Sunday, November 10, 2013

Three tips on not being jealous and not judging others

We've had a really neat experience over the last 5 months to see the conversion and baptism (yesterday) of our son's friend, Canon, age 10.  Although it's been awesome for the most part, we can tell it's been hard on our son because his friend has gotten SO MUCH attention.  We've tried to stress that Eli (our son) needs to try and be happy for his friend's success & accomplishment.

I remembered tonight that I've had a little list on my bed stand for MONTHS on ways to make it easier to not judge others.  It was so short that I hadn't bothered to make a post of it, yet I though the ideas were good.  My second point on the list was, as mentioned above:

Be happy for others' accomplishments.

The other two points were:

1. Get to know the person/people you are struggling with, and

2. Believe others are doing the best they can.

My dad was always a great example of being happy for others & their accomplishments, and I've always remembered that.  It can be so easy to judge or to be jealous, but if we have the mindset that others are people, too, and we should be happy for them, it makes it easier.

Good. Now I can throw away my note that's been on my dresser.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Beginning of Better Days: March 17, 1842

I know I still haven't blogged about the Sheri Dew section of The Beginning of Better Days, but I'm really excited about the March 17, 1842 section!  I was able to read a good chunk of it while waiting for my daughters at their singing class.  It filled in so many of the holes that I've wondered about with the organization of the Relief Society.  I'll just jot down some of my notes here so you can get a feel for what's in the chapter:

  • What is the 1844 definition of "provoke"?  Could it be assist?  Why would the sisters "provoke the brethren to good works in looking for the wants of the poor. . ." does it really mean help or assist? (89)
  • The sisters were to search after "objects of charity." This reminded me of the modern practices of the LDS Church to seek out the poor and needy (89).
  • They also were to correct the morals and strengthen the virtues of the female community and "save the Elders the trouble of rebuking" so they could spend their time in their public teaching (89).  I wonder what they were to rebuke?  Gossip?  Because teaching is not mentioned here for the sisters, I wondered if they were not to teach, but only the brothers?  On page 91, however, Emma is told to "expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of the community. . . . "
  • The sisters were to elect a presiding officer who would choose two counselors (89-90).  This differs in the current selection of a Relief Society president as she is chosen by the bishop, not the sisters (90).  I know some priesthood positions back then were also elected, but I can't remember how common that was.  I should look that up.  Could you imagine really voting in your bishop or RS president?  Page 91 also mentions that Emma "was called an Elect lady" because she was "elected to preside. . . ."
  • Joseph said he would "ordain [the women] to preside over the Society."  Now in some commentary this has caused confusion because he's using priesthood words which would make some think that he may be giving the women the priesthood.  In the context of the chapter though, I think he uses the priesthood words merely to describe this similar female organization. This clarifies in my head the meaning of the term "organized after the pattern of the priesthood": the Relief Society was organized structurally like the organization of the priesthood with a president and two counselors.  Additionally he says, if the sisters want any officers, they should "be appointed and set apart, as Deacons, Teachers, &c. are among us" (90).
  • I also found it interesting that what the Relief Society presidency decided was "considered law."  I wonder what specific decisions were in their domain? (90)
  • The minutes would become their "Constitution and law" (90).
  • It sounds to me like the RS Presidency could be in office as long as they were in "good behavior" just "like the first Presidency." Fascinating.  I wonder what would constitute bad behavior! (90)
  • The notes state that "Mrs. Smith proceed to choose her Counsellors, that they maybe ordain'd to preside. . ."  Again, I'm thinking Joseph's using priesthood words to describe what is to happen in the RS, not that he's going to give them the priesthood; the RS is just going to be run the same way (91).
  • I love how they used the word "Presidentess" back in that day.  I think we should pick it up again, well, at least once we can consistently say it without tripping up our tongues! (91)
  • On page 92, we start hearing about the formality expected in the RS meetings.  One funny thing is that "When one has the floor [she can occupy it for] as long as she pleases."  Also, the President should be addressed as "Mrs. Chairman or President and not Mr. Chairman. . . ." There must have been some question as to whether the women should be called Mr. as an official title?
  • I also love on 92 that the sisters were "not [to] injure the character of any one. . . ." Also, "keep all your doings within your own bosoms, and hold all characters sacred." We can probably all take that advice.
  • Page 93 goes into choosing the name of the Relief Society/Benevolent Society.  I thought it was funny that they were worried "relief" could connotate "to relieve criminals from punishment. . . to relieve a murderer, which would not be a benevolent act."
  • Emma didn't like the popularity of the word benevolent because other institutions with benevolent in the name were corrupt.
  • Eliza R. Snow objected to the word Relief because "the idea associated with it is that of some great calamity" rather than "meeting the common occurrences."  Little did she know the huge part the RS would eventually play in helping people during calamities.  And of course, today, the RS is quite a steward of the "common occurrences" more than anything.
  • When Emma said "we are going to do something extraordinary" her example was "when a boat is stuck on the rapids with a multitude of Mormons on board we shall consider that a loud call for relief. . . " (95-96).
  • When Joseph gave his money to the RS that day, he said, "I shall have to concede the point, all I shall have to give to the poor, I shall give to this Society."  From that statement, it makes me think that he was basically turning the temporal care of people over to the RS, much like the Presiding Bishopric has the duty today (96).
  • As it's official name was, The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, I wonder when "The Female" part was officially omitted? (96)
  • Lastly, Joseph declared the RS organized and stated ". . .all who shall hereafter be admitted into this Society must be free from censure and receiv'd by vote."  What exactly did censure mean back then? It's also interesting that new members had to be voted in.  I wonder how long that practice lasted (97).
I loved this section!  Like I said at the beginning, it filled in a lot of the holes about the beginning of the RS that I'd wanted to understand.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mormon Women's Involvement with the Sacred: Reflections on Kris Wright's Lecture on Bread, Water, Oil, and Cloth

The other night I had the opportunity to hear Kris Wright, co-author of Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism with J. Stapley, speak on Bread, Water, Oil, & Cloth: Religious Objects, Mormon Women, and History at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake.  I'd been so excited for this night to come because I enjoyed the above-mentioned paper so much, and she did not disappoint in her presentation!

You may be wondering what could be interesting about bread, water, oil, cloth, and women in the LDS Church.  Well, I will summarize and hopefully you will also be enlightened as I believe so many in the room were.  I'm going to follow the general outline of Kris's presentation and interject my own thoughts as we go.  She did move through everything pretty quickly, so forgive me if I'm mixing up my details!

Think back to the construction of the Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Salt Lake Temples.  You can surely recall stories regarding the building of those structures.  Who do you think of when you think about the construction?  Generally men?  Most likely.  You may remember a few stories of women helping, specifically the one about women making shirts for the men building the Nauvoo Temple.  You can probably also conclude that it was a sacrifice to an entire family for for a man to leave his wife and children to go build, but were the women directly involved?

Now, think back to something someone made for you, by hand.  Perhaps it was your grandmother, possibly your mother.  Maybe it was mittens (as Kris described), possibly it was an afghan (as my mother has made for my children), maybe it was a quilt someone made you for your wedding.  How do you feel when you think of these items?  You probably feel sentimental and connected and bound to whomever made them.

