The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen

Last week Jimmy mentioned that he was weary of the kids having the ‘Not I’ attitude…
which was a perfect lead-in idea to read The Little Red Hen for a Family Devotional.
Ah-ha… interesting how often we sound like the ones who didn’t want to help that hard-working little red hen.

Jimmy shared the scripture in Galatians & D&C about not being weary in doing good for others.

I came across this parenting article which I quite liked for our family….

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010
Parenting lessons from ‘The Little Red Hen’
By Annie Zirkel


In the story The Little Red Hen, the overworked and under-supported Mama Hen spends all her time cooking and cleaning while the rest of her household naps the day away. Finally fed up after getting no help in tending some wheat seeds she eventually turns into flour and then a cake, she answers the question of ‘Who’s going to eat this cake?’ with, ‘Not any of you.’

Of course in the story, losing out on cake is just the trick needed to get her lazy, and now hungry, crew to start pitching in – presumably living cooperatively ever after.

Especially when children are young, this deceptively simple story has some wonderful lessons to offer including messages about working together, planning ahead, standing up for yourself, and the power of consequences.

But, not all of the morals of this story are for children. Many parents fall into the trap of doing most of the work while their children spend their time lounging around, playing and socializing, or focusing on their own pursuits. In fact this dynamic is one of the core power struggles in countless families – who’s responsible for the work and who’s responsible for the leisure.

When my children were little, we came up with a phrase that worked well to address this dilemma. We called it Fun & Done as in: Let’s have fun AND get things done, too. Play and clean up. Cook dinner and then relax for a little while.

Or better yet, have fun while getting the chores done. I used to read to my kids while they folded the laundry. And while the laundry didn’t exactly disappear, it was a nice way of balancing the need to move the day forward with the equally important goal of engaging in the only opportunity we would ever have to enjoy that particular day.

Creating a spirit of family cooperation is the critical element for setting up a scenario where everyone can get better at both having fun AND getting things done. Talking to children about what it takes to keep a household running smoothly is a good segue into getting them on board for pitching in. And of course being ready with those calm consequences is a good idea as well.

But the other obstacle to this approach comes from Mama Hen herself who has to shift her expectations and be open to getting less done, putting away her checklists and re-learning what her children (and maybe even her partner) already know – how to relax and enjoy the moment.

This can be harder than it sounds. I know many moms who admit that they feel better when they do it themselves because it gets done right. Then there are those who may do a heck of a lot of squawking about not liking this setup but don’t insist that their clan pitch in. And finally there are those who acknowledge that they just don’t get the whole “fun” thing. Maybe it’s because they have forgotten or maybe they have gotten so caught up in their “To Do” lists that they don’t know how to stop planning the fun and start participating in it.

So if you would like more cooperation for getting things done and more moments of personal fun, you may enjoy this “To Do” list to get you started:

1. Get the book “The Little Red Hen” and read it to your family.
2. Talk about family cooperation and the importance of everyone pitching in. (For older kids think regular booster discussions.)
3. Besides Fun & Done, consider some of these sayings to get the point across:
Many hands make light work. Work hard, play hard. ~ Nike slogan Life’s not all fun and games. (But there should be SOME fun!)
4. Practice the When/Then technique as in “WHEN you’ve cleaned your room, THEN you can go to a friend’s house.” Though be prepared for lapses and have those consequences ready. 5. Both with and without your family, put some FUN into your day as well. (All work and no play makes Red a dull Hen.)

Finding that balance is challenging and fairly unlikely to stay that way for any length of time. But “time” is the crucial word here. Because before you know it, your kids will be gone and you really will be eating that cake alone. Which is too bad because, like chores, cake is so much better (and definitely less fattening) when it is shared.

Annie Zirkel, LPC is a parenting consultant and workshop presenter based in Ann Arbor.

defeat… or persistence?

We’ve had a bit of hard… and stress… and the unknown over the past month. I guess we always have a bit of each of those, come to think of it. ‘Tis LIFE! But this past month we had a hard blow. We knew everything would work out… but we didn’t know how or when. Things are still ironing themselves out but I’m still feeling anxious about what the future holds… where God wants us… and all that we will go through to fulfill our purpose as a family in this life.

