Saturday, December 8, 2012

Proud to be a Housewife!

From the wonderful Tasha Tudor:

"I enjoy doing housework; ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionnaires and they ask, 'What is your profession?' I always put down 'housewife.' It's an admirable profession-- why apologize for it? You aren't stupid because you're a housewife. When you're stirring the jam, you can read Shakespeare."
{For more of Mrs. Tudor's wonderful quotes, artwork, and inspiration, see her lovely website here.}


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The True Message of Christmas

I am sorry for my absence-- I have simply been adjusting to life with a new baby and new seasons of life as my oldest children begin making plans to leave home.

I do want to wish my readers a VERY Merry Christmas by sharing this beautiful video. I am so grateful to a mericful Father in Heaven for the gift of His perfect Son.

Merry Christmas!



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our New Arrival

Davydd Aldie was born on the morning of Wednesday, October 17, 2012. He was 7lbs. 6oz. and measured 21 inches long. We are enjoying this precious time as a family getting to know him.

Thank you for all the well-wishes!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Protect the Children"

Here is the amazing talk I promised to share with you. Children truly are "an heritage of the Lord," and as the Savior said we will be accountable for how we-- individually and as a society-- treat them.

I hope you enjoy this important message as much as I do!


P.S.-- Still waiting for my own little bundle of joy to arrive!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Today is the first day of my church's semi-annual General Conference. I am so grateful that my church leaders stand up and speak for the importance of families and children!!!

As an example, here's a picture showing a quote from one of the talks we heard this afternoon:

Tomorrow I will post a link to where you can listen to his wonderful talk in its entirety.

"Children are an heritage of the Lord."


Monday, September 24, 2012

It's great, except for...

Image courtesy of The New Era LDS magazine
(The text from the image says "It's GREAT except for... except for the bad parts. What kinds of movies and music are you feeding your mind?")

MANY years ago, my husband and I decided to get rid of our television. And though it's made its way back on occasion, for the most part, we have only watched videos or shows online for more than a decade.

Once in a while, we will find a show that we think has promise. And so, we will watch it online, making it a special occasion. (Most of which are BBC produced shows, interestingly enough.) And if they uplift and inspire in meaningful ways, we will buy them on DVD or iTunes. We can learn good lessons from them, and they are worth seeing again and again-- they are classics for our family.

Some of our favorites that have been worth buying are "Larkrise to Candleford," "19 Kids and Counting," "Cranford" and "Victorian Farm." 

But often, we will begin a series, and after a while, the new episodes add in some language, some gore and violence, then sexual innuendo and nudity. It's so disappointing! The first few episodes are completely without objection! They are clean as well as entertaining. When they devolve into filth, it reminds me why we removed the television from our home in the first place.

So why does this happen? I often wonder if the television producers try and suck people into their shows by making the first few episodes family friendly-- OR if they add the filth in to try and garner more ratings later on.

I was going to mention some of the series we've abandoned, but then I decided that the purpose of this article is not to call out certain shows-- as much as I'd like to! 

My purpose in writing this today is to declare that it's the right thing to turn off a show, even in the middle of an exciting episode. It's a good thing to stop watching something you once loved, even if most of the shows in the series are "fine.

The most important thing we can do in this crazy world of ours is to have the Holy Spirit to be with us. And if we offend the Holy Ghost by the entertainment we watch, the Spirit WILL leave. 

We have to each decide if the entertainment we watch is worth losing that protection.

Just something to think about,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Quick Pregnancy Update

"Woman Holding Balance" by Vermeer

I am now 37 and 1/2 weeks along, and am now fully entrenched in the last month of aches and pains, waiting and watching, sitting and sleeping...

It's a real blessing that we forget what that last month is like before we have another baby!

Thanks to all that the last month brings, I may even be ready to go through giving birth when the time comes...


Your gestating friend,

Friday, August 17, 2012

To Young Ladies of Age to Marry (Part One)

"Don't let this choice [of a marriage partner] ever be made except with earnest, searching, prayerful consideration, confiding in parents, [and] in faithful, mature, trustworthy friends." ~Elder Richard L. Evans 
Lately I've been thinking about the days of my "maidenhood"-- the time before I met and married my eternal companion. I'm sure part of the reason is because my eldest daughter is now older than I was when I wed, and also because my husband and I just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. I also know and love several young ladies that used to be in my Shakespeare classes that are now coming of age, spreading their wings and teetering on the edges of their future lives. 

What will they do? Who will they choose to have as their partners in life? Where will their choices take them? 

