Tyler, Texas

We plan to spend a lot of time just being with our children doing various activities that will help them learn. For example, it is important to us that we read to our children a lot and help them learn to read as early as possible. (Amanda learned in graduate school about the importance of this to later success.) Also, we plan to teach them science related things, music, geography, math, etc. Amanda loves teaching. We're excited for the opportunity to teach our kids.

We will also teach them skills that will be important to life, such as how to clean (we will do these things together), how to iron, cook, garden, sew buttons, etc. Beyond just temporal things, we will teach them about Christ, the atonement, that they are loved children of their Heavenly Father, and other gospel principles. As with the other things we want our kids to know, we will teach them through our conversations, through church service and attendance, through family prayer, scripture study, and home evening. Along with this, we will teach them to be kind to others, to contribute to the community, and to establish a habit of doing service.
In addition to helping them learn we also plan to provide lots of opportunities for them to build lasting memories and strong family relationships. We will play lots of games, do physical activities, build traditions, travel, and find out what things our children most enjoy doing and try to include those activities as much as possible.
One of the advantages to having had so much time without children is that it has given us lots of time to observe the parenting of others and assess what seems to work and what doesn't. We especially learn a lot from parents who have well-behaved, respectful children. We have noticed that they do not yell at their children, but look them in the eye and calmly talk to them when the children need to be disciplined. We plan on following this example.

We feel very grateful that Ryan's job provides us with the means for Amanda to stay home with our children. We feel that having a parent in the home provides increased stability, security, and love for our children.

Abigail is only a year old so many of these ideas we have not yet had the opportunity to put into practice yet. But some ways we have begun doing these things are: reading to her (we read at least 30 minutes a day); teaching her signs for important words and helping her develop spoken langauge by talking with her a lot; teaching her to pick up her toys; including her in family prayer and scripture study and praying with her before she eats; weekly church attendance; taking her on walks/runs with Penny, hiking, and swimming; taking her on family vacations (she has already been to 11 states); playing with her and taking her to play groups so she can interact with other children; and having her stay in brief time-outs rather than any physical discipline. We are not perfect parents and will probably make many mistakes a long the way, but we love Abby and try each day to be the best parents we can be for her. We are so excited for our family to continue to grow and to spend the rest of our lives (and eternity) loving our children.

Amanda and Heather - celebrating Heather's birthday at the botanic garden

Getting a little reading in while Mom makes dinner
Ryan and his dad
Future Mozart?
Mindy, Emily, Maggi, Jenny, Amanda, Molly, Missy
Sending Dad good-luck wishes the day he interviewed for a new position at work - he got it!
Ellie, Ethan, Lissa - they had a surprise birthday party for Amanda
Uncovering dinosaur bones at the Fort Worth Science Museum
Heather and Ryan - Maui, Hawaii

Meeting famous race horses (including Da Hoss, Cigar, and Funny Cide) at the Kentucky Horse Park
Mindy, Amanda's mom, Maggi, Amanda, Braeden - Ireland

Clearly she is a dentist's grand-daughter
Maggi and Amanda at the San Diego California Temple - being bride's maids

Fun at the park with her cousin Liam
In December 2009 Texas got a record amount of snow and Amanda had her first white Christmas - so much fun! We made snow angels and snowmen, and had snowball fights