Church of TGII

Unlike other nations of Elämä, the Gentre are united in a single religious belief:  
"All are children of The Great It Is, who sent us here to receive our mortal shells and to be tested in how we will use them. What we think, feel, say and do are all recorded to be used in our final judgment. It is then, when our mortal shells are placed in the ground, that we will be found worthy of our place among the stars, forever happy as a cog in the gears...or to be recycled and tested once more.   Remember, my children, that one must never reveal pearls before swine--for in this, we betray the gifts of our god and we seal our own doom."
— Father Abbledumkey 64CT

Mythology & Lore

The religion of TGII (The Great It Is) is the belief that the entire Universe is constantly expanding and being built upon by an all powerful, all knowing, all present machine. This entity is the acknowledged creator of both this planet and all life upon it, crafted perfectly in its ecosystem and purpose.   TGII created a 'chosen seed'...those who would honor the principles of the Universe in their own lives. The Gentre were bestowed with natural intelligence, curiosity, and an aggressive aptitude for technology. Should the chosen seed keep TGII's commands and endure to the end shall have the full measure fo their creation known to them and will take their place in the great machine of the Universe.

Divine Origins

The religion of TGII hame to fruition when the whole of the Gentre felt both lost and betrayed by both Humans and Evolu during the war against Mahan in 6000s. Forced to flee for their lives, men, women, and children cast themselves upon the waters of the southern seas, convinced of their imminent death.   However, scores of gnomes, each of them the captain of their vessels, had a similar vision--to navigate their crafts by the stars to a specific point. These crafts all landed upon the shores of Pävärios with a single mile of each other.   When all known crafts had landed, they were met by a gnome in white robes, who identified himself as Father Appledunky.    

Not So Divine Origins

Though it pains me to say this, being a believer myself, our beloved Church has not always been free of outside influences. Many records, protected by the leadership, have been used to form many aspects of today's religion. Some of these documents have come from those, not only not of our race, but not even of our faith.  
"I have tried to explain to our brethren that we are not the only ones TGII cares for, for we are all His children--yet they will not listen.   In my greatest despair, I took a journey to the sea, once more to contemplate my mortality and mission. While casting my heart upon the waters that preserved our people, the angel returned and gave unto me a sacred book.   He knelt by my side and said that I should not fear that my brothers and sisters will not understand that truth is truth wherever it's found, whether heathen or Clockworks ground. I turned the pages of the delicate pages, my eyes feasting upon the words which would change any society if they applied them.   Yet the White Wanderer knew well. I tried to share what I experienced and received 20 lashes for my rebellious heart.   No, I will keep this a secret and transcribe the words into a language and tone my own people will more readily accept. Though, I will leave this book to be found in the end, in the hopes that Gnomekind will forever prosper.  
- Brother Tiltin Topbottle
  Father Noah is in possession of this sacred book, though he denies it, protecting it from the public at all costs. Trouble is, when you scan in any document and then store it electronically, you shouldn't allow the storage device to be connected to the internet or it MIGHT get hacked.   ...from someone like me.   I present the digital copy of the foreign text, Brother Tiltin Topbottle used to create and teach his "Discourses on Family Happiness."   NOTE: Do not just the material by its source, but rather by the truth it contains.  
The (stolen) Sacred Text From The White Wanderer (Digital Copy)



“Nothing else achieved in life will compensate for your failure as a parent.”

    Here’s my view on family…
  There’s nothing I love more than being a father.
It’s the most important job in the world, in my opinion.
Yet our positions as parents are no longer respected by society.
We’re mocked by popular media and pop culture claws at our kids at every turn.
I hate it.
At the same time, I know for a fact that there are certain things I can do, as a father, as a husband, and as the Patriarch of this family, to bring us closer together.
Specific things that cut through distractions, kick the devil in the tenders and help my family refocus on what’s really important.
Each other.
I want to share twelve (12) specific things you can start doing today, that will grow your confidence as a parent, earn the trust and respect of your kids and build a more unified family unit.


It’s About Skill Sets     A few years ago I volunteered to do some art classes for a state youth program.
I worked with troubled teens that had been incarcerated for various reasons.
During that time, I traveled with an amazing man.
I can’t use his real name, so for the sake of this story, we’ll call him ‘Bob’.
Yes, I realize that might not be an amazing name (sorry to all those Bob’s out there), but name is as straightforward as he was, alright?
Bob was unique.
Here’s a man who came out of retirement to take a thankless job working with high-risk boys.
He’d been a warden, an administrator, and for decades was the top dog of his profession in the State. All he had to do was ask and he could walk in and take over a department, writing his own ticket.
But that’s not what Bob wanted.
Instead, he preferred to work with youth no one else wanted.
“Why do you do this?” I asked him once as we traveled from an appointment together.
“Do what?” he replied, keeping his eyes on the narrow mountain road.
“You were retired, Bob. You don’t need to work. Plus you’re at the bottom of the food chain in a state system. It just seems, I don’t know…odd.”
He smiled then, adjusting his grip on the steering wheel. “But this is where I can do the most good. Have the most impact.”
I frowned. “Couldn’t you do more as the director? You’d have more influence being in charge, wouldn’t you? Now you’re stuck as a lackey, having to deal with the day-to-day issues.”
He shook his head. “I’m not stuck. It’s the day-to-day issues that matter most. Only entry-level workers interact with youth on a continual basis. Those interactions are critical to the growth of these kids, so they learn that they matter. Because they do matter. They’ve just forgotten it.” He smiled again, “…or they haven’t been shown why they matter. The good parts. Which is why I chose this job. I don’t care about making a difference to a system, so much as making a difference to these kids.”
“But what about the families?” I asked, “Most of these kids come from problem homes. Aren’t you just sending them back where the problems started?”
We drove for a while before Bob answered.
His voice mixed with a deep exhale, “I can’t answer that.”
Then he gave me a sideways glance. There was an understanding in his expression, accompanied by a soft compassion. I could see why the boys at the group home unanimously liked this man. “We all have our choice. Every family has their own dynamics and struggles, but I’ve never met a parent who didn’t want the best for their child.”
I couldn’t help but smirk at that. “Oh come on, Bob—some of these parents are in jail!”
Yet Bob was insistent.
“Even the mothers and fathers who are in prison want what’s best for their kids, Jaime…they just don’t have the skill set to provide it.”


