Julie K. Nelson

A Tale of a Tree

When we bought our house, it came with a beautiful, old cherry tree that had been left over from an orchard. It was a connection to the “good old days” of farming, before suburban sprawl took over. I loved it.

It stood in the middle of our backyard, in front of our big picture window, and was a centerpiece for 20+ years of backyard family activities.

tree

(Emily in 1997)

My children climbed the tree in summers and we checked yearly for the robin who would lay her eggs in the nest perched on the same favorable branch.

nest

A toddler swing gave my 5 children, and other children, hours of delight.The tree was a harbinger of spring with its early pink blossoms and the cherries that grew later in the year were abundant. A wind chime let the tree sing music.

Sadly, the old cherry tree became diseased a few years ago and my husband began hinting that it needed to go. I always resisted because I couldn’t bear to let so many memories get chopped down and disappear. Finally, my new son-in-law picked a Saturday that he and my husband would take it down.

cherry-tree1

I couldn’t watch (My daughter took these photos. I was hiding behind the couch).

cherry-tree2

It was like having a child die.

cherry-tree3

The lawn felt barren and alone when they were done.

And then…the new sod was laid and I ventured out. Yes, it was different. But my first impression was, “Wow. Our yard looks so big now! It’s like breathing new air for the first time. There’s so much room. And look! There’s a view of the mountains I never knew existed because the tree had blocked our view.”

I was stunned at this panorama that opened up to me.

mountain

I finally rejoiced in the change.

The tree represents so many things in my life that I have a hard time letting go of. Pride, guilt, control, the need to prove I’m right (and of course, you’re wrong!), sins and misdeeds, bad habits. These are all diseases that corrupt the tree.

Every day I go outside in the backyard, I am reminded of the old tree and how fiercely I held on, way after it was no good. I was suffocated by its presence even as I fought to breathe. Old things, dying things we don’t let go of will block our view.

When I now look at the glorious view of the mountains I never knew I had all those years, I wonder what else I’m missing because I won’t let go of things that are no good for me. What vistas are blocked? What panoramas are unknown? What fresh air am I not breathing? How am I limiting my view?

C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity,” said it this way:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Cutting down the tree hurt.

I had to let go.

I finally recognized it was time.

It’s time for me to let go and possibly even rebuild many things in my life, with God’s help. The roots may be deep and the trunk and branches are hardened by years.

But it’s time to start digging.

 

 

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World’s Awaiting radio interview

I was interviewed for over an hour on BYU radio’s new program called “World’s Awaiting” about Children’s Books, Reading, and cultivating a Culture of Literacy in our Families. It will be airing this Saturday, September 10 at 11:30am Mountain / 1:30pm Eastern. You can hear it on BYU Radio at SiriusXM Channel 143, on the tunein app, and at http://www.byuradio.org.

You can listen to the audio of the interview on our website at 12:00 noon MST / 2:00pm EST after the show airs at http://www.byuradio.org/show/afc8b335-4272-4bf4-a192-9f850d0fe390/worlds-awaiting.

School Success: BYU radio interview

School started today. *Sigh* It’s a bittersweet time.

Bitter:
No more relaxed, sunny days by the pool.
No more PBJ picnics.
No more late night star gazing and movie watching.
No more spontaneous UNO card games.
No more vacation from homework, alarm clocks, carpooling, and science fair projects.
No more shorts, T-shirts, flipflops and bedhead worn every day.

Sweet:
Adult alone time!
One word: schedules!
Mushy brains turn into learning brains again.
Not hearing “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom” 868 times a day.
As my neighbor sang in a lilted, Christmas-y tone yesterday: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

But the transition from summer to school can seem abrupt at best and often very difficult. It’s like living on planet Earth all summer and then being shipped to Mars. How can we help kids adjust easier and outfit them to thrive in that harsh climate? Here’s the BYU radio program I was interviewed for about preparing kids for school success.
https://www.byuradio.org/episode/bef82490-c5ad-4fa2-8453-0340424735f6/the-matt-townsend-show-public-space-crisis-smartphones-and-adhd-back-to-school?playhead=6518&autoplay=true

Father’s Day Trivia

How are your facts about fathers? Here are 20 trivia questions about fathers to celebrate with the special men in your life on Father’s Day.(Try not to peek at the answers at the end until you have tried them all). It would be a good game to play on Father’s Day to honor men who nurture, provide, and love children.

