Monday, February 26, 2018

Who Built the Ark?

Brother Noah Built the Ark! That was the song we sang as Amara played it on the piano tonight for family night.  It's found in a beginners piano book that we have.  Steve was in charge this week and he just taught Amara's class about Noah's Ark yesterday in primary, so he decided to extend his lesson into our family home evening. 

We paired up and we were told that our team had 10 minutes to learn all we could about the story of Noah and the Ark.  Amara and I were a team and we grabbed her scriptures and I showed her how to use the "Guide to the Scriptures" found in the back of her new Book of Mormon.  We looked up Ark and found that the stories were in Genesis 6-8.  We read about half of that and Amara inserted the things she had learned in class to help me understand.  Then, Steve called time and we all gathered for the game.

 Steve downloaded an app called "Guess Up," kinda like the game "Heads Up," except you can make your own topics and cards, and he had made one for Noah's Ark.  It was really fun! 

It was also fun for me to review some of the details found in the scriptures.  7 pairs of "clean" animals (the ones they would eat- those that "chew the cud and part the hoof") and only 2 pairs of the "unclean" boarded the ark.  Mom asked, "Why didn't they bring the fish on the ark?"  She's always making us laugh! 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Love Abounds- Valentine's Celebrations

This photo was taken only a few hours ago. Steve and I went to China Star for a romantic yet budget-friendly dinner of delicious king crab legs (me) and General Tao's chicken (Steve)!
My mom had volunteered to take the girls out to dinner when she got home from work so that Stephen and I could go on a date. Mom ended up taking the girls to McDonald's where Lily ordered a hamburger, Amara ordered a cheeseburger kids meal, and Grandma ordered a "kidney sandwich." She was playing a joke on the person taking the order. They laughed I think. Then she really ordered their Pico guacamole burger and a fish fillet sandwich. When she went to the window to pick up the food, she asked if she could have a rat with that! Boy, isn't she funny!

When everyone got home, we watched The Studio C Valentines special. We're all pretty tired from a full day of fun. 

This morning, I took the girls to the library for their Valentine's crafts and cookies.  We then went to a homeschooler's Valentine's party and played games and had fun exchanging Valentines. 

The girls got so much candy it's like Halloween all over again!

And yes, we did do some school today. We did a history lesson this morning learning about some of the Explorers like Amerigo Vespucci, Ponce de Leon, and Ferdinand Magellan. We also played the Explorers card game. We did reading and the girls worked on their entrepreneurship projects on the computer while I went with my companion to do some visiting teaching drop offs of Valentine's gifts to our sisters.

And yes, today was a sugar day. Makes me glad that I did Zumba this morning with the girls because my meal tonight came with a coconut cream pie!

The Valentining didn't begin today though. This past weekend, we had a ward adult's Valentine's dinner which the Relief Society presidency was in charge of (that's me) and my mom was in charge of decorating. Needless to say, I had a big hand and played a big part in getting this event together. It turned out lovely.

 We planned for a hundred but only 60 or so showed up, so there was a lot of food leftover for people to take home. I'm not complaining about that because I happen to love that food. We had Cafe Rio type salads or burritos depending on what you wanted to make with the sweet pork and all the fixin's.  We also had a decadent dessert bar which I made tiger butter fudge for.

My mom put a lot of energy and effort for that day and didn't stop to even drink water very much. The place was decorated like a wedding and it was beautiful! 

The elders were in charge of our entertainment for the night and they had us play a version of The Newlywed Game. We had a lot of fun with our Ward Family. I love activities like this when we can get together and get to know one another.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Good Ol' Family Council

 Family councils are something that our church leaders have told us to do. We have had family councils sporadically in our own home, and when we tried to set an exact time for family counseling, it wasn’t a habit so it usually fell through.  Sad, I know.  But, I want to do better.  And after our latest experience with family council, I'm a believer!

Frustrations Escalate

Our family attends the ward choir, not really because everyone wants to, but because the choir needs our voices.  The ward choir is something that I have felt strongly that we should participate in as a family.  I have had difficulty with trying to get everyone on board.  Because Stephen is trying his best to support me in this, the girls pretty much have no choice because they are left at church anyways, so they might as will participate.  Lily has come to grips with this and has stopped complaining, but Amara has fought it every week, and has made her will known by several different means. Sometimes she would sit by me but would slump in the chair and mumble instead of sing, or purposely sing like a tone deaf monkey, sometimes she wouldn’t sing at all and would just sit silently, sometimes she’d curl up in a ball on the chair and pretend to fall asleep, and very rarely did she put any effort forth in trying to be a good choir member.  There was no punishment for her lack of participation, only a scolding if her behavior was too rude.  There was just an expectation that she would participate because her mother asked her to and because we were doing this as a family.  I’d do my best to ignore her groans, eye rolling, etc..  Instead of reprimanding, I'd politely ask her to sing with us, to no avail.  Sure, when we'd perform, she'd sing because everyone was watching, but week after week was an incessant complaint session followed by disrespectful and sometimes obnoxious behavior.