Well, as Kris described, women in earlier days of the Church were intimately involved in the creation of edible and tactile items for religious worship, which uniquely bound them to their faith, just as receiving a hand-made gift binds you to the giver and making something for someone binds you to the receiver.

Bread - Kris shared the example of one woman who baked the sacrament bread, cut off the crusts, and sliced it a certain way so that the priests could tear the pieces very uniformly.  This woman also delivered her bread on a special dish.  Another woman prepared the sacrament table, polished the trays, and made the tablecloths.  Another woman cared for the sacrament table for 25 years by making the tablecloths, the bread, and preparing the table each week.  In one ward, the women embroidered the ward name in one of the tablecloths and a scripture on the other.  All this service, these domestic duties, became ritual and bound these women to their religion.

Water - In one ward, the young women filled the sacrament water cups and placed the bread in trays. After the sacrament, they washed the cups.  In the 1940s when disposable cups became available, the girls' involvement decreased, and by the 1950s preparation and cleanup became the young men's responsibility.  A question I had after this story was why couldn't the men do the preparation and the cleanup in the first place?  Who said males couldn't wash the dishes?  I'm hopeful that having the girls wash the cups was not meant to be a put down, but a way they could participate.

Oil - Women started using consecrated oil in 1834.  It is recorded as being used by women in places such as Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Winter Quarters.  They used it both ritually and therapeutically.  It was essential in caring for the sick and blessing with it was a responsibility of the Relief Society.  A 1905 Relief Society banner stated:

Bless the Sick
Soothe the Sad
Succor the Distressed
Visit the Widowed and Fatherless

I would guess that at that time to "bless the sick" meant to actually bless them with consecrated oil and prayer, not the modern "bless" as in a kind word or good fortune.

Kris mentioned that women were thought of as the gateway for birth and death.  I thought that was beautiful.  It's obvious that women are physically the gateway into life, but they also played a greater role in the past at times of death (now most everyone is far removed at times of death!).  Not only being physically there, but to provide blessings.  In 1880 it was recorded that women gave blessings at birth.  Midwives also anointed newborn babies.  Not only did women bless with consecrated oil, but sometimes the oil was ingested by the person being treated, or the oil was put on the whole body.

Cloth - Women had a huge part in the production of textiles in the early days of the church.  What are some of the sacred fabric items that we see now?  How about garments, temple clothing, altar cloths, sacrament tablecloths (as mentioned), and the veil of the temple?  Now days, we go out and buy those things, but in years past, the women had the duty to make them.  It was a great time commitment, and surely a labor of love that kept women thinking about WHY they were putting forth such great effort.

In Kirtland women made the veil of the temple.  In Nauvoo, as mentioned above, women made shirts for the temple builders; they also made the veils of the temple and the carpets.  Emma Smith, Eliza Snow, and Elizabeth Warren Allred under the direction of Joseph Smith designed the first garments. Years later, swimsuit designer RoseMarie Reid redesigned them, who by chance (or not), was a descendant of Elizabeth Warren Allred!

In earlier days, Relief Society women gathered together to sew temple clothing.  Eventually they were asked not to sew temple clothing during Relief Society where it could be exposed to those who had not been to the temple.

During the construction of the Logan Temple, records were kept of all the donated labor hours.  The data includes the sewing and cleaning done by women.  The seamstresses involved were professionals, just as the men working on the outside were skilled laborers.

Earlier in the lecture, Kris broke down the word textile.  Yes, we think fabric, but the first four letters are T-E-X-T, which means that which is woven, such as fabric or embroidery.  Just as text contains words and memories, so do these domestic items that women created; they tell a story, too.

At the end there was a question and answer period that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Question 1
As everyone recognized that women's roles with physical religious objects has somewhat diminished over the years, the first query concerned how can we create this connection to religion through objects like the women had in years past.  Kris suggested offering to bake sacrament bread, cleaning ward buildings (sure, not glamorous, but still an opportunity to serve and connect), creating artwork for the walls of the church (if permissible), making tissue box covers (some women do find joy and connection in this!), and just watching for other tangible ways to connect.

I was recently asked to make the sacrament meeting programs.  Today as I sat in Relief Society folding them and putting in an insert, I thought about this being a way to connect to my religion.  Sure enough, even making the programs, knowing what's going on in the ward, helping others know what's going on in the ward, does help me connect to my religion.

Question 2
The second question was my favorite.  A younger woman, you could tell she was extremely touched by the lecture, shared that women today are trying to get away from the mundane, especially the repetitious traditional women's work, such as cleaning and cooking.  Kris had brought up Elaine Dalton's story about vacuuming the Conference Center earlier in the lecture, and the woman asking the question shared that at the time the story was given she did not like it because again it was an example of women being "reduced" to domestic work.  Yet, because of the lecture, she could see that there is sanctity in the mundane.  So much like the first question, how do we appreciate and reconnect with the simple sacred?  Kris suggested becoming a temple worker and carefully observing what goes on there, including the blessings of the temple.

The thing that popped into my head here is serving in our homes!  We have so many opportunities day in and day out to serve our spouse and children by taking care of (and teaching) domestic responsibility like cooking and cleaning. These jobs can keep our minds set on our families and our eternal purpose and goals as a family unit.  If we can't bake bread for the sacrament, we can bake it for our families whom we love; if we can't crochet coverings for the altars of the temple or make the carpets, we can create other heirlooms with our hands for our children.  Sewing is becoming such a lost art, yet as it is a labor of love, it connects us to whatever we've sewn as well as to whomever the item is for.

Question 3
The third question concerned how we've gone from a producing to a consuming society, and since much of what was produced by women is now purchased (and their necessary contributions were eliminated), women do not feel the same religious identity.  Kris suggested here being a producer in the home.  I realized that as home production is disappearing (see above paragraph), and even homemaking and child raising are going away in US culture.  Fewer people have children and sometimes when they do other people raise them.  When women do not have these emotional connections to their own children and their own homes because they outsource the work, my guess is there will be a lack of connection to those things (or people) that should be valued most.  Those important things and people will go by the wayside and connections and value will be lost.

I am going to suggest that there is some of this loss of connection and feeling going on in the ordain [LDS] women movement. Some women, because they're not directly connected to certain rituals and ordinances, even as they were historically, feel they want more out of our religion by obtaining the priesthood so they can more fully participate.  I will argue that even though women are not doing the same things, we can still have the same feelings and connections as men, but through different channels as has been discussed.

When I got home and told my husband about the lecture, my husband summarized it brilliantly:  So, women worked hard and sacrificed to sew and cook items for religious worship, and then "they" came along and said we're going to make your life easier by buying bread and disposable cups and purchasing garments and other linens, but now women complain they want more work again? Interesting thought.  Maybe we should try our hands at making our own garments and baking the sacrament bread.  Maybe then we would feel more connection to our religion through that labor.  Or, we could just find ritual, religious connection through other things we've been asked to do.

Question 4
Someone brought up creating connections through raising our children.  She remembered looking at her own working hands and seeing the hands of her mother -- this created a connection to her mother through her work.  This person stated that when we look for fulfillment outside our homes, we miss the special, spiritual experiences we can have inside the home.  We also need to create our own family rituals because they will create meaning in our lives.

Question 5 & 7
Question 5 concerned women giving blessings historically and how it was phased out.  I'm not even going to get into that here, but if you're really interested, just go read the paper mentioned at the top of this post.  Question 7 was similar as the asker wondered why we don't do these rituals anymore. Again, I think this is addressed in the original paper.

