I Love Sundays

Sundays at our home have become one of my favorite days of the week. I love to go to church together, sit in our regular pew, listen to the speakers, attend class and feel so rejuvenated from the Spirit, have the kids come running into Relief Society afterwards excitedly showing me their pictures they drew or a slip of paper showing that they get to do the talk or scripture or prayer next week. Everyone leaves happier than when we came, and we all feel blessed from the spiritual influences we get there.

As if getting to have a spiritual overhaul for the week wasn’t good enough, I love the little Sabbath day traditions that we have that have made our Sundays even more memorable.

  • We have made a point each fast Sunday when we get home from church to have our own little testimony meeting and let each family member who didn’t bear their testimony in church bear it at home. We always start with the youngest, so Abby goes to stand up by the TV cabinet, bears her testimony, than announces, “Erika, your turn.” After each person she continues to be the self appointed conductee and announce who will go next. Her testimonies are simple and often include a brief synopsis of what she did that day-“I went to my class, we blow bubbles, we had snacks..” The best part is when she throws in small growing bits of truth that she has learned that week-usually something about Joseph Smith or saying her prayers or being nice to someone. She reverently folds her arms throughout the whole thing, and loves that she gets to be first. As we continue through the rest of the kids, it warms my heart as a parent to see the things that have touched them that day or throughout the week. I love that they get to opportunity to share special, spiritual experiences in our home, and feel comfortable and safe doing it.
  • Fast Sunday Father’s interviews. When Brianna was about 3 we started doing interviews with her. We would help her write in her journal, and we would plan out what we were going to do with her for our Daddy/Daughter and Mommy and me dates for the month.  Now, Aaron gets the privilege to spend time with all five (soon to be six when Scott is a little older) children, helping them set goals, talk about things they want to, and give his loving Fatherly advise. It is a time that I know they treasure.
  • Writing and reading journals. The kids LOVE to listen to us read from our journals. I wasn’t as dedicated in keeping a journal, so many times it’s from Aaron's journal. We all bust up laughing at the funny things that happened as a kid, and beg him to read more. We try to help them see, this is why they should write in their journal, so they can get to read all the funny things they did when they were little to their own kids someday. Brianna and Austin usually write in their journals during nap time, and we help the other girls write in theirs. It’s fun to see what Brooke and Erika choose to write about now that they are able to write in theirs a bit more on their own.
  • Taking a nap. This is probably my favorite tradition. It seems like my body runs on a seven day cycle, and by the seventh day, I am wiped out. I love a nice leisurely nap. We used to (before Aaron got called as the clerk and has to stay a little later at church) all climb in our bed after lunch to read the Friend magazine. Everyone inevitable would fight for the best spot and then we would all cuddle in close while Aaron read some stories to us. After a few stories, the big kids get kicked out, Abby gets sent to her room for her nap, and the girls get to snuggle in our bed for naptime. The only downside to this is that they usually are so wired they don’t go to bed good that night, but traditions are hard to break and I love my Sunday nap so we just grin and bear it.
  • Going around the table during dinner and telling what we learned in our classes. It was fun when I was in the Primary Presidency to hear the kids take on what sharing time was about. It’s funny to see what they would pick up as the most important part. They share stories, tell us who was new or visiting in their class, and other funny things that happened. Erika’s for this week was, “My teacher, not the Searle’s, but my teacher that doesn’t know my name, well she said…”
  • Going on a walk. We love to go for Sunday walks. Aaron and I have done this since we were married. We used to walk up around the Provo temple, back along the mountain, and then south of  Wymount until we got home. Every week without fail. It was great to have an hour of time to just talk. Now with the kids it’s the same thing. There is something almost magical about going on a walk and talking. The kids open up and tell us fun random things as well as listen intently as we try to teach them something. We usually go on one after naptime or after dinner. During the summer we bring popsicles to suck on or icies to drink. I think the neighborhood is used to our little parade we put on each week-eight Starbucks spread out along the block, happily skipping along or being pushed in a stroller. The kids peak in each mailbox newspaper compartment for bird nests, Austin almost always finds a stick to carry, and everyone fights to push Scott in the stroller.
  • Making forts and playing the most creative things are one tradition that the kids have. Since we have a no TV rule for Sundays, the kids know that they have to come up with something to do, so it is amazing to me the things they come up with. Everyone loves to play whatever it is they think up. Most often it involves some fort building..either under the bunk beds, over the bunk beds, on the bunk beds, in the bunk beds..there is definitely a theme here. They spend an hour getting it just right, take books to read and paper to write on in there, and make plans of how to convince us to let them sleep that way that night. We usually give in, who doesn’t love to sleep in a fort. We have also colored things for FHE lessons, made scavenger hunts for them to go on, played the hot and cold game by hiding something in the house somewhere for them to find, put on plays, and countless other activities  involving everyone. This last weeks involved putting Scott in the girls doll stroller and pushing him around, Brianna and Austin writing love notes to Aaron and I, and a big string fort. The kids took string and wrapped it in the dining room and whole front room about four feet from the ground. They looped it around cabinet knobs, window latches, and anything else they could find that was sturdy. It looked like a big spider web. They then draped sheets over the strings to make everyone a little tent. It was great fun, until Aaron and I had to army crawl to get back to our room. The thing I love most about this tradition is how well everyone gets along. There is almost always no fighting and their creativity just seems to run over. It’s great to watch. I love to see them strengthening those siblings relationships.

