Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Answer to My Prayers

Yet another essay from my writing class.  And again, I had 2-3 pages in which to write about 15-20 pages worth of information. 

Not easy! 

It started well until I got almost to the third page before realizing that I wasn’t even close to the part of the story I was trying to tell.  Therefore, large chunks of information are missing, but I saved the original… to be continued. 

For now, you can read my extremely condensed version of our love story.  Like… SUPER condensed. 

 

It had never occurred to me to tell Heavenly Father what I wanted. I had said countless prayers pleading with God to give me an answer. What I didn’t realize was that He couldn’t give me an answer to a question with no real direction. The answer finally came after a sincere conversation and heartfelt prayer. It would have been impossible for me to deny the feeling I had as I knelt next to my twin-sized bed, wrapped in the warmth of a spiritual blanket.

Just hours before, Anthony had asked me to marry him for the third time. I really liked him, loved him even. The problem was, I had promised myself I would wait.

Another guy, whom I had dated for couple of years, was gone on a mission to Japan. My family was partial to the missionary, Darren, mostly due to my constantly pointing out Anthony’s flaws. It was my only defense against the feelings I was developing. I didn’t want to love Anthony. He was the guy I met just 10 days after Darren left for the MTC, but he just wouldn’t go away. It was as if he were a cat I had fed a can of tuna. He just kept coming back. As a result, my feelings for him just kept growing, despite my efforts. In fact, there was a time we took a break from all contact for an entire week. That week felt like a lifetime, and I couldn’t get him out of my thoughts. It was my chance to prove to him, and myself, that I really wanted to wait for the missionary. It failed!

Anthony was an avid temple patron. He had gone several times seeking answers to the question of marriage. The answer he received was different than the answers I had received. He really felt I was the one he should marry, while I felt that I was receiving no answer at all. He would ask, “Do you love me?” To which I would reply, “Yes, but I love someone else, too. You can’t expect me to fall out of love with Darren just because you showed up.”

It was true. I was in love with two people. Both were great guys; one a returned missionary, the other out in the field. I am convinced, either one could have made me very happy. However, I still didn’t know what Heavenly Father wanted for me. When I would pray for an answer, my prayers sounded wishy-washy. I didn’t have a plan in mind. I would simply say, “Please help me to know whether I am supposed to marry Anthony or wait for Darren.” A decision hadn’t been made, and I already had my heart set on waiting… at least that’s what I thought. A part of me really wanted to marry Anthony. His family was great, and I felt that I could literally feel the love he had for me. But I had already convinced so many people that Anthony’s flaws simply couldn’t be overlooked. It would help to keep me waiting for Darren if I knew nobody approved of Anthony.

It wasn’t until the third time that Anthony asked me to marry him that I really prayed with a sincere heart. After the initial answer I gave that I was going to wait, he asked me very sincerely, “Have you really prayed about it?”

I was appalled. “Well… yes!” Then the next few questions came spilling out of his mouth. “Have you told Heavenly Father what you want and asked him if it’s right? Have you really studied it out in your mind? Do you even know what you want?” I became very defensive at that point. Did he think I was stupid? Did he understand that my heart felt like it was being ripped in two different directions? It was as if my heart was a wishbone straight out of the Thanksgiving turkey. It would be tugged and pulled by two guys, both worthy of becoming my eternal partner, until it would finally snap. The winner would be the one holding the biggest piece of bone in his hand. I hated it! It was the worst feeling I had ever experienced.

After Anthony was able to convince me that he wasn’t accusing me of anything, I realized that I had not yet prayed with a sincere heart.

That very night I set out to do just that. Having not made up my mind about what I really wanted, the only thing to pray for was clarity. I loved two men, but could only marry one of them. As I knelt down to pray, I realized that even thought I didn’t know who I wanted at that moment, I could tell my Heavenly Father I just wanted to please Him. The words of that prayer were the most sincere I had ever allowed myself to utter. I told Him that if Anthony was the person He wanted me to be with, then that was exactly what I wanted.

Suddenly, there it was! The spirit entered the room and I felt a warm hug envelope me. I can only compare it to the warmth of a blanket heated in the sun. In that moment, I knew. Heavenly Father wanted me to be exactly where I was. No wonder Anthony wouldn’t go away; he knew something that I didn’t. He had already received the answer, he just had to wait for little ol’ me to come to the same conclusion.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Latter-day Learning Review #2

This post contains affiliate links.  I was given a copy of Latter-day Learning Year 1 in exchange for honest reviews of the program.  I am not required to give positive reviews.  My family loves it which is why I DO give it rave reviews. 

Maybe you remember my last review of Latter-day Learning and how much we LOVE it! 

Well, some time has flown by since then and guess what.  We STILL love it! 

Years ago, when I started on this homeschooling journey, I never would have guessed that focusing on just one subject per day (in addition to math and language arts) would be sufficient.  I thought I would be recreating school at home.  Little did I know, at that time, that life itself is more of a real education than sitting in a classroom for hours on end. 

This curriculum fits right into our school of life plans.  It’s engaging and thoughtful with a real purpose.  With LDL you are able to perfectly integrate a gospel principle into each lesson.

I feel like I am learning right along with the kids, and we are having so much fun with it!  We are following the order of the recommended schedule, but not moving as quickly as recommended.  It’s just right for us.  There’s no better feeling than being able to move at the right pace for my family. 

Miss H has pretty much stuck with the younger kids recommendations for activities, while K is moving along nicely with the older kids activities.  Miss A still goes back and forth between wanting to play around with the essays and doing the simpler activities. 

If you are on the lookout for an LDS curriculum that integrates the gospel into the lessons, look no further; you can be sure this will fit the bill.  It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I am giving my kids an education that is both spiritual and secular.  There is no better way to educate.     

Friday, July 4, 2014

Miss A Singing The Star Spangled Banner

My beautiful little Miss A was asked to sing the National Anthem for our ward 4th of July breakfast.  She was pretty nervous and has one or two little flat spots.  Of course, as is usually the case, she did it nearly perfect in the rehearsal.  But overall I think she did really well.  I wish the video was focused, but what can I do?  The husband had control of the phone.  If you want something done right, you’ve gotta do it yourself!  ;)

Happy 4th of July!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why Latter-day Saints (or any Christian) Should Consider Homeschool

The most recent assignment for my writing class was to write a persuasive essay.  Something that would persuade people to think the way you do about any controversial topic.  So far, this has been the most FRUSTRATING assignment. 

Is it the topic?  No.  I love the topic I chose… it’s homeschool. 

But seriously… 2-3 pages double spaced?!  That’s ridiculous!  Too long?  Heavens no!  It’s far too short!  How in the world do they expect me to fit in all the reasons that a family should consider homeschool within a mere 2 or 3 pages?  I could go on and on…. and on.  For real. 

I had all these ideas floating around in my head about which avenue I should take for this paper.  It got me all excited.  And then… I started to write.  After only the first two paragraphs I realized that I would have to eliminate a huge chunk of my thoughts.  So, while this paper doesn’t express my passion for this topic or anywhere near my complete thoughts on the subject, it is a tiny sampling of what I feel. 

