Making a Difference in the World

Many years ago we had a freezer in our car port that I kept popsicles in. My kids could help themselves while they were playing outside with their friends on a hot, summer’s day. My children were generous and always offered their friends popsicles too, which was fine with me. One day I happened to look out the window to see neighborhood kids helping themselves to our popsicles. None of my kids were around.  I was upset that these children felt free to get popsicles without asking or being offered them by my children. Money was always tight for us. I am ashamed to say I thought, “How can we ever save money to feed the hungry and poor of the world when everyone just feels free to help themselves to the things in our freezer.” Instantly I had the thought come to me, “You are feeding the hungry and poor of the world.” I immediately saw the situation in a different way. These sweet little children came from good homes with very little in worldly terms. Their mother had severe health challenges and any extra money went to medical bills. Letting them eat popsicles from our freezer was nothing in the scheme of things but a small service to another of God’s children. I learned a great lesson that day.

Sometimes we think, as I did, that service is something we do on a grand scale or something involving a stranger or group of needy people. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that service can be little things to the people around us. I remember a talk given in General Conference in October 2017 by Bonnie Oscarson. She recounted the story of a women who had collected quilts and drove a truck, full of quilts, from London to Kosovo to deliver them. While driving home she received the following inspiration “What you have done is a very good thing. Now go home, walk across the street and serve your neighbor.” This concept teaches me to serve where and how I can, even if it just involves a popsicle.

There are so many different ways to help others. Over the years there have been several times when I have met someone and I felt like I was supposed to be her friend for a while, and that the friendship wouldn’t be long lasting. These were quiet impressions, but as I acted on them, and developed friendships with each of these women I could see the hand of the Lord operating through me to help them. None of the things that happened were grand or large in scale. Mostly it was just being a friend. But it demonstrated to me that God knows each of His children and loves them. Since I was willing, He used me to bless some else’s life. The really funny thing about this is that each time this happened I was strengthened in my testimony of God’s love for His children, and my own life was blessed. Our loving Heavenly Father, who knows everything, knows that the giver and the receiver are both blessed. Kind of like a two-for-one deal.

Since that popsicle experience many years ago I have learned that there are many ways to serve. I know now that the poor and hungry of the world are often in my own neighborhood, and that service doesn’t have to be big or grandiose. Little things, like letting a neighbor child enjoy a treat from a freezer also blesses the life of the one giving the service. That was over 23 years ago and I still feel a connection to that little boy who is now a man with his own children. When we have eyes to see and ears to hear He will guide us to those we can help. As we try to follow Him, as we try to serve, in some small way, as He did we will be blessed too. When we serve where and how we can we will be making a difference in the world and in our own lives.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-needs-before-us?lang=eng

 

Every Day Sayings and Expressions

I grew up hearing a lot of  expressions that I don’t hear much any more. Things like “were you born in a barn?” if I left the door open. “You make a better door that you do a window” if I was standing in someone’s view of the TV. I often heard “you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” implying that I would get what I wanted easier with a kinder mouth. I heard that one a lot! Usually it was because I was being bossy, which is one of the problems with being the oldest child. My usual response to that one was “why would I want a bunch of flies anyway.” Obviously I was sometimes bossy and mouthy.

Sometimes these kind of expressions make no sense. “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” had me stumped for years until I realized it was saying don’t throw out the good with the bad. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” helps people get their needs or wants met, but I usually replied, “yes, but it’s also the first one to be replaced.” Sometimes I had a problem with being told what to do too. Another saying that I heard frequently was “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” meaning don’t spend your money before you have it. All of these sayings communicate pretty clearly what the speaker wants you to know.

There are a lot of different expressions like these. And it makes me wonder how these expressions came about. Who makes up these expressions? How do they get started? So I looked up the ‘baby in the bath water’ expression and it originated in Germany in the 1500s and implied the concept of not discarding good ideas with bad ideas. It seems that some of these expressions have been around for a long time. One website I found had 1800 expressions and sayings with their explanations and histories. Who knew there were so many!