All these questions and more are on my mind, and so I feel compelled to record what I would say about choosing a mate to all the young ladies I know and love. I hope my daughters and friends will read this post and feel the love that their sisters, mentors, and mothers feel for them. May the Lord inspire and strengthen you through this time of hope and transition to adulthood. More than anything else I wish to say, never forget that YOU ARE LOVED!

"In making a decision as momentous as whom you will marry, I suggest you seek the help of your parents. Take the time to confide in them, for they will not leave you nor forsake you. They love you dearly and want for a precious daughter or stalwart son the best in life and the ultimate promises of eternity."
"Of course our Heavenly Father will also bless you and guide you in your decision and in making other decisions throughout your life. You have a formula, a guide, to assist you. It is found in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8–9 : “You must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right."
“'But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought.' That counsel from the Doctrine and Covenants has directed me, and it will direct you." ~Thomas S. Monson, "Whom Shall I Marry?"

Making A List

Back in the age of the dinosaurs, I was a young woman who attended a local Especially for Youth (EFY) one weekend while visiting my aunt. I was fourteen and excited to be spending time visiting family in a different state. It was the first time I had been far away from home without my parents, and I was determined to have a wonderful time. Everything about the weekend had been wonderful, all the speakers, the friendly youth, and the dance. But there is only one thing I still remember that weekend that effected me for many years.

One of the classes was about making a list of traits we wanted in an eternal mate. And so I sat down with the rest of the youth and made my list for the first time. Over the years, I added things and took a few silly things off the list, all while wondering and praying for my future husband. Who would he be? Did I know him even now? I prayed that he would be worthy, kind, and spiritually strong. I prayed that he would go on a mission and be worthy to take me to the temple to be sealed to him for time and all eternity.
"When choosing a spouse, they should have the following: ' a deep love of the Lord and of His commandments, a determination to live them, one that is kindly understanding, firgiving of others, and willing to give of self, with the desire to have a family crowned with beautiful children and a commitment to teach them the principles of truth in the home. When  you are choosing your companion, make sure that noth of you have a desire for a celestial marriage relationship, a desire to have a companion for eternity, a desire to have a family for eternbity, and a desire to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father.'"                                            ~Elder Robert D. Hales, A Little Heaven on Earth
"...when choosing an eternal companion, we do not present a list of names to the Lord and ask him to decide. Instead, we exercise our agency by participating in dating experiences. We get to know the other person's inner attitudes and outward behavior. Then we make a decision and take it to the Lord." ~Elder Robert D. Hales, Ten Axioms to Guide Your Life

Improving Ourselves

As I grew in age and maturity, I came to realize that the list I had made was not just about the attributes my future husband should have, it was also a list of the attributes I should have. And I began to ponder on what kind of a mate I would be to the worthy young man I was dreaming of.
"Be worthy of the mate you choose. ... This will be the most important decision of your life, the individual whom you marry." ~President Gordon B. Hinckley
"A marriage partnership is not a crutch. You do not marry somebody you think is a little higher than the angels and then lean on that person. Rather, you develop yourself and your own gifts and talents. As you develop, you grow together, supporting and strengthening one another." ~Elder Robert D. Hales, A Little Heaven on Earth        
"As you strive to become a quality person, commune daily with your Heavenly Father who knows you best of all. He knows your talents, your strengths, and your weaknesses. You are here on the earth at this time to develop and refine these characteristics. I promise you He will help you. He is aware of your needs. He is aware of your unanswered prayers."            ~Marvin J. Ashton, "Be a Quality Person" 

Choice vs. Destiny

Choosing an eternal companion is one of the most important decisions we can make in this life! It is not something we should do casually or lightly.

President Kimball, in "Oneness in Marriage" made this important statement:
"In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all the decision, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as hearts."
As romantic and enchanting as it may sound to "find the one" made for us, our soul mate, our "perfect match," as I quoted above, we know that the Lord wants us to choose for ourselves, then seek His approval through prayer. President Kimball bluntly states:
"'Soul mates' are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price."

As the mother of seven daughters, and four sons, I have a lot to say on this subject, so I have decided to make this a series. Check back soon for Part Two!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Once Upon Time...

...Twenty years ago TODAY, a handsome young man... 

... took a young lady... the Lord's Holy Temple...

...where they were sealed...

... for Time and All Eternity!

 Happy twentieth anniversary, dear Russell. I am so grateful for every moment of that day with you...

... and of every day since!

Love always,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Purpose of Motherhood

A mother taking a moment from doing her laundry by hand to love and comfort her child.

“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?” ~Neal A. Maxwell
Yesterday I had a lengthy conversation with a sweet lady I love dearly. Like me, she is a mother of many, and like all of us have from time to time, she was having a difficult time emotionally.

