Sunday, August 28, 2011

Life's Purpose video



This is only one of many International Video Contest Winner videos on LDS.org.
I liked the video about the wife of a man who survived a stroke and the scriptures
that she found strength from as she copes as his main caregiver for the last 10 years.
I felt the courage and hope of the young men featured in another video
who learned how a vice (tool) could be a literal, powerful tool to teach them
about avoiding sin and other 'vices'.

Isn't it inspiring how many people, of all walks of life, in this world are working hard
to share wisdom and strength and peace? 

You can watch more of them in English HERE. To view the website in another language, click on the 'language' icon in the upper right part of the page.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preparing For a Year of Adventure!

Last year was our oldest's first year of Ambleside Online's Year One homeschool (free) curriculum, which we followed loosely. I really liked how flexible it was, to pick and choose what we wanted to do, and my son was able to listen and narrate and finish the assignment within 20 minutes. Then, we were able to go and do fun things and continue with our usual life learning.

However, I found that even with using only a few of the recommended books, we still didn't get everything done and that for my young active son, he needed more hands-on things to do, as a focus.

This coming year,  I'll finish the books from last year's list that I see as being worth our time and add in a very few new ones. Mostly, I see us doing more hands-on things and going places together. AND including the younger ones more. I really missed that last year as I sat with my oldest to get through the books on the list. The morning is such a precious time! (And the best time for the little ones.)

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NOW: I have my eye on adventure and THAT is something we can all be excited about! I think learning should be exciting and something fun to look forward to. (More about this toward the end)

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Tidepools in Oregon 2010

From last year's experience with 'table time' and morning devotional time, when we sing a song, pray and read a scripture story or memorize a verse, I realized that I don't need to cover subjects every day or even every week to make sure my kids get all they need.

I discovered the kiddos learned things even faster than I thought we would. That is encouraging because we plan to welcome another child into our family soon, we hope. Doing less as far as putting out my time and energy into homeschool everyday with all the kids will allow me to build in periods of rest that I will need during the day and week, should we be blessed with another pregnancy this coming year.

Keeping those insights in mind, I decided to plan a year theme and monthly themes that relate to the year theme. During the month, I will plan one activity that coincides with the monthly theme and that will be an adventure with Daddy, too, or just me and the kids. I figure one project per month, I know I can handle. The size and scope of the project could be grand one month and simple the following. Built-in flexibility: LIKE!

The rest of the kids' learning will come from their curiosity and branching off into areas of their interest either from the project we do (which happens naturally) or into areas of interest in which they stumble for other reasons. In other words, it's back to mostly unschooling, just focusing on character building and using living books regularly. My husband and I will continue to support them in their interests as we normally do.

We'll see how things actually shape up.

I know things always shift a bit when mixed with real life.
But I am excited! And I am looking forward with eager anticipation
for the fun I can have with my boys, and little girl along for the ride.


How it started...
I came across a children's devotion book for boys about being a godly warrior. I loved that it includes scriptures that show how to have courage and make right choices, with a special focus for little boys. Perfect for my 3 little boys!


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My boys make weapons out of anything they come across and Dad and a friend of ours just finished building the awesomest boy fortress ever. They love stories of heroes and brave men and boys.

I felt a Year Theme coming on...


Warriors for God!

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Our oldest (on the right) practices fencing at cub scout day camp this month.

The inspiration flowed as I planned some tentative monthly themes. I want them to have experiences that will strengthen their character and meet them where they are at. In addition to the normal everyday things, I planned in some Adventures for us.

Each month has a theme. October will be based around a Civil War re-enactment in our area: real guns, cannons, men in uniform, a re-enacted battle! What's a kid not to love? Another month will focus on "Weapons, and other Warrior tools", including archery and shooting. We'll talk about first aid another month, and blood: what it is made of, etc. Another month will be stories of compassion; warriors can be considerate, too.

As you see below, we have learning times penciled in here and there (it's necessary for planning purposes within a large family with varying schedules), as well as a few adventures and outings thrown in for good measure, but it all happens within the framework of an ordinary, everyday routine. Homeschooling feels so natural this way! We tend to go out in the morning and be home for quiet and rest time in the afternoon.

