Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Q & A -- inspiring children spiritually

We've been been in Utah this week moving Max into his new life and visiting family.  It's spring break in the desert.  Dave had to fly back early for work and the girls and I are just setting off on our long journey driving home.  Wish us luck!

I finally got the chance to respond to some of the comments in past posts yesterday.  

I'm never great at replying to questions and thoughts in the comment section but I've been even worse lately because I haven't been around for the past few weeks... I've mostly just had posts scheduled as I've been in and out of much internet connection.  So there there are some answers to questions back there if you want to scroll back.  

But for today, here's a question someone asked that I wanted to get to because it's something I'm constantly working on...and I know others are too.  So here we go:  

Would love to hear how you inspire your children in a spiritual way. Love that you have a lot meaningful talks in the midst of everyday life. If you ever want to share a post on your tips on developing spirituality in children I would be all over it. Struggling on how to tap into my kids innate way of connecting with God. Thankfully my girls are still young, so there is time and some maturity will help. As for now, my five year old laughs during prayer and thinks God is not real.

I wouldn't worry too much about that sweet five-year old of yours...I think faith and spirituality are always evolving.  I love what you said about your kids' "innate way of connecting with God" because I do believe each child (and adult for that matter) connects in a slightly different way.  The key is building spirituality into part of a family culture.  Dave and I feel strongly that if we help our children develop a strong relationship with God they will be able to weather anything that comes their way in life.  If they can only remember to reach out, reach up, and let Him be their guide.

There are a few things we do in our family and I'd love others to pipe in because I know there are lots of good ideas out there.

Family Scriptures.  I know I've talked about this a lot lately, but I do believe it's the best way to have that "spiritual repetition" (remembering the "signs" like I talked about back HERE) simply built into the day.  It serves as a constant reminder that we can connect with God.

Family Home Evening.  We do this on Sundays and have a lesson about some spiritual aspect each week.  Sometimes these are impromptu lessons (most of the time)...just something we've been thinking about.  Sometimes the kids will want to relate something from a church lesson (in Primary sometimes their teachers have encouraged them to go home and teach their families about what they learned that day and I love that).  There are lots of good Family Home Evening ideas on over HERE, my sister Saren just sent a great one in particular HERE, and I've posted about FHE back HERE and one little "FHE series" idea we did back HERE (and lots of other places I'm sure).  Having an opportunity to discuss faith and spiritual ideas in a safe place is a beautiful thing.

Each month for that FHE on Fast Sundays we have our own family Testimony Meeting (see below).

Family Testimony Meeting.  This is one of my very favorite things.  Because I believe "a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it" (I have no idea who said that, but I've held onto it for a lot of years).  If kids are given the opportunity to express what they believe, what they're struggling with, even what they are hoping to gain a belief share experiences in a safe environment it builds those feelings and thoughts into tangible parts of their hearts.  Not sure if that makes sense, but lots more about family testimony meetings HERE along with "fasting club."

Family Prayer.  We do this at meals, after family devotional, during Sunday Family Home Evenings, at bedtime, as a "huddle" a lot of the time, right before everyone leaves in different directions.  Oftentimes we will ask if anyone has anything particular they'd like us to pray for (a test at school, something they're struggling with, etc.) so we can be united in pleading from Heaven for them.

We do all these things and others I'm not thinking of right now, but I believe what you mentioned in the question is what really cements it all together: working meaningful conversations into the minutia of every-day life.  Because really, that's were all that faith-building comes into play.  

All day, every day.  

Whether it's in the car on the way to practice talking through what someone on the team who may not be the nicest may be dealing with, or one child's sorrow over feeling intensely lonely and like they are lacking in friends, or struggling in a particular class at school or requesting guidance to figure out the next step in life or how to deal with emotions that come, how to deal with a sibling who might be driving them crazy...every thing that comes along can be related back to that relationship with God. That all-knowing loving God who wants to carry them through the hard things if they'll let Him.

Sometimes it takes reminding ourselves that He's there.  Wanting to hold our hand through the tantrums and the sorrows and the hardships and also celebrating the triumphs (often when something great happens we gather immediately in a little huddle to THANK GOD for the good things that happen...from finding car keys to an "answer" to a tough decision).

He is there.  Oh, how I hope these kids can always remember that.  And that they have a Savior who paved the way so that we can all return to Him some day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

boys reunited

I'm so grateful Dave has his boy back.
Sometimes a dad just needs a boy to talk finance and sports and trash talk with.