She pleaded with me to know what the meaning of motherhood IS. What is the point? Why do our children, our homes, our husbands NEED us? Do they really? Are we doing them any good? Are mothers actually necessary???

Her questions caught me off guard, mostly because I feel so passionately about the subject, and also because there was so much I wanted to say. In a moment, in that instant, how could I convey all that I feel and know about the divinity of motherhood?

After an afternoon, evening, and night of pondering and rolling her questions over in my mind, I feel I can now better share my heart and convictions on the subject.

More than Bearing Children

"Women for the most part see their greatest fulfillment, their greatest happiness in home and family. God planted within women something divine that expresses itself in quiet strength, in refinement, in peace, in goodness, in virtue, in truth, in love. And all of these remarkable qualities find their truest and most satisfying expression in motherhood."

"Said Thomas Wolfe: 'There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful women in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.' Or, to which I might add, cuddling a baby, or leading a child in prayer, or counseling a strong young son or daughter, or comforting a tired companion." ~Gordon B. Hinckley
My friend has reached the end of her baby-bearing years. Like so many other mothers of large families-- me included-- she is feeling that giving children life is a huge part of her purpose as a mother. And now that is all over. She is not having more babies, and she is left wondering what there is to motherhood beyond that.

But motherhood is more than bearing children. While the sacrifices we make to bring children into the world are sacred and humbling, the days beyond are where the true journey of courage and sanctification live. 

When we wake up every morning to face a new day as Mother, we know we will be confronting messes, arguments, projects, crying, hungry mouths, and dirty faces. To many, this work has been labeled as menial, full of drudgery and unimportant. But it is the stuff of life! I know there are times when it feels overwhelming, even impossible to go on, but this process of serving in the most humble way is where the divinity of motherhood is created and refined-- day in, day out. Over and over again.

Elder James E. Faust reinforced this truth beautifully when he said:
"Do not be deceived in your quest to find happiness and an identity of your own. Entreating voices may tell you that what you have seen your mothers and grandmothers do is old-fashioned, unchallenging, boring, and drudgery. It may have been old-fashioned and perhaps routine; at times it was drudgery. But your mothers and grandmothers have sung a song that expressed the highest love and the noblest of womanly feelings. They have been our nurturers and our teachers. They have sanctified the work, transforming drudgery into the noblest enterprises."

"Homemaking is whatever you make of it. Every day brings satisfaction along with some work which may be frustrating, routine, and unchallenging. But it is the same in the law office, the dispensary, the laboratory, or the store. There is, however, no more important job than homemaking. As C. S. Lewis said, 'A housewife’s work … is the one for which all others exist.'"
Did you hear what he is saying here? Housework, homemaking-- whatever you want to call it-- is inextricably connected to the divine purpose of motherhood.

This statement may shock some, and anger others. We live in a world that has turned serving our families in our homes into the lowest of the low, the untouchable, the most wretched work anyone must do.
"Homemaking skills are becoming a lost art. I worry about this. When we lose the homemakers in a society, we create an emotional homelessness much like street homelessness, with similar problems of despair, drugs, immorality, and lack of self-worth. In a publication called The Family in America, Bryce Christensen writes that the number of homeless people on the street 'does not begin to reveal the scope of homelessness in America. For since when did the word home signify merely physical shelter, or homelessness merely the lack of such shelter? … Home [signifies] not only shelter, but also emotional commitment, security, and belonging. Home has connoted not just a necessary roof and warm radiator, but a place sanctified by the abiding ties of wedlock, parenthood, and family obligation; a place demanding sacrifice and devotion, but promising loving care and warm acceptance.'" ~Susan W. Tanner
There are voices all around us, shrilly insisting that the menial work of home and family are the least important work a woman can do. But with all the conviction I have within me, I declare and testify that the work of motherhood is the highest, noblest, most important and crucial work that can ever be done, any time, any where. There is no mission higher, no calling greater, no ambition more noble than that of a mother who sacrifices and serves her family, day in, day out. 

No one anywhere needs us more than our children and husbands do! As Elder Richard G. Scott stated:

"The vital importance of teaching truth in the home is fundamental. The Church is important, but it is in the home where parents provide the required understanding and direction for children. It is truly said that the most important callings in time and eternity are those of father and mother. In time we will be released from all other assignments we receive but not from that of father and mother."

So what do we do when we're feeling worthless, depressed, overwhelmed, and defeated? As President Gordon B. Hinckley's father once told Him, "Forget yourself and go to work." One of the best cures I have found in my own life is to pull myself up and do some routine, menial work. The idea of drudgery is the intimidating thing! But when we get up and go to work to help someone else, we come away revitalized, renewed-- even full of purpose and energy.

