Friday, April 30, 2010

The Best Daughter

Have I mentioned lately that we have a wonderful daughter? Well we do. Olivia is 11. She's smart, she's funny, she likes to work hard, she loves little kids, she wants to grow and be a mom and she's happy. She's been solidly in scholar phase for 9 months. Really. We haven't pushed her, we haven't expected, she just is.
She has amazing control of her emotions for an eleven year old. She is on her journey to being a wonderful young women. She likes to sew, crochet, knit, and loom. She likes practical things and she likes to make things beautiful. She LOVES to cook. I can't keep her out of the kitchen. She can make anything. She makes bread, salad dressing, doughnuts, casseroles, cakes, salads, meat, potatoes, green smoothies, etc. She can really make anything.

She spends most of her day reading and studying. She is currently passionate about The Revolutionary War time period and has spent her whole scholar phase so far studying anything she can about it. She is working hard on her writing. She understands the principles of freedom and democracy. She is working on articulating them because she wants to defend them. She pours over the classics.

Here's a quick list of some of the books that Olivia as read in the last year:
The Scarlet Letter
Midshipmen Hornblower
The Screwtape Letters
Leaves of Grass
The Secret Garden
The Real George Washington
Common Sense
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Proper Role of Government
Johnny Tremaine
Silas Marner
The Little Britches series
The Work and the Glory series
The Book of Mormon
The New Testament
The Doctrine and Covenants
The Pearl of Great Price

She also loves the outside. She loves working with our horses. She loves going on walks. She loves working hard.

Olivia is amazing and we are honored she's our daughter. Whenever I look at her I hope that somewhere out there that there is an amazing your man to match her. I believe that there is. I believe there are moms out there training their sons to be great also in hopeful expectation that there is a spouse worthy of their child.

So here's to all you great parents that are doing the hard things (and making 'best' choices) to raise your children to greatness. You are not alone.

Family History

I love doing family history. I remember as a young girl helping my mom transfer all her hand or typed pedigree and family records to the new PAF program on the computer. I remember thinking about the families that I typed. Some had a lot of children, some had a lot of children that had died and some lost multiple spouses.

I remember my mom telling me stories about them. I remember her teaching me how to research and how to look for clues. I learned to love those who came before me and to honor them. I felt a sacred charge to carry on in that great work of redeeming the dead.

When I married Alex I learned that his family history work on some sides of his family had not been done. I enjoyed the challenge of discovering his family history so he could know and our children could know what their roots were. Fast forward ten years and I'm still working and still learning about them.

Teaching our children about those who came before them as been as important. Unfortunately we don't have many stories and few pictures to discover Alex's family, but we know their names and dates and we share with our children what we do know. Each time we go back to Pennsylvania we go up to New York and spend half a day walking the cemeteries of his ancestors.
On my side of the family we have pages and pages of journal entries, life sketches, pictures and treasures. Our children's favorite tales are of their great grandfather serving as a Flying Tiger in China during World War 2. They loves reading his stories of his bombing raids and the pictures of all the planes.

To teach our children about their family history my mother created a binder for each of our children. It contains pedigrees, group sheets, pictures and some biographies. The kids regularly read this and study the information. We have them down with their story books. For it is their story.We have regularly read them the biographies and stories multiples times exposing them to the courage of their forefathers. We look at their pictures and we talk about them. We have also studied maps of their immigration and the history occurring through the world while they lived.

One particular treasure we have is Heber C Kimball's "Address to His Children." Shortly before his death he outlined key points he wanted his posterity to know and do. He also states that he would stand with Father Adam and judge us at the last days in regards to how well we kept his charge. We refer to this often as we strive to come unto Christ.
Connecting with our roots is a powerful part of leadership education. It helps each one of us see perspective and understand we each have a part to play in the grand scheme of mortality. What do you do to connect with your roots as a family?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Wind is Blowing

....surprised? I'm not, I live in Idaho, land of the eternal wind storm. Since I don't like to go outside and I prefer to stay inside and read, sew, make green smoothies and eat green eggs it really doesn't bother me. Well, maybe it does. I'm really trying to be all gung ho and "lets go work on our land so we can built a house," so this weather doesn't help.

