Monday, November 16, 2009

It's a Very Merry Foster Teen Christmas!

Finally finished up my flier for our family Christmas project. We have 34 foster teens who are either in-between foster home or are going to age out of the system to provide Christmas morning for. Please help us give them a holiday morning they won't forget! If you want to donate or know someone who does please pass along this information.

If you click on the image it will enlarge on your screen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Man Powered Ferris Wheel. Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai, India.

If there is only one touristy thing we get to do on this particular trip, it would be to head down to Chowpatty Beach. Man powered ferris wheel? That's what I'm talkin' about.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

See ya soon

Had a case of this

now after a week of that, 2 ER visits, 5 bags of fluids and 24 hours of flying we find ourselves here

See ya soon :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Utah's Prop 1: The Mrs. vs The Mr.

In a quick nutshell: Prop one is a request for a multimillion bond to create a city emergency evacuation site and plans to strengthen our emergency vulnerability.

The Social Worker Mrs (aka-Me) : I initially thought it sounded great. We absolutely need an emergency "city center", called the Mr. and told him thinking I had beat him to the political punch and I would be educating HIM for a change. The conversation went a little something like this, "I would like you to know I am voting for Prop 1 and would encourage you to do the same...."

The City Planning/Business Minded Mr: "What?! You are? The prop is basically a multimillion dollar blank check. They haven't even conducted an initial feasibility study. I'm all for an emergency plan but they don't even have a plan yet. Who knows where that money will go"

The Social Worker Mrs.: "Huh, hadn't seen the planning/business side of that coin, just the community benefit side."

And that is how it came to be: The Mr. politically beat out the Mrs. once again and off to the polls we will go. To all of you: I am NOT voting for Utah's Prop 1 and would encourage you to do the same.

(Note: This picture is about 3 years ago...we look so little!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've spouted this off at various times in my life when I have worked with youth. It goes like this:

"You don't get to choose IF you are an example, you are ALWAYS an example to someone. What you do get to choose is what KIND of example you are. You can choose to lead people to be better or choose to lead people to be lesser. That's what you get to choose. -- ME"

It's been on my mind a lot lately and I thought I'd share it with you.
(image from Phillip Klinger via Flickr)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Piano Stairs

As you learned on my old blog, HodderThanEver, I have a thing for social experiments in the happiest sense of the words. Things like how to people respond when a group of people break out in to broadway tune in the middle of a mall foodcourt, or freeze for a minute straight mimicking time that has stopped. Here's the latest and greatest in happy, little experimentsz: fun stairs. Basically would people take the stairs MORE if they felt like entered FAO Schwartz on their way to or from the subway? Sounds like FUN to me. Thanks VW for once again making me smile (too bad your cars continue to make me frown but your ads and spirit? Top notch :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet Stefany Pike from California. This entrepreneurial mother, wife, and mentor is a dear friend of mine who mentored me in the beginning of my marriage. A true example in many ways, I was beyond ecstatic when she took the plunge with answering The Parenting Profile questionnaire. Oh and just so you know, I should probably add "survivor" because she has been through the California fires and lives to tell about it. "Two years ago today the wildfires came through our neighborhood at 4:30 am... we were throwing the kids in the car while our backyard and roof were on fire. The firetrucks were all around us and the cinders were flying like bullets. . . . . SO, SO, SO grateful this morning is alot more peaceful." Enjoy :)

Hey Stefany, so how do you view the world?
I am an optimist so I tend to think the cup is half full. Or at least there is a pitcher nearby, with lots of lemonade.

Did this influence how you raised your children?

Ohhh I just realized you were looking for something different when you asked the fist question. I would like to think that my parenting approach comes from my understanding of why we are here, what our purpose is and where we are going. I get those answers through my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

What would you say your parenting philosophy was?
Weeeeelll, my husband is the military dictator and I am somewhere in the middle of the opposite and him. I think we make a good pair. Our children have had different thoughts though of who was the dictator (laughing) through the years.

