Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Mother's Influence

"Some mothers in today's world feel "cumbered" by home duties and are thus attracted by other more "romantic" challenges. Such women could make the same error of perspective that Martha made. The woman, for instance, who deserts the cradle in order to help defend civilization against the barbarians may well later meet, among the barbarians, her own neglected child."

The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, ed. Cory H. Maxwell. (1997), 219.

“[The] ability and willingness properly to rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness … to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling in the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, … deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God."

David O.McKay, Gospel Ideals (1954), 453-54.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Love, Limits and Latitude

Have you picked up your August 2008 Ensign yet? I was thrilled to discover two excellent parenting articles included in the issue.

Grasshoppers, Purple Bathtubs, and Other Surprises struck a familiar chord with me. Like myself, the author studied child development in college and learned the scientific principles behind parenting. But real life doesn't always serve up what you expect; the key lies in viewing life as an adventure and taking everything in stride.

Wanda I. Allen, “Grasshoppers, Purple Bathtubs, and Other Surprises,” Ensign, Aug 2008, 52–53

In Love, Limits and Latitude, three BYU experts in the parenting field offer great counsel to parents centered on three key principles. A few parts that stood out to me:

"Take time to be a real friend to your children. This includes spending time with them, showing affection, praising what they do well, teaching new skills, reading to them, conversing often, and assuring children they are loved during moments of correction."

"A natural but ineffective response to misbehavior can be to simply demand obedience. One father found that spending positive time with his son encouraged positive behavior much more than shouting or spanking did."

"President Faust encourage parents to use prayerful discernment as they select consequences for misbehavior. No matter the seriousness of the offense, the method of correction must treat the child with consideration and dignity."

"Parents need to prepare their children in small steps to govern themselves so that they will be prepared for the day when they eventually leave home."

"The insights we receive through prayer will help us respond appropriately to their needs and challenges. It helps to remember that parenting is a fluid, dynamic process. It can take time to see the result of our efforts. "

Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, and Julie H. Haupt, “Love, Limits, and Latitude,” Ensign, Aug 2008, 60–65

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Behold your little ones" Part II

"Jesus showed His great love and respect for children when His disciples asked Him this probing question: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:1–6).

During one encounter with children during His mortal ministry, Jesus “took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16). On another occasion, “he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and … [took] him in his arms” (Mark 9:36). But nothing in recorded scripture rivals the beauty and intimacy of His tender ministry to the Nephite children in the land Bountiful.

“He took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.

“And when he had done this he wept again;

“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.

“And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them” (3 Ne. 17:21–24).

Clearly, those of us who have been entrusted with precious children have been given a sacred, noble stewardship, for we are the ones God has appointed to encircle today’s children with love and the fire of faith and an understanding of who they are."

M. Russell Ballard, “‘Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children’,” Ensign, Apr 1994, 59–61

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yummy Popsicles

The hot days of summer are at their peak, and we're staying cool with tasty homemade popsicles.

The first recipe we tried came from here. It was super easy, super yummy, and I felt healthier just eating one.

We then modified the recipe and tried mixing straight grape juice with plain yogurt and had a good result.

Our third trial used a recipe from here. We went with the Rocky Road Pops, with less than stellar results. I thought they were okay, but the Ant Bug had enough after two bites.

Today we hit the jackpot with the best concoction yet.

Here's what you'll need:
Raspberries, in small chunks
Plain yogurt
Berry flavored Juicy Juice

Mix the yogurt with a little juice (I don't have exact amounts, so just use your best judgment). Toss in the berries, and fill your molds half full. Let freeze for 30 minutes or so, then come back and fill your molds with juice and add the handle or sticks or whatever you use. Come back a few hours later and voila--a tasty healthy treat, perfect for the hot days of summer.

Really, the possibilities here are endless. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries. Mix in some yogurt, add some juice, and there you go. The yogurt adds a creamy touch so it's more like a creamsicle, but it's all delicious.

So what summer treats are you eating?

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Behold your little ones"

"Can anyone witness the miracle of birth and not feel a divine, providential influence? Can anyone look into the face of a precious newborn child and not see etched in its tiny lines and creases the confluence of eternity with mortality?

