Monday, November 6, 2017

Keep Calm and Scout On

Last month the National Board of the Boy Scouts of America voted unanimously to open their Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs to girls, beginning in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Predictably, the predictable media immediately jumped on the story, predictably reporting that major changes had come to the BSA, that the long-time Scouting movement as we know it was gone, and that the non-profit organization had made the move in desperation for money. Anyone could have predicted that response. 

Additionally, naysayers gleefully declared that Scouting was finally dead, the century-old organization now altered beyond repair, and that this faithful entity of America had at last met its demise.

As a 30-year Scouting member myself, and after 20 years of being married to a professional Scout executive, I feel that I must speak out and clarify what these changes mean and why I still think Scouting is relevant and needed.

If one looks past the predictable media and the ever-present critics of good, the changes made by the National Board actually deserve a levelheaded review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wisdom From A Witch

I’m a witch. I just need to admit it, and then I’ll feel better about myself. I didn’t mean to be a witch. When I was a little girl, I was kind and gentle, meek and happy. Then I went to college. I was kind and gentle, meek and happy. Then I got married. I was kind and gentle, meek and happy. Then, I had children, and a witch was born. (Not the baby, it was me.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ten Tips for Surviving Motherhood (From an Exhausted Mom)

In the past 24 hours four different moms have told me they are exhausted, discouraged and tired of being a mother. And I’m one of those four. BEING A MOM IS JUST SO HARD SOMETIMES! It’s hard because of the emotional and physical strain of caring for and raising other humans. It’s hard because we survive on little sleep ourselves.  It’s hard because we are the sounding board for every thing and everyone. And, it’s hard because in the midst of this marathon we are MANAGING THE WORLD! The laundry, the groceries, the PTA, the housework, the meals, the garden, the Scout den, the Church youth group, the budget, and the HOMEWORK! Oh, the everlasting homework.

As I’ve pondered and persevered on this uphill battle, I’ve formulated strategies to pull myself through the tough times; the difficult moments when I want to crawl into bed with the covers over my head, but instead I have to drive 3 kids to soccer practice, solve a 7th grade math problem, and make dinner for 12 people. You know, those days when the ENTIRE universe is depending on you!

So, in an effort to help myself and the three moms I’ve chatted with today (and the other million that may feel similarly), here are Ten Everyday Tips for Surviving this Difficult, Glorious, Ride we call Motherhood.

1.     Do it!  The first tip to surviving motherhood is just to do it! Become a mom. Take the leap. Take the plunge. Take the risk.

Chances are that if you are reading this, you already are a mother. You’re not likely a professional tennis player looking for some light entertainment or a politician with spare time on your hands. No, I’ll bet that 99.9% of you readers are mothers. So, congratulations! You’ve mastered tip number one.

Simply becoming a mother is hard—physically and emotionally. And it takes a tremendous commitment from you, whether you’ve birthed or adopted your child. You have literally agreed to sacrifice your life for another human being. Now, granted, we generally take this step a bit naively, when all we can envision of motherhood is the fun of playing house with our dollies. But, we’ve taken the step just the same, and we deserve a party.

Now that you are on the path (and—surprise! There’s no turning back!), chances are good that you will survive this journey. And, I’m willing to bet, you will not only survive, but thrive!

2.     Just Keep Swimming – The very moment we become mothers we face a whole experience without a handbook. We hold that newborn in our arms and suddenly we are solely responsible for their well-being. Changing diapers, feeding, sleeping. It’s overwhelming and wonderful. And, as little people grow, their challenges do, too. Soon diapers are the least of our worries. Now we are helping them ride a bike, stay out of the road, and finish their carrots at dinner. Time passes and now we are concerned about who their teacher is, if their homework is finished, and if they practiced the piano before going to bed. And soon our challenges have grown to driving, dating, jobs, and graduating from high school. In other words, motherhood is challenging every day!

So here’s another tip: Just Keep Swimming. Just keep going with the flow and surviving. That’s the long and the short of it. Get up the next day. Drive to the next soccer game. Fix the next meal. Change the next diaper. Endurance is 90% of success. And finishing what we’ve started is the bulk of thriving.

On the days when I feel I can’t possibly keep going, I remind myself to just keep swimming. And then, I fold the next batch of laundry, deal with the next teenage crisis, sign the next page of Algebra homework, and get through the next day. And, somehow, when I wake up the next morning, my energy is renewed, and I can keep on mothering.

3.     Make a Backwards List – I’m the queen of list-making. I make to-do lists for myself, lists for my husband, and lists for my kids. But sometimes I get to the end of a day and find out that I didn’t accomplish anything on my list! How discouraging! In those times, it’s helpful to make a Backwards List. Take a moment before bed and write down what you did do during the day. Think of each batch of laundry, each trip to the school, each meal cooked and cleaned up, each child you helped, each phone call you made. Think about the time you went out to play ball for a minute, or helped your husband with a project, or cleaned up the living room. Write down every single thing you did that wasn’t on a list, and your spirits will likely lift. It helps to have a list of what was accomplished during the day, even if the list was made backwards.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mama Money - The Very Best Part of Summertime!

I love summer! At least, I love it for the first two months... It is during those inaugural days when the weather isn't too hot and the kids aren't too bored (yet) that I often feel most productive as a mother. I always have more plans than we have vacation. More lists of books to read, crafts to finish, and places to go than we will ever find time for. And, I have dreams of homeschooling my children every morning until the school bus returns.

The best laid plans of mice and mothers often go by the wayside before too many lazy days have passed, and by August we are barely pulling ourselves out of bed for a bowl of cereal and staying on top of laundry (or not...). But the fact is that at the beginning of summer I have energy and excitement for the days ahead.

One practice I have used for as long as I can remember is Mama Money. After all, I have a list of things to get done and a gaggle of kids at home to help me. And, while I never pay my children for jobs during the school year, having a fun monetary incentive in the summer is a treat we all look forward to.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer P.E. (Printables for those Long Lazy Days...)

My Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Flickinger, was awesome! She played the piano, sang songs, did crafts, taught us to read and color, and loved us like a grandma.

One thing I will never forget is her wonderful awards. Mrs. Flickinger gave awards for everything! Tying your shoe, learning the colors, reciting the days of the week, counting to 100, etc. She also gave awards for outside skills like riding a tricycle (those were allowed on the kindergarten playground back then), crossing the monkey bars, and jumping rope. Each award was handmade and could fit in a fun envelope where we collected them through the school year. 

This summer I wanted to re-create Mrs. Flickinger's awards for my own little school children. After all, jumping rope is almost a lost art! I enlisted my daughter, Emma, to help me and together we brainstormed 22 physical skills that kids could work on. Emma designed an award for each skill with a place to check off the skill or put a sticker when it is mastered.

I've attached the pdf of our award sheets. Just print, cut, punch holes, and make a small booklet for each child. 

We anticipate lots of outdoor fun! And I'm hoping for double-dutch (or at least proficient) jump-ropers by the end of the summer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How Scouting Prepared My Son To Be A Missionary...

Only a few short weeks until my oldest son returns from his mission to Denmark! Scouting played a pivotal role in preparing him for that life-changing experience.

Read more on the LDSBSA blog...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Family Council

All 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 I 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 Ensign magazine 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.