Teaching giving to a 3-year-old

Some recent conversations in our home:

Me: “Today we’re going to make some cards to take to some lonely grandma’s and grandpa’s at the rest home on Friday.”

Scotland: “Can I make one for me?”


Me: After telling a bedtime story about how three characters pretend to be elfs and do secret service for friends and neighbors. . ..

Scotland: “You could be an elf, and when I’m gone, you could get me presents!”


Me: “What do you think we should make Daddy for Christmas? . . . What if we made him X! Then we could wrap them up and give them to him for Christmas and he would be SO excited. ”

Scotland: “Maybe you could give me some!”

Me: But Scotland, Christmas is a time to think about what we can give to others.

Scotland: “But you could give me some!”


I’m wondering if I need to take another approach. Maybe if I quit talking the talk and started walking the walk, he would take to the idea, and catch the giving fire himself

I’ve had this impression a lot lately- that the best parenting is done silently, through example. I’m a talker, I LOVE to talk about stuff. I’m much better at discussing ideas than I am about actually implementing them. But I’ve felt the impression many times lately that I need to make a change, that if I want my son to be patient, then I need to wait patiently as he puts his seatbelt on, slowly gets out of the car, takes for ever to. . .  If I want my child to be generous, then I need to go the extra mile in being present and attentive to him, I need to give joyfully, not dutifully. If I want my son to be empathetic, then I need to be more sensitive, more willing to try to understand. If I want my child to be more social then he needs to see me reaching out to others, and putting people first. It’s more likely than not that if Tom and I set firm examples of upstanding, loving, joyful, hardworking, faithful people then our sons will follow suit- eventually.

So my goal- shut my trap. Quit talking and start showing.

Halloween 2014

We had a delightful Halloween. This marked Anders’ first Halloween, and Scotland’s first year going trick or treating. How I love the novelty of child rearing. It’s so fun to see holidays through fresh eyes. Scotland decided to be a dragon again. (Despite my Mom and Dantzel putting together a super fun pirate costume for him. ) Anders was a frog.

Pumpkin carving with the Joy School kids. They all oo-ed and awed when we lit him up in Anders’ dark nursery. Library Halloween story time.

Last minute costume for Ward Halloween party. (I did a bit more eye makeup after I took this picture, and it really freaked Anders out. For about 5 minutes every time he would look at me he would look away and cry. It was really sad.

Our not so ferocious dragon.Our Ward’s nursery. Scotland is sitting on the knee of his beloved nursery leader, Bro. Kohler. He is such a sweet and gentle man. He and Scotland have such a neat relationship. Whenever we visit other wards Scotland will ask, “Is Bro. Kohler going to be there?” And when I told him that in a few months he’s going to be in Primary, he asked “Will Bro. Kohler be in primary?” He really loves him.

Okay, I was pretty proud of my jack o’ lantern. He reminds me a bit of Olaf from Frozen. 

Ready to trick or treat. We went with our friends and neighbors the Hulets.

My Mom doesn’t like trick or treating, and I found myself feeling a bit that way- why would I encourage my children to go and beg for candy? I almost didn’t take Scotland out. Tom was working, it was past Anders’ bed time.  “He’ll never know” I thought. But we went, and I’m so glad we did. We had a wonderful time! We met a bunch of our neighbors. I had never really thought about Halloween as a beautiful neighborhood togetherness holiday, but it really can be. People opening their homes to others. There were very few children that trick or treated on our street so those who were giving out candy were really excited to do so and were so kind and attentive to our kids. All of these homes that we have walked by a hundred times finally had inhabitants, with faces. It made me want to pull together a block party next year. I live around wonderful people, and I’d love to get to know them all better.


