(I've really got to start handing the camera over to Chas so I can actually BE in some of these photos too.)
Chas and I aren't consistent in every area of the gospel. We seem to always struggle with maintaining great scripture study practices and our prayers are definitely prone to becoming less heart-felt and intentional than they should be. We need to get to the temple more frequently, also. We're working on it.
But one thing that we've tried really hard to establish in our family- from day 1 of marriage- is making family home evening happen every monday night. During the new-parent adjustment period after Hero was born, family night kinda fell by the wayside most of the time. But we're back on the wagon and doing a pretty good job nowadays, I think!
Hero LOVES family night. In fact, most nights, after dinner, she'll say something like "What do now, guys? Family night?!" Her enthusiasm makes it so much fun. Sure we can only hold her attention during a lesson for about 7 minutes max and maybe some weeks the lesson consists only of us sitting her on our laps and talking to her for a few minutes about something like prayer or temples but watching her cute face beam with happiness the whole time is enough to make me want to have family night every stinkin' evening.
Sometimes I'll make time to actually prepare a short lesson with a fun visual aid or small game. Things like a really simple lion's mask for Hero to wear and "rawwwr!" with when we talked about Daniel and the lion's den or word strips with different "happy choices" and "sad choices" she could make during the day and then corresponding smiley face and sad face cups to put the choices in. Last week, when we talked about building a strong foundation of faith, I got two small tupperware bins- filled one with dirt ("sand") and put a large rock in the other, made two little paper houses, put one on the sand and one on the rock, and then poured water into each tupperware. My personal favorite was making us all little Thomas S. Monson puppets (taping his picture to a stick) and using them to sing a song together: "Where's the prophet? Where's the prophet? (hiding it behind our backs)...Here he is! Here he is! President Thomas S. Monson. President Thomas S. Monson. We love him. We love him."
Besides a lesson, we also always start with a song (usually "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" at Hero's request), a prayer, and family announcements (where we talk about what we have coming up that week). After the lesson, we let Hero decide what she wants to do for our family play time activity and sometimes (rarely) we have a small treat.
Short. Simple. Kinda perfect.
After last night's family night activity we did the whole bath and bedtime routine. Nothing special or out of the ordinary. But for some reason, everything in the world just felt wonderful. Probably because, during those evening hours inside our little brick house, it was.