Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Getting Ready for General Conference

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!!!!!

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!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - A Marriage Quiz

"To assist in marital communication, try the following exercise together. Allow yourselves sufficient time when there will be no interruptions. You might wish to divide the exercise into several sessions, considering two or three statements at each session.

"First, respond individually in writing to the statements. Then exchange papers and talk about what you’ve written. Don’t try to review your responses simultaneously. While one of you is reading or speaking, the other should listen or ask clarifying questions. Then switch roles.

"Complete the following statements:
1. In our marriage, I feel loved when you …
2. In our marriage, I feel appreciated when you …
3. In our marriage, I am happiest when …
4. In our marriage, I am saddest when …
5. In our marriage, I am angriest when …
6. In our marriage, I would like more …
7. In our marriage, I would like less …
8. In our marriage, I feel awkward when …
9. In our marriage, I feel uneasy when …
10. In our marriage, I feel excited when …
11. In our marriage, I feel close to you when …
12. In our marriage, I feel distant from you when …
13. In our marriage, I feel most afraid when …
14. My greatest concern/fear about our marriage is …
15. What I like most about myself is …
16. What I dislike most about myself is …
17. The feelings that I have the most difficulty sharing with you are …
18. The feelings that I can share most easily with you are …
19. Our marriage could be greatly improved with just a little effort if we …
20. The one thing in our marriage that needs the most immediate attention is …
21. The best thing about our marriage is …

Note: My husband and I discovered this about 11 years ago.  Since then, we try to go through these questions on a regular basis.  I'll put individual questions in a bowl and we'll pick one out and follow the directions stated above.  It has been amazing how each question is relevant even as we approach 20 years of marriage!

CLICK HERE to read the entire article by Brent A. Barlow that goes along with this fantastic marriage quiz.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Family Home Evening - A Wonderful Life

I hope no one ever surmises that a family with eight children - all scrunched together between the ages of 5 and 13 - is always a wonderful life!

Because tonight I felt like George Bailey.

Not the George Bailey that saved his brother’s life.

Not the George Bailey that was born older.

Not even the George Bailey, the richest man in town.

No, today I felt like the George Bailey who summed up his really bad day like this, “You call this a happy family? Why did we have to have all these kids?”

Because today fighting and teasing and bugging were the main themes of the day.

Along with chasing and screams and yells of terror.

And then there were the tears – just when we were starting dinner.

They weren’t mine, but when one of your children lets their tears flow because of a broken heart, it’s hard for a mother not to cry, too.

And all that, shaken together, was why dinner was put on hold . . . .

for a long, long, long, long time.

Which not only spoiled dinner – but also Family Home Evening.


Which shocked our children.

So much so that maybe next Monday our children will remember this Monday and all the reasons why a family with eight children - all scrunched together between the ages of 5 and 13 - could have a wonderful life!

(Or at least a better Family Home Evening)!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pathetic Me

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
 I am NOT one to cry about sports.

No, not me.

But knowing the Jimmer era at BYU over makes me cry.


I feel so pathetic about feeling this way because the very last thing I wanted to do was be a part of this whole Jimmermania craze.

In fact, early in the season I was adamant that it wasn’t going to get to me.

But the guy can P.L.A.Y.

The guy can S.H.O.O.T.

The guy is absolutely A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. to watch.

So today I mourn that I can’t watch Jimmer play tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - Iniquitious Rulers

"And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king (ruler) save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.

"For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;

"And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king (ruler) doth pervert the ways of all righteousness."

-King Mosiah, about 92 B.C.
(Mosiah 29:21-23)

Monday, March 21, 2011

All Ye That Labor and are Heavy Laden

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matt. 11:28-30

* Everyone labors.  One of the consequences given to Adam after being cast out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:14-19) was that he and his posterity would labor for "in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground."

* Everyone bears some type of burden.  While some of those burdens are self-inflicted, many are not.

* The Savior invites those who labor and those who have burdens (which means everyone) to "Come Unto Me." 