So we tried to do productive things today. We have cleaned this house up one side and down another. There is no more places to clean. The boys said, "So mom what are we going to clean now?" Me, "Well, I guess we can dust... again." So we dusted again. Then we read for a really, really long time. It's what you do when the wind blows.

We've been all feeling blazee (Is that how you spell that word? Is that even a word? It must be French. I don't know French-obviously) soooooo, we decided to break some rules and we watched two movies. Yes TWO movies. Who ever heard of such laziness, such wanton disregard for the pursuit of truth? So bad. But a pursuit we chose to pursue none the less.

We certainly aren't any more motivated than we were before we started watching them. Yes, it was a waste of time. No I don't feel bad about it. Yes, we'll do something productive tomorrow. But it was kind of fun all curled up on my bed in heating blankets giggling together. They all happily helped Olivia and I cook dinner when we decided to awaken from our brain numbing slumber.

One of our movies was BBC's "Silas Marner" so I don't feel totally heathenish. Oh, well. We'll still get there, I'm sure of it though. Why? Because we love each other and we are immensely happy, even if the wind is blowing.

Called on the Carpet

We own 80 acres and we are working on building a house and going Georgic. We want to have chickens, kitties, pigs, ducks, cows, horses, bunnies, orchards... you get the point. We've already started with some of those things.

Since we are going to do this Alex thought it would be great to get a head start. So he brought me home some farm eggs. Some friends have too many layers and they want to share with us. Gee honey, thanks! You see I have a problem. As much as I say I'm going Georgic (that's in the future so I can say I will) I have a gag reflex problem with farm eggs. Really bad.

I can eat almost anything. I love food and I'm not picky. (I question some kinds of meat though). Farm eggs though? Not good. Every time I crack a farm egg the gag reflex starts. Alex thinks it's hysterical. He's rolling on the floor as I struggle through my gagging and my eyes are watering as I cook breakfast. Why is that so funny? There is just something about having a chance of bloody eggs filled with beaks and feathers that trips me out. I've cracked into plenty of those. So in the past after I manage to cook the eggs I absolutely refuse to eat it. (Even in french toast and pancakes).

The solution. Apparently these eggs are not around a rooster so they don't have a chance of being fertilized unlike all the other eggs he's brought home in the past. So no blood, feathers, beaks, etc.

So now we have eggs again and I must deal with it. I'm fleeing to Zion and so I must eat the green eggs.

Day one-pancakes. That's safe. Luke made the pancakes while I was getting ready. It wasn't until after I ate them that I realized that I'd eaten them! I didn't even notice.

Day two-Luke decided to make scrambled eggs for breakfast. I had to face it then. They are much yellower/oranger (because those are words) than the store eggs. But I held my breath and dumped a bunch of salsa on them and ate them! So proud of myself. I haven't done day three yet. One day at a time. To Zion!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Silas Marner

Silas Marner (Bantam Classics) Silas Marner by George Eliot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a great read! I decided that I was going to read harder books to my 10 and 9 year old. I didn't know if we could do it but we did!

This beautiful book is about a man who was wronged in many ways and flees town. He settles into a new town vastly different than the one he was from. Since he is new he is viewed as different and questionable. He spends the first 15 or so years there in isolation as a weaver. As he spends every moment spinning his gold his money piles up. It becomes his obsession.

One dark day someone comes and steals his beloved gold. Silas, our weaver, is devastated. A short time later a little girl shows up that is unknown and orphaned. Silas takes in this young child and raises her. His heart melts and he changes himself. He becomes a part of the community.

But who is this girl and where did she come from? Will he ever find his gold again?

This book is a tough read. The first several chapters I had to explain a lot of things to my boys. Sometimes we wouldn't make it past a couple of sentences with out having to talk about it. We pushed through. They were riveted. The classic went through them.

Several times when we would be doing family work Jared, (my 10 year old), would ask me ask me questions. "Why did that man take Silas' money?" "Why did the town people think Silas was bad just because he was different?" "Why did Silas only care about his gold?" Jared asked many thought provoking questions.

The main principle played out in this book is that even if you repent a price still must be paid. It really gave the boys (and me) a lot to think about. Other values portrayed include love, forgiveness, work, friendship, family bonds and marital relationships.