There's something just more whole for Dave when Max is around.

And it makes me so happy.

That is all.

Monday, March 12, 2018

an adjustment from mission life

Max starts work TODAY.  Up in Provo.

The sun has set on a grand adventure with this returned missionary of ours and I'm so melancholy about that, but also just so grateful.

Coming home from serving for two years in a foreign country, completely focused on serving others and teaching about Jesus Christ takes a little adjusting.

You get home and suddenly all that built-in personal study and scheduled daily routine comes to a screeching halt and suddenly you are just home.  No school yet, no job yet, suddenly your companions are replaced by a bunch of crazy sisters.  Yeah, different as different can be.

We figured all the adjusting may throw Max for a loop, but he has taken it all in stride.  It's pretty cool to watch.  He claims that on the inside it's a big struggle, but he's done a great job with that struggle I tell you.

I think we are all well aware that these have been precious days.  There will probably never be another time like those few weeks when this boy has been just home, no distractions, taking his sisters out on lunch dates and motivating us all to read our scriptures, have schedules, work out, and love more.

This is how his desk has looked:

He's had his fair-share of mission reports:
Worked out with us:
...has made his dad so happy just being there:

He's been able to catch up with good friends, and we've loved having them around.

We've run into other friends too...see those three on the left below?
They grew up together since kindergarten.  Love them.

Max has been so goal-oriented we decided to capitalize on that and started a little 2-week challenge for his last two weeks at home.  We all made some pretty hefty goals and made some good strides on things we wanted to accomplish:

(That chart looks a little confusing but it helped...)

Max had the oportunity to catch a ride up to Provo for a few days...
...he was pretty excited about that in case you can't tell :)

Fun to get a few pictures from him on our group family text from reunions with old friends up there:

This dinner was his favorite part...see those guys?  They were all in his mission.
The one next to him was his trainer and the other two were their roommates in his first area.

The girls (his sisters) missed him so much they were counting down the hours until he got back.

He stepped in to lead morning devotional:

 Worked his heart out on the piano (one of his goals):

...and I got to have him by my side for everything during the day, from workouts to the temple:

More friends:

He helped with tons of stuff around the house from changing strange lightbulbs in Claire and Grace's closets to running errands for me to cleaning out the garage...
Lunch dates:
He learned how to get the stuff he wanted in Chinese on his phone:

...and watched with me from the sidelines at Claire's volleyball tournament.

He taught a cool Family Home Evening lesson about technology...some things they taught in the mission when they started using smart phones.  He showed us a cool section in the "LDS tools" app under "missionary" called "safeguards for using technology:"
I liked this part:

By the end of his time home, our challenges were pretty filled in:
Yes, the sun was setting on his time at home with his sisters.

Dave and I got to go on a little adventure with him just by ourselves after much more on that soon, but for now on this evening before we have to really let him go I just have to say that man, I'm going to miss him.

But he’s so ready.  I think he’s been home the perfect amount of time…time for us to really BE with him, but definitely starting to feel the need to stretch those gigantic wings. 

He is ready for the next adventure.  And he needs it to continue progressing.  Comfort doesn’t progress and he knows it well.

I love this little part of a letter sent from the mission a while ago:

When we lose our lives in the service of the Lord we are able to find ourselves, not necessarily the person we want to be but the person God wants us to be. I have been able to find so much happiness on my mission, I think the happiest times are the times where I can't remember what day it is, I forgot to eat lunch, those times where you can feel the Spirit helping you every step of the way.

When I started my mission, I was worried I was going to turn into this robot that lives and breathes the gospel and doesn't know anything else. My Dad helped me realize that the mission doesn't CHANGE your personality, it DEEPENS it. That is so true. I am so thankful for how much the Spirit has helped me throughout the past couple months and I am excited for the growth that is yet to happen.

And here we are at the crossroads of another "yet to happen" part.

Isn't that how life is?  One step after another?  We choose what we want to do with each of those steps.  It's all up to us.  I'm excited to see what this one brings. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Pondering -- "YOU are the gift"

Someone told me about this talk a couple weeks ago and we used it for our Family Home Evening lesson this afternoon.  It is so good.  So I wanted to share.

