Sunday, December 19, 2010

10 Toys I Would Never Buy 2010

Over the summer, my husband and I did some shopping at Target on a few occasions, to use some of the gift cards we received as wedding gifts. While there, I saw the Jacob Barbie doll below, and it got me thinking about the toys children play with - and how some toys encourage unhealthy or inappropriate lifestyles.

While none of the following ten toys are in any particular order, there are various reasons I think they are inappropriate for children. I hope that parents, grandparents, and others who are shopping for the kids in their lives are wise in their gift choices this Christmas.

The Jacob (from Twilight) Barbie Doll
I have to admit, I am not involved or interested in the Twilight craze, at all. I saw the first film with my parents and sister, but that is it. Probably due to this, I think having a Jacob Barbie doll at all is, well... really weird. But the thing that was appalling to me is that it seemed as though this doll was being marketed directly to children.

This doll (along with the other Twilight movie Barbie dolls) was on a shelf about 3 feet high - which seemed to me a shelf height that would intrigue 7-year-olds, and not the 16+-year-olds who actually read the Twilight series. It was also part of a display that did not have higher shelves.

Yes, Twilight is a part of pop-culture right now. But no, a half-naked male doll is not appropriate for an innocent 7-year-old girl (...or anyone else. Really, what's an older girl/woman really going to do with the doll...? I'm afraid to make any guesses...). The books and movies are not even directed at children.

The Barbie Video Girl Doll
Mattel, you have really made some strange manufacturing choices lately, haven't you? To be honest, I really enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls as a child, so this is nothing against normal Barbie dolls. However, I do not think a doll that takes videos is a good idea. Perhaps it inspires creativity in aspiring movie directors, but aren't Barbies about people-play, and manufacturing relational situations? Anyway, this seems like something a big brother would love to wreck, not to mention other potential abuses. Kids can be creative for way less than $60.

Fisher Price Smart Fit Park... and any other video games directed at preschoolers
I do not think that a video-gaming lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle. Even with new game systems like the Wii that encourage getting off the couch, a video-gamer can miss out on so much of the world! As unhealthy as video-gaming is for adults, oh how I wish people would leave the little kids out of it. It seems like something that will only lead to worse habits in later life.

I can't wait to be a mom and take my children to the park to play. I hope we have a backyard where they can climb trees and climb on their jungle gym and swing and play in the dirt. When the weather is hot, why not play in the sprinklers? Rainy days? We'll get creative! I'm sure we'll go puddle-jumping some days, and stay home to make cookies other days. We'll even get out the crafts.

But there will be no video games. Not in my house.

Little Tykes Giddy Up & Go Pony
 I think this toy is bizarre. It actually walks, and kids can ride on it. It's kind of cool, but I think I would have gotten bored with this.

It looks a little unsafe to me. It is not something I would allow a child to play with alone.

If my children loved ponies so much, I think I would rather invest in riding lessons or a day at a ranch.

Scrabble Flash Cubes
When did old-fashioned, no-battery-required board games go out of fashion? Advances in technology have blessed my life in many ways. I love being able to watch General Conference at home and keep in contact with relatives who live far away, among other things. But board games? They are meant to connect people, not draw on this technology.

I'm not even much of a game person, but I would far prefer getting out the actual Scrabble game and setting it up and looking up questionable words in the dictionary. I don't need the pieces to tell me my words are not words - SpellCheck gets plenty of words wrong, so why would these game pieces be any different?

Bratz Dolls
I intend to teach my future children virtues like modesty, chastity, and humility.

I don't think Bratz dolls would get those lessons across. Therefore, my daughters will have different dolls to play with. The "high-fashion" focus is not one I care to instill in my little girls.

Any Cell Phone
Cell phones are not toys, but many people treat them as such. Parents used to be responsible, and know pretty much where their kids were. Yes, it can be a dangerous world out there, but "Junior" doesn't drive, he doesn't go out unsupervised, and his school can probably relay any important messages to him. Therefore, "Junior" is not getting a cell phone from me. Besides, don't children lose things? I think "Junior" will become more independent without one of these, anyway.

WWE Smackdown Action Figures
Professional wrestling is bad enough as a thing in itself... but having kids play with action figures from it? That just seems silly. A great way to teach things like violence and disrespect. No thank you.

Husband says, "I don't think I'll get my children anything with 'Smackdown' in the title."

NERF N-Strike Stampede ECS Blaster... and other insane-looking gun toys
The face on the kid in those pictures is enough to deter me from spending my money on something like this for any kids I know.

Webkinz
This puppy is so cute. And if it was just the stuffed toy, I wouldn't have any problem buying it. I just don't like the fact that the selling point on these toys is the "secret code" that allows web access to their "virtual world." Children are learning about the REAL world (that they are new to), or at least they ought to be - why should they spend any time on the internet playing "virtual" world games? Thanks, but no thanks.

