T minus THREE DAYS until General Conference.
Oh how I HEART, HEART, HEART General Conference.
Because there is just a feeling that make General Conference weekend such a different weekend than all the others. Maybe it's because for TWO days I can be fed by the Spirit (well, with closed captioning on because with eight kids who do get restless, sometimes the only thing I get out of Conference if actually reading the talks on screen because I can't hear over the noise!)
Anywho, here is what we do in our little world to get ready for Conference.
CONFERENCE PACKETS - Simplified Version
Once upon a time we had a small family and making copies of those CUTE Conference packets were such a benefit. But now, now I would need to take out a small loan just to make copies for each of our eight! So a year or so ago I decided to simplify. And it has made the Conference effort my children's - not mine!
The only copies I make is a copy of the General Authorities (found in the center section of the most recent Conference Ensign) and a copy of the General Auxiliary Presidencies (found almost in the back of the most recent Conference Ensign) for each child.
Then, I give each child some blank paper (or a notebook) and a pencil. There are glue sticks, markers, crayons and scissors for all to share. As a speaker is announced or stands to speak, they cut out the picture of the speaker, paste it on their paper, and then they are free to draw what they hear or write what the Spirit tells them.
This little booklet allows them to review talks and stories for the Family Home Evenings to come as we wait for the newest Conference Ensign to arrive.
I am so grateful for a husband who honors agency - not that I don't, but I would be more inclined to require each of my children watch Conference in a reverent, reverent, reverent manner (HA). Therefore, many years ago my husband made the suggestion that we invite our children to listen to the number of Apostles that equal their age.
So, for example, at age five, they could choose five Apostles that they would like to listen to. (Of course, the attention span of my five year old is equal to or greater than that of my 13 year old sometimes). But what is expected is that each child sit quietly as they listen to the Apostles he/she has chosen. By the time a child is 12 (and we have three of them, now), he/she is old enough to listen to ALL of Conference - 12 Apostles plus.
This decision, early on in our household, has proved to be a HUGE blessing of agency. Even though things in our family room can get a little rambunctious during the four sessions of Conference, for the most part, ALL our children want to be a part of the talks and will listen pretty much to all of Conference by the time Sunday evening comes around!
Recently we have issued the challenge for each family member to think of some questions he/she has that they would like to have answered during General Conference. Each of us writes our questions down during the week of Conference and then we listen for answers that are given at Conference. These preparation has not only allowed us to prepare before Conference, it makes for very meaningful discussions in the days and weeks that follow Conference.
A few Conferences ago a seven year old son had written down, "Why do I have to pay tithing?" Is it not any wonder that Elder Sheldon Child gave a talk that very Conference about that very subject? In fact, since we have started at the conclusion of the Conferences all of us are amazed that many of our questions have been answered! WOW!!!!!
INCENTIVES AND BRIBES
Okay, so we are parents.
And we've got kids.
And there's no doubt that we find that a few, good treats (M&M's, gummy bears, Chex Mix) passed out randomly - as children and teenagers demonstrate reverent, appropriate Conference behavior - is a VERY good motivator. (Plus, it gives me reason to break out that Symphony Bar, the Oreos, and ice cream . . . right?)
Maybe this Conference I will try picking a different gospel word for each session and when mentioned in a specific treat can be given out.
Anyway, I would LOVE to get more ideas for General Conference. Let me know what you do!!