Raising a Creative Child

My guest writer today is Ada, a stay-at-home mother of two rambunctious preschoolers. Ada enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and reading when she’s not playing Mommy.

Creativity is used every day, in every aspect of our lives. When we think of creativity, we usually think of it in the context of art, but according to Wikipedia, creativity is “the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art, a novel, a joke, etc.) that has some kind of value.”

What does this mean to me? It means that if I want to raise a child who can solve her own problems, she needs to be creative. I feel that creativity is a necessary component of a child’s education, but how do we raise a creative child?

Foster Exploration

In the dryer - fostering exploratioSome children may seem to be born more creative than others; however, their creative tendencies are likely due to an environment that is open to creative expression, rather than stifling the child’s explorations.

In our home, we foster an atmosphere of stimulation. If my three-year-old wants to color the grass pink, because it’s her favorite color, I don’t say, “grass is green, not pink.” This would stifle her creative exploration.

And instead of having a long list of items within reach that they can’t touch, we set out items that they can touch, feel, sense – in essence, explore.

Fun in Exercise

Fun in exerciseJust as a child needs to exercise her muscles to help them grow, creative “muscles” need stretching and exercising.

Exercising our muscles can either be a grueling, hard and painful experience or a fun and enjoyable experience.

Likewise, exercising our child’s mind can either be tedious or joyful.

Have fun with your child – play games that will provoke thought and imagination, let them explore, or give them a bunch of objects and just let them create.

Reading, Writing, and a Rhythm

Several studies have indicated that reading to children before preschool-aged will help them do well in all facets of formal education, as well as helping them to have basic speech skills.

The other night my 3-year-old came up to me and said, “Mommy, I’m not feeling well. I can’t eat my dinner.” Really she just wanted dessert, but I was impressed with her proper use of grammar, her sentence structure, as well as her solution.

Reading writing and a rhythmWhen reading with a child, try the following:

  • Ask questions. “Where’s the bird?”, “What is that man doing?”, or “What is going to happen next?”
  • Let the child fill in the blanks. “Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the water ______.” (Pause and let the child say “spout”.)
  • Let them “read” to you. Even if the child can’t read words, they can make up their own story using the pictures. You’d be amazed with how much of the story they pick up from listening to you read it to them.
  • Have toddlers and preschoolers act out the story or draw it.

What are some other ways to promote creativity in our children?


23 July 2017 — Changed the author’s image and removed a dead links.

Past Pictures: 25 Years Of House Anniversaries

1st year anniversay

1987: 1st year house anniversary. Only four children

Each year in October, on the anniversary of the day we moved into our home, we take photographs of our family on the steps and just the children in front of our tree. Jill’s idea was to build up a collection of photographs to look back on.

4th year anniversary

1990: 4th year house anniversary. Daniel born in 1989

On this the 25th house anniversary year, we collected as many of the photographs as we could find and display here one for each year. Some are temporarily misplaced, so there are gaps in the record. However, we expect to find the missing years eventually.

5th year anniversary

1991: 5th year house anniversary

On the first house anniversary, Jill wrote:

We had a birthday party celebrating the day we moved into our home. Sarah brought the puzzle home from church so we put it together. Steven made the decorations. We all gave a present to the house by picking up all the garbage scattered around outside. Then we took some family pictures on the front porch. Inside we sang “Happy Birthday Dear Home” and celebrated with cake and ice cream.

6th year anniversary

1993: 7th year house anniversary. Using our tree as a backdrop

1987 Journal entry:

Monday 26th October 1987
We had a very fine FHE — the 1st birthday of our home. We even had a cake with one candle for refreshments. We took 2 photos of the family outside the house. The actual birthday is the 15th of October. Jill did the lesson — seems like Jill and I at one time were hard-pressed to come up with a lesson and didn’t like to do it. Now we both don’t like to give up our turn because we see it as a chance to teach the children something that we’re anxious for them to learn. We still have family prayers and read books to them. They like that.