Written version HERE.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

mission relics

Max and I have spent some good time together since he got home just organizing his things.  Getting rid of the things still lingering from two years ago that he doesn't need, acquiring some that he will need in Utah, and just getting life situated.  

Part of that deal has involved sorting through and boxing up the things he brought home from his mission.

To me, there is something so beautiful about those things.

Sure, they're just ordinary things.  Books and papers, journals and notes.

But ordinary things transform into extraordinary things when they are part of a mission story.  So I decided I better take some pictures of some of them before we boxed them up.

His planners, well-worn and put to work, one for every transfer, filled with daily plans and goals.

His Chinese flashcards from his MTC days...these gigantic rings of all the words and phrases he worked his tail off to learn.
Let's get a closer look at those:
(Those were from before he started to learn the Chinese characters.)

His dictionary and maps:
 The Book of Mormon he used to study the Atonement in more depth:
 His "Plan of Salvation" teaching tools:
 Not sure what this is, but I think an invitation for something he did with his last companion:
His Chinese, pin-ying and English study scriptures (one in each column):
All kinds of notebooks like this filled with goals and plans:

Lots and lots of study notes...this is one of his favorite talks:

 One of his well-worn shoes that walked and biked so many miles:

Now all those mission relics are boxed up safe and sound, but I hope the things he learned from them will always be part of him, and part of the light he carries.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 family snapshot

Each year I like to do a "snapshot" of how things work in our family at that particular moment in time.

(Links to the other snapshots are here: 20102011201220132014, 2015, 2016, 2017

I looked over some of those recently and I'm so glad I have them tucked away to remember.

So here we go with how the beginning of 2018 has looked so far.

I wrote most of this before Max got home, but I'll add a little post-Max's-return at the end.

Dave has proclaimed Grace to be the best teenage driver of the family.  And I should knock on wood but she does seem to know what she'd doing.  She drives "Ted" the truck around and man alive, I'm grateful every single day for an extra driver....mostly just to get her where she needs to be, but she's so awesome to help with little errands when she can and it's the best.

Some things come and some things go in a family schedule, but morning scriptures have remained a "constant" for a lot of years now.  We have shifted up how we do them every now and again, but they're always at 6:30.  Sometimes I wonder how much good reading a few scriptures together can do in the early-morning state of grogginess, but there's something about that consistency followed by family prayer each morning before breakfast that I'm hoping causes hearts and souls to be knit together in some way, shape or form. (more thoughts on this back HERE)

We tweak scripture study every so often.  Since there are five of us at home right now we each take a day to lead and try to dissect the verses we read.  Dave's on Monday, I'm on Tuesday, Grace is on Wednesday and so on.  When it's your day you assign which verses are to be read, ask questions to discuss, and you get to say the family prayer.  It's working for now...maybe Max will have some more ideas to freshen up how we study when he gets back.

There is not quite the scramble there used to be to get out the door in the mornings these days.  Nowadays most of my kids can dress and bathe themselves (Lucy is still working on that, but lately we've been working on shifting to showers rather than baths and she's getting pretty good at them). 

They can pack their lunches and make their beds and do the dishes (when they remember).  And I love it but I do miss the bouncing-off-the-wall chaos sometimes.

I still want to remember these mornings.  The mornings where I occasionally still do Claire's hair alongside Lucy's and new songs are plunked out on the piano when the girls are practicing.

The girls have things for me to sign and we work and clean together to get ready to get out the door.  But I've realized that sometimes they get stuff done faster when I leave them to their own devices.  I think that's kind of funny.  

Grace drives to school every morning.  She leaves at 7:05 and picks up three other girls in our neighborhood on her way.

Claire still rides her bike to school and leaves at 7:45.  Her bike seat is all melted and sticky from sitting in the sun every day for so many years so she just puts a little washcloth over it to ride to school.  That yellow bike has lasted for a long, long time and I love that it matches her personality...most of the time.  I mean, she is newly 14 after all, and that, my friends, leads to some moodiness every now and again I have to say.

Lucy has started a new season of handbells and we carpool with our neighbor every Monday and Tuesday to get our girls there by 7:45.  On the other days Lucy and I try to walk to school with Bo in tow.  It's good for the soul and the body for all of us.  Lucy told me after we finished our walking chart ("miles to Ecuador") before our trip that charts "make her want to do things" so we have a new chart called “miles to max” and we're trying to get in ten miles before he comes home in two weeks.

