Starting graduate studies has forced me to rearrange my schedule, drop certain activities, and really look at my priorities.  One priority that I insist on making number 1 is my family.  I don’t want my family to ever feel that I put school, or a future job made possible by school, before them.

This week’s dilemma?  Hoob’s 16th birthday.  How do I make it special for her and still meet my school, church, and other family obligations?  Hoob’s birthday is on Friday which also happens to be a full-day youth conference for our stake (group of congregations in our church).  Here are my ideas to make the day as fun as possible for her:

*I had her choose the shoes she wants for her birthday from and we ordered them last week.  They should arrive before her birthday.

*Even though we will be visiting four historical sites in SLC during the day with other youth and leaders from our stake which makes it hard to celebrate her birthday, I have arranged with one of the ward (congregation) leaders to buy a birthday cake.  We will keep it secret from Hoob until we break for lunch and then we will pull it out and have the youth and leaders from our ward sing happy birthday to her and then share the cake.

*I will make sure to take pictures of the cake activity.

*Tomorrow afternoon I will put homework on hold and I will take Hoob shopping for new capris and flip-flops–the rest of her birthday presents.

*I always give my kids a chance to go to lunch or breakfast with me on their birthday for some one-on-one time with me.  Because of the youth conference starting early, making it necessary to eat a quick breakfast at home, and then including lunch and dinner as part of youth conference, Hoob and I will, instead, go to see a movie together that night as our one-on-one time.  The movie she has chosen?  “Green Lantern.”  Once again, homework will be put on hold.

*Of course I will wish her a happy birthday on facebook so that others can know it is her birthday.

*Hoob, or course, is anxious to get her driver’s license.  With Friday’s schedule being what it is, we will go Monday afternoon as soon as I am done with class to pick up her license.

I am hoping these ideas will help Hoob to have a special day.  Hoob is so good-natured, I really don’t have anything to worry about, but it really is about…

…making family #1!


I did it last year.  I’m going to do it again this year.  It is National Turn Off Your TV Week.  I like to take it one step further and unplug completely.  Sooo, there will be no blogging, emails, or Facebook for me this week, in addition to  no tv.  I will be spending time with my kids.  Hub is in Florida on business for the week so his kids are with their mother.  It will just be me and my kids here and I plan on making the most of our “unplugged” time. 

Yawlin happens to be off-track from school, so I made a list of activities the two of us can do during the week that will also pass off requirements in his Bear cub scout book.  Today he wants the two of us to play a board game that uses money (Bear requirement 13 f).  We are also going to take Max for a walk along a local trail, do some baking, and go buy him some new baseball pants, since he has outgrown last year’s pair.  Tomorrow he will choose another activity from the list. 

I am looking forward to this week of focusing on things other than electronics.  If you are up to it, take the no tv challenge with your family, or unplug completely!  You won’t regret it!

I will be back next Monday.  Until then…


In 2005 I got to attend a writer’s conference free of charge because I’d won a fiction writing contest.  It was two days of immersing myself in the writing life and listening to those who have been successful at it.  I was in heaven.  This morning, as I was performing an organizing chore, I came across some of the notes I took at that conference.  One line in my notes caught my attention.  It was written under the heading of Mel Boring, so he must be the person who said it or expressed thoughts about it.  After three years I can’t remember if it is a direct quote of what he said or if it is a paraphrase of his message, but I liked it this morning when I read it:

Each small step that you take leads you on the big journey.

I like that statement because it brought comfort and a confirmation that I am, indeed, accomplishing things.  It describes my life perfectly right now.  In addition to being a wife and mother and trying to keep up with all that those two roles entail, I have also been trying to start a small business selling a weight loss product, teaching the “Meet the Masters” art program once a week at our elementary school, helping Hub with the steady growth of his side business creating products using vinyl lettering, and serving in my church callings.

Many days I have felt overwhelmed by all that I have given myself to accomplish and even though the days have been extemely busy, sometimes it doesn’t feel like I have accomplished anything at all.  Until I read that little gem in my notes, that is.  All day today I’ve been feeling better about my goals because I realized that even though I may not get everything done on my list, the things I do get done are leading me on the journey toward the goal’s completion. 

I may not have the weight loss business where I want it right now, but each email I write, each contact I make, every sample pack I create is a small step on the journey.  I haven’t learned everything I need to know for Hub’s business yet, but I have brought him customers, I have given him ideas, I have approached my daughter’s dance studio about the business doing a fundraiser.  Each a small step on the journey.

One reason the journey for the two businesses is taking so long is because I consider teaching and raising my children to become responsible adults my main goal.  Family time and making a home are most precious to me and I try to make sure nothing interferes with those priorities.  Once 2:30 p.m. rolls around there is no more time for business goals.  Instead I am helping with homework, making sure chores get done, being a chauffeur, making dinner, listening, listening, joking, listening, talking, and did I mention listening?

Each time I listen to a child share about their day or talk about a problem it is a step on my parenting journey.  Every time I drive a child to a practice or make dinner or create a chore list it is a small step on the great parenting trail.  Every single time I make my family my priority I am solidifying relationships and creating memories.  And that, for me, is most important.

Take those small steps, and enjoy the journey!

Choices.  Priorities.  Focus.  What do I need to be doing today? 

Because of parent/teacher conferences earlier in the week Huh and Mack didn’t have school yesterday.  I chose to spend time with them.  No computer time.

Today is Mack’s 16th birthday.  Huh has been asked to tonight’s Homecoming dance at another school in the valley.  So has Juju.  Shroom has football.  Yawlin needs help cleaning out his guinea pig’s cage.  Hoob keeps following me around trying to chit chat.  Hub’s side business is taking off and he needs my help.

