Sunday, January 31, 2010

Being examples to our children

Craig and I were asked to give talks in church today! Yikes! It is always a wonderful blessing and opportunity to give a talk, but it is also a bit scary. We spent the past weekend getting as prepared as we could!

Since I wrote my whole talk out, I thought I might post it here for anyone interested. I feel I found some pretty great things to share.

Being an example to our children
Good morning my dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful for this opportunity to speak to you today. For those of you who might not know us, I'll give just a very brief introduction. As an almost lifetime Alhambra resident, I basically grew up in this ward from the time I was a child, eventually leaving to go to school, serve a mission, and get married. I've now been back in the ward with my own family for the past 6 years. Craig and I live in my childhood home with my father where we all take care of each other. We are about to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary this Valentines day. We have been blessed with 3 daughters, Isabella, almost 9, Olivia, almost 7, and Cecilia going on 4. I am a stay at home mom and I home school our two older girls. Craig is a high school Spanish teacher at Centennial High School in Compton. Sooo that means. . . that if anybody knows of a Spanish teaching opening at another school, please see us after the meeting! :)

Last week, we were taught about our perfect example, Jesus Christ.

Today, Craig and I have been asked to talk about "being an example to our children." I find this to be an extremely important topic as it is something I literally am every day, every moment: An example to my children.

Every day, every moment, no matter what, we are examples to our children. Everything single thing we do is seen by our children, good or bad. If we speak kindly, they see it. If we speak harshly, they see it. If we are patient, they see it, if we are angry, they see it. If we are loving and forgiving, they see it. They learn these attributes from us, from our example.

Children imitate us no matter what. Have you ever heard your kids use words that you use and then feel a little shocked at how it sounds? For example, we might say "Oh, I hate doing laundry!" to a friend, and then later, when we hear our kids use the word "hate," it can sound pretty harsh. Especially coming from a three year old! That is a perfect illustration of how children learn from and imitate what they see and hear from us. So we need to be on our best behavior! Because whether we like it or not, we are ALWAYS setting an example.

Thinking about this, I was reminded of a beautiful poem written by Amanda Cater that illustrates this well, called "If a Child"

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 93, verse 40 the Lord says “I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.”

Also in the Doctrine and Covenants, in section 68, verse 28, we read "and they shall also teach their children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord."

In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" we read: "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

From these scriptures and the proclamation we can see that, it is truly our sacred duty to set the right example for our children.

Recently, I was singing the words to "I am a Child of God" and rather than thinking of myself being the child of God, which I guess I've always done, I was thinking of a child singing it to her parents, and how the song is literally a child pleading with her parents to teach her and lead her. Listen to the words, and imagine your own child asking you to lead and guide them and help them find the way.

I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

If we are blessed to be parents, we certainly must lead, guide, help and teach our children all that they must do so that we all can return to live with our Heavenly Father someday.

I really liked an Ensign article by Ruth B. Wright, a former counselor in the general primary presidency, called "Teaching Children to walk uprightly before the Lord"
She said:
"What does it mean to walk uprightly before the Lord? The word upright is defined as honest, honorable, straightforward. Thus, to walk uprightly, our children need to choose to live in an honest, honorable, straightforward manner. Children who understand and live the gospel today can walk with assurance and joy and someday will enter the presence of the Lord, walking uprightly.
Sometimes it isn’t easy as parents to teach our children. Sometimes we make mistakes. Our children may react with opposition to what we are teaching them. As parents, we should keep our desire to do our best, constantly show our love, and not blame ourselves if our children choose another way."
She goes on to say: "In our efforts to help our children desire to walk uprightly before the Lord, we can ask ourselves three questions:
One: What do we teach our children? It is essential that we teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The scriptures are the main source to help us teach our children to walk uprightly.
Question two: Where do we teach our children? The best place to teach our children the gospel is in our homes. We can provide a safe, comfortable environment for them so they can feel free to learn and to develop their own personal testimonies.”
We teach our children everywhere we are with them. We have opportunities many times a day to teach them as we walk together, drive in the car, work side by side, kneel in prayer, talk at the dinner table and even while changing diapers!
Question three: How do we teach our children? We teach by example. Our children will learn far more by observing us walk uprightly than any other way. We teach children to walk uprightly a step at a time, over and over again.
Our children respond best when taught with respect and love. In the eighth chapter of Moroni, the prophet Mormon has written a letter giving counsel to his son, Moroni, and expresses his devotion to his son: “My beloved son, Moroni, . . . I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through … grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end” (Moro. 8:2–3). When our children first know they are loved, they are more likely to listen and be taught.
Our children will be more able to survive the challenges that will come to them when they know and understand that keeping God’s commandments can bring them peace and joy in their lives and enable them to walk uprightly."
Sister Wright ends her talk by sharing the words to the song "How dear to God are little Children"