Question 6
Someone asked if female rituals of the past (blessings, textile contributions to the temples, sacrament offerings, etc.) were more valued within Mormonism than women's contributions outside of Mormonism.  Kris answered that some of these things were uniquely LDS, and yes, highly valued.

I was so glad I was able to attend Kris's lecture.  I felt empowered recognizing that even though in some ways I don't participate in religious rituals as regularly or directly as women in the early days of the church, I still can find modern ways to connect to my religion.  If you are interested in watching this lecture and getting more than my notes and personal interpretation, it was recorded for publication at a later date.  If I find out when or where that is, I will update it here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mom School

This summer I wanted the kids to focus on some things that I wanted them to learn.  School is good and all, but I wanted a little more say for the summer.  So, I came up with "Mom School."  Mom School this summer included swimming lessons, music, drama, dance, school review, and culture.

Our son needed to review elapsed time and work on his spelling and handwriting.  I also had him do a bit of typing and math drill reviews.  He took hip-hop with a friend, swimming, piano, and did a drama camp.

Our daughter needed to work on reading, but also took jazz, swimming, did KinderBach at home, and drama camp.

We kept busy and I was really glad to not have to compete with regular school!

For culture, I thought I'd choose a country a week to study.  I ended up choosing a specific country/week by the type of food we were in the mood for.  We ended up only doing about 1/2 our countries, but it was a good effort.  We covered China, Thailand, England, Sweden, India, and Mexico.  Sometimes I'd make the food, sometimes we'd go out.  I almost purchased the Confessions of a Homeschooler's curriculum, but instead made a really simple worksheet for the kids to complete to learn more about the country.  Then we'd talk about it.  They didn't always do all the worksheet, but it gave us a little focus.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Where's a Mom to Get a Vacation???

You thought the title of this post was a rhetorical question, didn't you?  But, I really have an answer:  ASPEN GROVE.

Aspen Grove is a family camp run by BYU and is located up Provo Canyon in Utah.  I hadn't heard about it until 6? years ago when my cousins went; although, it is 50 years old.  It really piqued my interest when I learned they watch your children when you stay there, which means mom really CAN have a vacation!

They have all sorts of activities: badminton, basketball, miniature golf, ping pong, pool, swimming, rock climbing, ropes course, arts and crafts, watercolor, wood pen turning, lectures, family dance, family games, etc.  You can choose to participate in them or not.  You can also choose to send your kids to their babysitting/classes or not.  My husband described the experience as 50% marriage retreat, 50% family vacation.  It's the best of both worlds:  quality family time together, but couple time, too.

For those of us who haven't ever really had our little kids go to any type of day care before, Aspen is brilliant in getting them to go.  The first day, the kids merely meet their leaders.  The second day they go for 2 hours.  The third day, about 3.  The fourth day, 5 or 6; The fifth day 7!!!  Then it decreases from there until you go home.

They're also brilliant in their food services.  First off they do all the cooking and cleaning for you!  When you go to the dining hall, they usually have three buffet food lines set up to meet the crowds.  As the numbers decline they close and clean up a food line, eventually leaving just one line for the stragglers and those who want seconds.  The food is also quite good and nearly always includes fruit and vegetable options.

When we went, Aspen Grove was about half-capacity in guests because school had started so many places, so it felt like we had a lot of the place to ourselves.  The staff and guests were all superb.  We loved becoming acquainted with everyone.  We definitely want to go back.  Being a week long event, though, makes it kind of hard if you want to do any other sort of vacation during your summer break especially if you're scheduling around dad's vacation time!

 Eating at the dining hall.


Treadwall - indoor climbing 

Climbing/Ropes Course



Hiking - Stewart Falls

 Hiking - First and Second Falls/Timpanogos



Family Dance

 Aspen Grove's Board Cabin

While there, we stayed at the "Board Cabin."  Before we went, I Googled for pictures of the inside so I would have a better idea of what to expect.  I was unable to find any, so we took some while we were there, that might be useful to someone, sometime.

The beautiful walk to the Board Cabin

Living room with hide-a-bed.  Adjoining door to other side of Board Cabin on right.  Rent both sides!  However, the walls are very thin!  I felt bad for our neighbors as our baby woke up and cried at least once a night.

Loft up above.  To the right is the door to the bathroom.  You can shut it to keep out noise between the bathroom and the living room.  Additionally there's another door between the bathroom and the bedroom, so you can shut that off, too.  Notice the mini-fridge on the left.

 Four twin beds, three mats.  You could put 7 kids up here!  So in all, you could have 2 in the queen bed, plus a crib, plus 2 in the hide-a-bed, plus the 7 upstairs.  That's 11 people in just one side of the Board Cabin!  If you rent both sides, I suppose you could sleep 22 people in there!  I'm not sure if they'd let you, though!

The master bedroom has it's own exterior door, so if people are sleeping in the living room, you can sneak out the back without disturbing them.

Queen size bed, closet, mini-crib provided for baby, if needed.

Baby got a cold and was an even worse sleeper, so we pulled the queen mattress out of the bedroom and and put it on top of the hide-a-bed in the living room and slept there.  Who wants to sleep on a hide-a-bed, anyway?

There are three towel racks.  You can hang 7 towels!  Stand up shower only.

Ample hooks.

They could use a shelf in the bathroom.  Or just bring some sort of hanging bag you can hang on the towel rack.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen

While on vacation I finished a book. I couldn't believe it.  I think I need to go on more vacations so I can finish more books.  The book was Covenant Motherhood by Stephanie Dibb Sorensen. Even cooler than finishing the book, I got to go to her Friday Education Week class, meet her, AND have dinner with her and a few others afterward. 

In her book, Stephanie identifies so many parallels between the roles of mothers and the roles of Christ. It's so easy to think that what we are doing as mothers is mundane and unimportant, but Stephanie makes you feel so good and useful! The titles of her chapters will give you an idea of where she goes with this: 

* Chapter 1: Motherhood Testifies of Christ 
* Chapters 2-9: Jesus Christ Creates, Teaches, Succors, Provides, Cleanses, Defends and Protects, Loves and Sacrifices, Forgives and Shares Burdens, and Saves 
* Chapters 10: Grace and the Covenant 
* Chapter 11: (My favorite) The Eternal Influence of Covenant Motherhood 

On page 4, Stephanie shares a quote by Neal A. Maxwell about God's work being one eternal round, including his "continuous redemption for His children." Yes, we're always messing up and God is always having to work with us and forgive us. I can imagine that could be tedious. I also thought of temple work, and how it can be so repetitive, yet, we don't give up on it, nor does God because it is so important. 

Speaking of the temple, on page 9, I loved this: "We know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ created a world where God's children could grow. As part of this divine and creative partnership, mothers also create a world where their children live and grow. This mother-made world consists of home and family. . . . A mother is the temple matron in her own home, doing all she can to make it a place filled with the Spirit of God. . . ." Doesn't that feel good? 