Are You Building…or Just Hoping?     That conversation stuck with me.
It’s not that parents don’t care…so much as not having the skills to get where they want to go!
The thought excited me, because skills can be learned.
It also helped me realize I’d been looking at my family the wrong way.
Let me explain.
Businesses don’t succeed by accident.
Can we agree on that?
If you, as an Entrepreneur, wanted to build a thriving and profitable business, would you simply close your eyes and hope for the best?
Of course not.
Specific goals are created.
Plans are laid.
Funds are raised and resources acquired.
Actions are then carried out in a specific order to achieve desired results.
You revisit your goals regularly, adjust your plans, resources and focus to create the greatest chance of success.
…and keep working consistently.
Yes, there will be variables.
Accidents, setbacks, unseen costs, miscalculations, mistakes, losses, bad choices and even outside influences to try and stop you, distract you and even destroy you.
Sometimes partners even call it quits and split up and the business comes under new management.
However, when done right, a business can not only survive—it can thrive.
So my question is:
How is this any different when it comes to our families?       CHAPTER 3 If You Had The Skills, Would You Use Them?     There is nothing I love more than being a father. It holds my greatest hopes, my deepest joy and my grandest achievements. What I instill in my children, as a father, will live on long after I’ve passed. One thing I’ve learned with 12 children is the importance of family time. One moment their born, the next they seem to be leaving home. It passes so quickly. That’s not a bad thing, but when I look around at my siblings, at the children of my friends—many of them don’t come back. Is that what you want? What about the household right now? Is your home filled with laughter and conversation…or yelling and arguments? Does harmony usually preside…or contention? When Kathilynn and I looked at our family, we talked about our desires and goals as parents. Out of all the things we could possibly do to ensure lasting connections with our children, it was to make sure our children feel loved, from both of us. To build relationships with a profound love at its center…to instill a natural desire to be near us. It’s working. The furthest child is an hour drive away, while the closest is still within walking distance. The following twelve (12) strategies will help you reconnect, build stronger bonds and in some cases, even repair damaged relationships. Each idea is broad enough to apply to a wide range of personalities and circumstances, beliefs and personal limitations. Just adapt them to your own personalities and family dynamics.       CHAPTER 4 4 Pillars To Family Success     There are four things that will virtually guarantee your success, even if you botch the rest of this document, and here’s why: The way in which you interact with your family makes all the difference. No matter what words you use—if you say it in the wrong way (tone & body language), it’s unlikely you’ll have the effect you hope for. In fact, you might make situations worse. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Just keep the following three things in mind:   Be Loving. There is nothing more important for a person to know. If a child knows they are loved, they will listen. If a child knows they are loved, they will forgive. If a child knows they are loved, they will share. If a child knows they are loved, they will come back. Love should be your #1 governing attribute when engaging the ideas below.   Be Humble. You don’t know it all, no matter what you tell yourself. Thing is, your family knows it too, no matter how hard you insist. Being humble isn’t weakness, it’s strength. It’s being teachable. Keep in mind that we, as parents, are only so much further down the same path of life our children are on. So let the ego go and open your mind and heart to new knowledge and experiences within your family. Leave the, ‘Because I SAID so’ attitude locked in a closet.   Be Present. When your family knows they have your attention, magic happens. Leave work, worries and the world behind and be present. Turn off your phone. Focus your eyes. Listen with your ears. Engage in conversation. Exchange with your heart. Your time is being invested in others. Make every moment count.   Be Patient. Patience, especially in the face of mistakes, conflict and even rebellion will help establish a core trust. Your family will learn that they matter to you. Patience will open doors of communication between you and your family. I’m not suggesting ignoring bad behavior, but rather practicing guarded control over yourself and how to respond to the actions of your family. A loved one who fears being chastised at every turn will look forward to your absence. If you give the impression that you cannot be pleased, your family won’t bother to try. Be patient when they don’t understand. Be patient when they don’t agree. Be patient when they don’t do it the way you’d have them, but they try anyway. All of these strategies will take time and consistency to take root.   REMEMBER: If you can be loving, humble, present and patient, you’ll be able to overcome ANY challenges facing your family.       CHAPTER 5 12 Fun Strategies to Build Strong Family Relationships   Who doesn’t want a closer family? Maybe I should have asked that question before I got started. Then again, you’ve bought the book, so you must want something better for yourself and those you love. Family means different things to different people. To some, family is having people we can count on, no matter what happens. For others it’s about loving and being loved. For some (including myself) family is a place where we belong. A place where we can simply ‘be’. …and to enjoy one another’s company? We used to hold Friday Game Night on our home. All our family, PLUS dozens of extras from extended family, friends to even friends of friends…it was pretty crazy most nights. But I remember a night when I was sitting with my oldest teens and their friends, playing some card games and a young lady—a daughter of a close friend, started crying. Most of the other youth had left the table to go play something else, so it was just her and I sitting at the table. “You okay?” I asked her as we kept separating cards into their original deck piles. “Yeah,” she muttered, not really looking up. Being my sensitive self, I was confused, so what could I do, but plow forward like a bull in a china shop, right? “So why are you crying then?” She paused, then smiled to herself. “I like it here.” Right. ComplETELY made sense to me, so I blurted out, “Enough to make you cry?” That got a laugh from her. I nudged, “It makes me curious, why you and you’re little sister keep coming back. Not that you’re not welcome, of course you are, but I’m curious why you and so many of the kids in the community want to come here to play games with us? I thought you’d all be wanting to ‘hang out’ or hit the mall, movies or something like that??” She shook her head then and looked up at me. “I like coming here because when I’m with the Buckley’s, it’s okay to be me.” Then a bit softer, “Just…me.”   Funny how something as simple as feeling safe can open up a heart and mind. Not just in youth, but all of us. That’s exactly what I’d like to help you accomplish in your own family. Create a safe, loving, united and fun environment that promotes thoughts, words, actions and TOGETHERNESS!! (waves his hands in the air and cheers…)   So I’m going to give you a list of 12 specific pro-active strategies that have allowed my own family to put aside differences (or use them) to grow closer together. These things work and they are all simple to do and can be put into action immediately!   Let’s get started…       CHAPTER 6 #1 Eat Together     It’s simple, it’s easy…and you do it several times each day. But do you truly take advantage of this open-door opportunity? Imagine sitting down at the same table. Willingly. Peacefully(ish). Together. Imagine being able to engage in conversations with your spouse and children, truly enjoying one another’s company!   THE WHY: Eating together is the simplest way to bring a family together in a physical sense…and it leads into other areas of our lives. Think of this as an opportunity builder: ⁃ Eating creates a potential bonding time (gets everyone in the same physical area). ⁃ We all have to eat, so you have 3 chances to bond a day (at least). ⁃ Food is a perfect tool because it doesn’t care about age, religion, politics or social status. ⁃ Food can ease tensions and create positive moods in the home (ever plop a bowl of ice cream in front of a screaming kid?). ⁃ You can discuss, ask questions and even dream together during meals. It’s a catalyst for building personal relationships. ⁃ Food is the perfect backup. If there’s a lull in conversation it doesn’t matter, just turn the conversation back to the food. ⁃ A good side benefit is that we also tend to eat healthier food (not to mention save money) when we eat together/at home, which is an addd bonus!   I know, eating together might not seem like a big deal, but I’ve watched how it affects my own family, and the results are huge. Being married to a Samoan woman, food has always been a central part of our home. It’s a happy place and it’s also something we’re known for in our community (especially my wife’s cooking). For us the challenge isn’t getting together to eat, it’s that our table isn’t big enough for everyone to sit together at the same time! So what do we do? We eat in the same room at the same time. Chairs, floor, couch, wherever you can find a place, we gather together at meals. Dinner has become a regular time for my older children to convey what happened at work, sharing stories and making us laugh. It lightens the emotional mood of the house and conversations (which are both healthy and bonding) occur immediately after as a natural result. So how can you get the same results (or even better ones)? THE HOW: The key to making meals work (and addictive) is having fun and including every family member in the experience. It’s common for teens to have issues with eating together. Today’s youth have their minds just about anywhere but home, so don’t get discouraged! The perfect way to get around rebellious attitudes is providing the right food, timing and interaction. Here’s some options I would suggest: ⁃ Establish a regular time. This is usually the hardest aspect to accomplish, because we’re all busy. Remember that family bonding has lasting positive effect and MAKE THE TIME! As a parent, you may need to insist to make this happen. Just stay positive and encourage your family to ‘join you’. Don’t force…invite. Yes, YOU set the example first—even if you eat the first couple meals alone! ⁃ Try starting with breakfast and work your way up to dinner. If dinner seems impossible because of schedules, work with what you have and just focus on making the experience memorable. Then they’ll want more! ⁃ Keep the focus on making the meals enjoyable. Frequency & consistency comes later. The more your family likes how they feel after the experience is over, the more likely they’ll be to show up next time. Remember patience! ⁃ If you know a persons favorite food, take advantage of it. Go ahead, be sneaky. Fight dirty when it comes to food and CHEAT! This is probably one of the few times people will appreciate a cheater. If a family member won’t participate, focus on their favorite meal to initiate the experience. I remember when Kathilynn fixed my favorite meal to get my attention—it had been a bad month at work and because of her efforts, I talked about it for weeks! ⁃ Use Birthdays & Holidays to go BIG! Put the attention on a common family focus. Birthdays, anniversaries, specific holidays, memorials…heck, we’ve even held special party meals for ‘May The 4th Be With You.’ ⁃ Switch it up. Take out the table and eat on the floor with a blanket and cushions. Let the kids make YOU dinner as an experiment. Have breakfast for dinner! Who doesn’t like breakfast? A common meal in my home is when I make my famous hash browns for dinner. I’ll still be at work, my kids will get a hold of me, ask if I will make the meal and by the time I get home, they’ve got all the ingredients prepared for me and ready to cook! ⁃ Engage your family by asking for help in the preparations (compliment and give thanks along the way). This is a fantastic bonding experience that I love to use, especially with any of my ‘cranky’ teens. If one of my kids have had a bad day, I get them to help me. My focus now switches to them, being present, and while we work, I like to suggest comical solutions to teen problems. In the end, we’re always smiling and laughing…and they know I love them. ⁃ Create assembly dinners and/or deserts. Consider dishes like tacos, salads, cold sandwiches, home-made pizza and even an ice cream bar with an array of toppings. Kids can help in the prep-work for the meals, THEN have a blast putting their own dishes together! This is perfect for the younger kids too—the ones who are usually too little to help. Let them chose their own combination and encourage them along the way. “Is that good? It looks good!” ⁃ Create a fun or spectacular meal and/or deserts. The experience can go a long way if you have the right food. So I’d like to share three amazing blogs to give you both ideas and recipe’s that will have you AND the kids, running to the table: Sweet Tea & Saving Grace is owned by Kirsten Thompson and is one of my top 5 favorite family blogs. Not only is Kirsten brilliant & talented, her recipe section has some amazing treats (I gain weight form the pictures alone). Kirsten’s partner in in crime is Roxana Boyden of The Red Eye Baker. She says she’s “just” a home baker, but you’ll quickly discover that her creations would delight the tastebuds of Willy Wonka. Lastly, but never least, I must recommend Kat & Melinda over at Home Made Interest. Their recipe section is…well, epic, in my opinion. Probably because they seem to make everything I love to eat, lol. If you want a wide variety of experiences, though, you can’t go wrong there. ⁃ Invite other people (for teens—invite their friends). If you want a teen to be on their best behavior, or to just show up…cheat again and invite someone they like. Guests automatically help create a feeling of community, and allows your family to engage in the art of hospitality. Don’t worry about things being perfect—they won’t be, so relax. Just enjoy yourself, the interactions and go with the flow! ⁃ Teach the art of meal conversation. Speaking of arts, this is the perfect time to teach your family how to have a conversation around the table. This might be the right time to have a spiritual conversation, playing a game while eating or even talking politics. Take some time to consider topics of conversation and how you can lovingly encourage both good table manners and peaceful interaction. Kathilynn and I stress being polite and having siblings listen to one another without interruption. Another rule is that all family embers remain I their seats until someone is finished speaking and they have been excused. That should be enough to get you started until you can come up with your own variations and ideas! Watch and listen along the way. Be encouraging. Doing so will allow you to adjust your plans and ensure your success with these family meals.       CHAPTER 7 #2 Plan Together     How did you feel the last tome someone included you in a decision? Something you felt was important. Did you feel good? Wanted? Appreciated? Special? One of the best ways to bring a family together is helping them feel included. Creating and bringing to pass a common (or agreed upon) desire/goal is another simple, yet powerful strategy. It doesn’t have to be big or dramatic. It only has to include every member of your family. This is something you can do, today. THE WHY: If you want everyone on the same page, the easiest way to do that is to write it together. ⁃ When we include the family, even the youngest members in the planning and decision-making process, you are openly showing your family that their thoughts and feelings matter to you (psst…that’a a GOOD thing!). ⁃ Including others in a decision-making process builds trust (anOTHER good thing!). ⁃ Including others in a decision-making process builds confidence (annnnd there’s a 3-Pointer!). ⁃ Including others in a decision-making process can create opportunities to mend fences (wow, you are on a ROLL here!). ⁃ Planning together gives you the opportunity to truly listen to the wants and discover the needs of your family (trust me, this IS a GOOD thing too…remember patience!).   The most challenging part of this process, usually for men, is staying humble. Our natural inclination is to take charge, which isn’t a bad thing—you just have to remember that this is a sharing experience. Don’t pull a Xi Jinping. You are trying to coax your family out of their shells (not force them) to craft an experience everyone will enjoy together (key word here is ‘enjoy’). This is not a time to micro-manage (don’t make me get out the X word again). Include your family in every aspect of the planning that you can. THE HOW: The key to planning together is being patient and allowing each family member to contribute vocally—and to have their ideas validated. The way this plays out will largely be determined by the age range of the family. I would also suggest that you make sure you include absolutely everyone during the process—in particular, elders who might be living with you. You’ll become painfully aware that your children have noticed that mom and dad don’t care what grandpa thinks. Don’t risk it. Include everyone in the process. With my own family, we’ll pair the kids up—the older with the younger, so that the information can be explained easier and the whole process creates a new level of bonding between the kids. They don’t always have to be a part of the decision making, but it never hurts to allow feedback, suggestions or to encourage dreaming. I assure you that the children will develop a new level of respect and gratitude towards you when they see their opinions matter. Here’s some options I would suggest: ⁃ Plan out the new year. One of my mentors used to take the first few days of every year and sit down with his family to map out how much time they wanted to spend with each other. Literally blocking out vacations, movie nights, anniversaries and even daddy-son outing. ⁃ Plan out a family vacation. This is probably one of the most popular and enjoyable options, because it has both decision making AND dreaming involved. You’ll quickly discover what interests your family and what they’re hearts are set on—which opens a whole new set of opportunities for bonding! Choose where, when, how, activities, food…really get into the details and find out what the family wants. ⁃ Plan a Birthday Party. For every member of your clan, you now have an opportunity to make it memorable. In my family, this works great for mom’s birthday—because all the children want something special for their mommy. It’s especially fun to have my wife sit there and listen to her kids planning an exciting evening for her. This can also work for surprise parties—but I only use this as a way to get stubborn teens to participate =) ⁃ Plan a party. Again, same idea, but you don’t have to limit this to birthdays or even your own family members. Consider planning a surprise party for a friend, a wedding anniversary for grandparents…the lost of options is huge. ⁃ Plan a family outing. If you need a quick way to get everyone together and in a food mood, I suggest using this tactic. This allows you to approach the family with an, “I think this family deserves some FUN” attitude. Call the tribe together and find out what everyone would like to do for a day, evening or even a weekend outing. The park, an amusement part, the movies, a museum, driving into the mountains or even out-of-town to visit someone you all like are all viable options. Make sure to get the input of everyone and then come to an agreement. ⁃ Try planning some family goals. Have you ever thought about approaching your family with a desire to improve your property, house, or even getting feedback on how you can become a better family? Try it sometime. Ask, “If we could improve the house in one way, what would you want it to be?” Then take the best suggestion and plan it out to make it happen!   Even for the youngest ones, this will be a great experience if you take a few moments every so often and focus on them. Give them a chance. My Roman may only be 2 years old, but he has opinions and he’s not too shy to share them. So when we’re planning something and he raises her hand, I call on him and listen. What he says doesn’t always fit into the conversation, but he does remember that dad felt he was important enough to include. That’s the real point.       CHAPTER 8 #3 Create a Family Night     One of the best improvements this family has ever made came from one of Kathilynn’s epic ideas. Family Night. For the Buckley’s, we chose Friday nights. It was a chance to have a regularly scheduled night with the whole family, along with an open door policy so the married children can drop in and spend the evening with us also. A regular family event everyone could count on—hosted by mom and dad. THE WHY: The whole focus was to establish an event that would encourage the older children to come home often and laugh/play with us. ⁃ Easily creates interest. Family nights are a fantastic way to gather family together, because there’s no limits as to what you can do. This means anything from a movie night to a pool party to roasting hot dogs and crafting smores around an open fire in the local canyon! Get the feedback of your kids and plan something everyone will enjoy. ⁃ Get non-family to work for you. I love that even my teens will participate, because they can have their friends over. That may not sound like a success, but they’re all playing games with our family—and isn’t that the point? YES! Guests are a brilliant way of getting and keeping the attention of your family. ⁃ It lowers walls and overcomes resistances. One of the biggest blessings has been the engagement I get from a couple of my teens. Girls who don’t like to talk, don’t like to volunteer information and for the life of me, I can’ get them to communicate at times. Yet when we sit down to play games or go out as a family, they light up and open up. We have awesome conversations and that bond lasts for days after the party is over! ⁃ You’ll become a better parent (I promise). When we spend time in a happy environment, we begin to notice things. Certain habits, smiles, perhaps weighty concerns normally in an expression has vanished for a time…all these aspects are tools to help you become a better parent. These are opportunities for you to notice and internalize the needs of those you love. Keep that in mind. ⁃ Fun, personal time will be remembered. You want to create memories that the children will hold onto and recall decades from now? Make family night a habit. ⁃ It will help YOU. This one gets looked over, but it’s true. You need, and dare I say, deserve to be happy and to have time where you can loosen the bow string. Spending fun time with the family will help with stress, enliven the mind and strengthen both your heart and resolve to be a better parent, spouse and friend.   