All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Family Council

Family Council 1All I really need to know I learned in Family Council.

Wait.  You mean, Kindergarten, right?  All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten. Isn’t that how the phrase goes?

Nope.  Everything really need to know I learned in Family Council.  Let me explain with a flashback to my childhood.

First of all, family councils have been happening forever, right? Well in theory, yes, but the real emphasis came in the 1970s. In fact, in October 1976 a special edition of the Ensignmagazine admonished Church members to hold regular family councils.  Church pamphlets and stake conference messages in 1977 furthered the direction to organize families and keep records.  My parents, who live the gospel to the letter, held their first family council in August of 1977 (when I was just four years old) and they’ve held family council once a month on every Fast Sunday since then.

Not only did my parents start holding family council regularly, they also organized our family into four focus areas:  Family History, Missionary Work, Personal and Family Preparedness, and Home Education and Activities.  Kind of like the three missions of the church, only they were the four missions of our family.

And, they took family organization even further and gave us all assignments as committee chairmen and members of these focus areas.  Remember it was 1977, and I was four years old. My Dad called me in for a Personal Priesthood Interview and asked me to serve as our Family Missionary Chairman.

In true four-year-old fashion I immediately responded, “Nope.  I don’t want to be the Missionary Chairman.”  I’m sure Dad was surprised, but he remained calm and explained what exciting things a Family Missionary Chairman would do.  I decided to accept the call.  So, there you have it.  One of the first things I learned through family council was to accept callings and responsibility.  And I’ve been accepting them ever since. Continue reading

Home Organization – with Rachel!

I have ten children and I CANNOT function without cleanliness and order! 🙂

My friend, Rachel, is a professional home organizer. She has wonderful tips to maintaining a household that is beautiful, functional, and brings us peace.

Today Rachel and I specifically discuss ideas for kitchen and pantry organization:

  1. Take Everything OUT
  2. PUT like things together
  3. ORGANIZE into bins, drawers, and shelves (She has great tips for where to find good containers!)
  4. MAINTAIN

I especially love Rachel’s power phrase: HONOR YOUR SPACE. Caring for our homes brings us peace and joy. I hope you enjoy this ten-minute tip to make your motherhood BRIGHTER and SMOOTHER! Thanks, Rachel. 🙂

 

Simple Summer

Summertime is busy, especially with kids home all day!

For me the toughest part of summertime is the FOOD! I have to fix more meals more times everyday to feed the masses.

Here are three simple tricks I use to keep our mealtimes easy, fast, and uncomplicated.

Pioneer Night

Pioneer

Tomorrow is Pioneer Day–a Utah state holiday commemorating the Mormon Pioneers who entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. When we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada we celebrated with “Pioneer Night,” an evening of fun, since July 24th was not a holiday in Nevada.

My two oldest boys were young then! That was a long time ago. Now those boys are both grown and gone! However, we still celebrate the pioneers as a family.

I wrote about our Pioneer Night experiences for the Friend magazine, and the article was published in 2017. I hope you enjoy this fun story and get a few ideas of your own for Pioneer Day–or Night!

Read the story here: Pioneer Night


“Mom, what are we doing for family night?” Benjamin asked as he and his younger brother, Sammy, walked into the kitchen for a drink.

“Do you mean Pioneer Night?” Mom said with a smile.

“What?” Benjamin asked. “I thought today was Monday. You know, family night.”

Mom nodded. “It’s Monday all right. But tonight we’re having a special Pioneer Night.”

Benjamin frowned a little. He liked family night. He wasn’t sure he wanted to do anything different.

“What’s Pioneer Night?” Sammy asked.

“Well,” Mom said, pulling out a kitchen chair and sitting down at the table with them, “one hundred and seventy years ago, Mormon pioneers crossed the plains in wagons and handcarts to get to Utah. On July 24, 1847, the first pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.”

“Wait. Isn’t today July 24th?” Benjamin asked.

“Exactly! It’s Pioneer Day. In Utah it’s even a state holiday,” Mom said. “There are parades and fireworks to honor the pioneers.”

“But we don’t live in Utah,” said Benjamin.

“Well, that just means we have to think of creative ways to celebrate,” said Mom. “So we’re having Pioneer Night. Will you help me get ready?”

Benjamin and Sammy nodded. As they helped Mom, Benjamin felt more and more excited. Soon Dad got home from work.

“What’s this?” he said when he saw the kitchen table set with checkered napkins, glass jars, and pie tins.

“It’s Pioneer Night!” Benjamin said, handing Dad a red bandana to tie around his neck. He and Sammy were both wearing cowboy hats from their costume box.

“This looks fun!” said Dad. Then he sniffed the air. “And something smells really good.” Mom was stirring a pot of stew at the stove.

“Before we eat, we have to make butter for the cornbread,” said Sammy.

Mom poured cream into a jar and screwed the lid on tight. After shaking for a few minutes, she handed the jar to Sammy. They all took turns shaking until there was a lump of butter inside!

After dinner they had a special family night. Dad showed them a black-and-white picture.

“This is Joseph Francis, your great-great-great grandpa,” Dad said. “He came to the United States with his family when he was 13 years old.”

Dad talked about how Joseph sailed from England and then worked in a factory to earn money to cross the plains. Benjamin couldn’t believe a boy who was just older than he was had done so many hard things.

Then Mom shared a story from her family history. “My mother, your grandma Hunsaker, met the missionaries when she was 13 years old. When she prayed to know if their message was true, she felt the Holy Ghost tell her to be baptized. Because of her decision, I grew up knowing about the gospel. My mother is a pioneer because she set a righteous example for others to follow.”

Benjamin liked that. Maybe there were ways he could be a pioneer! He was still thinking about it when Dad said it was time for the closing song and prayer.

