The evening before the beginning: 2012-08-07 new school year 59277 The fixing of the cousin haircut fiasco:2012-08-07 new school year 592882012-08-07 new school year 59290 I cried just a little bit.2012-08-07 new school year 59291 …but tried to put on a happy face.2012-08-07 new school year 59293 Turn-out: better than I thought.  Love this girl.2012-08-07 new school year 59299 The first day The high school shift: 2012-08-08 new school year 59309 Sophomore:2012-08-08 new school year 59314 Freshman:2012-08-08 new school year 59307 The elementary school shift 6th Grade:2012-08-08 new school year 59318 3rd Grade:2012-08-08 new school year 593232012-08-08 new school year 593242012-08-08 new school year 59332 Kindergartener:2012-08-08 new school year 593332012-08-08 new school year 59339 Good friends:2012-08-08 new school year 593422012-08-08 new school year 593472012-08-08 new school year 593492012-08-08 new school year 59358 Traditional after-school “cookie-chat:”2012-08-08 new school year 59364 They had a great first day…I’m so glad about that. I love that Elle will tell me everything Max forgets.2012-08-08 new school year 593672012-08-08 new school year 59375 Luckily I have older children to remind me to run get my kindergartener off the bus:2012-08-08 new school year 59372 I had kind of held my breath about this girl…so worried about her and how she’ll adjust from a classroom of 15 with three teachers to a classroom of 25 with one. So far so good.2012-08-08 new school year 59380 Memory game with all the neighbors (even though they’re not in this pic).  When you get a match you tell one thing that happened during the day.2012-08-08 new school year 59390 What did I do all day?  Went to get my gray hair covered up.  And answered 57 emails.  And tried to breathe.  I still don’t know how this happened so quick. And I still don’t get why we have to start school when it is 114 outside.  Literally. But I’m so glad they’re all so happy.  We are so lucky to have such great schools and such great teachers. We did finally get to Target last night to get some school supplies and they lugged them off triumphantly for their second day today.  Slowly but surely we’re pulling it together 🙂

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  1. I was curious about your thoughts on modesty. I know you are lds, as am I but I've always wondered about tank tops and somewhat short shorts. I noticed that Elle had a tank top on and sometimes shorter shorts. I am definitely not making a judgement here I was just curious. Neither ever bothered me but my husband was the modesty police and had me get rid of all of my girls tank tops and shorter shorts. Just curious. I realize you live in a crazy hot area and if I lived there I may take up a nudist lifestyle (I can't handle the heat) but I just wondered what you thought.

  2. -When does seminary take place? Before school or at school?
    -Your kiddos are totally adorable, I wish we lived closer because man alive they look like fun babysitters for my 1-year-old-redhead!

  3. Love Lucy's new hair cut and her first day of school dress. So cute! Our first day of school isn't until next week. My oldest is starting kindergarten – she is over the moon excited, but this mama might be shedding a few tears!

  4. I know you posted on modesty a couple of weeks ago, but I am still curious about it. I've noticed you wear tank tops when you work out, and then I noticed your daughter was wearing one to school. Being LDS people are watching us. My friends in high school always noticed that I was always modest, and they noticed the friends that weren't. It was confusing for them on where the church stands on modesty. I know its hot in AZ, but thats part of the sacrifice right? My little girl is only 14 months and I got a lot of cute tank top dresses and outfits for her baby shower, she wears a t-shirt under them all. I want her to know from right here, right now and forever modesty is important.

  5. How HoW HOW do you parents do it? I can barely manage 2 dogs and watering the plants. Amazing how you multi-task that many directions!

  6. Your kids and their clothing choices are above reproach. They are gorgeous! Congrats on such a nice family. That's a fabulous pool too! 🙂

  7. Love Lucy's hair! So cute on her.
    I am also wondering about the tank tops and shorter shorts. The For the Strength of Youth book says that Young Women should avoid short shorts…, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders. As a mother of two teenage girls, it is a battle to teach them modesty when other LDS girls are wearing tank tops, sleeveless prom dresses, and short shorts. I agree with nattapatta. LDS girls are different and should stand out. My 2 year old, 12 year old, and 14 year old also wear white t-shirts under anything that is sleeveless.

  8. Sheesh!! Never knew a back to school post could spark so much conversation about modesty! 😉
    All I wanted to tell you is… I LOVE LUCY's HAIR! It looks great!
    (and really, Elle's shirt didn't look like a tank top to me?)
    Happy Back to School! Good luck catching up. I don't know how you do it all Shawni. You are an amazing woman and mother.

  9. My goodness, your kids are beautiful and super stylin'! This takes me back to my back to school days…which are fading fast. I miss those. Lucy's haircut looks adorable too! I love all your first day traditions, so fun!

    perfectly priya

  10. I think your kids look amazingly modest compared to the clothing that's out there so I don't get the undercurrent of "tsk-tsk" I see. Then again, I don't see the big deal about shoulders, and I was wondering why Shawni and Elle had to wear pants in India while Dave and Max could wear shorts.

    Grace cracks me up.

  11. Your children are gorgeous! Love your back to school pictures and your after school cookie talk! I think it's so cute that Elle fills in the gaps that Max leaves and Lucy's haircut is adorable! Especially with the white ribbon.

  12. I adore your blog and family. I also see an "under current". I think this is why the church has come out with guidelines. We don't need to support each other in the gray areas we all have. Growing up with 7 children we couldn't wear the trends unless we could wear it with the appropriate temple clothing underneath. That way when we did get married we didn't have to clean out our entire closets.. The strength for the youth pamphlet has been Stamped with approval and created by our church presidency for a reason. But with that said…I have always enjoyed what you and your family have stood for. you are great examples.

  13. I think your children all look adorable and very modest, especially considering that it was over 115F that day. Bravo to you! I think people should worry about their own family and themselves when it comes to modesty. Sheesh.

  14. Holy moly. I think this is a great example of losing site of the big picture. I too am a member of the church, and so appreciate how you open your life up to the world as a witness and an amazing example of deliberate mothering. I guess along with that comes the burden of scrutiny. I applaud you for giving of your time and talents to share the light of Christ with others..on this blog, in India, in your community, and everywhere you go. Jesus encourages us to look at the heart of people, and your family has the biggest, most loving heart ever. And, girl, you still have rockin' arms!

  15. Your family is beautiful and I LOVE Lucy's hair! You look like you are a fun mom. I hope to be that way when I have children someday 🙂

  16. Where does Elle get her clothes?! She's always dressed way cute! I love all the colored pants your kids were wearing and I especially love Lucy's cute new hair and adorable dress! 🙂

  17. I love your blog! Where do you get your kids's clothes? They always look cute!! As for the judgemental undertones…I'm sorry you have to deal with them! You are my Mom idol!

  18. It is interesting to me that regardless of faith, loads of people read this blog and feel they must comment and project their own feelings on subjects like modesty…as though this is a public forum.

    Last I checked, this blog is a personal blog shared by a wonderful person, not an official site for the LDS faith.

    Some of the comments would lead me to believe that the LDS faith is a faith full of judgement…not a faith of love.

    I thank Shawni for opening her "home" through this blog and sharing with us all. Regardless of faith you are an inspiring person!

    p.s. Did you learn to cut hair? Lu's hair is so cute!

  19. FIRST OFF….. LOVE LOVE LOVE Lucy's hair cut, she looks adorable as ever, but it suits her soo much!

    2nd, I know we have this conversation about tank tops in our house, my oldest in turning 9, if i am honest, as long as they are not spaghetti straps, i'm ok with it ( I know, i know, whats the difference, LOL..

    Lastly, uummhhh, Elle really grew up over the summer, or is it jsut me, she just seems older lOL!..

  20. I love Lucy's hair, too and those cute waves that are in your girls' hair. Any chance you could post a how-to video? I'm still a dunce when it comes to waves and curls. By the way, we still have nearly a month until school starts here in Seattle. I'm not complaining. I hate the early mornings!

  21. Okay, could your kids get any cuter? Elle looks like a model! You guys sure start early. I live on the east coast and we dont start till Sept 1st

  22. Oh my goodness people such as Hello My Name is Meshan, Courtney Bodily, The Ghemclan, Julie, Shannon, Nattapatta, and SummerV — CHILL! Just as I tell my students in school: "Worry about YOURSELF and let the other person worry about him or herself." People like this are exactly why I have a hard time going to church somedays. You are all too perfect for me!