But there is a caution to be given with this answer: it's also all in the attitude. The Savior never indulged in feelings of martyrdom, and neither should we! When we begrudgingly do housework, we are not serving our family. We are serving our own selfish needs to justify our anger and get everyone to feel sorry for us. But it does not work to make us feel better, nor for our family to appreciate us! Our efforts should be selfLESS, not selfish in nature. We only turn the cure to our unhappiness to poison when we work with an embittered heart.

If the idea of cleaning or working on housework makes you want to crumple up into a ball, and it's just something you can't make yourself do in that moment, then gather up your little ones into your lap and read them a small book. Or call a friend, a sister, or an aunt or your mother. Work on a project that you've been procrastinating. Go on a date with your husband. Most of all, PRAY for help, strength and renewal to do the ONE THING that the Lord would have you do in that moment of despair. Just DON'T give up!

Mothers Are Divinely Called

"Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is 'as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.'" ~Sheri L. Dew 
Our children, no matter the age, learn from their parents what adults, mothers, fathers, and families do and should be. We don't simply teach our children how to successfully become adults by what we say, but the more powerful lesson comes from what we DO. Their eyes are always watching, their ears are always listening. The impact of how we live says far more than any lecture or lesson ever could.
"Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security, her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world." ~David O. McKay  
Our daughters need mothers so that they can know how to be wives, homemakers, and mothers someday. Our sons need mothers in order to learn how to honor, protect, and love women. And most of all, children need mothers to lead them to Christ. With our selfless love and devotion to home and family, we are showing our children how Christ loves and serves all of us. 
We can give our children education, lessons, athletics, the arts, and material possessions, but if we do not give them faith in Christ, we have given little." ~Kevin W. Pearson
What we do every day is written into the hearts, souls and minds of our children. This is a daunting realization for any mother! I don't know any woman who is perfect, however. But when we have the conviction in our hearts that our efforts are supported and sanctified by God, we can begin to see the importance of our work as mothers. The Lord will NOT leave us alone in this noblest of causes! He sent us our children so that we could lead them back to Him.
Every mother should endeavor to be a true artist. I do not mean by this that every woman should be a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, or writer, but the artist who will write on the table of childish innocence thoughts she will not blush to see read in the light of eternity and printed amid the archives of heaven, that the young may learn to wear them as amulets around their hearts and throw them as bulwarks around their lives, and that in the hour of temptation and trial the voices from home may linger around their paths as angels of guidance, around their steps, and be incentives to deeds of high and holy worth.” ~Francis E. W. Harper 

Serving As Christ Served 

The Savior never put himself above others. He lead with love, always thinking of others before He thought of His own needs or desires. He washed the feet of His apostles, left His mourning to teach a crowd of thousands, relieved and blessed the fishermen who had been working all night without a catch. 

Even as He hung on the cross, dying, fulfilling the ultimate moment of His divine mission on earth, He was concerned about the welfare of His mother. Indeed, He even took a moment as He hung in agony to plead with God for the forgiveness of the soldiers who had lifted Him on the cross.

The selfless work we do in our homes is a blessed opportunity to serve as Christ Himself served. There will never be fanfare, applause, monetary compensation, awards, or accolades for the work we perform in our homes. But the true rewards of motherhood lie in the hearts of our children, grandchild, and posterity for eternity. Every diaper we change, every mess we clean, every late night talk we participate in is recorded for all of heaven to see. And as we serve, we become closer to God, refined and sanctified by His work.
"And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better." ~D&C 25:10 (the Lord is speaking to Emma Smith) 
As mothers, we are partners with God in bringing His children unto Him. There is no greater mission, no greater call, nothing more noble. And as mothers, we have more influence among the children in our own homes than we can have among anyone else. The impact of a mother in the home is immense, even though it may appear insignificant to the world. But to God and His plan for His children, it is an important key to His mission and purpose to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
 “God has implanted deep in the souls of parents the truth that they cannot with impunity shirk the responsibility to protect childhood and youth. There seems to be a growing tendency to shift this responsibility from the home to outside influences, such as the school and the church. Important as these outward influences are, they never can take the place of the influence of the mother and the father.” ~David O. McKay
No one else can do the work that God has called us to do in our own homes, among our own families. Our divine mission as mothers must stand as the highest of our purposes and priorities. It is the most important mission ANY woman can fulfill, and any others pale in comparison and impact. If there are ANY other missions, purposes, careers, or hobbies that are pulling us away from the divine work of motherhood, we need to put them in their proper places in our lives

I testify this is true, in the name of our perfect example, Jesus Christ. Amen.
"God bless you, mothers. When all the victories and defeats of men's efforts are tallied, when the dust of life's battles begins to settle, when all for which we labor so hard in this world of conquest fades before our eyes, you will be there, you must be there, as the strength for a new generation, the ever-improving onward movement of the race." ~Gordon B. Hinckley

For more reading on this important topic, please see the links below:

There are also several more offerings of my own here on this blog under the subjects of "Motherhood" , "Manifesto", or "Mission" or at the tab labeled "Happy Mothers". 