 

“I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking away property from one man and giving it to another… Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No!” Brigham Young had very strong opinions about education. His views on the subject were very clear and inspired by the Lord. He was not on board with the idea of sending children to public schools where they might be taught the ways of the world. President John Taylor said that Latter-day Saint children should be taught by Latter-day Saints. The thought of Latter-day Saint children being taught by teachers of varying faiths, or perhaps no faith at all, appalled him. All Latter-day Saint families should consider homeschooling as an option.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are well known for praying over almost every aspect of life. When a young woman wants to know whether she should marry a certain person of interest, she prays. If there’s a question about whether a young man should do a year of college before leaving for a mission, he prays. A prayer is said almost any time there is a decision of significance to make. However, most people do not think to pray about the education of their children. There’s usually a perfectly acceptable public school right down the street, or an even greater charter school that everyone is talking about. Society says that’s just what is done; children reach a certain age and they go off to school. That’s how education happens. Many parents are unaware that there are other options.

Children are able to learn far more in their own homes under the loving care of parents who are looking out for their well-being. Secular learning, along with the spiritual teachings a parent can provide, is sure to go much further than that of a teacher only able to teach the worldly view of all things. President Eyring says, “It is clear that our first priority should go to spiritual learning. For us, reading the scriptures would come before reading history books. Prayer would come before memorizing those Spanish verbs. A temple recommend would be worth more to us than standing first in our graduating class. But it is also clear that spiritual learning would not replace our drive for secular learning.” Secular learning has its place. Heavenly Father has asked us to know the events in world history. There is much to be learned from the sciences, math, and foreign languages. Knowledge of all things secular is a wonderful thing, but only if the emphasis is placed on the most important learning to be done first. Spiritual education should take precedence, and it starts in the home. President Eyring goes on to say that spiritual knowledge can motivate students to work even harder to learn the secular side of things. The more an individual learns about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the gospel, the more knowledge he will desire to gain in secular matters.

There is a downside to homeschooling: People. Many people just don’t understand why a parent would make such a detrimental choice as to homeschool their children. Educators often take it as an insult that someone would choose to keep their children away from a government-run educational facility such as a public or charter school. What these people fail to realize is that it has nothing to do with the educators themselves; there are great teachers in every school. The problem is that they are only allowed to teach what the state and federal governments mandate.

There is no right way to educate children. They are here on the earth to learn just as every adult is here to do. Education is highly individual, and the only way to know if homeschooling is the right option for any family is to study it out and pray about it. Heavenly Father will guide each family to the path that is right for them. Just remember that there are options. Is it worth sending a child to the public school, where there is sure to be no spiritual gain, simply because it’s what everyone else is doing?

Works Cited:

Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses, vol. 18 p. 357, General Conference 1877

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Church History and Modern Revelation. 4 volumes. (1946-1949), 2: 98-99

Eyring, Henry B. “Education For Real Life.” Ensign Magazine, October 2002

 

 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Big Delores, How Do I Love Thee

I so wish I had a picture of Big Delores.  Unfortunately, she is gone with Anthony this weekend for the Ragnar race.  I miss her!  Him too.  But right now I’ll focus on her.  :) 

About three months ago, my parents asked if we could swap cars.  They would give us their old white van in exchange for our little silver Impala.  This was a no-brainer for us.  We were absolutely on board!  With all the running around that I do getting kids to and from various activities, we needed something that wasn’t quite as thirsty as Big Delores.  She’s kind of a hog… gas hog, that is.  Anthony always took the Impala to work because there was no way I was going to fit our army of a family in that thing.  So, he ended up getting GREAT gas mileage in that thing and rarely had to fill up because work is only a mere three miles away.  Meanwhile, I was running poor Delores ragged booking it from here to there and back again. 

Anyway, long story short, we took them up on the offer.  Insurance went up $50 a month, but gas has gone way down.  I still don’t understand the insurance thing.  We got rid of a sports car and added a minivan for crying out loud!  Whatever. 

We decided to name the van Timmy.  He’s a very timid little thing in comparison to Big D.  Hence the name… He’s great for running around but the kids and I still get excited when we get to hop in our beloved Big Delores.  She’s the only way we can fit everyone in when Anthony is with us. 

At the beginning of our writing course this semester, we had to write a love letter.  The love letter was not to be written to someONE but rather to someTHING that we love.  I chose Big Delores.  I was just beginning to realize how much I was missing her after having driven Timmy for a couple of weeks.  So, here it is…

Dear Big Delores (Suburban), It seems like only yesterday that I brought you home. The search for just the right vehicle to fit a family of seven, going on eight, seemed never ending. Then we saw you. Your beautiful black paint was a welcome sight after having driven old Wanda B. Red for a while before finding out that we would be adding another member to our ‘gang’.

You never got to meet Wanda. She was a Durango. A sweet gal, but she didn’t go well with our University of Utah gear being that she was a brilliant version of BYU’s blue. She sure wanted to be red though, which is why she got the name Wanda B. Red. When I spotted you, I just knew that you were the one to replace her. Sure, you had a slight drawback. You had two bucket seats in the middle row where we needed a bench to fit the new baby. Luckily, a tan bench, to match the rest of your interior, was located shortly after the baby was born.

When I’m behind your wheel I can’t help but feel a sense of safety. Come to think of it, I feel safe even in the passenger seat. Some of the vehicles humming along next to us on the freeway seem so vulnerable, like tiny bugs about to get squished. You, my love, are not them, and I love you for it. I feel like an army sergeant on the road, barking orders at all the little worker ants. “Get out of my way! Here comes Big Delores!” Of course there are much larger vehicles out there, and in no way am I implying that you are fat. I like to refer to you as “medium husky”.

Big Delores, you just make me happy. I love that you allowed me to name you after the girl in the movie Hope Floats. You’ve got a great sense of humor about me telling people that you have your own gang. You have to admit, not only are you large enough to have your own gang, you literally carry my gang around everywhere. Don’t worry; I’ve got your back!

You’re getting up there in years and miles now which makes me sad. The slight, repetitive rev of your engine when we are at a standstill leads me to believe that you might be giving out on me soon. Please know that you mean more to me than I can possibly explain in words (or afford to replace in dollars). I will love you forever. No vehicle will ever be able to replace you in my heart.

Love,

Brooke













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Monday, June 9, 2014

I believe…

Anthony and I are studying Religion (Lives of the Prophets) along with English.  We are taking a basic writing class.  And I don’t know why but it is kicking our BUTTS!  Grades are fine…ish, it’s just a lot more work this semester than we are used to. 

The first assignment for writing was to write a love letter.  But not just any love letter; it had to be a letter to someTHING that we love, not someONE.  I plan to share that once I have access to it again (long story), but for now I am sharing my second assignment.  We had to write an essay about something that we strongly believe in.  This paper was easy for me because I have a very strong opinion about the value of homeschooling.  I believe that homeschooling is education in its most realistic form. 

For the record, I originally wrote close to 6 pages before realizing I had some major cutting down to do.  The essay could only be 1-2 pages.  What the heck?!  I could have gone on forever. 

Anthony’s paper was centered around fathers being heroes to their children.  (I’ll share that once I get permission.  He has to be awake in order for me to get that.  ;))

Below is a copy of my essay:

 

I believe homeschooling is education in its most realistic form. It is the most appropriate way to educate. The public school system seems so artificial. Having to learn the same thing as everyone else at approximately the same ages sends the message that what a child is interested in isn’t important, and that you can only learn certain things at certain times. Being told there is only one right way to do just about everything sends the message that we shouldn’t try to be creative. Certainly the government knows better what, when, and how a child should be learning a particular concept. In addition, standardized testing is not an accurate measurement of intelligence or progress.