What type of values did you try to instill in your children and how did you teach them?
I am huge on manners “ yes, please and thank yous.” And my hubby is a good old boy from the South so he is all over the “Sir and Maam” thing. Beyond that – we have tried to teach them that they are unique, special and capable of doing anything that they set out to do and have tons to give to the world around them. We also have tried very hard to instill upon then WHO they are and that they come from a noble birthright and that they are future queens and kings – in training.

Where did you get your values from?
Our values have come from the teachings and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

So Stefany, were you affectionate? physically? emotionally?

I think we are usually hugging for one reason or another. Emotionally, oh heck ya. We always try to spend individual time with the kids even if its just going to the grocery store together. Long talks are synonymous with driving with me in the car. And as a precaution, my kids know that sometimes my emotions come goobing out through tears.

How did you handle the age specific behaviors? (i.e. tantrums, lying, experimenting, rebelling)?

Not very well. Oh, you wanted more of an answer than that? Well somedays I deal with them by going in the bathroom, locking the door and not coming out until I have determined the child is no longer at risk. So much of parenting is a trial and error thing to be honest and let me tell you I have made my share of blunders and errors.

How did you discipline and what did you let slide and what did you give extra attention to? How did you determine this?
One thing that we have recently added to our parenting toolbox is a family contract with our teens. In its 12 pages, it clearly spells out every last responsibility, consequences of breaking and the privileges associated with doing the right thing. It includes everything from cell phone use, drinking, grades, curfew, driving, chores, etc. Everything already thought out, agreed to by the parents and child and put in a binder as well as a copy posted in the child’s room. When something happens – we refer to our family binder and the effect of the child’s action is spelled out. I am truly loving this as it takes the stress out of the heat of the moment. The parents don’t argue, the child already knows the outcome and it’s a beautiful thing. . . at least so far.

NOTE- The contract was hammered out by my husband and I on a 2 night getaway where we sat and discussed it all … out of the hearing range of the children. All discussions and individual parents’ thoughts were aired at that point. When the contract was presented to the child it was done with parents 100% united (and no mention of the journey of communication and frustrations to come up with it).

Kristin's Note: Stefany I think this is brilliant and creative...

How was the topic of sex/intimacy approached in your home?

Very carefully. I can think of 2 ways. Jason makes comments around the teenagers like “I always LOVE sleeping with your mom.(smiles)” Usually they respond with gagging noises and I leave the room. Early on I went to him about these kind of remarks ….I was annoyed to say the least. Who was this man to act like a Navy Sailor acting like so ridiculous around me? Then his comment was “ I want my boys to grow up realizing that it is cool to feel such a way about there wife and I want my girls to hold their husbands to this standard” SO – though it is VERY embarrassing to me, I get it .

How did you bring out their individual best selves and/or make your children feel special?
I often wonder if I have done this enough and thus I don’t know if I have done this properly. I have had moments of the sun shining through and feeling like I have captured the essence of this. I will share one of these moments.

When our daughter was 15 she and I went on a humanitarian trip to Mexico. I saw lights come on within her. I saw her in her element at a very tender time in her life I saw her passion and excitement in that week alone. She came home and declared that doing stuff like that was her mission. The months passed and I watched as she searched to find that feeling again. I pretty much was a spectator during this time frame. One day she came to me and declared that she wanted to earn enough money to pay to have a home built for a family in Mexico. Then, as if that weren’t enough, she wanted to take a group down the build the home. I was shocked. We had no financial means to help her and I knew she had to do it completely on her own. Being a mother, I worried, “what if she fails and doesn’t quite make the required amount? What if she doesn’t get the home built in time? What if she quits?” I finally took some time in prayer. It was only then that I realized that she needed to do this for whatever reason and the consequences would be part of what she needed. It took great faith to not be a helicopter mom. What if she failed?