All of these sayings use common terms and concepts to communicate an idea. I wonder if these expressions originated to help people communicate ideas more clearly.  Humans communicating with humans is always an iffy thing. Sometimes I think I’ve said something very clearly with no room for misinterpretation. I find out later that the person (usually my husband) interpreted what I said in an entirely different way. Miscommunications happen so easily. Expressions can paint pictures in our minds, add reference points. These expressions might help someone understand more clearly what someone is trying to say-to get the point across.

In the bible we read that Christ often taught people using parables. These parables helped His listeners to understand His doctrine and teachings more clearly. Parables seem to be related to expressions that are in common to us, as they use ideas, concepts and cultural references to convey a message. Of course, some thought Christ was merely telling nice stories but the careful listener got the intended message. Maybe that’s the secret to really understanding the message of the speaker: careful listening. Sometimes I’m thinking of what I’m going to say back to someone instead of really focusing on what he or she is saying. I’m more interested in getting my message across instead of trying to understand another person.

So maybe I need to “strike while the iron is hot’ when someone is “spilling the beans” and “read between the lines.” Listening to someone really is a “labor of love.”

 

Imperfect Mothers and Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is almost here again. There are lots of different ways that people celebrate Mother’s Day. It is also a day that often evokes a lot of emotions as we think about our mothers, and also think about the hard work and sacrifices that raising children involves.

We often hear sermons in church meetings about those sacrifices and about the virtues of motherhood. And while motherhood truly is a divine calling, sometimes it is presented in an idealized version, and it’s hard for some women to feel like they measure up. Some may leave the meeting feeling a little sad or like a failure. I know in the past I have struggled with some of these feelings. Sometimes after these kind of talks I felt like I just needed to work harder, or listen better or even teach better. Of course I always needed more patience, and my lacking seemed so apparent.

Sometimes in the middle of something it is hard to have perspective. Looking back I realize I did the best I could at the time. That involved good things and sometimes, not so good things.  Generally I am at peace about my mothering efforts.

So my goal here is not to paint a picture of a perfect mother because really, there is no such thing. I also don’t want to dwell on negative things. I do want to tell you about two women from the bible from whom I have learned some things.

The first one is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. I have always wondered how Christ knew who He was, even as a child. How did He know that He was the Savior of the World, The Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father? I pondered that for quite a while when one day it occurred to me that He would have learned it from his mother. She would have told Him of her experience with the angel and of His heavenly origins. It was she who taught Him who He was. Mary inspires me, and from her I have learned the importance of teaching my children who they are and what they are to become.

Another woman from the scriptures that I admire is Eve. I think about her bearing children without a mother or another woman there to help her. How lonely and hard it must have been to not have had another woman to talk things over with and to learn from. She had no precedence-no guide books to baby care, no how-to-survive a teenager manual and no one to guide her on parenting. It really was a learn-as-you-go situation. It was just Adam and Eve working as a team and trying to figure it out together. From Eve I learn that I can keep on mothering even when I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, and trying to figure it out. I also learn the importance of working as a full partnership with my husband.

There are other things I have learned from these two women, as well as other women in the scriptures. I don’t think either of these two women were perfect, even though they were both really good women. Since there is no such thing as a perfect mother, they obviously weren’t that either. From Mary, Eve and also the many good women in my life, I have learned is that you don’t have to be perfect to be a good mother. There are many ways to be a good mom and I bet you’re doing better than you think.

 

 

 

 

A Boy With Developmental Disabilities

Life Skills Class at Junior High

A few years ago my daughter, who has Down Syndrome, transitioned from junior high school to high school. She had been in a Life Skills class in junior high where they teach many of the basics such as reading, math, writing, and other skills that are needed to function in society. In her Life Skills class were other teens with developmental disabilities. She was lucky because she also had many classes in the normal school setting that allowed her to participate in classes like choir, sewing, health and cooking. It’s a great blending of experiences and classes that the students are offered.