Daily routine:

Wake
Dress
Mom puts a load of laundry in, children help in Family Work time
Eat, devotional time at table together (15 minutes)
Lesson  or outing (see weekly schedule)
Lunch
Kids play time, I spend one on one time with each child
Dinner prep (inviting the children to lend a hand where able to)
Dinner, read a scripture as a family (20 minutes)
Family walk /  bike ride
Baths, quiet play (Dad helps)
Clean kitchen
Bedtime, read from Godly Warrior devotional book, listen to the CD

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I tuck fun ideas into each envelope as I think of / find them. The kids choose which one to do.

Weekly schedule:


Monday: Homeschool co-op on the morning for an hour and a half. I am teaching a fun class about creating things, and experiences, like stop motion videos and funny poetry as a group. Other classes the two oldest may participate in: a board game class, beginning recorder.
Family Home Evening that night. (Games and devotional time)

Tuesday: Character training at breakfast (lesson of the day). We'll be using the 12 songs and storybooks from Brite music's Standin' Tall series. Once a week lesson, for about 15 minutes, repeating the same character trait for 4 weeks.

Wednesday: Library as option in the morning for story time, once or twice a month. OR History lesson, once or twice a month, abut 20 minutes, using Story of the World as a jumping-off point, fun activities as the focus. Afternoon: My oldest and I sit down and do some cub scout requirements or plan an activity together. This is also his journal time, practicing hand writing (10 minutes). He attends his scout troop that evening.

Thursday: Learn a children's primary song at breakfast together (15 minutes). Repeat the song each week until everyone is able to sing most of it and then introduce a new one. Tentative: playgroup with 3 other little boys for our 4 year old. Afternoon: My oldest and I will read a book together and he will tell me back, in his own words, what we understood from the story.

Friday: Theme Day! (Once a month) This day can be swapped with another week day if an outing is planned, like the Civil War Reenactment. Otherwise, we'll have a fun Adventure to do together (about 20 minutes). The other 3 weeks, we can choose from various Art, Nature, and Math activities to do, using the materials we already have and books from our own family collection. We'll rotate through those four areas, one topic per week as a guideline.

Park Days with other homeschooling families are a highlight of the month. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the days those occur, and I'll choose carefully which ones to attend each month. We may attend more often when the weather is good or when no one is sick, and we may attend less if circumstances dictate. The End-of-the-Summer / Not-Back-to-School parties with fellow homeschoolers are about to start! We look forward to those fun things.

That's a peek into our homeschooling plans this year.

Happy homeschool planning!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Answers to Your Questions: Understanding

A child is naturally dependent on their parents for their care and guidance through life. Even as adults, we continue to need other people, and that need is a good thing! It means we are human beings, who need love and acceptance.

When a person relies on others for most of their basic needs, it is called dependence, and can be a problem in the long run, if you are an adult. It makes a person less able to take care of themselves and, in turn, more dependent on others to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. This is taxing for everyone involved. There may be certain experiences in life in which grown-ups may need to turn to others for an added measure of support, but that is an exception, rather than the rule.

For instance, when I have a new baby, I rely on my husband to give me extra emotional support more than usual, and I also rely on my mother or sisters or other loved ones to help me with meals or my older children. But, at a certain point where the needs are met, I am able to move on without that same level of support. There are lots of other examples, which are perfectly normal situations and hopefully not a source of guilty feelings for anyone. A helping hand in a time of need is appropriate.

Understanding: This is how I personally refer to the ability to make sense of the world around me and make decisions that benefit me and my family. To me, it begins with the desire to know and do what is right for us (right meaning a good fit, or what works). You might also think of this as building personal strength to do "hard things". Connie at Smockity Frocks addresses this so well, in her personable, Southern style.