Excuse the near-naked shot of my son, but this was perhaps my favorite part of the whole night. (Not the nakeness, he was just distracted midway through getting his pajamas on.) I’m really strict with treats. Scotland next to never eats candy, and rarely eats dessert in general. So when he asked if he could eat some candy my first response was, “You can eat one piece and then its time for bed.” (This being the norm, he didn’t protest.) But remembering that in Tom’s family the policy was (as he can remember it) “You can eat as much as you want on Halloween, but then only one piece the days following” I decided to follow suit. Scotland was shocked and thrilled. When we got home he dumped out his candy (all of which is pictured) and systematically went through piece by piece trying each one, and always sharing equal parts with me. Most of these candies he had never eaten before. The novelty of the gobstopper turning colors, or the three round balls inside the whopper package was thrilling. He commented on each one, analyzing it, observing it. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. He was intent in sharing everything equally with me, which melted my heart. I didn’t really want most of the candy, but I couldn’t turn down his generosity. Sitting there on the floor watching his intense enjoyment I felt for a moment that I had returned to my childhood body and mind. I had flashbacks of Brigette and I’s own heated candy trades, and the joy of candy was fresh in my mind. It was a moment I hope I never forget. A moment I’m so glad I didn’t pass up in the rush to bed, and the pursuit of health.

Some friends of ours invited Tom and I to their Halloween party. It was super impressively done and so much fun. They even had a Clue-inspired mystery that ended in a coffin. It was fun to have a reason to get dressed up, and to spend time with some great friends sans kiddos. 

These are all the ladies I serve with in the YW: Kathy Griffard, Kelly Lee, Lindsay Arb and Elyse Shuldberg. Love them! (Kathy- aka Ms. Peacock, made her and her husband’s costumes, she’s amazing.) 

Tom decided to utilize his Venetian mask, and dressed up as a plague doctor. I followed suit as a Venetian dressed up as a Greek Goddess. Not too shabby of a costume for having thrown it together day of from the 75% off rack at Goodwill! Tom and I haven’t been to a party like this for a while and I was reminded of how much fun he is. He really got into the drama of the Clue mystery, which surprised me. I love that man!

Thanks Kathy and Andrew for the invite. We had a great time. 

Bryce’s Baptism

A few months ago we decided to jump last minute on the chance to attend my nephew Bryce’s baptism. Tom found out last minute that he had an extra day and a half off so we packed up the car and made the 8 hour drive down to Klamath Falls, OR. I was nervous how the boys would do on such a long car trip (our longest to date with two.) But they were both terrific. (Lesson learned: Quit assuming things will be hard and thus not trying them. Try it out, and if it’s crazy learn out to remedy it for the next time. Live life!)

We stopped in Portland on the way down to make a little “family trip” out of it. We just hit a block of food trucks.

I found the food disappointing. I suppose my Kingston creperie has spoiled me. Regardless, it was fun to just sit down and “be” a family together. Scotland was most excited by a little tray for recycling bottle caps. He took a few and they were his “treasure” for a few weeks.

Oregon Institute of Technology: Tom, Anders, Scotland, Dallin

Our main reason for going down was to see Bryce’s baptism but I had also been dying to see Trevor and Lauren’s home. Trev took us to The Oregon Institute of Technology where he is a professor. It was fun to see his campus and meet some of his colleagues. It’s important to me to be able to visualize my siblings lives- where they live, work. It helps me feel close to them. So I was glad for the chance to see his office and campus.

While we were in the car about as long as we were there it was TOTALLY worth it. (Lesson learned: Sacrifice to be with family.) Seeing Anders and Miles playing together; watching Scotland and Dallin’s trading sessions; hearing Scotter and Claire’s giggles; and great talks with Lauren and Trevor that is what relationships are made out of. And there are few things more important to me than my relationships with my family.


I was so grateful for Tom for being so supportive and excited to make the journey. I’m always trying to be sensitive to his need for relaxation and sleep on his days off because he works so hard, so I was apprehensive about suggesting we go. When he found out he would have a three day weekend, he was the one who said “Let’s go! Why not?!” I was surprised by how giddy I felt once we decided to go. Obviously, I had really wanted to go, but I’d allowed so many other things to convince me otherwise. (The length of the trip, the expense, Tom’s need for rest, the potential chaos of the car ride.) As I mentioned previously, the whole trip felt really educational like me. Like it was being pounded into my head- don’t let worries get in the way of living the life you desire.


We had a super fun time at the park with the family on Saturday- playing soccer, and enjoying the playground. I love how Trevor makes it a point to get out and do enjoyable things. It’s so easy to stay at home and chat, but getting out and doing something more active always seems to be more memorable. I haven’t played soccer in a long time, and while I only got to play for a little bit (I hadn’t brought the right shoes, and my flat kept flying off every time I kicked the ball, so I eventually called it quits) but it felt SO good. I love soccer. I’d kind of forgotten. 

