When we were in Utah for Spring Break last year I found a treasure.  Like, a serious treasure.  It was our “Ancestor Book.”  2013-03-15 memories 714722013-03-15 memories 71473 It is a vintage-y looking large book that my Dad bought when we were all young and that he gradually filled with stories of our ancestors. 2013-03-14 memories 71397 And the best thing about that big, cool book?  Us kids got to illustrate that thing. 2013-03-14 memories 71459 …and man oh man you can bet your boots that we were pretty darn excited about illustrating a big, cool book like that.2013-03-14 memories 71461 2013-03-15 memories 71475 I actually don’t think that story has been proven to be true in any shape or form, but it is a pretty cool story…with some awesome illustrations by yours truly at age seven:2013-03-15 memories 71476 I had been meaning to find that big book of ours for a while…I wanted to check out some of the ancestor stories we helped write and illustrate as a model for doing something similar in our own family. But wow, I found so much more than ancestor stories. All that time I thought that book was just filled with stories of those who went before us.  Little did I know it was also filled with stories of US. What made our family run. In that beautiful ancestor book I hit the goldmine: the whole “framework” for our family. The scaffolding. I found where we spent Christmases for years on end:2013-03-14 memories 71398 Our family mission statement:2013-03-14 memories 714002013-03-14 memories 71401 Where we all opened our mission calls:2013-03-14 memories 71402 The principles my Dad came up with for us to memorize when we lived in Oregon for a summer:2013-03-14 memories 71403(more on that trip HERE) There were also some “Hawaii Principles,” but apparently this luxury Hawaii thing happened when I was already grown and gone because I don’t know these ones.  I just love that my Dad was always trying to teach us something or another.2013-03-14 memories 71404 These were our “awards” we had growing up:2013-03-14 memories 71407Click HERE to see the ones we did in our family. This next one is written by me as a young teenager, not sure in conjunction with what, but sure good things to live by that my Dad must have gone over with me and pasted into the big book:2013-03-14 memories 71426I sure need to remember that #2 these days. Growing up we memorized a quote or scripture every week.  There’s a master list of some of them in that big book:2013-03-14 memories 714272013-03-14 memories 71447(We have adopted this in our family and I LOVE it…I’ll write more about that later.) We also had a family “Major” and a “Minor” each year…things we worked on together.2013-03-14 memories 71440 Here’s the big plan for family traditions.  That first one is funny…they even had traditions as to which cake we would get each year on our birthdays.2013-03-14 memories 714412013-03-14 memories 714422013-03-14 memories 71446 Back to the ancestors, this one is probably my favorite.  It’s about my Grandpa I never met.  My Dad’s Dad who died when he was only fifteen, leaving him to be the “man of the house” with four younger siblings and a widow mother.2013-03-14 memories 714542013-03-14 memories 714552013-03-14 memories 714562013-03-14 memories 71457 Yes, that book is a treasure.  I could hardly help myself from taking a picture of every single page (as you can see 🙂 but it went on and on and on.  So many plans and goals and dreams in that beautiful thing. As I looked through that book memories washed over me like velvet. How incredibly grateful I am for my parents who masterminded their family to the very best of their abilities.  How grateful I am for their true example of deliberate parenting. And for the evidence of that in my Dad’s careful hand…all the scribbles and pasted in notes along with perfect, thoughtful handwriting…things he wanted to do, to work his heart out, to build a family God would be proud of.  I may be biased but I think he did a pretty good job. Since I found that gem, I’ve been inspired to fill the book I have for our own family a little more flowery and deliberately.  I will share it soon. Thanks Dad.  I love you. 

Similar Posts


  1. Thank you for sharing these wonderful ways to parent. At first I thought, I wish I would have done some of these things early on in my parenting. Then I had the thought, "You can start now." I am a Mom to 4 great kids–a 20 year old daughter, a 17 year old daughter, a 12 year old son and a 7 year old son. I want to give them great memories, traditions, and love for one another and God. I sure am trying and I appreciate you sharing your life and the things you have learned and do to be a deliberate parent. 🙂

  2. Thanks for putting this all here Shawn! (why do you have this book? we all need copies, no?) It's pretty incredible what Mom and Dad did. Somehow that incredible parent gene seems to be skipping me. How did they manage all that? It makes me want to do so much better, devote so much more of my energy to real stuff. Thanks for this reminder. Love you.

  3. There is a lot of great parenting insights in that book! Even looking at the pages you've posted makes me want to set up traditions this way!

  4. After reading several posts about your family, I've wondered (several times, it seems) "What is their secret? How did they raise such an amazing family who all have testimonies of the gospel?" But with this post, the answer is staring me in the face. Your mom and dad truly made parenting their number one concern. It is evident that every day was an opportunity to teach their children different principles that our Savior would have you/all of us learn. Their parenting was truly 'deliberate' — and extremely inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. You're so right…that book is a treasure! What a unique and inspiring way to mold and grow a family with such clarity and purpose. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks so much for these great photos, Shawni! That book is such a big part of our childhood. And a while back, Dad and Mom gave us photocopies of all the ancestor stories and illustrations but I'd forgotten about the rest of the great stuff in there. I want the rest of the photos!

    For any families out there who want to build their own unique plan for wonderful things for their family, check out this program that is based on our parents' wonderful ideas: http://powerofmoms.com/family-systems-online-training/

  7. Thank you so much, Shawni. It's so beautiful to see that your parents have such a unified approach to parenting, and such a deliberate, careful one! I wish we had done something like this with our daughter. It's hard not to get done on myself and it just say "We can start now," as the commenter above said, but as they say, if not now, when? I appreciate the inspiration!

  8. i was mesmerized with your great great grandpa edwins story. what happened after they arrived in america?
    i see now why you have such an amazing family, you have such great role models!

  9. This is SUCH a gem. I have truly never seen more deliberate parents than yours. SI agree wholeheartedly with something someone else wrote- "What is their secret? How did they raise such an amazing family who all have testimonies of the gospel?" But with this post, the answer is staring me in the face. Your mom and dad truly made parenting their number one concern."

    I know you know how great your parents are, but I hope you REALLY know how great your parents are. Truly incredible people. And I thank them for writing such wonderful books to help all of us young parents out along the way!

  10. This is so awesome! This makes me want to strive to be a better parent when I grow up! Icant wait to have a great big, functional, loving family like you! I am not a Mormon but im interested in the religion, I have a question: Are there certain things you can/cannot do on sundays, besides going to church? Thanks! Love you guys!

  11. Amazing!! I love this…how amazing are your parents? Thank you for sharing this…Your family is such an inspiration and I am just so grateful that I'm able to learn from you all! Thank you!

  12. I've read your parents books and love them. It is neat to see the thoughts I've read in their books written out in their own handwriting. What amazing parents! Thanks for sharing!

    Judi 🙂

  13. Oh I can't wait to see what you are currently doing for your family. I love how you can see the same traditions you've carried on in your family too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *