Friday, September 18, 2015

Family History Party

One hundred and sixty five years ago my ancestor, James Finlayson, left his home in Scotland to travel to Utah to join with other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He left behind his parents and seven siblings who strongly disapproved of his decision.  

His journey was eventful.  He traveled by ship across the Atlantic during the stormy winter months.  He worked to earn the money for each leg of the trip so it took years.  He traveled by wagon into the Salt Lake Valley and eventually settled in Payson, Utah.

I think I heard him cheer when the Payson Temple was announced!  He loved Payson, he raised a large family there, served in the church, served his community on the School Board and as the Mayor and worked to make it a place that the gospel could flourish.  

My thoughts turned to him repeatedly as the Payson Temple was being built.  I was impressed, over and over, by the influence his choice to join the church has had on the thousands of members who are descended from him.  I decided to try to find as many of those living descendants as I could and organized a celebration of his life to correspond to the temple open house.  

We invited family members to join a Face Book group.  Family trees were searched, obituaries read, invitations sent out to anyone that might be related.  

And then we started planning the party.  Another descendant of James Finlayson finangled a very large number of tickets to the open house on the day of our celebration so that everyone who attended would also be able to go through the temple.  We wanted all of James Finlayson's descendants to understand more about his life by attending, including the children, so we made some fun displays. 

James Finlayson was a pioneer!
We had a backdrop and some pioneer clothes for pictures.
James Finlayson was a convert!
The story of his Atlantic voyage is shared on this board with a painting of the ship he traveled on.
The berth below is the actual size that they slept on in that rolling ship.
James Finlayson was a father!
We printed pictures from Family Search of his wives and children.
Of his seventeen children only ten lived long enough to have families of their own.
We gathered all of the pictures and documents we could find so people could learn more.
We made a map of the cemetery where he was buried so people could go and visit if they wanted to
after the temple tour.
A display shows where he traveled and highlights some of his pioneer journal entries.

Descendants of James Finlayson were invited to add their names to his family tree.
A story from his youth was shared.
To help everyone remember what they learned we put together some necklace kits
for the kids to make.  Each part of the necklace is a reminder of what James Finlayon
did and how his choices continue to ripple forward today.
We had people travel from at least four different states to be there for the celebration and the opportunity to see the inside of the Payson Temple!  Stories were told of his life.  Someone brought a tool that had been his that had been long handed down.  Someone remembered that their mother has one of his suits in a box in her closet.  Another "cousin" wore his Finlayson clan kilt.  Others read through his history and later drove to see if his house was still standing in Payson (we think it is!). People met, memories were made, ice cream was consumed, and the temple was visited by hundreds of James Finlayson's descendants.

It was a wonderful day! 

We all have stories to share from our family history, stories of heroes and scoundrels.  I hope that you will be encouraged to find a fun way to share your family history with the children in your life, that the stories will continue to be passed along, that the lessons they learned and the character they built can continue to bless your family today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hope Chests

All of us—women, men, youth, and children, 
single or married—
can work at being homemakers. 
- Sister Oscarson

I want my children to feel confident that they, through faith and hard work, can successfully create a home of their own someday.  To prepare them for that work we have helped them begin their own hope chests.  We are doing this for both our sons and daughters.  When we first started I found a valuable resource, a blog called Miss Abigail's Hope Chest.  The author of that blog wrote:
"The hope chest represents that deliberate choice to prepare, even ahead of time, a comforting home. It is a physical act that reflects a desire to provide for the future... Beyond the collection of recipes and cookware is the mastery of their use. Behind the careful embroidery on the pillowcases is the recognition that beauty adds cheer and satisfaction to our life. From the woven potholders and knitted dishcloths to the crocheted lace and patchwork quilts, a hope chest simply reveals hands that are trained to do things."
 What can you use as your hope chest? 

Although many hope chests have been kept in beautiful cedar chests our home does not have room for that many wooden boxes!  So, for now at least, most of our children are keeping their things in a sweater box under their beds or in a bottom drawer.  Don't be paralyzed by this step!  You can start by keeping things in a shoebox!

Antique White Distressed Handpainted Cedar Lined Hope Chest. Coffee Table.
Photo from Etsy
What will you put in your hope chest?