Birthday boyTom- ever the attentive and loving uncle and father

Every time we visit Trevor and Lauren, Tom and I come away feeling impressed. They’re just a really wonderful couple with such a sweet family. I always feel inspired to serve more, to open up my home more, to be more humble, and to be more spiritual.

We took pictures at the baptism, but it must have been with someone else’s camera because I don’t have them. :(. It was a beautiful service. As I watched Bryce standing up with some of his peers from the Primary singing a song about baptism I was touched by his readiness. His parents have taught him to love the gospel, and it was obvious that he was fully aware of what he was undertaking, and fully desirous. His innocence was beautiful. Scotland has talked about Bryce’s baptism a lot since, and I’m grateful that he has older cousins that he can look to as examples.

I really adore this capture- even though the image quality isn’t great. Along with being able to be baptized, turning eight also meant Bryce can be a cub scout. He was SO excited and immediately opened the scouting book that his grandma and grandpa Jones gave him to get started. His Grandpa Jones sat on the floor and patiently helped him learn a few knots, soon Trevor and Tom joined the action- their own love of scouting, obvious. Seeing these three grown men- all Eagles scouts sitting around this sweet new initiate was powerful. How lucky Bryce is to have so many exemplary men in his life. How much better our world would be if every eight year old boy had this sort of masculine support.

Kruckeberg Botanical Garden

We’ve been wanting to explore Shoreline’s Kruckeberg Botanical Garden since we moved here. Finally a few months ago we took advantage of a gorgeous day and headed over there after Joy School. We packed a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Because of another appointment we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked and were only able to explore a small portion of the gardens. So, we’ll be back.Fairy house

There is a whole section devoted to fairy gardens. Anyone can come and build one. There is quite a collection of them. It was so enjoyable to see the different materials used- all natural to create these mini get aways.

Stunning root ball sculpture

This climbable sculpture is made from the root ball of a tree. The artist found it in the Columbia River and retrieved it, polished it, added some hand holds and copper accents (that you can’t see) and it was later installed in the garden. It was lowered down by a huge crane. We sat on the benches nearby and ate our lunch. It was such a serene beautiful place. Every time I spend a part of my day doing something like this I’m reminded of the beauty of our earth and the importance of stepping out of the rat race from time to time to just “be.”

Atop the sculpture

Fall Staycation- September 2014

So I’m WAY behind in my blogging. So in order to get these pictures down for memories sake, here goes. Picture overload. Tom got a week off in September. We considered going somewhere like the Oregon coast, but I was so vacationed out and Tom was thrilled at the idea of just being home so we decided to stay home and staycation it.

On our way to the mountains trying our first Zeke’s Burger. We’ll be back! Yum!

Discovering caves in the root balls of enormous old growth trees

Barclay Lake

“Fishing.” We found some line and a bobber with a hook on the shore, attached it to a stick and he was thrilled! No fish needed.

Our mountain boy.

Lynnwood pool

Taking the Amtrak downtown- this was so fun. The tracks go along the water and it’s very picturesque, if you’re a local and you haven’t done it taking the train from Edmonds to Seattle was a real treat.

Then we stepped out into this gorgeous train station. Who knew this even existed? (Probably everyone else in Seattle.) I love surprises like this. Especially in ones hometown! I felt like we were in Europe!

Another thing we happened upon. A beautiful patio next in honor of the birthplace of UPS.

Red boots.

Amazing lunch at Il Corvo.

Butterfly exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

Boating on Lake Union- ever trying to be frugal I’m always looking up free things to do in Seattle. In my search I discovered that with a Seattle Public Library card you can get free museum passes to a variety of museums around town. One of the free passes was a free 1 hour boat rental at the Center for Wooden Boats. It was so fun! We rowed around in Lake Union taking in the city from the water, watching the sea planes take off around us, and watching a huge yacht come in. Anders was NOT a fan of his life jacket. He screamed most of the time we were on the boat. You’d never know from the beautiful picture below. Thank you pacifier.