Through it all though, we have been greatly blessed. So many have prayed for us. We know that God answers prayers. We feel his comfort and peace through difficult circumstances. We know we need His strength.

Someone shared this question on facebook recently…

“My children will have persistent life-long struggles too.
What do I want to model for them — despair and defeat,
or faith and persistence?”

faith and persistence

I can see that my attitude affects my children’s attitude about our circumstances. My words of doubt or FAITH put thoughts in their minds. I hope my heartfelt attitude is that With God’s help, we can endure hard things!

I was thinking about some of the hard things our family might experience in life, especially the kids as they grow up in this world. I know that hard things can make us stronger if we choose to have faith instead of fear.

hardships c s lewis

Just a few thoughts I wanted to put together and remember for family history sake! Happy end of August

End of the School Year

2015-05-may1-webWow… the end of the school year is busy-crazy-busy. Why must they shove everything into one month. Final projects, graduations, more final projects, more graduations. And my kids aren’t even out of elementary school! But many of these events have been fantastic experiences in one way or another.

Abe earned his Arrow of Light for cub Scouts. He has worked so hard on these requirements. It takes many to keep things going in scouts. Today is his 11th birthday. Grandma & Grandpa gave him a Pogo-Stick. We all gave it a try last night and boy-howdy was it fun. Haven’t seen a smile that big on Jimmy in a while. Abe enjoys laughing and playing with friends. He is so talented as a builder of Legos. I believe he’ll grow up to enjoy engineering or something of the sort someday. He has a tender heart and a great soul. The past bit, he’s been willing to play minecraft and let Truman and Max watch. They love that!

On that same night Truman graduated from preschool. Jimmy attended that event, but I saw the cute videos and pictures. What a delight! He said, “Hi, my name is Truman and I’m 5 1/2. When I grow up, I want to be a dad!” He has a great little soul deep inside! We’ve perhaps had the hardest 6 months with behavior and aggression with this kiddo. Challenges… and lots of “stretching opportunities” as parents. But when we see the real Truman shine, we know there are great things in store for this strong leader.

Hannah had a time machine presentation/skit. She was the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi, “the Goddess of wealth, love, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty.” We spent oodles of time on her costume. She is more of a perfectionist than I am, if it’s possible. She loves the extra mile! It turned out fantastic though. After school I told her she had to be done being a glorious goddess and start being a worker bee. It takes the entire family doing their part for us to survive these days. She definitely pulls her own weight … plus covers for the others who don’t. I tear up at the thought of her growing up and away. Boo… but Hurray!!! for her, too.

Scotty learned to crawl for reals (graduated from inch worm!) today. He loves going under the table. Our floor is definitely not baby proof. We need to mop … and sweep … and sweep some more… crumbs galore. He reminds me of a puppy because he is always crawling under everything to get to the cords to chew on… only he’s not quite as fast as a puppy yet. I feel this boy has energy… waiting to be unleashed as soon as he is confident in his mobility. He has a cheerful disposition which might save him… he seems to gain energy from people (extrovert) and cheers hearts wherever he goes.

Max… favorite thing about Max lately is his Polynesian Warrior Dance for the school dance festival. He loved it. I loved attending that event. So great to see the kids learn new dances. Abe did an African Dance. Hannah actually held a boy’s hand (andrew) and did the swing. They were pretty great at keeping the rhythm.

Eliza… oh eliza… she is the queen of drama (I won’t let the kids say it to her… but it’s true). She gets hurt about 20 times a day and comes wailing to mama. We focus on courage. “God made you strong, Eliza. He gave you courage.” She is also a delight and says super funny things that I wish I could catch on video. Her latest is that instead of having to go potty, she says, “I am wiggling, mom.” Today she said, “I don’t want to go home.” I told her that dad was at home. “Oh, I love dad. But, I love you too mom. I love you too.” She has a darling high pitched 3-year-old voice. She’s Miss Bossy and has a bit of spice in her. Gotta hold her own, I suppose.

