Thursday, June 8, 2017

dare to stand out

My Dear Little Missy Moo,

I didn't think clothes shopping for a two year old would be this hard! After all, you are TWO! Ruffles and dresses and frills and all things girly. But then summer hit. And it is hot outside. The playgrounds are hot. The air is hot. The sun is bright. And you just want to run and play and explore. You are a toddler and play is what you do best!

Truthfully, I'm in love with summer because I get to spend so much time with you and your best friend. No school. Instead we get to go exploring. And on field trips. And we especially get to play in parks.

All of the shorts you have barely cover your diaper. And not just from you growing. No. That is the design of the toddler shorts/ skirts. This was a problem. I started searching for longer ones. I wasn't concerned about modesty because after all, you are ONLY TWO! But I wanted your legs protected from the slide as you giggle down. I want your legs protected from the sun so you wouldn't have a sunburn and make you so uncomfortable to sit down. I also was hoping for something cooler than long pants while playing outside during summer.

After searching stores, thinking I was going to have to hem some long pants into shorts and finally (FINALLY!!!!) finding some longer shorts for you to wear, I realized this really is all about modesty. Choosing to dress modestly is a blessing and a gift to yourself. It protects you. I wanted your legs protected from the metal (or even plastic) slide. Heavenly Father wants you protected from the temptations of evil. And not that dressing immodestly means you are automatically evil or making poor choices. Wearing short shorts does not mean you are guaranteed a burn. It just means that you have one more layer of protection.

Dare to stand out. Even in a crowd when mini shorts and frilly tutus with nothing underneath are in. Be brave. Be bold. Be strong. Follow Christ. I know it takes time and effort to find clothes that fit. And I already totally get that you have really long legs (and fingers!!) and what might be modest on one may not be modest on another. But I promise you my dear Sweet Pea that the effort to find modest clothes will be returned hundred-fold in blessings. In strength. In protection.

This song sums up my feelings perfectly. I will. And I pray you will too!

I made my choice
You can mark this day  
The day I pledged to take his name  
I will be strong 
I will be brave 
Standing for him as I take my place 
I have felt the spirit burn truth in my heart 
It's in my heart  
I will stand I will not fall in a world that's weak I will be strong 
I'll be true I will chose his way yeah,  
I know what's right and I will not change 
In a world where so many will not, I will 

With love unending,

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Does the Flag Still Stand For Freedom?

To answer the question/ title of this blog post... honestly, I'm not so sure. Does the flag still stand for freedom? I want to believe it does. I hope it does. But part of me wonders.

The lyrics to "God Bless the U.S.A." have been swirling around in my head this week. Especially the phrase, "Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away." Monday night and Tuesday through out the election day, I constantly kept thinking of "the flag still stands for freedom." Despite how the election would go, that phrase was a comfort to me. I really did not see a favorable outcome of the election, but I was confident that life would go forward.

And truly it has.

Now. Allow me to insert this before I go on. I certainly do not intend to make this a mud-slinging post. Not at all. Nor a post to make known how I think people should have voted. No. We each should vote according to the dictates of our own conscience. And comments to this post will be moderated. So be warned.

Anyway, I keep thinking about the word freedom. Sadly, I think America as a whole gave up some of that freedom on election day. Not because of who won or lost the presidential candidacy but because how people chose to cast their vote.

My facebook feed exploded yesterday and even continues today with comments from friends voluntarily sharing how they chose to vote. Not who they voted for necessarily but why. And that why is what makes me believe that we gave up part of our freedom on that election day.

Generally speaking, the comments I keep reading are the people voted for their choice because they were afraid of the other major party candidate. Not because they believed in the person they were voting for or even because they agreed with the candidate. Simply the vote was cast because they were afraid of the other candidate.

It goes both ways. Some voted for Trump because they were afraid of Hillary's campaign. Some voted for Hillary because they were afraid of Trump's campaign.

Living in Utah, I have even read the comment of some voting for Trump because they were afraid that not enough people would stand behind Evan McMullin.

To vote with fear is when freedom is lost. 

I choose to stand with Evan McMullin and vote based on faith rather than fear. I'm disappointed he lost. Truthfully though, I did not think he would win. But I still choose to vote with faith. I'm not saying that everyone should have voted for him. No. I'm saying the country as a whole should have voted with faith not fear. I'm saying we should have used our freedom instead of simply casting it aside with fear.