Throughout the book, I enjoyed how I related to Stephanie in regards to wondering if she's cut out for motherhood. On page 55, she states: "I also thought people chose to be moms because they loved all of that kid-related stuff, like playdates at the park and making your own baby food ann baking cookies for the PTA. Now that I'm all grown up, I realize that probably only about 1.7 percent of the population is well equipped to automatically be a great mother. The rest of us just kind of muddle through it somehow. . . ." What a great discovery. I often look at other moms thinking they wanted this chasing kids, and changing diapers, what's wrong with me? If I could only want this it would be so much easer. But, Stephanie's probably onto something --- more of us are muddling through this than we think! 

In the last chapter, which I mentioned was my favorite, Stephanie poses several questions. I'll tell you the questions, but I won't tell you the answers. 

 Q: Many women are educated, talented, and extremely capable. Isn't it a waste of their skills to spend time with children when they could make a bigger difference in the public sphere? When so many options are available, doesn't it make sense to outsource the more menial tasks of childcare so that women can do bigger things? 

 Q: No one seems to notice the work I do, which makes it feel like it doesn't matter. I wonder if there would be more rewards or recognition in other pursuits. 

 Q: Sometimes, even within the gospel, it feels like mothers with young children aren't able to accomplish all that they are supposed to do. When my children are so young and needy, how can I possibly do family history work, be a missionary, attend the temple regularly, and be an active contributor to the missions of the Church? 

 Q: I try so hard to do what's right and be a good mom, but it's so difficult to measure any success. My children don't seem to make much progress with all of the things I'm trying to teach them, and I often feel weary. Am I really making an important difference in their lives? 

Q: Some people seem to leave their mark on history in big ways, and my contribution is so small and unrecognizable. Does Heavenly Father really value what I'm doing, and does it add value to our society? 

If you are struggling with feeling value in motherhood, Covenant Motherhood will help you realize how important, beautiful, and fulfilling it actually is. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Put on display like a trophy?

Recently we went to the outdoor Logan Aquatics Center and had a great time.  We especially had fun going down the water slides.  After taking our tiny 4-year old down the twisty slide a couple times, I was shocked that she wanted to go all by herself.  She did it two times.  Thankfully, the lifeguards were prepared to catch her at the bottom!

I noticed while there that lots of females wore cute, flattering, and even modest swimsuits --- if you can call a swimsuit modest!  And, of course, there were plenty of bikinis --- the more endowed the woman, the smaller the bikini (seems).  I tried not to notice the flesh hanging out all around me.

As I waited in line for one of the water slides with my daughter, several males, and other modestly-suited females, a very attractive mother in a blue and white polka-dot bikini came up the stairs and stood a few people behind us.  She looked great: thin, smooth, hairless, rounded in all the right places.  I totally checked her out.  OK, not in a sexual way, but first in a stunned way that she'd be okay that all these people could see her in her near naked state.  I wondered if she really felt okay like that, especially with her little daughter standing right beside her.

Secondly, I looked at her like she was on display.  I looked at her like I would look at someone's Emmy Award if they showed it to me.  Why would you look away when an award winner shows you her prize?  It is on display after all --- all shiny and bright, just wanting to be looked at and admired.  I looked at her the same way I look at the punk kid with long hair and dumpy clothes who walks up to the Sacrament table to prepare the Sacrament.  Are you serious?  He thinks that is becoming of the Lord?  I looked at her like I look at a person covered with tattoos or piercings or makeup.  Don't they do those things to their bodies because they want to stand out?  They want to be different?  They want you to look?  Oh, you don't want me to look at your tattooed arm and neck?  Uh, sorry, it was kind of hard not to notice.

Are we modest when we do these things?  I don't think so.  Modesty is blending in, not drawing attention to oneself, but honoring God and glorifying him in all we do, not taking the glory ourselves.

Now of course, some women DO want to be looked at and lusted after, and I guess they have their wish when they go to the pool.  However, some are ignorant like the cute teens in their bikinis who haven't yet realized that the 40-year old men are checking them out just as much as the 17-year old guys. Do they really want that?

As I began to feel that the women in bikinis were putting themselves on display, I began to not feel so bad for looking.  I also didn't feel quite so ashamed for the men checking out the women.  Hey, if the women didn't want to be looked at, they could have chosen something different to wear.  More seriously, I really don't know what women think when they wear bikinis as I've never asked a bikini-wearer why she wears one, nor have I ever worn a bikini to know what would go through my head.

In a 1979 question to Ann Landers, both Ann and the inquisitor share my thoughts.
Dear Ann Landers: . . . I am getting a lot of flak from my college freshman daughter in regard to whether or not a girl who wears a bikini is an innocent little thing or a smart little teaser.  I don't buy the line, "Dirty thoughts are in the mind of the beholder." I am fed up with this worn-out excuse for all sorts of exhibitionism.
Isn't it about time we woke up to the fact that a girl in a bikini is sexually stimulating?  My daughter says, "Only to men with evil minds." What do you say, Ann? --- Concerned Parent
Dear C.P.: I'm with you, especially when it comes to those generously endowed dames who wear postage-stamp bottoms with spaghetti string bras.  When she bought the bikini she knew how much of her would be on display.
Too bad these over-exposed females don't know that a woman's greatest asset is a man's imagination.
I am absolutely of the opinion that men should control their thoughts, but should they really be expected not to notice or look at the rear of the woman in front of them in line a couple steps up?  Well sure, but I can't imagine it could be easy.  All I can say here is along with my other good, Christian (or any other high-/traditional-valued) sisters for modesty, can't we just give these men a break?!  Can't we do them a favor by not showing so much skin?

So what was I wearing to keep me from being put on display you may wonder.  Well, there were three reasons for how I dressed: practicality, body insecurity, and respect.

First, practicality.  My aunt and uncle lived in Australia for three years.  I was tickled when I learned that lots of people there swam in rash guards.  Fantastic!  A swim shirt would protect me from the sun, allow me not to spend so much time applying sunblock, and keep me more modest.  A win, win, win!   I bought one, and that is what I wear the majority of the time I swim outdoors.
Second, body insecurity.  I chose to wear board shorts (ok, they were Wal-Mart running shorts because I can't fit into my old board shorts, and I didn't want to fork out the money for new ones) for the sun protection, use of less sunblock, more modesty, less shaving, and my body insecurities.

Honestly, I'm really insecure about my thighs.  My shape is kind of that of an oompa-loompa and my cottage cheese, I mean fat, is stored on my thighs.  It's really not attractive.  How I wish I wasn't programmed to be so concerned about it, but I am.  I admired the younger gal at the aquatics center whose belly hung out over her bikini and wondered if she knew she looked like that.  If she did, good on her for not worrying about it.  I was jealous of the men, some also with bellies, in their knee-length swim trunks and wished my shorts were longer.  I wondered how many other people felt as self- conscious about whatever body part as I did about my thighs. I realized that even some beautiful-looking people probably felt just as insecure as I did.  I wish my main purpose in covering up was to merely be modest, but it's not.

Now, at this point since you know what I wore, you could argue that I was the one being immodest because I stood out for my more covered body.  Oh well.

Third, respect.  I believe that by being more modest I show myself, God, and others around me respect. I believe as stated in For the Strength of Youth that MY "body is God's sacred creation.  Respect is a gift from God. . . . Through [my] dress and appearance, [I] can show the Lord that [I] know how precious [my] body is.  [I] can show that [I am] a disciple of Jesus Christ."