Scotland on the other hand, loved it. About half way through he decided it would be super fun to jump in and spent the rest of the time trying to convince either Tom or I do jump overboard. 

Typical grin

What’s a Staycation without delicious home cooked meals? (Especially when they’re prepared by your husband.)

And of course home renovation. We’ve been wanting to open up our kitchen for a while, and finally decided to go for it. We know full well that it will stay “industrial chic” for a while, but that is A-okay. We LOVE the openness. Yes Tom usually does demo in collard shirts- He’s stylin’ like that. (Ok, no, this is an after work demo session.) The major projects during our Staycation were actually moving the washer and dryer from the kitchen to the storage room, and installing closet organizers in our bedroom. The first project was probably the largest project Tom has ever undertaken. It involved plumbing, HVAC, and electricity, the results are terrific, and a real quality of life improvement. No more baskets of dirty laundry in the kitchen. I was in charge of the closet organizers, and am quite proud to say that I installed them 99% myself. Despite the large amount of home renovation I’ve done, I’ve always been a bit shy with a drill. No longer!

Scotland: Quotes and updates

“The one with the long hair, who’s kind of funny looking. Is that our sister ancestor?” (We’ve been talking a lot about our ancestors lately. Scotland loves to sit on my lap and look at pictures, and I love telling him of his inspiring heritage. I’ve never heard him say “funny looking” before. And now I’m a bit nervous where he picked it up. (From me of course. Let’s hope I was pointing to a cartoon in a book when I first voiced it.)

“I’m grateful for my taste buds and my lungs.” (Scotland has an impressive memory for words and LOVES to use them. He wants to understand and will often ask me to define words. Just this afternoon he asked “What does generous mean?”)

“Actually, my name is Samuel. But you can call me Crash Man!” About 60% of the time Scotland takes on the persona of the imaginary Samuel. Samuel is older, faster, and stronger. Fortunately for me Samuel is also very well behaved. He’ll often start a conversation with this. “My name is Samuel. . .” and then go on to tell an imaginative account of his life. When he’s Samuel he calls me Kjirsti. His ability to categorize the real and pretend is quite impressive. He knows that when he’s Samuel he has much more license with his life, so he resorts to it more often. Samuel flies to Italy, Samuel often doesn’t have parents, Samuel can know things that Scotland’s Mom can’t. It’s typically quite hilarious. Many times I’ll say, Scotland, It’s time for dinner. To which he’ll respond. “No, I’m Samuel.” As I write this I’m thinking its time for me to reread my Calvin and Hobbes so I can view all this in the right light. Either my child has a neurosis or a terrific imagination.

Always the silly boy.

A month back I whispered in Scotland’s ear “Do you know what? I love you to the Moon and back.” To which he turned around and said “I love you to the Sun and back!” That game is a bit old now, but we used to often play the game “How much do you love Anders/Daddy/me.” Scotland continues to enjoy comparative language and is always keen to be faster, taller, stronger, etc. It is when I point out that, no, actually I am taller. That he says: “Oh, My name is Samuel. . .”

“Actually. . .” He learned it from me and says it all the time. 

“Would you like to see my coins?” For a couple of weeks he was asking me this a dozen or so times a day. He must have sensed my weariness, because now he says something more like “Would you like to play a coin game with me?” Scotland is a fixating type. He always has something that he is obsessed with. Right now it is coins. He has a collection that includes three half dollars, a scattering of nickels, dimes, and pennies, as well as coins from Egypt, the Dutch Antilles, Mexico and Canada (we bulked up his Canada collection when we were there two weekends ago- to his absolute thrill!) Every few days or so he changes up how he keeps his coins: plastic bag, money purse, cardboard box, backpack, plastic bag again, music box, jar, you get the idea… Despite the transient nature of his coins he keep meticulous care of them and has lost very few.


“I don’t want any where they are mean or grumpy or scary.” “How come?” “Because it makes me feel sad.” As I mentioned in a previous post Scotland has come to really love listening to and watching audiobooks on youtube. There are few from the SAG that are a bit scary. He always requests that I skip those ones. He may have inherited my sensitivity.

