Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seven Questions...Family Ties

My favorite subject is family and my favorite kinds of families are happy ones. What ARE the secrets of a happy home? In any profession there are tricks of the trade. Since I think being a mom is the most important job ever, I am always on the lookout for role models and mentors. Blogging has introduced me to some pretty amazing mothers and I love peeking into their windows and learning from what I see. Today's expert is Rachel. A down-to-earth mom who seems to know the secrets to raising good kids and supporting a busy husband.

Here are a few of her professional secrets...

#1--Will you tell us a little about you and your family? What are your top
five secrets for a happy home?
Our family’s story began 14 years ago when Rob and I were married in the San Diego Temple. We have been lucky enough to have three great children. R.J. just turned 12 and is in 6th grade. He loves to read but his life is centered around sports. Madison is 10 and in 5th grade. She was just elected Student Body President of her school. She is our shy, serene girl but can tackle any challenge. Payton is 6 but, thinks she’s 13. She is in first grade. Payton is our little entertainer and knows how to work a crowd. Rob is an accountant and I have just started working at the kid’s school two days a week since they all attend school full time.

The secret to a happy home is, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Just kidding, I read that on a plaque when I went to my husband’s house for the first time to meet his parents. After reading that, I knew I’d fit into the family just fine!

Our top 5 secrets to a happy home are simple and basic and work for us...
1-Always Put Family First, Our family motto is “Family First”. We adopted this motto when the R.J. and Maddie were very young. . R.J. and Madison are only 18 months apart in age and a year apart in school. R.J. has taken the role of big brother very seriously. He is always looking out for and protecting his sisters at school and activities. And Madison does the same for
Payton. We always try to remind our kids about how fortunate they are to have siblings. Friendship is important, but comes second to family.
2-Break Bread Together Around the dinner table is where the family connection happens. One thing we do are “Highs & Lows”, each family member has a turn sharing their High Point and Low Point of the day. This usually gets the conversation and laughter rolling freely and naturally without trying to pull information from the kids.
3-Build & Honor Traditions I am a big fan of traditions. Traditions promote a sense of belonging. The kids have something to look forward to which gives them a sense of assurance in a busy, always changing world. The tiniest things can become traditions, like the way you wake up or say goodnight to your children. We have a lot of family traditions for holidays, birthdays and even for General Conference time. Some traditions are based on God's commandments, such as having family prayer and reading the scriptures every morning.

4-Love & Support Your Spouse Parents need to show their kids they love each other and they need to hear you say it too. As parents we set a real example of love for our children to follow. Parents also need to stand as a united front for our children. When making any decisions, do it together. Kidsare often guilty of pitting their parents against each other when they want
their way. We caught on to this real quick when one of my kids got an answer that they didn’t like and would go to dad for a different one. We then made a point to be on the same page for “Parenting” the kids.
5-Enjoy Each Other Just spend time having fun and laughing together brings our family closer together. Our family is big on games; we love Dominos, Phase 10, Uno, Guitar Hero and puzzles. We also try and have “Date Nights” with the kids. They love spending one on one time with us. It makes them feel special and help create strong bonds.

#2--I know your husband is volunteering as a Bishop for your church congregation. For anyone who doesn't know, tell us what a Bishop does. How much time is involved? How does it affect your daily life?

Our Church leadership and organizations are made up of lay members of the Church. There is no paid clergy. The Bishop is the local leader of a congregation called a ward. There are many administrative functions that a Bishop oversees including the organization of each congregation. Our Church also supports the Bishops as they counsel with members on spiritual and temporal matters.
Our Church meetings are three hours on Sunday. The Bishop is also involved in other meetings with auxiliaries before and after Church. He is involved with Sunday meetings on average about 7-8 hours. He also meets with members during the week in the evenings. Other time commitments include visiting individuals who may not regularly attend church, visiting sick or elderly, Scout campouts and other activities with the youth.
Fortunately most of the leaders of the other organizations use e-mail, text messaging and cell phones, so much of the administrative functions can be handled during the week without adding more meetings. Our daily life is busy, but Rob being Bishop doesn’t add too much to that. We are lucky that he is able to work a lot at home for his job. He helps me with the morning routine with the kids, he helps with car pools, he coaches R.J.’s baseball team and often cooks dinner. We are even able to sneak away a few times a week to have lunch together.