My family needs me.  The computer doesn’t.  

Choices.  Priorities.  Focus.

Hopefully I will be able to post again on Monday.

I’m doing what I need to do.  I’m doing what I want to do…

…spending time with my family.

I clipped out a Dennis the Menace comic from the paper a few days ago.  The comic shows Mr. Wilson in front of his TV  with his remote in hand.  Mrs. Wilson is looking at a book with Dennis and saying, “I think there was much more prime time before television.”

I clipped the comic because I felt there was much truth in that statement.  One definition of prime is having the highest quality or value.  I think it would be safe to say that families spent more quality time together  before the invention of television.  Prime time today means the hours during the day that advertisers can reach the most viewers.  One value I saw in National Turn Off Your TV Week was the opportunity for families to spend valuable, quality time together.  It was a prime time for family time.  (Related post)

I challenged myself to “unplug” for the week.  There would be little or no TV or computer for me and I challenged my family to do the same, adding video games to the list for all of the kids.  I announced to my family, “Hey, it’s National Turn Off Your TV Week!”

My announcement was ignored.  Instead, I heard from two of the teenagers, “Yesterday was National Smoke Pot Day!” 

How and why would they know that??!?!?   

I decided to press forward by accepting the challenge for myself and see if I could create some prime time for my family.  I confess that I cheated a little.  I still watched the evening news after kids were in bed, and I still accessed our family website to keep up on news of our extended family.   (see post about family website)  But I didn’t watch any other TV shows and, hardest for me, I didn’t do any blogging.  I even stopped reading the blogs of others.  During the week I was able to get some organizing done and some carpets scrubbed and, more importantly, spend some one-on-one time with family members.

Here is a brief summary of how my week of being “unplugged” went:

Monday – Yawlin and I finished organizing his room and scrubbed his carpet and the hallway carpet.  My 17 year old daughter’s bird died.  I sat on the edge of Huh’s bed, rubbing her while she cried.  I listened while she mourned her feathered pal that she’d had for years.  She reminisced about how he could sing like an opera star and announce that he was a good bird.  I spent alot of time with her that day while she pulled herself together so she could play in her softball games that afternoon and evening.  I allowed her TV time that night.  It was her way of trying to forget. 

Tuesday– I got more of the upper floor carpets scrubbed and then teenagers started showing up at our house.  A gas leak had occurred at the high school and the school had been evacuated.  Our teens thought it was the greatest thing ever.  Some of their friends came to the house and, of course, we had to turn the TV on and watch the news reports about it.  Our cupboards were raided, dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and the house was filled with the sounds of talking and laughing.  Not a bad thing at all. 

Later, when Mack returned home from her school, she announced that one of her drawings had taken first place in a Middle School art competition at the mall.  We just had to get online and let everyone on our family website know the good news!  

Wednesday– I kept Yawlin, who was off track from school, busy practicing his magic tricks for cub scouts that afternoon.  At 4:30 p.m. nine cub scouts came to our house for a “Magic Party.”  The rest of the family scattered.  A house full of cub scouts can be a little scary.  We were using the rooms with the TV and computer for the magic party so everyone was forced to find something else to do.  That evening Hub and I went on a date.  We got dessert at Applebee’s and talked.  It was nice.

Thursday – This was grocery shopping day.  Yawlin went with me.  Later the two of us played “Clue” together.  He won.  When it came time for me to take Hoob to her dance practice I got to drive her to the new dance studio, the one that is 30 minutes away.  Instead of our usual five minute drive and quick chat, we got to talk with each other for 30 minutes.  I learned some new things about my daughter on that drive.  Hub and I had a dinner to attend that night so Hoob’s father is the one who picked her up from her dance practice.  I hope he took advantage of the extra drive time to talk to her as well.

Friday – Four of the seven kids didn’t have school this day.  Even though I’d already visited my Grandpa earlier in the month, I decided to take my kids to play games with Grandpa Great again because they enjoyed it so much the last time we all did it together.  (See related post)  This turned out to be a valuable experience because Grandpa pulled out his old year book and shared some great memories of his high school days.

Saturday– Squid had a rugby game, Yawlin had a soccer game, and Hoob had a dance competition.  We split up as a family in the morning so that some were supporting Squid and some were supporting Hoob.  Everyone was able to attend Yawlin’s soccer game because it was later in the day.  Hoob’s dance company took first place in their category at the dance competition so we once again got online to announce it to our extended family members.  The rugby team and the soccer team didn’t do so well.

Sunday – This has always been our day to attend church and spend time together as a family.  It is our family rule that TV and computer time are limited on Sundays.  After church we visited with each other, some played games, some spent time in the yard enjoying the warm weather.  That evening my four kids went to a family gathering with their father’s side of the family.

Monday–  This was supposed to be my day to plug back in and start blogging again.  Family matters and kids needs took precedence again and I didn’t get to spend any time on the computer.  Instead I was shopping for t-shirts for the seniors on Huh’s softball team, creating locker flyers to announce the final home game of the season, taking Mack shopping for some required art supplies, and listening to Yawlin excitedly tell me about his first day being back on track.  Not to mention spending time listening to Hub as he shared some frustrations with his job.  Though I didn’t get to write a post this day it didn’t matter.  Family always comes first for me.

The week flew by rather quickly and it was quite painless being unplugged.  I wasn’t perfect at it, but I did create some “prime time” with family members that I might not have if I hadn’t challenged myself to stay away from my electronics.  I don’t know the statistics on how many people actually participated in National Turn off Your TV week, but I hope families at least tried it for one day or evening.  We make time for the things that matter most.  I would hope Family Time would be one of those things that matters.