Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Face Lift

I have had a blog face lift. I am so excited about it!!!! My dear friend Misty asked me if she could give me one and I said, "Yes, please!" We have both worked hard for the last week or so on this new project! So here's the new link:

Being A Mother Who Knows

The gold on the blog represents virtue.

I don't plan on posting much here any more. I have already written 11 essays on the new blog. There are a couple that are old essays that I copied over.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mothers Should Know About Nature

"Mothers and Teachers should know about Nature. --The mother cannot devote herself too much to this kind of reading, not only that she may read tit-bits to her children about matters they have come across, but that she may be able to answer their queries and direct their observation. And not only the mother, but any woman, who is likely ever to spend an hour or two in the society of children should make herself mistress of this sort of information; the children will adore her for knowing what they want to know, and who knows but she may give its bent for life to some young mind destined to do great things for the world." Charlotte Mason, Book One: Home Education, page 64-65.

Here are some things the children are to know:
Meadow and pasture, clover, turnip, corn
Ploughing of the land to the getting of of the crops
Field Flowers
Life-History of Plants such as the milkwort, eyebright, res-harrow, lady's-bedstraw, willow-herb
Every wild flower that grows in their neighbourhood
Describe the leaf-its shape and size, growing from root or from stem
The manner of flowering-a head of flowers, a single flower, a spike, etc.
Never forget or mistake wildflowers or recognize them instantly
Pick out half of dozen trees in "their winter nakedness"
Stopping there....they are more requirements...

It looks like I am to be a quaint naturalist now.

First step done. Went to Barnes and Nobles and found the simplest books possible to begin the "Quaint Mother Naturalist course."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Umbrella: A tool or a toy?

Every year the kids ask why we don't have umbrellas. Every year I tell them the same thing. It doesn't rain here. It's like the towns in the south buying snow plows. It's not worth the investment.

Things were different this year. It has rained. A lot. And this year we have umbrellas. Alex gets things in the mail all the time for work. He gets pens, paper, candy, stationary, bags, wallets, etc. He's even received manicure sets. This year he received two nice umbrellas, sporting an insurance company on them of course.

Caleb likes to play in the rain. He likes to walk in the rain with a big umbrella. I tell him of course he can, but he must remember that the umbrella is a tool to keep the rain off, it's not a toy. Every time he tells me he understands.

Everyday I thought he understood. Until this happened.

What is it with boys? They can be these angelic angels and then all of a sudden they get over come. For Caleb he discovered a bucket in the ground (for the ditch water) in the empty lot next to ours. There's a small hole for the someday future owners to put a pump in. Caleb saw this hole and was suddenly overcome with an urge to stick the umbrella in it and open it. It's broken. It won't come out.

We only have one umbrella now.
So are umbrellas a tool or a toy? It depends on who you are asking.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Quaint. I've never really like that word. It's like nails on a chalkboard to me. I am concerned with all the better and best stuff that I might end up becoming quaint. I don't want to be quaint. Should I want to be quaint? I'm thinking that I should. For some reason I'm rebelling at the idea. Get thee hence oh Babylon!

When I think about quaint I think about the authors Louisa Mae Alcott and Jean Stratton Porter. They wrote quaint stories right? I've never liked their books because they were quaint. What is it about quaint with me? I've read Laddie three times in an effort to like quaint books. I've read multiple Porter books and multiple Alcott books. I've read the books were they go through the Indiana marshes (or whatever they were) and found moths. I read an entire book on moth collecting!! I read Little Men and all the boys were so perfect and never didn't anything wrong. The little ones cooked "cakes and pies" in their little oven in the toy room. Is that what it means to be quaint? I've tried to like them, but they are just so......well, quaint!

The online dictionary says: 
Quaint–adjective, -er, -est.
1. having an old-fashioned attractiveness or charm; oddly picturesque: a quaint old house.
2. strange, peculiar, or unusual in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way: a quaint sense of humor.
3. skillfully or cleverly made.
4. obsolete . wise; skilled.

I like old-fashioned things, but I'm not big on quaint old-fashioned things. Perhaps I see quaint as having things a little to perfect and everyone just a little to happy. That's not good though. We want perfect and happy. What is my problem?

My problem is that I really don't like Porter and Alcott's books and I'm worried that I'm going to have to all of a sudden like them. I like Austen, Glaskell, and Montgomery though.


What am I going to do?

The Best

I first need to say that getting rid of our home computer and moving just to my laptop as done wonders for me getting off the computer. Not that I was on it a lot, but I found it too easy to get on before. Now I almost loath it! My laptop is slow and often crashes and it takes me a much longer time to check my emails. Making a comment on someone's blog takes up to 5 minutes. So that little experiment is working well. Maybe too well?

Back to the point. I've been reading Charlotte Mason's Original works. (Lazy can be really pushy that way sometimes). I've wanted to buy them for years, but have never gotten around to it. Remember they are on one of the recommended reading lists in the back of the TJEd book.