I want to believe the flag still stands for freedom. However, my wishful thinking is not enough. I have to do something. We each have to do something. We need to take a stand. Let our voices be heard and stand up rather than shrink with fear. Each American needs to make the flag represent freedom in their own life. And as each person focuses on freedom and faith, it will trickle up to society as a whole.

We have a choice. A choice for freedom. Or a choice for fear.

And I choose freedom.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brownie Bribery

Mr. Devin has talked to me since the day he was born. He would just babble non-stop and now there are times if I'm lucky to say anything because he just keeps talking. Because of his constant mouth motion, it was surprising to me that he has extreme stage fright.

Earlier this summer was his first opportunity to give a talk in Primary. And it didn't go so well. He basically played with the cupboard doors behind the podium the entire time. If I could get him to say anything, he would drop the last syllable of the word and put an ee on the end. He reverts to this ee sound when he is nervous or being cute.

About a month and a half later, he was asked to say the prayer in sharing time. He prays all the time at home. All by himself. I thought he got this. But his prayer experience proved worse than the previous talk. He refused to say anything. No talking by himself. No repeating what I whisper in his ear. He would not fold his arms. Nothing. I just said the prayer for him so Primary could carry on.

Granted his Primary teachers tell me he talks in class. And participates. But sharing time.... Sharing time he is basically just warming the chair while listening. At least he is listening! Forget when he is asked to speak into the microphone, he really doesn't talk much at all with all the kids. He knows the words to EVERY single song they have learned. He sings them at home. But during sharing time, not so much. I'm sure hoping he will grow out of this. But I wasn't sure what to do with him until then. And what if he never learns to open his mouth in front of others--that is a life skill!

That brings us to today. He was asked to share the scripture. Given his past Primary speaking track record, I can already guess what would happen. I needed a plan. Something to convince him to open his mouth and speak the words correctly. No funny ee business. Just repeating after me.

I'm all for intrinsic rewards. Where the feeling of doing a good job and pleasing yourself are enough. But given the situation, extrinsic rewards (aka bribery) seemed like a better option. I'm not above bribery for the moment so hopefully he can have a good experience and eventually find the intrinsic value.

Before church I told Devin if he said his scripture, correctly and with his normal voice, he could have ice cream when we come home. We have tiny cups in the freezer that I can just grab one and give to him. But no. He didn't want ice cream. He wanted chocolately chocolate brownies. Alright. Fine. We can make brownies for the whole family if he shared the scripture. However, if he didn't then no one would get brownies.

As I dropped Devin off to Sunbeams, I told Devin that I would come back to help him with the scripture. I reminded him about the box of brownies we had at home and asked how he could earn them. He told me that he was going to share his scripture, talk into the microphone and use his normal voice.

Still not sure what to expect, I returned at the end of sharing time. We got up to read his scripture.

And this happened when we got home.

Brownie bribery at its finest my friends.

Did he pronounce everything correctly? No. Was he still nervous? YES! Did I have to remind him to not put the ee sound on the end? Yes.

But. BUT did he share his scripture? Yes. And could the other children understand him? Yes!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Feed 'Em When They're Hungry: Finances for the 4 year old

One time recently in Relief Society, a sister mentioned the quote, "feed 'em when they're hungry." I loved it when I first heard it and still love it today! I pretty sure it applies to way more than just food.
Listen when they talk
Answer when they ask
Teach when they hear
Teaching moments pop up all the time with my young Little Loves. But am I ready to act on it? To "feed them when they're hungry?" To share my testimony in the instant because they are asking?

We had one of those moments this morning. Devin wandered in my room, still groggy, to cuddle with me. "How did you sleep?" "How are you feeling?" The normal good morning chitchat.

Then Devin asked me if we could go buy the Paw Patrol truck today. 

Now let me explain what this even means.... Earlier this week, we were at Sam's Club and the "Christmas toys" were displayed. And yes Christmas is still a long ways off--tell that to the stores so my Little Loves won't ask to see the toys! Well we wandered up and down the toy aisles with the intent of not buying anything but rather to think about what the kids might want to ask Santa for Christmas. (Santa loves shopping at Sam's or Costco for Christmas toys!!)Well, we found a Paw Patrol truck.

And allow me just to say that both of my Little Loves are completely bedazzled by Paw Patrol. We do not have cable and so they only get to watch a few episodes that we own on DVD. But they are in love.

