Thursday, April 21, 2011


Having 5 kids this close together is not easy... but I'm sure learning a lot.  I've been blessed to be the mother of children with strong personalities.  Some days they get along great- but other times it seems like they argue constantly!  And it drives me crazy.  But - deep down- I'm grateful they're so strong.  It may be more difficult now to teach them how to control their emotions and their tongues- but strong-willed children turn into leaders with steadfast convictions- (if they don't kill each other first.) ;)  Thinking ahead- we'll have 5 teenagers under one roof at the same time, so I'm determined to teach them while they're young so those years will be bearable!

Sibling rivalry is natural for kids.  We believe children are innocent through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but “when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts” (Moses 6:55).  It's true that children can be delightful, loving, and sweet, but they can also be petty, selfish, and demanding.  And it's up to us as adults to teach them the way of the Lord.

I am so passionate about this.  Seriously- my greatest desire right now is to have a contention-free home.  Unrealistic?  Maybe- but I can still hope, right?  In fact, for every Christmas or Birthday or Mother's Day gift- when the kids ask me what I want, each time I say, "PEACE."

So yesterday when Jakey found out that Mother's day was coming up soon he looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and said,


"Mommy, for mudders day, "I'm gonna give yew peas." 

Hmm- this wasn't exactly what I had in mind!

When we allow contention in our homes, it negates everything we try to do as mothers.  We work so hard to create this warm and loving atmosphere.  We try to keep our homes clean and orderly and pleasant for those we love.  And we try to teach our children true principles and instill proper values in them.  But if the spirit of the Lord is not present- what's the point?  Without the spirit, our teaching does very little to help children.  The Holy Spirit is the great teacher.  The Holy Spirit carries truth to their hearts- and helps them develop their own testimony.  And our kids will need strong convictions about the truth as we send them off into the world.

We know something about where contention comes from...
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. (3 Nephi 11:29)
The adversary (Satan) wants to create discord in our homes.  He attempts to destroy the most precious of all relationships in an effort to make us miserable like himself.  And we are actually serving him when we argue!

Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, . . . he being an enemy to all righteousness (Mosiah 4:14).

Yeah- he may be trying to destroy my family.  But I will not give up this fight.  I am determined to teach my children to get along and love each other.
Thankfully we've been blessed with the ultimate parent how-to guide when problems arise.  The scriptures have the answers to all our parenting questions.  The Lord created our children.  He knows them better than we do and He knows how to help us reach them!  But it's up to us to turn to Him and ask for guidance- and recognize we can't do this alone.  He will lead us to the answers that He's already given us in His word.  There are thousands of parenting books out there- and many are wonderful.  But they have different philosophies- and often contradictory information based on the latest study.  And the recommendations often change with societal norms.  But we have a timeless parenting manual... and the author is God himself.  What a blessing!

In my experience, these are some principles that I have found to be true (Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way on most of these):

This DOES NOT work:

Lecturing/Nagging-  It belittles our children, sends the message that they can't think for themselves, and it rarely reaches their hearts.  Basically- it's ineffective.
And, ye afathers, bprovoke not your cchildren to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

This can also provoke children to feelings of anger and defensiveness.  But when we nurture them in the ways of the Lord and gently teach them- it allows the spirit to speak the truth to their hearts.

Yelling- The scriptures teach that a soft answer turneth away wrath.  (Proverbs 15:1)  It's hard to supress our own anger and frustration with our children- especially when they are disobedient and bickering.  But we are the adults, right?  They are looking to us to be the example.  I find that I must prepare myself each day spiritually- and take the time to be at peace within before my kids wake up.  That might include prayer and scripture study, uplifting music, exercise, or whatever I need to do to be the stable and calm mother my kids deserve.

Stepping in/ Being the judge-  As we try to determine who was the offender and who was right during an argument, it only seems to create jealousy and blaming and more rivalry among our children.  I think it's best to allow them the opportunity to work things out.  If we step in every time to solve all their problems, they'll never learn how to get along without us.