  23. I love this blog so much! Thank you for always brightening my day with your posts. Your children are so vibrant and beautiful. My two children are still very young (10 months and 2.5 years), and I hope so much that one day I can be the kind of mother you are and that my children will grow to have hearts as big as your children have. I made a post the other day on a particular parenting decision I'd made with my 2 year old (with the "We do hard things" quote as a motivator), and I had a few people tell me (not on my blog) I should have done it differently. It was a bit challenging on my heart because it was not a decision I made lightly, and I know all too well how far from perfect I am and I'm sure I make a ga-zillion mistakes every day as a parent. So it can be hard when people degrade your choices as a parent because you put your whole heart and soul into that role. I thought of you and other Mommy bloggers I love and thought "I don't know how they do it!" But I am so, SO glad you do. Thank you so much for your posts…you really are an inspiration to me. And this was my thought when I saw Elle "If a modeling agent sees this blog, they'll be knocking down Shawni's door!" 😉 So gorgeous…all of them.

  24. Would you mind sharing your after school chat cookie recipe with us? They look delicious!

    I hope you don't feel too bad about the comments on modesty. I think it's more important to "teach correct principles and let people govern themselves" instead of micromanaging. I once wore a short (mid-thigh) skirt to seminary (and school), because it was really hot that day and I didn't have any modest shorts or know where to buy them. My seminary teacher asked me to read one of the quotes in front of the class, which happened to be about modesty. I was totally embarrassed and never wore a short "immodest" skirt again. Sometimes kids just have to learn by experiencing consequences. And probably more important than being perfectly modest everyday is for kids to have a good relationship with their parents and for them to know they are loved.

  25. I love the previous commenter's thoughts. I was a little surprised to see the pics of Elle, but I kind of sense that Elle is old enough (and stubborn enough) to make her own choices about what she wears. I also think that in hot climates, everyone spends so much time in swimsuits and coverups that they get a little desensitized. However, everyone else wore short sleeves so I'm sure Elle would have survived and has lots of other beautiful and modest choices. Also, as a mother of boys, I think that we owe it to those good young men to teach our daughters to dress modestly and not use their bodies to gain attention. But like Jill said, parents of teenagers have lots of things they could choose to battle over and it's most important to love unconditionally. Oh, and great job on Lucy's hair! It's super cute!

  26. Love Lucy's new hair! Love that Max & Elle look so much more mature & find myself wondering if it's because of India. I applaud you for taking them and would love to be able to take my older kids, and then younger kids on a similar experience when they are all older.
    They ALL look gorgeous!

  27. Oh they all look so cute….I love love love Lucy's hair like that Shawni! You are quite talented in the hair department. Can't believe your kids already started…we have a few more weeks here but I'm ready and I think they might be too.

  28. My goodness people!! The first thing I notice about Elle is her beautiful countenance radiating the Light of Christ!! As for her clothing, well, I thought that Elle look absolutely darling and modest. I love the color combination!! That was NOT a tank top she was wearing. It was sleeveless yes, but LDS standards do not mention sleeveless, it's says cover shoulders. WE get to interpret what that means for us and are own family! Period!

  29. I LOVE this post, the pictures, your mother's heart, the cookies after school. 🙂 Your children are gorgeous. Elle looks grown up and so very beautiful. I admire you, Shawni. What a wonderful mother you are!


  30. Most of these comments have made me cringe. I am LDS and the biggest complaint I hear about my religion is that folks are too judgmental. Even though they might think they are just asking a question or just wondering, it comes off as judgmental or at least one thinks there must be some kind of judgement or there wouldn't be the question. I think what bothers me the most are the comments are about what a TEENAGE GIRL is wearing. This is such a critical age for girls and I hope your daughter doesn't read these comments or at least doesn't get upset by them. I would hate to have her self esteem take a hit because of what some (even if well intentioned) others said. She looks beautiful to me and I don't think there is anything wrong with how she dresses.

  31. First off, I so enjoy reading your blog and looking at the pictures of your beautiful children. I can't get over how your daughter Claire resembles my daughter Lydia. I am not a member of your Church, however I did marry into a family that is. Having said all of that, my husband's five sisters were still at home when we married and I remember them being taught to be modest. Now that didn't mean necessarily shorts to the knees and sleeves covering the upper arms, they did have rules, but come hot weather shorts and tanks were worn (not talking about daisy dukes). Modesty is not only in the clothing a person wears but it is also of your spirit, personality. I agree with Cindy's comments about being allowed to interpret your Church's standards for your family in a way that works for you and still is in line with your Church. This is true for any church or belief system. I also agree with Megan with the judgemental part; it kinda does come off judgemental whether it was meant that way or not. Bottom line for me (not that anyone asked), do what feels right and works for your family.