I have had "aha" after "aha" with these books. I wish I had read them BEFORE I had children. This was the owner's manual I was always wishing I had. I will make sure Olivia does a through study of them before she becomes a mom though. Lots of gems in those books. I could write for years on some of my thoughts from them and I've only read two of them.

Last night I was finishing up book two. I sure wish every adult would read book two. They sum up one of my husband's campaign points, "The Family is the First Sovereign Unit of Society." That's one of the "truth's that we hold self-evident" or at least we should, but everyone seems to be forgetting. All of a sudden parents aren't capable of making choices for their family.....I digress again....

A couple of months ago there was a heated topic in "The Great Debate/Conversation" about why we all wanted "the best" for our children. Wouldn't it be more realistic to be happy with good and better things and not be so fixated on the best? I maintain that having the best in our family should be our ideal. Sometimes that means letting go of some really good things. Sometimes that makes us look weird. Sometimes that even challenges our thought process. Sometimes we have to do hard things. We've all read Elder Oaks extensively in that discussion. He says our ideal should be the best.

Moving on to Charlotte though. I discovered some quotes from Charlotte Mason about the very same topic. Here are her two bits:

"Children must be Nurtured on the Best. ...They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in heir lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told...and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature-that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life." Book 2, "Parents and Children" pg.263.

"Children must have the Best Books. One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child's intellectual life." Book 2, "Parents and Children" pg. 279.

Thank you Charlotte. You bring up some excellent points.
Charlotte Mason loved daises. I've always loved daises myself. Now I know why crazy4boys has daises everywhere. I want a daisy background. I'm going to buy some daisy seeds while I'm in town. Maybe I'll name my next girl Daisy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Character Tool

A couple of years ago, when I was called to serve as our ward Young Women President, I was reintroduced to the For the Strength of Youth booklet. I quickly found out what a worth while tool it is for our youth and us as adults.

In speaking of For the Strength of Youth booklet Elder Tingey said, "In the For the Strength of Youth booklet, the following standards, among others, are like a North Star to you: choose friends with high standards, do not disfigure your body with tattoos or body piercings, avoid pornography, do not listen to music that contains offensive language, do not use profanity, date only those who have high standards, remain sexually pure, repent as necessary, be honest, keep the Sabbath day holy, pay tithing, keep the Word of Wisdom."

While serving as Young Women's President I made an effort to read applicable passages with each lesson. I would also read the dancing section each time there was a school dance to them in opening exercises and encourage them to keep their covenants and remain pure.

In many ways I find it sad that we have to be so explicit about things. I found reading it straight out of the book to be a lot easier though, followed by a discussion.

When I was called we also began to include it in Family Home Evenings. Each week we read a section together and discuss it with them. We started this when our children were young. There has never been a question about our standards. It is from my continued reading of this that I have such high personal standards in movies, books, computer viewing, dancing and music. There were several parts we did omit that were not age appropriate in the beginning, but we are now reading to them.

After reading it we will have a discussion about that standard. We make sure they understand. We also discuss ways that our family can do a better job keeping that standard. We have made changes based on some of our discussions. Sometimes we also look up the scriptures.

As each member of our family turns 8 they are given their own copy to keep with their scriptures. They do study it on their own. Alex and I also have our own copies and ours are marked up. (I'm on my second booklet). We use them for our talks and teaching lessons. Alex has also used the booklets in the children's weekly interviews from time to time. We also have the small copies stored in our purses and wallets.

I am grateful for this tool that we have that can reinfornce the standards we are trying to teach.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Headgate Update

Why am I still posting about headgates? Two reasons. 1). I get hit after hit to my site everyday about people looking for more headgate information. 2). It's been three months since I learned about it and I wanted to report.

The first time I read headgates (thank you very much Karen for posting about it right after the Forum), I was blown away with truth. Some of the specific examples I thought were a little extreme, but I loved the concepts and the principles. (I'm all for great ideas!) I felt strongly that she taught truth. Truth and principles that I could take and interpret within my own sphere.

I applied many truths she talked about, adapted to fit our home and our personalities.

STEP 1: We got rid of a lot of stuff. We removed clothes, shoes, sheets, wall hangings, decorations, dishes, spatulas, a computer, piano books, office supplies (like paper clips! - we had a lot), movies, and LOTS and LOTS of toys and books. I think we removed 50% of our stuff. Really.

STEP 2: We stoped certain activities. We classified toys and tools. Office supplies were used for legitimate projects. Building tools were used for legitimate projects. The computer became a tool and not a toy. Food became a tool not a toy. Movies were not to be watched unless they served a purpose and usually only if the entire family participated.

