Monday, August 31, 2015

Back to School Lesson No. 2: Body Language Basics for Kids With Learning Disabilities: Personal Space

I vividly recall one 7th period when I was teaching high school.
My students had all been identified as having special learning needs of one kind or another. And while a few of them were very popular and at ease in social situations, many had special needs extendeding far beyond the academic. Social skills like, "reading people," were often poor for these kids.

Well, on that particular day, two of my senior boys got into a huge fist fight over a 25 cent pencil.
Now, both of these young men were very intelligent. Both knew that this wasn't an issue worth violence and/or unpleasant consequences.  And both had other pencils.
(Also, both were teenaged athletes over 6 feet tall who could have flattened me if they'd chosen to. I'm grateful they didn't.)

However, one of the boys had a history of misunderstanding the importance of "Personal Space" and by extension, personal property.
"It's just a freakin pencil!" he yelled. (Not the actual adjective he used.)
But the other kid had had enough.
It wasn't about the pencil.

It was about personal space, which extends to property, which extends to intangibles like one's usual desk in the classroom or spot in the parking lot.
When people "get in your space" without being invited it can be annoying.
If it happens over and over again it can feel like a violation.

In addition, people who don't understand this concept often aren't well liked.
This simple little issue can cause negative feelings in the family, at school and on the job.

Unfortunately kids with dyslexia or other learning challenges often have trouble with the "personal space" thing.
They stand too close, speak too loud, touch or borrow people's stuff when touching or borrowing isn't welcome.
They don't think it's a big deal.
Well, it turns out that it is a big deal.  Sometimes a really big deal.

Once again, direct instruction helps.
Come to think of it, we had some direct instruction on this subject in the class I mentioned the very next day.

First, read this post to a "space challenged" dyslexic you love.  Discuss it.  Then proceed to the activities.

DEFINING  "PERSONAL SPACE"
---Working with a family member, stand facing each other but separated by 6 feet.
Move closer and closer until one says stop. That distance is the "comfort" space needed by that person. Notice the distance.
Now, do this again to find what's comfortable for the other person.  Repeat with several family members.
Notice that not all people are okay with the same space.
Notice that some people need lots more space than others.
Learn how big your own space is.
Remember that others may need a bigger space than yours to be comfortable.

VOLUME
---Stand facing someone at their "comfort space."
One person recites "Mary Had a Little Lamb" varying the volume.
Listener provides feedback on volume.
Repeat with others.

PERSONAL PROPERTY
Personal possessions, even insignificant ones like a pencil, become part of people's personal space. It has nothing to do with monetary value. Touching someone's property can make them feel uncomfortable.

---ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION BEFORE TOUCHING SOMEONE'S PROPERTY. EVEN INSIGNIFICANT ITEMS LIKE A PENCIL.
A simple, "Can I use your eraser a minute?" is all that's needed.

---TREAT ALL PERSONAL SPACE WITH RESPECT.  ASK PERMISSION TO ENTER OR USE.
A polite, "May I come into your room?" can ease the tension between you and a sibling. "Is this your usual seat? can help to begin a friendship.

---REGARDING POSSESIONS: USE THESE PHYSICAL TECHNIQUES
While saying to your friend or brother, "Wow, that's a great new backpack,"  CLASP YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK AS YOU LOOK.
If you want to examine it, ASK BEFORE touching it.  "Can I see the inside? I'm looking for a red one with a zippered pocket."
WAIT WITH HANDS BEHIND BACK until they hand it to you.

---When looking at someone's large possessions, like a car, LEAN OR STEP BACK.
Do one of these; hold your hands behind you, cross your arms or clasp your hands in front of you.

---WHEN VISITING SOMEONE'S HOME OR ROOM BE CAREFUL OF EVERYTHING THERE.
Be mindful of furniture. Never sit on low tables, arms or backs of sofas etc. Never engage in horseplay or rowdy behavior unless you're sure it's okay.
At first, behave as if you would when you walk into church. Ask before touching anything.

Now practice "asking before touching" with several items in your own home.
Practice entering a sibling's room with permission.
Practice the "lean back, hands clasped" car looking thing.
Pretend you are entering someone else's home. Practice how you would behave respectfully. This kind of behavior may be new to you, so...
PRACTICE. PRACTICE, PRACTICE.