  32. I love Lucy's hair. So beautiful cut in a cute bob. Good fix.
    I can't believe you go to school when it is 114 out either. My brother's kids were so hot and sweaty by the time we picked them up from school on the first day. They even had recess that day. Drink lots of water. Thank heavens for A/C.
    Over here in Alberta we don't start till the beginning of Sept. The sun goes down around 9:30pm and it is in the 70's.

    I love all your back to school photos. My daughter who is the same age as Elle going into 9th grade said "mom, why don't you make us cookies when we get home from school?" Guess what I am doing now. 🙂
    Hope your kids all had a wonderful day full of fun wonderful exciting stories. Enjoy your hours alone…. I hate a empty house. I am going to miss my kiddos when they go back.

  33. I wanted to answer Lauren's question. I am an LDS mother as well and I constantly worry about how my daughter will grow up with all the pressures she will face. Here is what I have come up with: Here on Earth, no one except for the Savior has been or will be perfect. We all sin. Therefore we are being "selective" as to what commandments we keep and which ones we don't. The point is to wake up each day and try again to do our best, give it our all. At the end of the day, we should review our efforts, see where we went wrong, repent and try again the next day. We should talk about our efforts and our actions with our children and work together as a family. It shouldn't matter what others do or what they wear, we need to focus on ourselves. We can't be perfect on our own nor can our children, this is why we have the Savior, he makes up the difference. So, of course I plan on having rules, setting an example and encouraging her to keep the commandments, but my main focus is going to be teaching her about Christ. He is ultimately what is going to help her the most in this life. I hope that helps, this parenting thing is the hardest thing I've ever done ! 🙂

  34. I've seen a few comments about modesty and my first comment is Elle's shirt is not a tank top as much as sleeveless and I think it's adorable plus I really don't see what wrong with a tank top it's not like we are seeing anything we shouldn't be seeing??

  35. These comments are truly unbelievable. So her shoulders showed, OMG – from reading these fanatical comments you would think that Shawni sent her to school naked. And the not eating at McDonalds on Sunday? I guess to each his own but really? Do you seriously expect me to believe that if one of your children (and you guys all seem to have a minimum of 5 or 6) needed some medicine on a Sunday or they would suffer greatly, you would not run down to Walgreens and actually BUY some medicine on a Sunday?? Is that being "selective" of the "rules"? Would "Heavenly Father" forgive that one? Puh-lease! The girl wore a sleeveless top to school – I don't think she will burn in a fiery hell for that!Shawni has so much going on and has a lot of trials and worries already, I cannot believe you zealots are giving her a hard time about a blouse.

    1. In the new testament (bible) Jesus taught about keeping the sabbath day Holy. He then taught a parable about the ox in the myer. Saying to the judgmental pharisees "if your ox fell into a ditch on the sabbath would you not rescue it" likening the scriptures to our day the answer to your question would definitely be yes we should definitely go to the pharmacy to get our child some medicine regardless of what day it is. The Lord taught the Pharisees back then to yes remember the sabbath is the Lords day so try & honor him on this day by our thoughts, words and deeds but there is no need to be ridiculous about rules if it is an emergency particularly. But yes not judging is key 🙂 can't tell you how many times we've had to fill up our Petrol tank on Sunday's whoops! Lol

  36. We just agreed with my sister that Elle is always so pretty and wears clothes we both like so now I am a bit confused…I do not think that there is something wrong about the way she dresses but I have to admit that I am not a mormon so I am not quite sure if there is something in the picture that goes against your religion. I am Christian and as far as I can see, this family can be the best example for everyone out there. They love each other, truly believe and try to make this world a better place. I do not know them by person but to look at their photographs always cheers me up and I am thankful for that. The family I grew up in was way different my father shouted with us all the time, humiliated me and my mother every day…Shawni gives me hope…Thank you! God bless you all!:)

  37. Elle also has pink kool aid streaks in her hair and even the little kids wear ankle bracelets, etc. This is "trendy" and "worldly" isn't it? At least in the LDS world? Leave Shawni and her beautiful family alone – she does not owe anyone on this earth an explanation for anything.