In addition to me showing respect by my modesty, at least one recent study indicated that men more highly respect women who are modest (I need to find the reference).  They don't view them as body parts as they would view an immodest woman.  I've always valued intelligence, so it's only natural that I'd want to be valued and respected for my intellect rather than merely my looks, which would mean I ought to cover up.

In conclusion, I need to publicly apologize to the polka-dot bikini mom for gloating at her, but I also thank her for helping me better realize that I do not want to put myself on display to be looked at like a trophy, a tattoo, piercings, makeup, or whatever else we do to show off.

Somewhat related: Matt Walsh's view on porn & breastfeeding.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting Children to Earn Their Keep

Last week we got an e-mail from our almost fifth grader's teacher about supplies he could use for school such as a wireless mouse, flash drive, ear buds, folders, notebooks, dry erase markers, pencils, pens, etc. I went out and bought the stuff, but thought, now why should I just give this to him? I decided he should earn it. So, I put the items in a box, and on each item I put a sticky note with a small chore such as walk the baby around the circle in the wagon five times, or clean the baseboards in your bedroom, or dust the ceiling corners on the main floor, or straighten the books, or clean out the silverware drawer. He's been so willing to do these jobs because he's really excited to get all this new stuff.

The thing that surprises me the most is actually his ability to work.  I've grossly underestimated his attention span for work.  When he's motivated, he's motivated!  He's gotten so many of the little things done that I've wanted to get done so quickly. I'll need to apply this concept to school clothes, I believe!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Providing Work Opportunities for Children

Yesterday I had the chance to go to the dry-pack cannery to get some food storage.  Another family brought both their teenagers and their little kids (3 under 8?).   Somehow I became supervisor over the kids, and rather than than working at canning food myself, I looked for jobs for the children to do. Mainly, I found they were good at rolling the cans from the upstairs of the cannery down the can chute to the main level, then they carried the cans to the different canning tables so the people doing the work there wouldn't have to come get the cans.  It worked pretty well, but still there wasn't quite enough work to do.  The kids were loving it and even one of the girls said, "This is the funnest job I've ever done!"

I saw some of the adults sticking labels on the cans, and I thought, what little girl wouldn't LOVE to stick stickers on cans?  So, I took her over to the lady at that station and asked if the girl could stick on stickers.  The lady responded, "But then I won't have anything to do."  I smiled and mentioned that I'm not doing anything (canning labor) either, just "supervising" and suggested maybe she could do the same.  The little girl joined up and was able to help.

I must interject here so you don't think the woman I was talking to doesn't like kids or something.  She's a great lady with 3 of her own children and always willing to serve, so please don't think I'm criticizing her.  I just think that as a whole, as I pondered on my way home, that we get overly concerned about getting things done or looking/being productive ourselves rather than allowing children, who are often just as capable, to do it.

I know I am completely guilty of this.  For example, I could have my kids clean the bathroom, but if I do it, I'll be faster, do a better job, and won't have to hear the whining!  But, when I do that, I'm stripping away the opportunity for the kids to serve and learn.

So my goal from this experience is to remember to let kids help!  We need to create positive work experiences for children.  We need to work with them, and surely their attitude toward work will be positive.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Non-Optional Experiences

You know how sometimes there are things you just want your kids to do, no exceptions?  One of our neighbors calls these Non-Optional Experiences (NOEs for short).  For example, this summer, our nine year old is taking piano lessons, no matter what.  I'm a softie during the school year when he hates it so badly and has other things to do such as homework, but I can deal with piano for three months.  Swimming lessons is another NOE.  You have to learn to swim!

I'd heard good things about Ephraim's Rescue and wanted to take the nine year old and the seven year old with us.  I was pretty sure they'd like it.  However, when I said we were going, the nine year old just wanted to go play with grandpa with the little ones.  He practically started crying because he didn't want to go so badly.  We told him it was a NOE and made him come to the movie.

Once we were there, there wer NO complaints.  Afterward, my mom said she just had to ask him if he was glad he went.  He ignored her question and made some other comment.  She told him she thought he liked it and he agreed.

Ephraim's Rescue was wonderful.  When I was a girl I'd read the story of Eph Hanks and remembered it being really cool.  The movie hit home even more, too, because my husband and I got asked to be a Ma and Pa for our stake trek next year in Wyoming, which is where a good chunk of the movie takes place.  We've been reading handcart pioneer stories for the past week, too!  So, go see Eph Hanks as an NOE.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Beginning of Better Days - Virginia H. Pearce section

For Mother's Day, my husband knew I wanted a copy of The Beginning of Better Days by Sheri Dew and Virginia Pearce, so he picked one up for me.  I didn't really know what it was about, other than I knew it was historical in nature, about women, and good.  I'd also heard it rumored by the Bloggernacle whiners that it was Dew & Pearce's attempt to create a better version, their own version with more guts, of Daughters in My Kingdom.

Let me just start off by saying, it is not an attempt to show that DIMK was failed in purpose and needed a replacement.  DIMK is a brief history of women in the Church; The Beginning of Better Days is a portion of the original Relief Society Minutes taken by Eliza R. Snow of the teachings of Joseph Smith.  It also includes Dew's and Pearce's insights on the teachings, and in fact, directly addresses many of the concerns of modern Mormon feminists.

I actually considered entitling this post, Who are the Real Mormon Feminists?, but didn't want to cause an uproar, nor did I want to identify Dew and Pearce with the word feminism if they don't want to be.  But, this book is incredible.  Dew and Pearce don't shy away from the tough questions.  They question faithfully.  I surely planned to do a post about the book once I was done, but I've had so many thoughts about it as I've read, I want to do some smaller posts as I go.

So, today's post is only on Virginia Pearce's section, "Angels and Epiphanies."

On page 7, I love how she points out that we have to bring in historical context as we study the teachings of Joseph Smith.  It's just as when we study other scriptures.  We have to separate the principle from the "historical circumstances," then apply that principle to our lives.

On page 9, she reminds us that in 1842 when the sermons were given and the RS was organized, that women "rarely held offices in male-dominated organizations."  She comments that as women in the Church that we "have the opportunity and responsibility to help solve problems and attend to needs."

On page 14, she mentions that Joseph stated that women specifically "'have feelings of charity.'"  I've heard this from him and I've heard similar sentiments from MANY others.  I want to believe there is something special and unique in this statement, and I see that quality in women myself, but so many people say, "well men have that quality, too.  There is nothing in women that makes them more charitable over men."  I guess I want to see some studies showing that Joseph was right.

On page 15, I loved how Pearce reminds us of the historical context of lots of immigrants in Nauvoo , and people needed to be extra charitable as they were trying to understand new people and new cultures.  Similarly, on page 16, she points out how Joseph taught the women to "refrain from self-righteousness and gossip" particularly in light of the rumors about plural marriage and the fraudulent practice of "spiritual wifery" of John C. Bennet.  What a confusing time that would be!

On page 23, I liked how Pearce states she won't be offended when someone says men get the priesthood and women get to bear children, "but that explanation doesn't really resonate with me either."  I get it more than I used to after reading Cassler's works, but I'm not fully sold on it, or maybe I still don't completely understand it.  Anyway, I'm glad to know Pearce doesn't totally get that one either.

On page 24, Pearce reminds us that "'The priesthood' isn't the congregation of men who meet together each Sunday," but it is God's power.  On 25 and 26, I loved learning Pearce's journey through trying to understand how and why women in the early restored Church healed people and why we don't do that today.