This was a beautiful book with beautiful words.

We must not underestimate what are children can take in.

View all my reviews >>

The Gettysburg Address

Recently the boys and I read the Gettysburg Address together. Have you ever read it? Really read it? Now this is a powerful document. This gives point to the "Classics, Not Textbooks" from the 7 Keys of Great Teaching. The boys and I had a moving experience as we talked about these powerful words, line by line.

Listen to some of these masterful words.

"...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced...we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion..."

The whole thing is brilliant and gut wrenching. By the time we were done we were all crying. Crying for what's been done for us, crying because we must carry on with where they left off, and crying because we feel so inadequate to protect this passed on freedom. We had read truth that rang into our souls.

From there a two hour long discussion ensued about the Civil War. I narrated to them the great battles and the great heroes and what they had done. I was weaving a story for them. We talked of Joshua Chamberlain, Stonewall Jackson, Harriet Tubman, The Underground Railroad, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E Lee, Jefferson Davis, Fort Sumter, abolitionism, the south and the election of 1860. Every once in a while I'd pull up a picture of someone for them to see and for it to be real. We would look into their extinguished eyes and feel a sense of purpose and a sense of gratitude.

It is in these moments, as I tell them about heroes and history, that the tears fall and the Spirit penetrates that I feel so very blessed to have them by my side all day long and every day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Applying the Keys of Great Teaching

This is a blog post that I wrote for TJEd Trenches. I am a regular contributor and I've enjoyed writing for them for the past year and a half or so. The following is my most recent article.

Over six years ago, when I was first introduced to Thomas Jefferson Education I knew instantly that that was the truth I had been seeking! Applying it through the years as been a journey though.

For a long time I had deluded myself into thinking that as long as I read classics to my children (and still carried on conveyor belt education) I was "doing it." Fast forward a couple of years and I begin applying the Keys of Great Teaching. What a marvelous tool! Looking back in hindsight I discovered however that I had them mixed up a little. I realized that I was doing the following: Inspire and Require, Structure Time and Content, You and Them, etc! I had inadvertently inserted ANDS in the place of all the NOTS.

I can safely say that I was missing the point. What do you think? The last six months has finally brought that break through of awareness. I have learned to drop the ands and insert the nots. Wow! I can only say amazing things have since happened.

First all share the blessings and then I will share some how to's. I have a son who's behavior was frustrating and I was almost hopeless with. Within a month of changing my behavior and our environmental he was "reborn." He hasn't looked back since. This was a miracle for our family. We've seen increased obedience, less contention, greater happiness, vast intake of knowledge by our children, an atmosphere of peace and an increased amount of personal responsibility and self-management! It's been a wonderful time for our family and we will not go back.

Since the key "Inspire Not Require" seems to generate some of the greatest interest on this blog I was share what this looks like in our home now.

I have always been effective in the inspiring department. I read 2-3 classics a week, take piano lessons, eat healthy, write essays, do math problems and absolutely live by my golden rule that is never violated, "We will never require our children to do anything that we are not willing to do ourselves." However dropping the 'not' proved difficult for me; at least I had one out of two right? Hmmm.

Children are required to obey and they are required to work. But just what are we requiring them to do? Each of you must choose what you will require and what you will not. Within the field of education research shows that children out perform when we don't make them do school work, let them choose. This is tough. This is painful. This goes against everything you every learned in public school. This goes against everything society has ever taught you. It's gonna hurt.

Well, I can say after six months the brain pains are gone and we're running with this. The first step is to tell the kids, "You are no longer required to do this. " (shock, gasp, recoil) The second step: Get rid of 90% of your school junk and their toys and leave only the 'best' books, toys, and supplies. The third step: Get rid of all the distractions. This means they may do what they want, but they are not allowed to watch TV/movies, play the Wii, play with friends, play entertaining games with each other, etc. during certain hours. These hours will vary from family to family, our personal window of these popular distractions is opened for a very limited time during the week. The beauty is that they will chose to learn. Maybe not right away, but they will. I've seen in over and over every day in my house.

