so much more than worksheets

Friday, March 30, 2012

You have herewith been invited to the royal theater this afternoon at four o'clock. We will be showing a tale of the Greek Gods. If you choose to accept this invitation you must first complete the four tasks I have set out for you. 
1. Conquer one room of the royal palace. Put everything in its place - to remind you to keep a house of order.
2. Find the magical waterfall and gather one stone from its banks - to remind you to build a firm foundation.
3. Discover one great book - to remind you to continue learning and growing.
4. Do one act of serve for another member of the kingdom - to remind you that when we are in the service of our fellow beings we are in the service of our God.
When you have completed each task you may come to the Royal Palace with your rock and your book. Show these to the Queen and tell her of the room you cleaned and the service you performed. 
Good luck on your quest!

a book and its cover

We went to the library for Family Home Evening last Monday and since Darren was with us I was given extra time to peruse the bookshelves. This was such a treat. I always get so excited when I go here. I wonder what I will find. I must admit that unless I have been given a recommendation to look for in particular, I definitely judge a book by its cover. I am drawn to certain colors and graphics. Also, the title of a book has a great deal of importance for me when it comes to the choosing. I found a few that I couldn't wait to get home and start. Unfortunately the last 4 books I brought home I have put back down. Some because I just couldn't get into them and others because of the content, one of them after only the second page. If you have to say that word (it begins with the 6th letter of the alphabet) in the first few pages of a book you will lose me every time. (That word has no place in the english language. I cannot imagine an more unintelligent word) The next morning when I had that book by the front door ready to take back to the library, Noelle opened it up and began to read. I asked her to put it down and told her (in non-specifics) the reason why. She looked at me and said, "Well why did you choose a book called "When We Were Bad"?" She had me there. I had no response for her. In her sweet mind the title should have given me the red light before I had even checked the book out. I love that girl.

So the next trip we made I started a new search. I didn't have to look long. At the end of an isle, on top of the shelving cart I found these. 

So far so good. I am loving each one.
I would still love a really great fiction novel though....... if anyone has any suggestions?

the great outdoors

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I was feeling the need to get outside yesterday. I was positively sure that if I did not I might just have to run away from home. You see, when you homeschool you tend to spend a lot of time together...inside....together.....all the time! This is one of the things I love most about homeschooling - it can also be one of the most challenging aspects as well. But something happens when we go outside. Life is clearer, children are happier, quarrels cease, and we are able to just breath. 
So outside we went. Along with 4 of our most favorite people (Katie, Jacob, Emma, and Sam Bragg) we found our way to Eves Provincial Park. The only one of us who had been there before was Emma Bragg. She made for a great tour guide. I was pretty impressed. With old railway tracks, rivers, ponds, plants, ant hills, caves and a million other things to explore we spent the afternoon outside in natures classroom. I am positively convinced that kids learn better here, in the great outdoors.


Give him 10 years and he will be breaking hearts on the doorsteps of girls with his sweetness and charm! 
But for now, I am glad that it is me that has his heart and gets his flowers.

Thank you for an amazing afternoon. It was just what we all needed!

adjusting my focus

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Yesterday we had the opportunity to spend the day (homeschooling) with the Schafers. Whenever I am in need of direction, I go here. This house is filled with perspective. It is not any one thing that is said, but everything all around me that refocuses my vision, and brings me back to the basics. I, once again, remember why I am doing this. I rediscover the joy that can be found in this way of life. Homeschooling, despite the very name of the thing, is not most effectively done alone. A community is still needed to educate these children. The most exciting part is that YOU get to choose what that community looks like. Along with a handful of beloved others, this family happens to be a very important part of our 'community".

While we were there Noelle had an impromptu harp lesson from Alyssa. I asked Alyssa if she would consider giving Noelle lessons since we would be there once a week anyways. She said she would! Now I need to find a harp to rent. They don't seem to be common, nor are they cheap. And I don't want to buy one until I know that she is committed for the long haul. 

I took this video of Noelle playing her first song on the harp, and I forgot (again) that you CANNOT turn your camera sideways and flip the video later as you can with photos, even though my husband has told me on several different occasions. Oh well. It is the audio that is important here after all.

While I was holding Kirsten's new baby and listening to the harp, the boys were outside building these, apparently called goof boards. They are used to help with your balance for all board sports. It is harder that it looks.

Harp playing, goof boarding, and baby holding - that is the best kind of homeschool day.
Thank you Schafer family. We love you!

p.s. I love you

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Since moving away last summer, my parents, mostly my mom I'm sure, hasn't missed an occasion to send cards to my children. They LOVE this. I LOVE this. She never forgets. Every holiday they are there, waiting for us in the mail box. The excitement that these small pieces of paper bring - I hope you know, mom, just how much they mean to us all.

A return letter to Grandma and Grandpa from my little Ginger Snap.
To Mom and Dad from me:  My heart felt heavy and sad, and my eyes filled with tears as my little brown eyed boy looked up at me today and said, "I miss Grandma and Grandpa". That is it - all he had to say, as if my heart had silently spoken those words to him, as if he knew what I was thinking at that very moment.

