Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Special Delivery!

alternative text

For the past two years Joel and I have not been able to carry out one of our favorite Christmas traditions because we moved in early December each year. I know, not really the smartest planning on our part. However, now that we are settled, our Annual Gift Exchange party is on!

The invitation shows this is our first annual party, but that's just because it's our first official one here in Utah. For three of the years we lived in Florida we threw a big Christmas party for our friends and had a blast each time as we planned a different theme. We are recycling this theme from our first year, but we think it's definitely worth repeating. So, here are the instructions for our guests:

In this season of giving and holiday cheer,
We invite you to take part in a fun holiday tradition.
To gather as friends at the close of the year
And join in a game where you will really have to listen.

An ordinary gift-exchange? Oh, we think not!
This present-swapping amusement has been changed just a little.
To avoid a battle over the packages brought,
The gift you leave with will be determined through riddle.

So do your best to put into this box,
A 15-dollar item that would be something worth keeping.
A gift that is more unusual than a pair of socks,
And that won’t leave the recipients bitter and weeping.

And for those with a desire to really impress,
Your added decoration to this box may win you a prize.
But, don’t worry, it’s not something over which to stress,
Just an added bonus for the couple who really tries.

I'm excited to see how it all turns out. Now I've got to come up with a clever design for our box. Hmmm...

How about you? What are your favorite holiday traditions?

alternative text

alternative text

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bringing Up Girls

alternative text
Our daughter, Brooke working on a project for an art contest at school. She LOVES to embroider!

This post has been formulating in my brain for a couple of weeks now, but I keep putting it off for a variety of reasons. One of my reasons is that I wanted this post to be perfect; perfectly expressed words with perfectly edited photographs to illustrate what I’m saying and a perfectly designed downloadable pattern to include on the sidebar. But, I realized this “perfection” I’ve been waiting for is unrealistic with everything else we have going on and that this topic was too important for me to put off any longer.

Joel and I have two daughters; two daughters who are both beautiful, both smart and both inherently unique individuals that we love dearly. We also have two amazing little boys, who I will probably write about at a later time, but today, my focus is on these precious, delicate (or sometimes not so much) females with whom we have been blessed to help teach, nurture and prepare to become beautiful, independent and, hopefully, confident young ladies and women.

For me, the responsibility of raising girls has seemed a bit more challenging than raising boys so far. Joel and I have had countless conversations discussing our parenting techniques and what we feel is most important for us to be teaching our children. We both feel a great deal of concern about the world in which our children, and especially our daughters, are growing up.

So, when I saw the book “Bringing Up Girls,” by Dr. James Dobson a couple of weeks ago at the library, I promptly checked it out, hoping his experience and wisdom would tell me exactly what I need to do to successfully raise my daughters to know of their intrinsic worth. He did just that.

Nothing Dr. Dobson writes in his book is an entirely foreign idea to me. In fact, my parents instilled all these same values and moral standards in me as I was growing up. These values are also highly emphasized within the faith we practice. I grew up knowing I was a daughter of God and, as such, had high expectations for what I would accomplish in life, high expectations for the man I would one day marry and high expectations for the family I would one day create.

In his book, Dr. Dobson talks about the peril our girls face in our world today and that the lack of femininity in our culture that has resulted since the feminist movement of the 1960’s is partly to blame. He says,

“Girls were considered far too passive, frilly, compliant, and motherly. That had to change. They needed to be taught to be aggressive, tough, tomboyish, unemotional, and, yes, much more masculine.”

He goes on to explain in the next two chapters and site research demonstrating why it is so important to not continue this trend. He mentions how what used to be mandatory homemaking classes taught in our schools, have mostly been canceled and “that America became the worse for it.”

So, after that long-winded introduction, I am finally getting to the main purpose of this post. I was one of those girls who, while growing up, did not always appreciate the lessons in femininity and homemaking skills my mother deemed so valuable. Sewing was one of those skills she tried her best to teach to an uncooperative teen-aged girl. I wish I had paid better attention now, but I’m quickly making up for my lack of interest then and am trying to learn all I can about the art of sewing.

Two weeks ago Joel had the opportunity to speak to a group of educators from throughout the state of Utah. These women teach Family and Life Science courses at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. At the conclusion of his presentation, several of the women came up to thank Joel for supporting their conference because they feel like what they are teaching is under attack of being removed entirely from the schools. One woman told Joel that Utah is one of the few states left where Home Economics courses are still taught in public schools.

I would love to have attended the conference with Joel, but while he was there, I was undertaking an ambitious project of my own; teaching 11 girls between the ages of 8-12 how to sew. Not only was I teaching them how to sew, I was teaching them how to sew a project that may not have been the most suitable for the age group. However, all of them loved the experience and were so proud of what they accomplished. I’m grateful I had six other women there to assist with this frenetic activity.

We sewed bags for carrying their scriptures to church. I gave them two designs to choose from (next time I will present one option!) and we spent one activity cutting out their bags and a longer activity sewing them. While it got a bit crazy at times trying to direct six different helpers and 11 girls how to complete the project, it was highly satisfying to use my talents in helping these girls see the value in sewing as a skill for them to learn.

alternative text

alternative text

I don’t think every girl needs to learn the art of sewing (and neither does Dr. Dobson), but I do think it’s important to give our girls the opportunity. I want my girls to be excited about learning what are most commonly seen as feminine talents and skills. I want them to know that they can find great satisfaction in cooking, cleaning, sewing or any homemaking activity because all of these skills will be invaluable to them as mothers one day. I want their femininity to shine through in everything they do, whether it’s playing goalkeeper in a soccer game, excelling in a science class or baking a cake. Being feminine does not make the feminine sex weak or inferior in any way.

alternative text

If you're interested in the patterns and instructions for these bags, we'll work on a PDF file for you to download, but it will probably not be until after Thanksgiving. Joel and I are working on some other big projects to feature here in the next couple of weeks, and I'm too excited about them at the moment to stop!

alternative text