The title of our blog has reference to the location of our first home together, here in southeastern Idaho on a little ranch in Sugar City,"where only sweet things grow".

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


If you're the parents of a large family, and not all of your children have the same interests as the majority, do you insist that they participate in these particular family outings?
Texas Rectum Ripper

As an adolescent, and now as an adult, I was a huge fan of getting the whole gang together to "go and do" the wholesome recreation shin-dig! 
I feel gratitude for the unity we experienced when my parents would get us all together to go to visit SPLASHTOWN, enjoy overnight campouts at Pine Crest lake, or hiking in Tahoe, and the most eventful memories of our 1,883 mile road trips from Texas to Nor-Cal during the summer break.

I'm also grateful that my siblings and parents found interest in doing the same things all together; this made family unity that much more attainable for us.

Separation and Divorce

"Those from disrupted homes have lower levels of trust and altruistic love, various difficulties in intimate relationships such as more conflict and anxiety about love and commitment, and a lower likelihood of marrying."
(Jacquet and Surra 2001; Tallman, Rotolo, and Gray 2001; Wallerstein 2005; Chen et al. 2006)

Altruistic love is defined as the belief in or practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others.

A good friend of mine was painfully unwilling to say "I promise". My initial reaction to her inability to feel safe taking upon herself the responsibility of  making and keeping promises, made me feel unsafe-- not to mention how much pressure I felt if I wasn't perfect in keeping the promises I'd potentially make to her.

When I shared this in class today my professor paused, and then reflectively said "I will she handle making gospel covenants?" I'd failed to perceive the potential struggle in my friend's making and keeping eternal covenants.

Oh, how important the Savior's Atonement is. I am grateful for my witness of His healing love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Family Under Stress

The purposes and benefits of family stressors, and how to turn them into possible benefits.

In my psychology course I've been learning about perception and sensation. 
Perception- the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize meaningful objects and events.
Sensation- the process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system receive and represent stimulus energies from our environment.

My professor, a Licensed Marriage & Family therapist of twenty-plus years, was sharing with the class a common theme that he's discovered. During their first visit  he'll ask the couple to share what it was that caused them to fall in love, and more often than not those characteristics that they initially adored have become the source of their frustration. Isn't that something else!?

I wonder, how do I perceive the sensations of life? Are my challenges stepping stones or stumbling blocks?

I shared with my wife the thought that when our loving Heavenly Father decides to answer our plea to remove a burden, the opportunity to progress is lost; or we will have to make due without that skill or increased understanding.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Complete Fidelity

Last weeks topic of study in Family Relations was "Sexual Intimacy & Family Marriage". How blessed I am to be instructed with reverence on such matters. A near impossible opportunity in a formally educational setting. I've experienced the opposite while attending other community colleges and public school systems. It is absolutely no wonder to me why the youth of our nation are getting themselves into less-than-virtuous troubles (don't even try google searching images for "fidelity"). Infidelity is an awful crisis!
This photo portrays a very significant act that plays just a part of complete-marital fidelity; which is loyalty. It's a gruesome image (very sad), but when I found this shot while searching under the word "loyalty", I felt my heart and mind whisper "yes, this is the personal sacrifice all husbands need to be prepared to make as they honor their wives"!

One of the objectives of our studies last week included:
When do I begin teaching my children about the meaning, purpose, and sacred nature of the sexual relationship between husband and wife?

Untempered Soul
My wife and I plan on teaching our children about the wonderful gift of the human body sooner-than-later. My earliest experience with this topic outside of the home was in the fourth grade. All I recall is a couple of my ill-manored classmates pumping soap into their hands from the dispenser while in the bathroom and alluding to a topic I had not yet learned about. My wife and I are commitment to educate our children-as thoroughly as is necessary- before any of their peers, their peers older siblings, their teachers, or any other authority figure outside of the home, for that matter, has the chance to inform our kids "how to find out if it's a boy or a girl kitty"-because the answer is not "vote" on it.
I'll never forget the "bird's and bee's" chat I had with my Mom in her bedroom some time that afternoon. She handled that topic with flying colors-thanks Mom.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A White Smile Wearing Royal Blue

Just before training began at work this week, my co-worker arrived wearing a royal blue t-shirt. Immediately following my realizing she was wearing a vibrant royal blue shirt, my attention was then drawn to the exceeding whiteness of her smile.
“Wearing blue makes your teeth look whiter!”
 I realized then that my family system must be symbolized by a healthy, white smile, wearing royal blue.
The assignment for my Family Relations mid-term paper was to describe the Hodgkin system using a metaphor. The morning after having learned that blue accentuates your smile the light bulb moment struck me. I was in the middle of brushing my teeth when the ideas came flowing in. At the beginning, writing this analogy quickly became frustrating. As I pushed through my inability to put in words what I felt while maintaining my own dental hygiene, I was fortunate to establish some really fun, yet realistic, correlations.