The weather is dull to comment on. But it’s significant! RAIN! Green everywhere! Rain! Love it. We’ve had more rain this May than in the past 3 Mays combined. I’m hoping some of the water restrictions will be lifted so we can have green grass and a plentiful garden this year. We live in a beautiful place. The ponds, the skies, the mountains… especially when green… are so amazingly wondrous.

Jimmy. Oh, my love! He works so hard for our family. He digs the dandelions out of the lawn. It is looking fantastic. And … drum-roll… He finally found a new job that seems like a good fit. He worked for the LDS Church for nearly 7 1/2 years. We’ve wanted to move East for the past year or so but none of the jobs have panned out… not in Maryland… not in North Carolina (that was my winter dream location), not in Texas (Jimmy always wants to move to Texas). He applied for a job on LinkedIn with Treehouse Interactive (changing name soon to ImPartner), a small company that was just bought out for 17 million… and is expected to grow rapidly in the next 4 years). He’s always wanted to work for a small company and we feel like this is the least-risky way to go as far as small companies. I’m so grateful for the work experience and associations and growth Jimmy had working at the church. So grateful! It was a splendid time for many things. He grew so much. And though it’s time to move on (and though I’ll miss DMBA insurance … and free SLC office building parking), I hope this is another new learning experience that will provide new opportunities.

As for Heather. This is perhaps the hardest year of my life. Many challenges and mountains to climb. Health… parenting aggressive and disrespectful boys … so many who need all at once… physical tiredness from children pushing on my body (“Yes, I must be old” said the 39-year-old mother of 6 under 12), learning life’s spiritual lessons and how to apply gospel principles to challenging situations. But we receive many blessings. Many blessings are given to us daily and I seek to see these tender mercies. Quiet hour after tots go to bed is a tender mercy and time for rejuvenation. Good, happy moments as a family! A good spouse. Good kiddos who are trying. God is good to us.

Stretching Opportunities

going beyond ourselves beck
I came upon this message ripped from an LDS Living Magazine when I was decluttering my closet.
It spoke to my heart.
I do not welcome stretching opportunities as well as I ought.
This is a time of life that is making me go beyond myself.
It’s just all the little things that add up each day to overwhelm my natural man self.

I believe that God intends us all to get to this point through one challenge or another.
It requires of us to look upward and outward for strength.
This is when we humble ourselves and realize that we are nothing without Jesus Christ…
That He is the reason we can be sustained at any level.

“Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.” (Alma 26:12)

My sweet Hannah shared this quote by Patience Loader Archer, a pioneer girl who traveled with the Edward Martin Handcart company.
She had such strong faith. She knew her strength came from God.

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These are other selections from her journal that showed her strength and courage [currage] … I love the spelling. The simplicity of her words. Her strength and testimony.

Archer, Patience Loader, Reminiscences, [transcript]. MS 6218, p. 57-92.

brother Richards and three other breathren adminesterd to him and blessed him and told him that he should get better and continue his journey and get to Salt Lake City[.] this seemed to give him new strength and currage[.] we rested there for a few hours untill three o clock in the afternoon[.] then we Started on our Journey again to Camp at Cuttlers park seven Miles from Florance[.] My dear father got up and came to the cart to commence to pull with me[.] I said father you are not able to pull the cart to day[.] he said yes I am My dear[.] I am better[.] the breathern blessed Me and Said I should get well and go to the valley and I have faith that I shall[.]

this was asevere trial[.] here we had to [w]rap my dear father in a quilt all we had to lay him in[;] no nice casket to lay him away in comfortable but put into the grave and the earth thrown in upon his poor body[.] oh that sounded so hard[,] I will never forget the sound of that dirt beign [being] shoveld onto my poor fathers boday[.] it seemed to me that it would break every bone in his body. it did indeed seem a great trial to have to leave our dear father behind that morning knowing we had looked upon that sweet smiling face for the last time on earth but not without a hope of Meeting him again in the Morning of the resurection for he had been afaithfull servant of God and bore testemony to the truth of the gosple of Jesus Christ nombers of times and we Know if we his children follow his example that we will Meet our dear father again and be reunited with him to dwell in unity and love all through eternity and as our dear Mother and we girls traveled that day[,] it was a verey Sorrowfull day and we all greeved greatly[.]