"Perhaps that is one reason why the Savior tearfully urged his Nephite followers to “behold your little ones” (3 Ne. 17:23). Notice that He didn’t say “glance at them” or “casually observe them” or “occasionally take a look in their general direction.” He said to behold them. To me that means that we should embrace them with our eyes and with our hearts; we should see and appreciate them for who they really are: spirit children of our Heavenly Father, with divine attributes.

"When we truly behold our little ones, we behold the glory, wonder, and majesty of God, our Eternal Father. All children are His spirit offspring. We have no more eloquent testimony that our Heavenly Father lives and that He loves us than the first raspy cry of a newborn child. All babies have faith in their eyes and purity in their hearts. They are receptive to the truth because they have no preconceived notions; everything is real to children. Regardless of physical limitations or the challenge of circumstance, their souls are endowed naturally with divine potential that is infinite and eternal."

M. Russell Ballard, “‘Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children’,” Ensign, Apr 1994, 59–61


Last week the Ant Bug and I were sorting through some music CDs when we discovered a special lullaby CD. Just prior to the birth of our first child, the Dad and I put together a CD of calming music to play for our little babies. Many of the songs are not technically lullabies, but they are songs that are soothing for us. Some of the songs we included were:

Ashokan Farewell, Fiddle Fever
Blackbird, The Beatles
Lullabye, Peter Breinholt
Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel), Billy Joel
The Voice, Octapella
When You're Alone, John Williams

But our very favorite lullabies come from Alison Krauss. Here are the words:

Slumber, My Darling
Slumber, my darling, thy mother is near,
Guarding thy dreams from all terror and fear,
Sunlight has pass'd and the twilight has gone,
Slumber, my darling, the night's coming on.

Sweet visions attend thy sleep,
Fondest, dearest to me,
While others their revels keep,
I will watch over thee.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flow'rs are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I'll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Slumber, my darling, till morn's blushing ray
Brings to the world the glad tidings of day;
Fill the dark void with thy dreamy delight—
Slumber, thy mother will guard thee tonight,

Thy pillow shall sacred be
From all outward alarms;
Thou, thou are the world to me
In thine innocent charms.

Slumber, my darling, the birds are at rest,
The wandering dews by the flow'rs are caressed,
Slumber, my darling, I'll wrap thee up warm,
And pray that the angels will shield thee from harm.

Oddly enough, we didn't end up playing the CD very much for our little baby. But the Ant Bug is loving it now, and has fallen asleep listening to it every night for the past week. This morning she came in to our room laughing and talking about the "back back lie" song. Translation? "Blackbird fly". The Dad and I told her what the song was really saying, but she still insisted on her version. It's much more fun.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"The greatest job that any woman will ever do..."

"In this age when more and more women are turning to daily work, how tremendous it is once in a while to just stop and recognize that the greatest job that any woman will ever do will be in nurturing and teaching and living and encouraging and rearing her children in righteousness and truth. There is no other thing that will compare with that, regardless of what she does. I hope that the woman of the Church will not slight their greatest responsibility in favor of a lesser responsibility. To the mothers of this Church, as the years pass you will become increasingly grateful for that which you did in molding the lives of your children in the direction of righteousness and goodness and integrity and faith."

Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, (1997), 390.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Forever Families: Becoming a Transitional Character


During my last semester at BYU I obtained an internship through the School of Family Life. I was hired as a research assistant with the Forever Families website, sponsored by BYU and the School of Family Life. My main duties involved gathering research and writing articles to be placed on the Internet. The overarching goal of the site is to strengthen families, using research that is grounded in the principles contained in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Most of my time as an intern I spent researching the topic of transitional characters. A transitional character is an individual who filters out the negative behaviors that they have been handed by parents and previous generations, and then passes on more positive behaviors to their children. For example, a daughter has a mother who is an alcoholic and very critical. That daughter recognizes the destructive behavior, and as a result she makes a conscious effort to avoid alcohol and to be positive instead of critical. The change doesn't happen overnight, and there is a lot more involved than I am writing here (you can read the article to find out more!).