I am the product of the public school system, and I think I turned out alright. Homeschool isn’t for every family or every kid. Public, charter, or private school are all options as well. However, there was a dam built in the flow of my creative juices as a result of the way the schools and government have set things up for the education of children.

It has taken a lot of effort to get the juices flowing again. As a small child I remember my imagination running wild. The things I could come up with on my own were worthy of a best selling picture book. Vivid colors, imaginative characters, and playful thoughts and scenarios danced around in my mind like a pile of autumn leaves frolicking into the air, gently pushed upward by a light, cool breeze. Exposed pebbles in my corroding driveway were ‘buttons’ that would magically transport my friends and me to new and exciting places like Bubble Gum World. But I knew that when I entered the classroom things had to be just so.

Everyone used the same color of tissue paper for a flower art project, the same design for an imagined replica of one of Christopher Columbus’ ships, and the same topic for learning acrostic poems. My classmates and I were limited by certain criteria set by either the teacher or the government. Eventually, the natural curiosity and imaginative thoughts inside of me were drowned by the knowledge that it didn’t matter how I wanted to do my project. If I wanted a good grade, I would have to follow the format and subject given to me.

The most frequently asked question I get as a homeschooling mom of six kids is, “What about socialization? How are you going to socialize your kids?” I always tell the asker that we just live life. Life is a social event. My kids are involved at church, in church activities, recreational activities, and organized homeschool events. They play with each other, cousins, neighbor kids, and they go to the grocery store and the park. Everyday social interaction equals socialized children.

Schools were not created to provide a place for social interaction. They were created to help educate those children whose families could not afford to buy the proper materials or hire private tutors for their education. At some point, it just became simpler to send all, or at least most, kids to the school for free education. Soon after that it became the law.

Homeschooling is a lifestyle. The world is our classroom and we are able to choose what to learn, when to learn, and how to learn. It offers the very best of life and can help children discover their creative genius.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Impressions

I entered the chapel Saturday night about 20 minutes early to take my place up on the stand in the stake center.  Anthony had come home from high council meeting a couple weeks ago and announced that he had been asked to ask me if I would mind saying the opening prayer at the adult session of Stake Conference. 

YIKES! 

But I’m always willing to do something scary if it’s truly inspired.  Surely this was.  Besides, I didn’t really have a choice because Anthony told me, “Don’t worry.  I already told them you would do it.”  And then he laughed and strutted away. 

PUNK!

As I sat up on the stand waiting I started looking at the clock then at the congregation.  Fifteen minutes until the conference started and my heart was beating a bit faster than normal.  But I thought, no big deal.  This chapel seems even smaller than the one in my own ward.  I can do this.  No sooner had this thought crossed my mind than they opened the curtain past the overflow to the gym.  They had tricked me!  They were only waiting for the chapel to fill before opening that part so people would sit closer.  That’s when my heart started pounding. 

What if I said the wrong thing?  What if I pray for Heavenly Father to bless the food… when there isn’t any to bless?  What if I ask for us all to ‘have a good night’s rest’?  The pressure was mounting and I was watching my shirt move to the beat of my heart.  It was hard and fast.  Not only that but it was loud!  I could hear it pounding in my ears.  The clock was ticking closer to 7:00 much faster than it should have.  The second counselor in the stake presidency came up to take his spot on the stand.  As he was about to sit down in front of me he turned, shook my hand, and said, “Thank you for accepting this opportunity.”  To which I leaned forward and said, “I don’t think I did.  I think my husband did it for me!”  He laughed agreeably and sat. 

All too soon the first counselor, stake president, and two presiding general authorities took their places on the stand and the meeting started… TWO MINUTES EARLY!  At least according to the clock on the wall.  Not fair. 

The opening song was sung and then it was my turn.  I would have rather given a talk in my home ward than give a simple prayer in front of all these people, most of whom I don’t know from Adam.  But it was too late to turn back now.  My legs carried me to the pulpit without my even realizing it was happening.  I tried hard not to look out.  I knew if I looked all the way to the back it would be too much for my nerves and I might end up with nothing to say at all.  What’s worse… praying for nothing at all or blessing imaginary food? 

I don’t remember the words of the prayer that I gave and I know it was simple and very short but I also know that I didn’t end up blessing any food or asking for us all to be patient with each other and get along as I do in many family prayers.  Come to think of it, maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad.  We could probably all stand to be a little more patient with our fellow men. 

All I knew was that it was over.  I was relieved.  I walked, or scurried rather, down the stairs to head to where Miss K was sitting (all youth 12 and older were invited to this particular adult session… Anthony was busy doing council stuff) I found myself practically running to the seat and tripping all over the feet of the ladies I had to get past in order to get to where Miss K was.  Nerves were still unsettled.  I leaned over to K and whispered, “I am SO glad that is over with.” 

This was only the second time I have ever been to a stake conference in my life.  I never grew up going to them.  We always counted it as a Sunday off.  I thought that was pretty typical so I continued the tradition into my marriage.  I hadn’t learned to fully appreciate the gospel until more recently.  Now I desire to go but don’t want to deal with the kids.  Now that I have kids old enough to stay home with the littles it is becoming a reality. 

That session Saturday night was so neat.  We had two presiding general authorities there because today (Sunday) they were calling a new stake presidency.  Elder Don R. Clarke was the officiating authority and boy was he funny!  The spirit in the meeting was strong and many different people were called upon to bear testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel.  People from all walks of life…. lifelong members, converts, and former inactive members.  There was a man that was a minister.  He was transferred to Utah as a Baptist minister.  He was sure he would get here and convert all the Mormons.  And he admitted that he actually had turned many away from the church.  He was sad about this.  He had asked a simple question of his Mormon dentist one day and that got the seed planted in his mind.  Then there was a Mormon gal working at 7-11.  He had asked her to come to his church.  She agreed under one condition.  He had to come with her to HER church.  There were neighbors that befriended him and made him feel loved and wanted in the community even though most of his neighbors were Mormon.  He once ordered a free King James version of the Bible.  Guess who showed up at his door to deliver it?  Mormon missionaries.  He sent them away but kept the Bible.  ;)  But eventually, he came around.  He was baptized three years ago.  His testimony was LOUD.  I don’t know much about other churches or religions but he sounded like the ministers you see in the movies.  Very passionate!  It wasn’t the more reverent, peaceful type of testimony that we are used to within the church but WOW!  It was powerful.  The spirit was strong.  His passion didn’t drive it away like it may have had it been someone like myself yelling into the microphone the way he was.  Somehow he was able to pull it off. 

There was a sweet woman from another ward that had moved from West Jordan just because.  She didn’t really know why.  She just felt that she needed a change.  She was inactive in the church but quickly became active again after moving into our stake.  It had brought her family back together again. 

A man that had been in and out of jail and prison for the past 10 years was able to feel the spirit while in his prison cell.  His third baby had just been born and he had missed the birth.  The mother of his baby wrote and told him that she was in a relationship with his best friend.  That was his breaking point.  The night he received the letter is the very night he hit the floor.  He prayed and received inspiration… in his cell… that he should attend the church session that Sunday, and so he did.  He has now read the Book of Mormon 3 times and is reading it again.  He is 30 years old and says that he now recognizes when the spirit is speaking to him. 

A panel of youth was called up as well to talk about what they can do and have done to help in the Lord’s cause and build the kingdom of God.  Elder Clarke mentioned that some sister missionaries had gone to the seminary at the high school and done a little presentation of sorts.  From that alone they were able to collect over 400 names of friends and family members of these high school students.  Two of the seminary students weren’t even members of the church and took seminary just because.  They asked for the missionaries to teach them and now they are getting baptized. 