STEP 3: We instituted work time. We taught our children how to work. We began to expect them to do hard things. We expected them to do more than do the dishes after dinner or take out the trash. They learned to work hard for three hours straight. They learned how to clean toilets, do entire loads of laundry start to finish, make bread, vacuum, deep clean, dust, make dinner, serve people, move lots of wood on our land, and numerous other outdoor work projects. They learned to not whine. We taught them to return and report. We taught them to be responsible for their stewardships.

STEP 4: We gave them free time. Before we had randomness. Now we had work time and play time (or free time).

STEP 5: We changed to all lifeless toys. After a month or two we decided to go further down the path. We removed every last Lego, lightsaber and other "follow the instruction" toy. (We just put them in the shed until the experiment was over). We said we'd just do it for a month to just "see" what would happen. We moved the boys all into one room and made a playroom that was only filled with those toys.

STEP 6: Three months later. Let's evaluate. That's were I'm at right now. We really did all the things she said in her ebook (not her FAQ page-I think some are not right for our family. Just the same way I don't believe some of the ingredients are right for our family. But I've still taken truth out of it with out having a panic attack about the rest).

Evaluate. Yes. Let us do that. The scriptures say, "by their fruits ye shall know them." We had a really good home before. We had really good kids before, and I was was a really good mom. (Alex has always been great. I'm extremely biased). Now? We have great kids. We have great kids that work their guts out and are growing up to be real men that can take care of their families. We have a daughter that's growing up to be an amazing women. We have great kids that aren't bored. We have great kids that have amazing imaginations and can make all sorts of creations out of sticks and twine. We have great kids that don't whine when we ask them to fold the laundry. We have great kids that are respectful to us. They recognize where they are in our family structure and they embrace it. They know each of roles and they respect each one of us in our individual spheres. The 'me' culture seems to be getting driven out of our lives.

I personally, don't think that I have ever truly felt more peace and happiness in our family structure. Our home as become a heaven on earth. There are few worldly distractions and we pursue wholesome activities that we find joy in. The desire to have fun has been replaced with a desire to enjoy things.

About the books. Our children have come to cherish their free time. They spent a lot of time playing but they spend a lot of time choosing to read also. It is not uncommon to see Jared on the couch reading a 500 page book, Olivia in her room reading Cicero (or some other meaty read), Luke to be reading a Shakespeare play (abridged), or Caleb writing a story in his story book. Really. They didn't do that before. And really, they are happy.

About the Lego's. Yes, I'm going to bring the Lego's back. However, they are going to stay in the shed outside. If they want to play with them they have to go and get them. They have to act for themselves and not be acted upon (thank you Misty). They may then play with them and then they will return them to the shed. They can of course pursue this activity during free time. My older two boys have enough Lego hours saved up in their little minds to last a couple kids' lifetimes.

It seems hard to image that our life could be so drastically different for the better. We were a really good family before. We were always vigilant on our movies and entertainment. We had strict Wii 30 min time limits. We never let them read trash, no graphic novels, and a host of other books that I considered not worth reading. We went from good and better to best. And that has made all the difference in the world.

By their fruits ye shall know them. Yes, it is truth for us. We are grateful for great people that share their ideas and thoughts.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Setting Goals

I thought I would share about a little ritual our family engages in every morning. Each morning before we read family scriptures and practice our weekly scripture memorization we review our weekly goals.

On Monday morning each family member sets from 1 to 3 goals. These goals are of the individuals own choosing. Goals set this week included:
  • Read one chapter in Robinson Crusoe
  • Practice the piano every day for 30 minutes
  • Work on 4 and 5 multiplication tables
  • Schedule swimming lessons
  • Order more campaign banners
Sometimes we have to guide some one on a goal. We might ask them to be more specific. Then each day we review the goals with them. They don't have to report we just read and remind. At the end of the week we tally up how many goals were completed. Then we add that many beans to our bean counter jar. (recipe ingredient from Thomas Jefferson Education) When our bean jar is full we will do a "wholesome family activity."

We find that this creates unity. Each family member is encouraging of each others progress. If someone struggled to obtain a goal we work with them on how to set a more realistic goal for the next week. We only accomplish about 2/3 of our goals in a week. But we each continue to work on and improve. We aren't interested in perfection only progression.

I also wanted to add that I know that "goal setting" is typically considered a scholar activity. However each person pursues goals based on their phase (or grade/age). We use phases in our family, shocking I know. Caleb, who is still solidly in core (with no intention of leaving anytime soon!), sets goals like: brush my teeth at night, take a bath every night, do my jobs without whining, etc. His goals are very much "core phase" goals. Jared and Luke's are directed towards love of learning goals. Olivia makes scholar goals; read 100 pages in 1776, write and essay about Dolly Madison, answer questions from my mentor about Plutarch, etc. Mine revolve around Mentored Scholar/Depth. And finally Alex's revolve around Mission phase; read incumbents voting record on public education, create an 'issues page' for campaign website, practice speech, reread Proper Role of Government, etc.

We have been successfully engaging in goal setting as a family since January and have found that it is a worthwhile part of our family time.