How dear to God are little children;

With him their spirit life began.

So priceless their security,

Their innocence and purity;

They are a part of his eternal plan.

To earthly parents God sends children

To guide and teach, protect and love.

Oh, let us keep the sacred trust 

That he has placed with each of us 

And help to guide them back to God above.

I made a list of things we should be good examples of and hopefully we are all (myself included) striving towards this:

Make sure that as a family you:
Have morning and evening family prayer, have family scripture study, and have Family Home Evening. Strive to have dinner and as many meals as possible together. Bring your children to all meetings regularly. Make sure and attend ward and stake activities. Strive to take your children to visit someone who is sick, or lonely. Strive to help those in need by taking meals to them, or supplying whatever help they need, child care, care with their home, helping people move, etc. Strive to possibly have your children be a part of this help.

Make sure your children see you having your own personal prayer, having personal scripture study, bearing your testimony, fulfilling callings, such as preparing lessons, preparing for an activity making posters or visual aids. Make sure you are attending the Temple regularly and that they know that going there is special and important. Let your children see you pay your tithing faithfully and help them to pay theirs. Make sure to fast monthly and help children that are old enough to fast too. Make sure your children see you going to do your home teaching and visiting teaching. Make sure that your children are given priesthood blessings when needed and let all the family hear it and be a part of it. Also, teach your children the importance of living within our means. Pray for your children and make sure they hear you praying for them. Along with this, teach your children to say "I'm sorry." Teach them that we all need to repent, even us parents.

Perhaps most important and not as easy, is to make sure that you teach your children to speak kindly, to use a soft voice, and not to use harsh words. We need to teach them to be patient and loving with each other and not fight. I think this behavior is especially taught by our example.

We also need to show our children that we are HAPPY to live the gospel and follow the commandments!

I'm personally grateful for the example my own parents set for me and my siblings. My parents were wonderful and lived what they taught us. I can't think of better examples of service than them. When they had a calling, they magnified it. They taught me to pray, read the scriptures, fast, pay tithing, attend meetings diligently, (pretty much everything I've already mentioned!) They weren't perfect, but my parents LIVED what they believed. To this day, at 76, and not even in perfect health, my dad is a high councilman and diligently goes to his meetings and gives the talks he is assigned to do. He is still an example to me of magnifying his calling!

And just this past Christmas, I remembered a wonderful example that my mother, (who has now been gone for almost 5 years,) set for me back when we were young. I remember going to go visit a family of people in need on Christmas Eve and taking them food and other things. I think we might have basically brought them their entire Christmas and I remember that it felt really good to help them. For probably all of the Christmases I've had with my kids, we've always just stayed home on Christmas eve and had a nice dinner together as a family. So, this past Christmas, I remembered my mom's example and decided to start a tradition of taking things to people as the spirit inspired on Christmas eve, rather than just staying at home. We made a few deliveries to various people that we love and it felt very good.