These suggestions may seem excessively fussy to you. But remember that everyone's personal space is different. You may not care if people handle your stuff. But others do. And some care a lot.

Remember that this excessive fussiness may keep you from offending people.
People like your boss who has the power to fire you.
Or your girlfriend's mom, who has other powers.  Like making you get your girlfriend home by 9:00 because you were a jerk when you visited their home for the first time. (This happened to one of my students)

It's worth it.
Trust me.





Thursday, August 27, 2015

Powerful Images

*A summer re-write.


I’m old enough to remember my family’s first television set.
My childhood family that is. I was about 6 years old when Dad bought our first TV. Before that, like everybody else, we had only radio. This was, of course, back in the day. Way back.

We were one of the first families on our block to have a TV.
I remember the excitement of my little brothers and our young friends as we all waited outside our house, sitting on the grass on the front lawn. We watched carefully for my dad’s blue Ford to turn the corner onto our street.
Finally we spotted him. He had a huge box containing the console TV crammed into the trunk. It was tied down with ropes to secure it.
Neighbors came to help install the antenna and then carry our prize into the family room where it took the place of honor right up front next to the fireplace.
My mom placed her loveliest lace doily and plant on top of the dark mahogany box with the green screen. Dad turned the set on, and our lives were changed forever.

Then, of course, as everyone’s house began to have a place of honor for the big box with the green screen, all of our lives were changed forever.

Television, movies, videos, DVD’s, record and replay. What mixed thoughts come to mind when I consider the part they now play in our lives.
I’ve seen the surface of the moon thanks to TV. From my own home I've been to the Antarctic and the Amazon, seen the inner workings of a beating heart, and observed life at the bottom of the oceans. I've met presidents and prophets, heard symphonies and hoedowns, climbed to the top of Mount Everest and hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. All vicariously of course.
I've even heard the Savior's apostles teach eternal truths. Live, in real time, during Conference. When in actuality they stood in the Tabernacle hundreds of miles away.
All these things were good…. some were incredible…. some were eternally important, and they enriched my life.
On the other hand, even though I try not to watch an excessive amount of TV, I’ve wasted more hours than I’d care to count on senseless, mindless, sometimes even soulless drivel.
TV sitcoms, game shows, reruns of reruns, commercials, questionable comedy, and late night talk shows have been a part of my life. And even violence, cruelty, and immorality disguised as funny, modern, and desirable.
I’m ashamed to say I’ve seen them all.
I think I may have to account for the time I spent watching this kind of thing someday, and I’m not looking forward to having to explain it, I can tell you.

This is one of the great moral challenges of the last days I think…. choosing carefully how we spend our time. In days long gone there wasn’t much choice, people spent their time surviving.

One thing may help us and that’s to understand the great power of visual media.

I remember clearly a Saturday when I was a 12 year old girl, going to the movies with my best friend on a sunny afternoon.
Back then we took the bus downtown to the big ornate theater with floating clouds on the ceiling and red velvet curtains that folded up over the screen just as the movie started.
There were only three theaters in town back then. Neighborhood multi-plexes wouldn't come along for years.
On this Saturday the place was filled with kids our age. It was a double feature. Two movies for the price of one. Both were scary, horror type movies, not ones my best friend and I usually would choose. But all our school classmates were there.
By today’s standards both of these films could be shown, uncut, on the Saturday morning cartoon shows. Both would probably be rated PG.
One was called “Black Sunday," I think, and was set in medieval times. Its opening credits featured an execution. An iron mask with spikes on the inside was hammered into a man’s face, killing him instantly. I don't remember anything else about that film.
The other film was called something like, “The Man Who Couldn’t Die.” The star was a character who was unable to experience any disease or injury throughout his entire life, due to some magic spell cast on him.
The last scenes show the spell breaking and the pains of a lifetime happening all at once as he ascended a staircase in a vain attempt to run away.

Well, it’s been well over 50 years since I saw those images.
They have no use or value to me whatsoever.
In fact, I would give a great deal of money if I could get them out of my head right now.
Yet, despite my heartfelt wishes, I have those pictures in my brain….. taking up space……disturbing, useless, unimportant, very powerful….waiting to steal my peace of mind at the most inopportune times and places.
For all those years.
Nothing I can do will erase them.
I put them inside my brain when I was a young girl and here they are in the head of an old lady.
Very powerful…. the visual media.

We’d be wise to choose carefully.