With love,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Homemade Zucchini Hot Dog Relish

Newly canned, ready-to-seal, Zucchini Hot Dog Relish (2009)

 I am so grateful for the legacy and art of food preservation that my mother taught me. I don't do it nearly as much as I should-- or would like to-- but my husband and I love this delicious zucchini hot dog relish my mother used to make when I was a girl. 

It tastes like nothing else out there, so when my husband saw zucchini on sale when we went shopping last weekend, he asked me to PLEASE can him some, since we're all out.

(In case this relish sounds familiar, yes, I have posted the recipe before, back in August 2009, here.)

So guess what I'm doing today? I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family has over the years.

De-lish Zucchini Hot Dog Relish 

10 cups of peeled and grated uncooked zucchini 
4 cups of ground onions (grind in a food processor or blender) 
4 large green peppers, grated 
1/4 CUP salt 

1) Combine the above together in a large pot, and let it stand, covered, overnight. 

2) In the morning, drain, rinse, and set it aside. 

3) Then add: 
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar 
  • 3 cups of sugar  (or honey or agave)
  • 1 tea. cornstarch 
  • 1 tea. turmeric powder 
  • 1 tea. ground nutmeg 
  • 2 tsp. celery seed 
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 
4) Wash the canning jars in the dishwasher (or by hand in HOT water) to get them warm.
5) Simmer for 20 minutes on low. (The smell during this step is divine!)
6) While the relish is simmering, soften jar lids in a small amount of water boiling on the stove.
7) Then place relish in hot glass pint jars and place a hot lid on each, and screw the jar rings on.
8) Set the jars aside on a towel to sit and seal for 24 hours. Check to make sure the lids are sealed before storing.

Makes 6 and 3/4 pint jars. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ladies of Liberty

"The manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable, in a nation or not. The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Swiss, the Dutch, all lost their public spirit, their republican principles and habits, and their republican forms of government, when they lost the modesty and domestic virtues of their women." 
~John Adams 

Ladies, there is MUCH we can do to keep this blessed freedoms alive. Are we doing it?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Scheduling in a "Relaxed" Home Culture

The Garden Bench by Tissot

This post was originally published at Latter-Day Homeshooling on August 5, 2011.  In order to better view the charts below, right click on the image and select "Open link in a new tab." 

PLEASE NOTE: You are welcome to print all the charts below for your own personal, non-commercial use. :-)

I am not a "scheduler." In fact, I totally rebel against schedules-- even when I make them! I've continually looked to outside sources to "fix" me, including great programs like this. But I like to be spontaneous! I like to switch things around randomly. And I like to go with the flow of my children's interests, so I NEED more flexibility in my home.

One day, I decided to simply accept myself and my family as we are, and workwith my natural tendency to work on a relaxed, unstructured-- uh, structure. *grin*

Something I learned from the "Managers of their Homes" program, was to split up the hours of the day into three separate charts. So I sat down and made a list of the things that we need to do during each part of the day, and then I made a chart for each. This way, we have a goal for what needs to get done, but we are not restricted by my inaccurate time estimates.  

Morning is from rising to 11-ish, Midday is from around 11am to 5pm, and Evening is from 5pm to bedtime.

See the chart below to see what we work to accomplish in the Morning.:

And here's what we work on through Midday.:

Here's how our Evenings work. (Please note that each of the activities listed under "Inspiration Time" are not done EVERY night. They simply include the things that happen through the week.):

I am a believer that scheduling IS important. but I am also finding that if I want to truly succeed, I need to work with my personality, and make sure that our schedule is working with our family rhythms, and not against them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Motherly Intuition

This post was originally published at Latter-Day Homeschooling on April 5, 2012.
"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."~Washington Irving
A couple of months ago, one of my little ones was feeling pretty sick. As I rushed around to make her more comfortable, I felt quiet ideas come to my mind quickly and clearly. I was reminded of my own sweet mother and how she seemed to know exactly what I needed when I was sick or troubled. She always seemed to say the right words and do the most comforting things. And I pondered how I, too, instinctively know just what to do when my children are ill or upset.