Today my children (this was my 3 core/lol boys) choose to learn about reducing fractions, general fractions, make bread, read about World War 2, read their scriptures, practice the piano, make a bow and arrow, go on a walk in the rain, read in chapter books, write a story, draw pictures in their sketch books, asked me how to spell multiple words, find out why Denmark owns Greenland, listened to me when I read Silas Marner by George Elliot for an hour, and many more things. They choose, I provided the atmosphere. They are happy. They think life is fun and they think learning is fun.

I can hear you say, "You're crazy!" This exercise in applying the 7 Keys of Great Teaching is really an exercise of faith (but you make this based on your own serious research and the truth that you've discovered). Perhaps in another post I will delve into our "new day." It's shocking, it's revolutionary and it's the best thing we have ever done.

Has anyone else stumbled along in the Keys of Great Teaching like I have? I hope this post as inspired you on your journey through Leadership Education.

The Ugly

Right now I'm trying to be a better provident provider. Not because I have to be and not because I don't know how but because I feel impressed to be. Just because I've acquired the skills sets to make wheat into meat, make wheat bread, sew a skirt, and I've faithfully attended every homemaking doesn't mean I don't need to PRACTICE. That's a dirty little word.

I've also felt impressed that while I might not need it my children will need to do it. I need to raise them to so that they can make or do anything if they were cut off from the outside world. (We are fleeing Babylon remember). Right now my friend's daughter is learning to make soap. Very cool.

So one thing I've been doing lately is making a quilt. Our master bed needed a blanket because the one on it is a twin size. (The dog ate the other one. Don't ask more). Alex and I tend to play tug a war at night. So instead of going to the store and taking the EASY way out I decided to sew myself up a nine patch quilt. I have a big tub of scrap material.

I haven't made my own quilt from start to finish since I made one for a laurel project 45 years ago. (Okay it really wasn't that long ago). Have I mentioned that I don't like to sew? Well I don't. It's a painful horrible process for me. But I can do it if I have to. I'm hoping that since I don't have to make it and I just 'want' to make it that I'll get more blessings. (Not be commanded in all things....He that is a slothful and unwise servant...)

So I've cut all the quilt blocks and I've sewn about 1/4 of it together. So far the blessing is that I haven't minded it. Since I've gotten rid of all my extra books, all the extra clutter and all the other extra's I'm freed up and so it's not a stressful thing to sew. AND all the clutter dejunking left more than ample room to set up the sewing machine and leave it up. So it stares at me. Beckons me on. Okay, it doesn't talk to me, but it does stare at me. It's like a dare. "I dare you sew on me."

Now a word about the quilt. It's really, really ugly. I didn't not want to spend any money or any mental anguish to make it match. It's impossible to match it anyway. It is a true pioneer 9-patch hodge podge of the last 13 years of kids pajamas, curtains, etc. So I'm not going to show you a picture. Maybe the finished product. Maybe. I see all my friends and others display their beautiful quilts on line. Mine's not like that. (Have I made that point yet?)

I've decided that mine is my pioneer quilt. Since it goes under the bedspread it will work nicely. I'm doing it in memory of my Grandma Ward who believed in practical things. And this is practical. And it's ugly.

Later, when I'm ambitious I'm going to make a beautiful bedspread and name it after Grandma Hancock. She made things beautiful.

I had smart grandmas. I'm finally starting to get it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Green Revolution

We been changing things up around here. Some things, like removing 90% of our personal belongings was easy and fun, other changes haven't been as fun.

Our challenge: the food department. We have always focused on teaching our "children correct principles and letting them govern themselves." So as they've gotten older they've started to ask questions particularly about the Word of Wisdom. We've had to take a hard look at some of our eating practices. We've also kicked up the Self-Reliant food gear too.
We've realized we need to start eating more fruits and vegetables. Or I should say we need to branch out from apples, bananas and carrots. I've always loved fruits and vegetables but to always eat them is boring! We really weren't as bad as I'm making it sound, but we definitely needed to improve. We've also cranked up the home made wheat bread production. We haven't purchased bread or cereal in two months and there have been no complaints. We were never big cereal eaters-Sunday mornings. And sugar cereal only shows up on Christmas Mornings.

Our new yummy as been green/orange smoothies though. Even Jared, who thinks that green food will quite possibly kill him, will at least try it. (Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves). He will drink a fruit/carrot smoothie with out a problem. Caleb thinks they are delicious and drinks a big glass. The other two like them, but they aren't in love with them-YET!