Monday, August 24, 2015

All Grown Up


*** Today is our only son's birthday.
       I send this old post out in his honor.

My husband and I have four children….all of them grown.
Each now has a full life entirely separate from us, with college degrees, businesses, careers, homes and families of their own to tend.
Life has changed dramatically for Larry and I since our nest emptied. And when you've invested so many years in raising kids that can be a bit unsettling. At times I’ve been known to look wistfully around our now quiet home and get a little melancholy.
But then, every now and again, almost with uncanny timing the phone rings and I suddenly feel much better.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sitting in the special ed resource room at my desk during my afternoon prep period I begin working on the endless pile of paperwork that is the worst part of the job that I love.
In the same room at their desks are two of my colleagues doing the same. We’re mostly quiet, trying to get as much work crammed into 50 minutes as is humanly possible. That bell will ring soon and kids will pour in to end our misery, but before that happens the phone on my desk rings. I pick up and listen carefully for a few seconds, then prop the receiver between ear and shoulder and go back to typing while listening a lot less carefully. After a minute I say with detached menace, “Let me talk to your sister.” ( Pause to get sister ) “You are not going to wear that sweater. Give it back to her this minute or there will be trouble. I mean it.” (Another pause while phone goes back to original sister) In same stern tone, “No you may not punch your sister in her eye.” I hang up and go back to work.

The three of us continue typing quietly for a few minutes and then Bill, my esteemed colleague, says…

“Kathy, I know you have four kids…I was just wondering……how old are they now?”

“Oh, you mean the ones that just called….well, let me think..…they don't live with us anymore.....they're both teachers now......I stopped to tally up the years….. 24 and 28,” I reply.

I look over at him as his head drops into his hands. He’s a single dad raising 3 young daughters of his own.

He mutters softly, “Heaven help me…it’s never going to end, is it?”

“Doesn’t look like it so far,” I say as the bell rings.


++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Another phone rings on a quiet Saturday at our home in the mountains. It’s our oldest daughter who lives in the city 100 or so miles away. She currently has a husband and 5 and a half children.

“Ma” she says “I cut my finger.”

“Is it bad?” I ask.

“It’s pretty bad,” she says.

“Does it need stitches? I ask.

“Maybe.”

“Well, you better go to urgent care and see if it needs stitches.” I reply.

“Urgent care costs 40 dollars.” she says.

“Well, it IS your finger.” I explain.

“It might just need a butterfly bandage,” she says.

“Is Scott there?” I ask. Scott is her husband.

“Yes.”

“Have him look at it.”

She calls for Scott. Scott comes to look.

“What does he say?” I ask.

“He says it’s pretty bad.”

“Does he think it needs stiches?”

“He says maybe.”

“Well, you better go to urgent care then. If you need to borrow 40 dollars we can arrange that.”

“Don’t be silly,” she replies in an irritated tone.

“Alright then, let us know what happens at urgent care.”

“Okay,” she says. “I’ll call in the morning.”

She doesn’t call in the morning so I do.

“How many stitches,” I ask.

“None,” she says. “I didn’t go to urgent care. It costs 40 dollars.  I just put a bandage.”


+++++++++++++++++++++++++


Again the phone rings. It's a weekday afternoon. I answer and it’s our son.

“Mom…. Jacob and I are sick and Lisa won’t take care of us.”

(Lisa is his wife. Jacob is their son.) He sounds near death so I ask what’s wrong with them.
He says they both have head colds and can’t breathe and are coughing too. He thinks he has a fever but is too weak to get the thermometer.
“I told Jacob," he whines, "that if MY mom were here she’d make chicken soup and bring us grape Hi C with 7up in it.  Lisa won’t take care of us. Will you talk to her?”

“Let me speak to Lisa,” I say sternly.

“Lisa,” he bellows, “my mom wants to talk to you.”

Lisa takes the phone.

She says, “Kathy, they’re driving me crazy. We’ve all had colds this week and I have a huge Mutual meeting tonight. I’ve given them Gatorade and chicken noodle soup but Dane says it has to be Hi C with 7up and the soup isn’t homemade. I don’t have time to make soup or to go to the store for Hi C.”

I realize that this is a tricky situation and I want to be diplomatic and sensitive. So I reply in my most earnest mother-in-law tone of voice.