When you are done, consider asking more questions, but personal ones to your dads to learn more about them, their likes/dislikes, fears, funnies, history, favorite memories, and dreams for the future.

Questions:

1. Who do the “Founding Fathers” of our country refer to?

2. Who is known as the current “Holy Father” according to the Roman Catholic Church?

3. Roses are the official flower for Father’s Day. A red rose is worn in the lapel if your father is living, and this color rose if he is deceased.

4. Who is known to have initiated the Father’s Day celebrations, or who is called “The Mother of Father’s Day”?

5. In the USA, Father’s Day is celebrated on this day.

6. Who is the “Father” of our country?

7. Father’s Day the fourth-largest card-sending occasion with this many cards given out last year.

a. 80 million

b. 60 million

c. 95 million

d. 150 million

8. “Father Time” is also known by this name.

9. In Greek Mythology, this King of Thebes killed his father and married his mother. His name has become synonymous for this hidden desire to do the same to one’s parents.

10. The myth of “Father Christmas” has been taken from this country.

a. Denmark

b. Sweden

c. The Netherlands

d. Germany

11. Name the top 5 gifts for Father’s Day (besides a card).

12. This 1950’s TV show about fatherhood starred actor Robert Young.

a. “Father Knows Best”

b. “Father Does Best”

c. “Father Loves Best”

d. “Father Laughs Best”

13. Which actor voiced the famous movie line, “Luke, I am your father”?

14. According to Greek mythology, who was the father of gods and mortals?

15. Who was the famous literary father of the young girl nicknamed “Scout”?

16. Who was the father of Disney’s Arial, the Little Mermaid?

17. Which President signed into law that Father’s Day would be nationally recognized?

a. Woodrow Wilson

b. Richard Nixon

c. Theodore Roosevelt

d. John F. Kennedy

18. What is the word for “father” in these languages?

Afrikaans

Arabic

French

Hungarian

Italian

Polish

Spanish

Welsh

19. This 1991 movie called “Father of the Bride” starred this comedian.

20. What famous evangelist said this: “A good father is one of the most unsung, upraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”

Answers:

1. Those at the 1776 Philadelphia convention who signed the Declaration of Independence.

2. Pope Francis

3. White

4. Sonara Smart Dodd, daughter of a Civil War veteran, who wanted to honor her father.

5. The Third Sunday of June

6. George Washington

7. c. 95 million

8. The Grim Reaper

9. Oedipus Complex

10. c. The Netherlands

11. Necktie/clothing, tools, sporting goods, electronics, candy

12. a. “Father Knows Best”

13. James Earl Jones

14. Zeus

15. Atticus Finch

16. King Triton

17. b. Richard Nixon

18. Afrikaans : vader

Arabic : babba

French : papa

Hungarian : apa

Italian : babbo

Polish : tata

Spanish : papá

Welsh : tad

19. Steve Martin

20. Billy Graham

Behind every great kid is a pushy parent

Here’s a link to a revised version of this article that was published by ksl.com

When I was young, my mom required that all 5 children learn to swim until they could pass the Jr. Lifesaving class. I hated it. I hated water and the smell of chlorine. I hated diving for those weighted rings.

I looked up at my mother sitting in the spectator balcony and glared at her whenever I could. My body language clearly stated, “I can’t believe you are making me do this. You are the meanest mom in the world.” She just smiled back and waved at me.