9th year anniversary

1995: 9th year house anniversary. Sunday best

10th year anniversary

1996: 10th year house anniversary. Utah Centennial

11th year anniversary

1997: 11th year house anniversary

12th year anniversary

1998: 12th year house anniversary. Steven made his first million

13th year anniversary

1999: 13th year house anniversary. Cousins Connor and Ashley join in

14th year anniversary

2000: 14th year house anniversary. Five millennials for the new millenium

15th year anniversary

2001: 15th year anniversary. First year using a digital camera

16th year anniversary

2002: 16th year house anniversary. Steven is on his mission in Chile

17th year anniversary

2003: 17th year anniversary. Steven on his mission

18th year anniversary

2004: 18th year house anniversary. Steven returns. Paul on his mission in California

19th year anniversary

2005: 19th year anniversary. Paul on his mission. Derek, Sarah’s husband, center

20th year anniversary

2006: 20th year house anniversary. Paul returns. Jake on his mission in Mexico

21st year anniversary

2007: 21st year house anniversary. Jake on his mission

22nd year anniversary

2008: 22nd year house anniversary. Jake returns. Adelaide, Steven’s wife, far left. First grandchild, Bryson

23rd year anniversary

2009: 23rd year anniversary. Daniel on his mission in Mongolia. First granddaughter, Aurora. Sarah’s family in Texas

24th year anniversary

2010: 24th year house anniversary. Daniel on his mission. Second granddaughter, Cassandra. Jake engaged to Rachel. Sarah’s family returns

25th year anniversary

2011: 25th year house anniversary. Daniel returns. Paul engaged to Megan

2012: 26th year house anniversary. Second grandson, Jameson. Just prior to trick-or-treating.


Added 2012 photograph.

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Moving Out. Moving In.

We needed an Armada to move everything out

We needed an Armada to move everything out


Moving Out

Jake and Rachel got the keys to their new house yesterday. Today we moved them out of their rented duplex and into their first home. A lot of family members turned out to help them move and I captured the historic moment for Rickety.

When it comes to moving, minivans can hold their own

When it comes to moving, minivans can hold their own

There was a moment when Dan slowed to a crawl

There was a moment when Dan slowed to a crawl

Bryson, future Elders Quorum material

Bryson, future Elders Quorum material


Moving In

Sold to Jake and Rachel.

Sold to Jake and Rachel. The sign comes with a house

Jake and Rachel are moving in

Jake and Rachel are moving in. There goes the neighborhood

Moving in

Moving in. Honey, I need more furniture!

Moving in the piano.

Play for me, "Be it ever so huge, there's no place like home."

Carrying the bride over the threshold

Jake and Rachel have been married less than a year so this still counts as carrying his bride over the threshold

Thank you everyone for helping with the move. Special recognition goes to Realtor Paula Alder for her hard work in finding Jake and Rachel a beautiful home.
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New Home In Layton

Steven, Adelaide and Aurora's new home.

Steven, Adelaide and Aurora's new home.

If you are a friend of Steven and wonder why he has not been online much in the last two days here is the explanation. Steven and Adelaide have purchased a home in Layton. Jill and I helped them move in today a few hours after closing. Two of Steven’s brothers and two of his cousins were also heavily involved in the move. To unload the refrigerator two of Steven’s friends kindly assisted.

Steven and Adelaide are very deserving home owners having worked and saved hard for this day. We are all very happy for them.
Rickety signature.

Snowing in Kaysville

Snowing at my home.

This morning the snow is falling faster than I can clear it.

Here is the somewhat rickety forecast for the week:

Another storm will arrive Monday afternoon into Tuesday. A third storm will brush southern Utah on Wednesday, with the next significant storm arriving here along the Wasatch Front and in Northern Utah around Friday.

As always, here in Utah we are grateful for the snow and the water it brings. I’m also glad I won’t have to contend with a storm Monday morning. With the snow falling and the tree decorated it really feels like Christmas. Now if I could just get my gift buying wrapped up I could really enjoy the season.
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How to Get a Life

It was suggested by one of my children that I write a post that outlines my advice to the groom who is about to be married. Here is my counsel encapsulated into one sentence:

Provide physically and spiritually for your family.

I realize that most of you want a little more detail so I have prepared the following.