Since I am mentally challenged when it comes to following a recipe I don't have one. All the on line recipes that I looked at all called for half vegetables and half fruit. We have found we like a couple of bananas in every batch and lots of ice cubes. The broccoli in one batch was a bit much for a couple of them because you can't really blend it all the way down. Caleb and I didn't mind-but we like all food so....
Our goal is to replace a meal with them. We want to start eating smaller meals for dinner, so maybe we'll have them then? I know many people have them for snacks. We only eat three times a day and so we haven't even wanted to do that. We've been eating them with lunch and that's worked well. We should try them for breakfast, but I've been afraid we'd be to hungry by mid-morning. We'll see.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Temple Square

We recently enjoyed a quick getaway to Salt Lake City to see some old friends who were in town that we haven't seen in a long time.We also took time to visit one our favorite sites-Temple Square. We watched the Joseph Smith movie for the umpteenth time. It is a family favorite. We love it so much that even when we visit the church sites back east (Independence, Nauvoo, Palmyra and DC) we stop and watch the movie there too. Each time we see it we learn something more and each time we cry more than the last time. Jared, our 10 year old BOY, constantly declares that it is his favorite movie ever.
We also visited the church museum. The artwork in there is so beautiful. We stared at the large painting of the Tree of Life for a long time talking about Babylon, Zion, the last days and coming unto Christ.
We also stopped at Heber C Kimball's graveside. Another regular destination for us. He is our great, great, great grandfather. We enjoy "checking in" and reminding ourselves who we are about and what we have yet to be. When we left this time Caleb said, "Goodbye grandpa Kimball. See you next time."
I love the SLC temple! It is truly a beautiful place. I always feel like the pioneers are talking to me urging me forward "in so great a cause." I always feel rejuvenated after participating in a session in the hallowed and historic halls. I feel so blessed that I was able to serve there twice in two weeks. (Alex and I enjoyed an over nighter getaway there two weeks ago. What we do? Temple, Joseph Smith movie,'s a recurring pattern).
I love Temple Square. I love that my husband likes to go there. I love that my kids love feeling in the Spirit there as well. That is what we are about-bringing our family to Christ.
The flowers were in full bloom and beautiful. The photos are courtesy of Olivia (besides the two she's in). As a side note we also met some new friends in Salt Lake City. We gave them our favorite puppy and he couldn't have gone to a better home! Sometimes this journey of Leadership Education and fleeing Babylon is a lonely one. It was refreshing to meet new people who are going through the same spiritual journey as us. They are arriving at the same conclusions about life and its meaning as we are. So to our new friends is was a honor to meet you and may we meet again!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Our puppies are ready for homes! If you want to see them got to this link. Let me know if you are interested. Sorry we don't deliver to Texas or California, but we can deliver to Utah next weekend.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Last night for FHE the following comments were heard:

Q: How can the left hand not know what the right hand is doing?
A: Because they don't have eyes.

Q: What does it mean if your eyes is single to the glory of God?
A: You're a cyclops.

While playing Apples to Apples, Jr.:

"Teletubie? Isn't that an electrical outlet."

"Bean-a-butt-babies? What are those?"

"Chickens are useful because you always eat 'em on Easter."

"Time's kicking. Let's get going."


