New opportunities

This morning I and the rest of the PTA board for next year were approved to help with the PTA. I will be the new PTA president. I am impressed with all the wonderful people who jump in and make so many great events happen at El Carmelo. I led a discussion about plans for next year. Many great ideas were generated for ways the PTA could help the school and families and the teachers. I introduced myself and talked about how important our families are, and that I believe that is our first priority.

Tonight, I went to a Girls Camp meeting. I will be a Team Leader again this summer at Girls Camp. We learned about really understanding the girls, giving them our attention and love. We were reminded to be good examples and take the time to connect and be interested in each girl. It will be a great five days out in the redwoods up north with wonderful leaders and girls. Camille will attend for the first time. Church and community have given me many opportunities for growth and leadership and learning.

Reaching goals

Nicole and I passed off the memorization of The Living Christ tonight with Jeslyn. It was three weeks of memorizing and reciting and internalizing the words from this inspired document. I would never have done it without the examples of Jeslyn and Nicole. Jeslyn had a great way of breaking down the meaning and wording of each paragraph. Nicole has a brilliant mind and captured the essence quickly and completely. I am so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, His life and love, His example and atonement, and grateful for the apostles and prophets who testify and teach and serve Him.

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We did it!

Ice skating buddies

Robin has been begging me all during this ice skating session to ice skate with her after her lesson. So since it was Spring Break and there was more time today, I told her I would skate with her. Maren and some of her friends also joined in the fun. Robin was tired really quickly because she is still getting over the flu from last week and really hasn’t completely regained her strength. So I gave her a hug and told her we could rest and leave earlier than I had expected. I loved watching my friend skate with her kids and parents and sister and then her husband came to join in the fun. I love the power of families together.

IMG_1633IMG_1634 IMG_1635We had family night tonight and talked about honesty and integrity. It is interesting to contemplate both telling the truth and not trying to deceive. We talked about needing to shine a light on anything in the corner we might be trying to conceal. I know I have learned a lot about this since my youth, and I have learned to try and open up and shine the light and try to be truthful even when it is painful. When someone has integrity, we can trust them completely.



I am going to be substitute teaching for early morning seminary at 6:30 tomorrow. During the preparation for teaching I have renewed admiration for the 30 or so high school kids who attend every day. We will be studying Romans 12-16. One of the topics to discuss is sacrifice. Somehow, the things we sacrifice for are truly the things we love. When I think of the sacrifices of my parents for their children, for each other, and for the gospel I see a reflection of their greatest love. I have grown in love for my own children the more I sacrifice for them.

A couple of years ago, three of my kids were sick for a couple of weeks. It was the kind of sickness where they had high fevers and needed a lot of care just to be comfortable. As I got them blankets, food and drink, and worried over their bodies recovering, I started to feel like I was being given one of the greatest gifts — deeper love for each of them. I wanted to serve them and help them get better. I felt honored to be their mother and caretaker. My love for them grew, as well as my determination to serve and love more completely. Truly, sacrifice is an act with unmeasurable blessings. I look forward to learning with the juniors and seniors tomorrow bright and early, sacrificing a little sleep for greater joy.

Corn Husk Dolls

Today I went with the fourth graders to Peralta Adobe, to see the oldest house in San Jose. All the parents ran the stations at the site. I got to help the kids make corn husk dolls. They also made candles, tortillas, did some dressing up and played other games. I really like hands-on learning. Here is Maren making the corn husk dolls, playing the ball and cup game, and dipping a candle.

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It has been a long week, and I am tired. Good night!

Parenting 101

I am always amazed at how much I don’t know in parenting. Just when I think I have a certain part of my life in order with systems where the kids are thriving, something can throw things off. It could be sickness, new attitudes entering into the kids’ vocabulary, different stages of development, or just fatigue and traveling.

Today I participated in a great webinar, sponsored by The Power of Moms,  from Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions. One thing she said jumped out at me. She said that our intuitive ideas to deal with behaviors in children are not always the right approach. I have often felt I had pretty good instincts, had good parents myself, and that I have a generally effective approach. But time and again I have come up short in solutions on various parenting dilemmas. So the webinar today was about how to get kids to listen without nagging, reminding or yelling. I feel like lately I have done too much reminding, mostly because the kids don’t always listen the first time.

So Amy shared some powerful tools. First was that kids misbehave for different reasons than we think. Children need to feel emotional belonging within their family by getting sufficient positive attention. They need to feel powerful and capable in their environment. This can be achieved by giving them independence, a sense of autonomy, free will and control over their lives. When there is a lack of feeling of power or emotional wholeness, misbehavior comes out. I took a look at my children and found some areas where we could improve on giving more positive attention and handing over control.