Floral Frame shared by The Painted Arrow
Quote by Julie Beck
Designed by Heather Smith

The LIGHT is there … look for it.

IMG_20150109_162551 copy

Last week I ran away to the temple (don’t worry… Jimmy was with the kidlets and was fully supportive of me leaving).
I needed the peace & quiet found there.
I needed the time to think straight and receive some inspiration of how to best mother these little ones
(particularly the one who hasn’t been sleeping, etc).
The mountains and the light of the temple were inviting.
It was a breath of fresh air to have solitude.

After the session and while sitting in the celestial room, I rested my head on the back of the chair and looked up. I prayed for inspiration to know how to have emotional and spiritual strength to know how to mother… to know what support Jimmy and I can give each of our children with their very specific physical, mental, and emotional needs. We feel overwhelmed with the chaos of life with 6 kids.
The answer came as I looked at the amazing chandelier and side lights…
There is so much light here.
There is ALWAYS light somewhere.
Where LIGHT is … darkness cannot be.
LOOK for the LIGHT.
Fill your life with LIGHT
through the word of God … and prayer.
god is light
Not that the challenges will dissipate.
But that by my seeing the LIGHT and the good in each child,
God will help me focus on those qualities for a more eternal perspective.

Everyone has hard things.
But focusing on the LIGHT – seeing the positive,
brings us closer to God
so that we might receive more LIGHT & revelation
to know how to battle the challenges with Christ’s help.
light groweth brighter

and now I will thus prayer for the help i need to SEE the LIGHT.
for this past week my emotions have been on high alert … grouchy mother alert.
ummm yah, sorry about that fam!
It’s onward and upward from here!

Little House on the Prairie: Sacrifice

Little House on the PrairieToday while Jimmy took the 3 boys to free How to Train your Dragon 2 movie, the girlies and Scotty stayed home. We watched some Little House on the Prairie episodes. I totally cried. I even guessed how the episode would end… but did the red-headed Scot papa really have to die? Way too sad. The harsh reality of life on the prairie.

So this is what I liked about the “100 mile walk” episode.

Grain is perfect and Pa is so excited for his first real crop …
will bring in like $125 cash which will get them horses and food for the winter.
Rain and hail. Crop is ruined. Pa is positive and claims, “what is one crop in a mans life?”
All the men in the area have to walk miles and miles (ya know… like 100 miles) to find work.
Pa’s boots are completely falling apart and are held together by string.
Charles comes into friendship with a Scot and a German who are looking for work.
German has a pair of new boots to share with Pa. Compassion!
These three men end up at a quarry site … hard physical labor.
They make enough $ to last the winter though they are gone for months.
In one scene the men were talking about how much they missed their families.
Good guys.
Anyhoo… sacrifice … for their families to survive.

40953663Meanwhile the women back home:
Caroline (who is definitely a Tie on your Bonnet sort-of-gal)
brings together the women in the community to harvest what wheat they can from the fields.
Some women are complainers and pessimists about their task.
Caroline agrees that the task would be impossible if they all worked as lazily as the complainers.
No-nonsense sort of gal!
They harvest the crop the old-fashioned way – as Ruth did in the Bible.
Gather the crumpled wheat into sheaths so it could dry properly.
They hit the wheat to break off the fruit.
Took it to the miller who ground it into bags of flour to share.
They worked hard at a task that seemed impossible…
it was all they could do to help their families at that time.
Prepare for tomorrow by working today!

Anyhoo… obviously it’s historical fiction and not real-life… but I believe the principles it teaches of sacrifice and hard work and endurance are good lessons to learn.

And here I am wishing I could have the $34,000 van instead of the $12,000 one.
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!

One who wore a tattered bonnet

In prep for my Mother’s Day talk tomorrow, I came across this amazing story of Mary Fielding Smith – as shared by her son Joseph F. Smith. I see the wisdom in studying history and the lives of those who went before. They have endured and overcome… and we shall too.