“Lisa, dear, its important for you to understand something really basic about this situation. You’re Dane's wife and priorities are at stake here. Eternal priorities. So please listen carefully to this counsel.
You must always remember, that no matter what happens…..this is critical now…. that you CAN’T GIVE HIM BACK!  You married him for all time and so I’m afraid you’re stuck.

And please tell Jacob that if his dad’s mom really were there she would tell the both of them to man up, get their own drinks and soup, and stop bothering you.
Goodbye dear and good luck.”
 
 Yes, sometimes a phone call is all that you need to bring comfort for a melancholy mood.







Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to School Lesson No. 1: Body Language Basics For Kids With Learning Disabilities: Greeting People


School's starting soon!
Opportunity awaits. All kinds of it.
For one thing, this is a great time for parents to work with their special needs kids in areas where they could use a bit of a boost. Or for a big brother or sister to make a real difference in the life of that pesky someone they have as their own for eternity.
If you love a kid with learning difficulties try these simple but potentially life-changing activities. It could mean better personal relationships for them and the prospect of increased success in school.
How can you pass up an opportunity like that?

Somebody once wrote a book about how difficult it is to become friends with someone who has a learning disability such as dyslexia. I wish I could remember the title and author so I could give credit where it's due.
I do remember the point though.
The idea was that kids with dyslexia often have trouble reading more than just the written word. Reading people is often just as difficult for them.

We know that messages sent by facial expression, tone of voice, and body language are often more important than the words people say.  And that's where the "reading" difficulty starts for these kids. They often miss the point here. And it can cause huge problems.
Making friends being one. Making enemies instead being another.
I found this to be true with many of my special ed high school students.

Think about how detrimental it would be to your social life if you couldn't tell if someone was bored, telling a lie, nervous, nauseous, in love or in a hurry, by understanding the messages sent in their faces or body language.
Imagine the mistaken everyday communications if you didn't account for sarcasm or joking in people's tone of voice.
What if you took every word literally?
When a parent, boss, brother, or girlfriend says, "Thanks a lot," "Sure, I believe you," or "No, why should I be upset with you!" it can mean very different things, depending on tone of voice or facial expression, can't it?
What if you didn't get that?
What if YOU sent out body language that was rude, stand-off-ish, or unfriendly when you actually meant just the opposite?
What if this happened with every person you interacted with throughout the day? Throughout the week? Lifetime?
How would that affect your personal or professional relationships?

There is hope though. Just as there is in most things.
Education helps. Just as it does in most things.

Direct instruction works here because these kids aren't stupid. In fact many of them are brilliant. They know something's wrong and they would fix it if they knew what or how.
So here's the first in a series of "Basic Communication Skills for Kids With Learning Disabilities."
I'll keep each lesson short. Dyslexics don't like to read anything too long.

GREETING PEOPLE

As you go about your day keep your head up and a pleasant but non-smiling expression on your face.
When you encounter someone do the following:

Look at the person. Do not smile yet.
As you walk along, look directly at the bridge of their nose, between both eyes. (Looking directly into their eyes may be too intense for some people.)
WAIT,  just a half second.
Now SMILE and say "Hey, (Name of person)," as you walk along.

Practice this carefully with members of your family until it becomes easy to do.

---Head up, pleasant expression, no smile. Someone comes along.
---Look between their eyes as you walk.
---WAIT.
---SMILE.
--- Say,  "Hey, (Name of person)."
---Keep walking.

The short wait to smile after looking is important.
If you go around smiling all the time you may look weird.
Smiling AFTER you see someone seems like you were especially happy to see them.
Have a friend practice this smile procedure on you and you'll see what a difference that little wait makes.

Do this with everybody you meet until it becomes automatic.

This will take PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
But it can change your life. I promise.

Next time: Personal Space














Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Swamp’s Full of Gators



*Someone asked me about this the other day. Here's "The Swamp."

***********

Part of the difficulty with our modern lives has to do with alligators.

I was reminded of this once when our oldest daughter called from her home in Seattle to tell me what a frustrating day she’d had with her oldest daughter, then around "terrible two" years old.