Elder Clarke was adamant that we be missionaries within our own stake.  He had us in stitches at times.  He also had us in tears.  There is so much work to be done within the boundaries of our stake and we are leaving it all up to the full time missionaries.  But Elder Clarke warned us that it is absolutely essential that we get involved. 

I had two very distinct impressions during that meeting.  First of all, I need to be more proactive about sharing the gospel.  It is my sure foundation.  The one solid thing that is never changing.  It is the very rock that I lean on when I feel need, doubt, fear, shame, guilt, broken.  The gospel takes all of that away and makes me feel happy, sure, calm, forgiven, whole.  Jesus Christ is the reason that I am able to work toward living with my Heavenly Father again.  I need to make sure that the people I love know my testimony of this gospel. 

Secondly, I need more friends.  Elder Clarke let us know that we can’t call anyone our friend until they’ve eaten dinner at our table.  That’s when they become a friend.  And if they are our true friends, they will be ok with us sharing the very thing that makes us who we are.  The gospel makes me whole.  Without it I am nothing. 

What are you doing to bring others to the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Is there something holding you back from embracing the gospel yourself?  Maybe someone offended you and you are determined to stay away because of it.  As Elder Clarke said, “Are you going to sacrifice your salvation because of something someone else said or did?”  Elder David A Bednar said:

“When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”

Please remember, we are all human.  There was only one perfect being and He is aching to have you back in His presence.  And remember that to be offended is a choice.  You can choose to be offended or you can choose to rise above that and realize that imperfect people are all that Heavenly Father has to work with.  The gospel is true even if the people aren’t.   

 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

January’s New Skill–Crochet

2014 is the year of new skills for me.  I set out to make a list of 12 new skills to learn… one each month.  January’s skill was crochet.

… and knitting. 

And then there was math.   

For school. 

Remember, I’m in college. 

And it is hard. 

I am not smarter than a 5th grader! 

That’s right, folks!  I am doing 5th grade math in college and I’m having a hard time with it. 

Fractions, improper fractions, decimals, multiplying fractions, common denominators… who needs ‘em?  Actually, I’ve had a lot of fun with it!  Never thought I could like that stuff.  The story problems on the other hand….  They are going to be the death of me.  No matter how hard I try I just can’t make them fun.  How am I supposed to know how many miles I can go per dollar if gas costs $3.20 per gallon and I can go 198 miles on 13 gallons of gas?

Whatever…

So, the knitting didn’t happen… yet.  But I did manage to crochet a couple of projects.  And when I did, I wondered why in the world I didn’t learn this skill sooner.  It’s pretty darn fun! 

scarf001

scarf003

Whoops, how did that one get in there? 

scarf007

Go me! 

February’s skill is sewing.  Question is… what should I make?  I’m going to have to get my girls to teach me how to use the sewing machine.  For real… I know next to nothing.  :)

 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gymnastics Meet/Recital

In my last post I mentioned that Miss A participated in her very first gymnastics meet last weekend.  She was beyond excited about it and couldn’t wait to show off her routines that she had worked so hard to perfect.  Just a couple weeks before that she had the chance to have a ‘practice meet’ within her own gym.  This was a way for the girls to get a feel for what the real meet would be like.  There were real judges there and everything. 

Neither Anthony or I were able to stay and watch the practice meet because there was too much going on.  Miss K and I made it for the last two events.  We saw Miss A do her floor routine and then move on to the beam.  She did great.  At the end they gave the girls their score sheets and wouldn’t you know it… Miss A scored highest on vault and got the all-around high score also.  35.2

It was called a practice meet but it had value as well.  The girls have to score a 32 or above in three intra-squad meets in order to compete the rest of the season.  I’m still confused as to whether it’s 32 at each one or if it’s an average of 32.  In any case, I think she rocked it and couldn’t have done a better job. 

The real meet was a bit more nerve wracking for her.  More gyms, more girls, more judges, more audience. 

It was so fun to see her!  My cousin watched the boys for us and we took the baby and the girls to the meet.  Miss A just looked like she was in her element.  She really is happiest when she is doing what she loves.  Right now, that means gymnastics. 

Each girl at the meet did the same routines… which means the same music for floor over, and over, and over, and over, and over…. (fun stuff!  ;) ).  Being that Miss A is only a level 3 right now her routines were the simplest.  The most complex things girls at her level do on the floor is a round off back handspring.  On bars they do a chin up pullover and a back hip circle.  She did great on every event although everyone thought she should have scored higher on her floor routine.  The judges were pretty harsh this time around.  But she still managed to score a 34 – ish.  I can’t remember the exact score.  34.something.

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They divided them into both Level and age.  She was in the Level 3 ages 10 and up category.  When all was said and done, she placed 2 on vault, 4th on beam, 4th on floor, and 4th all-around. 

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The very next evening they had a recital for the Beginner – Level 3.  I know I said that Miss A is level 3 but it’s different.  She is Competition Level 3.  Miss H is Level 3… not competition… yet.  Does that make sense? 

And so, Miss H got to strut her stuff.  Unfortunately, there is only a picture of her warming up because I video recorded the events. 

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And boy, she did a great job!  There were no judges so she didn’t get placement medals but she did get a participation medal.  Miss A got to help give the medals and she tried so hard to be in the right place to give H her medal but missed her by 2 spots.  Darn it!!  But that’s ok, my favorite moment came at the very end.  When it was all over…

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Confession… this one is posed.  I missed the ‘real’ hug so I made them do it again for a picture.  How was I supposed to know Miss A would find it in herself to give Miss H a much deserved hug?  That’s the sort of thing she usually reserves for her friends.  No matter how hard I try to get her to recognize the need Miss H has for a hug.  Melted my heart! 

 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Extracurricular Activities… Educational or Distraction?

This past Friday Miss A had her very first gymnastics competition. 

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It was during the day which meant that a lot of the girls competing were missing school.

There were grumblings about that little fact.  I overheard a couple of conversations.  One mom said, “I just don’t agree with this.  When it interrupts their education I just don’t agree.” 

Ok, I understand where she is coming from.  Sort of.  I used to be in a ‘school’ mindset also.  And way back then… ;)  I might have felt the same way. 

And yet, I completely (and respectfully) disagree with her. 

Call me crazy but I don’t look at it that way.  I see the extracurricular activities that my kids participate in as part of their education.  I don’t feel that it is an interruption at all. 

There are so many lessons to be learned.  Miss A in particular has learned far more from her time in gymnastics than I could have ever taught her on my own.  I’m not talking about all the tricks and flips she does, either.  I could have taught her all of that… easy peasy! 

Ha!  That was funny, right? 

Seriously, I’m talking about the life lessons she has learned.  One of the main reasons that my kids are involved with anything at all is because of Miss A.  Life lessons are the ones I am most interested in.  It is one of the many reasons that we homeschool. 

Miss A is a great kid and she has got a huge heart.  But she displayed very early on that she has got a major case of ‘middle child syndrome’.  Woo-ee!  That girl has got the guilt tripping down to a science and the manipulation she can swing is stellar!  From the time she was tiny she displayed a need to be active.  Sure, that’s absolutely possible to do at home.  Run around and play outside, right?  But she needed more. 