On page 28, Pearce mentions how in the early days of the Church, worthiness was a prerequisite for membership in the Relief Society.  I knew that, but she shares details that suggest that Relief Society was practically a temple preparation class taught by the Prophet.  When you look at it that way, of course you would need to be worthy to be a member.

On page 30, she concludes that everything she is has to do with the temple and living up to her privileges that are offered there.

Anyway, I loved her essay and absolutely recommend it.  I love that she asks tough questions, yet looks and waits for faithful answers.  When I was done reading her essay, I thought, Wow!  I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Monday, May 27, 2013

How School Didn't Help Me Prepare for Motherhood

A little while ago I reworked a piece from here for Real Intent, entitled "Is Education for Naught When You Just Stay Home?"  Of course it's not, but I realized after I wrote the piece that school itself really didn't help me prepare for stay-at-home motherhood of young children.

In school we're taught to complete assignments.  At home you leave things undone.  You get half the vacuuming done, half the dishes done, and half the cleaning the bathroom done.  Hopefully, though, you get the changing of the poopy diaper completed.

In school you're supposed to be efficient and fast.  At home with small children, you walk slowly, you talk slowly, you even stop to smell the roses. When our son was three, he started stuttering.  Do you know what the speech therapist told me?  To SLOW DOWN!  I talked too fast, I read stories to our son too fast.  He needed me to slow down so he could catch up and not feel like he had to be so fast, too.

In school we're supposed to strive for perfection; strive for As.  At home, when you have kids help, you're fooling yourself if you're shooting for perfection.  When they make their beds, they're not quite right.  When they do the dishes, sometimes gunk is left on them; when they wash the windows, there are still smudges here and there.  But you know what?  It's okay, they're learning.

Related to the last one, in school you're supposed to do it once and do it right.  At home there's that constant monotony of redoing things again and again and again and again.  The teachers who send kids back to fix their mistakes are the ones who have it right.  That's what happens in mom life.

In school you're taught to do your own work.  At home you work together as a team and learn from each other.  I'm becoming a bigger fan of school group work as that is more how it is at home and even in the workplace.

At school you go by the rules and structure of the school or teacher.  At home you have to be flexible, and any structure you may wish to follow just might fly out the window depending on the day.

In school you get immediate feedback and praise for a job well done.  At home it might take nine years to see the fruits of your labors.  In the short-term, you may not even get any appreciation or recognition for any of the hard work you've done.  In school we get accustomed to knowing how well we're doing; at home you hope and pray you're doing a good job.

So, if I were to design school to help me prepare for motherhood, there would at least be more group work and more re-doing assignments.  I'm not sure if I'd want to slow down the pace of school, or interrupt school studies, or discontinue grades just to make certain points about real life, but there's surely room for improvement in preparing young people for eventual parenthood/life.


5/28 Addition:  I want to think more about this, but after sharing this with some friends on Facebook, Jessica reminded me that there are some great things that come out of school such as critical thinking/reading/writing,  understanding other viewpoints, enabling curiosity, learning how to research, assimilating information, doing things you don't want to do, and realizing you can do more than you think you can.  I use all those things now, and I can greatly attribute them to my formal schooling.

I must add that I also see a big benefit of putting kids together of the same ages in school.  They're developmentally similar and teachers can reach them in so many ways -- ways I can't because I'm juggling other children of different ages (however, I'd love to see kids broken up into interests and abilities within their age groups, too).  If I had to homeschool my kids, I'd probably get the basics in, but would miss out on reaching related topics.  I'd also miss certain things because I just didn't think of them!

So, in sum, education -- any kind -- is huge to enhance one's life and make one a better person; school itself may not prepare a person for parenthood and the realities of life, but it can in ways, and there are definitely transferrable skills.  My grandmother used to say, "Don't let school interfere with your education," and I believe it in many ways to be true.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What's the Greatest Gift You Can Give Someone?

The other day a question popped into my mind: What is the greatest gift you can give someone?  I realized it was motherhood (or fatherhood, or just parenting for that matter).  If you bear the child, that is huge, but that life-long loving, caring, and nurturing that comes along with it is life changing!

Weeks before I thought of the above question I was thinking about our difficult (understatement) baby and how (this is terrible) we could just give her up for adoption or into foster care, but then I realized if we did that, someone would probably beat her.  Because I love her so much, I would never want that to happen, so I decided we should keep her, and she actually has it quite good.  It is great that she has parents to coach her through life---what a wonderful gift we can give her, even if she is quite a nuisance.

Can I just ramble here and tell you two funny things?  During her first year, I took a picture of her every month for her month-by-month frame.  When it was complete, my husband looked at it and said, "That is such a misrepresentation of her!  You got the one time every month when she was actually happy!"  Yesterday, he took her and our son to some batting cages.  Some girls came over to awe at her and later my husband said it kind of ticked him off because she was being so good, and they didn't know what she was really like.  That's the baby for you.

Also yesterday while we were juggling kids and schedules, it struck me that I need to decide how I'm going to share my life with my children.  I need to stop thinking about sending them away for this and that, but think about how we are a unit that influences and relies on each other.

I think I spent all my growing up years dreaming about Prince Charming and spending my life with HIM, but I spent very little time thinking about how to share my life with our future children.  It's not like we have servants who rush them off once the are born.  They are a part of my life, and I need to include them in the game plan just as much as I planned to have my husband in it.  They're not EVER going to go away.  I'm sure many of you have already figured this out, but it's a new perspective to selfish me.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The World Congress of Families

If you haven't been following any of the information coming out of The World Congress of Families, Kathryn Skaggs is posting notes about it.  I'm finding it really fascinating following what is going on.  Check it out!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Is Water

You've probably already seen this, but I wanted to save it.

It's not about ME; it's about the choices we make every day in reaction to everything around us---about even the monotony.

Now give me the motherhood version.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Life is Just a Bowl of . . . Trials? BYU Women's Conference

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to BYU Women's Conference for my first time.  Since becoming a mom, I've made it to Education Week for a day a few times, but this was my first time at Women's Conference.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but wanted to give it a try because I'd heard such good things about it.

A couple years ago I went to Time Out for Women, and enjoyed it, but felt like I was in a Deseret Book commercial.  As I've attended Disney on Ice since then, I'd now describe TOFW kind of like Disney on Ice for LDS Women.  So, if you like that kind of thing, great, but it was a little intense for me.  It wasn't the presenters that made me squirmish, more the overall feel of it.  I would, however, be happy to purchase the DVDs of TOFW, just maybe not attend, especially since I do live close enough to BYU to attend Education Week or Women's Conference.

I was impressed at the organization of Women's Conference; I wouldn't expect less.  I love the variety of classes offered at Education Week, so I was a little worried at the WC emphasis on women things like relationships and mothering; however, I was still filled!  I wasn't sure I'd like the schedule for the day, but ended up LOVING having opening and closing combined sessions and the three breakout sessions with the 30 or 45 minute breaks in between.  I also enjoyed that at each class I went two, two or three people spoke.  At Education Week I get so excited about so many classes, then end up going to them, and then my brain feels like it's going to explode at the end of the day.  Five total classes won't make your brain explode.  At WC I felt relaxed!  Perhaps it helped that I was crocheting a scarf from one of the WC make and take kits and wasn't concentrating as hard?