Punishments- only causes more friction in the home and often resentment toward the parent.
I love this scripture about parenting:
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood (or parenthood), only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
"By kindness, and pure knowledge
, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— D&C 121:41

This DOES work:  (Well, kids still have their choice of course, but these principles will give them the best chance of success!)

Example- As much as I'd love to leave this one off the list, I know how important this is.  When I'm stressed out or have a short temper, my children feel the tension and they often react accordingly.  It's actually a little scary to realize how much influence our attitude can have on them.  But we can choose to be a role model of positivity and love- despite our moods and/or circumstances.

Prevention:  When our family is consistently praying together, studying scriptures, and holding regular FHE (family home evening) there is much more peace in our home and our kids are much more likely to get along.  I know these practices foster unity among us, and increase the spirit of reverence in our home.

I also love this promise from Marion G. Romney (a former church leader):

“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein.
“The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase.
“Faith, hope, and charity – the pure love of Christ – will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness".
Another practical tip about prevention- We need to be aware of when and what our kids argue about, and try to find ways around it.  For example, we used to have plates for the kids in all different colors.  For some reason everyone wanted the green one.  (Don't ask me why)  And they would argue over it almost every time we had dinner.  So I got sick of it- so I gave those away- and bought all white bowls.  Also each kid has an assigned seats, and their own day to say the prayer, etc- you get the idea.  In other words- we can look for simple solutions to prevent contention in our homes.

Look for the Good!-  It's so important to catch our kids getting along with each other.  Notice it- and reinforce that behavior with praise, affection, and other rewards.

Teach them to apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ-   This is not the same as preaching.  We need to help them understand the effect of their behavior on others.  We can teach them about Christ and His life of love and sacrifice.  We can teach them about repentance, and the importance of prayer.  One idea is to pray with our children- individually.  Recently, the kids were fighting over a toy, and one of them lashed out and was really upset.  So I took him to another room to pray.  Just him and me.  I asked him to offer the prayer- he didn't want to, but I waited on my knees until he offered it.  Finally, his heart softened, he repented, and love and unity was restored.

Love and Serve one another-

But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. (Mosiah 4:15.)
One idea to break up an argument- a friend told me when they started quarreling, their parents made them hold hands and sing "Love at Home" or another church song.  She said they couldn't help but laugh- and it immediately dispelled the negativity and helped them feel close again.  Love that!

Here's another idea- Give them all cut-out hearts and have them do a chore, or write a note, or any kind act of service for someone in the family and leave the heart behind as a token of their love.

We did this recently- Celeste made Benny's bed and left her heart on his pillow.  Charity set the table, and I woke up to find this note from Benny on my computer... 

So maybe they really are learning something. 
My hope is that these teachings will sink into their hearts-
so we can live in Peas. Peace.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Camping Traditions

We went camping this weekend! Mr. Wonderful has been working seriously ridiculous hours lately- we hardly see him these days. So this was a much needed opportunity to reconnect and have some down-time as a family. It has become a family tradition to go camping together for General Conference. What's general conference? Well- the short answer- we believe we have a prophet and 12 apostles on the earth right now- just like Christ's original church. That's why we call our church the "restored" gospel of Jesus Christ. These inspired leaders give the entire church (over 14 million baptized members) timely and inspiring messages twice a year. The sessions are broadcast worldwide to anyone who wants to listen and learn. There are video an audio streams available online, so we cuddled up in the camper and got to learn together. Each session leaves me feeling so uplifted- and hopeful about life... hardships and all. So not only did we get to rejuvinate and have a little rest and relaxation this weekend- we also had the opportunity to grow spiritually as well.

Here are a few pics of our adventures- (and I'm excited to share a new camping treat idea with you below!)

The kids all decked out in our camo. One of our wacky family traditions!

This awesome campground had a trampoline-like bouncy thing, and the kids could not get enough of it. Notice little Jakey in the background flying a kite by himself...

They literally spent HOURS on this thing!

But the kids weren't the only ones having fun!

Daddy played this fun game with the kids. He'd jump as high as he could...

And send them all flying! They loved it!!

My camping cuties...