Back to the Paw Patrol truck. It was expensive. Like double the price of what Santa had in mind. I explained to Devin in the store that while Santa and the elves are magical and could make anything, we need to choose carefully what we ask for. Because the elves have to make toys for ALL the boys and girls and it wouldn't be very nice of him to ask for tons of toys or expensive ones because that means the elves wouldn't be able to make toys for everyone else. He bought my excuse.

But just because Devin realized that Santa may not be able to make him this expensive truck, does not mean that he let it go. He started begging me to just buy it for him. And to that I calmly told him that we have a budget as a family. And as fun as this toy looks, we can't afford it. I would not say that Devin ever dropped this but he did at least eventually move on.

Now fast forward to a day or two after the Paw Patrol truck at Sam's Club to just a couple days ago. I remembered that Casey and I were talking and praying about signing the kids up for a flu shot research study clinic. I had not talked to Devin about this yet. But Casey and I both felt like it would be fine if we choose to do it. This is a nicely paid research study. I had the idea to let Devin decide if he wanted to participate.

I explained that everyone was getting a flu shot. And shots hurt a little bit. But he had the option to participate in a flu shot study. I explained to him how the study would have to draw some blood and then he would have the shot. I didn't try to sugar coat the blood draw nor make it worse than it really is. I just told him the facts and yes it would hurt some. I then explained that the study is paid. And he would be able to purchase the Paw Patrol truck if he wanted. He thought about this long and hard. Was the little bit extra pain worth the money? He finally decided yes. And honestly this boy is now looking forward to getting his flu shot/ blood draw so he can earn money... a lot of money... enough to buy this overpriced Paw Patrol truck.

Back to this morning cuddling in bed. The first thing he asked me was if he could get his flu shot today. I told him we had to wait to schedule it and I didn't know for certain when that would be.

Then Devin asked me if we could go buy the Paw Patrol truck today. 

I realized this was a "teach when he will hear" type of a moment. So cuddled up in my bed, Devin learned about debt and what the Prophets and Apostles have said about it.

I also taught him how when you borrow money, you have to pay back interest. He had no idea what interest even meant. But he learned. We watched some kid friendly youtube videos about debt and interest. (That I googled right then on my phone....) I explained the videos to make sure he got it. If he were to borrow the money from us (or his grandparents) right now, he would have to pay back interest later. We talked about how if he does not have to pay back interest, he will be able to use his extra money to buy another Paw Patrol character to go in the truck. But if we bought the truck right now, then the interest he had to pay later would make it so he couldn't buy anything else.

Devin is four. And yes I was going to charge him interest. I let it be his decision after he understood the consequences for either choice.

He decided to wait.

So today he told me all about how he would play with it. And dreamed about owning it. And how he is so excited to get his flu shot.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Gummy Bear Behavior

One of the tricks packed away in the church bag for the Regional Broadcast was a package of gummy bears. First off, this is not something that we eat on a regular basis. And while fruit snacks are sort of similar, the novelty of gummy bears and me telling them it is candy, makes it exciting! These were special gummy bears that had to be earned. I explained that to Devin before we even left our home. The only way that he could eat the gummy bears was by good behavior.

The gummy bears only made their appearance twice during the whole meeting. After the intermediate song and again during the closing song. I'm sure the family sitting next to us thought we were crazy to be feeding our kids gummy bears during the closing song. After all, it is practically time to go home! Why on earth are we just now eating the gummy bears?!

For the first half, they earned one gummy bear for every talk that they were reverent for. And by reverent, I mean sitting and doing some activity that was in the reverent bag. We were not expecting silence or even watching the broadcast at this young of an age. The goal was so others around us could hear the broadcast and not be interrupted by our Little Loves AND for them to stay in the chapel. I passed out the gummy bears after we sang the song and then put them away.

The meeting continued. I heard bits and pieces. I certainly did not take notes and do not remember very much. The one impression that I made an effort to write down was not even really about the meeting but rather about being in the right place and doing the right thing regardless of how much I was hearing.

And then the closing song came. I certainly was not planning on letting my kids eat during the closing song. Actually, most of the time songs are when I take everything away. I figure the variety of the song is enough to engage their children. Because my goal for meetings is reverence--not being entertained. But I guess I had not really planned this far in advance. Devin wanted the rest of his gummy bears for good behavior.