I could easily attribute my
inspired thoughts to all my past experience. I am a mother of many, after all. But that doesn't come near explaining why this intuition has been with me ever since that first baby was born eighteen years ago. Granted, I have made some pretty stellar mistakes, but those seem to happen only when I ignore that still, small voice that fills my mind with thoughts and ideas I know are not my own.

I'd like to share an example from when I was a young mother with three little kids, one girl and two little boys, close in age. I believe they were five, three and two years old at the time. They all slept in a large room together-- the nursery. I had an evening routine where I would help them say their prayers and then tuck them into bed every night singing them lullabies until they drifted off to sleep.

My three year old son had a habit that I was trying to "help" him grow out of. He still insisted on drinking a sippy cup full of milk at bedtime. I had decided that he was too old for this habit, and I was happy when one night he couldn't find his cup. Secretly I was relieved!

I remember thinking to myself, Ha! Now maybe this will force him into giving up his silly cup!

As I helped my tiny son lisp his sweet prayer, he pleaded with the Lord to help him find his cup. I admit that I mentally rolled my eyes when he prayed to find it. I wanted it to stay nice and lost!

After tucking my babies in bed, I began to quietly sing to them. And as I sang, a crystal clear thought came into my heart.

"Check in his drawer."

I could see it plainly in my mind's eye.

No, no. I did NOT want him to have that cup! I was sure his little nighttime habit needed to disappear. That cup was not so important. He could go to sleep without it.

"He needs to learn this lesson. He needs to know that I will answer him when he asks."


I stopped singing and walked over to the drawer I knew it would be in. And as I opened it, there the cup lay, ready and waiting for my sweet son.

In that moment, I also learned many important lessons that have carried me through my parenting experiences. I learned that our all-powerful Father in Heaven hears and cares about the concerns of even the most small and simple of us.

I also learned that as a mother, I am a living, present tool in God's hands. Simply because the Lord has sent children to my home, He also gives me daily, hourly inspiration I will need to raise them. It's all part of the magic and mystery of motherhood.

It is humbling and a bit daunting to realize how close to God we need to be in order to mother our children. And yet, how comforting it is to realize that we have such divine, omniscient help available to us whenever we need it.

How grateful I am for motherly intuition.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Noble Fatherhood


Today I am so grateful for my loving Daddy, for my inspiring grandfathers, and for the wonderful father of my children.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Big Families

Our Family, December 2010

Probably because I am 24 weeks along with baby #12, and also because it's my baby's 2nd birthday today (Happy Birthday, sweet Eryn Mildred!), I've been thinking a lot lately about big families-- and why I've chosen to have one. It's not a choice that many make-- and in this day and age of rising infertility, it's a choice that some can't make. 

There are many women I love dearly who have wanted children, who would have welcomed big families, and yet the expected babies never come. This breaks my heart! I don't understand why I have been blessed with so many, while other's arms ache for more children. But I do know that God has a plan for each and every one of us. And He will let us know His will in all things. 

Which brings me to reason #1 of why I have a large family...

1. Each child was sent to my home because the Lord inspired me to have another baby.

Even though many might think that I am just ignorant ("Don't you know what causes that?!") or careless, I can assure you that I did not get married with the idea that I wanted, or would have, a dozen children. I have always had the conviction, however, that God's plans are flawless-- that He can see and understand things I cannot comprehend right now. And so when He prompts me that something would be best for me, I try and do it.

I am NOT perfect at this! As any of my long-time readers can attest, there have been times when I have been less than excited about having another baby. There have been tears and rebellious moments. But, luckily, the Lord is merciful and patient. He has dried my tears and given me the strength to face the unknown, the unusual.

Each one of my pregnancies and children has taught me, challenged me, and shaped who I am. The Lord really DOES know what He is doing. Trusting His plan for my life has been the best thing I've ever done.

2. I love and adore people!

I get excited just thinking about how unique and individual each one of my kids are. They are such amazing people to know! I am so humbled and awed that I get to be their mother. I love everything about them-- the way they look, their personalities, their hopes and dreams for life. 

Each one is so different and yet similar. I see bits of myself, my husband, his parents, my parents, grandparents, ancestors and forebears in them! I get goosebumps thinking how much one daughter is like several of her grandmothers, and I laugh when I mix my son's and brother's names up every now and then-- they are not the same, but one has the echo of another. And the list goes on and on.