A real smile can cause another to feel joy and smile back. Another variable of a healthy smile is the presence of all our teeth, thus allowing us to consume the food that keeps us alive.  Those who’ve raised children understand how difficult it can be to persuade your children to establish a good habit of brushing well. When I’ve watched my nieces or my cousins little children brush, they apply the paste to the brush, wet the bristles under running water, knocking the paste off and into the drain, and then they quickly scrape the little teeth just in the front, spit, and on a good day they might brush their tongue at the end. The reason I mention the challenge of motivating oneself to go to the washroom and brush, and do a good job of it, is this; parents will be most successful and happy when they intentionally lead out in the rearing of their family. This is something new that I have learned in my study of marriage and family. Families are going through the motions when rearing young lives. Fathers and mothers succumb to this complacent parenting style because they are exhausted, stressed, ignorant, or preoccupied.   

This is what I’d like most to share here. This is my epiphany (gained at the conclusion of writing my paper):

Unlike my parents, who’s parents and siblings left mortality while they were still young, I still have both my Dad and Mom. Along with my parents all of my sisters are living and involved in my life. Like the presence of my family unit, a mouthful of healthy teeth can bring about great things. I believe my personal progress is influenced by the lives of my individual family members.

I will be more diligent in thanking the Lord for giving me a family here on earth. They are so good to me. They share their lives’ with me and this gives me a sense of belonging. Their desire to be a forever family is like the royal blue t-shirt, it gives us (the white smile) divine purpose and enhances what is good in us, as we remain unified in our discipleship.

I’m grateful for all my teeth, as I am so thankful for every member of my Hodgkin family. I love the Savior’s teachings that make us strong together. And I just may wear the color blue more often.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Preparing for Marriage

Week 5 of Family Relations we read the chapters entitled, "Getting Involved", "Falling in Love", and "Selecting a Life Partner". I would like to share the following personal experience I had on campus just last week- I feel it fitting to what I've been studying.

On my way to my last class of the day I bumped into a couple "BF" girlfriends. They cordially greeted me with a hug, and the first inquiry they made was, "how is the married life". My response was that "I'm very happy", and that I was "loving the married life". Their tag-team reply to the expression of my happiness was the accusation, "you wanted to be married so badly", which of course I lovingly accepted. 

Unfortunately, I took offense to this comment because I was taken off guard by, what I felt to be, an unkind conclusion on their behalf.  I shouldn't have been surprised given my past experiences with these two young ladies- I'm referring to their emotional maturity. Knowing that both girls are fairly frustrated on the matter of dating and marriage; having heard it from their own mouth in past one-on-one settings- where we find our peers more likely to let down their guard; I wish I would have replied as a prophet of the Book of Mormon would've, with teaching and testifying with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost as my guide.

After having pondered for a moment, this is my heart-felt reply to their accusation of my "badly wanting to get married":

I did...badly...want to find the best woman for me! By no means was I desperate to get hitched. If these two girls knew and interacted with me during my twenty-first to twenty-third years of age, I'm certain their perception of my being "desperate for marriage" probably wouldn't have been cognitively evaluated at all. 

I value my growing experiences as a young single adult. I'm grateful for my self-motivated desire to educate my mind and heart through books about navigating the path toward lasting love, and preparing for temple marriage. Discovering my preferences for an eternal best friend, companion-spouse, and mother to our children was a priceless realization! My years of "playing the field" was one heck of a journey, frustrating at times, yet heartbreaking too. This season, I whole heartedly believe, is absolutely necessary for all young adults seeking to gain the attributes crucial to the union of marriage and family.

May I dedicate my blog-message to the youth who are establishing uplifting friendships and young adults who are seriously seeking out marriage, be watchful and vigilant during these days which are given to prepare for such a sacred covenant-- the bond of matrimony.  Take this time seriously! Encouraging my single brothers and sisters to be jovial and have fun in their dating pursuits doesn't feel as needful. 

God speed gentlemen. Be true!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How do we help things go right?

The Arbinger Company

I believe the consistent application of the Parent Pyramid can greatly assist me as I seek to establish a happy, joyful, and dynamic family.
The main points that I came away with after studying the Arbinger Company’s article associated with above pyramid is the importance of self-awareness. My wife and I started our day off with lecture in our Religions of the World course. This week we are studying Buddhism. My instructor, Bishop Kinghorn (who served a full-time mission in Thailand), taught us about the 6 Realms of Being. It seems a Buddhist follower places great importance on knowing one-self and then to improve.

“The roots of effective parenthood lie deeper than anything we DO; the roots of effective parenthood life in how we ARE.”

“This is true”, argues the Arbinger Institute, “no matter how sophisticated and intellectually respectable our method happens to be.”

