My question is whether or not you schedule your family reunion at Bear Lake at the same time each year so everyone in your family can calendar around it or do you have to go through the calendaring issue each year. I find it tricky to balance all the in-laws reunions and ours and find a time each year we can all gather at our cabin. Just wondering if you all go there the same week each year so it can be in perm. ink on the calendar.

This is a perfect time for this question because with the logistics of big families it obviously helps to start super early. Each year we try to keep the family reunion the same general week (the Wednesday through Sunday after the 4th of July). It works well for us because I have three brothers who work for the same company who have a conference in Utah the week before so it works well logistically. This year is proving to be a little bit tricky because of some unique things our family is trying to work in, but I think it’s a great idea to have a week everyone plans on every year so everyone can just know it’s there to plan around, especially as families grow and become more and more involved in the summers.

I can’t wait for the sleep over post… it’s something I am thinking about, and would love to hear another mom’s input on! I find it so helpful to hear what others do and then use that to set guidelines in my home. It’s especially nice to get opinions from others who have strong family values and a Christian perspective versus the mainstream America one.

I can’t remember which post this question stemmed from, but I’ve been asked whether or not we do sleepovers probably more than any other question. I know I’ve answered parts of it before, but here is our stance: We don’t allow sleepovers except on rare occasions (a best friend from a different city, a cousin, one child needs some extra attention, etc.) I know maybe a really good parent would just say no and that’s that, but we feel like there are unique situations that really warrant some flexibility. That’s what works for us. We do “late nights” quite often in place of sleepovers which seems to help quench our kids’ thirst to be together every waking minute with their friends 🙂

I had so much fun at sleepovers growing up and I want my kids to have those experiences, but I’ve heard too many negative things that have happened as a result of sleeping over and so we pretty wary of them.

We started doing “awards” last week. {from this post} The kids loved it, and are eager already for next week. Do you give every child an award each week? Also, do you give multiple awards to one child (say if they are neat as a pin, and a leader for the right)?

We have not been good at doing these awards this year so thanks for reminding me! We’ve shifted a little bit to talking about who should win an award in conjunction with things in our family motto (that I talked about back here), so I’ll let you know how that goes.

But, as far as the awards you are taking about, Dave and I always tried to make sure everyone gets praise as to what they did well, but if one child really did amazingly well on three of them one week they really deserve to have all three on their door. I think if we always tried to make everything “fair” then they wouldn’t care as much because “everyone will get an award.” If they don’t get one one week, they’ll try harder the next week.

I think we live in a society where too much is tried to make “fair” and it’s a disservice to our kids.


  1. I think it's good to have a little wiggleroom with the sleepover rule. We don't do them either,but then we had friends come from out of town and we let the kids have one, we also do have sleepovers with cousins.

    Love the awards idea…I think we will do them starting this Sunday!

  2. Love your sleep-over answer. We don't do sleep-overs either. Much like you, though, with exceptions for cousins, friends going out of town (so we watch their kids), or we are going out of town so our kids stay with their friends. These are pretty rare, though. My kids know these are the rules. Every once in a while they'll ask, and I will just say no. We do late nights, too.

  3. I love the Q&A posts — it helps me since I'm new-ish to the blog because you link back to older posts I may have missed (ones that were frequently commented on or questioned).

    I don't comment much but I love your blog. Keep it up.

  4. This has nothing to do with the post, but I know you are presenting at TOFW here in Phx. I have a friend that had bought 2 tickets. Her mother passed away this morning…so she can not attend. If you happen to know of anyone that would like to buy them…please send them my way.


  5. We have been doing the "awards" for just over a month and they are a hit. My kids love them and I think they would be completely devastated if they didn't earn something. I love hearing each of them share their ideas and looking for the good in each other.

  6. I am wondering if you have any advice on traveling to Bear Lake. I am not familiar with the area at all but we would love to travel up there to experience it. It looks and sounds amazing! We live in Colorado so it isn't tha far of a trip… a good place for a family getaway.

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions on where to stay? Condos or hotels? Launching boats? Do you launch and take out everyday? Places to eat? Pools or just lake? Any suggestions you have would be awesome!

  7. Your sleepover policy (+your thoughts/memories/wariness of the sleepover) is 100% like ours.

    I am also thankful that we made our decision about the sleepovers EARLY in our parenting–so there's really never any push back or discussions about it. I love it when I hear my kids tell their friends the policy and that they can do a late night instead– and they're never upset that they can't do it. (Often, I get the idea that they're kind of relieved…)

  8. @ seven smiles–Yes. the sleepover policy has also saved my daughter from potentially uncomfortable situations. It is just so easy to say "We don't do sleepovers". Everyone seems to understand and have no problem with it.