  • We thoroughly enjoyed conference. We had a really great Easter weekend curled up on the couch together watching conference on Alex's projector and screen from work. I took pictures, but oh well.
  • Alex's sister Francine will be will us for two weeks. She leaves this weekend to start attending BYU-I. She's very excited to go and we have loved having her visit us! Since she's from Pennsylvania we get to see her for all the holidays and breaks. We are home base now since we are only 2 1/2 hours from Rexburg. Yeah!
  • Ken, Alex's dad, was here for a weekend visit. Alex and him had some great matches in golf in and ping pong. We can't wait until he comes back again!
  • We acquired our second horse. Olivia is so excited. She works hard with them, knows tons about them, and her passion hasn't died since it started four or so years ago.
  • We still have 8 puppies. We will start advertising for them to get good homes this week.
  • This weekend is Stake Conference. We are spoiled to get a member of the Seventy come again this session. We love to hear from them!
  • Olivia is excited to go to girl's camp this year. This year I'm the the ward camp director so it will be fun. We have already started having meetings. My assistant is my 1st counselor from when I was the Young Women's president and the YW presidency member going up was my camp director, so we are excited to have fun times!!!
  • It's snowed to many times to count in the last two weeks. It's cold and it keeps blowing. We are grateful for the moisture and we are trying to keep positive thoughts about the wind and cold. It's just blowing in more moisture we keep telling ourselves.
  • Alex's campaign is going well. He continues to meet with people throughout the district and discuss their needs. He is meeting with the state leaders again in Boise tomorrow. He's enjoyed speaking and meeting lots of new people.
  • Our trips scheduled this year include: Colorado/Arizona, Tennessee/Georgia, and Virginia/Washington DC. We have discussed a Boston trip, but we might do that one next spring. We are excited to see the historical sites again. Last year we didn't spend a lot of time in DC. We hope to spend a little more time this year and Olivia wants to do Baptisms for the Dead in the DC temple. We will also see Jefferson's, Washington's and Monroe's plantations this time. Also lots of family in the other trips. We asked the kids once if they ever wanted to go to Disneyland. They looked at us like we were crazy! No Way! We went to Legoland once. We were planning on going for two days. At the end of the first day they said, "Do we have to come back here tomorrow? Can't we just go to the ocean and play in the water?" That was a long time ago. We've learned our lesson since.
  • We are reading The Hobbit and Silas Marner out loud together right now. Loving it.
  • I made my family blog public again. I had been the only who could see it, so it wasn't personal to anyone. I'm just not planning on post much there.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Sketch Book

There are so many good discussions going on here and on several other blogs I follow regarding the ebook Headgates! So fun to hear what you all have to say. I have really enjoyed several things, but I have certainly found several things that we will keep the way we already have them. (The Lego's and The Lord of the Rings series aren't going anywhere! : ) )

I've greatly reduced the art supplies and so they are no longer overwhelming. We no longer have a huge box of crayons-we have a little box of crayons! How many yellow crayons to we really need? My kids have never been much into art projects anyways. (Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because I loathe them? I've never found value in worthless crafts.) They do however thoroughly enjoy drawing one stick figure on a piece a paper with: "To Mom: I love you. Love, Luke" written on hundred pages.

So to solve this bunch of wasted papers and satisfy their desire to give me a love note I recently bought sketch pads for the kids. I told them how much I enjoyed all their love notes, but I kept loosing them and they were all over the place. So I said I wanted them to draw them in the sketch book. I wanted their best work and then when they were done they could give me the sketch book and this way I would be able to keep them always! I told them that whenever there was one they really wanted me to see all they had to do was show it to me. They were so excited. They all have enjoyed drawing pictures for me that I will get to keep forever. Luke told me he was excited that I wouldn't be able to loose them this way. He also said he liked just having one place to keep everything. Jared also has made nice little drawings that he wasn't interested in before. So simplifying our craft supplies as made them focus on real projects that are nice. Success!

We put up all their extra notebooks. They still have their names on them they are just in our empty closet so they are still here. They only get to have one notebook out to keep notes in and write whatever they want. They have really liked knowing where their books are and not feeling overwhelmed with all the paper.

I have found that has I've gotten rid of things that they are actually becoming happier, more productive, and better behaved. It's all really amazing.

For our family the fruits have been tremendous. While I haven't agreed with everything I have enjoyed the ideas generated and the discussions on all the blogs!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Headgate

I recently read a marvelous ebook which I mentioned in a previous post. The book is called The Headgate and it is by Brian and Keri Tibbets. This is all about applying Leadership Education. A lot of things were not new for me and we've been applying, but some I knew but didn't know how to apply and yet others were totally new, but they give me warm fuzzies and I just know it's the good stuff. (Anything that says crafting is only creating "little junks that only a mother could love" is going to be a bestseller here in my house).

Here are some some highlights from it that I wanted to share.