I watched her feverishly doing donut sales, presentations, asking for donations and counting the money. As I watched this process from a distance I realized that I was actually watching her find her mission. Her mission – not mine. This was probably one of my better parenting/life missions.

Honestly, one of the best parenting lessons that I have learned is to realize that every kid is different from the others. They each have different attitudes, paradigms, trigger points and things that motivate them. It’s our job to listen and to hear all of that and try (time and time again) to pull it all together and make magic. I don’t think in anyway parents can be a one-hit success it’s in the consistently, persistently “being there” .

What rules did you have (i.e. no license until an eagle, curfews, etc.) that you felt were effective?
Once in a fit of frustration we told our now 16 year old son that he had to have his Eagle Scout before he couldn’t drive until he had his Eagle Scout. We are in the midst of that so I will let you know how it turns out.

You seem to have a strong and supportive family, how have you created this?
Another little tidbit that I have learned. PLAN, follow through and carryout family together time. With a big, busy family and dealing with budgets it is often easy to nix the vacation or not do things together for a variety of excuses. We have discovered that the little things like planning a trip to pick apples can be relatively cheap but will leave a lifetime of memories.

Additionally, I have told the children that friends will (sadly) come and go but your FAMILY will always be there for you. Your brother, or sister will always be there for you. Through thick and thin – here is a group of people who will love and understand you, forever. . . . And when you choose yer spouse ya darn well oughta pick someone who appreciates this “mess” !!!

Did you have special family traditions?
Every night we gather together for family prayer.
Eating dinner together and the antics, laughter and craziness that happens when 7 people gather in a small room. Also, before each child can be excused he has to tell my husband one thing that he/she learned that day. If its something lame some one usually rejects it saying “ How will that affect you in 5 years?” . The children’s friends now know this is coming so they come to dinner prepared with their own answer.

Do you have any regrets you'd care to elaborate on?

It’s important to take time out for you. So often we set our own needs to the back burner and that’s where they sit till you lose a part of who you are. Take the time to journal, pray, read your scriptures, meditate and excercise. Everynow and then – go and get a pedicure and buy a new dress. You deserve it. Find and develop a hobby that is yours. By doing these things you will be less prone to depression, have more energy, more excitement and be able to be more creative. Trust me.

This one is evolving – I think I could have better balanced the mother friend thing better. Sometimes I think I could have been more mother than friend. Yeah… I know I could have. It would have made enforcing the consequences a whole lot easier.

If you could give some wisdom to new parents now, what would it be?
Don’t spend money on the new trendy toys – Really, if I could do it over again, I would just use the classic toys. Legos, Tinker toys, wooden blocks and a palate of cardboard boxes every now and then will foster more creativity, role playing, visual perception, career exploration and fine motor coordination than most toys on the shelf. Trust me, it took me 5 years to grasp this concept and I sooo wish I could go back.

Take time out for you. So often we set our own needs to the back burner and that’s where they sit till you lose a part of who you are. Take the time to journal, pray, read your scriptures, meditate and excercise. Everynow and then – go and get a pedicure and buy a new dress. You deserve it. Find and develop a hobby that is yours. By doing these things you will be less prone to depression, have more energy, more excitement and be able to be more creative. Trust me.

I would have listened to my mothers intuition more.

I would have stuck to and followed through with chore charts at an earlier age.

I would have budgeted an allowance for the children from the beginning and had them use that to buy extras. In our home, I buy the basic shampoo, clothes, shoes. If you want more or a different brand then YOU have to budget and save for it.

Oh here is a big one. I wouldn’t have been so quick to compare myself to what I saw of other families. I was comparing our faults to their strengths. Over the years, I have learned that EVERY family has their own set of weaknesses and baggage. We are all doing the best given our personalities, backgrounds, cultures to raise uniquely different children.

Thanks Stefany. I loved having a chance at gleaning some "Stefany insight" and sharing that insight with others. You can get MORE of Stefany and her daily adventures over at her blog, Pikes Pickles.

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