We still all look at each other in amazement every now and again that we have a DOG.  That is something I honestly never thought we'd do.


But she is a pretty great addition to the family...most of the time.  We still find little disasters here and there, but for the most part she has mellowed out and most of us adore her.  (I say most of us because I think Dave will always have a love/hate relationship with Bo Jangles.)

Bo can understand three words: "kennel" and she obeys to get in that thing to sleep at night, "food" and she knows to sit and wait patiently while we pour it in her bowl, and "walk."  When she hears "do you want to go on a walk?" she cocks her head to one side to make sure she's getting it right at first.  Then when she realizes we're serious she starts scrambling around all perked up and happy, just waiting for that green mudroom door to open and she jets out of that thing.  I will have to record it some time because it cracks us all up.

When we're in the neighborhood she doesn't use a leash, she just stays right with us and will wait at street corners until we give her the "ok" to cross.  She's pretty good in so many things I have to say.

(I cannot believe I just took that much time to write about a dog!...but we really like her.)

Lucy is the main one to get all her jobs done and check them off on her job chart.  I hope she will some day rub off on her older sisters!

We are all waiting such great anticipation to see Max.  For now we are still writing diligently each week and wait impatiently every Sunday night for his emails to start rolling in.  It will be a strange thing not to have that deadline every Sunday night when he finally arrives home.  He is doing so well on that island of his.  For the most part he is filled with excitement and joy when he writes each week, completely engrossed in the work and learning so much, trying desperately to utilize these last few weeks to work his hardest.

Elle's calls home have gradually declined as she gets more and more involved in her island life.  She loves being in Hawaii, loves her classes, loves her major and loves all that life there in the tropics offers.  She was accepted into the graphic design program and has some pretty cool specialized classes starting this semester.  She just got accepted to do study abroad in Jerusalem in the spring and we're all pretty excited for her.

Grace finally has some really good leads trying to find a job right in time for tennis season to start.  She stays pretty busy with student council and tennis clinic a few times a week.  She is the perfect oldest child to have at home because she is so good to her little sisters and is so helpful. Tennis team tryouts are in a couple weeks. {now it's been a month or so since I wrote this and she made the tennis team and is earnestly starting into her matches...woo hoo!}

Claire is in "sports mania" mode and is doing club volleyball, club soccer, and tennis usually three times a week.  She has a growing love for volleyball which makes us happy because we sure like that sport!  She genuinely loves being involved in all those things and actually does a pretty good job balancing between sports and friends.  She has a great group of friends but is in a dramatic time of life (junior high is the worst in my opinion), but she's handling it all pretty well.  Track season is coming up...and she wants to do it...trying to figure out what to cut.

Lucy has the sweetest gymnastics teacher who comes to our house on Tuesdays and helps her work out and learn some great gymnastics moves.  I love her.

Lucy's eyesight is drastically diminishing which casts a dark, black shadow on many things.  We are all trying to get used to this idea.  It's good that it's gradual, but it's emotionally so draining.  Lucy can't articulate how she feels very well, but I think it comes out in her moodiness.  Sometimes her moods make me so nervous for the future.  It's more and more difficult to snap her out of the dark ones...distraction is loosing it's savor.

All the girls are still taking piano lessons and we love our piano teacher who hand-writes out Lucy's music as large as possible each week for her lesson.

Dave is still serving in the high council at church over missionaries, which means he has meetings with them quite often. Kind of fun to have a good missionary contact while Max is out there. I just got released from young women and called to work in the primary. I work with the six-year-old’s and I adore those sweeties but I'm not gonna lie, they are a handful!  Love the challenge though.

Claire just got released as the Beehive president (over the girls ages 12-13) and Grace just got asked to serve in the presidency of the Laurels (ages 16-17).  I love that they have these opportunities to serve and grow.  Lucy has the best primary teachers who have challenged her to read the scriptures every day and she sure is taking that seriously!

Claire and Lucy have braces...they got them on the very same day right before school started.  I am becoming an expert at brushing braces and putting in elastics because man alive, braces are dang hard to keep clean and Lucy isn't quite able to get all the food they hold onto.  We are so grateful for our waterpik!

Lucy is addicted to having friends over and also Friend Legos.  She seems to be in continual texting contact with all her friend's moms (through my phone) and she makes things happen!

