Monday, April 26, 2010

Choosing Between Right and Happy

I watched an interesting exchange between a husband and wife this weekend, and it has made me ponder some things that I want to share here.

Picture this: Our family is sitting in the children's Primary room of our local church building watching our semi-annual stake conference meetings over closed-circuit television. We usually sit in one of these rooms because 1) We're never there early enough to snag a pew in the crowded chapel, and 2) I don't expect our children to all sit calmly and quietly through two full hours of speakers, and I don't want to disturb others who are trying to listen-- unless they're in one of the extra rooms, too, I guess. (Most of the other families in those rooms have kids the same age as our small "noise offenders", so we're all pretty much in the same boat, anyway...)

So, we were getting our own kids settled when another couple with their three small children filed into the chairs a couple of rows in front of us. They had two cute little boys and an adorable little girl who waved to our youngest. (Who just stared at this strange child-her-size in wonder.)

As the meeting started, the wife started in on the husband with pure vitriol in her expression and her voice:

"No, I want to sit over there, so she doesn't go down the center aisle."

"So we shouldn't sit here?"

"I don't know. Whatever, it's fine. You're the boss,"she snipped.

He chuckled without mirth, "Oh, no. You're the boss. I'm fine."

The tension from both of them oozed into the room, and stayed throughout the meeting.

When their baby started crying, the wife hissed, "Take her!"

The husband was frozen throughout it all. He seemed to want to help, but when he tried to, his wife gave him such a scathing look, that he backed off, only to have her then berate him for not helping.

This exchange went on and on. Sometimes she would go walk the hall with the baby, and then when he'd offer to take the little one, his wife would snap at him again. You could practically hear her thoughts: "Only I can do it right," "Why doesn't he just help me?!" "I'm the only one who does anything in this family!" (NOTE: I can recognize what she was thinking because I've had similar thoughts at times...)

It was so sad to see the two little boys reacting to the tension, when they didn't seem to quite know what to do. It was almost tragic to hear the speakers talk in the background about love between spouses, love in the home, conversion and Christ-like forgiveness, and then see how this family was so bound by contention and anger, right before our eyes.

Now, I don't presume to know what this family's home is like. I don't know their circumstances, I don't know anything about their marriage. In fact, they are complete strangers to me! But, their obvious behavior in that room yesterday has made me evaluate my own feelings toward my spouse and family over and over again.

My thoughts have run the gambit:
  • Is it better for a wife to berate her husband, than for a man to scold his wife?
  • What do we teach our sons when we disrespect our husbands?
  • What do we teach our daughters?
  • Do we recognize mother-martyrdom for what it really is: Passive-aggressive punishment?
  • Are we acting like devoted, loving spouses when we snap at each other?
  • Do we continue to act in anger toward one another for hours or days at a time without resolving the real issues at hand?
  • Where is the love in this kind of marriage?
I'm not interested in the feminist argument that men have been treating women badly for years and years-- BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...

This is not about placing blame on others. This is about taking an honest look at ourselves and how we treat our husbands. Do we appreciate and acknowledge all they do to support our family? Do we recognize their sacrifices, their efforts, and the many ways they show love to us every day?

Of course, we are all grateful when our husbands step in to take a screaming baby, or change a stinky diaper, or wash a sink full of dishes. BUT we should also show our appreciation and love to him, in ways that he understands loud and clear. (And I'd like to say that showing love does not include throwing more children/diapers/dishes his way as a token of our gratitude and esteem-- you know what I mean?)

Saturday evening, my husband and I attended the scheduled meeting for adults with a talk given by Elder Wright, our new Area Seventy. He told a story about his wife that had happened earlier that afternoon. He told us that he recently bought a new car, at his wife's request, so that his daughter could have the use of his older vehicle. It was parked out on the street while he was inside, studying to give us this talk. At the same time, his wife was helping their son with a service project, that involved painting some cabinets, in the driveway. His son came in chuckling, laughing about how Mom was using the paint sprayer on the cabinets to make the work go faster, and Elder Wright thought he'd go out and see their progress. As he watched his wife use the sprayer, he could see a cloud of paint float over and settle on his brand new car.

He said time seemed to stand still, and in that instant some marital advice came into his mind.

"Do I want to be RIGHT, or do I want to be HAPPY?"

He kindly approached his wife, and pointed out what was happening to the new car. She gasped, and then started to laugh. And then he joined her in having a good chuckle over the accidental paint job.

So is it so very difficult to greet him when he comes home with a smile and a kiss? Is it so hard to dress up and put make-up on every now and then, just for HIM? (And not because we have someplace to go.) What about putting the kids to bed early every now and then for a back rub and some "alone time"?

Lovely ladies, NONE of us feel better when we enter "the martyr zone"! None of us feel more loved when we spew forth nagging words and dirty looks. No one ever could-- especially not the men in our lives. It is those who choose to serve their spouses unselfishly that will have the kinds of blissful marriages we all long for.

Of course there are exceptions in every thing, but I'm not talking about the "exception" here. I'm talking to all of you out there who KNOW you are married to a good man, even if you may not be feeling the marriage-bliss right now. You have days of overwhelm and frustration-- I know that! (Me, too!) But adding more contention and anger to our lives will not solve our problems in the least NOR make us happy.