About the time I was enrolled in the Jr. Lifesaving class, the movie “Jaws” came out. By today’s movie-making standards, the special effects are cheesy, but to my 11-year-old, fearful-of-anything aquatic, impressionable brain, it was horrifying. I couldn’t put my head under water (let alone take a bath) after seeing the film. When the swim instructors lined us up behind the diving board and it was my turn to arch over the horizontal bamboo stick to dive into the water, I couldn’t do it. I stared into the deep, blue abyss and could only see a set of teeth on a open shark’s mouth, waiting for me to dive into its hungry cavity.

I couldn’t do it. It was humiliating and traumatic.

But my mom didn’t seem to care no matter how much I whined and crumpled on the floor. She wanted me to pass the class since she had almost drowned as a girl and her lifesaving skills saved her. I eventually passed the class and never looked at another swimming pool for a long time.

Fast forward.

I now swim multiple times a week for exercise. You heard me right. I choose to swim for fun. I love it. Every time I get in the pool, I look up into the empty balcony bleachers with a smile and think, “Thank you mom, for not giving up on me.”

Being  a “pushy” mom or dad requires True Grit. Courage. Fortitude. A Backbone. When life gets hard, kids tend to give up. If we insist they stick with it, we are called “mean.”  Someone wrote, “My kids just told me I’m the meanest mom in the world and I’m freaking out. I don’t even have a speech prepared.” Parents! If your child hates you for something that is really, really good for them, take a bow, accept the nomination, and thank your audience. 

Parents raise successful kids by being pushy in these three ways:

Push Toward Good.

I once knew a parent who buckled under their 5 year old who refused to take his prescribed medicine. Some things are hard, some things don’t taste good, some things are boring (like brushing our teeth), and some things hurt (like getting immunized) but we insist our children do it anyway because it is good for them.  

My sister has taught voice and piano for 30 years and out of the hundreds of students, only two loved to practice. The rest think it’s hard and boring. Many kids dropped playing the piano after the first year. Those who became good were not prodigies or genius musicians; they had pushy parents who made them practice 5 days a week, year after year.

Recently, I helped my daughter register at a university. However, she became anxious and lacked confidence to navigate a new campus. As we sat with her adviser, fear took over. I realized I needed to not only reassure her, but to push.

Adviser: So what is your major?

Daughter: (shoulders slumped, eyes down) I don’t know.

Me: Integrated Studies.

Adviser: (wondering who is this pushy mom) So what will be your two areas of emphasis?

Daughter: I’m not sure.

Me: She declared Spanish and Business.

Adviser (looking directly at my daughter so I didn’t butt in) Will you start Summer of Fall?

Daughter: I don’t know.

Me: (pausing first before butting in) She’ll start Summer.

Adviser: (giving me the stink eye and then turning to my daughter) Do you have your transcript?

Daughter: Yes, but I don’t know how to download it.

I stayed out from that point on, but I’m telling you, we sometimes have to hold our kids hands and baby step them toward the unknown, scary future.  To that adviser: Don’t judge.

Push Away from Bad.

Children have a lot of choices these days and they’re not all good. Some may seem good  but turn into problems if there are not diligent parents afoot. It’s okay to tell your young child they don’t need a cell phone with Wifi or unlimited data. It’s okay to push away bad media programming that infiltrates our homes and electronic devices. A wave of filth is threatening families but we can push it away. Say “no” to children who tell you everyone else’s parents are letting them do it.

Tell them you love them more than that.

Push Back from Pressure.

Unlike many children, there are superstar kids who excel at everything and want to do it all. They overbook their lives, or their parents overbook it for them, to achieve greatness and an impressive resume. There is so much pressure to raise trophy children and compete with over-achieving friends.

Raising a great kid who is successful means they lead a balanced, happy, well adjusted life. Children need a childhood. They need play time, laugh time, creative and social time. If your child wants to be the drummer in a rock band, be on the high school basketball, swim, and baseball teams, be student body president, and sing in the prestigious school choir, it’s time to push back. Life is full of great things to do, but we need to teach our children that it’s not realistic or healthy to try to do it all. We all need to learn how to choose and prioritize.