Talking About His Accomplishments Produced A Big Smile

At the end of her junior high experience the Life Skills teacher held a “graduation” for all of the teens going on to high school. As part of the graduation the teacher read all of the accomplishments of each student during his or her three years at the school. She had the student stand as she read off the list. One young man, as she was talking about his accomplishments, was smiling. His smile got bigger and bigger as the teacher kept reading. When the teacher finished, with a look of awe and joy on his face, he said, “I’m amazing!” The teacher said, “You are amazing!” Of course everyone in the classroom started smiling too. He said it with such wonder and sincerity that it was really a joy to have witnessed it.

Making the World a Better Place

I have thought about that sweet experience many times since then. The look of awe and wonder on his face still brings a smile to my face. He didn’t solve world hunger or end international wars. He didn’t figure out the solution to the homeless problem or fix the political divide. The things he accomplished were actually quite simple things. Because of his developmental disabilities he obviously will never accomplish much by world standards. Yet in his own way, he has added to the goodness of the world. He excelled where and how he could, and added light to the world through his small accomplishments. And remarkably, if each of us could say that we have excelled where and how we could, the world would be a better place. I often think of Gordon B. Hinckley who was known for his optimism and encouragement for each of us to be a little better every day. He once said, “There is room for improvement in every life. Regardless of our occupations, regardless of our circumstances, we can improve ourselves and while doing so have an effect on the lives of those around us (October 2002).” That young man improved himself through the things he accomplished and made the world a little better. And that is the challenge each of us has. To be a little better than we were the day before and to make the world a better place by doing so.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/10/each-a-better-person?lang=eng

Special Needs Basketball

A Basketball Tournament For Teens With Disabilities

Recently I attended a delightful basketball tournament for people with developmental disabilities. This tournament is sponsored by the local school district and is run by volunteers. Each of the teams consisted of 3 teens with some kind of a disability and 2 peer tutors. A peer tutor is a teenager who is normally abled and helps another teen with disabilities be successful in the school setting. This time the peer tutors were there to teach, encourage and help the teens be successful in basketball. Whenever a peer tutor got the ball he or she would throw it to a teen with disabilities and then instruct them where to go and what to do. Sometimes teens would throw the ball and miss the basket and then the ball was given to them to try again, and then again. Everyone would stop playing to allow the teens to be successful. If they actually made a basket, it was pure magic! The look on their faces was so sweet, radiating pure happiness. The whole day was all about helping these teens have a great experience.

For The Fun Of It

There were even a few teens in wheelchairs with a peer tutor manning the chair and running down the court with everyone else. I say running but really, at best, it was just a fast walk. Most of the teens with disabilities just couldn’t be hurried. Parents and coaches would shout “hurry” or “run” but it just wasn’t important to them. They would walk down the court holding the ball, not even bouncing it. Sometimes a teen on one team would help another on a different team by giving them the ball or saying encouraging things. They were there for the fun of it, not to win. The great thing is that no matter which team made a basket, everyone cheered.

Pink Shirts Everywhere

What was truly amazing to me was that there were 8 games going on at the same time, and each team played 4 games with a half time show from the various high school dance teams. And of course there was also the big playoff between the two highest scoring teams, with trophies for the winners. When you add up how many volunteers it took to pull this tournament off it’s astounding. Adult organizers, score keepers, coaches, people who got the school ready with directional signs and the peer tutors were just the obvious volunteers. All of the volunteers were in pink shirts and I saw hundreds of pink shirts! The volunteers, mostly peer tutors, were spending their Saturday helping these kids with disabilities play basketball.

Hope For The Youth Of The World

I have been to this tournament two years in a row now and both times I have been completely overwhelmed with the kindness, camaraderie, friendship and genuine caring exhibited by everyone involved. It’s really hard to understand the feeling that is there unless you have been there. Everyone was there just for the opportunity to help someone else. Sometimes we hear about a lot of bad stuff happening in the world today, a lot of it involving young people. This event and others like it give me a lot of hope for the youth of the world. There are some caring, unselfish teens out there doing some simple and yet significant things to help and serve others. Service truly brings a sweet feeling into life and this event was all about service. There are so many needs and so many ways to serve others and I can guarantee that if you reach out to serve others your life will be happier.