  38. " And this was my thought when I saw Elle "If a modeling agent sees this blog, they'll be knocking down Shawni's door!" 😉 So gorgeous…all of them. "

    I totally agree with this comment!

    I realize modesty is an issue and important covenant in the LDS religion, but I also think that people should spend less time judging one another, and more time worrying about themselves.

    Your kids' pictures are adorable and I hope they all had a wonderful first day of school! My kiddos are 3 and 1, but I know time will fly by and they will be starting school before I know it! :-/

  39. Since when is a sleeveless shirt immodest? Poor Elle, for getting the backlash of a simple and well covered shirt. Love your blog, and family.

  40. I only occasionally log into your blog. You are an exceptional mother, from what I've seen and I'm impressed by your husband and children as great in doing service and excelling in family unity and church service.
    Just because we start our sentence with "Not to be judgemental", doesn't mean whatever follows is NOT JUDGEMENTAL. People, please worry about your own family, make your own choices and spend less time criticizing other people. As a member of the LDS faith, my biggest challenge is with others of our faith who are too worried about other members and making judgements. That's not our purpose on earth. Agency is something we supposedly chose and we are all accountable for our own choices. Non-members who read this blog are most likely impressed with the closeness of this family and are now questioning the LDS community because why would anyone want to join a faith where they are judged by other members? Raise your family as you are comfortable and, even start your own blog if you think you have such a great example, but quit judging other people. I belong to a faith where the judgement will be after death and as far as I know it won't be by a jury of our peers.

  41. I have always enjoyed reading this blog and have, until today, left feeling uplifted and inspired to try a little harder. The comments about Elle's beautiful outfit for the first day of school have made me so incredibly sad. I fear we are losing sight of what matters most. You tell me the LDS church is all about Christ but it appears to be more focused on shoulders and thighs.

  42. I read alot of comments about standing out by dressing modestly and sacrificing styles so people know their LDS. As a member of the church and a mother, I would rather my kids to STAND out by they way the TREAT those around them and by their LOVE of JESUS CHRIST. I want others to see they know CHRIST by their countance and love for others…not by wear long shorts or sleeves on shirts. This is why Mormons get a bad name… How come not alot of non-members know are church is based on Christ, but they all know we don't drink, wear short shorts, etc. I wish our church was more known for our Christ like personalities and love for Christ and love for everyone no matter what. It rubs me the wrong way.

  43. Shawnee, I sure hope you don't let some comments stop you from sharing your beautiful family and perspective on life. I have three kids (the oldest is five), and I look up to you so much. I've grown so much as a mother from reading your posts and advice, and I would be so sad if I didn't have people like you to be an example of what my little family can grow into. That's the beauty of the Internet, that you can connect and share with so many friends that you might not ever even meet in real life.

    As for some of the comments on this blog, the standards in our church aren't an end in and of themselves. They are guidelines to help us stay close to the spirit and Christ. (which your family obviously is!) And it just kills me that they talk about being a good example. Nitpicking other's personal decisions is the perfect way to not be a good example. If anything, it's going to drive people away from wanting to associate with/emulate them.

    Elle, I can tell, is not only beautiful, but a really good girl. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. It has lifted my spirit so much.

  44. Where did you buy those adorable red cuffed jeans/pants that your daughter wore, and what about the grey t shirt?? Love that as well. Please share>>!


  45. You have inspired me to start having after school cookie chats with my kids. Sometimes I don't find out for days about something that happened at school, so it will be nice to just relax with them, let them know I'm happy to have them back home, and for them to unwind. Thanks for this awesome idea!

  46. What a frustrating experience it is to be writing a completely innocuous post about the first day of school and have it start such a ridiculous conversation. What a shame that people who are less familiar with the LDS faith are reading all of the comments left by well-meaning, yet careless people, and coming to conclusions that are so far from accurate. I love this blog. I love what you stand for. I love that you are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman who puts her family above everything else. I love the uplifting, faith promoting example that you are, and the inspiring way that you live your life. I appreciate the efforts that you continually make to be an example of the standards that we uphold in our faith. Thank you for all that you strive to do.

  47. She is wearing layers and her legs are covered. Appropriate for school. Is there air conditioning even in the school?

