Monday, August 21, 2017

Today the Frog Swallows the Sun


Today I am going to try to catch the solar eclipse. I was interested to read in a work email that for many Native Americans, an eclipse has sacred significance requiring them to observe the day by remaining indoors and refraining from their daily activities.

A co-worker confirmed, writing, "In my tribe they tell a story of how a Big Frog swallowed the Sun. It was an old man who discovered the Big Frog. He asked the people to come outside and make as much noise as possible, until the Sun returned. The women shook our turtle rattles and our men sang our songs on the water drum. Some shot arrows into the sky until the Big Frog spit out the Sun. Soon our Grandmother Sun returned to show the light and the way to the people. "

James Adair, in the History of the American Indians, notes: "The first lunar eclipse I saw after I lived with the Indians was among the Cherokee (in about 1736), and during the continuance of it their conduct appeared very surprising to one who had not seen the like before. They all ran wild, this way and that way, like lunatics, firing their guns, whooping and hallooing, beating of kettles, ringing horse bells, and making the most horrid noises that human beings possibly could. This was the effect of their natural philosophy and done to assist the suffering moon."

How grateful I am for such interesting cultures and stories. They make life all the more interesting! You can read about additional cultural interpretations of the eclipse here.
The path of the moon’s umbral shadow-in which the sun will be completely obscured by the moon-during the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017. The lunar shadow enters the United States near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins in Lincoln City, Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PDT. The total eclipse will end in Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 p.m.. EDT. Outside the path, a partial solar eclipse will be visible throughout the continental U.S. – Courtesy of NASA

Monday, August 14, 2017

Using a Soft Tone

Communication has three components: verbal, nonverbal, and nonlexical. This third component, nonlexical, consists of the vocal, but nonverbal, aspects of speaking, including intonation, pitch and speed of speaking, hesitation noises, etc.

One of the nonlexical areas I struggle with is using a soft tone of voice when I get irritated or upset. Using the right tone of voice is critical because many studies show it directly correlates with how interpersonal interactions turn out. One study has shown it takes five positive interactions to make up for one instance where a negative tone of voice was used. That's a hard ratio to keep up with if you struggle like me.

Researchers have also proven individuals tend to mimic back communication styles used. If I whisper to you, you are likely to whisper back. (Although you might ask, “Why are we whispering?”) And if I speak with a snark, my kids might get snarky back. So an adverse tone of voice may result in an escalation of nonconstructive conversation at home or elsewhere simply because of this mimic effect.

So what can you do to help ensure you use the right tone of voice? Here are three tips:

1. Be mindful.
Just being aware is half the battle. It’s when I am distracted and not thinking about what I am saying I end up using the wrong tone of voice and in trouble. I try to slow down and actively think about the purpose of my conversations and to remind myself of the need for positive outcomes. Relationships are always more important than resources or things, so keeping this in mind helps me to stay focused and use a positive tone.

2. Try whispering.
Because people often mimic back tone of voice, and because emotion is contagious, I have found speaking softly by literally whispering works well. Whispering is less reactive because it doesn’t usually carry a strong threat. And often it gets the other person to listen more closely. If you don't want to whisper, just lowering your volume to soft helps too.

3.  Take a time out.
For me, losing control of my tone of voice is a symptom that my emotions are running high. And it is generally not a good idea to communicate with others when emotions are out of control. To get myself some time to gain control I will tell the other person I need to think about things and ask if we can talk more about it later. Then I can come back later using a reasonable and assertive communication style.

Hopefully as we practice being mindful, and using other strategies to keep our tone soft we can have greater success in our families. May your positive communication build great relationships!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gospel Solutions for Families

I recently noticed a series of videos on the Mormon Channel on YouTube called Gospel Solutions for Families. The series addresses relationship, communication, and gospel living issues faced by families and tries to offer practical solutions from experienced professionals. Each episode is about 20-30 minutes in length. Here is one of their episodes about how maintaining the marriage relationship helps benefit parenting. I think this discussion would benefit so many families. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Isn't as Boring as You Think

August has always seemed kind of boring to me. It's incredibly hot, students have to head back to school, and there are no real holidays. Aside from the fun of back-to-school shopping (which is not all that fun with two high school girls who don't want their mom to accompany them anymore), August really lacks charisma.

In an effort to find something to look forward to I Googled holidays in August to see if there was anything I was overlooking. Here are three days in August you can have fun celebrating:

August 1: National Girlfriends Day
"National Girlfriends Day is recognized annually on August 1, as girlfriends get together around the United States and celebrate their special bond of friendship. Girlfriends can often be our sisters or mothers, classmates or co-workers."

I know it is past the first day of the month, but really any day is great for getting together with your favorite girlfriends. Celebrate belatedly just for fun!

August 6: International Friendship Day
"In 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations, and in April 2011 the UN officially recognized July 30th as International Friendship Day; however, most countries celebrate it on the first Sunday of August!

"According to the Friendship Day declaration, we are invited to “observe this day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities."

Friendship Day is a great opportunity to teach kids how to be a good friend, to get together with friends you haven't seen for a while, or to be try and make a new friend.

August 26: National Dog Day
National Dog Day, which was instituted in 2005, serves to raise awareness of the thousands of dogs that need to be rescued. It encourages appreciation for family dogs and working dogs, such as bomb dogs, service dogs, rescue dogs and law enforcement dogs. Dogs are owned by many families in the US, however many other dogs are homeless and or have been abandoned.