We hug and I tell him, "Me too, Tate. Me too." 

guardians of virtue

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As my children grow older and up, my eyes are opened to the world beyond our own 4 walls. I could always see what was there, but somehow, in my naive little mind, the 2 worlds would never collide. Our home would always be a place of safety and refuge. Now, as years pass on, I can see the day approaching when the reach of my influence will become one of many that would pull my children's allegiance away. In January, Elder Nelson said that we are raising our children in enemy territory. This cemented in my mind to once again, pull even tighter and focus with a renewed determination upon the family culture we have established within our home. The time may come when my children look upon me as if I am utterly out of it, but I know what is right, and I know what must be done. They will grow knowing that we differ from the terribly low, ever-changing standards, so loosely held onto by the world. Our goal - to maintain and strengthen those family bonds, everyday, so that our voices will be heard above all others. Ours must be, as the scriptures teach us, "not a voice of thunder, neither...a voice of great tumultuous noise.... [but] a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it [were] a whisper, and it [doth] pierce even to the very soul". Ours will not be the loudest, it will not always be the most appealing, but it must be the one that can be found through all the questions and uncertainty, through the "mists of darkness".

Even I can be tempted. Tempted away from what is most important. Tempted with many "good things" that I would love to do. I need to refocus often and recommit to the the task I have been given, the path I chose. There must be balance, and some things will have to be put away for another time, as I work on my masterpiece. I must not become distracted, for the sake of my children. They need my strength and my energy.  And like it or not, for some days they may not, they need an ever steady mother who is unwavering in her standards. One who will reject, again and again, no matter how often they come knocking, the things we know to be damaging. They need my heart, all of it. They need me to point the way.

"The home produces the nursery stock of new generations, and parents are the gardeners. Mothers have no more compelling responsibility, nor any laden with greater rewards, than the nurture given their children in an environment of security, peace, companionship, love, and motivation to grow and do well. Mothers provide inspiration and balance; they constitute a reservoir of faith and good works. They are an anchor of devotion and loyalty and accomplishment. As the keepers of the home, they give encouragement to their husbands and they teach and nurture their children. The God in whom so many of us believe has endowed His daughters with a unique and wonderful capacity to reach out to those in distress, to bring comfort and succor, to bind up wounds and heal aching hearts. Wives and mothers are the anchors of the family. They must guard the children because the forces of evil are everywhere." President Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing For Something

Often I fall short of the mark, and my children get a tattered version of the mom I wish to be, and when this happens, I read, and reread, empowering words such as these and my mind is called back to my great purpose, that of "keeper of the home" and a "guardian of virtue".

 {If I could own just one book, aside from the scriptures, this would be it} 

let it grow

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We went to see The Lorax last weekend. Just Darren and I, no children accompanied us. We felt slightly guilty as we looked around the theater and saw all the parents and grandparents with their wee dates. We were tempted to run home and gather our children up and bring them back with us. But this was our date night, and there was no time, so we sat, childless, and watched. 

Every time I read a Dr. Seuss book to my children I have this longing inside to thank him for all the messages he teaches through the pages of his imagination. I wish I could have met him, and although he is gone, I am grateful that his life's work will live forever and capture a place in the hearts of each new generation.

I love this movie. I love the fact that the 2 main characters, Ted and Audrey, were named after Dr. and Mrs. Suess. I love the messages (for there is more than one) that it teaches. I even had to hold back the tears at the end of the movie as the whole town broke out into song. (It is a fact and I can't say that I like it, but I cry at kids movies, and books for that matter. Really, it's ridiculous. And although I try and hide the fact that I do, Darren always catches me. He, on the other hand, thankfully, thinks it's the sweetest thing.) 

And speaking of going green -  I was in need of a new lip balm and shampoo and conditioner. I set out to Walmart to buy the same old safe thing I always do, when I saw these. I rarely try new products, because I cannot stand wasting money on cosmetics. Since I know so very little about them, I have all too often bought something, not liked it, and never used it again. It then sits in my cupboard because I spent good money on it and I cannot bring myself to throw it away. But the pretty packaging and the natural, enviro-friendly ingredients tempted me and so I bought. 

I am so glad I gave them a try. Not only are they made from natural ingredients, they smell so clean and fresh, not at all heavy and perfumed. My hair and lips are happy and hydrated. I LOVE these products. And so I thought I'd share!

peachy keen

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We finished the bed, for those who have asked. As much as I like the color, I am still adjusting. I find myself walking into the room and pausing, walking back out, standing in the hallway and looking back in. 

I am in need of advice. I have tried to decorate this room several times over the 6 years we have lived here, and every time I lose steam because I can see it going in a direction I am not loving, or because I have run out of inspiration, or because I have loads of inspiration but I am unsure as to how to apply it. 

I have a ton of questions - 
Do I paint the picture frames and the curtain rods? What color?
Do I get white blinds or natural wood? 
Do I make curtains? What kind? Or do I forget about curtains altogether and just go with blinds? 
Do I embrace this peach that has become a pit of uncertainty, or begin again? 

These are not life altering questions, they are barely even important. But I want to be done, once and for all (for now), not for me, but for the 3 little ladies who share this space and call it theirs. I want this to be a place for them to love and imagine and dream and play. Problem is I have been looking at this room for so long - I need a fresh set of eyes and an unattached opinion. 

Have you got one? Please share......