Our Family Night events worked. TOO well. …then it went crazy. Like Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest crazy. Not only did the married kids come back and laugh with us, bringing their tribes—but the teens still at home started asking if they’re friends could come over also. In addition, we invited various families over to join us from time to time. A few of our closest friends had an open door invitation offered. The result was anywhere from 8-35 extra people showing up each Friday night to play games, laugh, and visit. *gulp* Not only did we create stronger bonds with those around us…the kids who normally wanted to go ‘hang out’ with their friends started inviting their friends to our home instead. In fact, their friends ask regularly if we’re having Family Night and ask to come over. THE HOW: So here’s the way we constructed our own weekly event. Take this as a suggestion and bend it to the needs of your own family and situation. The rules of the Family Night are simple: A) Everyone has to participate by playing games with the little children for the first hour (from 7-8PM). It can be card games, board games…anything the little kids want to do, but EVERYone has to engage the little ones. This way the smallest children feel loved and included…but it also teaches the older kids patience and compassion. Even the visiting friends have a blast doing this. B) At 8PM, little kids are sent to a side room to watch an appropriate movie while the bigger kids/adults play games together until 10PM. There is a perk to being one of the “big kids” in our house. C) 10PM is cut off time. We close down the house for the night. no matter what we’re doing so kids can be put to bed. We love you & thank you for coming. …now get out. Yeah, I usually say it that bluntly too. …but everyone laughs, because they know I love them. The highlight of every night is always Duck-Duck-Goose. I kid you not. Wynnie (4), who wanted to have the bigger kids play with her, started this when we started Family Nights and it has become a house favorite—as well as a favorite of teens from 12 to 24 years old. They all acknowledge and thank Wynnie for this. Adults either join in or sit back and watch this high-speed, intense competition of a child’s game in our front room…diving across carpet, sliding over the wood floor and laughing until they’re red in the face. …and you should see how well the big kids encourage the 4-8 year olds. It’s epic. [Shout out to the Baird boys for always making the game hilarious! You guys ROCK.] Still think we should make league DDG shirts. “I Survived Duck-Duck-Goose At The Buckley’s” Maybe have Wynnie’s face on there with a raised eyebrow…?       CHAPTER 9 #4 Establish a Bedtime Ritual     Nothing creates peace in a home like order. Nothing helps children stabilize their emotions like a schedule they can count on. Think I’m kidding? Remember the relief when the baby started sleeping on a regular schedule? Or eating on a regular schedule…? THE WHY: If you haven’t thought about or done this yet, consider creating a nighttime ritual for your kids. Here’s a few reasons to consider this option: ⁃ It keeps you sane. If you have 2 or more kids, you know I’m not joking here. We need time to recuperate from dealing with the tiniest ones all day (just ask mom, right?). ⁃ Kids not only need, but appreciate stability. No, they don’t always say it, but children want stability in their lives—something they can count on and a solid schedule is a fantastic start. I don’t get much positive feedback from the youngest of my tribe, but I have had each of my married kids and every one of my teens tell me they appreciated the regular schedule of bedtime. ⁃ Provide personal attention. This is the perfect opportunity to give those few minutes of extra love and attention to your children. In my home, we take turns helping Roman (2) brushing his teeth. The other young children want help saying their prayers and every one of my kids has loved the 5-10 minute story time before bed. Look at this as a wonderful opportunity to bond on a personal level. ⁃ Provides grow-up time. There’s something to be said about mom and dad time. The kids are down, we get to be grownups once more and hey, I think I remember a brand new 1/2 gallon of Double Chocolate Passion in the freezer, hun! But there’s more…as in teenager more. This is a great opportunity to take a bit of time with the teens, who tend to require the social and counseling interaction with parents. There’s something to be said about treating the teens more like the adults. ⁃ Makes ‘staying up’ special. You never know what you have until you lose it, right? Well establishing a bedtime also means that when the rare occasion happens to stay up—the kids will remember how awesome you were for letting them! ⁃ Establishes precedent and a clear line of parenthood. In my home, I’m always dad first, everything else, including friend second. This is done so my children understand where I stand in all things and they don’t have to wonder or guess. It also creates more harmony, because my family knows they can count on me to be…dad.   Are you ready to create a bedtime ritual…maybe establish a new bedtime as well? Not quite sure how to do this because you’ve never had a bedtime ritual before? Not a problem! Here are some suggestions to help you find success. THE HOW: The key here is to make it personal and stay consistent. Pointing a finger at myself on that consistent comment. ⁃ Choose times for everyone. This means for the little kids, the teens and even for yourself! Yes, even you should have the freedom to turn in for the night—and that includes letting the company know when it’s time to go home. As for the teens, they don’t have to go to bed—but you can establish a ‘quiet time’ so the there is peace in the home, and then add a ‘lights out’ time to follow at a later hour. ⁃ One at a time. Right now I have 7 children still at home and experiencing our bedtime rituals and bedtimes. When working with the youngest kids, we take time with each of them, just a few minutes, but enough time to show them that mom and I care about them. This includes a hug and kiss goodnight, maybe listening to their prayers and on occasion, answering a particular question they’ve had on their mind. ⁃ Story Time. Nothing beats a traditional story time. Unlimited choices in books to read, personal attention and if a child isn’t really interested, they can simply go to sleep. One ritual I used to have with my older children was telling them stories by candle light. No ordinary stories, mind you, but ones that I would act out, voices and all! It was special and unique and I still get great feedback after al these years! ⁃ Set consequences. Rules don’t matter, and neither do house laws if there’s no penalty. There must be an established punishment affixed for not abiding by the bedtime rules. I prefer to do this with the children…asking them their input as to what constitutes breaking the rules. Then allow them input as to the punishment   Bedtimes are a good idea all the way around. They’ve been a distinct blessing to my family and in return, myself. Yes, I realize teens can thwart that oftentimes, but Kathilynn and I have learned that even the teens can be put on a schedule where mom and dad are off limits for the night.       CHAPTER 10 #5 Save Together     A fantastic way to bring the family together and teach values is to have a common goal which requires a financial investment. The best way I can explain this is to provide a specific and personal example. My wife and I do this in two ways. A) An outing. We save together for camping, special events and even Valentine’s Day. During the week of Valentine’s Day, the children do extra things to be of service to one another. To create a visual for motivation, we have a huge bowl of candy hearts on the counter with an empty secondary bowl. Each selfless act puts one heart into the empty bowl. When that bowl is full, mom and dad take everyone out for ice cream. The trick is—if they are UNkind in any way, two of the hearts are taken OUT of the bowl. B) An object. It’s also enjoyable to work together to buy something we want or need. This has been done to purchase rent, food, bikes, even a book series the family wanted to read together. We recently bought the Maze Runner series for the family Nooks. Highly recommended, BTW. THE WHY: We all understand that a person values something more when they work for it than when it’s given to them, correct? This works on the same principle and can provide many benefits: ⁃ Create a common focus. Mending fences and providing opportunities to leave arguments by the wayside to focus on something positive is a good thing. Something as simple as saving up as a family to go see a movie, a camping trip or even a fun video game for the family Xbox is an excellent. ⁃ Teach the value of money. What a fantastic way to walk your kids through an experience, personally guiding them and showing them the effects of working for, saving and strategically spending the funds they earn! ⁃ Teaches cooperation. Working together does so much for ones confidence, not only in self, but in others, providing a good foundation for becoming a team player in life. ⁃ Provides a sense of achievement. By working together and realizing the goal, kids get to feel the rush of success. This is very important in teaching youth what’s possible, especially when working shoulder to shoulder as a family. ⁃ Teaches sacrifice and generosity. One of the things I’ve loved in doing this within our family has been the teens making up the difference for the little ones. To watch my son Nathan (19 yrs old) giving small, doable jobs to his baby brother (only 2) so Roman can put change in the project jar is inspiring. Each of my children have encouraged one another during this process. There are so many ways to use this strategy, it’s become a regular source of family goals…with a clear jar on top of the piano for the latest family challenge. THE HOW: The key here is to make it doable and to stay excited. Here are a few suggestions you can use or place your own twist on: ⁃ Create tiers of success. When you do this for the first time, you may need to create smaller steps or even a smaller goal. It’s wise to provide a a challenge that can be achieved. A win, even a small one, will create an addiction for working together on goals. ⁃ Be involved. Make sure when you start this that you, personally, are involved in the process. Make efforts, show by example and even provide assistance to the children who might be struggling. ⁃ Make sure you have a time limit to create urgency. Just like marketing professionals, we as humans, respond strongly to a limited opportunity. When you craft the goal, make sure it isn’t open-ended. Establish a deadline for the goal to be reached and give encouragement along the way (gentle and positive reminders). ⁃ Provide options to earn money and get TWO FOR ONE! Want that lawn cleaned up? Have certain cleanings been ignored around the house? You have kids who want to earn money. But wait…they haven’t done their OWN chores yet. Not a problem. Provide the jobs for those who have already done their normal work and watch the beds get made! ⁃ Celebrate progress. One thing I’ve found particularly helpful, is making a big deal out of my children’s milestones being reached. I like to call everyone together to do a tally…and to specifically point out how well each of the children are doing and how they’re contributing, to encourage them.   What makes this a wonderful strategy is that you can use it on anything fun that your family would like to do. It’s not limited to size, time, amount….or frequency.       CHAPTER 11 #6 Create a Tradition     Now here’s one I think everyone should try…because you’re already doing it as your family grows, whether you notice it or not. Create a tradition unique to your family. Something you can bond hearts over. Make it fun. Make it memorable. For us, the Gifts to TGII is a good example. Another one is candy week with grandma, which I talked about in a guest article I read entitled: 29 Angels, Dr. Who and Missing Dentures–Christmas at the Buckley’s. The ladies make truly amazing treats to give away to our friends and family over the Holidays and it’s been this way since Kathilynn and I got married. Check out my Instagram account for some shots of 2014 activities. (Why not connect with me while you’re there…) THE WHY: How’s society in your neck of the woods? Are people becoming as anti-family as they are where I live? It seems like no matter where I turn, someone’s trying to push their agenda and in the process, devalue the very beliefs that my family hold dear. Does that seem right to you? It doesn’t to me! That’s why I think a family should consider building their own traditions for the following reasons: ⁃ It’s about legacy. What happens when you’re no longer around. Not that I’m trying to be morbid here—but this is serious. There are reasons why your family is special and this is a way for you to instill golden memories into the hearts of your children. I’m just sayin… ⁃ Traditions bridge the gap between generations. Something amazing happens when we hold the same traditions in our family—a way to relate to and bond with family, regardless of age. That’s important. Kids and grandkids will be able to listen both to their parents and grandparents as they relate stories about their own experiences. ⁃ Helps children understand the importance of family. When you engage in a family tradition, kids get to find their place and their value as a family member. This in turn helps them not only keep your traditions alive, but create and adopt others in their later years. ⁃ Creates a sense of belonging within a family. When we see so much changing in the world—so much conflict and oppression…wouldn’t it be wonderful to have some things stay the same? ⁃ Traditions strengthen family bonds. No matter how often you enact your traditions, it will bring the family together and increase the love you feel. This is the number one benefit of any family tradition.   