We already knew she had a gift for singing, drawing, and picking up on piano pretty well but anytime she tried anything sporty or active with neighbors, friends, or at family get togethers she just picked up on it right away and was naturally good at it.  It didn’t matter if she was kicking a soccer ball around or turning cartwheels.  It was apparent that she was very coordinated and picked up on things very quickly.  This is something we may not have noticed had it not been for the fact that Miss K was the opposite of this. 

No matter how hard Miss K tried to pick up on things they just didn’t come naturally to her.  She was quite clumsy and not very well coordinated, to be honest.  Anything she tried to do required her full, undivided attention and even then it didn’t come easily for her.  This has been proven to be true as she has grown into the beautiful young woman she is even now.  She has had to work really hard for every bit of success she has had with her dancing and her drawing.  Both are things she was very interested in and has a deep desire to be good at.  And she is! 

Miss A just hasn’t had to work as hard which was somewhat of a downfall in many ways. 

How could that possibly be a downfall, you ask?  Well, it’s like with anything in life.  Human nature.  It seems that if we don’t have to work for it, we don’t appreciate it as much. 

Miss A needed something to challenge her.  She was bored at home and I was having a hard time keeping her busy.  She needed a challenge. 

So, even though I knew that Miss H and Miss K would have been fine and content to be home, we found somewhere for them to go.  Somewhere to be busy.  Because how could we do that for Miss A and tell the other girls, I’m sorry but she needs this, you don’t.  And besides, they wanted it, we just didn’t have the money to allow the kids to be a part of anything. 

There came a point when we decided (irresponsible or not) that it just needed to happen no matter what. 

And so… along came the extracurriculars! 

I think I got a little off track here.  The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t consider these activities to be an interruption in my childrens’ education.  I think of them as PART of their education. 

They have learned so many life lessons such as:

  • How to work with others.
  • The importance and payoff of hard work.
  • Being happy for others and their accomplishments.
  • Working with a leader.
  • Making great friends.
  • Being a good friend to others.
  • How to be your own cheerleader in life.
  • Realistic goal setting.
  • And who knows… it could mean scholarships down the road. 

I’m interested to find out what all of you think.  Are extracurricular activities an educational distraction (if held on a day when school is in session) or an education in itself? 

P.S.  More to come about the competition. 

 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is God Real or Pretend?–Book Review

I was given a copy of the book “Is God Real or Pretend?” from TLC Book Tours.

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My first impression of this book wasn’t great.  It looked cheap.  You can see the words from the page behind throughout the entire thing.  I don’t know if it’s something that will be fixed in future publications or not. 

Within the first few pages the main character of the book, Franklin, reveals that there is no such thing as Santa Claus.  I don’t know about you but I know in our house Santa Claus is very real!  We are a family of firm believers and that includes Anthony and myself.  Needless to say, I was not impressed with that.  I was glad that this was a book I chose to read on my own for review.  I wasn’t sure what the content would be and didn’t just want to hand it over to my children as soon as we got it.  What a sad day that would have been!  (For the record, Miss K has known how the magic of Santa Claus works for a couple of years now.  Miss A just learned this past Christmas season.  If Miss H had been the one to read the book she would have been devastated.  Anthony and I have a very special way that we go about this subject.  Santa Claus IS real.  That’s another post for another day.)

So almost immediately I was turned off from this book.  It continues on and talks about Franklin’s findings through many different religions and what they believe about God.  While I’m sure that much of the information is true, I am somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to any one person or group writing about another’s religion.  From personal investigating I know that much of that kind of research is often misconstrued.  The author doesn’t always know what they are talking about, only able to draw from word of mouth, things they’ve heard, and possibly a google search.  I’m not saying that this is the case with this author.  I just know that my particular faith is a very misunderstood religion around the globe and when things are written about my church it is often only partially true or completely untrue. 

While the different insights to how different religions perceive God was interesting I wouldn’t say that this is must have book for my library. 

**And now you know that even when I get a book (or any product) for review I will always tell you the truth about what I think about it.  ;)

Monday, January 20, 2014

K’s Birthday/Christmas Project

Maybe you remember that Miss K had decided to give back for her birthday this year.  Well, I say ‘this’ year but technically it was last year.  But it was only this past October so… you feel me, right?  And the giving back part didn’t actually happen until Christmas time. 

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She asked her friends that came to her party NOT to bring her a gift.  Instead she asked them to bring a gift that she could give to someone else.  At the time we envisioned donating a bunch of toys to Toys 4 Tots or another similar organization.  But we decided to get more people involved that might want to help.  I helped her make up some flyers which she and her sisters passed out around the neighborhood.  Just something to let them all know what it was she was doing and how they could help.  She asked for donations of toys, clothing, cash, and/or gift cards.  I also made an announcement on facebook.

In total she ended up with about 35 toys, a few articles of clothing in various sizes,  2 coats,  and just over $300 in cash and gift cards.  We weren’t sure how far the cash and cards would go but when we realized how much she had to work with in the toys we saw that she could probably do much more that just donate toys to an organization.  It was then that we decided to ask around for a family that might be in need of help. 

9 kids later (from 5 different families) she was ready to play Santa Claus!  For some she only needed to provide a few things just to supplement what the family could not do on their own.  But for others she provided the entire thing!  One family with 3 kids received 4 toys per child, 2 complete outfits each, and a pair of pajamas for each as well.  This is also the family that needed the coats.  Someone else was able to provide a third one for them.  Another little girl in Idaho received a similar set up… minus the coat.  Some of the families we did not know personally, others we did. 

There was a little bit of worry when we first took on that many kids.  How was that $300 going to spread that far?  Miss K and I prayed to Heavenly Father to help us spread the money as far as it needed to go and VOILA!  The rest is history.  I truly believe that Miss K was blessed for her efforts in so many ways.  This experience taught her so much and I watched her grow up and realize how blessed she is in her life.  Such a great kid!  I couldn’t ask for a sweeter daughter to call my own. 

Going shopping with her was so much fun.  I let her choose everything that we bought since it was her project.  She did a great job although she was indecisive at times which she comes by honestly having me for a mother. 

Decisions aren’t easy… ok? 

Anyhow, she wants to do it again next year (or this year, technically) so we are gearing up.  And her sisters want to be involved this time as well.  They got to join us on a couple of the shopping trips and really got into it.  However, they were only allowed to make suggestions to Miss K.  She had the final say on all of it. 

So proud of the young woman that she has become and I can’t wait to get to know her even better as she develops into a teenager (THIS YEAR!!  YIKES!). 

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Brady Needs a Nightlight- Book Review

I was a given a copy of this book for review by TLC Book Tours.  Please know that all opinions are my own.  I would never recommend something that I don’t love.

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Meet Brady… a bat.  Bats are not supposed to be afraid of the dark.  But Brady is.  How is he supposed to get any sleep in the cave when all he can do is think about is his fear of the dark?  And then he meets the fireflies. 

This book is written in a cute stanza poem format which I love.  It flows well and the story is very relatable to a child.  We really liked it at our house.  My kids thought was engaging and sweet.  The little fireflies become the heroes and it’s great to see Brady make some friends.  It was so refreshing to come across a book like this that is well written and captures the imaginations of children.  And the illustrations are great, though I have to admit that I would never have pegged that to be a bat without being told.  ;)

I guarantee that your kids will love it just like mine did.  It’s written by Brian Barlics who is a pediatrician.  I hope that he writes more books like this.

Brady Needs a Nightlight is highly recommended. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Masquerade Ball

I had originally planned for there to be one big catch up post, then a Christmas post, followed by a New Year’s post.  Then I started editing pics to get it all under way and frazzle brained me accidentally told the program NOT to save the changes when I went to shut the computer down. 