Is there something we can do for our husbands today? Just a thought to ponder...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Defense of Large Families

I really appreciated everything this mom-of-many had to say in defense of those of us with large families:

"Are We There Yet?" Blog

Here's an excerpt:
I could write a book about how large families are no more strain on the environment than any other group of ten or twelve people; we are in fact less strain on the planet because we share space and resources as a unit and are forced by monetary constraints to be frugal. I could also talk your ear off about how the only environment that really requires our attention is the moral environment and that all other responsibilites flow from its health and well-being. Then I could go on and on about how my ten children are not deprived but enriched because they're not spoiled by material possessions; they learn to share with their many brothers and sisters for the happiness of all. And, I could recite all of this to you fairly dispassionately.

But the one accusation that gets my hackles up is that the child of a large family must necessarily be neglected -- as their parents could not possibly "do it all." POPPYCOCK! Anyone who thinks this knows not of what they speak. They are sadly ignorant.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Raising Self-Reliant Kids

This evening, I read a great article about teaching our kids how to be more self-reliant. It has inspired me to share more about how I have trained the children in my own home to be more independent, and hopefully help them to be more self-reliant adults. We're not perfect, by any means, but maybe some of the ideas I'll share will spark new efforts in your home.

So, from now on, every THURSDAY I will share some of the ways I have taught my children to work.

For this first Thursday, I'd like to share the article I mentioned above. Below is an excerpt from it, with the link to the entire article.

Skills Every Self-Reliant Child Needs to Know
By Carolyn Nicolaysen

Several years ago I was teaching a Beehive class in Young Women with a group of promising 12 and 13 year-old girls. I really can't recall the topic of the lesson but I do remember the girls’ reaction so well. At one point one of the girls raised her hand and said "But Sister Nicolaysen we are never going to be good grandmas like our grandmothers. We don't know how to do anything. We don’t know how to sew or bake bread or can vegetables or grow a garden like our grandmothers."

As we continued to talk, it became clear that these girls were genuinely concerned that they might grow up and not know some of the hands-on things their mothers and grandmothers took for granted. They wanted to do things more meaningful than craft projects. So as a result, we had some activities to teach these skills. These girls learned to cook, make jam, sew and knit.

I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I did! :-)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Feasting!

My husband and I are busy making our plans for Easter Sunday's Dinner, (Yes, we LOVE to eat around here!) and though our menu is not unusual or groundbreaking, I thought I'd share some of our recipes here. (Some of these are re-posts.)

I'd LOVE to hear all about your Easter traditions and the foods you like to serve as part of your Easter celebration. Leave your comment below! :-)

Breakfast Monkey Bread
For these yummy rolls, I start with my No-Rise Bread dough recipe. Then I follow the additional instructions below to make these breakfast treats. This year, I'm going to get these ready the night before, so I can pop them in the oven on Easter morning.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cube REAL butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
Mix the white sugar and cinnamon together. Melt the butter and add the brown sugar, stirring until well incorporated. Pinch off small balls of the bread dough, roll, and then coat them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Then place them in a greased Bundt pan. Don't worry about crowding-- they are not supposed to stay round and perfect.

Once you've coated and placed half the dough in the pan, pour half of the brown sugar and butter mixture over them. Then continue coating and adding the remainder of the dough. Pour the rest of the brown sugar sauce over the top. *Word to the wise: place the pan on a cookie sheet during baking to catch any leaking brown sugar sauce, or you may end up with a little sugar fire in your oven. Don't ask me how I know to share this useful little tip...

Place in a COLD oven; turn the oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and turn it over onto a large platter to serve.

Yummy Potatoes
I grew up in Idaho– Potato Country. And this dish could be found at almost any church or civic function. (They’re also known as “Funeral Potatoes,” due to their propensity for being served at funerals, as well.) I enjoy making this delicious casserole as a side dish, or even as the main course*. (In our home, we have to double the recipe.) Try them today– I know your family will love them!
  • 8 to 10 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 can (10 & 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover and cook until almost tender. (Don’t over-cook.) Drain and cool. Combine soup, half of the cheese (1&1/2 cups) sour cream, onions, salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes. Place in a greased 9″x13″ baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Serves 8-10. *We like to add cubed ham before baking for a full-meal casserole. These are also wonderful served with a Baked Ham.
Resurrection Rolls
While this recipe is not necessarily on our Easter menu, it is a fun thing to do together with my children to have a discussion about the Resurrection of Christ. It's a great object lesson, as well as a tasty, if not healthy, recipe that is fun to do! This recipe does not have specific amounts, so there is some guess work, keeping in mind the amount of rolls you want to make.
  • Refrigerated canned crescent rolls
  • Melted butter
  • Large marshmallows
  • Cinnamon Sugar mixture (1 cup white sugar to 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Give each child a triangle of crescent roll. The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus' body was wrapped in. Give each child a marshmallow. This represents Jesus' body. Dip each marshmallow in the melted butter. This represents the oils of embalming. Then roll the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon sugar mixture. This represents the spices used to anoint the Savior's body.
Then wrap the coated marshmallow in the crescent roll. Do not wrap it in typical crescent roll fashion, rather bring up the sides and tightly seal the marshmallow inside. (This is important!) This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body before the burial.
Place the rolls on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The oven represents the tomb where Jesus' body was laid.
After baking, and once the rolls have cooled slightly, the children can open them up to discover that Jesus is no longer there-- He is risen! (The marshmallow and crescent roll puff up during baking, but are empty when baked.)   ***For more ideas on feeding a crowd, see The Commonroom post titled, "Potluck Saturday, or Cooking for 8 or More"
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