Another thing I thought I should mention about my mom, is that when I broke her heart and went through a period of rebelliousness and inactivity, she NEVER GAVE UP ON ME. She exercised faith, prayed non-stop for me, and put my name on the Temple roll consistently. I know these things helped me to come back into the church and I know I was blessed because of her faith and pleadings. My mom was a great example of faith.

To close, I want to share this quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from his talk called "A Prayer for the Children" He says:
"Live the gospel as conspicuously as you can. Keep the covenants your children know you have made. Give priesthood blessings. And bear your testimony! Don’t just assume your children will somehow get the drift of your beliefs on their own. The prophet Nephi said near the end of his life that they had written their record of Christ and preserved their convictions regarding His gospel in order “to persuade our children … that our children may know … [and believe] the right way.”
Nephi-like, might we ask ourselves what our children know? From us? Personally? Do our children know that we love the scriptures? Do they see us reading them and marking them and clinging to them in daily life? Have our children ever unexpectedly opened a closed door and found us on our knees in prayer? Have they heard us not only pray with them but also pray for them out of nothing more than sheer parental love? Do our children know we believe in fasting as something more than an obligatory first-Sunday-of-the-month hardship? Do they know that we have fasted for them and for their future on days about which they knew nothing? Do they know we love being in the temple, not least because it provides a bond to them that neither death nor the legions of hell can break? Do they know we love and sustain local and general leaders, imperfect as they are, for their willingness to accept callings they did not seek in order to preserve a standard of righteousness they did not create? Do those children know that we love God with all our heart and that we long to see the face—and fall at the feet—of His Only Begotten Son? I pray that they know this."
I pray that we all, myself included, can be the examples to our children that we should be so that we can "teach them all that they must do" to live with our Father in heaven someday.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Farmer's Market & Play Group

After getting totally rained out last week, we were happy to have a sunny Thursday for our Farmer's Market yesterday. What made it even better, was running into our friends, Julie from our home school group, Janet from church and then their kids who are our friends! We had a great time playing at the banyan tree, and playing music with this fun guy. I also got a lot of shopping done!

Then today we went to a really fun Waldorf-inspired play group at our friend Karin's house and led by Robin. There were lots of kids there, ranging from 3-9 years old. The big kids played jumprope and other games, like "red light green light." We also planted bulbs that we're going to watch grow over the next few weeks.

We ended with an awesome story told by Robin with puppets. She did a fantastic job.

After some of the older kids left, my friend AnnMarie came with her kids. They, my kids and Karin's daughter Karina went crazy playing dress-up! It was so much fun, I could hardly get my girls to leave!! :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Co-Op Fun

I've been a part of a wonderful food co-op for a little over a year now. I am sooooo blessed!! I get perfect, delicious organic raw milk, raw cheese, free-range organic eggs, and lots of great organic produce at super low prices. My friend Claudia recently joined our co-op too and it has turned into a great playdate for our kids. Today we decided to volunteer together and our kids got to help put the eggs in their cartons. It was so much fun!

Afterwards Claudia and her girls came over to our place for lunch and playing. We're thinking about making it a regular thing with a scheduled craft or handwork. Today, the girls just played. They had SO MUCH fun!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hannah's Birthday!

Today we got to help Hannah Ross celebrate her 10th birthday! My girls had a total blast at Chuck E. Cheese. We haven't been there in ages so the girls were THRILLED to play all the games, win tickets, choose prizes, etc. Of course, it was just fun to be with their dear friends. I think Hannah had a great birthday!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Congrats to Anthony!

Today I went with my dad, Bella, and Ceci to visit my cousins Lisa and David and my Tia Lula and my Uncle Larry. Lisa lives with her family in Beaumont and my Uncle, Tia, and cousin David live in Utah! (Craig and Olivia stayed home because Craig had to finish his grades and Olivia wanted to stay with Grandma Ginny.)

We got together because Lisa's son, Anthony, was ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood to the office of an Elder! He is just putting his papers in to serve his mission and this is a very special occasion.