Another way to define 'understanding' is the ability to do your own research and make your own decisions, or acting in wisdom.  For those reading this who are Christians, I want to be sure to explain that this means relying on the Lord to teach us the pattern for making wise decisions. Then, our understanding is clarified through the Lord's spirit.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding."
Proverbs 3:5


Friday, August 19, 2011

Latter-Day Homeschooling

Scoot on over to Latter-day Homeschooling to read a post I wrote--it's my first one for the blog there! I'm kind of happy about it  :)  It's a great blog with lots of terrific voices and a plethora of topics to read about. I'm having fun being a new addition to the writing team.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Celebrating 400 Years of the KJV Bible



I like this video because it is such a good reminder that the word of God is such a treasure, and if read prayerfully, will lead us on a path toward Him. This year, I am reading through the books of Psalms and Proverbs and have found treasures as I have been faithful in reading. The words, and spirit that accompanies them, have encouraged me and been an immense help as I start my day. It has served to remind me of what is really a priority in my life and helps keep me focused on what I want to instill in my children.


"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)

What scripture verses have been a blessing to you in the past? 
How has reading the scriptures helped you this week?

Click HERE to read about how the scriptures have been a lamp for the feet of other women. What do LDS church members believe to be true scripture? HERE
Why is the KJV Bible so special? HERE

Monday, August 15, 2011

Arizona + Kids = Fun

Last week, we spent 5 days at Camp Geronimo as guests at my husband's sister's husband's family reunion (did ya get that? hehe)

It was a blast! The kids caught crawdads and adopted a few honorary 'cousins' and my husband and I got to hang out and get to know the family. AND I was so happy to attend the birth of our nephew, on my husband's birthday, no less. Very special!

 If you ask the little lady here, the absolute must-haves for camping include a water bottle, a cell phone and a hat. Hope you're takin' notes.

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Our oldest son poses with his trusty hat. It was hot but the pool was nice and icy, so it all evened out.

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That's it for very interesting photos. (Yeah, yeah, I know...)

The only other two I took on this trip was one of my husband reading a book and another of our second oldest putting on his shoes. That means we were too busy having lots of fun (and trying to keep tabs on which kid was where!)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Preschool...decisions, decisions!

With a few friends with children nearing what is considered in the U.S. as 'preschool age', and as the time for preschool enrollment is here, I have been fielding questions about what children of this age "need to know" and also how to teach them at home.

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Table-top soccer match with Dad

Some parents will choose to continue caring for their children at home instead of enrolling them in a preschool. They may sprinkle their days with fun interactive activities, even if it's just filling up the sink with soapy water and inviting their 3 year old child to "help do dishes" or turn on silly music and dance together.

To some people who are used to the notion that schools and so-called experts are the only ones capable of "educating" 3 and 4 year olds, this idea of a parent tackling the task themselves may seem crazy, maybe even irresponsible.

But, after doing this myself for a number of years with my own kiddos (and having had that kind of childhood myself thanks to my Mother who stayed home with me and my siblings), it feels completely natural and wonderful to enjoy my children's company and discover and explore right alongside them. We have formed at-home co-ops with other mothers (similar to the Joy School model) when our oldest was 3 and 4 and that was a great alternative to formal preschool.

Does this model of education for your 3 or 4 year old appeal to you, too?

For more ideas about they why's and what-do-you-do's of preschool-at-home, visit my page Instead of School, where there are a few links to websites with things we have done and like to do in the early years.

Further, three webpages that made a difference to me when my oldest was nearing the "preschool age" are:

A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten by Lillian Jones
Preschool Pressure or Preschool Peace by Barbara Frank @ Universal Preschool
Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Activities @ BestHomeschooling.org

You can listen to a story on National Public Radio's Morning Edition about the importance of play for children HERE.

I remain grateful to those authors and mentoring parents who chose to share their wisdom won from their experience in their own families with me--it was such a help to me as I was thinking and reading and discerning what it was I could do to ensure that my children's needs were met as they grew. My hope is that something I share is encouraging to a parent considering this topic--"paying forward" the encouragement and strength I received from other parents.


My third child, a son, is 4 years old now and we are really enjoying our time together. I have no regrets about not sending him to preschool.