One advantage of going camping this time of year- we basically had the entire campground to ourselves! Usually I'm hyper concerned about the noise level- constantly shushing the kids so we don't disturb people. But this time- we could fully relax and just enjoy our time together. We played, and played, and played some more- soccer, ping-pong, playground games, tetherball, freeze tag, etc.

And here we are really roughin it... we actually ordered PIZZA for dinner! I know- aren't we the most pathetic campers ever?! Haha! But, I had a craving. (And I'm not a fan of hot dogs.)

And the kids weren't interested in s'more s'mores this time. I think they're getting sick of them. (And I'm sick of cleaning up sticky marshmallows all over their hands and clothes.) So the second night we tried something different- and started a new family camping tradition.

I'd love to share it with you! You only need a few ingredients:

Take a small (empty) can and put a roasting stick through it so it's secure. Then wrap 1/2 of the crescent roll dough around the bottom- making sure to seal the sides.

Then roast over the fire- it takes about 5 minutes to cook thoroughly.

Spoon- fill with whatever kind of pie filling flavor you prefer.

And finish it off with lots of whipped topping! (Each crescent roll tube makes about 5-6 treats).


What a wonderful weekend away. The best part about playing hard- is crashing hard. We somehow all sleep better when we go camping.

Here's little Jarom... all camped out! Till next time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The thing about stuff

So Nana and Papa sent another box for the kids yesterday.  As if they don't have enough going on- to take the time to do this for our kids every MONTH is seriously amazing.  They send all sorts of fun surprises that go along with the theme or holiday for that month.  And lots of treats. (Which is part of the reason I'm struggling to get the rest of this baby weight off... not that I'm complaining. :))
One thing I really appreciate-- aside from a couple special toys for the kids, they're really good about sending consumable gifts (candy, treats, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, coloring books more TREATS, etc).  Cause with 5 little ones- STUFF can pile up so quickly.  Over the years, I have become the opposite of a hoarder.  Jon is a bit of a pack-rat- so we have had a few "discussions" about this issue.  But I truly believe one of the keys to a happy family is a simple life. There's too much presure in our society to overschedule our families, spend too much time outside the home, and own too much stuff.

I have such strong feelings about this- our time as mothers with our children is so limited anyway- I don't want to waste the precious time I do have cleaning, organizing, maintaining, and being distracted by unnecessary STUFF!  I'm not going to allow anyTHING to rob us of that quality time.  Building relationships is much more fulfilling and purposeful than accumulating things anyway.  I am fiercely protective of my time with my family.  Probably even a little on the extreme side- but I've lived both ways- and I MUCH prefer a well-organized home.  But it takes serious work to make and keep it that way. 

These are a few family systems to keep the stuff from taking over our lives:

  • "one toy in- one toy out" rule.  Our kids aren't exactly a fan of this rule as you can imagine- but they'll thank me someday.  It gives them a chance to give something they value to other children who might need it more than they do.  
  • I once heard a simple rule when deciding to get rid of something.  If it doesn't beautify or hasn't been used for over a year... donate it.  And if you think you might need it, but aren't really sure- donate it!
  • There is a permanent donation bin in our entryway closet, where we see it every day.  This serves as a reminder to fill it regularly- at least once a month.
  • What about those special childhood items?  One idea is take a picture of it- and then... you guessed it... donate it!  A picture allows you to preserve the memory- without having to store, clean, and maintain it.
Now before it sounds like I've got this all down- admittedly, I have a serious weakness with my closet.  I can't seem to give away my "thin" clothes.  But I'm ok with that.  I refuse to give up the fight to get my old body back!  So my plan is to drop the rest of this weight- and then get rid of my "fat" clothes instead.  And never go back.  But these packages loaded with treats (like my fave- Cadbury Eggs) are making my plan unlikely!

But I digress.  So here are a few pics of the surprise package:

Ha- Celeste gets pretty animated about things!
"Anything in there for me, guys?"
He got lots of presents too, but he liked the box the most!

So the kids had a blast with their all new (mostly consumable) activites. 

But baby Jarom was happy consuming the box. :)


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