Take some time and really think this one through. Traditions, when done right, become multi-generational. THE HOW: The key here is to make it personable and to do it together. Here are a few suggestions you can use, hopefully to spark ideas of your own: ⁃ Family meals. Yes, I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of the list, but I’m also referring to BBQ’s, maybe a special celebrations, etc. ⁃ Family prayer. Now maybe you’re not religious, but this is a good one for those who are. Spend some time together worshiping your God in whatever fashion prescribed by your religion. It’s good for your soul and great for your kids. ⁃ The Gratitude Journal. One of my family’s favorites. We keep a very special hand-written journal and take time once a week (on Sunday’s) to go around the room and have everyone record what they are grateful for from that week. We write them down, under the persons name and have them sign it. Trust me—it’s emotional and wonderful to do a journey back to see what everyone was thinking of a year or ten later! ⁃ Bedtime Story. Again, another suggest I already suggested, but it’s a great one and it’ll get you amazing brownie points with the kids. ⁃ Family Game Night. Are you seeing a trend here? Yup, I want you to succeed with your family, so I’m sharing what’s worked for me. Game night is always a winner. ⁃ Family Home Evening. This is what many Mormons do once a week (usually on Monday nights) and it involves the whole family . What does it entail? A fun activity, a lesson of some sort—something principle-based that you want your children to carry with them into adulthood. I bring this up because it doesn’t have to be a religious setting—the Mormon’s just have a great idea and it’s working for them. ⁃ Daddy Dates. I bring this up specifically because I have 12 kids and it’s important for me to spend some individual time with each of them when I can. ⁃ Growth chart. Pick a door frame in the house and once a year, mark the height growth of each of the kids =)   These are just a few suggestions, but enough to give you some creative ideas on what you can come up for yourself.       CHAPTER 12 #7 Start a National (Family) Holiday     Okay, this may sound a bit crazy, but one we’re doing it this year…mainly because it not only sounds fun, it sounds like a Buckley thing to do. It started when I learned about so MANY holiday celebrated around this country, most of which I’d never heard of. Have you heard of: -Festival of Sleep Day (sounds like me most days) -Fruitcake Toss Day (always January 3rd) -Humiliation Day (created by Mother-in-Laws perhaps?) -Play God Day -International Skeptics Day -Hoodie Hoo Day (your guess is as good as mine) -Toothache Day (I’m guessing dentist made?) -Singles Awareness Day (apparently can’t find a date) -No Diet Day (someone thought of me) -Sun Screen Day (seriously???) If Star Wars can create a May The 4th Be With You holiday, we can certainly come up with something cool for our own Irish-Samoan family. This is in the debating stage at present, as to when and what we’ll call it—but once we do, no one will work on that day, it’ll be BIG and the attention we’re going to gather from other family and friends is sure to be comical. I even feel a T-Shirt logo bubbling in the back of my mind. The best part is, the kids are all excited about it. THE WHY: It’s fun, unique and when I suggested it, everyone int he family immediately wanted to get involved! Do I need better reasons that that? Fine. Here are a few more reasons: ⁃ It’ll be talked about. You’re about to create a new ‘national’ holiday. No, the schools won’t close down, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to convince them. ⁃ It’ll connect us as a family. Isn’t this the reason we’re doing all this in the first place—to grow closer together? It is. So why not use every fun, logical and unique method to pull that off? ⁃ There could be presents! Nuff said. ⁃ It’ll allow us to step out of everyday eating and existing to do something special. Face it—this will be another day to look forward to and what’s better—it BELONGS to your family! How cool is that?!? Personally, I think the best part of this particular strategy is that it doesn’t have to make a single lick of sense to the rest of the world. It only has to matter to you and your own family. SO LAUGH IT UP…or make it ultra-serious. You choose. THE HOW: The key here is to make it something you’ll remember and look forward to! Here are a few suggestions: ⁃ Create an ANTI-Holiday. Hehe, I know—crazy, but here me out. If there’s a holiday out there that perhaps your family doesn’t like, then why not create a substitute. We do this with Halloween. We’re not against the holiday so much as how it’s become so violent over the years…and when you have to spend hours having your candy x-rayed to make sure you done find pins and needles? Yeah, we’re done. So we created a Harvest Party to take it’s place and we’ve had SO much fun doing it, the whole thing has expanded to extended family and friends!! ⁃ Give it a funny name. If you’re going to have a Holiday in your family’s honor, for goodness sakes, make the darn thing count, okay? I have friends who literally have a Happy Hillary Didn’t Win Day and an Oh Crap It’s Trump Day. Yup, I have them on both sides of the aisle. Me, I prefer the Big Trouble In Little China Day myself. ⁃ Get out of your daily duties, so you can enjoy it. Seriously—if I can’t get my business banking done on Columbus Day, then I shouldn’t have to DO banking on Buckley Cheese & Crackers Day. ⁃ Get the kids engaged! I think it’s a great idea to not only create the day and name it…but to create a ‘traditional’ way to celebrate it. You know how on St. Patricks day you’re supposed to wear green or get pinched? Well what if on Fat People Appreciation Day you wake up to doughnuts for breakfast, with creamy hoy chocolate and extra, EXTRA cream (and don’t forget the marshmallows). ⁃ Talk about it and invite others to join you. Chat about your new holiday with family and friends. Heck, Tweet and post it on Facebook! Why can’t your idea become huge? Why isn’t your holiday just as valid as Wiggle Your Toes Day? Seriously, it’s August 6th, though some argue that it’s Aug 7th or the first Sunday in August. Seriously.   Okay…I’m going to move on before I go too far. It’s still one of my favorite ideas!       CHAPTER 13 #8 Learn Together     Are you learning together? Each time we have conversations with those we love—talking about the events of the day or discussing thoughts and feelings, we’re learning in some fashion. Why not take this to a whole new level, together? About a year ago, while gathering for Christmas, my wife and our second oldest daughter realized they we both studying some of the same home manufacturing skills. Funny thing was, I didn’t know that and I was starting to study the same things as well! Turns out that most of the family wanted to learn how to make more things at home, to become more self-sufficient. This blossomed into a family discussion and mass-excitement. Even the older teens who didn’t want to participate, wanted to contribute financially so that we could have some of the basic tools—and then they wanted to be the taste-testers. I was making cheese. Mom was making kombucha. Asia was making artisan breads. Not only did we learn new skills that now blesses our family every single day—we eat better AND the rest of the family helps in every part of the process. What’s more, we continue to learn new skills as a family, just for fun! THE WHY: There are SO many benefits to learning something new. Empowerment, freedom, enlightenment, growth of opportunities… But here are a few specific beliefs why learning as a family is so important: ⁃ Learning connects us. Working as a team is an amazing experience, because you’re not alone in the journey. There’s something powerful about being part of a team. Take advantage of these opportunities to encourage and praise efforts and successes. Use your own experience to become a guide and mentor. Remember, the main purpose of these strategies is to bring your family closer together, isn’t it? ⁃ Multiple Perspectives. This is something I share with friends and in classes I teach: my wife isn’t only my darling and best friend, but my other perspective—and I’m hers. When we take the time to learn together and interact during that learning process, we are able to add to our own points of view and see solutions in a whole new light. That often translates into new patterns of thinking, new problem-solving skills and oftentimes a refreshing new outlook on life and the situations that make up our day-to-day existence! ⁃ You don’t have to know it all. When we learn together, no one person has to know all the answers. Think about this carefully. When you sit in a room with 50 other people and you’re learning the same subject matter, you have 50 points of view to draw from. This is what many children (and even adults) fear in classroom settings—not wanting to be the one who ‘doesn’t get it’—instead of being the hungry student, taking every advantage of the multiple minds in the room! If one person figures out the answer, the rest of the room can know the answer now as well. ⁃ Teach your family that asking questions is a GOOD thing. One of the biggest hinderances to any of us when we go out into the world to make a living or to interact in social settings is the fear of being ignorant. Learning together is a wonderful and effective way to teach your family that it’s not only okay to ask questions, but it’s always to their advantage. Always. Encourage questions and explain why being bold in asking questions can only make you smarter and open more opportunities for you! ⁃ The very process of learning draws minds and hearts in and closes communication gaps. Older kids can learn how to become mentors to their younger siblings and you get to learn a new level of interaction, patience and success, not to mention developing new skill sets.   So what should you learn as a family? Does it really matter—or is one subject more important than another? THE HOW: The key here is to consider some of your family goals and use this strategy as an opportunity to expand upon or help that goal into fruition. Here are a few suggestions by category: ⁃ Communications. Why not try a second language? It can be a foreign language, a sign language class…or maybe something different. How about learning about computer languages, codes, or even how to use a HAM Radio for emergency skills? ⁃ Self-Preservation. If you’re anything like my family, you’re looking around your community and realizing that if there was a serious emergency, chances are, you’re not going to get the help you need by outside sources. So we look to things like first-aid, how to make a fire without matches, etc. I would also suggest something else: safety is the most overlooked part of a 72 hour kit. Maybe consider a martial arts class or a shooting course?? ⁃ Self-Sufficiency. One of the things we’ve done around here is to take our long-term goal of building a farm and breaking down the aspects of its functions. Taking care of and raising animals, making cheese, farming, etc…and then having the children choose the subjects they are most interested in learning. ⁃ Learning to Teach. Knowledge is great, but if you can’t impart your knowledge in some way, it dies with you. This could be an opportunity for family members to teach one another what they know. Each member of our family has been learning aspects of running a farm (even though we live in a semi-posh suburb at present with HOA rules against animals and even gardens). When they feel they’ve stretched beyond the basics of the subject, we then take turns teaching the rest of the family. Personally, I’ve been learning cheese making and the deeper aspects of fermentation. ⁃ Food. Food. Food. Food is at the center of our family and home, and this is mainly because food is a wonderful thing. It’s not only a necessity, it’s a tool for many aspects of life and interactions with others. Make cookies together. Make bread from scratch. Take your favorite foods from the store, which you normally buy, and then find out through the web, how to make it yourself! I’m willing to bet you’ll soon discover you can make many things better and for a LOT less money. ⁃ Learn to BLOG! You may think I’m crazy, but personally, there’s a huge NEED for family team blogging in the blogosphere. Businesses use teams of writers, but how cool is it that you have your whole staff as family members! You can write about your adventures, goals, dreams, you name it—and it’s a fantastic skill to have. I even have the best free resource on the web: BeABetterBlogger by Kevin Duncan. I was a fan of Kevin’s writing (and still am) before we became friends and I can promise you, if you want to learn how to excel at blogging and build a following the RIGHT way, he’s the guy to learn from!     