scripture heroes and ways to tell and reenact the stories in an exciting three year old way. I've tried hard to be still and listen to what would be in my son's best interest, as not only is this new territory for me, but also because He knows my little one much better than I do.

I have a few ideas to begin with, but any and all help would be most welcome!

Monday, October 27, 2014

How To Know

I LOVE the Mormon Channel! Love it! 

I just finished listening to a fabulous program on Gospel Solutions for Families entitled 

 It was what I needed to hear today - have a listen if you get a chance!

The Well-Educated Mind

Many years ago I read The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and absolutely loved it. The Well Trained Mind outlines a systematic approach to classical education that resonates with my personal educational philosophy. The Well Trained Mind has become a well worn reference book for our family in augmenting and supplementing my children's education.

One of the things I loved the most about my years of obtaining my degree at Brigham Young University was all of the marvelous literature I encountered. It was tremendously satisfying to read a well written book and then engage in thought provoking discussion. I received my degree in American Studies and then went on to teach elementary school until my first kiddo was born. Through all of the years that have followed (and they have been many!),  I have always wished I was more familiar with the classics of literature. I just didn't know where to start.

To my delight a few years ago I came across another book by Susan Wise Bauer entitled The Well Educated Mind - A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. In it she outlines a method for studying various works of literature based on the trivium of classical education. I knew that, someday, this was something I wanted to pursue. I also knew that, while I was in the midst of newborn twins, two elementary age children and a husband in residency, now was not the time. :)

This fall, with a seventh grader, a fifth grader, three year old twins who take great naps, and a husband still in residency, I am happy to say that now is the time! I have carved out a few hours here and there during the week to study more in depth than I have been able to in the past.

My book list at the moment is pictured above. I am reading and analyzing Pilgrim's Progress according the The Well Educated Mind and am studying the others through notes, outlines etc. I am always amazed at how deeply I am enjoying this study.

I only wish I had someone to discuss what I am learning with who happens to be reading the same material! For the moment I have been, with greater enthusiasm then my children might appreciate, starting dinner off with, "Guess what I learned today!" Oh well, hopefully someday my children will remember that their mother loved to learn. And hopefully someday my husband will finish residency so that we can read and discuss together. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Piano Lesson

I have taught piano lessons in my home to supplement our income for many, many years while my husband has been furthering his education.  Our piano was older than I am and over the last year or so was falling apart at a rather alarming rate. We could hardly keep up with the repairs and upon our last visit our piano technician let us know that he would do his best, but our piano was on her way out. We certainly didn't have any money for a new piano, so we tried to maintain the piano the best that we could.

During all of this, my husband was offered a position to stay on at the hospital where he was finishing his residency. Part of the contract included a small salary advance my husband would receive in order to help our family out financially during his last 14 months of residency. We were thrilled with the contract and I was especially excited about the prospect of having a little cushion, something we haven't ever really had during our almost fifteen years of marriage. As we were looking at the numbers we decided that we would have just enough extra to purchase a new piano. We became overly excited and started piano shopping. Our contract had been signed after all, so we thought the salary advance was a guarantee.

One morning, when we were planning on going piano shopping, I had the thought that we shouldn't purchase a piano yet, we needed to wait. Unfortunately, I did not heed that prompting. A few hours later we purchased our new piano.

Well, when all was said and done, the salary advance did not come when we thought it would, and when it did come, it was not as much as we had thought it would be. Instead of the cushion we needed, we now have a piano.

There are many lessons we have learned from our stupidity. :) I will share just one today.

One of Satan's tactics is to try and convince individuals to do a good thing at the wrong time. And when you do a good thing at the wrong time, it is no longer a good thing. For example, dating is a good thing. Dating before you are sixteen is not a good thing. Intimacy in marriage is a marvelous thing, intimacy before marriage is not. This has been Satan's tactic from the beginning - starting with Eve. Partaking of the fruit of the tree of life is a good thing, partaking of the fruit of the tree of life at the wrong time is not. The list goes on and on.

This is one of the piano lessons I have received. Every time I look at our beautiful piano I think of how wanting a new piano was a good thing, but purchasing a new piano at the wrong time has not been such a good thing.

I love my piano and I am grateful for it. It is a good thing too, because I have now had the privilege to take on several new piano students to help cover our last year of residency. ;) Oh well, I am truly grateful that the Lord is merciful and forgiving and that He always lovingly helps us to try again.