Monday, January 28, 2008

Lifelong Course to Excellence

I am constantly tuning and tweaking my character to fit who I want to be, who I know I should be and who I know I can be. This constant effort can be overwhelming but by taking on a more optimistic view I have recognized a "love for life and it's challenges and pleasures."

Pres Hinckley said, "My life has been rich because it has been filled with problems to solve and associations to savor." I'd like to adopt his outlook into my own life. There is someone whom I know the Lord needs me to be. By taking the arduous path to become that person, I know I can bless the lives of those in my realm of influence. Be it my family, friends or strangers - it'll be worth every step.

Pres. Hinckley also said, "We are in a constant search for excellence. That search must be continuous and never-ending. It must be consuming and unrelenting. As a nation and as a people, we will not rise to a position of excellence before the world until we have begun to restore and rebuild a foundation of moral, ethical, and spiritual strength."

What do we feel driven to improve? Heavenly Father has a path of improvement ready for all of us. Whether it be a book we are lead to read, a talk we feel inspired to listen to, a value we feel the need to focus and improve upon or a person we need to accept into our life.

By simply listening to the spirit and taking the subtle guidances He gives us, we'll continue on our lifelong progression to excellence.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Back in the game!

Phew! I took a dip there for a moment but I feel that I'm back in the game. As a good friend of mine says, "There is no looking back....Onward and upward!" And that's just where I intend to go.

What a great sister!

I asked Ty if she'd watch Millie for a minute while I did something. When I went back downstairs I saw Tyra in the "craft closet". I thought she had decided to ditch having to take care of Millie but instead, to my pleasant surprise, Tyra told me that her and Millie were making crafts together. It was cute to find them like this.

Successfully Healthy Day

I made my first successful loaf of bread today! It's even approved by ETHAN!!! John and I had to laugh earlier today when the kids asked for granola and flax seeds as snacks. I don't mind the kids snacking on food like that!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Needed Comfort

My life is but a weaving between God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily,
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent, and shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver's hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
(From the book, "Tramp for the Lord" by Corrie Ten Boom)

I will always doubt my ability to homeschool my children or doubt my ability to do many great things I feel driven to do. But I need to remember the answers I receive and go forward with faith.

As the poem says, I need to remember that the Lord has the upper and I the underside.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Homeschool bit

How much indecent and inappropriate exposure do our children need in order to have experienced a "healthy" dose of the worlds filth so they can turn out to be "decent" and "normal" people?

Is that a real question or are our minds slightly distorted to make it seem like a sensible inquiry?

My visiting teachers came over today. I always enjoy a visit from them. Today we touched on the homeschooling subject. One of the sisters said that once her eldest daughter is old enough to enter junior high she's going to homeschool her. The other sister expressed her disdain at the crud her son is witnessing at his junior high school. There are girls kissing girls in the hallway. Swearing. Fighting. Lying. Stealing. Cheating. Immodesty. Drugs. Sex.....I'm sure the list goes on.

But then she also talks about a child she knows who is homeschooled. This child is nine years old, she doesn't know how to read, and she's socially backward. (***)

So, which path am I choosing here and is there a pleasing balance between the two? For us, there will have to be.

The world is smudged in filth everywhere we go, and it'll be so throughout my children's entire lifespan, so they'll get their dose of filth and moral corruption which will give them sufficient opportunities to exercise their core beliefs and bolster their character.

Creating a love of learning in their hearts, always learning and understanding new things myself, supplying them with a plethora of educational materials we can work on together (or they can work on individually), reading and learning from the greatest thoughts and trials of humankind through scriptures and classics along with many other things will supply them with necessary academical and liberal education.

I'll admit, hearing about homeschooled children who are struggling does worry me. Will my children turn out to be that "type"? Will they be uneducated? Socially backward? "Protected" from the world? Lacking common sense? I'd like to think not with all the worry, concern, concentrated effort and energy I put into homeschooling my children. But, it's so easy to doubt my decision when other peoples doubts and lack of information slip into my consciousness.