Due to food allergies, our family has grown very fond of home-produced, natural foods. In fact, we just broke into our second batch of sauerkraut which was created by the gleaned cabbage from a local farmer, left to rot in the fields. I asked if I could glean hi fields, he said, ‘Sure, go ahead,’ and we got 10 gallons of it before we ran out of glass jars. It’s been such a success, learning these skills, that I bought a german fermenting croc so I could do it on an even bigger and more consistent scale =) Tastes awwwwwsome and the kids love it! Hope to do beer this year. The learning process so far has been fascinating and it’s been amazing to see what truly interests my children.       CHAPTER 14 #9 Turn the Electronics Off 1 Day a Week     Now this strategy is being mentioned specifically for a few reasons. My own family suffers from media-addiction. Movies are (were) playing every day in our home, not to mention every night, video games, smart phones, the list goes on and on. The next reason was coming home, missing my children and not being able to get anyone’s attention but Kathilynn’s, because every nose was in an electronic device: laptop, nook, tv, smartphone or video game. I was torn between my heart sinking and being consumed by anger—both being my own fault for not leading my family better. Something had to change! Think of this as a bonding day. THE WHY: We’re so immersed in technology that we’ve become calloused and anorexic when it comes to personal communications and interaction, especially in our families. Why is taking a break from electronics so important? ⁃ Develops appreciation. I’m not sure we truly appreciate the riches we have in society and especially with technology. Taking a little time to set aside what we have come to habitually use will give us a stronger appreciation (and hopefully gratitude) for the tools and conveniences we do have. ⁃ Turns our attention to people. I’ve walked into a room many times, both in my own home and others, where the kids are all looking at their electronic devices…and yet they’re communicating through text! Sitting, next to each other!! When human interaction is being replaced by digital interaction, you may want to consider pulling the plug for a bit. The funny part about this is, the electronics are not required. Yes, they are very useful…but the world existed and greatly prospered before electronics were ever conceived. ⁃ Develop critical social skills. All of life is built and run by relationships. We were not meant to be alone and turning off the electronics forces you to build the foundational skills of communication and interaction. ⁃ Break an UN-healthy habit. We’re addicts. Deny it if you want, but studies are showing that we are more likely to be addicted to our electronics than not—specifically our phone. Not convinced? How about 84% of cell-phone users say they couldn’t go a day without it (source 88% of mobile device users use them even while watching TV…as a SECOND SCREEN (source TV watching eats up 144 hours, 55 minutes of our time each month on average (source). ⁃ Feel BETTER about yourself and life. Did you know it was discovered that 1 in 3 people felt worse after visiting Facebook, because they felt dissatisfied about their lives? Getting away from it all allows us to refocus and reset our emotions and regain a gratitude for what we have.   That being said, I suggest learning (or remembering) what it’s like to step away from smart phones, TV’s, movies, & video games. THE HOW: In our house, I ask everyone to place their cell phones on the top of the piano for 24 hours, starting with myself as an example. Use the time to get to know each other again: ⁃ Go for a walk or play outside. Get out, stretch your legs, get that blood pumping and don’t forget the much needed Vitamin D from the sun. There’s more to live than blip, blip, beep, beep….no matter HOW much you love Star Wars. Here’s a list of 30 classic games for simple outdoor play! ⁃ Play a board game. Talk about switching gears—a board game is perfect for keeping one’s attention, but also promoting interaction on a personal level. Need game ideas? Try this list for teens (which includes games for tweens and family night games too!) ⁃ Have a conversation. What? Without text!?! Yup. Try sitting down with your kids and just chatting. Ask them questions. Tell them stories about growing up. The cool ones…not the ones with Aunt Gwen and the embarrassing vacuum cleaner incident. We’ll keep that between us. Here’s a list of 250 conversation starters you can pull from if you get stuck! ⁃ Prepare a meal together. Get involved in making something extra nice for meals today. Go BIG and get help in doing it. Make it fun. Make it an adventure. Here are some fun recipes you could use with your kids. ⁃ Put on a talent or puppet show. I threw this one in just for a laugh…and because it works. The younger kids will eat this up, but for the idea to ace it with the teens, you’ll have to get off your butt and participate too. What made my kids laugh was—they can play musical instruments, while poor, old dad can only play his iPod! (Can you say no electronics?) So even my joke was voided (*BAH*)…but everyone laughed at my predicament. Have fun, laugh it up and enjoy yourself! ⁃ Have a BBQ. This is my favorite of all suggestions because it get’s everyone OUT of the house, away from phones, tv, computers…it involves good food, good company and hey—I get to burn stuff. The kids love the trampoline, running through sprinklers, playing volleyball or just hanging out with mom and dad for a fun game of horseshoes.   Remember that these so called conveniences, when not curbed and controlled are no longer tools…they’re addictions. Take some time to refocus and recommit yourself to the things in life that REALLY matter.       CHAPTER 15 #10 Read a Book Series Together     This has become a family favorite. When was the last time you read a great book? Did you want to share your experience and excitement with the people you know? Reading does so many things for a family, especially when you’re all reading the same books. It’s one of the reasons I write fun fantasy for such a huge age range. Yes, that was a shameless plug for you to look in my store and consider my books. …but only a little one. I’ll even make it up to you by providing a bonus, right here and now: Go to the Wanted Hero store and use the code: readtogether for 35% off any purchase of at least $5 (even book bundles!). You can use the coupon 3 times…in case you want to read the books as a family (See? I was thinking about you all the time…) There, I feel better now. THE WHY: Besides the obvious point that we can expand our minds and knowledge by reading—not to mention improve reading skills in general, the main reason you might consider this strategy is because it will create an ongoing interaction between family members. Not enough? Let me give you some other reasons to try this: ⁃ You get to give your opinion. Sure, this might be a troubling can of worms if it was a political debate, but we’re talking about wanting to know what you think of Mr. Darsey, Charolette’s Web and Wendell P. Dipmier. This is a time to really get to know each other, so let the rants roll! ⁃ You’ll read books you wouldn’t normally read. My wife and I like to get this family to stretch, so we make deals to read books out of everyone’s norm. I’m a fantasy buff, but one of my daughters loves military mysteries (yes you nerds, a girl who likes reading about war AND she’s cute). So we accommodate each other and read something from both genre’s. The blessing of doing this is, well, I have a LOT more respect for the military now and a new fascination with a genre I never would have tried on my own. ⁃ Force other people to read YOUR favorite book. I know, I know, not nice…but seriously, this is a fun one. I have YET to get this family to read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but I’m getting closer. On the flip side, I’ve read everything from Bionicals to The Princess Bride and I don’t regret a single moment of it all. ⁃ It helps develop creative writing skills. Any author worth their salt will tell you that for you to excel in writing, one most read as much, if not more than you write. Why? Because you become acquainted with the flow of words, perspectives, descriptions, prose and the complexities of plot, conflict, and the development of characters. ⁃ Discussions, Debates and then heated debates. Talking about what you’ve just read with someone is a very enjoyable experience…even if that conversation is a bit heated. One of the books my daughters love (I have 8 of them) is ‘Charly’ by Jack Weyland. Personally, I hate the book and have refused to watch the movie. Why? Let’s put it this way—if you’re a guy and don’t hate how it ends, you’ve got no soul.   THE HOW: Our family has a Nook account with multiple devices through Barnes & Noble. It’s a fantastic way to buy a single book and allow the whole family to enjoy it. Here are some simple ideas: ⁃ If you have eReaders, grab a book bundle. The latest books we obtained as a family have been the Maze Runner series (all 4 books), The Divergent series (trilogy) and FOUR (the side books based on the Divergent series—also 4 books). ⁃ Choose ONE book and read it out loud to the family. My mother used to do this with me and my siblings every year. My parent bought a limited version of The Hobbit, packed with tri-fold paintings. We all looked forward to listening the adventures of Bilbo Baggins each year…and I’ve done the same with The Princess Bride. This is the William Goldman version (which will have you busting a gut laughing), not the original S. Morgenstern classic. ⁃ Take turns reading to one another. This has been a fun way to do things to keep some of my children more engaged and mentally present when we read the less exciting titles. Let the kids take turns reading out loud to the family. It both improves reading skills and also helps them retain what they read better. ⁃ Piecemeal the experience. Not all kids like to read and the last thing you want is to lose someone along the way. One way to avoid this is to ave interactive discussions along they way—such as chapter by chapter instead of waiting until the whole book is through. ⁃ Have a small party with good food to talk about the book when you’re done reading it. Again, make this fun and the family will want to do it again and again. Throw a little bash for getting through the book…and if you want a twist—consider theming the food to the book!   Remember that this should be fun and not considered a chore. Not all the kids love to read or read fast in my family (I’m actually a very slow reader myself)…so make sure you ear this to the slowest and lowest denominator.       