She would often use the excuse that she was hungry or tired, both of which were probably true, because we all feel that way after a three hour block meeting that begins at 11 and ends at 2pm. To stay an extra 45 minutes feels like a lifetime. I get that. Steve gets that.  Yet we plow through.  But when we would get home, it’s not like she would immediately grab food and take a nap. No! In fact, when I would get food out of the fridge for everyone to dish up, she would often refuse it because she was already busy doing something else and wasn’t interested in eating.  And the only nap takers are Steve and I, and only on occasion.  So, I thought if she brought a snack, that would solve the issue. We tried that for few weeks, it didn’t help, because that really wasn't the issue.

Last month, she decided to exert her will further by not sitting with the choir and sitting a few benches away just so everyone knew she was not going to participate. And, she did not just sit there, she would turn around and face the choir and make a grimacing face and glaring eyes at me. I would ignore her evil looks and periodically motion for her to sit by me and with all the friendliness I could muster I’d encourage her to come sing with us.  She’d slowly and emphatically shake her head “NO,” and turn her back on me (and the choir) for around 60 seconds, then start the shenanigans all over again. It was rude. It was distracting.  It was embarrassing, and she knew it.

 I wanted to explode on her. I wanted to drag her out of those choir seats and lecture her till tears ran down her face. I wanted her to feel as bad as she was making me feel. But, I recognized that those lines of action would not be consistent with my beliefs and would land me on the floor repenting and regretting it all. But, I also knew I couldn’t just sit there anymore and ignore it. We had to talk about it. And it wasn’t just her that needed to talk. Our entire family needed it.

We got home from church and did our normal thing. Time went by and we were having a calm Sunday evening, everyone absorbed in their own device, alone, watching things and listening to things that didn’t exactly set this day apart from any of the others. It bothered me to see our Sabbath observance being something that only happened when mom "made us do it."  Yet, I was to be held responsible at the judgement bar of God for teaching my children to walk in the ways of righteousness and teaching wasn't something I was doing.  I was ignoring things because it was easier to not teach one more thing, and I felt alone, and I was either lazy or procrastinating or both.  Guilt trip.

Family Council

That’s when I decided it was time for a family council.  Of course, when I called the family together no one really wanted to do it, me included.  I just knew it needed to be done.  The kids dragged their feet and attitudes onto our king-sized bed (where the council would be held), assumed they were in trouble, and Steve sluggishly stowed his device away.  I began the council by stating there is a problem going on with with our Sabbath day observance and with Amara's participation in choir practice.  I wanted solutions and no one was in trouble.  I started asking questions to get the ball rolling, to get people to talk and put in their two cents.  It took some time for everyone to be comfortable ready to talk about things, but when they did start talking and sharing their souls with one another, we were finally able to make progress as a family!

We needed that talk to be able to get anywhere.  I asked Amara straight out what we could to so that she would want to come and participate in choir willingly, without complaint, every week. She said that Sundays are so boring and if she had something to look forward to like playing Star Stables computer game for one hour, then that would help.  I shouted, "Hallelujah!"  Yes, literally.  I held out my hand for her to shake and said "Done!"  It was a deal! She raised her eyebrows at me like she did not expect it to be that easy. She knew the rules against playing computer games on Sunday and so assumed it would be out of the question.

I remember our Stake President talking about how the Sabbath Day should be a delight and what that means. He had 10 children.  Do you think they went home after church and wrangled the kids to open their scriptures and read until bedtime?  Anyone with children knows that such a task would turn the Sabbath into drudgery, not delight.  And, it actually would be near impossible to have successful scripture study under such circumstances.  To "rest from our labors" for children might actually mean going outside to jump on a trampoline for half an hour with their siblings, or in our case, playing the Star Stables computer game for an hour.

Let me tell you, there was a lighter feeling among all of us sitting on our bed as a consensus was made. Our council lasted close to an hour, and Steve expressed how time is going too fast, and he wanted to go on dates with his girls each week!  So much good came out of this family council that I wish we had done it sooner! Now we can attend choir without complaints.  Now, the girls get to spend quality time each week with one of the earth's finest men, their daddy.  We've made some great changes and I now have a testimony of the importance and goodness that comes from family council.

Farkle is a game Steve and the girls played for a date night.  They had so much fun with it that the next night, when I was around, they wanted to play it all together.  It really was fun!  Steve may have broken the record for how many times in a row he threw a Farkle!