* Coming Unto Him requires that I:
          1. Take His yoke upon me. Taking His yoke upon me = Taking His name upon me.  This is a covenant.
          2. Learn of Him.  Learning of Him = Keeping His commandments
          3. Making and keeping covenants helps me to understand the Savior's heart, which is MEEK and LOWLY.  It is through Him that I will find rest to my soul and learn from experience that His yoke is easier that what I can do alone.  I yoke myself with Him each Sunday as I partake of the sacrament.

* His burden is light.  Light dispells darkness.  And it is His "light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not" (Doctrine and Covenants 34:2).

March Madness

From the very beginnings of our marriage, my husband and I have religiously filled out our NCAA basketball tourney brackets just for the fun of it.  And my husband always has better picks than I do!

This year it has been even funner because five of our boys are now caught up in the brackets AND I actually made some better picks guesses than my husband AND well, just what can you say when it comes to JIMMER?!

I say, Go Cougars!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

There, There Little Luxury

In the past few weeks I think I've had my fair share of solicitations for a TV "package."  Here is a sample of how the conversation goes:

Salesperson: Just wondering if you currently have a TV package.

Me: Yes, yes we do.

Salesperson: Oh, do you have Direct TV?

Me: No.

Salesperson: Okay. Do you have Comcast?

Me: No.

Salesperson: Is your package with Qwest?

Me: No.

Salesperson: I thought you said you had a TV package.

Me: Of course we have a TV package.

Salesperson: You mean . . . you're still on the antenna? (GASP) That's a dying breed, you know.

Me: Yes. Yes I know.  And we're not interested in coming back from the dead.

After at least six of these little conversations one of my sons asked me WHY we don't have a TV package (interpretation: Why don't we have access to all the Sports Channels???).

To which I recited this sweet little ditty from President Ezra Taft Benson:

There, there little luxury, don't you cry . . .
You'll be a necessity by and by.

So I got to thinking about what is considered a necessity in our home and what is a luxury. Here is just a short list.

Necessity: Toilet Paper
Luxury: Puffs Tissue with lotion

Necessity: 25 lb. bags of flour and sugar
Luxury: Store-bought donuts, cakes or cookies

Necesity: Gasoline for the 15 passenger van
Luxury: Filling that baby to F.U.L.L.

Necessity: Chocolate chips (really!)
Luxury: Liquid-filled imported German chocolate bars, dark chocolate filled with hazelnuts, REAL homemade hot chocolate with chocolate and cream . . .

Necessity: Books! Books! Books!
Luxury: Purchasing books (So glad we have access to a GREAT library)!

Necessity: Bar Soap
Luxury: Body Wash

Necessity: Real butter
Luxury: Having more butter in the freezer

Necessity: Eating dinner as a family
Luxury: Eating OUT as a family

Necessity: Clothes
Luxury: Clean clothes (just joking!)

Necessity: Ice Cream (we have ice cream sundaes every Fast Sunday)
Luxury: Going to Cold Stone or a Fro-yo

Okay, so I noticed that MOST of our necessities are in the food category.  Can't help if we LOVE food!

So, what are your family's necessities?  Luxuries?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - The Lord is in Control

"My message to you today, my brothers and sisters, is simply this: the Lord is in control. He knows the end from the beginning. He has given us adequate instruction that, if followed, will see us safely through any crisis. His purposes will be fulfilled, and someday we will understand the eternal reasons for all of these events. Therefore, today we must be careful to not overreact, nor should we be caught up in extreme preparations; but what we must do is keep the commandments of God and never lose hope!

"But where do we find hope in the midst of such turmoil and catastrophe? Quite simply, our one hope for spiritual safety during these turbulent times is to turn our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ."

-M. Russell Ballard
CLICK HERE to read entire article

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“Some think of marriage
as a glamorous life of ease, luxury, and constant thrills;
but true marriage is based on a happiness
that is more than that,
one that comes from
giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness.”

Spencer W. Kimball
Marriage, Deseret Book, 1978, p 45.