“Ma,” she whined, "This morning I had six bags of groceries hanging from both arms, about to drop them while trying to get into the car. I was wrestling them, the baby, and Kenzie at the same time. Kenzie’s shoe came off and she had a screaming fit when I stopped to put it back on her foot. She wanted to do it herself! She wants to do everything herself but she’s too little! She sat down right in the middle of the parking lot and wouldn’t let me help. Finally I had to pick her up and haul her off to her car seat while she was kicking and screaming like she was being kidnapped. The ruckus started the baby crying and then screaming. People all around me stopped to stare as if they were trying to decide if I was a kidnapper or just an incompetent mother. One lady looked like she was ready to call the cops!
I finally got everything loaded and sped off like we were in a getaway car.
I can’t stand days like this!” she wailed.

I thought about this for a minute and then told her I knew what her problem was.

“What's my problem, Ma?" she asked wearily.

“Alligators," I replied.

“Alligators?" she asked. "Ma, what are you talking about?”

“Well," I replied calmly. "You’re trying to drain the swamp and alligators are snapping all around you. Oh and by the way, your alligators’ names have changed.”

“Alligators? Ma, are you crazy?" she said.

“Not yet," I went on. "Let me explain."
"It’s the old........ You’re having trouble remembering that the main objective was to drain the swamp when you’re up to your knees in alligators thing. Because you have those pesky alligators snapping all around you it makes it harder to think.”

“Ma," Kim said, "Are you crazy?”

“Not yet. Let me explain," I replied calmly.
"What you do everyday is of great importance. You’re trying to build an eternal family and help them and yourself get back to Heavenly Father and the Celestial Kingdom. That’s a big, important job with lots of endless hard work. Screaming kids who sit down in parking lots while you struggle with groceries and a new baby make you forget what you’re really doing. Those are alligators.
Cranky husbands, messy houses, too little money, too much to do…..all alligators.
You spend so much time fighting off gators each day that it’s hard to remember why you got in the swamp in the first place.
Well, you got in there for the most important reason there is. It helps a lot if you remember.
For example, you’re not being patient with an hysterical two year old……..you’re nurturing a child of God and building an eternal family.
Your husband has gators too, you know. Tell him he’s not dealing with an overtime work week, frustrating co-workers, mindless paperwork, and rush hour traffic. No, he’s providing for an eternal family’s temporal needs. Tell him you appreciate that. Everybody has to deal with their own gators no matter who they are or what their situation in life. See?"

“I guess, Kim sighed. "But Ma, I can hardly wait for the day when I get this swamp all cleared out. What a relief that’ll be!”

“Kim, I have bad news for you," I explained patiently. "You never will. The alligators names just change.
Everybody’s swamp is crawling with gators and there's a new fight every day.”

“What? she cried. "Are you crazy, Ma?”

“Not yet.  Let me explain,” I calmly responded.
“Do you remember when you used to call your father and me every week from Seattle to cry about how you were getting old and had no husband and your biological clock was ticking and you still had no kids. Woe is me…..boo hoo boo hoo?
(When your father came home from work he used to ask if “Whining in Seattle” had called today). Remember that?
Well, those were alligators in your swamp.  Different names….same alligators. Now instead of “29 and no kids” your gators are named “two kids in two years.” Instead of “No husband,” the gator’s now called “Husband-always-leaves-a-mess-in-the-bathroom.”
I, myself, have had many a fight with gators of my own, I can tell you.  In fact I used to have some of the same ones you’re dealing with. Now my alligators’ names have changed to “Bad Back,” “Wrinkles and Sags,” and “Too-Little-Time-Left-to-Get-Perfect-Here.” See how it works?”

“Oh no, I think I’m starting to understand you,” Kim replied in a dejected tone.

“Good. And don’t forget that it’s got a lot to do with farming too,” I reminded.

“Farming? Ma, what are you talking about?” Kim asked.

“Plowing straight rows, of course.” I explained.

“Ma, are you crazy?”

“Not yet.  Let me explain.
Some General Authority once told a story I’ll never forget. He said that in the old days before GPS tractors and such when a farmer wanted to plow straight furrows in his fields at planting time he’d always be sure to pick a spot far across the field, clear on the other side, like a tree or a big rock. Then he'd look right at it and head his plow straight for it. If he didn’t take his eyes off the spot…didn’t look around at the ground or rows in front or next to him…just kept heading right to that exact spot….the furrows would be straight as an arrow. If he got distracted, looked down and tried to plow straight by what was happening all around him, the rows would be all curvy and crooked. Good story. Head straight for the mark. Don’t get distracted by all the stuff happening right around you. Keep your eye on the Celestial Kingdom up ahead and just plow straight toward it. Work steadily, every day, line upon line, precept upon precept, every chance you get.
Or something like that.”