Although I don't have any pets (too many allergies in our family), dogs would be my favorite. Maybe I will take my parent's dogs for a walk this day, to go and visit the puppies at the pet store. 

In addition to these, August 31 is the birthday of a favorite friend. Happy early birthday Raylene Brunner Gull!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Favorite Authors: Agatha Christie

I don't recall how old I was when I first read a mystery by Agatha Christie. But I do remember going through a phase of checking each book out of the Mesa Public Library. It was summer and I would ride my bike twice a week the three miles to the library to get a new batch of books. I remember loving Christie's books because it was almost impossible to guess who was the murderer.

Agatha Christie is a British author born in Devon in 1890. Unusual for the time, Agatha was homeschooled by her father. She loved to read and had a vivid imagination. She started writing in her later teen years, first experimenting with short stories. In 1910 her family moved to Cairo to benefit her mother's health. Cairo became the setting of several of her books later in life.

In 1912 Agatha met Archie Christie, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. Their courtship progressed quickly, but was interrupted by WWI. They were not able to marry until Christmas Eve of 1914. Just three days later Archie had to return to the war. It was not until after the war ended their married life truly began.

Agatha began writing more in earnest at this time. Her sister, Madge, bet her she could not write a good detective story. Additionally, Agatha found her day job at a local hospital to be extremely boring. When the hospital opened a dispensary, she took the exam to become an apothecary and changed jobs. This knowledge of medicine and poisons became invaluable to her writing. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which uses her knowledge as an apothecary, took a while to get published, but resulted in a publisher asking for five more manuscripts. Agatha had won her bet with Madge.

Agatha is actually known for a real-life personal mystery. In December 1925, possibly concussed, she disappeared. Her car was found abandoned the next morning. She was eventually discovered in a hotel in London suffering from amnesia. She did not recognize her husband when he came to get her. Her marriage began to fail after this and she never spoke of this time to others. By 1928 she and Archie were divorced. About five years later she met and married Max Mallowan, an archaeologist and language specialist.

Christie's career as an author was most prolific during her later years. She is known for several famous detective characters, including Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Poirot is a Belgian retired detective who is known for his methodical, precise work, as well as his mustache. Miss Jane Marple is an elderly, charming British woman who blends into the background, but has intuitive listening and observation skills.

I don't own all that many Agatha Christie books, since I read most of them from the library. I did notice, however, that Project Gutenberg has two of Agatha Christie's books available as free ebook downloads. You can find them here. I downloaded The Mysterious Affair at Styles to re-read (I could not remember the plot having read it so long ago) and enjoyed once again Christie's writing ability. If you have not read any of Agatha Christie's works, this is a great place to start!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ask the Editor: Doozy

I had no idea doozy and daisy had a linked background. Love learning new things! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Six Fun Activities to Celebrate Pioneer Day

Not living in Utah makes celebrating Pioneer Day a lot more difficult. No parades really to attend (unless the ward opts to do one). No decorations about town. No fireworks shows. About the only thing that happens is mention of it at church. :-(

So what's a mom to do to celebrate Pioneer Day under these circumstances? Well, here are six easy activities to try:

1. Cook Dinner Over a Fire
This does not have to be super difficult--no Dutch ovens required! You have permission to go the hot-dog-on-a-stick route if you want. Or you could take it up a notch to Hobo dinners (tinfoil dinners). Here is a link to 21 tinfoil recipes you could try. To make it extra pioneer-like, have your children gather sticks and pine cones to use to help with the fire.

If you are brave, you might try to make some of these more authentic pioneer recipes. The buttermilk donuts sound yummy!

2. Play a pioneer game
Pulling sticks is probably the most famous Mormon pioneer game and can easily be played with a broom handle. Sit face to face and foot to foot with your opponent. One person's hands are on the outside of the other's. Both players pull as hard as they can. The stronger player will remain seated, while the weaker (losing) player gets pulled upward.

Additionally, this article in the 1989 July Friend Magazine describes some fun games pioneers played. One easy game (NO equipment required!) is Shadow Tag. It is played like regular tag, except instead of touching the other person to tag, the It Person only has to step on the shadow of one of the other players.

3. Go for a Hike
Crossing the plains was a lot like hiking. Add some cowboy hats, bandanas, or boots and it becomes even a little more authentic. While hiking, sing some songs about pioneers, or talk about how hard it would have been to be outdoors all day and to not have enough water or supplies. Of course, if you live anywhere near a pioneer trail, be sure to use it!

4. Read About Pioneer Ancestors
There is something about hearing true stories of real pioneers that helps to bring the whole purpose of Pioneer Day into perspective. The sacrifice and endurance the pioneers experienced can help us to have a higher level of appreciation. If you are not sure if any of your ancestors were pioneers, log onto this website on and it can help you search. In lieu of that, there are plenty of pioneer stories in the Church magazines and other books (I Walked to Zion is a favorite of mine).

5. Learn About Farm Animals
Pioneers relied heavily on animals to live and thrive. Oxen and horses helped to pull wagons across the plains, but other animals were essential to living on the frontier and to farm. If you live near a petting zoo, have a neighbor with farm animals, or can attend a local rodeo, take time to learn and appreciate this aspect of pioneer life.

Alternatively, you might choose to learn about animals pioneers would have seen while crossing the plains (i.e., bison, rattlesnakes, bear, prairie dogs, etc.).

6. Make a Pioneer Day Craft
This website has some darling craft ideas for Pioneer Day. There are ideas for a wide variety of age ranges and skill levels to consider. I think I will let my daughters each choose one to do this upcoming week!