**UGH!**

And so, here a little… there a little.  That’s what we’re going to do.  I’ll catch up… eventually.

So, I was going to catch up on Halloween in the big post but now I think we’ll skip it.  Post a pic and call it good, no?  Anthony and I were Mr. and Mrs. Incredible… not shown.  Baby B actually got to be several things this year for different parties and events.  Monkey, cow, Squirt (turtle from Finding Nemo), and Tigger.  Lots of kids equals lots of costumes in baby/toddler sizes. 

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Miss K was invited to a Masquerade Ball that was held just a couple days before Halloween.  Doesn’t she look beautiful?  It’s crazy to me how fast this girl is growing up.  I swear she was just born last week! 

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She invited a couple of her cousins to come along, also.  They just moved back to Utah from Nebraska so it was fun for them to all go and get reacquainted. 

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Someone’s father wasn’t too happy to see his little girl so fancied up and looking so pretty.  This is him telling those boys they had better stay away. 

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I was the one that got to go pick her up from the ball that night.  Call it bias but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a more beautiful little gal at the ball!  The dancing wasn’t quite over when I got there but she informed me that up to that point no one had asked her to dance.  Part of me was sad for her as she told me that all of her friends had been asked and most of them several times over the course of the night.  But when I looked around I realized that there was only one explanation… all the boys were too chicken!  She looked RADIANT!  And she wasn’t the least bit sad.  She laughed about it.  I told her that her dad would be so happy! 

She asked if they could stay for just a few more dances.  Those ‘few’ turned into MANY! 

Finally, it happened!  My friend Tamra’s son asked Miss K to dance.  He had chosen her shoe from the middle of the room and had to dance with the owner of the shoe.  He is only slightly younger than her but he’s a darling kid.  They know each other from clogging class… and the fact that his sister is one of K’s good friends. 

Can I just tell you how awkward they looked?  I LOVED IT!  Watching them both stumble over each other’s feet… it was a good time.  ;)  They had no clue how to dance with each other.  I am giggling just thinking about it.  Good times.  I think they both felt nervous (though K would never admit that).  Oh how I wish I had a picture!  Her first dance.

A good time was had by all!

More updates to come…

Monday, January 6, 2014

A. Singing ‘Let It Go’ From Frozen

 

A couple of years ago this little cutie of mine was able to take a few voice lessons and she loved it.  Since then she has done a couple of solos for church functions.  She sang the National Anthem at our ward 4th of July Breakfast 2013, the 4th verse of I Am a Child of God in the Primary Program, and most recently she sang the 2nd verse of I Wonder When He Comes Again in our ward Christmas Sacrament Meeting. 

Does she remember what she learned 2 years ago?  Not much.  She was only 8 years old and only had a very minimal amount of lessons (I think it was 5) but she has grown so much since then.  Her voice has matured even more and maybe I’m bias but I think she’s pretty good.  Could she use some training?  Absolutely!  But I can’t deny that she’s got some raw talent.  Please be kind if you choose to comment.  She’s a little girl. 

Frozen has become our favorite movie around here and she memorized the song very quickly.  There are a couple of spots that she forgets the words but she didn’t know I was going to be asking her to sing for the camera. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year, New Goals

Ok, it has been far too long.  Going back to school has kind of thrown me for a loop.  It was rough getting into the swing of things.  Then, when I finally DID get the hang of things I felt like I couldn’t wrap my head around blogging. 

I was way too behind to try and catch up.  Where would I even start? 

But it’s a new year which means a fresh start!  I don’t know why the beginning of a year kind of puts everything into perspective.  All of the sudden things seem doable again.  Make it a goal or a resolution and VOILA!  You’re back in business!

After a quick glance back at my blog I’ve realized that it has become something that I never really intended it to become.  It started as a place to write my feelings, my concerns, my happiness, my family happenings, my thoughts, a place to act as a journal, recipes that I love, and our homeschooling adventures.  It has slowly evolved into something else.  Not a bad something else but certainly not what I want. 

And so, resolution #1…

GET BACK ON TRACK! 

I don’t mind doing a review now and then and even a giveaway but I have neglected so many REAL moments!  I didn’t even document some of my favorite moments of the past couple years.  I’ll never get them back and it makes me sad to think… I have so many C stories documented and little B has come up with so many doozers of his own that I didn’t get written.  He’s just at that age where he’s doing so many crazy, mischievous things (and he is GOOD at it!). 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from going back to school it is this…

There is time for ALL of the fun things I want to do AND time for all the things I need to do also.  The trick is prioritizing. 

Have you ever seen that object lesson with the jar and the large rocks?  If you haven’t let me explain…

Items needed:  a large jar, some large rocks (Marbles will do also), sand, and water.  {Makes a great FHE lesson!}

Put the large rocks/marbles in first to the top of the jar.  Looks full.  Pour the sand in slowly to fill in all the gaps left between rocks to the top.  Now it’s definitely full, right?  Not quite!  Slowly pour water until the jar really is full to the brim. 

The most interesting part to think about is that if you do this in the reverse order it won’t all fit.  If you try to put the rocks in last there’s no way they will all make it in. 

The rocks/marbles represent all the things that are the most important to get done.  For me that includes scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, family time (quality time), school, date night, dates with kids, etc.  The sand represents all the extra things you want to get done.  For me it might be, oh I don’t know… exercising, working on a project of some sort, reading a good book, updating my blog with meaningful content, etc.  Finally, the water represents all the extras.  Maybe it’s facebooking, catching up on other blogs, playing a game, going out to lunch with a friend, watching a favorite TV show, etc. 

Putting the most important things first really does make a difference.  I’ve put this to the test over the last semester of school and have found it to be absolutely true!  Whenever I put the water and sand items first I run out of time for the rocks.  Very few of them get done.  But when I put my rocks first I am able to accomplish so much more! 

Try it for yourself!  Do it prayerfully.  Ask Heavenly Father what your rocks should be. 

Anyway, this blog is a priority for me.  I want this to be a record of my family.  I want it to be worthy of printing into a book someday (for my family).  I want it to be uniquely US! 

I’ve also got several other goals for the year.  It may seem like too much at first glance but I know if I prioritize things it can all happen.  Not perfectly, I’m sure there will be bumps along the way.  Here they are: 

Learn a new skill every month (or improve existing skills)

· January – Knit/Crochet

· February – Sewing

· March – Spanish

· April – Photography

· May – Running

· June –

· July –

· August – Canning

· September –

· October –

· November –

· December –

Make a big deal for birthdays and holidays.

Say ‘Yes’ more often.

Live in the moment.

Do Personal Progress with K. (Finish by October)

Dates with kids.

Temple once/month.

So, anyone got any ideas for the months I have vacancies in? 

Expect a catch up post, and a Christmas/New Year post coming up very soon!  And of course I’ll be updating on the progress of my monthly ‘skills’ as I learn. 

 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A moment

Have you ever had a moment that made you stop and think?  Today I had that moment. 

Miss K and the boys have clogging on Tuesdays.  We gathered up everyone’s shoes, coats, diapers, treats, Kindle… everything we would need for the 3 1/2 hours we would be gone.  Then we loaded everyone up in Big Delores (the Suburban). 

It had been snowing all day long and wasn’t going to let up any time soon.  I hadn’t wanted to go to dance at all because of the weather but I knew Miss K needed to be there as this is her last class before their first holiday performance set for Friday.  So, I scraped the snow off the car as it ran to get warm and defrost the windows.  Then we were off.