As I read and pondered the above statement about marriage, these descriptive verbs from the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, found in Jacob 5, came flashing into my mind:









And do you know what I say to that???  OUCH!

For because I think that those words sum up marriage - - - and I'm talking a successful, happy marriage!

Because, in my book, marriage is not for the week, nor for the weak.

And for me, marriage has been worth all of that OUCH!

(It really has!  I love you, sweetie!) :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - What God Thinks of Parents

"We were visiting a little ward in rural Idaho, and the Sunday School lesson happened to be on parenting. We sat quietly and anonymously and listened.

"There was another visitor there, kind of a sophisticated city slicker who seemed to have all the answers. He also seemed to have perfect kids because he prefaced each comment he made with something like, "Well, the way I communicate with my son, the student body president ..." or "The way I handled that with my daughter, the valedictorian ..."

"If it had just been a couple of times, it would have been fine, but about the sixth time he gave his perfect, pat answer about his perfect kids, you could almost hear the groans about this self-righteous guy who seemed to have no problems.

"Then, just after the first bell, a small, quiet-voiced farmer raised his hand, got called on, stood up and turned to face the big bragger. 'Excuse me,' he said with a high-pitched country twang, 'but God must notta thought much of you as a parent, sendin' ya all them easy kids.'"

- Linda and Richard Eyre
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article

Friday, March 4, 2011

Moving to Florida

Last night my husband and I watched a little story on ABC's Nightline about the "High-End Real Estate."

It involves two developers who built a 30,000 square foot home (yup, that's a three with four zeros behind it), complete with 10 bedrooms, 14 baths and NINE kitchens, selling for a cool 60 MILLION dollars.

Some of it's selling features:
* The estate takes up two acres of land. (TWO acres!)

* Five separate buildings are connected by pools and waterfalls - not to overlook the beach with imported sand from the Bahamas! (Sand from the Bahamas or sand from the mountains, my children will find a way to bring it in the house no matter what).

* The front yard has a mature palm tree grove transplated at a cost of $65,000 per tree. (You't think a tree would be tree-house worthy at that price).

* The outdoor kitchen (remember there are eight more scattered around) is big enough to host a family party of 12, overlooking one of the house's pools AND Biscayne Bay.

* In the main dining area there's a bar sporting a Mother of Pearl wall behind it. (Hey, there is a Mother in our dining area ever night, but se certainly isn't called Pearl).

* There are 12 refrigerators in the house. (Okay, this could be a bonus, but then there's the grocery bill to have them stocked for eight starving kids) (Or so they claim).

* There is a 3D movie theater (which can double as a recording studio) and a surround-sound system in every room.  (Hey, with the size of our family, there is surround sound in every room, too!)

* And finally, the neighbors, amidst the 30 other homes here and a 300-acre golf course: the singer Julio Iglesias and retired Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.

And as I watched - incredulously, mind you - this resort home being displayed, I thought to myself, "Ooh, what kind of wonderful, crazy havoc could a Mormon family of (almost) eleven raise in such an elite part of Florida?" (Complete with a nine kids under 13 and a styling, 15-passenger van).

DARN!  We are 60 million dollars under budget to find out! (Phew!  Am I glad)!

For pictures of this house, CLICK HERE

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - Elevating Our Guns

"General Andrew Jackson, as he walked along the line at the Battle of New Orleans, said to his men, 'Gentlemen, elevate your guns a little lower!' I think many of us need to elevate our “guns” a little lower. On the other hand, we need to raise the level of private and public discourse. We should avoid caricaturing the positions of others, constructing “straw men,” if you will, and casting unwarranted aspersions on their motivations and character. We need, as the Lord counseled, to uphold honest, wise, and good men and women wherever they are found and to recognize that there are “among all sects, parties, and denominations” those who are “kept from the truth [of the gospel] because they know not where to find it.” Would we hide that light because we have entered into the culture of slander, of stereotyping, of giving and seeking offense?"

-Robert S. Wood