“Right. I see it now,” Kim remarked ever more wearily.

“If you remember that it’s all about alligators and plowing straight rows you’ll be alright.” I reminded.
“Then, of course, you can’t forget to hold the doors. Holding doors is a very important part of it too.”

“Doors, Ma?” Kim said in the strangest tone.

“Yes," I went on, "A wife of one of the prophets... I think it might have been Sister Hinckley.... or maybe it was sombody else....once said an important thing. She said,“Hold the door for everyone you meet. All carry a heavy load whether you can see it or not."
She knew that we’re all fighting off alligators while trying to plow a straight row and that we should try to help each other out when we can. A very wise woman that Sister Hinckley.  She was somebody’s mother.
People should always listen to their mothers, you know.”

“Ma," Kim said. "You really are crazy.”

“Not yet.” I told her.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Glue Called "Good Times"


Some years back the Prophet and the apostles issued the Family Proclamation.
It's an inspired document filled with eternal truths about many things. But in the end it's really about what most of the rest of the gospel is about.
How to live a happy life.

I have a copy framed on the wall of my living room.
The entire document is full of inspiration, but one of the things I love most about "The Proclamation" is that it makes official something I've always believed.
For, lo and behold, it turns out that "Have a good time!" is now an eternal principle that's printed right there in black and white!
You see, if you hearken, you'll find the words "wholesome recreational activities" right there in the same sentence as faith, prayer, forgiveness and love.

So, I pondered, and I figured out what this means. It might mean that having fun together as a family is really important.
And Heavenly Father wanted us to remember it so much that he inspired his Prophet and apostles to remind us.
Yes, good times are one of the things that lead to happiness.
Hurray! I think I can do that one!

Remember, though, that since that counsel was issued in the "Family" proclamation, I think it's safe to assume that the fun should be had WITH other family members.
Golf or hunting with the guys, shopping or movie trips with girlfriends, long, solitary hours with a hobby may not count here.
Don't get me wrong, those things may have a place in a balanced life, but I think having good times with your eternal family is what The Proclamation is talking about.

You see, it turns out that wholesome recreation with those you love is like a special brand of superglue.
It's the glue called "Good times."
And I can testify that it's one of the things that's kept our family bound together over the years.

Traveling, camping on the beach, theme parks, and all things Disney became great favorites of our family, but the proclamation doesn't specify what kind of good times to have. That's entirely up to you.
It can be horses, hikes, boats, baseball, kites, cars, picnics, panning for gold, stamp collecting, skiing, or sports. Or anything else the whole family enjoys doing together.
The only rule, I think, is that everybody has to enjoy it.
And since everybody means toddlers to grown-ups, that can sometimes be a challenge.
That's why beach camping and Disney parks worked so well for us. Everyone, no matter what age, always had fun.
But whatever works for your bunch is great.
And the "whatever works" can change as your family grows and changes too.

Be advised that teenagers can sometimes be a special challenge.
So be creative.
My brother Matt once told me about a summer roller coaster quest his family went on when their youngest boys were in their teens. They searched the country and found great coasters all over the place, even in unlikely spots like Ohio.
Now, I personally, hardly ever enjoy myself when nauseated, but the reports were that all of them had tons of fun.
And may God bless my dear sister-in-law for being such a good sport.

Then there was one summer when our 15 year old son and 17 year old daughter didn't want to leave their friends to go on our San Diego Zoo and beach trip.
So we took the friends along and watched all of them body surfing in Malibu.

Be warned to expect other obstacles when trying to follow this inspired counsel though.
Sacrifices may have to be made and priorities straighteded up in some cases, and doubts and fears may try to dissuade you.
Thoughts may come creeping in. Thoughts like, "It's too much money," "The kids are too little," "Somebody might get sick," "We'll get lost on the freeways," "There'll be an earthquake," "The car might break down, the plane might crash, the train might derail, the ship might sink, terrorists might attack."  Blah, blah blah.

Yes, those dredded, "blah, blah blah, blah's,"  may sneak into your thinking.

Well, guess who doesn't want you to build eternal happy memories with the people you love?
Guess who's sending that blah?

I shudder to think of what we'd have missed if we let fear win these little skirmishes.