With the winds of CHANGE entering into our thoughts and reality (like ya-know, a possible move across the country this summer with 5 kids in tow… & a plump gestating belly), this example is so powerful to me. I am so grateful for the Spirit that leads and connects thing with our spirit.


Not Alone, by Minerva K. Teichert, oil on canvas, 1920.
Painting is displayed in the Pocatello Idaho Stake Center. {I love this connection with Steph, my bonnet friend}
This painting of Mary Fielding Smith and her young son, Joseph F., is based on their story of relying upon courage, prayer, and divine help to overcome obstacles while crossing the plains.

Twenty-eight-year-old Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert offered to create a painting for the Pocatello Idaho Stake. Her stake president, William A. Hyde, suggested in a letter that she show “the heroism, and the faith of the Mormon woman,” portraying Mary Fielding Smith at a time “when she is left alone and sets her face amid the howling of the wolves and the fear of savages, to overtake the train in advance.” Yet “they are not alone,” wrote President Hyde, for to the side is a “shadowy form mounted” on a “classical charger,” representing “the captain of the Lord’s host” and his men protecting the Saints.

This example {click to view larger} was a sweet testimony by Joseph F. Smith about his memories of his mother enduring hard times in Nauvoo and on the trek west.

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Winter Cheer

02 feb 20141This post shows what a dork I am about getting visiting teaching done. But oh well… I made an effort despite having a UTI & Sinus infection pounding headache and being nauseous with pregnancy (I’m such a whiner!). So all month I planned on getting those new phone numbers in my phone so I could call/text the sisters to set up a time. Day after day passed. On the days I planned to get out, I ended up laying in bed feeling gross (whining again!).

Finally, last week of the month… printed some cheerful prints, and gathered the Sunshine Soaps (best smelling yumminess ever!). Liza helped me package them up with another “Teachings of Jesus” message. Last day of the month… Friday @ 6 p.m. running them around (lame, I know!). 0 for 3 people! Such a bad idea. I didn’t even leave them on the doorstep because I felt so lame about it. “Something would have probably been better than nothing”… said the 11th hour Visiting Teacher. Sigh…

The good news is that I am all set for March and I just need to make appointments.

Remember when I was Relief Society President and visiting teaching was so super hard to get set up… and keep it going. All I hoped for was that the sisters would contact their 2 or 3 sisters to show love and testimony… to uplift! I told myself I’d be the best visiting teacher ever after having that calling. Ummmm… better recommit!

Sunshine on my Shoulders & a Baby in my Belly

announcement #6The past few days have been warm (as in high at 65!) and full of sunshine! Today when I was dozing at 5 a.m., I felt HOPE. Sunshine & warmth makes a huge difference in our life. So grateful that spring is coming. Our tulips are starting to poke their leaves out of the ground. So great!

In other news… yep, a baby! When the Spirit prompts, we try to listen & obey. The feeling that we had yet another little Spirit waiting to join our family didn’t go away, so despite my ripe ol’ age of 38, 6th c-section, etc, we are moving forward in FAITH! The docs are great and watchful. Dr. Bean makes me laugh, though I also know he is cautious. The high-risk perinatologist group at Utah Vally Hospital have been helpful.

Every time a nurse takes my blood pressure, they stare at the screen (while I hear it beeping alerts!). They say, “Find your Happy Place, and we’ll take it again.” I assure them it’s probably correct though higher than we’d all like. They aren’t going to give me meds until my blood pressure is 160/110. It’s sitting around 140/90. Anyhoo… let’s see… Placenta parked itself right up front. We’re all hopeful that as the uterus grows, that placenta will move up and out of the danger zone of 5 other incisions. Fun topics.

We finally told most of the kids. We’ve needed the oldest 2 to step it up a little as I’ve been quite under the weather… either so tired or trying not to barf. They have done well to help a bit more. Jimmy is the best husband ever and helps manage the home when I’m sinking. Hopefully in 5 more weeks, I’ll feel much, much better!

This will be a stressful and physically demanding year!
Yes, indeed it will.
But the blessings will exceed the trials.
So grateful for miracles and Tender Mercies!
Good thing we know that we can do hard things together as a family WITH GOD on our side!
we can do hard things with god