  9. While we did some sleepovers, we did a lot of "sleepunders", where the guest usually went home by 11. This helped on church nights, kids who were afraid to stay away from home, homes our kids didn't want to really stay over at, and my sanity for those kids who were more than a handful, but loved coming to our house!!! It worked really well!!

  10. "I think we live in a society where too much is tried to make "fair" and it's a disservice to our kids."

    100% agree. 1,000% agree!

    A question completely unrelated to the sleepovers- I am doing joy school with my daughter and I am curious as to who is singing the joy school songs. Some songs sound older with the piano playing and the younger kids singing- could it be you and your siblings when you were younger?!?!

  11. Hey Shawni
    I met you at Time out for Women today and wanted to tell you that I love your blog.

    After I read it I am so excited about the possibilities of motherhood. You show how being a mom can be so fun and fulfilling while also showing that it definitely has it's hardships.

    I want to be a deliberate mother and your ideas and insights have helped me so much.

    This is what I wanted to say to you today but I was too nerdy and nervous to tell you:)

  12. Hi this is a RANDOM question, but I'm trying to find the paints I saw on your kitchen counter in one of your posts awhile back. Lucy was using them and they were paint bottles with what looked like a foam tip applicator so they couldn't spill and very easy to apply. I'm trying to find those for my kids for christmas. Could you please email me and tell me where you got them? What brand they are? Thanks!

  13. Okay, I am really curious now why people have no sleepover rules!! My kids are 4 and 6 and have never asked for one yet, but I know the day is coming and we had sleepovers when I was a kid and I don't know what the issue would be. Actually right now my biggest issue would be bedtime, since my kids still go to bed at 7:30 and are a MESS when they don't – but the "late nights" would have that problem. I am really picky about whose house my kids go to, period – I have to really know both parents and all siblings before my kids are allowed to visit someone's house. Bad things can happen in five minutes the same as they could overnight. My kids also know that some of our household rules (like that they can't watch on TV) carry over to other people's houses, and if they break them, they can't go back to that house. Anyway, I'm wondering if you (or someone else who has a no sleepover rule) could elaborate (I actually wondered about this when I read Tiger Mom – what's wrong with sleepovers?!)

  14. I love that your talked about the no sleepover rules. It seems pretty easy for your family and the kids are ok with it.

    Does it ever happen though where the guest they are leaving still has friends there and they are sleeping over. Does this upset your kids?

    What do you do when your husband is out of town and you have to do the late night pick up?

    When one of your kids are at a late night date do you keep the others up late too at home?

    What do the other parents in your group think of this?

    Sorry for asking more questions but I can't believe it is that easy for your kids. Especially the oldest two.

    I wasn't allowed on sleepovers either growing up. When my mom would pick me up and all the others stayed for the sleepover I felt horrible and sad. My friends kept asking me why I couldn't stay.

    It seems my daughter's friends parents like sleepovers and invite my kid and others to stay for the weekend. That is too much in my opinion. I let them have sleepovers and lately it's out of hand with all night staying up and finally crashing at 7:oo a.m. which ruins any family plans the next day.
    I know talking to these parents won't work and that is what they do and don't care. If my girls invite their friends to my house they say no to my girls because midnight is bedtime and they don't like that. So now my girls get upset if I say no to sleepovers. Any suggestions from you or your readers would be great.
    I tried the late night dates too and same thing happened.

    I'm happy you have this rule and I think it is important because things can go wrong at a sleepover.
    Thanks so much for these posts.

  15. I have a few question that relate to blogging. So many people out there are scared of putting their kids names and faces on the internet. I love that you don't blur the faces, give goofy names, etc. to your kids (but respect that some people feel the need to do so). Just wondering your thoughts on that and if you've ever had any problems or stalker-type followers.

    Also, related to blogging, was wondering if you still keep a personal journal or if this is it for your personal chronicles. Do you ever feel like their are more personal things you don't want aired on the internet but want to record?

    Finally, how do your kids feel about your blog? Do they read it? Do they mind being featured on it?

    Thanks for the great content here and for sharing your life – I love reading and getting a little positive "umph" in my day of mothering from your thoughts, ideas and experiences.

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