"The longer we home school our children we have noticed our home school becoming more a like a home than a school. In fact is has come to the point that there is now no school left in it at all. It is just a home. There is no part in our daily schedule that resembles school and there is no place in our home where school supplies are to be found. "

In order to create such a home and rear children in a classical education an environment needs to be created where children can grow and where they can become who there were born to be. Children in core phase work on mastering values and in their free time they play. Love of learners work on mastering the 3 R's and choose to spend part or all of their free time learning. The scholar with master subjects and spend all their time studying. (This is true! Our children follow this like it's scripted. It is so natural).

Now on to creating that environment. I hope in all that free time I have (harhar) to write more in depth essays on some of the ones that have been profound for us.

1. Create a House of Order
Order in the relationships. Dad provides for the family. Mom nurtures the children. Our society and communities have this so messed up.
Order in the appearance. How orderly are our houses? Are they filled with clutter?
Order in the schedule. Children feel secure knowing what the day will bring and their basic needs will be met. When families are focused on survival they are not productive and there is great depression among mom and children. I have seen this in so many homes! I am a huge advocate of structure and schedule!

2. Require Work
Did I type that right? Hmm. I better check that again. Yep, it does say that. I personally find it's easier to do it myself then to hear the "I'm a slave." Where did they get that anyway? Grrr.

Children do need to learn to work to develop self-discipline. Self-discipline will not only help them through the hard times in life but it will help them through the hard times of study. Once you have identified the job the system is: Do it with the child. Then do it near the child and finally have them do it independently. Don't forget to have them return and report.

So we've been working around here like they say. We've changed things up a bit again. I do everything with them now and make sure they know how to do it. There has been no complaining and whining (since I'm doing it with them). In fact Caleb said when he went to bed last night, "I liked cleaning with you mom it was a lot of fun." We cleaned for 2 1/2 hours straight. I could go on and on. Stopping though. Need to move on. Maybe in another post.

3. Inspire Daily.
My favorite. For me the easiest. Also the most covered and talked about in Leadership Education. I've always had really good and best books around. And I've always been very selective about what I read to them. I did realize that I am not always reading them the very best things those. So we've changed that up a bit. In the morning I am now reading them a very hard, worthwhile classic. (Silas Marner by George Elliot). In the evening I read them something fun they will enjoy, but it is still very worth while. (Right now it's Wrinkle in Time #4). Again, there's a lot more to cover in this step. Later.

4. Understand Lessons and Daily Application
This step covers how to give them lessons. Also we need to make sure that we are teaching them skills that they can master in every day life so they can practice, practice, and practice. This is especially true for math. There's pages and pages of this step. So good. You really should just get the book.

5. Close the Headgate
Headgates, for those of you not in a farming community-and I am so I over course new all of this. (Yeah right). The farmer has water for his land. He channels where he wants to send the water by opening headgates that will allow the river to go to a specific field. So the question is what headgates do we have open? We need to make sure that our children are heading down the right headgates and ditches and not the wrong ones.

Yeah, I'm loving this. I've always kind of been a little obsessive about this step. I think it's so important. What I really loved about this was that she provides so many more ideas than merely saying, "no tv, no computer games, no Play Station," ya think? We all can agree that children will usually choose the activities that offer the most stimulation for the least amount of effort. (The wrong headgate).

Beyond merely limiting the obvious we need to look at all their toys and activities. Are our children's toys lifeless and thus allowing them to create? Or are the toys the push the button kind and they reenact the movie with the toys? Thus the toymaker and movie maker are the creators and the child didn't have to come up with anything. Very, very interesting. Hint: If it has batteries, it falls under this category. Sorry folks. This is where that cardboard box at Christmas is more fun than the toy you bought. I laugh though because my 9 year old's favorite toys are sticks. Yep, he always has sticks. He can find sticks ANYWHERE too. Nobody know how he does it, but they are all over the outside of our house. (and sometimes inside hidden underneath the couch or the bed)

Bye, bye organized sets. What? Are you kidding me? They aren't creating they are just following directions. Lincoln Logs, puzzles, bead kits, even pre-packaged science kits. (She mentions Lego's, but I'm going to pretend I didn't see that. I'm going to cover my eyes on that part. I promise that I will ponder it more though. Alex and I have talked about it. It makes sense, but it hurts. I have vowed to get rid of all the instruction booklets. That will earn a couple of points right? We have very few toys now, but we still have our 4 four-drawer Lego bins. We're a bit fanatical. Really though, I promise to consider).