Do I think everyone should be homeschooling their children? No. Do I think more people should? I'm not sure. Do I want my children to go to college? Yes. Do I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing for my children? Yes. It was a hard decision to make but the spirit has never given me a more absolute and prolonged answer as it did, a while ago, in response to my doubting our decision to home school, letting me know that this is unmistakably what we should be doing.

It's not the workbooks, the "inspire instead of require", the healthy doses of learning, the teaching and practicing of values, that stress me. Just plain worrying is the hardest issue I face with homeschooling. But, what loving and devoted parent doesn't worry?

(***) I don't believe in the socially backward issue so I asked my visiting teacher, "What's the mom like?" "Psycho" she answered. Here's what I believe - if the child's parents are socially backward more than likely the child will be too. I believe that if school really is the most dominant place children learn social skills all of them would know how to associate only with children their own age and have little or no ability to associate with this becoming the case anyway?

Most young mothers I talk to have considered or do consider homeschooling their children.

To home-school or not to home-school...either choice is reasonably extreme.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Tyra and Ethan's friends came over for a Martin Luther King activity at our house. It was lots of fun. Most of them stayed for 3 hours! We had a neat discussion and role play about slavery, we spoke of Martin Luther King, worked together on a couple worksheets where we came up with words to describe Martin Luther King, we discussed what difference each of us would like to make in this world, we ate cookies, the kids dressed up (the girls wore princess dresses while the boys armed themselves with weapons) and they all chased each other around. We ended by having lunch together and watched 15 minutes of a movie.

I can't wait to get together like this again!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shlep through Muck - Soar with Love.

Do any of you ever feel that you're having to wallow through the worlds muck or through personal muck? You see the good, know you want it, will have nothing but it, and yet, you're panting from the strain this muck is causing you as you try to trudge through it.

What is this muck? It's the worlds voices, it's indecency, it's misconstrued truths... it's satan. (with a lower case s.)

It's definition says it all: it's dark filth that is in a state of chaos, containing no value, that we trudge through, as we hear sullying remarks from satan and his followers, marring the purity and luster of our journey to truth and enlightenment. At least...that's how it can be sometimes.

But, thank goodness for the clear light of Love.

We are continually fighting through unseen muck. Every one of us. It's this muck that many of us get stained with as we trudge through it. Our weak spots, especially, often become stained with it's filth.

But, those weaknesses we've yielded to or bad habits we've taken upon us, aren't really who we are. It isn't who any of us are. We all have a genuine character. And every one of these genuine characters are good.

Next time we are hard on ourselves, or are hard on others, let's remember that we're all trudging through muck, our stains aren't who we really are.

And let's love one another instead.

Want to laugh?

I don't laugh hard very easily. Especially to stand up comedians. But Tim Hawkins had me crying!

Watch all the videos and let me know which one had you laughing the hardest. (There's a "more videos" button under the few videos on his front page).


Saturday, January 12, 2008


I've been reading The Swiss Family Robinson with the kids and its so great! The kids love trying to guess how the family will solve their next problem. They also love to decide what they'd do to solve the problems the family faces if they were in that situation. I'm really enjoying it because the wife in the story is a good example to me. No matter how dismal their situation may seem she keeps her spirits up and looks for opportunities to improve the situation, making life a little more comfortable for everyone around her.

Isn't that the way we should be? No matter how hard the situation may become...aside from keeping a personal relationship with Heavenly Father, the key is to stay optimistic. Sometimes things happen without us being able to control it in any way. They may be the way they are because of others decisions. They'll happen whether or not we want them to happen. But it's our attitude throughout it all that will give the feeling to the memory left behind as we look back upon those harder days.

Optimism does not come naturally to me. Therefore, I have a lot to work on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


This year is going to be great. I can feel it and it makes me so excited. John will be going to college (starting this week) and will still be working from home. I will be busy home "schooling", I, yet again, am going to turn in, yet another, invention of mine to the ABC show for the Mothers of Invention competition, I'll be reading many great classics and other wonderful books including doing some more serious scripture studying, I'll begin to oil paint - woo-hoo!, I'll be brainstorming ideas for the toy store, I might start a new line of baby apparel and I'll be working on a book I've been writing.