I LOVE the service emphasis of WC.  The make and take kits are brilliant as you're just sitting there listening (and sometimes taking notes).  I also LOVED the service night and all the projects!  Because I wanted to finish my scarf before leaving for the night I worked on it instead of the projects, but my friend helped with a project.

I also LOVED how friendly people were!  I could just strike up a conversation with anyone, and everyone was so helpful.  It was a little piece of heaven.  I felt like I was back at Ricks College where you said hi to everyone.  As a student, BYU was nice, but it was not as friendly as Ricks.  Plus, as an added bonus, I ran into a bunch of people I know---from a gal I worked with in 1996, to another co-worker from the Church Office Building, to a mom I swap with for volunteering at the school, to people in my ward, to two of my aunts!

I was able to stick around for the concert, which I thought would be fun.  It was, but it went a little long for my tastes, and some of the singers I didn't particularly care for.  Let's just say, I don't know what Michael McLean was smoking when he came up with Threads---A fashion show from The Twilight Zone???  It was funny, and the singer was great, but it was just a bit weird.  I also wasn't a huge fan of Justin Cash, but I would have probably liked listening to him in college.  We left during the Deseret Book boy band.  They were good, but kind of danced like they were half paralyzed.  Plus, it was after 10 and we were really tired and had an hour drive to make.  Mercy River's bedtime song made me laugh so hard that I cried.  As a mom I'd be totally embarrassed to get up there and dance like teenage rock stars like they did, but they were good, really good, and their song was SO TRUE!  I loved Sandra Turley's Les Mis mix and Josh Wright's piano playing was beautiful.  I REALLY loved Hilary Weeks new song, I Found Me (I found you, then I found me.).  I could write a whole post on that, and maybe I will some time.  So overall I'm glad I stayed for the concert, but I could have skipped a few of the artists.

OK, now back to the classes and the title of this post.  From the opening combined session by sweet Elaine Marshall, I realized that life is not perfect, it never will be, and it's okay.  We just roll with it and do our best.  I don't have this premonition that life should be perfect, but we've just struggled so much lately with some of our kids, that I wonder if it's normal, and yup, it is.

For my first breakout class, I attended "Being a Gracious Receiver" and expected it to be about accepting help when you need it; however, it was about receiving trials with grace.  There were several stories about trials, including death, yet, we just deal with it and move on, and it's okay.  Second, I went to "The World's Greatest Champion of Woman and Womanhood is Jesus the Christ."  My friend, Cheryl, presented part of this one and she and her partner spoke with such power.  After that I went to "Mothering Young Children," and realized our kids are pretty darn good.  When one mom talked about her kids making the table into a slip and slide or something, I thought, wow, my kids would never do that, and I felt really blessed. So, even though I complain about how hard this phase of life is, I'm really grateful for these wonderful little kiddos in my stewardship who really are pretty obedient and fun, even though they do have their problems and things to overcome just like the rest of us.

Mine would, however, pick all the tulips in the yard while I was gone.  (Not that it hasn't happened before.)
So, I came away feeling incredibly grateful for my own family and knowing that other people do have it worse, so I should stop whining (so much).  I felt that we're not doing too bad a job with parenting---probably better than  I imagined.  I recognized that life is full of trials for everyone, and that's okay.

In the end, would I go to BYU Women's Conference again?  Definitely---especially since my dear husband handled the day like a champion:  kids fed, to school, preschool, book club, baseball, bed, and even a clean house when I came home.  I felt like such a lucky girl.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Mother There?

A few weeks ago I got around to reading the essay, "A Mother There: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven" by Paulsen and Pulido.  I can't say I learned anything groundbreaking about Her in it, but I did learn that the authors found more than 600 sources referencing Her.  Incredible!

Growing up, whenever the topic of Heavenly Mother came up, the standard answer I remember as to why we don't talk much about Her was that Heavenly Father wants to protect Her from the same blasphemies He receives.  I guess the reasoning was if we don't know much about Her, then we can't talk about Her and curse Her, too?

Apparently though, some people say there needs to be a "sacred silence" about Her.  Even one fictional  work took it to the extent "that the Heavenly Mother was so special that God had said we must never, ever talk about her---that He held her on a pedestal where she was never to be seen or spoken to, for fear that her purity would be sullied."  I suppose my experience was somewhat similar to that, just not as extreme.  I never felt I couldn't talk about Her, I just didn't know enough about Her to say anything constructive.

I appreciated these two quotes that may not provide hard doctrine, but some thoughtful speculation:
Elder John Longden. . . added, "It must be quite an occasion in heaven when our Heavenly Mother bids us a loving farewell for the time being!  Perhaps, like earthly mothers, she thinks, 'They are so young, and they might forget [the rules and regulations].'" Longden imagined that before we parted we promised them we would remember.  President George F. Richards . . . taught that our heavenly parents are "counting on [us] to honor them, to love them, and obey them. 'Thou shalt honor they father and they mother.'" This commandment applies to both earthly and heavenly parents.

And from Harold B. Lee:
Sometimes we think the whole job is up to us, forgetful that there are loved ones beyond our sight who are thinking about us and our children. We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother who are even more concerned, probably, than our earthly father and mother, and that influences from beyond are constantly working to try to help us when we do all we can.
Basically the essay confirms that She's talked about, and there's nothing that says we can't talk about Her.  I'd assume, as I said before, that we just don't talk about Her because we don't know enough.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Family Wage

A few weeks ago, my husband went with some of the young men in our ward to visit a local company for a career night.  As the owner talked to the boys about the different salaries the boys could make, he told them, "This is job X, it pays around $X, that is not a family wage."  He went through a few positions like that until he started getting to the higher paying, family-supporting wage jobs.  I thought how true that is!  You really do need to be aware that doing piece-work assembly just won't support a family.

Today I got to know a friend better.  I learned that her husband is a teacher, and I was impressed that he would choose the field; I'm all for men in teaching, and wish more would do it.  Then she told us that he actually works FIVE jobs, or rather has five income-generating activities to make ends meet.  Lest you think my friend's husband pulls in all the income so she can sit around watching soaps and eating bon-bons, she also works about 20 hours a week, late at night and is the mom of five.  So between the two of them, they work six jobs.

At that, my blood began to boil.  Just because my husband does make a "family wage" does that mean he works any harder than my friend's husband?  No!  What makes some people so deserving of more income (and sometimes SO MUCH more income) than the other guy or gal who works just as hard, is just as dedicated, and has had just as much education, but is just in a different field???

Don't get me wrong.  I'm fine with people having different salaries, but how I wish we would treat teachers, specifically, like trained professionals, which they usually are.  If we did, we'd probably even get more men in the profession, which would be wonderful.

Another friend commented how her husband wanted to be a teacher, but he knew they couldn't make it on that salary, so went a different direction.  I realized probably both my brothers would enjoy some form of teaching, yet also avoided the field because it does not provide a family wage.  How many men out there would be in teaching if only they could support their families?  Since when did teaching become work for pittance?  When it was a man's profession, was the pay still terrible?  Has teaching always been so undervalued?