Remember that book that your child loved as a toddler and you read and reread until you had it memorized?  Wouldn't that be a fun thing for them to read to their own children?  Each Christmas we give our children a book for their own personal library.  We write their name and age in the front of the book and share with them our hope that they will enjoy it and take care of it so they will be able to share it with their own children.  A cookbook you use regularly, or that Christmas book you read every year would also be welcome additions.  By adding books we hope our children will bless their families by sharing books and their love of learning.

The Little Engine That Could was a gift from Grandpa Scott who loved it as a child.
My Father's Dragon is the first chapter book I have read to each of my children and a family favorite.

Kitchen Supplies
Try to find things that will not age.  Plastic bowls might be brittle and useless when they are finally put into use.  Consider giving a gift each Christmas or birthday that can go into their hope chest.  Two glass pie pans with recipes and the promise of making some pies together is a fun gift.  Bread pans, a rolling pin, wooden spoons, hot pads, washcloths and hand towels are all things that will be useful for many years.  By adding kitchen supplies we hope our children will recognize the value of shared meals and healthy foods that nourish good physical and mental health.

My nine year old daughter made these hot pads by sewing along the lines of a printed fabric.
It is a fun beginner sewing project. 

My grandma had a little pink tool set that she kept in a kitchen drawer, it had basic tools that she used regularly to fix little things around the house.  Every college student, missionary, and parent should have a set of basic tools and the skill to use them properly.  We want to encourage all our children to be able to keep their homes in good repair and to fix small problems before they become larger.

Baby Items
This is a fun category because things for babies are often small and quick to put together- teach your child to sew some bibs, some flannel blankets, embroider some onesies, knit some sweet baby hats, paint and sand up a small set of blocks or some train cars.  Help your child save some things from when they were a baby, a blessing dress or outfit, a small pair of shoes, a favorite blanket or toy. Having something set aside for a baby will increase their confidence in welcoming future children.

A blessing dress, shoes and bonnet.

Holiday Items
A shoe box with a birthday banner, some candles, balloons and some hand-crafted cards will allow your child to celebrate birthdays in the future with festivity and love.  A nativity your child can look forward to displaying in their future home, Christmas hot pads, or a beautiful platter or dish would all be festive and fun during the holidays in their future homes.  We want to equip our children to carry on meaningful and happy traditions.
This birthday banner was made of scraps and the kids look forward to seeing it
 hanging over the table when they wake up on their birthdays. 

Handmade Cards
Cards can be made for very little, and the sky is the limit for possibilities.  Encourage your child to develop the skill of writing a thoughtful thank you note, or birthday wishes to a loved one.  Keep a stack of cards in their hope chest and encourage them to use them regularly, even now.

We used up some cute paper scraps and practiced some sewing skills.
The cards are made with half a sheet of paper or card stock.

In our home when you can independently cook a dish you are encouraged to add the recipe to your personal recipe cards.  Help your child gather a collection of recipes from your home- include family favorites, recipes that have been handed down, and foods you serve regularly over the holidays.

We make nests every spring using a no-bake cookie recipe and jellybeans.

 I know some people hesitate to create a hope chest because they are concerned that by the time their child is an adult their tastes will be different and the things in their hope chest will be useless.  I think with careful planning that can be minimized, but it will still happen.  Some of the things your child tucks away might not ever be used.  But they are still useful.  First, because the items helped build confidence and hope for the future, and second, because they helped build the invisible hope chest.

What is the Invisible Hope Chest?

The invisible hope chest grows as the physical one does.  Those pot holders your child made out of mismatched colors that you know they won't use in twenty years?  The value is not in the pot holder, but in the skill your children carry within themselves.

We can start today to give our children an invisible hope chest full of skills they can use to bless their families.  Let us be deliberate in helping them build and plan and prepare for building a home that is warm and that welcomes the Spirit.  Start small, but start!  As you work towards, and talk about their future homes, the Spirit will encourage you and plant hope in their hearts for the future.

This boy raised the chickens that now provide our eggs each day.

As the author of Miss Abigail's Hope Chest concluded,
"We don’t always know what our future holds. But some kind of home will be part of it. You can make it what you want it to be; what you hope it will be. That is the purpose of a hope chest."
Stitched by Katy when she was ten.
Little kits like this are available at WalMart for $1.
They make a cute stocking stuffer.

These bloggers are determined to elevate the term of homemaker! Read their posts in this blogger round-up.
Lara @ Overstuffed Life | Heidi @ One Creative Mommy | Jessica @ Jessica Poe
Mandy @ A Bliss Complete | Jocelyn @ We Talk of Christ | Jen @ Moss Moments