I'm trying my hand at home-schooling.  Claire is my guinea pig and we are liking it.  I don't think it'll be a long-term thing but I love the way it's made us think.  I just think that we get so stuck in how education "should" be and we forget that we can really be in the driver's seat if we want. There are so many options!  (a little more about home-schooling back HERE)

We live in a day and age where we are always struggling to balance the amount of technology we let take over our lives.  It is seeming to infiltrate into everything.  It is something I worry about a lot (most recent post about it back HERE).  Because of this, we talk about technology until my girls' eyes roll, (ok, not least most of the time, but we do talk about it a lot).  I know they appreciate the "talk" because they've both thanked me many times for many different reasons.  It's a topic that merits lots of "offense" as well as awareness.  We need to re-vamp our "technology contract" since the world of technology keep evolving (contract is back HERE).

Ok phew!  That's a lot!  I keep adding to this and now I need to just post it already!

A quick addendum though:  Max is now home.  And we are thankful every day...first of all that he's home, and second of all that he left.  Sounds funny but I don't believe there are many other things that could strengthen a kid more than something like a mission.  We're soaking him in every day because he will start a new job in Utah on Monday.  He's ready but man, we'll miss him!

Lots more to talk about our adventures with him and his mission adjustment soon, but for now, there's another snapshot wrap-up.

2018 is gonna be a good one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

instagram parenting tips

Just as communication is transitioning with all forms of technology infiltrating into life, the way we obtain information is changing as well.

We can ask a tiny device in our hand what happened in some ancient civilization and the information pops up instantly.  If we want to know what happened to so-and-so from our senior year in high school chances are they have a “page” somewhere in cyberspace we can look up.  If we are trying to figure out the best way to make lemon meringue pie we can pull up thousands of recipes within seconds on our computer screen, all neatly ranked even sometimes with links to where to buy the ingredients.  It's amazing! No more looking things up in those rows of encyclopedias we had lining a shelf in our kitchen growing up, no more detective work to find out how an old friend is doing, it's all there right in front of us.  

So what does that change?  We could go on and on about the debate of whether or not all this flowing information is good or bad...there are pros and cons for sure.  I personally think so much information can be incredibly overwhelming at times.

BUT, my opinion is that it's pretty amazing overall.  

Let's talk about how it influences parenting.

Does all this information at our fingertips change how we find answers for the parenting dilemmas that come our way?  Can it help us build up family defenses and communication to fortify our families against all the tough times that come?  It sure does.  If we’re trying to stop sibling rivalry or trying to get a baby to sleep through the night or trying to figure out how in the world to combat the “terrible twos” or establish trust with a teenager there are endless amounts of ideas right in front of us.  


I've always tried to have a parenting book on my nightstand of some kind or another (some of my favorites are HERE).  I feel like when I'm reading about parenting I'm more aware of ideas, more aware of problems that arise, I get answers to questions I have wallowing in my heart as I read between the lines, and I love that.  Because parenting is constantly changing and fresh ideas make a big difference.

I don't think technology necessarily takes over that book role (because man, I love books), but I think it's pretty awesome to have new ideas pop up in my inbox or on instagram to help me build that parenting offense.  

I love that I can get a "shot in the arm" whenever I need it with a whole slew of new parenting ideas from a site like my sister's awesome Power of Families (check it out for ideas, it's pretty great).

And I also love that my parents have recently started sharing their own tips on Instagram...and Facebook and Twitter.  Because they're hip like that :) 

Click HERE to find out more details, because those "tips" that will pop up in your social media will lead you to this webpage where you can be led to a myriad of ideas relating to the little glimpse of whatever they're concentrating on that day.

...And that's a blurry screenshot so here's what it really says in that blurry print up there:

Each week the Eyres post one tried and proven “Parenting Principle” (or sometimes a Marriage Principle) here on this page, and also on social media (Instagram @richardlindaeyre, Facebook @richardlindaeyre, and Twitter @richardeyre). Please follow, and invite your friends to do the same. Each week the brief, quotable parenting principle will appear with several links to articles, podcasts, videos, or radio and television appearances that give more ideas, instruction and inspiration on that principle.

I don't do Facebook or Twitter, but check out their instagram account HERE.

I'm a little biased but I think they have the best ideas in all the land, and I'm so grateful for how they've influenced my parenting!

So I just wanted to share.  Happy Tuesday!
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