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/young-women-in-the-work?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/the-needs-before-us?lang=eng

Kids and Summer Boredom

Summer is approaching and I love the flowers that are blooming and the sound of birds when I walk outside. I love the lazy days of playing in the sun at the beach or park. I have good memories of picnics and taking my kids to the pool, and programs at the library. It seemed like summer was a very busy time in a laid back sort of way. Maybe it was just busy for me because I was managing 8 kids, because I also have memories of bored kids complaining there was nothing to do. It seemed that if their friends weren’t available to play with, their world came to a crashing halt. Their brains turned to mush and with a blank stare in their eyes they would wail “there’s nothing to do!” I got so tired of hearing that complaint, usually one week into summer vacation! So one year I got smart. I typed up a list of 40+ things to do when they were bored, put it in a page protector and taped it to the fridge. The list had craft ideas, solo things to do like reading or taking a walk. It also had ideas like making cookies, or things to do with their siblings (if they were really desperate) like board games. I also made sure I had lots of craft supplies in the house so all they had to do was get them out and of course clean up when they were done.

I got a lot of my ideas from a magazine I used to subscribe to called Family Fun. It had lots of creative ideas that were inexpensive. I remember one of the activities used pipe cleaners and felt to make bendable dolls. It even came with patterns for clothes and accessories. My kids spent hours making those! The Friend magazine is also another great resource for ideas and things to do. There are also lots of craft books available to buy for different age groups. Of course there are also a lot of resources online of fun things to do for and with kids.

At the bottom of my summer list I typed in bold letters that they were not allowed to complain there was nothing to do or I would find lots of jobs for them to do. I also typed a list of available jobs to do and hung it on the fridge next to the fun things to do list. I did this mostly to show I was serious but also to use as a quick reference for me should I need it. It was amazing how well it all worked. If a kid even started to complain they were bored I would mention finding something for them to do and the complaint died on their lips. It worked so well that I hung the list on the fridge every summer after that for many years. Sometimes I even joined in their activities! The wonderful result was non bored, non complaining kids and a happy, less stressed mom.

https://www.parents.com/familyfun-magazine/

https://www.lds.org/friend/?lang=eng

See The Good In The World

I have written before about an organization called Orange Socks. Their mission is to teach people about the joys of raising a child with disabilities. Most people hear about or assume the difficulties and Orange Socks wants people to know there are good times as well as hard times. Their tag line is “inspiring life despite a diagnosis.” Orange Socks interviews families who have a child with disabilities and posts the interviews on their website as well as doing podcasts. They want people who are facing a diagnosis to hear from people who actually have a child with that disability. It helps to learn from those who have gone before us, to learn from them the realities of raising that child, of the good and the hard.

The reason why I am writing about this again is thatI have been privileged to go to several of the interviews. I was touched by the fierce love and advocacy the parents all have for their child and in some cases, children. I was impressed that these parents spoke mostly of the joys and happiness their child has brought to their family. When asked about the difficulties every parent said it was worth it, that they got far more back than they ever gave. I was amazed that in every interview I went to, except for one, the parents all spoke about how they relied on prayer to help them with their challenges. They spoke of receiving inspiration to help guide them as they cared for their child. The interviews have taken place all over the country, with people from many different religions. It really surprised me that so many people talked about praying. It surprised me that so many talked about relying on God to help them. It gave me hope to know of so many good people in the world. Sometimes it is easy to focus on the distressing things we hear about going on in the world. The media seems to blast daily sometimes even hourly the bad things that occur. It’s easy to think that most people are unkind and hurtful from watching the news.