The next portion of the webinar explored how consequences should not feel like punishment. Punishment means the child feels blame, shame or pain. So if a consequence   gives them shame or blame or pain, the child may resort to lying to avoid those feelings. Effective consequences have 5 R’s. They must be respectful, both in tone of voice and the way it is given. The consequence must be related to the misbehavior. They should be reasonable in duration of time. The consequence needs to be revealed in advance. And the child should be able to repeat the consequence back to the parent.

Consequences should only be used 10-15% of the time. Often we need to take time and let things go. We need to hand over the responsibility to our children in following through with the rules in the house. It was a great webinar. During it, we could type questions and responses at the bottom of the screen. A couple of times, she said, Julia….and answered one of my questions. It felt like I was getting some personal coaching.

I got an email today from another parenting organization, Clear Path Parenting. They gave a great tip I used already today. It was how to avoid temper tantrums in kids. One child is prone to anger and power struggles. So the strategy is to answer them with the phrase, “I know” when they are arguing about something. So I tried it tonight and used that simple phrase, and it totally diffused the negative energy I was getting from that child.

Well, parenting is never easy, but it is totally worth it. I am grateful today to be learning some great strategies to help me guide my kids and show them more love and diffuse negative energy. I am starting to think that all parents should have continuing education weekly or monthly or daily to help us navigate the tough spots of family life.


Parenting is always on my mind. I took a survey this morning, and the person asked the question, “What kind of parent are you?” I was a little shocked by the question somehow because the survey was about vaccinations. But I slowly answered, “Deliberate. Loving. Strict. Careful.” I don’t know that did my parenting style justice. But I definitely think deliberate is how I strive to live; loving might be the most important quality as a mother.

I was reading another mom’s blog where she talked about the best behavior modification program happens as we spend time playing with our children. I am often with my kids, but not always engaged in their play. I made a goal this week to spend 30 minutes a day just playing with one of my kids. So tonight, Robin and I colored. We have been working on coloring this story book for awhile, and we spent time chatting and coloring.


We weren’t rushed, and it was relaxing and fun to just work side by side. I am not particularly concerned about Robin’s behavior, but more love and time together has to be good. It felt good for me, and I loved that one-on-one half hour together. More importantly I love Robin.


A moment in time…

Occasionally you get those pay off moments. I have been teaching my kids piano for 10 years. These two girls below just a few of those years. But today they had some spontaneous duet time on the piano. I love to see them having fun with music. It makes the weekly and daily grind of it all worthwhile.


Saturday Learning

This morning we had our annual Women’s Conference in church. I taught the class on Teaching Kids about Work and Money – Empowerment not Entitlement. I learned so much from teaching and from all the comments and insights from class members. Then I attended a class about how to have a healthy body image. I wanted to attend since I am raising so many daughters. Some insights I gained was to limit negative media exposure, keep a strong relationship to God, avoid comparisons, and to value the amazing ways our bodies are blessings to us. I also believe as women we should not constantly comment to each other about how we look and what we wear, rather focus on the whole person.

Another class today taught about valuing each of our children for their individual qualities and strengths. It is based on a book called The Child Whisperer. It talks about four different personality types  — the sensitive child, the serious child, the determined child, and the social child. By identifying and understanding our children in this way, we can honor their styles and love them and nurture them in those different ways. I believe in that way of viewing individuals, but it is easier said than done. I want to read this book.

This evening we gathered for our cousins’ book club and talked about this book.IMG_1322The book describes some boys in an alternative school for kids with behavioral problems. As the boys struggle to get along in school, the main character discovers each of the boys’ hidden talents — reading minds, foreseeing events, etc. The boys decide to use these “problem” areas as hidden strengths by harnessing how they use them. The main character has the ability to sense people’s weaknesses and make comments that point those out and hurt their feelings. His rude comments antagonize the people around him, especially the teachers. As he discovers his ability to sense people’s sensitive areas, instead of being rude he begins to learn how to tell the truth in positive ways. I felt like this character described me in my teenage years and early 20s. I could give the sarcastic zinger that would make people uncomfortable. I hope I have learned to channel that by instead being sympathetic and understanding of what people are going through.

I have had the chance to read, learn, and have insights today and this week during study and active listening. I love the idea of having our difficulties instead be looked at as gifts that just need to be directed in a positive, empowering way. I want to view my children in this way. Even if we have a different approach, both can be valid and used for good.


Spontaneously this morning while I was talking to two different people, the word “entitled” came up. I was talking with some friends about how to help kids be responsible and learn the value of money and hard work. Tomorrow I am going to be teaching a class about how to teach children to understand how money works, and how to learn to work hard. It is based on this book.


I have been using this system with my kids for a year and a half, and it has really given them ownership and responsibility for money management and earning. I think it is a revolutionary concept to save our children from the trap of entitlement. It will be good to talk and explore that concept with the women attending the workshop tomorrow.