I am happiest when I am surrounded by a crowd of people. And my Heavenly Father knows that! Every day, I am enveloped by people I love and who love me back. And they teach me, and challenge me, make me laugh, make me cry, get me angry, and fill my heart with joy. I LOVE BEING A MOTHER OF MANY. It's not easy-- of course not! But the payback is AMAZING.

3. My spiritual convictions tell me that one of my most important purposes is to bring children into the world.

For me, there is nothing as humbling and satisfying as being a partner with God in bringing His children to earth. I believe that we all lived with God before we were born; that we chose to come to earth and gain a body, so that we could grow and learn and be tested. Eventually returning back to God to report what we did and what we learned.

This personal conviction has been a driving force for everything I do in my life. I cannot remember a moment when I did not believe this to be true! I know there is a bigger plan than just the here and now. I believe that God doesn't change, and that His commandment to "multiply and replenish the earth remains in force."

Long ago, I decided that I would NEVER, EVER want to be approached by a child in the next life who tearfully asks me, "Why didn't you let me come to your family?" 

I could not bear to have one babe think that they are unwanted! I want all who want the chance to come to be welcomed and loved.

4. Being pregnant and having babies brings me joy.

I am in awe of what a woman's body can do! I love the thrill of feeling a baby kick and squirm inside of me. I love watching my belly grow round and full with life.

I love that it takes me nine months to prepare for the eventuality of giving birth-- the biggest test and challenge I have ever experienced in life! 

I love that I have to lean on God and my husband and my children so fully, that I must look outside myself for strength and courage. And yet, in the end, it's just the Lord, the baby, and me. (Though I also could never do it without my sweetheart holding my hand, speaking comforting, calming words in my ear!) We are all partners in the biggest, everyday miracle that can happen in this life. There is nothing else like it! 

I love the rush of joy at the moment of birth and the thrill of meeting a new little stranger, one who trusts me implicitly and needs me absolutely. How beautiful is God's plan of bringing life into the world!

Babies grow up and children move on. 
But they will always be my children and we will always be a family! How cool is that?! 

When everything else in life fades in importance, when hobbies and possessions settle into their correct places, tall and strong stands a loving, unified family. 

No vacations I could take, no material desires could ever own, no career I could ever have would bring me the happiness and satisfaction I have from devoting time, money and resources to inviting children into my home and family. 

And having children brings my husband and I closer together, strengthening our marriage. We get to be co-creators with God-- what could be more rewarding?

I love my large family. I see each child as the individual they are-- they are not merely a lump of clay for me to mold and form. They come with their own vibrant personalities, with strength and vision for their lives. I am grateful to know them, to guide them, to love them.

I cherish being their mother. And I would never have it any other way.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Old-Fashioned Parenting

Last week, I began reading a book I've heard a lot about, and it has certainly made me think.

First of all, I have to warn all my readers because I wish I had been warned before I read it. The woman writing the book uses some very foul language in places and definitely has very different morals values than I or my readers would have. 

So I actually do NOT recommend the book. But I read enough of the book to ponder on my own parenting style and consider where my parenting philosophies and techniques come from.

My Background

I am the daughter of two very different people. My mother was born and raised in the Intermountain West of the U.S., and is descended from Scandinavian-born pioneers who left their homelands to join other LDS members in Utah. These pioneers were hard workers, and raised their children with strong values and a firm foundation of religious faith. They carved new lives for themselves in the Western United States despite religious persecution, toil and hardship, drought and frontier.

My father was born and raised in the deep South of the U.S.. His father had a very rough childhood, and joined the LDS Church long after marrying his mother. His mother was raised in a family of LDS members-- something VERY rare in the South at the time. His grand mother used to feed and house the LDS missionaries, and before that his great-grandmother hid the missionaries from angry mobs who wanted to kill them. They were farmers and entrepreneurs, teaching their children how to work by example and by training.

My mother is one of eight children, and my dad is one of two living children. (His twin died when he was only a few days old.)

And as my readers know, I have ELEVEN children of my own that I am nurturing, training and teaching. 

Modern Parenting

So much of the parenting I see today puzzles me. So many children run the show in their homes! I am grateful that I was not raised that way, and you can trust me when I say that that's not how I parent my children. 

What I do doesn't fit in with styles like "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" OR like "Bringing Up Bebe." The two books are opposite in some ways, similar in others. But neither one of them fits me and my family. 

In fact, I'm pretty sure my grandmothers and great-grandmothers would heartily disagree with most of the theories put forth in both these popular parenting books. 

I'm happy to report that I feel the same. There are few things both theories have which are admirable. There are too many things wrong with both to adopt either theory in my home. 

Old-Fashioned Parenting

So, if I disagree with the hottest parenting techniques of our day, what do I define as "Old-Fashioned Parenting?"