Are there any toys you are avoiding this year?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music that's good for your marriage

I never noticed, before I was married, how many popular songs just aren't that supportive of the idea of marriage. Plenty of artists sing about the thrill of new love, or about getting away with infidelity, or about dumping (or getting revenge on) someone that cheated on you, or even about the hope of reuniting with old flames despite having a new life.

We all know that there are serious problems in the world, especially ones that negatively impact relationships and the family. I feel that it is a better pursuit to seek out the positive rather than to dwell on the negative. Music can have a great impact on the listener, for good or for bad. Rather than take the chance of becoming degraded by listening to degrading music, why don't we make the effort to listen to uplifting songs with inspiring lyrics?

One song that I feel fulfills this object is "God Gave Me You" by Dave Barnes. The lyrics are beautiful, romantic, and express wonder at the miracle of mutual adoration and admiration! Here's a snippet:
On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo
The music video is equally touching, and we see that love is more than romance. It is about family, and the generational ties it creates, bringing joy to those that take part. Check it out:

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to "cleave unto" your spouse

I am taking a class on the Doctrine and Covenants this semester. My teacher requires that we read, from the student manual, the articles that go along with the sections or verses we are assigned for each class period. Doing so has blessed my life, because almost every time, I find quotes like this gem (the rest is straight from the manual, which can be accessed by the link above):
“Marriage Presupposes Total Allegiance and Fidelity”
D&C 42:22–23

Only two commandments in all the scriptures require us to love with all our heart. We are commanded to love God with all our heart (see Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37), and we are commanded to love our spouse with all our heart. Elder Spencer W. Kimball explained the all-encompassing nature of this commandment:

“When the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: ‘Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shalt cleave unto him and none else.’

“The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him.

“The Lord says to them: ‘Thou shalt cleave unto him and none else.’

Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives totally to the spouse all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection, with all dignity. Any divergence is sin; any sharing of the heart is transgression. As we should have ‘an eye single to the glory of God,’ so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 142–43.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An experiment upon the word

I recently checked out a book from the library called Behind Every Good Man by John Bytheway, an LDS speaker/author whose works I've long enjoyed. The subtitle of this book is what sparked my interest in it: "Helping your husband take the spiritual lead at home."

I love my husband. He is everything I have always wanted in a companion. I do not want to change him. But it has been difficult for us to establish a pattern of holding family home evenings in our first six months of marriage, and this has been frustrating for me.

Bytheway writes about how wives are sometimes overwhelmingly critical of their husbands without even realizing it. He quotes Patricia Love and Steven Stosny on ways wives "shame a man without trying:"
  • Excluding him from important decisions
  • Correcting what he said
  • Questioning his judgment
  • Ignoring his advice
  • Implying inadequacy
  • Making unrealistic demands of his time and energy
  • Valuing others' needs over his
  • Belittling his work
  • Ignoring his needs
  • Showing little or no interest in his interests
  • Criticizing his family
  • Expecting him to make me happy
This list made me realize I am often critical of my beloved husband without meaning to be. How sad, to think that I may have been hurting him when that has been far from my intentions!

My "experiment upon the word" has been on Bytheway's suggestion to correct this behavior, found in 4 Nephi 1:15:
"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people."
Bytheway claims that charity, the love of God, can change our homes and our relationships. Indeed, this is a principle taught in the gospel! Bytheway expounds on this concept a little : "What exactly does 'the love of God' mean? it could have meaning in three dimensions : love for God (our love for Him), love from God (His love for us), and love like God's (a quality of love)."

Less than a week of this experiment has improved an already great marriage. I am consciously staying my tongue, avoiding "correcting" unimportant (and really not even wrong) things, and complimenting my sweetheart.

Try it out!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More about my theme

To better understand my theme here, I feel it is important to talk about "proclamations."

To proclaim means: "to announce or declare in an open or ostentatious way, to indicate or make known publicly or openly. To extol or praise publicly."

On this blog, I hope to "publicly praise and extol" the institution of the family in a way that is in harmony with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to share things I've learned by experience, by the Holy Spirit, in classes; anything that might help strengthen families.

I feel that it is important to speak boldly about this topic. In light of the many challenges and problems families and familial relationships face, I want to make note of and encourage the positive. Our families can be strong and full of love! We can make it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Family : A Proclamation to the World

 As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I wanted to create a blog that reflects some of my thoughts and feelings on a document that is precious to me : The Family : A Proclamation to the World.

This document, compiled by the Presidency of the Church - and therefore by Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, consists of divine truths about the family.

It stresses the importance of our male and female identities, and the different callings given to men and women. It also teaches about the importance of the family, spouses' responsibilities to each other, and parents' responsibilities to their families.

This blog will draw on those truths and I hope to offer new insights and ideas that can be put to use to strengthen families, while strengthening my own as well.

I fully sustain the leadership of the Church. I know that the family is essential to God's plan for His children, and that by the proper authority, found only in this, the true Church of Christ, families can be sealed for eternity.