The drive out to Beaumont was GORGEOUS. I don't think I've ever been out that way. I've only been as far as Yucaipa to the apple orchards. The snow on Mt. Baldy was BEAUTIFUL.

We had a wonderful time attending church with my family and spending the afternoon together hanging out and having dinner. My aunt always makes me miss my mom!

Bella and Ceci loved playing with my cousin David. He is always sooooo much fun! It was great to get together.

Snow Day at Lacy Park!

With all the rain we've been having, I've been REALLY wanting to take the girls to the snow. (I even got them these really cute snowsuits at a second hand store!) BUT with all the rain, I understand that there is a little TOO MUCH snow and we don't have chains for our tires!

So can you imagine my happiness when I found out that they were going to have a snow day yesterday at Lacy park!? It was soooo much fun!! They had sledding and snow to just play around in. My girls LOVED it! The sledding was so much fun. I got to do it with Ceci! After sledding, Craig took the girls on shovel rides and helped them make snowballs with out hurting each other too much. Ceci made a tiny snowman. Later, Craig helped them make a super-cute snowgirl. We even packed a carrot and a hat just to make her!

What a totally fun time we had. And when we got home, I had some chicken soup with rice ready to eat which was so nice to warm up with.

Later, sweet Grandma Ginny came over so that Craig and I could go to our ward temple night which was a very special experience. We got to hear a wonderful speaker before our session who reminded us that the people we do temple work for are there and are very grateful. It made the session very sweet.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Rainbow!!

Today is the fourth day of rain and it was really neat to look out the window and see some sun, while it was still raining!! I knew that there had to be a rainbow somewhere and so we went out to check-- and there it was, over our across-the-street neighbors house!! I was lucky to catch this picture before it quickly faded away! I LOVE rainbows and the symbol that they are, that God always keeps his promises. What a beautiful example of his power!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rainy Day

Today is actually the third day in a row that it has rained quite a bit! We had to go to the Monrovia library where we meet with our Educational Specialist through our charter school. It was a great meeting and the girls loved getting to run around in the rain to get to the library and then back to the car again! The rain is sooooo beautiful and I know our garden is LOVING it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Today I took the girls to their Girl Scout meeting and it was all about selling the cookies!! This was the part of Girl Scouts that I dreaded the most-- I'm so afraid of losing peoples' money or something like that!

Anyways, the girls are THIRLLED! They think they're going to sell hundreds of boxes. Anybody wanna buy some?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Today Craig and I taught the girls about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We read a really great biography on him together and also watched a short DVD. It wasn't easy to explain to our little girls about how awful and unfair things used to be. I am so grateful that MLK fought for civil rights. What a powerful and inspiring man!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hannah's Baptism

Today was a super special day for us. My friend Gary, who I went to primary with as a child, baptized his little girl Hannah who is now Bella's good friend! Gary and his family have recently become more active in our church again and it is wonderful to see them enjoying the blessings of the gospel. The baptism was beautiful. I was able to sing " I am a Child of God" which was a privilege to me.

Afterwards, we went to Gary's for lunch. It was wonderful to hang out with him and his family while our girls played like crazy together. I loved being able to talk also to Gary's brother, David, who I was also good friends with, and in fact had a huge crush on when I was 9! We had so much fun remembering people and events from so long ago. It was a wonderful day!

By the way, the picture is a card Ceci made for Hannah. Isn't she a great little artist for 3? :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Huntington

Today we met with some of our friends at the Huntington. It was a gorgeous day! We had a picnic before we went in and then we played in the children's garden and then the Chinese garden. We are so blessed to be near such a beautiful place and to have such great friends to go with!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bella's Haircut

Today Bella got a big haircut. I did not want her to get it done, I LOVE her hair long. But she's been asking for a long time. She LOVES it, she is so happy. She's been brushing it all day. No matter what, she's adorable to me. But I hope I won't miss her long hair too much!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandma Ginny!