Rather than tell him he had to wait until it was over, I just agreed. I figured it caused less commotion. And gave him his earned gummy bears for the number of talks. Well, he immediately wanted to give all of his gummy bears away to the boy sitting beside him. Melt my heart. I made the boy ask his dad first though because I had no idea if he was allergic to something in it. (My brain is now constantly thinking of allergies and ingredients!)

But the boy was allergy free. Devin handed over his hard earned gummy bears. He told me that the boy was being reverent too. Which was true! And with the two of them sitting together, I think they both earned the gummy bears. I gave Devin some more. And Heidi. Heidi also wanted to share her gummy bears with the boy because that's what Devin did. Alright. I gave up on counting the number of earned gummy bears and just gave them each some.

So instead of singing during the closing song, I'm passing out gummy bears and watching my Little Loves act Christlike by their selfless desire to share. Did I learn much from this meeting? No. But my heart was touched. And I'm grateful we were there... gummy bears and all!

DIY: Gospel Art Book PUZZLE

The Gospel Art Book is a fabulous resource. I love having church pictures all together that my Little Loves can look at. It is printed, bound and an affordable purchase.

But let's be honest. It takes my four year old maybe 2.5 minutes to look at it and get bored. If I tell him to turn the pages slowly, we can draw out the picture looking for maybe 4 minutes. Maybe. Somehow, I needed this book to engage him more so it could be his entertainment instead of me.

I was inspired by one of the numerous kid books we own. This was a "mix and match" book where the kids could purposefully make silly pictures and stories. Well, if that kept their tiny fingers turning pages and minds thinking, why not try something like that with the Gospel Art Book.

Attempt One: (Please note... learn from my mistake and DO NOT USE THIS METHOD) I took out the spiral binding and measured to exactly the third point and cut each picture myself. Then rather than rebind it, I placed it in a three prong folder. The idea was great but the use was terrible. I swear I cut them exactly on the line which I measured ever so carefully. However, it was not a perfect cut. And turning the pages would rip and brush against the others because it was not exact.

So I bought another book and went to Office Max. I explained what I wanted to have happened and how all the pages had to be cut precisely so they would turn easily. I had no idea if they would be able to cut the pages so exactly but I was hopeful! And it worked! They used a laser cutter to cut the entire book at once. I was charged around a dollar per cut!! Wahoo. I now had a puzzle book that only cost about $2 more than the regular book.

Reccomended Steps to Create a Gospel Art Puzzle
1. Purchase Gospel Art Book and take to office store
2. Carefully take out binding and keep the cover pages (so they are not cut)
3. Discard (optional) all the text at the front describing the pictures in different languages.

4. Do not cut picture one (Jesus). Instead, once I was home I trimmed off the border then glued it to the back of the front cover. This completely hides/ removes all the text.
5. Have the office store cut all the other pages into exactly thirds. Note: It doesn't have to be perfect as in the exact same size for each third (but I wanted it close) but rather precise with the cut.

6. Place the covers back on the book.
7. Insert the coil.

Tah-dah! A puzzle book for your own Little Loves!

Just a caution... the pages are much more fragile. My almost two year old is not allowed to play with this book yet....

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

You Can Do Hard Things

One of the best things we have done as parents was taking a "Love and Logic" class. Serious. Even better, we were able to take it together and it was free. I love free! But this is something I would be willing to pay big bucks for--it is that worthwhile!

Anyway, one of the things we learned was to not get into arguments with a child. Seems obvious. But at least for me it was not. Devin keeps asking questions to bug me or he tries to argue or whine or complain or beg. He knows it will get a reaction out of me and he wants that attention.

Love and Logic taught us to calmly repeat a short phrase in response to the child's grumblings... regardless of what they say. You just keep saying the same phrase (or mix it up with a few phrases), lovingly, back to them. The goal is to neutralize the arguments while remaining calm. It sounds crazy. But it works. And Devin now responds with, "I hate when you say that!" and drops it. Yes! Parenting win!

These are a few of my favorite phrases I use....
* That's so sad
* Ooooohhh (kind of like a sigh)
* Nice try
* I love you too much to argue
* What did I say?
And my very favorite... that was not learned from the class but rather something I say and realized it fit this argument stopper perfectly...
* You can do hard things

Most important! Remember when you speak any of these phrases, you have to do it calmly and lovingly. With a smile helps!