“Are these real?” Because of night time fears Scotland and I talk often about what things are real and what things either don’t live on the earth any more (dinosaurs), or are pretend (dragons). He will often ask when we’re reading books- “Are these real?” (pointing to whales, crocodiles etc. He has an impressive understanding of pretend vs real as a result, and will often clarify as we play together.

Slime, part of our Halloween celebration at Joy school. The boys (and especially Anders) loved it. Our one girl, Ava, said and I quote “It’s going to ruin my nails.”

“I love Joy school!” Scotland really enjoys his preschool group. (Even though he can be quite a rascal during it sometimes.) He loves having his friends over, and I love when he’ll say “I learned that at school.” Its been really good for him. His social skills have improved and I love that he has twice weekly opportunities to work on “talking it out,” problem solving, and sharing. As much as teaching preschool is time consuming and energy draining, I have really loved being able to weave the things we are learning in Joy school throughout our day. Every unit of Joy School comes with a list of book recommendations. Most of them are really old, but I’ve been surprised at how influential it has been to read a bunch of books on the same theme. Our current unit is “Friendships and relationships” and reading books like “The Rainbow Fish.” “Enemy Pie” “Let’s be Enemies” and “The Quarreling Book” have given us lots of opportunities to talk about how to work through difficulties with friends, and how important it is to be friendly and inclusive.

It’s faded out a bit now, but last month Scotland was totally immersed in writing. He’s learned his pencil grip and can write all the letters in his name. he loves to draw smiley faces. He was continually asking “Do you want to draw with me?!” I love how children go through “sensitive periods.” It makes me so glad that I can be home with my boys so that when they are super excited about one thing I can really gear our play and enrichment around that. We can thank the book “Dog Loves Drawing” for Scotland’s interest.

Got to love the difference in faces. Poor second child. 

Scotland has been working so hard at interacting with Anders appropriately. Applying the tenant “A misbehaving child is a misunderstood child.” I realized that often Scotland was doing things because he didn’t know better ways of dealing with the situation. Like lying on top of Anders to stop him from grabbing his toys instead of asking for my help, putting the toys up, or giving Anders a different toy to play with. Once again I’m realizing that you have to teach children everything.

The random paraphernalia that rotates through Scotland’s “Treasures.” 

Scotland has caught on to the Frozen craze. He loves to throw his white crocheted blanket over his shoulders and pretend to be Elsa as it trails behind him. When Tom took him to the Dollar store and told him he could choose one thing he picked a back of rings. He recently finished chapter 29 in his reading book and so was able to pick something from our prize box. He chose the Fairy wings. (Tom and I try to keep our chuckles to ourselves, but can’t help but wonder if we ought to say something. .   nah! Think “Lord of the RIngs” and “Epic.”)

Home Picts

So a few weeks ago I asked for help on home decor issues. A few people requested pictures. So here they are:

Wow this picture makes me think I should up cleaning this brick wall on the priority list. Eek! I’d like something above the fireplace. I can’t decide whether I should just hang frames, mount a floating shelf. Build a mantel around the pellet stove?

I love this from Jennasuedesign.

I adore my piano, But I think it needs something more around it to balance out the height. I’m planning on buying a big plant for one side, and then I’d like some frames on the wall- maybe scrap the stuff on top of the piano and make a gallery wall around it. Down just one side?

My friend Elisabeth suggested doing some frames like this along the top- all the way up to the ceiling. I like the eclectic look. But worry I couldn’t pull it off.

One thing I realized as I was talking to her is that I don’t like how dark my living room feels. It doesn’t bother me until this time of year when it gets dark at 4:30, but then I start to wish I had lighter walls, lighter furniture. I’m really tempted to sell my champagne colored chairs and repaint my walls a lighter color. Maybe if I just got some light colored frames no the wall it would offer more highlight. What do you think?

Another view of the piano wall.

And for those who haven’t seen our new “open layout.” 

The plan is to completely remove those 2x4s, obviously. It will entail hiring a contractor to move the load bearing support beam to the corner. We could leave the opening where it’s at or take it to the other side of the intake vent (see bottom left) What would you do? I’m pretty sure we’ll leave it where it’s at because I like having the wall between the kitchen and the front door- not to mention I like those upper cabinets there. But I can still gaze out my huge picture windows while I cook and see the entire living room. The plan is to have a bar/peninsula where the opening is. We’ll get a slide in range, and then extend the countertop 12-14 inches. What would you do with the wall next to it. Just sofa table with frames above, or built-ins? I’m nervous having the wall half cut out is going to look dorky. How do I make it look cohesive?