She suggests only 12-15 toys total in the entire house. The only reason that there's a pull against it is emotional money attachment. Get over it. I had already gotten rid of of tubs and tubs. They picked all the toys to go, and they haven't missed them. It ended up amounting to 80% of the toys. Time to get rid of the other 15% I think. Like I said Luke just wants sticks. Olivia wants books, fabric and yarn. Jared doesn't know what he wants, he's like me. Caleb wants games. (The two of us played 19 straight games of Connect Four yesterday, I kid you not).

With their activities we need to get rid of the useless activities. Caleb liked to cut paper to just cut paper. Not only is it useless it is wasting time. If they can pursue useless, brain numbing activities they will never choose to pursue the best. (Remember many us have heard and reheard the concepts of good, better and best. Are we listening?)

When children pursue real and useful things their hands and minds are disciplined and they grow and learn. Things have a point. What is the end result of the activity? Was it simply to waste time? We have to many things to be accomplishing to be wasting time.

I'm going on and on. There is so much more to this step and I could write 10 blog posts about it. I probably will. They just will be disguised.

So many thoughts. The point. What is our environments like? What headgates are open that are the best and what headgates are open that are not good?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Leadership Education E-book

I recently got my hands on a fabulous e-book about more in depth leadership education and simplifying our life styles. Such a fantastic read. I recommend it to all serious leadership families.

Here is the link.

Happy reading.

Classic Awakening

I've been teaching the kids that all the great classics are the basis for so many stories in our modern society. We are always looking for examples.

Today Jared told me that the Peter and the Starcatcher series that he has been reading is a lot like Oliver Twist. There's a mean man using orphan children to accomplish his greedy purposes. Hmm? Interesting.

Conference is Coming

Tomorrow is General Conference! (Like everyone who reads this blog didn't already know that!) General Conference time is our favorite two times of year. We set up the big screen (Alex's projector and screen from work), turn on the internet, and everyone in the family nestles in for two full days of journal writing and spiritual highs. So wonderful. I'm sure people are surprised that our kids watch all the sessions of conference. They have for a very long time and have always loved it.

I was wondering how they would feel when they realized they would miss the Easter Egg Hunt at the city park. They were not phased a bit and have been jumping up and down (literally) all week so excited that conference is coming.

Books from 2009 -2010

At the back of all my journals, (which I write in religiously everyday), I write down the books that I've read (not the picture books that I read to Caleb though) during that journal's time period. I feel like Louis L'Amour in "Education of a Wandering Man" I suppose. I started my current journal on 1/1/2009. From then until today I have read 153 books, I think I'm slowing down- but I'm reading harder classics. Of those books 20 were Greek classics written over 2,500 years ago. I thought I'd write down some notables. Feel free to look up my reviews on my account.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Iliad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
Trojan Women by Euripides
Approaching Zion by Hugh Nibly

Books the Boys Loved that I read to them:
The Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
Greek Myths and the Trojan War by Usborne
Several from the Childhood of Famous American series
Greogor of the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Alex Rider #1 by Anthony Horowitz
The Secret History of Tom Trueheart by Ian Beck
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

A Waste of Time: (AVOID)
The Pretties series by Scott Westerfeld
The City of Ember
The Choice by Nicolas Sparks
City of Bones by Casandra Clare
The Lost Symbols by Dan Brown
Pretty much every book I won (11 of them!)
Stargirl series by Jerry Spinelli
35 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Leven Thumps and the Secret of Foo

Books I reread that I had previously read-So I must really like them!: (books with asterisk I read more than once during the last 15 months).
Richest Man in Babylon by George Claswson
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Work and the Glory Series by Gerald Lund
Twilight series* by Stephanie Myers (no comments, I know)
Sackett's Land by Louis L'Amour
To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour
Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour
The Weigh Down Diet* by Gwen Schambers
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Thomas Jefferson Education* by Oliver DeMille
Leadership Education* by Oliver DeMille
Intelegro Math* by Tiffany Earl
Power of Full Engagement* by Jim Loehr
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery
Percy Jackson #1* by Rick Riordan

I hope the list gives you some good reading ideas!