“Now we can have the treat!” Sammy said. Mom handed everyone a cookie, some candies, and a few other yummy things. She showed them how to make wagons with marshmallows like white canvases on top.

“These wagons sure taste good,” Sammy said as he took a big bite. “I’m glad the pioneers went to Utah.”

“And I’m glad we don’t always have to make our own butter!” Benjamin said with a laugh. His life was different from the early pioneers, but he knew they all had one thing in common: they all believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

P.S. Go to “Family Night Fun” to see how to make your own wagons!

Mama Money: The Very Best Part of Summer!

It’s summertime! Lazy days, warm afternoons, swimming, and sun!

Summer is also the season when kids are home and can help around the house a little bit more. I generally don’t pay my kids for household chores, but during the summer we change things up and add some fun with MAMA MONEY!

Mama Money is earned through a variety of jobs and activities, and can be saved up for fun shopping sprees throughout the summer.

Watch here to learn more…

End of Year SCHOOL STUFF

The school year is over…and kids have PILES OF PAPERS they LOVE!

Here’s how our family declutters and organizes our favorite mementos from school.

(Hint: Part One of School Stuff was published last fall. This is the second half of what to do with all those papers! Check out my first video in the comments.)

Three reasons our family will Still be Scouting in 2020

IMG_3630.JPGLast year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it would discontinue its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and introduce a worldwide youth program in 2020. While our family fully plans to embrace the new Church Child and Youth Development Initiative, we also intend to continue our participation in Scouting. Here’s why:

P22-4c67f.jpgReason #1: Structure. The Boy Scouts of America has been around for over a century, and the BSA has proven its worth as a structured program. This structure is a remarkable support to both Scouting leaders and Scouting families. Regular quality activities, handbooks full of information, and leader specific trainings all provide a tried and true ladder guiding youth to leadership, character, citizenship and fitness.

IMG_4231.JPGBSA programs—Cub Scouting thru Venturing—are based and built on age-appropriate activities, like stepping stones. My Cub Scout learns to handle a pocket knife, my Boy Scout earns the Woodcarving Merit Badge. My younger son takes a mile hike with his den, my older son hikes for 30 miles with his troop. You get the picture. My children are benefitting from a program shaped and tested for decades, with applicable achievements for each group, and all under an umbrella of specially trained leaders. Scouting is a safe place to learn and grow.

IMG_3573.JPGAdditionally, I love that Scouting youth have requirements—steps that must be followed—and hard tasks to complete. As humans, we rarely choose to over-extend ourselves, but the organization of Scouting gently and consistently compels youth to climb higher, be better, and accomplish hard things. In a world becoming increasingly wishy-washy and self-centered, I find the structure of Scouting remarkable and helpful to my parenting efforts.IMG_4234.JPGReason #2: Skills. Scouting is all about skills—building fires, camping, backpacking, tying knots, pitching tents, cooking, swimming, lifesaving, first aid. The list of Scouting skills is endless! Take a glance at the 137 merit badges offered to understand the full gamut of opportunities available to Scouts. Where pushing buttons with thumbs has become an all-to-common society staple for youth, I am grateful for skills taught through the BSA programs.

IMG_3641.JPG“Outing” is a key component of Scouting. Leave the lethargy and apathy at the door and step into adventure: rock-climbing, rappelling, canoeing, biking, rafting… the list goes on and on.img_4054.jpgAnd the fun isn’t just for the older youth. Last week our Cub Scouts learned and played the iconic game of marbles. Imagine seven 9-year-olds, squealing, laughing and cheering as their marbles rolled across the dirt. And in the preceding weeks our Cub Scouts hiked, whittled with pocket knives, cooked over a fire, constructed with carpentry tools, pitched tents, conducted science experiments, practiced safety, and built contraptions with simple machines. Scouting is all about skills.

IMG_3069 (1).JPGThe skills lead me to Reason #3: Substance. Scouting is chock-full of substance. Let’s face it; there are a million and one extra-curricular options for kids today. But I can’t think of another activity, club, pastime, team or sport based on Duty to God, Country, and Family. Each week I watch Cub Scouts raise their arms in the Scout Sign and recite the century-old Oath and Law—promising to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind…the iconic list goes on.

IMG_2341.JPGWhen any youth commits to Scouting values, we’ve won a battle for our future. Like I’ve said before, our time as a family is precious, yet the substance—the values and character-building opportunities—offered through BSA programs put Scouting at the top of our extra-curricular list.

P4-a1fd9.jpgAnd my fourth point—if I may have one—is Patriotism. No one does patriotism like the Boy Scouts of America. Two weeks ago I stood with over 100 other observers at a campfire. The sky was crystal clear. The stars shone brightly. The full moon came up over the ridge. The fire glowed orange and red. It couldn’t have been a more picturesque evening. Around the campfire stood eight solemn Boy Scouts. With all the respect they could muster, they displayed a flag, tattered and torn. Then, while the audience watched, they shared history in broken and emotional tones, before respectfully retiring the flag in the flames.

IMG_3619.JPGThe audience was completely silent, engulfed in the emotion of the moment. My 12-year-old son was one of the boys by the fire. Four of his younger siblings watched him participate in that sacred event. It was worth gold to me to know that he had set a standard of respect for our family as he handled the American flag that evening. Yes, no one does patriotism like the Boy Scouts of America.

P14-36c94.jpgWill the partnership between the Church and the BSA end in December? Yes. But for our family Scouting will go on. The structure, skills, substance and patriotism offered by the BSA are—in my mind—indispensable. It is my belief that Scouting will compliment—not compete with—any other extra-curricular activity, including the forthcoming Church initiative.

P19-b63a8.jpgOur family looks forward to another century of citizenship, fitness, leadership, and character through the Boy scouts of America. In 2020 we will Still be Scouting.