CHAPTER 16 #11 Be of Service Together     One of the best ways, in my opinion, to create family unity and strong positive character traits in both myself and my children is to be of service together. The world needs more service. In fact, I would wager that your own community, just like mine, needs more people who care enough to reach out and make a difference. THE WHY: The very act of service takes the focus off ourselves and shines the light where it belongs—on others. Here are some wonderful reasons to consider this: ⁃ Service is rewarding. There are few things that make me happier than when I’ve been able to do something for someone else. It’s an emotional high, without negative side effects. ⁃ You’ll be a positive influence. The thing about service is you never know how it will truly affect others. Someone reached out to me, unbeknownst to them—at the lowest point of my life. What they did realize, is that they literally saved my life. It was years before I was able to share with them that I was about to commit suicide from depression. That single act of kindness shocked me back to reality where I could see clearly that I was trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution! ⁃ You’ll learn humility. We think we have it so rough at times, and yet there is always someone out their happy with less than we have. More to the point, there are people out in the world who are suffering far deeper than we are. Serving others will help put your own life in perspective and encourage gratitude. ⁃ You can be a hero. I say this often to the youth that I teach and I’ll say it here: A ‘hero’ is someone who is willing to do for another what they cannot do for themselves. ⁃ You can be an example to your children. This is so important, especially in todays world. Teach your family by example. Show them that others matter, that being of service is a good thing and show them the literal difference they can make in the world by their own actions. This fact came to life when my own son decided he wanted to help his little sister and the events grew so fast, his actions literally rallied the entire neighborhood AND the local Walmart to his cause! You can read about it in “Teaching Service to Your Kids Will Pay Off, Just Watch!”   One of my beloved friends, Roger M Anthony (May 13, 1942 - April 22, 2014) of Crocodiles International, said it best: “There are only two things we are here to do. That is to serve…and the other part is to learn how to serve better. If we are not doing either of those two things, we’re wasting our time.” Miss you Roger. Every…single…day. THE HOW: This is very simple. Help someone who needs help & include your family. Here are some simple ideas that allow you to include your kids/family and set an example: ⁃ Buy someone lunch. It could be a stranger in line or someone on the street—but it’s wonderful to show your children that you care about others. ⁃ Give money. In today’s world, there’s no shortage of people in need. People standing on street corners, homeless, jobless and desperate. Try keeping some money in the ashtray and when the opportunity arises, give of your means and explain to the children why you did. ⁃ Mow a neighbors lawn. A older neighbor, or a yard that has been neglected for whatever reason is a great target for compassion. ⁃ Shovel Snow from more than your own walks. Look around and make I a habit of ⁃ Ask. This might seem odd, but why not go to someone’s house with your children, some tools and big smiles…and ask what you can do for them? ⁃ Encourage people. Again, not seemingly big, except by the people you’ll affect. Direct your family to be encouraging to others and explain why. I’m a huge advocate for encouraging youth in just about every aspect of life and I teach my children to do the same. Our family, in part due to this, has become a magnet of influence in our community. ⁃ Give away your books & clothes to a shelter or charity organization. What we have can be used by those less fortunate, so don’t waste an opportunity to glean through your home to find the best you have (but aren’t using) and put them to good use. ⁃ Visit the sick. Know of someone under the weather? Go the chicken soup route and take a meal to that person. See if there’s anything they need that you can provide. If it’s a mother, go the extra mile and bring the whole family a meal. It’ll ease the burden on the mom and trust me, it’ll put a smile on the faces of your family. ⁃ Show simple kindness. This is one we seem to miss all the time, and it’s one of the easiest. Open a door, give up a seat, say please and thank you when interacting with others…and encourage your children to do the same. ⁃ Secret Santa. Every year you have an opportunity to get your kids together, plan together and be a blessing in the lives of someone else. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be expensive…but if there’s one thing my darling wife Kathilynn has taught our family it’s, ‘we always have enough to share.’   The truth is, there’s no limit to what you can do for someone else. You’re only limited by your imagination and commitment. Make it count.             CHAPTER 17 #12 Build a Business Together     Of all the ideas I’ve given you, this is King. Choosing this option will allow you to incorporate just about every other aspect we’ve discussed until now and bring your family together in dynamic ways. Some of the most amazing businesses I’ve ever seen or experience have been from the cottage industry. I’m specifically talking about family businesses. The niche of the cottage industry can be a strength to your family in both prosperous and hard economic times, by cutting overhead and creating profits. But that’s only the beginning. Family businesses teach you to work together, focus together, sacrifice together and allow you to prosper together. My mother, bless her heart, developed a secret family sweetbread recipe and was picked up by restaurants in California back when I was just a young teen. Though most of us were too young to help, she taught the girls to bake and we boys got to help with prep and clean up. While dad was on the road, building his business, mom was able to bring in an extra $2-$4,000/mo. and that was back in the early 80’s. Heck, that would be $5,795-$11,590 in todays dollars (adjusting for inflation). Great income even now, regardless of where you live. When we moved, mom gave the entire business over to a dear friend of ours, a single mom with a handful of children to support. THE WHY: I can’t honestly think of a single reason why not to build a business together. Maybe it’s the way I was brought up, the entrepreneurial environment, or the desire to see my family prosper. Regardless, here are some solid reasons to consider starting a family business together: ⁃ Ability to act fast. Speed is a huge factor in business and when you’re doing it together, you have the power to decide in the morning and put those decisions into action by lunch. ⁃ Keep it authentic. Yes there are ups and downs in a family, but that can also be the power behind the business. You’ll laugh more,…and yes, possibly yell more too, but being emotionally honest with one another is a powerful way to work. ⁃ You have control. As a family, YOU get to control your future and fate. That means working together, expanding, sharing profits—even deciding if you take on investors or keep it all to yourself. ⁃ Avoiding politics. When the goal is for the family to win, normal office politics fade away. You won’t have to deal with traditional and stifling processes to get things done. ⁃ Built in ingenuity. When companies are striving to keep in touch with the youth of society, you’ll have them front and center, which is a substantial advantage in a family business. Important trends, social media and current lingo are all critical parts of a business which you’ll have in spades!   My oldest son is a brilliant man with a mathematical mind and gift for games—both playing and analyzing—designing card and board games over the last few years. His desire? To start a game division of Wanted Hero, crafting systems around characters and story lines from my books. But the biggest surprise came through Kathilynn and our daughters. Through a single request from my sister-in-law, my wife discovered a new talent and passion for making ‘project bags’ for both knitting and crocheting enthusiasts. It wasn’t long before all my girls were helping their mother and I was asked to build a website. Next thing I know, we’re registering a business, Kathilynn is sending off samples for review across the USA and Canada…and thanks to some kind YouTube personalities, BAM!! takes off overnight. The business continues to grow and involves all the girls in our family. Yes, the males are excluded…though I DO perform a awful lot of computer work, but hey—they’re worth it. THE HOW: Don’t complicate it. ⁃ Do what you LOVE. Keep the ideas simple and focused on what you enjoy doing and you are far more likely to succeed. ⁃ Use the talents and strengths of all. Take a careful inventory of your collective talents and skills as well as resources and connections. Think your kids can’t help? WRONG! If you make t-shirts for example, and your target market are youth, your kids will not only know what’s popular better than an adult—they can enlist help from friends to wear your products to advertise! ⁃ Start from scratch, not debt. One of the main goals of our family has been to build businesses from the ground up with ZERO debt. That means we are free and can make any decision we need or want to concerning the business. This meant using saved money, doing fundraisers as a family at community bazaars and even committing our tax returns for seed capital. ⁃ Make short, medium and long-term goals together. It’s always easier to focus and work hard when you know what direction you’re supposed to be going. Plan milestones together and when you reach them, celebrate! ⁃ Provide profit sharing. It was exciting to my children to discover that if they did a certain amount of work, they would get a certain amount of money. At the same time, the teens realized that this could help them in the future if they helped develop the family business. Everything from college to a marriage fund has been brought up and the possibilities are endless. ⁃ Teach the family the day-to-day functions. This includes the costs and profits. Don’t be sacred of this aspect—be open and share what happens so that everyone learns how they can affect the overall progress and prosperity of your family business. The other benefit is developing trust with your transparency. Very good things to have in business. ⁃ If it won’t go as a business, don’t give up! Transform it into a hobby instead. Not all businesses work out. Hard as it is, you might consider switching the focus form a business to a hobby or even a charity! It can be less stress, high rewards (emotionally and mentally) while still blessing your family through unity and cooperation.   This might not appeal to you, which is why I wanted to leave it for last. Many folks I know, even close friends, tend to shy away from anything mixing family with business. However, I look at this as an opportunity to build something, from scratch, together, even on a small scale. What kind of effect do you think you’d have on those around you if you were able to go against the norm and create a wonderful, interactive and profitable relationship with your kids? With your spouse? You’d become quite the talk of the town. Admired. Influential. Not a bad thought, is it? I’ve even thought about working directly with my smallest children to create some funny kids books, we could publish and sell to put in a birthday jar! They come up with the ideas, we script it out together, I draw it (but you could always find an artist on Fiverr if you’re not an artists yourself)…and then publish it through Amazon’s KDP. It’s not a big thing, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to experience these things together.             CONCLUSION     There are unlimited ways you can pull your family closer together, teach your children, set a great example…and ace this year. The trick is thinking it out and doing it. Be ready for the reality: You ARE going to experience setbacks. You ARE going to hit stumbling blocks along the way. You ARE going to have work or other things get in the way of your plans. THAT’S OKAY!!!   Just stop. Take a breath. Reorient yourself and remind yourself why this is SO WORTH THE EFFORT! …and then begin again. You’re now closer to your goal AND you have more experience doing this.   This is not a sprint. It’s an endurance course. You will start affecting your family the moment you have set your mind and heart to love them and unite them through interaction… …but it may take a little time to see the open results. They will come.      

