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January 25, 2009

They Really Do Grow Up!

Here’s a fun and insightful posting from our oldest daughter Saren, who had five kids in five years, thanks to these adorable twins. The learning curve has been pretty steep the past four years but we are so proud of her amazing insights and accomplishments!

Silas and Oliver 4 years ago getting ready to go home from the hospital

Oliver and Silas today – wow do those little preemie outfits look small now!

But as this picture shows, the same outfits were pretty big on the little guys at first!

“They’ll be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then suddenly they disappear.”

– Dorothy Evslin

I remember first reading this quote long ago when Oliver and Silas were newborns and I was overwhelmed with five preschoolers. It seemed like the fingerprints and messes and crying and feeding and spit-up and stinky diapers and constant demands on my attention from several sources simultaneously would be with me forever. But tomorrow my last babies, my twin boys, will turn four. I’m done with diapers and spit up and getting up in the night with babies. The strollers and high chairs and baby swings are sold or given away. The fingerprints are moving higher on the walls (and some of my kids are actually learning to wash their hands so there’s not so much grime on everything!). My kids really are growing up!

I’m so happy to be done with the baby paraphernalia all over the house. I’m so grateful to be able to run out the door without having to grab diapers and wipes and bottles – I’ve been diaper bag free for over a year now! I love being able to talk to and reason with all my kids (at least most of the time). I love seeing them read and bike and dance and play basketball and do so many fun and exciting things. It’s so great to be able to take them all on a bike ride or bowling or to a museum or on a road trip and have it actually be a fun experience for everyone including the parents.

But I’m sad too. No more wonder of feeling a baby move inside me for the first time. No more amazing excitement of childbirth. No more snuggling a sleeping baby and smelling that sweet newborn smell. No more seeing those first smiles. No more watching those first wobbly steps. No more hearing that first “mama.” No more watching a big brother or sister marvel over a new baby brother or sister. Oh, I miss my babies!

One era is gone and it was a great one – one I probably didn’t appreciate enough at the time. It can be hard to really enjoy the “now” when you’re getting slammed by so many hard things all the time. It can be easier to see the beauty in things that are past than in things that are present. As I look back, I realize the need to appreciate the beauty in the present more – to cherish the chances to snuggle my kids, to see them get so excited when I come help in their classrooms, to hear them beg for me to read them the next chapter in our book at bedtime, to have them clamor to tell me about something that happened at school that day. These are the beautiful things that are part of my normal days now – things that will be bright warm memories some day as those fingerprints move up the walls. I need to enjoy and appreciate the “now” a lot more so that I can crystallize these memories and keep them with me always while I find more joy in my daily life.

I hope that I’ll never feel the way Anna Quindlen felt in looking back: “ The biggest mistake I made [as a mother] is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough.”

Kids really do grow up. Hard things really do get better – and then new hard things come along. Beauty really can be found every day. I’m recommitting myself to enjoying and cherishing the present. I do a pretty good job capturing it in pictures and writing but I need to do a better job really enjoying it when it happens and capturing it in my heart. I need to do a better job of pausing in the midst of the mayhem to really enjoy and reciprocate the spontaneous hug from Isaac or to really listen as Ashton tells me another rather long and somewhat disjointed story about something he heard or really look at the 1000th picture Eliza has drawn for me or take the time to really watch Si and Ollie as they imagine and play together or to really praise the great little things the kids do every day. Oh, there’s so much to enjoy if I can just get my mind set to slow down and enjoy it!

Isaac and Ashton first meeting Oliver and Silas 4 years ago

January 8, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

May it be one of parenting progress, family fortification, and marvelous marriage!

We have spent most of 2008 on the road, speaking to and with parents all around the world, and loving the chance to engage them about their first priority of family. We don’t guilt-trip anyone (that is too easy to do when it comes to parenting), rather, we try to popularize parenting to a point where people realize how much they are missing and how much joy they are giving up if they do not prioritize their kids!

This year, we are going to try to stay a little closer to home and work more on our writing and confine our speaking a little more to local (or at least U. S.) audiences.

We long for more time with you valuesparenting members. Many of you write to us somewhat regularly on e mail, and that is great, but we would love more face to face contact.

There are a couple of opportunities for that this month if you happen to live in the Utah area. (See our broader speaking schedule at We will be speaking at the Crestview LDS Chapel, 2795 E. Crestview Drive, Salt Lake City on Jan. 25, Sunday Night at 7:30, on Teaching Children Values. This will be a non-denominational discusion about Teaching Children Values in an unstable and scary world. A more spiritually oriented talk will be given on Saturday morning, Jan. 31 in Centerville, Utah at the Stake Center at 1451 N. Main St at 9 am. If you are able to come to either, we would love to see you.

One of our resolutions for 2009 is to work a little more on the more obscure programs of As you might guess, about 90% of our members are doing either Joy School or Alexander’s Amazing Adventures, but there are also other great programs available including Teaching Children Responsibility, Lifebalance (for all of us overworked, over committed parents), Turning Teen Mirrors into Windows, and even an Empty Nest Parenting program that may be great for your parents! Check out these “other programs” on the website if you haven’t already.

Have a great new year, and keep on putting family first!

January 5, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions

We hope our Valuesparenting Family had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season as we dive into 2009!  We hope those bright sparkling eyes of your children are ready to go back to school to begin a new year of learning and feeling the joy that childhood holds!  As we mentioned in our last post, we know that the economy is effecting everyone.  What an interesting year this will be as we realize that all the "stuff" that we thought was so important is not nearly as important as our love for our families and friends. 

In 2009, there will probably be a continuation (for who knows how long) of the hard economic times that punctuated 2008 as well as those hard times that come every January with trying to figure out how to get rid of those extra pounds due to an overindulgence of holiday treats.

But maybe our biggest challenge this January is getting those New Year’s Resolutions down on paper where you can measure them and really do something about bringing them to pass. This week a friend said that she just couldn’t get herself to write down her list of New Year’s Resolutions and she had just discovered why: she hadn’t spent enough time counting her blessings for the year just gone by.  This struck me as very important especially in a year when the disappointments may be so "in your face" that we haven’t taken the time to realized that there have been more blessings than hardships.  Reflecting on the great boons and the bounties, the gifts and good fortune that have come your way this year will help you know what your goals for the coming year will be more surely than anything else you can do. If you have a hard time coming up with much, think about this, "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain." (anonymous).

After you have contemplated your blessings, write some goals and resolutions for the coming year that make you stretch but aren’t impossible (although sometimes the impossible is possible).  Keep it simple.  Write just one goal for each of the five facets of your life…physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual, that will help you to keep going forward.  Let it feel like a challenge to yourself instead of a burden.  Post it somewhere where you can see it.  Make your goals measurable.  Have a deadline and if you really want to accomplish them, have someone check on you to see if it gets done. 

There was a survey in a magazine many years ago that was fascinating. The numbers, I think are still pretty accurate. Here are the percentages of success that they projected for the various steps in setting and accomplishing a goal:

Determining that you want to accomplish a goal…..10%

Writing the goal down in a place where you can be reminded…..45%

Setting a deadline to accomplish a goal…..65%

Asking someone to check on you to see if you accomplished your goal….90%

Again, keeping your goals for yourself simple is the key, especially for parents who already have a long list of goals for the success of their children.  Count your blessings, make that list and you’ll find that 2009, no matter what it brings, will be more meaningful than you may have anticipated. 

Please be assured that I am preaching to myself as I write these suggestions to you. May we all have a wonderful 2009, full of lessons learned and even if just in baby steps…progress!   

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