I just think this looks a little dorky. I’m not planning on having the higher bar, maybe that will help it feel like more of the kitchen- and not like there are bar stools floating around in the living room. Ideas?

Maybe I should scrap the bar and do something more like this:

Ahhhh! It’s so hard to know.

Update: Reporting a rise back to “normal”

Perhaps the only thing I remember from college orientation was this advice. “At some point during college you are all going to call your parents and tell them that everything is going horribly, you hate college, or you feel like you’re failing, or something. Do me a favor- and when things have turned around and you’re loving college again, your succeeding- call them again and tell them! Too often we report when we’re low but never when we’re high.” A month ago I wrote a post during a low. I re-read it tonight and was struck by how many of those problems that seemed so insurmountable that week, that night, aren’t even issues anymore. I complained that I never had quiet time for deep thinking- that the cessation of Scotland’s afternoon naps had resulted in the extinction of my personal time. It seems silly now, but I had the hardest time coming up with a solution to that problem. Now Scotland has a quiet time for 45 minutes, after which he can come downstairs and play quietly, or listen to audiobooks for another hour. (We recently found this youtube station which is our favorite. If you have kids, check it out. It’s amazing!) Because I’ve been consistent he knows that that time is also my quiet time- so he can’t talk to me (well at least not constantly :)) and he needn’t ask to play with me. As a result I have felt such freedom in knowing that I have an hour and a half each day that I can plan to do whatever I need. Sometimes I waste it away with general home upkeep, but other times I’ve had soulful study sessions, or lively phone calls. It’s when I can blog or work on a difficult project. Knowing that I will have that time to attend to tasks has made it so much easier to be present during the 15-30 minutes of Scotter-led play earlier in the day.

I was feeling overburdened with Scotland’s requests for me to play with him. So I created a daily schedule. He now knows that there will be no playing until after he’s ready for the day, we’ve eaten breakfast and he’s done his chore. (It turns out that that chore buys me TONS of non-guilt refusals because it generally takes him a while and I can say, I can’t play with you until you’ve finished your chore.) It’s also been nice for me to say, sorry I can’t right now I have to do my chores- placing myself under the same obligation of duty as he has and freeing me to take care of the general home maintenance that stresses me out when it goes undone.  There is great power in “Rules.” Scotland is much more obedient when I say “Sorry that’s the rule.” Then “I don’t want you to do that.” I’ve also upped his social interactions considerably and that has helped fill his need for playmates, without that playmate always being me. Obvious, right. (Thank you Sarah.)

I’ve started to schedule in projects. Sunday nights I plan my week, and just knowing that after the kids go to bed I’m going to hem curtains helps me have the motivation and energy to do it, instead of wasting the evening away looking up random things on the internet. I’ve also let go of “is this worth my time.” If it’s something I keep thinking about, it’s worth it to me to attend to it. It’s amazing how good it feels to have finally checked off a few projects. I’m still working on hanging frames. I might have a complex.

I mentioned that I wasn’t using the Atonement. Well, I am now. I’ve started to call upon the Lord more, and it has changed me. The last three weeks I have felt so enamored with motherhood. I’ve regained my fascination with Scotland’s daily developments, with his silly fixations, and his deep questions. I’ve felt more of a desire to soak up Anders- to hold him longer, and sing to him more. The Lord has blessed me with a broader perspective of motherhood and I’ve been awed by the career I’ve chosen. (I’ve also decided to call myself a professional mother- but more on that later.)

I’ve stepped it up in my Young Women’s calling. Staying up later, brainstorming more. It’s brought a lot of fulfillment. I love my girls, I’m so excited for their futures. And I want so deeply to help them recognize and then desire to realize the potential within themselves.

I’ve scrapped the budget. :) It’s amazingly liberating. wink wink.




I love it when I swing through Goodwill quick and come out with just what I was looking for. Durable binders- brand new. Running shoes for Scotland. And tempura paint- well didn’t go in looking for that but. . .