Get a Job

If you already have a job that’s great. A woman needs the security of a revenue stream. In college and elsewhere you may have heard people say “Work at a job you are interested in,” or “Be employed in an area that you have a passion for.” I have often thought this is like saying, “Never get sick,” or “Always be happy.” The reality is that your job will be hard, stressful, and dull. Walk around the office and see how many married men have a photograph of their family pinned up in front of them. That’s what keeps you going when all you really want to do is to pick up the computer monitor and chuck it through the window. That is, if you are lucky enough to have a window close to you.
Taking our own family photograph.

Get Religion

There is an undeniable spiritual dimension to life. You need to be exposed to the great teachings in the scriptures and to regularly attend church. There you will be reminded to be kind and generous, to work hard and to give service, to treasure your wife and to love your children. Of course the religion I recommend is my own. You will need to know what to teach your children about their Heavenly Father. You will be able to tune in to your spiritual nature to help you find answers for yourself and your family. Your wife will appreciate your sensitivity borne of your closeness to the spirit.

Get a Home

As soon as you are able you need to purchase a home. If you are still in college you should finish your studies first. Every crop of young home buyers envy the low home prices and interest rates available to the previous generation. Once you own a home with a fixed rate mortgage the ever present inflation now begins to work for you. Each year the fixed mortgage payment becomes relatively cheaper compared to your income. Surprisingly, you even get a tax deduction which seems a little ridiculous in my opinion.

You may not want to take on such a large financial responsibility but it is a necessary step in the evolution of your family. Your wife needs a home that is her own to beautify and to welcome relatives and neighbors to. It adds to her sense of stability.

Get out of Debt

With a home you have the mother of all debts that can take a lifetime to pay off. For a modest home it is considered a justifiable debt. As would be health care expenses and education. Keep away from all other debt and if you ever refinance your mortgage do not add any new money to it for home improvement. Also consider reading this post on debt.

Get Children

At an early point in your marriage introduce children into your family. You may think that you cannot possibly support children at this time. I thought the same too, as do almost all fathers. But it all works out and years from now as your hair is graying you will be eternally grateful that you were unselfish enough to allow children to share your life.

This verse sums up my attitude towards my children:

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. (Psalms 127:4-5)

This is the most advice I have given in years and most of it I learned from listening to wise old men over the pulpit. And I have proven its validity over a lifetime of experience.

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Missionary Jake Returns

Welcome Home Jake: sign on our fence

Waiting For Jake

Today Jake was returning from Mexico after two years. We all climbed into our rickety old van and went to the airport to greet him. Parents and siblings were all there along with an aunt and cousin. It is indeed a happy day. After two years of weekly emails and a thirty minute phone conversation every Mothers Day and Christmas Day we were ready to talk to him face to face.

Connie and Susan joined us in the airport to wait for Jake's arrival The boys were fascinated by the Tombstone Deep Dish Pizza machine at the airport Jill is the first to greet Jake at the airport. Daniel, Sarah, and Jill are happy to see Jake.

Jake by the Mexican Flag

Jake Finally Arrives

He was very skinny and had lost weight — no doubt because of the constant missionary labor. This is our third son to return from a mission so we are getting used to the routine. Except it is never routine to see your son for the first time in two years. We had the usual sign that read WELCOME HOME ELDER WILLOUGHBY. A sign that has been stored and recycled for each of our three missionaries. And there is yet another Elder Willoughby readying himself for an October entry into the MTC and two years hence be a recipient of our aging, yet still colorful, welcome sign.

The boys occupied themselves at the airport with a Tombstone Deep Dish Pizza vending machine. Even though they would be eating shortly (their mother reminded them) they had to try out the machine by buying a pizza. Of course their sister provided the dollars to feed the machine. The boys could not be drawn away so we took our photograph amongst the food machines.

Released From His Mission

We left the airport to eat at The Olive Garden in Layton as per Jake’s request. I tried to get him to eat at each Mexico restaurant along the way but for some reason he didn’t want to. Adelaide, Steven’s wife, joined us at the restaurant. Afterwards we went home and at 7pm went to the Stake Center to meet with the stake president. Jake was released from his mission and after visiting awhile at home he left with his brothers to go on a hike.
Jake with his Stake President after being released from his mission.

Past Pictures: Richard at Eight

Richard at 8

Occasionally I will post Past Pictures. This is my first. It is in the backyard of my home in Weston Estate where I lived for fourteen years. Our family rented a Council House like most everyone else. It was a pleasant home.