I'm especially excited to home school this year. Homeschooling has given me great struggles to deal with. Not only have I had the norm to fight against but it's hard figuring out what works for our family. But, I feel like I've got a good grasp on things for this year, not that our normal routine is suddenly changing, but our way of homeschooling life has seemed to settle down into a healthy and vibrant rhythm that will benefit us all.

I'm freshly excited about all this because I just made a list to help solidify what we've got going on. The list includes: Devotional, Reading, Writing, German, History, Classics, Influential People, Values, Work, Service, Cultural Arts, Talents, One-on-one, Home-making skills, Male skills, and others such as; Math, Science, Art, Family Sunday councils, Book Clubs, Politics, Field Trips, Crafts, and Childhood play. Family Memories is one thing I feel we continually work on and should be on the list of things that I feel are important in what we're doing and trying to accomplish. The great thing about home-schooling is that I'm not trying to cram all of these subjects into one day but I let it come as it does, making sure that by the end of the day we've achieved a healthy amount of learning.

Of course, some of those subjects will be focused upon more as the kids get older but for now, such as the Thomas Jefferson Education method teaches, Values, learning how to think, and gaining (and keeping) the love of learning are what should be focused on during the young years. (aka: the "love of learning stage"). The Thomas Jefferson Education is a great way to go but sometimes I need something a little more structured so I intermingle Classical Education into our learning endeavors as well. I've found a good balance for our family by combining the two methods of education and, like I said, am excited to go forward with this year.

Here's to 2008!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I had a whole $46 to spend yesterday. I made a list of things I wanted and needed to get. Some of them involved a new shirt for me, new jammies, stuff for Camilla, and other miscellaneous items. John let me have a few hours to myself so I could get these items without towing 4 kids around with me. I did take Camilla, however, so I could nurse her. My first stop was Target - I wanted to get the most exciting things first. A new article of clothing is something I am rarely able to afford and so it became my first priority.

I searched through the clothing aisles and grabbed four different shirts. I went to the dressing room with the four shirts and Camilla in hand. I tried on a shirt. It could work but Camilla called for my attention as she began to fuss. I decided the fitting room would be a perfect place to nurse her so I sat down, relaxed, and fed her. As I fed her I could hear a mom talking to her little girl, maybe of 4 years, in the dressing room next to mine. "That looks nice mom." I could hear the little girl say. "I like your new boots too mom." "Thanks I love them too." Her mom said in reply.

Reality struck me earlier, as it's done many times before, as I searched through the clothing and I made eye contact with a young boy sitting in the back of a shopping cart being pushed around by his mom. His mom had that dazed look in her eyes as she searched and searched through clothes. He seemed so bored and maybe even confused. He seemed to be used to such situations for he sat quite still, like a good little boy, while his mom wouldn't even keep her eyes off the clothes she was searching through long enough to carefully move the cart around in a way that didn't bonk the boy into the clothing racks.

As I sat there in the dressing stall I thought of how all these moms, all these women, all these people seem so dazed and lost in the dazzle of things. I looked up at the simple but beautiful shirt that hung on a hook I had just tried on. I read from the tag, "Made in Indonesia". I had a sudden paradigm shift. I held back tears as I thought of the conditions this shirt was more than likely made in. What overworked hands made that shirt just so another American can add, yet another, item of clothing to their wardrobe?

At the end of her feeding, Camilla calmly fell asleep. I laid her in her carseat. I gathered up the untried on merchandise, dropped it off at the counter and moved on having become a bit of a different person. "Stop swinging your feet." I hear a mom say a ways away to a young child sitting in the shopping cart. "Stop being a child," is what I really hear her say, "I'm busy buying myself things".

I do purchase some dish clothes I was in need of. The elderly man at the check stand has lived so much of his life he shakes as he slowly gets me my change. I'm on the verge of asking him, " Do you want to work or do you have to work?" Even though I wanted to know the answer I don't ask in fear of offending him or causing him emotional pain. I'm pretty sure I know the answer anyway.

I left the store without purchasing anything I wanted for myself. Instead I spent all the money I had on some fabric for a line of baby apparel I want to start. With the intent to use much of its income to relieve good people of their burdens and desperate situations.

When, oh when, will we begin to see one another instead of seeing things?