Here are a few of my personal, old-fashioned parenting philosophies.

1. Setting an Adult Example
Children have valid ideas and needs, but I do not allow my children to interrupt adult conversations, unless it is an emergency.

I don't play on the floor with my kids because I have adult work to do. (They don't expect me to get down and play with them-- that's what they have siblings for!)

I feel it is my job to show my children how to be an adult. They know how to be children-- I don't need to model that for them. (Of course, when a child has special needs and needs physical or sensory therapy, it's a completely different story.)

This does not mean that I ignore my children or always leave them to their own devices. No! They know I'm the one who will read to them, help them, hug them, comfort them, doctor them, tuck them in at night.

But I am not a play-thing or a friend; I am their MOTHER.

2. Training is Important
If we want our children to behave at home and in public, we need to take the time to train and teach them. This is often a very involved process when they are younger, but the time spent while they're children will pay big dividends when they are older.

This training goes far beyond toilet training. It includes teaching children how to sit quietly in public places, how to patiently wait for their turn, how to not ask for things in the store.

This is about parents being firm, yet loving. Children CAN learn to wait, to be quiet and to be satisfied with what they are given. But it takes resolve and CONSISTENCY.

A parent has to be willing to immediately remove a misbehaving child to teach a lesson, even if that means the shopping doesn't get finished, or if the child must stay on the parents' lap in a foyer during church services.

This should be done with lots of love, but with a firm resolve that the child will NOT get their way because it will be BAD FOR THEM to get everything they want! We are training our children to be useful, contributing adults. We should begin that training from the beginning of their lives.

3. Teach Manners
Children need to learn how to say "Please," "Thank you," "Excuse me," and "I'm sorry." Teaching manners is simply an extension of training our children to behave. It is a skill they can learn early and easily, especially if we set the example. 

4. Rejecting Consumerism or "How to NOT Spoil a Child"
My children know that they will not EVER get everything they want. They are not entitled to their every wish and desire, any more than I am entitled to all of mine. I teach my children from an early age that everything has a price, whether in time, resources, or money.

My mother once told me a story about my Grandmother that has always stuck with me. It is a perfect illustration of how my busy, matter-of-fact grandmother parented her children.

Mom was a little girl and asked my grandma why Santa never brought each of the eight children in their family every single thing they asked for on Christmas morning. 

My grandmother's answer was simple, "We can't afford it. We have to pay Santa Claus for your gifts and we can't afford everything everybody wants."

Christmas was the time when they got new socks, new underwear, and anything else they needed. They got some fun things, toys and frivolous items, too. But they did not get every item on their Christmas lists.

I am happy to report that it is the same for OUR family. Our children know that toys, candy, movies, and clothes do not fall from the sky. (We actually circumvented the Santa dilemma by never playing the Santa game. But that's another post for another day.)

If our kids want to go somewhere on their own or with friends that costs money, they know that they will have to come up with the money on their own. If they want a toy or a game or anything else that is "extra" beyond food, clothing, and shelter, they must find a way to earn the money themselves to pay for it. 

This has always been the case in our family culture, and they have always accepted it. I think it helps that they are not constantly around peers that have more than them, or that value designer brand clothes, electronics, or entertainment so highly. (Another benefit of homeschooling.)

We also will not be paying for any of children's college educations. It has always been understood in our home that each person's education belongs to them alone, and my husband and I have always made it clear that while we expect our children to get all the education they can, we do not dictate where they go or what they do to get that education. 

Once our children leave our home, we want them to have the strengthening experiences that come from working and struggling to become an independent adult in the world.

5. Hard Work
As I said in the previous paragraph, I WANT my kids to have difficult experiences in their lives. I believe, as did my ancestors, that struggles, trials, and old-fashioned hard work build men and women of GOOD CHARACTER. 

If I make the lives of my children too easy, they will expect life to be sunshine and rainbows all the time-- and no one, be they king, senator, heiress, or little child has a life like that. 

But that doesn't mean that there isn't JOY, happiness, and infinite hopes and dreams! No! It simply means that hard work is required of all of us to get what we want in life. 

I believe that so many of our societal problems with young people (and old) who expect to be given their every desire of their hearts with no cost or effort on their part is a DIRECT result of indulgent parenting.

How did YOUR Ancestors Parent?

We can learn so much from those who have gone before us! What if we all looked to our ancestors for parenting help, instead of to the latest bestseller or magazine article written by people whose values and ideals are so far removed from our own? 

Would our society, our economies, or values and our morals look differently than they do today?

I'm betting that Grandma would think so. 

And so do I.


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