 

So if you are a pushy parent, take it as a compliment. You know that you’re doing something right and you’re in good company.

Pregnancy Myth Busters

You’ve heard of the kid TV series “Myth Busters” right? One of those fun, educational shows where the group of geeks try out myths to see if they are real or not. Well, there are a lot of myths, legends, wives tales, whatever you want to call them, floating around about pregnancy. Everyone’s got advice and some crazy story about how to predict the gender.

It think it’s because pregnancy itself is so mysterious. What is really happening inside the womb and to the mother’s body? Is it a boy or a girl? Why am I so sick with this second pregnancy, but not the first? We all want answers!

Well I am speaking about which myths about pregnancy are true and which are not on BYU radio on the Matt Townsend show on Tues, April 19th. Here’s a sneak peak.  See how well you score and be sure to tell others what an expert you are now (not!)

Predicting gender: if you are carrying your baby high, it’s a girl. Carrying low? Stock up on blue. False.

Craving sweets? According to some, that means you’re going to have a little girl. Salty and sour cravings indicate a boy. False again. Predicting gender is never a trustworthy science, unless of course that involves an ultrasound.

You can’t get pregnant while nursing. False, mostly. Although nursing decreases the chance of ovulation, it doesn’t guarantee it. And there’s nothing more shocking than a new mother of a 5 month old who finds out she’s pregnant…again!

You shouldn’t have sex while pregnant because you might harm the baby.

False unless you have a specific medical condition and your doctor warns you against it.

You shouldn’t take hot baths while pregnant.

True, actually. You should avoid saunas, Jacuzzis or anything that raises your body temperature over 102 degrees. But you can take a bath in warm or slightly hot water. Some people even naively think that they can’t take a bath at all, that it will drown the baby! That’s another myth I’d like to bust right here.

You should abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

True, although some studies have shown that up to 2 glasses of wine per day is not harmful. However, most doctors will tell new mothers to be on the safe side and abstain.

You will crave pickles and ice cream.

No. But cravings can occur, and are usually harmless. Husbands: be prepared for the Big Mac midnight runs. (At least mine had to on more than one occasion).

Cravings mean your baby “needs” that food. False. There are, however, some women who crave laundry detergent, paint chips, or clay. These odd cravings (called pica) have been associated with iron deficiency and you should talk to your doctor immediately if you experience them.

Gender predictor: if you mixes Drano with urine, it can determine the sex of your baby. The prediction is if you pour it down the toilet, and it turns blue, you have a boy; pink, it’s a girl. False. There’s another myth down the drain. I think this myth originated with the Drano Company to increase profits.

A fetus is sealed away in the uterus, unaffected by what’s going on outside. False. A baby can feel the stress from the environment and become distressed as well. It can detect sounds and emotions as well as ingest chemicals from tobacco and drug use.

Going to prenatal check ups is extremely important.

Yes, yes, and yes! Don’t skip this essential part of pregnancy. A doctor’s supervision might just be the key to your baby’s survival, health, and even your health. You’ll be checked for gestational diabetes, get a few ultrasounds to detect the development of the baby, and monitor any prescription drugs you are taking that might affect the fetus.

Your water always breaks when you go into labor and will gush like a faucet.

Nope. It doesn’t always break before and sometimes it’s just a trickle you don’t even notice.

The pregnant couple will sometimes feel disconnected and disoriented to one another.

True, and if not, it may happen shortly after becoming new parents.

Having wide, curvy hips make child birthing easier.

False.  It’s the size of the pelvis, not hips.

Drinking castor oil, eating spicy food or jumping on a trampoline will kick-start labor.

False. Sorry. The baby will come when it is good and ready.

Pregnant women should avoid exercise.

False. Sorry again. Exercise is actually very good for the baby and mom, but should be done moderately and with a doctor’s approval.

The second birth will be easier.

True, but not always. Still, it’s a nice thought when considering having more than one child.