    It's hot there.

  48. First, I must state that I do not belong to the LDS Church. But after reading a lot of these comments, it makes me question just exactly how judgemental and mean some of the members are! At least the ones who are commenting here! (Yes, I know this is also judgemental, but then again, I'm not claiming to be Christlike). You all are setting a really bad example for your faith.

    Shawni, I think Elle's outfit was adorable. If your family is happy and you strive to live your life in a way that God would love…then that's all that matters.

  49. I am an LDS mom of teen & preteen girls, and I am so sad after reading some of these comments. To make negative comments (especially publicly) about a lovely girl's dress is not in keeping with the Church's teachings, and misses one of the primary goals of the Church which is to help us to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. These comments are so judgmental and potentially hurtful (again, made over the internet!), I am truly saddened.

  50. Can I ask what 19 year old girl will be in the same clothes she's wearing at 14 so that it's a hassle to go through clothes and toss them cause they don't all match garrments she will wear after she gets her endowments? I don't like the idea of a teacher shaming the child into compliance by trying make an example of them in front of the class. It's pressure and isnt that what we want kids this age to resist? Pressure from the group?

    Your extended family really must be under so much pressure. I do not consider wardrobe choice a failing, but what if one of the kids doesn't serve a mission, or doesn't live up to some perceived expectation of exceptionalism?

  51. Shawni,

    I'm fairly new to your blog and I absolutely love it AND your beautiful family. I have six children of my own and I love when I find other families that love one another so much!

    I am not of the LDS faith, but I do understand judgement because of my own faith. From my experience..all it does is tear the Body of Christ apart. Thank you for the beautiful example of modesty and love your family represents. The love of Christ is evident in your children and they learned that lesson from the example given to them by their parents.

  52. Um…wow. I had not read the comments for this post until I became confused by the next day's post.

    Really?!?!?!? Come on people. When did you become Elle's parent's? Was your "question" about modesty SO important it was worth over shadowing the reason we have modesty as a guideline in the first place? To remember and become like Christ.

    Elle, I don't know you, or your mom. I only just found her blog a month ago because of a Pin about the Young Women packets and I'm sure some random comment from me, a complete stranger, will, in all likelihood, not have much retention in your memory, but I hope you know the only people you should be hearing the loudest right now are your loving Heavenly Father and your loving parents. (Most commas in one sentence ever! You're welcome.) He sent you to them for a reason. Because He loves you.

    Your mom is wise. Listen to her. Believe her when she tells you are wonderful and she is proud of you. We all have room to grow and learn and change and improve. Thank goodness for that! My favorite moments seem to be when I am growing the most. Even though in the middle of them I'm pretty sure I feel like this growing and improving business is lame-sauce! (Don't worry, the young women in my ward think I'm weird for using that phrase too.)It's hard work which makes it all the more worth it!

    Virtual hugs!

  53. It is interesting to read all the comments about modesty and judgement, some are judgemental of modesty and some are judgmental of those who are judging because of modesty.
    As a mom of little girls and boys. I have contemplated my stand on this. I hope to be able to teach them correct principles and let go enough to let them govern themselves. Sometimes this is easier said than done as a parent. I just pray they have a desire to have a relationship with their Savior and the desire to make good choices.
    Judging is all too easy and sometimes I am too good at it myself.We are all entitled to have opinion which evolve and change as we grow. I think the hardest judgment to avoid is judging those who judge.We all experience different things that help us form our opinion, so it is nearly impossible to make an accurate judgement about why someone else does what they do

  54. I read this post yesterday and yes, I noticed that Elle had a sleeveless shirt on, but what I really noticed was how beautiful she was and I was trying to figure out how she did her hair – the curls are awesome and I loved how part of it is pulled back and I loved the clip or headband in her hair. So cute! I seriously tried to figure out how I could do my hair the same! 🙂

    There is a lot that could be said on this topic, but obviously I don't have time to write much with a house full of kids and things to tend to. I admire you for writing a blog and opening up your house and family to the world. I don't do that; I keep my blog private for just family and friends. I don't want stranger examining my life. I'm sure you know that's the risk you're taking. I think most people are just curious and looking for help and advice because it's so dang hard to figure all this parenting stuff out. I know it's all about what's best for your own family and your questions need to go to the Lord through prayer…but you must also recognize that it's helpful for others to learn from you or I doubt you would keep this blog in the first place. So we, as readers, do read carefully and notice things that sometimes arise questions – hence your Friday Q and A. We are all trying to figure out how to teach our children the Gospel and appreciate your family's beautiful example. ALL of your children radiate happiness and LIGHT. Thank-you!