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A fun -every-once-in-awhile painting moment.
The things I have liked best about doing preschool ourselves are:
  • My children were able to learn academics as they were ready, as opposed to being required to do things they were not developmentally ready for at that age
  • Less separation on a regular basis helped, which my children are not always keen on at that age and often created more problems that it was worth.
  • Potty learning happened with Mom and Dad and people we know personally.
  • Just enough time at playdates or with Daddy or Grandma so I could rest!
  • The kiddos were able to have more time to PLAY! I felt good to know my children have had a relaxed childhood, instead of a hurried, frenetic one.
  • They had more time to make friends on their own terms...really important for their growth and development!
  • It was so nice to have our time and schedule our own days instead of going out during baby's naptime to get to and from preschool. If we wanted to spend all day at the children's museum, we could. If we wanted to go to the library in the mornings before the cranky times set in, we could. If Daddy was home during the day, we ate lunch with him. So nice!
  • Most importantly, my children felt a mother's influence as the main one and I could have all the time I needed to show them the important things in life, in the way only a mother can, with encouragement and love. I wanted them to feel loved by me and know they were God's child and to instill in them positive character traits. Nurturing them this way without a "middle man" to dance around worked well for us.

And guess what? The kids are alright. :-) Our sons are bright, inquisitive, love to learn, and are just where they each need to be in their learning. Most importantly, even with some of the normal teasing behavior thrown in for good measure, they genuinely love and take care of each other and enjoy being with their siblings, which really is a wonderful effect of preschooling at home. The family relationships we have remain solid and connected. This brings to mind the saying..."Education is something we do with our children and not to them." My husband and I aim to be partners with our children, facilitating their learning and growth, while respecting their unique abilities and desires.


Many parents feel the pressure to prepare their children for school, even if their child is only 3 or 4. That seems to be one of the main reasons parents tell me they enroll their child in a preschool program.

Still feeling pressure to place your child in a preschool? Understand what the effects of preschool may be and rely on your own intuition about what you feel your child really needs.

"In addition to potential academic harm, a November, 2005 study by Stanford and the University of California found evidence that preschool interferes with social development and leads to negative social behavior like acting up, having trouble cooperating, aggression, and bullying." Why Professionals and Politicians are Wrong about Preschool

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world."

- Mother Teresa


Best wishes to you as you are making your own decisions! Your child is relying on you; you have all that you need to care for them in the ways you choose to, even if all that you have in the beginning is a strong desire and a willing heart to learn what you need to know to be the kind of parent your child needs you to be.

Relax a bit if you worry if you will mess up-- you will! We all have to begin where we are. Sometimes we don't get it all right the first time, but as we learn and grow and learn from our mistakes, too, as parents, we become better for our kids and are better able to create the kinds of experiences we want our children to have. We have to begin some time...why not now?

And you know what? Sometimes just creating the time for them to learn at their own pace allows them to experience what they need: self - regulation and knowing themselves and what they really want from an early age. Those are just some of the gifts we have the opportunity to give our children.

No matter where you choose as the place your child spends time doing his or her learning, remember: You are your child's first teacher and always will be the most important influence.

Curious about how a mother with many children approaches teaching her young children?
Visit Large Family Mothering HERE for another perspective.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Babywearing...because babies are precious!

Ever since a friend gave me a ring sling when our oldest was born,
my husband and I have taken turns "wearing" our children.
It has brought so many benefits to our family
and we have zero regrets about giving this "new" (old) idea a try.

Give it a try with your own little one and learn the benefits first-hand!


Click on the collage below to view the images up-close.
See if you can 'spy' my husband and me with our two oldest children (circa 2006)!


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What is babywearing?
Babywearing International answers that question HERE.


Why carry your baby?
Happy, healthy babies and confident caregivers and...convenience! Really!  HERE


"Babywearing means changing your mindset about what babies are really like..."
Read more HERE

What type of baby carrier is right for you?
TheBabyWearer answers that HERE



Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Song of the Heart

The young woman in this video expresses so well the influence music can play in one's personal life. I especially appreciate and agree with this: that one (inappropriate) song is not worth losing the spirit in one's day. Songs have the real power to influence in us either a spirit of 'building' or 'destruction'. It either does one or the other.




What kinds of music do you listen to that truly empowers you, helps you to feel valued and loved, and inspires you to do good to others?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Snapshots of JOY!

Busy, busy over here! Only time to post a few photos...


Garden hose games at dusk.


iCe CrEaM ! ! !


Patio parties are the best--and easy to hose off afterward!

Camping near Gold Butte, Nevada in June....
She didn't mind rolling and face-planting in the fine desert sand one bit!


Hope your summer is going swell, too!