#3--What is the biggest challenge with this assignment? What is the best thing about it? How do you support him in serving others and still keep your own family a top priority?

The biggest challenge I think with this assignment is not being able to talk about things that I know are bothering him. Hearing and trying to help those members of the ward with challenges physically take a toll on him. But, I am so proud of him for keeping confidences. I know now when not to ask questions. That is one of the best ways I can support him in this calling, by not probing or trying to find out stuff about confidential matters. This has been really hard on us because we do talk about everything. The best thing about him being the bishop is seeing the love and admiration on the faces of the little children. They love to come visit him in his office (or it could be the candy jar he keeps on his desk.) It’s also nice when the Activity Day Girls “Heart Attack” us and bring him cookies in appreciation of his service. The whole family benefits from that! Our family has been blessed. We continue to see Heavenly Father’s tender mercies confirming to us we are being cared for.

Learning to keep the family a top priority has been easier than I thought. When Rob was called to be Bishop our Stake President gave us some words of advice: “Your family’s needs come first!” He said, “If your child has a game or recital on the same night as a meeting, you choose to go to their event. Just delegate things to others when you need help.” Those words helped a lot to balance home and church without feeling guilty. The Stake President also told us to not put undue pressure on our kids. He told us that our kids should make their decisions based on their knowledge of what is right or wrong not because they are the children of the Bishop.

#4--How do the two of you work to keep your marriage strong? Tell us some
of the fun things you have done together.

Keeping our marriage strong IS hard work, but definitely worth it! For starters, we go on a date every weekend without fail. The activity itself is not important, just getting time for the two of us. It’s during these times when we are laughing together that we remember why we married each other. Another way we keep our marriage going strong is Romance and Intimacy. Little things like holding hands and other small displays of affection make me feel loved and wanted. Rob is full of compliments and never leaves the house without giving me a kiss goodbye (even when I am asleep!)

Communication is another key to our marriage. I am lucky, Rob is a talker! Sometimes I have to remember that he is not a mind reader, I have to let him know what I am thinking and what I want,too. Rob and I have the most fun together when we travel. We love to sneak away just the two of us for trips. He has even surprised me with a Hot Air Balloon ride in Napa and Bungee Jumping. It’s during these times we concentrate only on us!

#5--What are you doing to help your kids "fit in" with their peers without lowering their standards? How do you help them have good, CLEAN fun?
I asked my kids this question, and they said, "You always tell us, 'Be a leader, not a follower!' 'Make being “good”, the cool thing to do.' "And, of course, we encourage and nurture the relationships they have with good friends. It’s so important for our kids to create strong bonds with kids who share their beliefs and values. My kids are just coming to the age where peers' opinions matter. And having good, clean fun is harder to do in today’s world. R.J., for example, wants to meet with friends to go to the movies. We are both not ready for him to be on his own so we will go to the movies with him. We will sit far away from him so not to embarrass him or we will go to a different movie in the same theater. We had to come up with compromises that make us both happy. But, still let the kids have their space to be themselves.

#6--How do you try to make your home the "hangout" place? What do you do to create an environment that welcomes your kids and their friends?“IF you feed them, they will come”. I heard that once at a Women’s Conference. Boys like to eat and have big appetites; I believe that if you have a stocked pantry with the best snacks in the neighborhood your house will be the “Hangout”! We are just starting this phase. I still have control of where my kids go play. If my kids want to play with their friends, they come here. I feel safer with the kids being on
home turf. I still can keep an eye on them, see what video games they are playing, what music they are listening to, what they are watching on T.V.

One fun thing we have done in the past for the kids and their friends was have an outdoor movie night. We set up a big screen and put out lawn chairs and blankets, had popcorn and snacks and watched a “clean” family movie under the stars. They loved that and we were able to be right there with them.