We had just made it out of the neighborhood when I realized how bad the roads were and I suggested to the kids that we should probably say a prayer.  Miss H enthusiastically offered to say it.  She had just finished and asked Heavenly Father to keep us safe as we entered the on ramp of the freeway.  Suddenly, Delores’ big rear end was fishtailing. 

I panicked!  And yet, I was calm… and I did everything WRONG! 

Everything started happening in slow motion.  It’s amazing how much you are able to think about in times of panic! 

Should I hit the brakes?  Do I turn into it or out of it?  What am I going to hit?  How do I stop this car?  Please don’t let us hit anything!  Oh no!  Here comes the air bag! 

I don’t think I said anything out loud but all of these thoughts raced through my mind.  Obviously the answer to braking… NO!  But I did.  I should have turned into it, but I turned out.  What did I hit?  Absolutely nothing! 

And I remember the entire time hearing Miss K screaming.  When we came to a stop in the ravine/shoulder (not sure what to call it) she was still squealing.  It is so unlike me to be cool, calm, and collected in a situation like this but I surprised myself today.  The other kids all seemed to be alright and I just rubbed Kayla’s arm to reassure her that we were ok.  We would be alright.  She was next to me in the front seat, crying.  Normally, I would be too but something kept me strong.  We sat there for a minute collecting ourselves while Little C kept asking why I would do such a thing.  “Why did you do that, Mom?  I don’t like that!  Why did you make us slide into here?  We almost hit the wall!”  It’s true.  We ended up about 4 feet from a brick wall.  He told me, “You shouldn’t do that, Mom.  I’m really freaked out now.”  If you know C you understand why this is funny.  He said it in such a monotone voice.  You just have to know him.  Even K laughed at his effort to sound ‘freaked out’. 

After explaining to him that this was not something I had intended to do, I tried backing out of the ravine.  No luck!  The tires just kept spinning.  K asked what we were going to do now to which I didn’t have a good answer.  I had left my phone home with Miss A.  I couldn’t call the police.  Since we had ended up perpendicular to the on ramp the only thing I could think to do was to have Miss K wave someone down.  I rolled her window down and had her start waving.  But before anyone stopped, someone on my side of car was walking toward us.  He had seen it happen and parked just up past the on ramp to get out of the way.  He made sure that we were all ok and called 911 for us. 

He was our angel today!  Well, one of them.  He was a young Hispanic man with earrings.  Little C wanted to make sure he wasn’t a bad guy.  I assured him that he was there to help.  And he insisted on staying until help arrived.  I felt so bad for him because the snow hadn’t let up at all and it was 29 degrees outside.  All the poor guy had on was a sweatshirt.  But he waited. 

At one point he had me borrow his phone to call Anthony.  Luckily he answered!  He doesn’t usually answer the phone if he doesn’t recognize the phone number.  Anthony really wanted me to try backing out again in 4-high.  I tried but had no luck.  We had been waiting about a half hour at that point. 

Another 15 minutes went by and FINALLY they came… a blaring ambulance and a fire truck.  I should probably have been embarrassed.  They blocked the entire on ramp for this.  One of the firemen (or maybe the EMT?) got into the driver’s seat and after some struggle and 3 other firemen/EMT’s pushing, they freed Big Delores!  MORE ANGELS! 

They didn’t bother with an incident report or anything… just sent us on our merry way (I’m sure they had plenty of other incidents to take care of).  Only now it was Miss H crying.  She was scared when the man was getting us out of the snow because the car went really squirrely again several times. 

We chose not to make the drive to dance even though we could have made it in plenty of time for Miss K’s class.  She was pretty shaken up. 

I never got too emotional about this one and I’m not really sure why.  So not like me!  I cry at everything. 

EVERYTHING!

So, while I didn’t get too shaken up, it still made me really think.  How blessed I was today!  Did our prayer work?  I choose to believe that it did!  Obviously I meant for nothing at all to happen but it could have been so much worse.  The girls attribute the car stopping without hitting the wall to angels.  They believe angels stopped it.  Why not?  I choose to believe they are right. 

How blessed am I in my life, in general?  Wow!  I can’t even begin to count the ways.  But I can say that almost every night I thank my Heavenly Father for two things.  First, I thank him for my family’s safety and my own.  Safety in every sense of the word.  Yes, we get hurt… but in general we have been blessed with safety.  Second, I thank him for our health.  Sure, we get sick but no one has any major medical issues to deal with. 

Not that I’m terribly superstitious but I really hope I didn’t just jinx myself by saying that.  *Knock on wood, right?* 

I just felt inspired by the events of today.  I needed to share my humble testimony of the Lord.  He hears and answers our prayers!  Not always the way we expect but he did send mortal angels to minister to us in our time of need.  They didn’t have wings or halos.  They weren’t even dressed in white but I’m telling you, they will be blessed for their efforts.  I don’t know how and I wish that I could repay them myself. 

This time of year always seems to bring out the good in a lot of people. 

 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Latter-day Learning

**This is an affiliate post.  I was offered this curriculum to use for free in exchange for an honest review and feedback.  I was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  If you decide to purchase this curriculum by clicking on any links within the post, I will be paid a small amount which would be greatly appreciated.**

Coming up with a curriculum for each school year can seem like a daunting task.  There are so many choices for each subject and there are always going to be those that just don’t work for your family, which is a bummer when you spend the money for something you won’t use.  It’s my least favorite part of the year. 

This year we started with a new curriculum called Latter-day Learning (this first link will take you to the main page for Latter-day Learning… no affiliate link).  Before I tell you how much we love it what we think of it, let me tell you a little bit about it.  This is a curriculum designed to be used for ages 4-12 as a group (family) setting.  That is why they refer to it as The Family School!  You can get the printed version or the digital version and print it all out yourself (that’s the way I do it.)
Homeschool Complete Curriculum
It’s a 6 year rotation and I believe they have 2 years available for purchase right now.  Latter-day Learning encompasses ALL subjects except math and language arts.  When I say ‘ALL’ I mean:  history, literature, science, geography, art, and music.  That is amazing!  Also, each lesson is tied to a gospel principle to help them understand it in a way that Heavenly Father would want them to understand it with an eternal perspective. 

Most homeschoolers that I know, including myself, try to have all their kids learning together as much as possible.  It’s not hard to have them all learning the same things in the subjects covered with Latter-day Learning.  The trick is getting each child to learn on their own level while in the group setting and it can be done!  Math and language arts, however, would be difficult.  You can’t teach a 12 year old and a 4-year-old the same language arts or math concepts.  If said 12 year old is learning pre-algebra for instance, the 4-year-old may get left behind.  Unless you have a genius 4-year-old.  In that case… have a ball!  ;)

Now I’m getting anxious to just say this:

We LOVE it! 

When I first started homeschooling I didn’t think I wanted it to be about religion at all.  School was school… secular only.  That was my mindset because that’s what I knew.  My mind quickly changed when I realized I wanted my kids to have spiritual growth as well.  And not only in addition to the secular but the spiritual became MORE important!
Homeschool Complete Curriculum
 

Since starting school again myself last month I’ve come to realize how much I depend on my spiritual knowledge to gain a clearer understanding of the secular knowledge. 