Yesterday was Grandma Ginny's 83rd birthday!! She is doing great! We went out to her house and started a roast dinner. We then took a walk out on the Hermosa Pier and watched the sunset. It was beautiful.

We went back home and made mashed potatoes, gravy, artichokes and a salad. It was very nice. We then brought out a boysenberry pie (which is her favorite) and ice cream. We sang to her and enjoyed the pie.

Later, we gave her a gift we'd worked on all morning. We made her a 2010 calendar that we put pictures in for every month. Almost every picture had her in it from something we'd all done together from last year. The girls put in the numbers for each month and decorated around each picture. We tried to make it very special and I think it was. We hope she liked it!

Happy Birthday Grandma!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Junk Sculptures

Today we went back to our park day and had Girl Scouts. The girls had a BLAST making these sculptures out of junk that their leader had collected.

My girls seriously spent close to two hours working on them and loved it!! Since I do happen to be a fan of sculpture, I was really proud of them! :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Years Goals 2010

1. Attend the Temple monthly (12 times)
2. Fast monthly (12 times)
3. Pay tithing every paycheck (no forgetting and paying it later!)
4. Have Family Home Evening every Monday
5. Live frugally and pay off debt!
6. Pray and read scriptures daily (before kids wake up)
7. Eat better, exercise more and lose weight (so that my clothes fit me again)
8. God willing, get pregnant.

Did I really just write all this for the whole world to see?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

We had a very fun New Year's day. It was fun to wake up to so many cousins and the Frasers too! We had a yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs, tamales that Yvonne had made, and I also made a Spanish tortilla. We watched the parade like a million times and the kids played and played. Grandma Ginny came up and we all helped her make her traditional New Year sandwiches made of grated cheddar cheese, olives, green chiles, sauteed onions, tomato sauce and hard boiled egg on a toasted roll. She also made her perfect potato salad. YUMMY!

While we finished getting the meal together, Harold and Yvonne took all the kids to the park to play. Yvonne got some really cute pictures of the cousins!!

Besides all of us, we had the missionaries over too. It was so nice to have them! The food was excellent as usual. It's a yummy meal we only have on New Year's day.

Everyone left that night. It was weird to go from such a full house to such a quiet house, but at least we had a really good time! Happy New Year to all!

New Years Eve

We had a very eventful New Year's Eve and it was really fun! First, we went to Forest Lawn to visit my beautiful Mama's grave. We met my brother and his family and my sister and her family there. We brought a bouquet of flowers that we gathered from around our yard, some of which my mom herself planted! We love to sit on the grass there and the kids LOVE running around gathering pine cones and other things that they find to decorate the gravestone.

When we got home, our dear friends, the Frasers were here (from La Jolla!) and they took us out to dinner at our local Indian restaurant, Mahan. It was delicious, they have excellent food!

We then drove up Garfield to Huntington Drive thinking we might see some floats and would you believe, while stopped at a red light at Huntington, we saw about 6-8 floats go by? It was so cool, that we drove up to Fair Oaks, got out of the car, and waited for them all to come by again. It was really fun and pretty to see them so close!

When we got home, we found Aunt Yvonne leading all the kids in a dance/aerobics class-- they were dancing to "All the Single Ladies." When "Zero Gravity" came on, I HAD to join in with them!!!!!!

Soon it was time to get ready to go to the New Year's dance that my Dad's stake was having. We got there around 11 so that we could dance a bit and then be able to welcome the new year. They were playing some good tunes! Some good 80's disco and some good latin music.

The kids were all such troopers for how late it was! They danced and had a good time. Only Ceci was sleepy, but she stayed up until midnight with the rest of us. At midnight, we counted down and then some balloons dropped from the ceiling. It was very cool! We all gave each other New Year kisses. I think 2010 is going to be a very good year! Happy New Year to all!!