#7--Who are the families you admire most? What have you learned from them?
I would have to say that I admire my own mom and dad most. They raised 7 kids and had fun doing it! I know they had their trials with each one of us but they stuck together and did what they thought was best. I never ever doubted they loved us. My mom and dad taught me how to have a great marriage through their example. I don’t think I have ever heard my parents call each other by their first names; they only refer to one another as “Dear”.
I learned my love of traditions from them too. I try hard to carry those traditions on and I hope that one day my children will too. All of what they taught me, I am trying to teaching my children.

Thanks, you've taught me, too!

To meet Rachel and her family, check out their Everyday Happenings. Not only are they extremely attractive people, they just have a whole lotta fun together!


Annie said...

Love this. Cheers to Rachel (and you, Gabi) for being inspiring moms.

diane said...

They are such a cute family. I agree with a fully stocked pantry. It keeps the kids coming back for more.

Hazen5 said...

Oh Gabi, like always you did a great job! I just have to clear up one thing, "I am no EXPERT!" I am still learning so much and hope to lean more from good friends who have been through the TEEN Years. Thanks for interviewing me, it made me think about a lot of things I need to change or start doing!

You are and will always be the "Barbara Walters" of the Blog World!

queenieweenie said...

I know from first-hand experience what an amazing family they are!

I firmly believe that one of the reasons Rob was called to serve as Bishop is because he and Rachel are such a wonderful example of a good, strong marriage. My favorite is when they get into their little "contests" to see which one can make the other laugh the hardest. Too fun.

Love you guys!

Travelin'Oma said...

It is so fun to read about happy families. We need to know their secrets. Thanks for another great interview, Gabi, and great insights, Rachel.

Grampi and Grandma said...

Gabi, thanks for interviewing our daughter Rachel. She truly is a wonderful daughter, wife, and mother. There are many things that we can all learn from her.
Proud parents!

Grampi and Grandma said...

Gabi, thanks for interviewing our daughter Rachel. She truly is a wonderful daughter, wife, and mother. There are many things that we can all learn from her.
Proud parents!

Jenibelle said...

Yeah, it sucks to be so close to practically perfect people! But despite my jealousy, I love Rob and Rachel and those beautiful children of theirs. And, I can tell you that their love isn't just for each other, it's for their extended family and friends.

Michele said...

You should make Rachel a regular correspondent on your blog Gabi. She has such great ideas and she and her family are a wonderful example to everyone. Plus, she is so much fun!
I should know, I grew up with her.

Robin said...

such great advice! Rachel is wonderful and such a darling family.

Rochelleht said...

OH, those are SUCH great ideas! Thanks for that post. Now that Greg's in the bishopric, we've run up against a lot of those same issues, so it's nice to get some good ideas on how to deal with them. I love the ideas in how to help kids transition into this next stage of life. That's where we are, too and my husband and I were just having the discussion the other night on how to be the home everyone comes to.

Great interview, Gabi and Rachel!!

Annemarie said...

Great interview. Rachel is amazing!

Ilene said...

Ah, Rachel you are inspiring. Seriously.

Now I need to go play a game with my kids and make out with my husband.

wenderful said...

I'm headed out to Costco right now to stock up. You can never have too many Otter Pops, right?
Great interview!

the wrath of khandrea said...

rachel is one in a million. she motivates me to do better. like right now i'm annoyed with my husband, but maybe i'll get up off the computer and go smooth things over, because that's what rachel would do.

i said maybe.

martha corinna said...

Rachel is so beautiful, friendly, and wise. I want to grow up to be a mother and wife like her someday.

♥Shally said...

Great interview Gabi! I love Rachel.

She gave a lot of great advice

Kimberly said...

Love this. All things I need to be better at. Thanks, Gab and Rachel!

grammy said...

The first time I met Rachel I also knew she was the perfect match for our son Rob. It was easy to pass him off from our arms to hers. Together they have made a wonderful family. They set a good example for us. We feel very blessed.

Lauren in GA said...

Gabi, I know I always say this but this was another great interview. I LOVE the questions you ask.

Rachel is an amazing person. I loved reading this. I am going to institute the, "Highs and Lows" game at dinner. I also love how she pointed out that traditions, "promote a sense of belonging."

It was great to hear about her life as a Bishop's wife, too. I love the advice she was given and shared that her children should make choices based on their, "knowledge of right and wrong not because they are the children of the bishop."

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