Let me give you a few examples of this in practice and then I will share my favorite phrase.
But I really want to watch Paw Patrol. (After I already told him no once.)
What did I say?
But Mom! Please! I will clean up my toys.
Nice try.
But I really want to watch it.
Nice try.
Please, please.
I love you too much to argue.
If Devin persists, I won't continue at this point. Instead he gets a count towards going to timeout. Honestly though, he normally drops it by the second or third whine. You can use the same phrase over and over. You can change it up. I do some of both.

Now for my *favorite* phrase in my mom toolbox.

Why do I love this phrase? You can do hard things. It builds his self confidence and I still do not engage in a battle. Here are some examples of what Devin would say when I would use this.
I can't do it. (Said as whiny as possible. You know the voice!) 
It's too hard.
I can't wait.
I don't get it.
I don't want to.
My feet hurt.
It's too heavy.
I'm too tired.
I think you get the picture. To all of these and countless others, I simply and sweetly respond with, "You can do hard things." I don't get into a debate about how he really can do it or it is not that heavy. I don't try and argue with him about how two minutes ago he was running around like crazy. No verbal battles on my part. Only confidence building assurance that he really can do it. And then normally he does it. He knows I believe in him and that gives him courage to try.

And you want to know. I use that phrase for myself as well. When I think of something I would rather not do. Or I'm tired and loosing my patience. I just tell myself, "You can do hard things." And set off on the doing rather than the dreading.

P.S. This skill takes forever to master. I still don't have it down. Sometimes Devin will sneakily engage me in a debate. It takes practice. And time. But try it and stick with it!!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Temple Attendance for the Youngest of Saints

Yesterday, Casey and I made the time to attend the temple together. Since moving, temple attendance and date night in general, is fairly sparse. So last night was a blessing! 

I excitedly printed some family names to do. Some of my own names! These people want their work done and were longing for it to happen. While I was printing off cards (because I forgot to print them at home), I was pondering how can I involve Devin in this sacred work? He is FOUR years old. Too young to actually attend the temple. Plus, he can't read so doing family history work is something he can only do if I sit there and tell him exactly what to click. But. I really wanted to let him participate because of the promised blessings.

"Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life? Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare their names for the sacred vicarious ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple and stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances.... I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in you life."  --Elder Richard G. Scott General Conference October 2012

This is exactly what I want for my Little Loves. It is a scary world out there. And the adversary is intense! I want them protected and to eliminate the influence.

Well, sitting by Devin and telling him exactly what to click seems like a start. He is participating in family history work, even if he doesn't entirely understand what he is doing. However, I wanted something more. Because he is so young, attending the temple is not an option yet. Only eight years to go. But I did not want to wait eight years for the blessing and protection. I want my Little Loves growing up with it, always.

While we were in the temple yesterday, the thought came to me that I can still take my children to the temple. Anyone can enter the lobby. And if I purposefully leave family name cards that we just completed, then Devin could ask a temple worker to go get them. He could help in the work by retrieving the cards of the completed ordinances. This is exactly what I want for my Little Loves. To instill in them a love for the temple at such a young age. This idea seemed perfect and was exactly what I was searching for.

As Devin was getting ready for bed, he was telling me that he wanted to go to the temple too. It was like he read my mind the entire time we were gone. I asked if he wanted to go on a date with me to the temple so he could get the family name cards. He loved the idea.

This morning, we both got ready in our church clothes. From FHE lessons, Devin understands that you need a temple recommend to go in. He took his "temple recommend" with and off we went.

Upon arriving at the temple, I explain to the sisters in the reception area what we were doing. I asked nicely if someone could go get my cards that we purposefully left here the night before. (Leaving Devin alone in the lobby was not an option.) The cards were intentionally left behind so Devin could have his own temple experience.

Gratefully the sisters were kind and graciously agreed. We sat down on one of the couches in the lobby and read through his Future Temple Recommend Quiet Book. We talked about the blessings that come from attending the temple and how we have to live worthy to enter. I explained how family history and temple work are connected. When the sister finally found my cards, she brought them to Devin and gave them to him. She talked to him for a minute about how he was doing family history work now too (by collecting the cards) and how families are eternal. Her sweet comments meant a lot and helped emphasize what I was teaching him.

It was a wonderful experience for both of us. I am determined to attend the temple monthly with my own family name so my Little Loves can attend as well.

Temple attendance for a four year old!
He took his recommend and we were able to pick up the cards.

So grateful that he already loves the temple so much!