There was another thing that happened also has given me hope. Several years ago I attended a 3 week program in Minnesota that focused on how to live with chronic pain. Every morning we had to set goals for the day, which were written on a white board in the classroom. One day, another woman in the program said her goal for the day was to express more gratitude in her prayers. That one comment is probably the thing I remember most from attending the chronic pain program. It told me that way over in Minnesota, there was a woman who believed in praying, who believed in God and in acting on that belief. It showed me that there are good people all over the country and world. Sometimes it seems like there is so much bad, and hurtful and horrific things that are happening. When I reflect on the parents interviewed and the woman from the program, I remember that there are good people in the world. Good people who believe in praying and believe in God. Who believe in helping others and giving service to their children. Even with the media bombarding us about all of the bad happening I know there is much good in the world. We live in scary times, but we also live in good and hopeful times. Take time to look for the good and you will find it!

Happy Anniversary

My husband and I just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. When we married I had a lot of hopes, dreams and expectations. Some of them were even realistic! Since I grew up with a single parent I remember wondering what married couples talk about, especially in the evenings. I didn’t really know what it was like to have a man around all of the time, so I had some apprehension about how marriage would be. But I married him with stars in my eyes and love in my heart. Our marriage has been good but in some ways it turns out I married a stranger. Oh, I knew he was a good man and we had similar values. He treated his parents and me with love and respect. He loved our Savior, Jesus Christ and living gospel principles was important to him. We had fun together and I loved being with him. He also wanted to have children and I loved him dearly and so we began our lives together. But, there have been many things about him that have surprised me. When we married he was working as a school psychologist and kept school hours. He was home by 4:00, even though I didn’t get off work until 5:00. He was usually busy working at other things while I was still at work. I tease him that I married a mild mannered school psychologist who turned out to be an entrepreneur. The signs were there that he was entrepreneurial but I just didn’t see them. At the time besides being a school psychologist he was teaching community education classes, writing a column for a newspaper, doing hypnosis to help people quit smoking as well as doing a home business of upholstery. Of course now I look back and realize all of the signs were there. Actually being a hard worker is a good thing, I was just pleasantly surprised by it.

When we had been married about 5 months he was offered a job as a program planner with a developmental center for people with intellectual disabilities. He took the job and so began our venture into the world of developmental disabilities, a cause he has become passionate about. Since that time he has started a nonprofit organization that supplies services and staff to help people with developmental disabilities be successful in their lives. Through his hard work the company has expanded to several states and to several thousand employees. I have told him that he is recreationally impaired because he would rather work than play. There was one time I even told him I would never go on another vacation with him because all he mostly did was work while the kids and I played. It was not a fun trip!

It’s not just his work ethic that has surprised me. Even though he has traveled much during the years for business, he usually made time for our family. Our children respect and love him dearly and know him to be a man of integrity. They know he will do all in his power to help them in their lives, and that his love for them doesn’t change based on what they do or don’t do. I know he prays for our children daily often takes the long view with them. Because of that our children call him almost daily just to say hello and talk about their day or to ask for his advice. Of course he has regrets as a parent about being away so much and about missing many occasions but we all have things we would do differently as parents. I think that even if he hadn’t traveled so much he would still have regrets because parents are just imperfect people. But I believe he really tried to be a good dad. He told me once that he kept growing the company because the bigger it got the more financially stable we were. We have 8 children and families cost money and he took his role as the provider seriously. I think love for his family and his passion for those with developmental disabilities fueled his work ethic. It was hard having him gone so much but I knew he wasn’t playing but working hard for us. I really didn’t know when we married what kind of dad he would be but I have been grateful that he is the dad of my children.

As he was and is a good father he is also a good husband. He frequently puts my wants and needs before his own. It’s the little things like letting me choose the restaurant when we eat out or deciding what to do on our dates. He will send me a text to “buy it” when he knows I’m shopping because he knows I’m cheap sometimes. I love how he holds my hand when we’re walking along somewhere together. He peels an orange and offers me half of it. Anything I bring home he will assemble because he knows it gives me anxiety to even think about putting something together. He supports me in my church callings and by his examples encourages me to do and be better. He values my happiness and will work to solve problems we have and not just dismiss what I want. I never have to wonder if he’s telling me the truth. He tells me frequently that he loves me. Did I know that he would be this way when I married him? Definitely not! But of course I hoped so. So really I married a stranger in some ways, and I got lucky because he is even better than I thought. I now know what couples talk about in the evenings, and what it’s like to have a man around all of the time. I’m glad he’s that man. He is a good person, dad and husband and I hope we are lucky enough to have another 34 years together. Happy Anniversary my Love!