This concept is fairly new, and it's not something that has been documented in too many places. As a result, research was difficult to come by and I had to dig deep. I wrote three articles on the topic, Becoming A Transitional Character. A long article that includes research references, a short article that summarizes the research and offers practical suggestions for families, and an LDS perspective article.

So, what can you do to become a transitional character in your own family? Here are some brief ideas:
-Develop a vision of yourself as a transitional character.
-Build supportive relationships with strong adults.
-Be deliberate about making changes.
-Celebrate family rituals.
-Create a healthy emotional distance.
-Marry at a later age.
-Read good books about family life.
-Join organizations that can help.
-Get an education.
-Get additional help if needed.

For more information, view the original article on Forever Families.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Motherhood is a holy calling."

"Mothers have a sacred role. They are partners with God, as well as with their own husbands, first in giving birth to the Lord’s spirit children and then in rearing those children so they will serve the Lord and keep his commandments. Could there be a more sacred trust than to be a trustee for honorable, well-born, well-developed children?"

"Motherhood is a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s work, a consecration and devotion to the rearing and fostering, the nurturing of body, mind, and spirit of those who kept their first estate and who came to this earth for their second estate to learn and be tested and to work toward godhood."

"The role of mother, then, is to help those children to keep their second estate, so that they might have glory added upon their heads forever and ever."

Spencer W. Kimball, “The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar 1976, 70

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More than just a sneeze

If you happen to sneeze at our house, you might get more than the standard "Bless you".

One way that The Dad and I have tried to foster love in our home is through our sneezing ritual. What's so loving about sneezing, you ask? Read on for a typical sneezing scenario at our home.

The Dad: "sneeze"
Nurture Mama: "Bless you"
The Dad: "sneeze" again
Nurture Mama: "Oh, I love you."
The Dad: "sneeze" yet again
Nurture Mama: "Oh, I really love you!"

This tradition started when we were first married, and has now grown to include our children. The Ant Bug loves this routine and usually continues the conversation with fake sneezes. I then respond: "Oh, so much love!" and "Lots of love!" and "Hugs and kisses!" and "Loving you forever!"

This is just one of the ways we nurture and show love to each member of our family.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Your influence for good is incalculable and indescribable."

"Some of you sisters may feel inadequate because you can't seem to do all you want to do. Motherhood and parenting are most challenging roles. You also have Church callings that you fulfill so capably and conscientiously...In general you noble sisters are doing a much better job of holding it all together and making it work than you realize. May I suggest that you take your challenges one day at a time. Do the best you can. Look at everything through the lens of eternity. If you will do this, life will take on a different perspective."

"I fear you sisters do not realize in the smallest part the extent of your influence for good in your families, in the Church, and in society. Your influence for good is incalculable and indescribable."

"I truly believe you are instruments in the hands of God in your many roles, especially that of motherhood."

"In the work of the kingdom, men and women are equally important. God entrusts women to bear and nurture His children. No other work is more important. Motherhood is such an important role for women."

James E. Faust, “Instruments in the Hands of God,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 114

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On our bookshelf


Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney
This rhythmic story tells the tale of what happens between mama and baby llama after the bedtime story and good night kiss. What mama hasn't stood at the kitchen sink after tucking her child in bed, only to be interrupted when her child needs comforting? A sweet story, enjoyable for the mama too!

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton
The B has started to realize that books have more value than just as something to taste, so we've been having a few minutes of story time each day. This is one of our favorites for the beginning baby reader. Who wouldn't love three singing pigs?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Be a Joyful Mama

"All of you are children of the Most High." Psalm 82:6

"Be a joyful mother of children." Psalm 113:9

"Children are an heritage of the Lord" and "Happy is the [woman] who hath [her] quiver full of them." Psalm 127: 3, 5

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Night of 1000 Wake-ups

Last night felt like a night of 1000 wake-ups. My sweet B was suffering from a number of irritations: teething and runny nose, numerous mosquito bites, and undoubtedly a headache from the bump she received from a toy carelessly dropped on her head by her sister. I'm sure all of this conspired to give her a very fitful sleep, with wakings every hour all night long. Not to mention two night-wakings from the Ant Bug tossed into the mix, and the result is one grumpy Mama.