You will feel an instant bond with your newborn baby.

False. New mothers and fathers may not naturally feel a euphoric sense of love and connection with their baby. Don’t worry if that is the case. Give it time. If post-partum sets in, see a doctor.

Couples should wait at least 6 weeks after childbirth to have sex.

True. Have fun.

Gut flora, kid health, and boogers

This turned out to be a really lively (and a little gross) interview on the Matt Townsend show. It aired on Jan 26th. http://www.byuradio.org/episode/6e14c90d-9421-4a88-9420-9cb8a1e095e8?playhead=6693&autoplay=true

Here are some new vocabulary words you’ll learn by listening:

Gut Flora

Microorganism

Microbiome

Microflora

Probiotics

Ecosystem

And this is a quiz that you’ll know the answers to once it’s over (P.S. Matt gets them all correct!)

How many feet of intestinal tubing do we have?

a. 10 feet

b. 18 feet

c. 25 feet

c. 30 feet

We have this many microorganisms in our gut.

a. 150 billion

b. 75 trillion

c. 100 trillion

What is the ratio of microorganism to human cells?

a. 10-1

b. 20-1

c. 50-1

What percentage of serotonin is found in the gut?

a. 25%

b. 45%

c. 70%

d. 80%

 

4 New Year’s Resolutions This Mom Can Keep

Parenting is hard. Keeping New Year’s resolutions is also hard and it’s one more thing to make me feel guilty about what I’m not doing. Resolutions about parenting usually involve not yelling so much at the kids or packing healthy school lunches rather than junk food. By January 14th, I’m losing my temper and sending the kiddos off to school with chips and cookies.

Rather than losing those 10 elusive pounds, here are five resolutions I can keep. It was published in For Every Mom on Wednesday, December 30, 2015

http://www.foreverymom.com/5-new-years-resolutions-moms-can-actually-keep/#.VoVzAWptp04.facebook

How To Avoid the “Gimmies” at Christmas

Have you ever heard these words after a child opens a thoughtfully-given present: “Is that all?” It’s time to raise children who are less selfish and less disgruntled with the gifts they receive. How can you raise generous, gracious children who think more of others than themselves? Tis the season to start and here’s an article to get you going.

This article was featured in For Every Mom. The byline was:

These 5 ways to avoid the “gimmes” with your kids this Christmas are spot-on sage advice.

http://www.foreverymom.com/5-ways-to-avoid-the-gimmies-at-your-house-this-christmas/

UVU Conference on Family

I’ll be attending and/or presenting at two upcoming conferences on the family and you’re invited! The World Congress of Family IX has been hosted in major cities around the world, but never in the U.S…..until now. And I am proud to say it will be here, where I live, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The dates are October 27-30, 2015 and here is the website for more information: http://wcf9.org/

The second conference is even closer to home and much more local. I am a professor at Utah Valley University and every year the College of Humanities and Social Sciences hosts a Conference on the Family. It will be held on Nov. 6, 2015. Here is the website link and a flyer: http://www.uvu.edu/chss/family/

UVU Conference on Family 2015

UVU Conference on Family 2015

And here is how you order tickets (it’s free and no ticket required for UVU students)

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/uvu-conference-on-family-tickets-18098212240

I will be presenting and this is the class description. Please come! I’d love to see you there.

Flexible, Feisty and Fearful: 3 Main Temperament Styles in Children – Julie Nelson, professor and author 

Join Julie as she outlines each of the 3 main temperament styles in children. She will explore the strengths – and weaknesses – of each, and highlight how parents can adjust their own style to create a ‘goodness of fit’ to meet the needs of the child. Join her as she illustrates how understanding these temperament styles can help parents build healthy self-esteem within their children, and nurture a positive parent-child relationship. 

I’m so thrilled to live near and be a part of communities and a state that is pro-family. These conferences and organizations are lifting societies, families, and individuals to live a more meaningful, fulfilling life with the people they love.