Down Syndrome and What I Have Learned

I was 45 when my last child was born. Because of my age the doctors wanted me to do genetic testing to look for possible defects. I declined because even if the tests showed something I wouldn’t have had an abortion, so why bother. I really thought there was nothing wrong. I had had seven other children that were healthy and I knew this child was supposed to come to our home so I just thought there couldn’t possibly be something wrong. Actually, I’m really glad I didn’t know beforehand that she had Down Syndrome because I would have worried about it the entire pregnancy. I would have gone to the worst possible scenarios and possibly have felt bleak. Not knowing beforehand saved me from a lot of unnecessary anxiety.

I have always had c-sections and when she was being born I could feel what the doctors were doing so the anesthesiologist quickly put me out. Later, in the recovery room, in my hazy rousing, I could hear my husband say that the baby had Down Syndrome. This was also a blessing because my brain began to process that information. When I was fully awake I had already accepted the information and surprisingly I was calm. Mostly I think I was trying to figure out what life was going to look like now. This was really different from how I thought it was going to be and I was trying to wrap my brain around my new reality, in a little bit of a daze.

She was born in the early afternoon and that evening after my husband had gone home and I was alone, I sat there pondering the situation. I think because I was calm I was able to hear the whisperings of the Spirit. I remembered two things that had happened in the past. One, when I was 25, was a Relief Society lesson taught by a woman who had four children, three of them with major disabilities. She spoke about how she had prayed about her children and their lives she had come to understand that for some reason this was God’s will and that her children had accepted this assignment in the premortal world. Because her children had great faith and obedience they had followed the will of the Father. At the time of the lesson I had a very strong witness that what she was saying was true. So strong in fact that I wondered about why I had had that experience. Every so often I would ponder on it throughout the years, still puzzled about the depth of it.

The next experience was remembering an Ensign (April 1993, p 27) article I had read several years before. The article was about a man who was pondering about his daughter with Down Syndrome, looking for some kind of peace as to why she was born this way. While pondering he had a remarkable experience. He said that it wasn’t a vision but more like a scenario that impressed itself on his consciousness. In his mind he saw his “family” in the premortal world and our Father and came to them and said He had an assignment for one of them. He said that our Father went on to say that the one would experience earth life differently from the rest of the family and it was necessary so that they could learn how to love purely and unconditionally. The man said that the “brightest and most beautiful” among them stepped forward and volunteered. The volunteer was his daughter with Down Syndrome. He wasn’t sure that this really happened in the premortal world but the principle that he learned was important: she was Child of God and that they had much to learn from each other. I personally think experiences like this are given to us in terms we can understand and are not literal, but they teach us important truths. The truth here is that our children come to us with great faith and together we learn things that help us grow and become better than we could otherwise.

So, back to the night in the hospital when my daughter was born. These two incidents came to my mind with the thought, “these were to prepare you for her.” A great peace and sense of wonderment filled me. Everything would be okay and we would be fine. That experience with the Spirit that night taught me several things. One was that this was not an accident. For some reason this was part of the plan. She was meant to come to my family and because of her great faith she accepted the will of the Father and was born to a different kind of life. I often remind myself that she is the “brightest and most beautiful” among us even if I can’t see that right now. She can be stubborn and obviously is not perfect. Another thing I learned was that God is aware of the details of our lives and prepares us for the things that are going to happen. I was not aware that I was being prepared but that didn’t stop the preparation from happening. When she was born God had taught me what I needed to know in order to love and care for her, and accept her. I still had a lot to learn but the foundation was in place and we could go forward secure in the knowledge that we would have His help. I have also learned since then that no matter what child you have there will be difficulties, challenges and hard times. Each child is unique and comes with his or her own challenges, they’re just usually not as obvious as Down Syndrome. I have also learned there will also be joys, peace and love. Every child has the ability to bring joy to your life if you are open to it. So, having a daughter with Down Syndrome is not exactly what I expected or thought how it should be. It’s even better.