But around 3 a.m., as my patience had nearly reached its limit, I thought again of Elder Holland's words and had to smile. I began debating the size of the shadows under my eyes: certainly bigger than Rhode Island, probably more like Michigan or Minnesota. And I was grateful once again for inspiring, uplifting words.

That is why I have started this blog. To nurture myself and you in all of our mama moments.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

"You are doing terrifically well."

"In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s breadwinning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island.

"It is clear that some of those Rhode Island–sized shadows come not just from diapers and carpooling but from at least a few sleepless nights spent searching the soul, seeking earnestly for the capacity to raise these children to be what God wants them to be. Moved by that kind of devotion and determination, may I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you. He knows that your giving birth to a child does not immediately propel you into the circle of the omniscient. If you and your husband will strive to love God and live the gospel yourselves; if you will plead for that guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful; if you will go to the temple to both make and claim the promises of the most sacred covenants a woman or man can make in this world; if you will show others, including your children, the same caring, compassionate, forgiving heart you want heaven to show you; if you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.

"We thank all of you, including our own mothers, and tell you there is nothing more important in this world than participating so directly in the work and glory of God, in bringing to pass the mortality and earthly life of His daughters and sons, so that immortality and eternal life can come in those celestial realms on high.

"You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son. Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

"Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever.

Jeffrey R. Holland, “‘Because She Is a Mother’,” Ensign, May 1997, 35

Cast of Characters

In this blog:
My oldest daughter, age three and a half, will be known as The Ant Bug.
My sweet baby, quickly approaching one year old, will be known as The B.
My dear husband will be The Dad.
And I am The Nurture Mama.

Becoming Mama

The Ant Bug has recently started calling me Mama. I used to be called Mommy or Mom. For awhile she repeatedly inquired "what does Daddy call you?" until she learned my real name. But now she calls me Mama. Is it because we live in the south? I'm not sure what prompted the shift. But I like it.

"Watch this, Mama!"
"Mama, will you help me with my shoes?"
"I love you, Mama."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

To Nurture

“I take great delight in my role as a nurturer, which allows me to express my deepest identity as a woman. I never fail to be struck by the way that women, young women, and even little girls seem to have an instinctive interest and ability in nurturing. It is not only a mother’s primary responsibility but also part of our “individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). To nurture is to teach, to foster development, to promote growth, to feed, and to nourish. Who would not shout for joy at being given such a blessed role?"

Susan W. Tanner, “My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord,” Ensign, May 2008, 81–83

I am woman. But mostly I am mother.

I Want to Be A Mother, by Janeen Jacobs Brady
When I grow up, I want to be a mother
and have a family:
one little, two little, three little babies of my own.
Of all the jobs for me I'll choose no other.
I'll have a family:
four little, five little, six little babies in my home.

And I will love them all day long
and give them cookies and milk and yellow balloons,
And cuddle them when things go wrong,
and read them stories and sing them pretty tunes.

I used to sing this song as a child, growing up in rural Alberta. I sang it to my dolls as I wrapped them tenderly in their blankets. As a very young girl, I knew what was most important.

Like any child, I went through stages of what I wanted to be when I grew up. A teacher. An author. An astronaut. An archeologist. When I went to college, I wanted to be a librarian. But I had trouble deciding on a major. I floated back and forth between English and Psychology. Eventually at BYU I figured out that Marriage, Family and Human Development was the major for me. Because no matter what I ended up doing as a job, my career, my role, was to be a mother. And I knew I would need all the help I could get.

Now I am a young mother of two sweet girls. And there are diapers and tantrums and messy floors and sleepless nights. And tears-sometimes from the babies, sometimes from the mama. But through it all, I am strengthened when I remember that mothering is a divine role. I am blessed with the power of motherhood. And there are so many sweet moments: hugs and kisses and songs and story time.

So Nurture Mama has been born. To nurture me and you, as we carry out our divine role to nurture our children.

When I grow up, if I can be a mother,
how happy I will be:
one little, two little, three little babies I can love.

And you will say each sister and each brother
all look a lot like me:
four little, five little, six little blessings from above.


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