Jaime Buckley


Tenets of Faith

Followers of TGII are immersed fully in holy oil, signifying the rebuilding of the soul at eight years of age, when they have been taught right from wrong and had time to envision their life's purpose.   Baptism by immersion is done, of their own free will and choice--and the ordinance (performed by one with authority form the church) signifies a covenant being made with TGII, sealed by the laying on of hands to receive membership into the Church of TGII.   Those who secure membership in the Church covenant to perform seven key tenets:
  1. Speak no evil of their neighbor, nor do him any harm;
  2. To pray to TGII three times a day, facing the great Temple of TGII;
  3. To marry, be fruitful and to multiply that the chosen may be as many as the sands upon the seashore;
  4. Never to mix their seed outside the tribe of Gentre;
  5. Never to reveal the greatest technologies of the chosen to heathens;
  6. To administer to the poor, needy, sick and imprisoned;
  7. To give of your time, talents and resources to the household of faith.

Käikki ovät osä suurtä konettä [All Are Part Of The Great Machine]

Founding Date
6000s | 0CT
Religious, Organised Religion
Gnome Saints

On rare occasion an exceedingly faithful follower of the gospel proves their merit to the divine through their works.   Men and women who live a life of giving and instruction, improving upon the world around them and dramatically elevating the lives of others.   It is on these rare occasions that TGII calls upon the Brothers to anoint them Saints. These blessings are carried with them into the next existence, while those still bound to mortality can call upon them for assistance through prayer.  
Saint Ademal of CSS

Beloved of all gnome programmers, Saint Ademal led a life of example, inviting all to come unto proper formatting and clean code.   Small shrines can be found throughout the computer complexes of Clockworks, small prayers being uttered each morning as web design companies begin their day of labor.  
Saint TJ of Graphic Design

The world is a brighter place when design is done properly. Correctly matched colors, clever use of shadow and crisp, clean DPI resolution in all printed products. Such was the life of Saint TJ.   Born with a charitable heart, his life was given to the beautification of all things digital. Thus all those at University wear the golden mouse of St. TJ around their necks when taking their courses or applying for advertising jobs.  
- Tgii's Book of Saints, pg 533


Author's Notes

Please know this article is not yet complete and will be worked on and refined.   If you enjoyed the information thus far, please leave a like and if you have questions--anything you feel I should consider, feel free to leave a comment!

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30 Jul, 2019 22:17

I, Saint Ademal, bless this article. Its CSS is shiny.

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Ethnis | Ko-Fi | Twitter

30 Jul, 2019 22:54

Thank you, Saint Ademal. ...may the wind at your back never be your own.

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