The Simplicity of Family Fun

On The Nose

In my last post I wrote about how much work there was with a family and the importance of taking time for fun. I regret not spending more time just playing with my kids and enjoying them. I do remember some fun things we did together though. It’s funny that most of these things were spontaneous and unplanned yet they are some of the sweetest things I remember doing with my children. I’m not even sure how this one started but my children loved it. They would lie on the couch with their head on their dad’s lap and he would stack cheerios on their nose. My children would line up waiting for their turn in delightful anticipation. It was a contest between the children to see who could lay the most still and could get the most cheerios stacked. Each would carefully angle his or her head to figure out the best position. It was serious business! I was the one who supplied and counted the cheerios, and took pictures. A really simple thing yet when I talk with my children about it they remember it vividly and talk about how much fun it was. I still have the photographs and when I look at them sweet memories flood my mind. One picture shows my toddler lying there with someone holding her hands so she wouldn’t push the cheerios away. She had watched everyone else doing it and she wanted to do it too but didn’t actually want to have something on her nose. Her brothers and sisters were gathered around counting the cheerios as they went on her nose and cheering that she sat still. It is a priceless memory!

A Sweet Memory

Another sweet memory is when I had a daughter sitting on my lap and we made up different kinds of kisses. I had a couple of other children sitting next to me and each of them got involved and we were all laughing and doing the kisses on each other. One was the race care kiss where you zoomed your lips across the cheek of the other person, and of course you had to make a race car sound. There was the butterfly kiss in which you fluttered your eyelashes against the cheek of the other person. That one mostly tickled. An energetic one involved bouncing kisses off the cheek of your partner and we called that one the Pogo stick kiss. The most popular one was the ice cream kiss which involved licking the cheek of the unsuspecting person sitting next to you. Yes, I know it’s disgusting, yet somehow it was fun when done with my kids. The ice cream kiss turned out to be the most fun because everyone was chasing each other to “kiss” them. It’s been many years and I don’t remember all of the kisses we came up with but I do remember just enjoying my children. I remember being present with them and just having fun together.

Singing and Dancing

Something else I remember doing is singing and dancing with my kids. We’d put on a Raffi CD and hold hands and dance around while singing along with the silly songs. A couple of my daughters have really good memories of doing that so I found some Raffi CDs on Amazon and sent them to them so they could do the same with their children. Most people today don’t remember Raffi or know who he is, which is kind of sad because of the good memories I have of his music. I have always liked singing and sang a lot with my children. Using familiar tunes we’d make up new words to songs as we were driving somewhere or working together. We also sang a lot of Primary songs driving places and the added advantage to that was it cut down on the fighting and arguing in the car.

Funny Sayings

One last thing want to share is how we made up funny sayings along the lines of See You Later Alligator. Every morning as my kids left for school I would say In a While Crocodile, and See You Later Alligator. One morning, on the spur of the moment, I added a new one. Hit The Road You Silly Toad which spurred others, Remember To Laugh You Funny Giraffe and then That’s Preposterous You Crazy Rhinoceros! Some of my kids thought of other ones too. We had fun most mornings adding to the sayings. I still say these to my only daughter at home as she heads out the door to catch the bus.

No Expensive Gadgets

When I look at these fun things what stands out to me most is that none of these cost any money, we didn’t go anywhere fancy and it didn’t involve any expensive gadgets. It was just me taking the time to focus on my children in fun ways, and being relaxed and really present with them. I wasn’t worried about what needed to be done, teaching them something important, or working. Maybe because it didn’t happen too often these things stand out in my mind and the minds of my kids. Whatever the reason, to me it emphasizes the importance of enjoying my children. It also shows me the value of just having fun together and the love and strength that results. I’m glad to have these sweet memories.