Heavenly Father blessed me with parents “kind and dear”. This was evident to me as my father and mother continually honored their covenants with the Lord; equally sought after a quality marriage relationship; earned my love and friendship as they reared their growing son through teaching and loving correction. In their own way, they put into practice this pyramid-and they did it from the foundation on up!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Class & Cultural Diversity

The week taking us into the 180th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was an interesting one for me in my Family Relations class. 
We viewed videos about social classes and how their individual backgrounds affect human lives. For Wednesday's class we read chapter 2 from our textbook concerning Diversity and attempted to discuss our discoveries in Friday's class.
I agree with my fellow classmate who made the comment that, after watching viewing and reading the assignments last week, "it was tough listening to such judgmental and critical perspectives after having listened to President Monson's address to the general Relief Society of the world".
I'm of the opinion that exposing myself to the written theories and published documentaries of the society I am apart of helps me better understand the world around me. Though not only will my understanding increase, respect of, and appreciation for those around me but I will grow into a better disciple of Jesus Christ. 
Along with my social science courses this Fall I am also studying statistics and the religions of the world. This course combination has been teaching me so much about the diversity in the world around me. I'm trying to learn how I can continue standing for truth and righteousness amidst a world full of information. What is worth my continued learning and what isn't?
I'm excited to review the words of the Prophets and leaders of the Lord's church on the earth today. I have faith that the Holy Ghost will enlighten my understanding of Heavenly Father's plan for my happiness while I seek secular knowledge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

4 Parenting Styles

Parenting Styles:
This week I’ve been working on a four-page paper summarizing the guidance techniques used by my parents.
In order to really “write to learn” I went to my family of origin and asked what they feel Dad and Mom’s parenting style is (given the diagram shown above). Mom said “I'd say I was somewhere around the middle of the left upper quadrant, in the high love ~ high control area.” My youngest sister voted authoritative for both Mom and Dad as well. ”Growing up”, Melanie recalls, “we knew Mom and Dad loved us. We knew what was expected of us”.  And I agree entirely with my soon-to-be (12 days) full-time missionary sister.
It would be wisdom in me to confess that I cannot begin to comprehend, fully, the rewards and growth that I will be endowed with as a Dad. That right there was a “rose colored glasses” way of saying IT’S GONNA HURT! No matter how humbling family life may be for me at times, I’m excited to behold all that our future has in store for us, especially in the realm of fatherhood and partner-parenting, side by side, with my wife. 
Ever since this semester’s courses began the following whisperings return to my thoughts daily: “Dustin, you can read books and attend formal lectures till you are blue in the face, but you’ll really learn parenting by becoming one”. This revelation is in no way meant to discredit the value in being an educated and skilled parent. I’m an advocate that empowering oneself with the best books does a body good.

My Dad doesn’t receive praise very well; he gives God, Our Eternal Heavenly Father the glory every time (as we all should). Even still, this week’s post wouldn’t be “meaningful”-as my professor intended it to be- if I don’t follow my heart and recognize my…heavenly-earthly parents.
I’m in the mood to offer thanks to my beautiful mother and handsome father.
 Thank you for being committed to each other. You two make a wonderful husband and wife. Your enduring example speaks volumes to a phenomenal quantity of souls. May I speak for all four of your children when I express gratitude for your being an “authoritative” couple, for loving the Lord so much and in return He was able to show the two of you, together, how to lead, guide, teach, and walk beside each of us in a tailored way.
Heavenly Father really has been in the details of our lives. The Hodgkin family is evidence of the ennobling power of the Master's grace. I testify that Jesus of Nazareth performed the atonement that was accomplished on the cross at Calvary and in the Garden of Gethsemane. By the power of the Spirit, I know the offering of His own sinless life truly carries the power to return us to our heavenly home. I love my Savior.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shout out for Alisa!

Rumor has it that my new sister, Alisa, has her Senior high school Homecoming today. We wish you wonderful memories tonight! Hope your date is the guy who helped y'all decorate our truck during our wedding reception-good guy!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Social Trends

Becoming aware of the latest available studies and most current data concerning societies attitude toward heterosexual marriage, the "natural" or "traditional" family unit, was terrifying to read.

I read that most people no longer regard a traditional family of an employed father (the breadwinner), a stay-at-home mother (the homemaker), and children a "practical" arrangement. My family wasn't sensible or realistic?
Those days that were not so enjoyable my mother would playfully quote her sister; "Don't get married...don't have kids." Even still, I'm absolutely confident that my Mom would respond just as Cornelia did in the ancient Roman story.
The next page the author states "Most Americans still regard marriage and family life as an integral part of happiness, not a state that inhibits the individual's quest for happiness." Wait, this statement conflicts with the other "most" who are of the opinion that a legally married Dad and Mom with children of their own isn't realistic? So, what the world is arguing is that happiness is not practical? I'm so grateful for a Dad who was willing to drive his Toyota into the ground so his son and three girls could have their Mom-not a hired caregiver. Thank you Mom for magnifying motherhood.