                   Scott in doll stroller 2 blog   Scott in doll stroller 1 blog    Scott in doll stroller 3 blog

  • Playing a game and having treats. This one we don’t do every Sunday, but on some. The kids usually choose Jots and Tittles to play. It’s a trivial pursuit type game from when I grew up that has all sorts of gospel related questions on it. They don’t  even make it anymore, and I was glad to track one down on Ebay a couple of years ago. They love to play it! Some of the questions are really hard. It’s kind of humbling to see how much I don’t know. The having treats part usually involves Aaron and the kids making cinnamon rolls or cookies for us.
  • For a while we were doing a little game that had to do with Sacrament Meeting. I would get a huge bag of treats like tootsie rolls or Starburst from the store at the beginning of the month, then each Sunday night we would ask the kids questions about sacrament meeting. It could be anything from who conducted the meeting, to what color what the bishop’s tie, what page number and title was the opening song, sing the first verse of a hymn we sang, who blessed the sacrament, to very specific ones about the talks the speakers gave. They would get a treat for each correct answer. I don’t know if it was great to reward them with treats for listening, but it sure worked. I was amazed at what started out as listening for treats, almost always ended with everyone picking up something spiritual to strengthen their testimonies. After the first week, Brianna and Austin would take notes during church, and many times quiz us with questions too. It was a lot of fun. I may have to reinstitute that one.

I almost always wake up Monday mornings to a house that looks like a tornado hit it, but I can happily step over half built forts and open journals knowing that my children have spent their Sabbath making memories and building their testimonies. I love Sundays!


Libby said...

Wow. I think your Sundays must be at least twice as long as mine!

I love the ideas. I will have to incorporate some of those into our Sabbath activities. I just started assembling a "Sunday Box" of things that we can do Sundays so the kids don't get bored and complain that they want to play outside or watch TV (we have policies against that, too).

It's so nice to have Sunday be a special day. You are seriously amazing!

The Simon Family said...

The Starbucks children are lucky to have you and Aaron as their parents! Great Sabbath ideas. It was reading my Dad's old journals that got me started when I was young. :)

Thanks for sharing. We're gonna incorporate some of your ideas!

Lisa said...

Cute cute ideas, Monae. We do most of these but not on an 'every week' basis. Thanks for listing them all so we can copy your ideas.

Chrystina said...

This is WHY I love you Monae! You are always wonderful in creating spiritual experiences in your family! Then you blog them so I can steal them! What wonderful ways to instill the gospel at young ages in your kids.