Age wise, I have to say that my 5 year old is not quite ready for this.  He has a learning style unique to him that I haven’t quite figured out yet.  He’s an interesting case, that C.  So, he will participate in the parts that look and sound fun to him but that happens probably less than 10% of the time.  All of my girls are actively engaged in this curriculum always!  They absolutely adore the lessons and I am so impressed at how much I am learning myself.  The lessons are very thorough and even though they say up to age 12, I find that they are easily adaptable for older kids as well. 

Miss K has been able to choose from several different types of essays to write.  I love that they give examples of each type of essay and a run down of how it would be graded.  K did a Five Senses essay about her dance studio.  That was fun!  In fact, reading over the different types of papers and essays has helped ME in my writing for my own classes. 

I think the favorite overall subject so far has been Literature.  Fairy Tales are up first in Year 1.  Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned fairy tale? 

If you are wondering if this curriculum might be a good fit for your homeschool you can take a gander at their sample lessons. 

There will be follow up posts in the coming weeks and months just to update you on our progress of this curriculum and how we are doing with it. 

This has truly been a blessing to my family.  Everything is laid out for me.  I don’t have to do much prep work at all other than making sure I have everything ready and reading each lesson ahead of time to make sure I understand what is being taught.  I don’t think I can ever go back… this program is everything I have ever wanted for my family and more.  And it is so easy to adapt it for different ages and comprehensions.  My two oldest girls take notes during the lesson while my youngest daughter is just present, listening.  Sometimes she will draw a picture of what is being talked about.  The application activities are geared toward both younger and older children.  I usually assign my oldest the activity for ‘older children’ and my youngest the one for ‘younger children’.  Miss A is stuck somewhere in the middle so I often let her choose whichever one sounds more appealing to her.  About 50% of the time she chooses the older activity. 

So, now that you know how much we love Latter-day Learning, what questions do you have?  Is there anything you want to know?  Anything I didn’t cover? 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

12 Years Old {Please consider donating!}

Miss K is 12 today! This year for her birthday she would like to give instead of receive. We have been blessed by so many 'angels' in our lives over the years. K recognizes this and would like to take a turn helping others. From now until Thanksgiving she will be collecting new clothes, new toys, and gift certificates (Target, Walmart, or Toys R Us). She will be donating all items to various organizations throughout the Christmas season. (Toys 4 Tots, Angel Tree, needy families, etc.) We will keep you posted about the progress, where the items are going, and what she chooses to buy with gift certificates and such. Please let me know if you would like to donate!

K's Birthday

 

Friday, September 27, 2013

College! {Part 2}

Back to School

{If you missed Part 1 click HERE}

After doing some research for online degrees and coming up empty, I set aside the thoughts for school. 

Then last Spring I got a call from my Relief Society President.  She had just been told about a new program set up by the church and BYU Idaho.  The program is called Pathway.  She explained what she knew about it at that point which wasn’t much.  She only knew that it was extremely affordable and all online.  {Except for the first year… I’ll explain later.}

Sounded like just what we needed!  But I was surprised that Anthony hadn’t said anything about it.  He is on the high council for our stake.  Surely they would have been informed of this wonderful program.  Maybe it was too good to be true. 

After talking with my RS president I immediately called Anthony at work to ask him if he’d heard about it.  He said yes but didn’t know enough about it to say anything and honestly thought it was another opportunity we would have to pass up because of where we are in life right now.  School just didn’t seem to fit in.  He knew there was going to be a fireside about it coming up and we planned to attend.  It was highly recommended that all members of the high council attend just to learn more about it. 

The fireside took place in June (I think?).  All the logistics were explained; the cost, the program itself, the possibility of transferring after the first year… everything!  By the end of the fireside we both knew that it was exactly what we BOTH wanted to do!  The fireside was held at the Salt Lake Community College Institute Building and it was a full house!  It actually was a 2 day deal.  The first night was for those of us 31 and over.  The second night was for anyone 18-30.  While there I saw my 9th grade seminary teacher who now teaches institute.  That was fun.  I was surprised he remembered me… the OLDer me.  Old, as in age.  It’s been close to 20 years. 

WEIRD! 

When I knew him he hadn’t had any kids yet.  I learned that he now has five, though one passed away.  **Heidi, if you’re reading this… He told me to tell you hi!**

Anyway, we went home and signed up right away.  Tuition wasn’t due until the first day which wasn’t until September 16th so we had a while to gather up funds.  Unfortunately, when you’re as tight as we are you just don’t have even a dollar to pinch so we had to get an advance at work.  That makes for itty bitty checks the following two pay days ;).  But, what can ya do?

One of the greatest parts about this program is that you don’t have to have a high school diploma or even a GED.  There are also no tests (SAT’s or ACT’s) required.  You just have to be a member of the church and take the Pathway courses required.  After the Pathway year (3 semesters) is done, you can transfer to another school or continue with BYU-I. 

So, here’s how it works.  For the first year everyone is on the same ‘path’.  We all take the same classes and during the same semesters.  Every Thursday there is a “Gathering”.  This program is available all over the world in various locations but only opened up this year in Utah.  I believe there are two locations.  The one we attend got such a great response (far more than they expected) that they had to put us (ages 31+) in a different location than originally planned.  Both groups were supposed to meet at the same location.  From what I understand, they expected about 80 students TOTAL to sign up for this location but got over 300.  They sent us old folks ;) to a local high school seminary building.  The other Utah location is in Sandy and I don’t know what kind of response they got. 

Once in our respective ‘classes’ overseen by specially appointed Pathway Missionaries (a real calling in the church now) we are taught by a fellow student that leads the class.  Each student is expected to lead at least once over the course of the program. 

I’m extremely nervous about that! 

While most of our school work is done online, the Gatherings are just as important and count toward the final grade.  Missing more than 1 or 2 Gatherings can really affect your grade.  Since we need a B average to pass and integrate into the regular BYU-I online courses. 

Right now, we are taking Book of Mormon 1 Religion class (Institute) and Life Skills.   18-30 have to take Institute at the community college.  31+ take it online.  A whoppin’ 5 credit hours. 

AND WE’RE DYING!!

We are total wimps!  I don’t know if I could handle a full time schedule.  I thought this would be so easy.  Anthony and I are both feeling very overwhelmed but in a good way.  We are having so much fun. 

I can’t explain the spirit that has been with us.  We’ve been teased about going to BYU and being closet BYU fans.  If you know us (especially Anthony and the kids) you know that we are huge Utah fans.  But I am telling you, the spirit is with us and we are learning so much spiritually.  BYU-I makes sure to include the spirit in every lesson.  It’s amazing! 

I feel so blessed to be a member of this wonderful church and know the true gospel.  We’ve only been to two Gatherings so far but already I feel a connection to some of the class members.  And even online, we are required to participate in group discussions and get to know each other a bit.  We are having so much fun and can’t wait to see what will come of this. 

It was brought to our attention by the missionary couple that we’ve been assigned to that we are “an elite few” in knowing about and being able to participate in this amazing program.  If you mention the Pathway Program to people, most have no clue what it is.  They’ve never heard of it.  So, we feel extremely blessed to be a part of it.  I hope that it can bless many more lives in the near future. 

And that, my friends, is my ‘pathway’ to college.  It finally feels right!  It finally feels doable!  And now I know that THIS is why it wasn’t right before.  Anthony and I are doing this together and I already feel it bringing us closer in a way. 

And hey, I can now say that I married my college sweetheart!  ;)  We were just married before the college part. 

The best part of this for me is that my kids will see us doing this.  I hope it will serve as an example for them.  Maybe because they watch us on our roads to getting degrees they will want to do the same.