Since money was usually an issue for us we did without some things in order to make "Glue" possible.
For example, growing up, our daughters never owned a "designer' anything.
The latest electronic gadget was not to be found at our house.
Larry never golfed or had other expensive hobbies and I never shopped and lunched with the ladies.

Currently, I am proud to know, and in fact be related to, a young married couple who buy clothes at discount stores but who run off together several times a year.
They just returned from a wonderful trip to Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.
Twenty years from now do you think they'll look back on the designer clothes they used to wear, or the good times and adventures they had together?
These wonderful young people are recent converts and I'm so happy that they already understand this principle and apply it in their lives.
A baby is now on the way to join their family. Everyone who knows them is thrilled.
I'm making them a gift.
It's a travel pillow that fits around the safety belt of a car seat.  It lets a small child sleep peacefully while heading for fun.

A word of caution here.
It's important to remember that traveling together as a couple or a family is a learned skill. It'll take more than one trip to iron out the kinks and arrive at a workable style.
Don't give up though, the payoffs are huge.

Traveling with babies and toddlers is a "for instance."
First you must understand that babies are the people who make the rules on trips.
If everybody wants to have a great time, the big people have to figure out and follow the baby rules.

Some of the rules our babies made included making the longest drives at night. That way small people could sleep at their regular time. Then after we arrived Larry took a nap while I got the family dressed for fun and frolic.
We also included stopping often for potty breaks, food, and exercise. We read books out loud on the long stretches, and carried familiar snack food in a fanny pack. If at all possible hotels must have a pool for swimming right after confinement in the car or for breaks from hot afternoons of fun.
I remember Kim telling me that in their family it was Scott's job to chase the little kids around and around at rest stops while she made sandwiches. I saw him do this once. It was a riot.

Some people say to wait until the kids get older. Their next words are usually, "So they can really appreciate it."
Well, we never waited for kids to get older.
They did appreciate it.
And now they're older.

And today a grown woman and I have a memory of a Saturday morning long ago.
I recall that it had been an especially hard week.
Our seven year old daughter came running into our room at 6 am, jumped on the bed, and said wistfully, "Gee, it's been a long time since we went to the beach."

We all looked at each other's tired, desert dry faces. Then we jumped up, hollered for the others, and began to hastily pack our "no-name" tennies and Walmart t-shirts for what we called a "Bun burner."
We figured we could make it to the beach in time for a sunset picnic.
It was beautiful.
"Bun burners" are among our most cherished memories.

And, every so often fun together can be even more than superglue.
It can be a healing balm.
I remember one time when our two youngest girls and I were laboriously pushing Larry in a wheelchair along the gravel paths of the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Larry had been released not too long before from a month's hospital stay. He'd had major surgery after a horrible car accident. There had even been days when it was life or death. Months of rehab lay ahead. He still couldn't walk.
We'd all been worried, scared out of our minds and off balance for a long, long while.
But, despite everything, Larry insisted on going on a trip.
Crazy as it was, no amount of reasoning could dissuade him.
Well, that particular good time together saved our collective sanities.
Those few days of wholesome recreation made us all feel like everything would really be all right again for the first time in a long while.
We came back filled with hope.
Yes, now and then more than glue. Sometimes good times can be the best medicine.

So, perhaps now tis the season for you to pack up your gang and head for the hills.
Have a picnic, go kite flying, set up a tent at a favorite campground or even the backyard.
Shake hands with Mickey Mouse or hike up some scenic wonders.
Marvel at a Renoir at a city museum or a herd of elk in wilderness mountains. Gaze at glaciers, geysers, or volcanoes at a national park. Listen to seals barking off the Oregon coast or a world famous choir in Salt Lake City. Ride a train through a desert canyon or drive your car through an immense live tree in an ancient redwood forest. Maybe you can watch fish jump in the Mississippi or a storm break over the Grand Canyon.
Maybe your entire family can get "Disneyknees" together. That's the familiar affliction that strikes young and old alike after having had too much of a good thing.
And then when you're too tired from being too happy, you can sit on a bench with someone who loves you and watch the night sky fill up with fireworks.

Over the years I've known some families who didn't heed this counsel found in the Proclamation.
Everybody in them had their own kind of fun separately.
Sadly, some of them aren't together anymore.

Don't neglect this principle of the gospel.
It turns out that glue can be really important.