Personally, I chose teaching because I believed it would provide me with the flexibility I'd need to be home with my kids if I needed to be working, even if the pay was lousy.  I enjoy teaching, but I don't know if I'd enjoy being a teacher as you typically think of them---in a public school setting.  However, now I also recognize the benefits of training in what is considered more men's fields/more "professional": medical, law, etc. It is neat that those professions can provide the opportunity to work less, say than a teacher, yet generate more income, and allow a person to be flexible with his/her schedule.

However, once again, I'm terribly annoyed that I might more likely choose one of those higher-paying career paths merely for the money.  What if I really, really wanted to be a teacher, but decided to be a doctor just for the money?  It's like we're giving up our personal integrity for money, and I think it's really sad, yet it also seems necessary when you're trying to support a family.

End rant.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Make No Place Like Home" notes

A week ago Saturday we had a super stake RS activity entitled "Make No Place Like Home."  They had sisters sharing ways to display family keepsakes/heirlooms and ways to keep the family close, the winner of the Cupcake Wars shared her story, and the Food Nanny even came.

Now, this will tell how little I watch current t.v. I had heard of the Food Nanny (I think), but really didn't know anything about her.  However, once she started talking, I was so impressed!  Go hear her if you ever have the chance!  She encouraged us to "get back in the kitchen" and cook!  We need to teach our kids to cook!  We need to spend mealtimes together!  She outlined a weekly meal planner:

Monday: comfort food
Tuesday: Italian
Wednesday: Meatless/Breakfast
Thursday: Mexican
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Grill
Sunday: Traditional

She said plan 5 meals for the week and take 2 days off (go out or eat leftovers).

Provide a little sweet for your kids; otherwise, they'll go out and find it anyway and hoard it.

Teach portion control because it is the only thing that works.  Stop eating when you are satisfied, not full, not stuffed.

Always have at least one raw vegetable at dinner -- carrots are good.  She suggested having raw, frozen, and canned at each meal.  I'd just as well provide three raw or raw/frozen.  I try and skip the canned stuff for the most part.

Do your major shopping every two weeks with little stops for necessary items like milk and tomatoes.

Kids should at least taste the food offered at dinner.

"If you can't cook for yourself, cook for those you love."

She shared a pizza crust recipe that I haven't yet tried as well as a French Baguette recipe that I've already made three times!
French Baguettes from the Food Nanny
Combine 1/2 C warm water with 1 1/2 T yeast and 1 t sugar.  Let sit.
Combine another 1 t sugar with 2 t kosher salt and 3 c flour.  (I cut the salt down a little.)
Pour the liquid mixture in the dry one and add up to another cup of warm water.  Add up to another quarter cup of flour to make a soft dough, if necessary,to keep dough from clinging to sides of bowl.  Knead.  Break into two balls and shape into baguettes.  Cut down each loaf 1/4 the way.  Bake at 450 (or even 500) for 10-15 minutes.
Now I'm going to have to buy her book.  I'm also inspired to do more in the kitchen and plan our meals better.  To me, the RS activity was quite a success.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter dinner to remember the life and times of Jesus

We've often done Easter dinner with my parents.  Because we usually go to their house, my mom ends up planning the menu.  This year, however, my parents are visiting my sister in Iowa, so Easter dinner was up to me!  Oh dear.  I love ham, and thought that would be fun, but I wanted a GOOD ham without stuff in it, but didn't want to take the time to figure out what kind of ham to get.  My next idea was to do a Passover-type meal so that we could remember Jesus and learn more about his life.  It ended up being not necessarily a traditional historic Passover meal, but one where we were able to eat some of the foods that Jesus probably ate.

I used the book, A Christ-Centered Easter, by Janet and Joe Hales for my main ideas.  I had fun telling the kids the names of the food we were going to eat and having them guess what they were:

Roasted shankbone of lamb

Roasted egg
Symbolic of roasted offerings at the Israelite temple

Bitter herbs, romaine
Symbolic of Israelites suffering under the Egyptians

Apples, nuts, cinnamon, grape juice
Symbolic of mortar the Israelites used to build Egyptian cities

Dipped into salt water, symbolizes new life of freedom

Unleavened bread
Represents the Israelites swift escape from Egypt

Sweet Potato Salad
A modern Israeli Passover dish

I also served olives, dried apricots, raisins, almonds, and butter.  I'd made yogurt for the occasion, too, but couldn't figure what people would eat it with, so I didn't put it on the table.  I also had home made grape juice, but in the end didn't want it spilled, so I didn't put it out.

Seasoned Lamb and Barley 
(from A Christ-Centered Easter)
2 T butter
1 C barley, rinsed and drained
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium onions, chopped
1 lb. lamb meat, boneless, trimmed of fat, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt to taste
Pepper to tast
1 T olive oil
6 C chicken stock, divided

Preheat oven to 350*. Brown barley in butter.  Set aside.  Saute garlic and onion in oil.  Combine barley & onion in a 2 qt casserole dish.  Set aside.  Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.  Brown in olive oil and place atop barley mixture.  Pour 3 C chicken stock over meat.  Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the liquid is almost absorbed.  Add the remaining chicken stock.  Bake for 50 more minutes, or until meat is tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a 1/2 lb. piece of bone-in lamb.  Rather than having cubes of meat, I just browned the whole piece and put it on top of the barley.  I also just put everything in a Crock Pot and cooked it on high for 3-4 hours.  I decreased the water to 4 C, and it turned out really great and quite flavorful.

Green Salad
I put romaine, parsley, and eggs in my salad bowl.  I put crumbled goat cheese on the side for those who wanted to try that.  For the dressing, I made a variation of the Spinach Salad dressing recipe in the Lion House Recipes cook book:

1/4 C olive oil
1/8 t garlic powder
2 T vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t salt
dash pepper
1 T Parmesan cheese

(from A Christ-Centered Easter)
1/2 C almonds, finely chopped or ground
1/2 large apple, finely chopped
 3 T grape juice
1/4 t cinnamon

Mix all together.  Can prepare a day before.

My Matzah turned out like a rock, so I'm not even going to post the recipe, nor do I think I'll ever make it again. But, it gave us a good appreciation for what the pioneers went through when they had to eat flour/water cakes.  It was probably also pretty close to the hard tack the pilgrims ate.  Ew.  Modern day saltines are so much better.  Well, maybe I just made my Matzah wrong.  When I realized the Matzah was lousy, I whipped up some French baguettes that I learned to make from the Food Nanny earlier in the day.  They turned out delightful and I will definitely be making them again!

Sweet Potato Salad
I wanted to add a little more variety to our fare, so I went to an Israeli food blog that my cousin who lives in Israel had linked to and found this fun recipe.

1 large sweet potato
1 medium red onion, sliced finely
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley

Scrub, but don't peel, the sweet potato. Chop it into large dice.  Put the chopped sweet potato in a pan with salted water to cover, and bring it to a boil.  Lower the flame and cook for 7 minutes. Start testing the pieces for tenderness. They should take between 7-10 minutes to cook till tender but still firm.  Drain the pieces at once and run a little cold water over them to stop the cooking.  Put them in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Taste for the exact balance of salt, sour and sweetness that you like, and adjust accordingly. Use a wooden spoon to stir - gently.  Chill the salad in the fridge for an hour before serving. Simple, colorful, and satisfying.

I loved all the food (except for the Matzah as I said).  My inlaws also loved the food (even my father-in-law ate the Matzah).  My husband and the kids were slightly more picky.