    I first saw you at TOFW last year in Richmond and fell in love with your pictures and personality. Your blog is one of the few left on my Reader as I have been trying to limit my blog reading time. Thank you again!

  55. These kinds of modesty comments Are excatly the kinds of thing that makes many of us outide your church think LDS culture is damaging; especially to young women. Reading this dialogue was gave me a view of just how much pressure and judgement are applied.

    Shawni I live your honesty and wish you had left all the comments up. They are a true reflection of the culture in your church.

  56. Shawni~
    I am dying over this modesty thing. I too live in AZ and am LDS with teenage daughters. I have just this week experienced some serious judgement on my 15 yr old daughter's shirt (same style as Elle's) and I was actually grateful for this post. I read it out loud to my daughter and husband. I have turned to the scriptures to try to help my daughters all understand what judging others does, and the harm it causes. It's a tough one, and I too have had to talk to my 4 daughters about our own family and what we have decided is appropriate… Anyway, thank you for your eloquent words, and helping my family through a rough week as well. I really do love this blog for so many reasons, and I admire you even more now!! Elle is stunning! All of your kids are. Thanks again!

  57. Wow, talk about controversy. I'm 29 and LDS and I dress one way now but when I was 17 and 18 one of the few ways I chose to "fight" my parents was by wearing sleeveless shirts. I had agency and chose to wear them now and then. We each must decide for ourselves where and how we choose to stand for things. It is hard to let kids learn to choose for themselves but is also a necessary part of growing up.

  58. I love all of their fun and colorful school outfits! Love how Elle paired the golden yellow with the purple, and the daughter with the red pants w/blue shoes and the necklace to tie them together….I get excited to get back to school clothes for my kids. Love the idea of the "cookie chat" and laughed that max forgets everything b/c my son can't seem to remember what happens during the day and it drives me batty!!! Oh yeah, I also love that you were captured cutting/blowing dry after the haircut–i love a mom in action in pictures–Elle taking those? Pretty fancy blow dryer, too. Love your family, you inspire me more than you'll ever know.

  59. I had a friend tell me about this post and I just had to comment. First of all, your daughter looks darling. I am LDS, though I didn't grow up in the church, and the modesty issue drives me absolutely insane. In my opinion, being immodest is about drawing attention to yourself. She's not wearing a midriff baring tube top (and really, so what if she was), she was wearing a cute shirt. She has not gone through the temple so there should be no expectation that her clothing should cover temple garments. I agree with the comments that we should worry about ourselves before we go casting stones. Since living in Arizona I have experienced a lot of this judgemental business toward young women and I think it is so, so damaging. They are trying to figure out who they are. Just because your daughter wears a tshirt under everything or wears basketball shorts when running track or whatever, it doesn't mean that she's modest. Sometimes I think doing those things are more about saying, "look at me and how righteous I am." I wouldn't exactly call that righteous. You have a beautiful family and a wonderful blog–thanks for sharing your life!

  60. Thanks for this post. I love getting a glimpse into the ups and downs of another lds family's life. I'm sorry that blogging about anything can open the door to scrutiny and criticism. But I do appreciate seeing the comments as a reminder that Christ is the center of our faith and we are each on our own journey back to Him. Not all of us there yet when it comes to outward appearances and actions (but these are subjective measures and often misleading anyway). Very few are there when it comes to our hearts and our thoughts about others.

    I never would have thought twice about how your children were dressed and I'm still scratching my head about why so many people took the time to be critical of it. Please don't let it discourage you from being open.

  61. Your children all look beautiful!!
    Wow. What is up with all the crazy comments? Is being a judgmental bully any better than wearing somthing (some)people may consider inappropriate? The passive aggressive comments do nothing to help or support anyone. They bring people down. How is that letting the light of christ shine?

  62. Your children are beautiful- I hope you won't let all these silly comments about modesty get to you. Don't listen to the Pharisees! The light in your children's eyes speaks for itself. Being a disciple of Christ is about love, not sleeves. Thanks for posting:).

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