Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reading and Books

First of all THANK YOU for all of your comments on reading!! John really does love to read. He loves series, though, and so when he finishes a series it's hard to find another gripping series for him. I'm trying to do the whole author thing . . . "If you like this author, read all of those books" and then find authors who write the same way. So, yes, you are right, I am raising readers who love to listen to books on CD as well as hear me read aloud books they don't quite want to try on their own yet. So, it's all good! Plus, I think that is one bad thing I get from TJED is that I have too high of standards for their choices of books, so when I see them reading "kid books" I cringe inside, and that's when I think I'm not doing it right. So, as you all said: Reading is Reading!!

Also, this is a devotial site KELLY sent to me years ago. We really enjoyed it for awhile and thought the others of you might enjoy it as well . . .

Lastly, this discussion string has led me to ponder on core values and it hit me that the core values we should be having in our families are in the Proclamation on the Family, "Successful families are founded upon principles such as faith, prayer, repentance, love, respect, work, wholesome recreational activities . . . " So, I've decided those are going to be the core values I want my family to aspire to. Just thought I'd share that little epiphany I had. :-)


I do have the Dividing Lines book. It's a bit outdated. And it cost me $3 through interloan library (grrr...) but that's okay. Now I'm more motivated to read it, because I paid for it! :-)

I didn't read Bronze Bow, I've read it a couple of times already. I liked it. :-) That's all I have to say about that.

Also, I'm reading Edith Wharton's Glimpses of the Moon. So far it's just okay for me. It's written a little too much like Fitzgerald and so that's a deterrant to me because I really don't like his books. However, I'm not giving up on it and will let you know how I feel at the end. :-)


Have any of you read "Home Style Teaching" by Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore? I read it ages ago and want to re-read it. But I remember liking it. I would be interested in your opinion. The Moores are considered the 'grandparents' of the home-school movement. I got a copy through the library.

Oh, and I am having difficulty finding a copy of the Immigration book to borrow - even through my library's super-search. If I do interlibrary loan I think it will take too long for me to get it read once I get it.
This is not a cheap book, by the way! I looked up just buying a copy and there aren't any good prices.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On reading

Okay, here's my blurb on reading. You do create readers. There are no ifs ands or buts. Children will only learn to love reading if a) they are read to; b) they are surrounded by good books (the fluff and the classics because the fluff is brain candy and just as enjoyable as real candy); c) they understand how integral reading is to their quality of life (reading signs, labels, price tags, etc.); and d) they SEE THEIR PARENTS READING.

Granted, your children are going to have their own level of interest. Derek didn't venture out of sport books for a long time and then he dove straight into Louis L'Amours--but he read. Wyatt didn't read as much--but he read. Ethan is one of the most well-read people in our family because Mom paid him to read out of his comfort zone. Youngest child syndrome and all that--but he read.

It sounds like you guys are comparing your own children to each other. Instead, spend a little time comparing them to the average student in the system. One year I asked all my students who had read a book for fun that year. I had TWO raise their hands. You don't have any clue what a true non-reader is like because it is impossible for you to produce them because of how invested in literacy you are.

So, pat yourselves on the back and don't worry about it much. Kami needed to worry about it because Ana came from a non-literate background and needed some serious prodding. She's come a long way too. Your own children can develop their reading inclinations more naturally.

As for quality vs. not quality books--as long as there is nothing morally questionable any book is great if your child likes it for free reading. For school--they need to be assigned out of their comfort zone, but free reading is free. Pure pleasure like fine dark chocolate.

Really Quick

Just a few thoughts I had--


I have a hard time with this because I don't want sports to take over my teenagers' life or me, myself be one of those booster club moms. However, if I knew I was staying here I would sign Ana up for the swim team which practices 3 times a week for an hour from Sept-March and then competitions. I NEVER thought I would ever do that with any of my kids so young, but frankly, Ana has little or no physical exercise. (And she loves to swim). I don't know if you knew this, but in Latino culture, the girls don't play. Leo said he never saw a girl play futbol his whole life till he moved to the states. And when I send Ana outside to play, she stands gossiping with the other Latino girls while watching the boys play futbol in the tennis court. I find that ridiculous. Also, Ana's birth mother is diabetic Type II and obese, and obesity/diabetes runs rampant in her family and to be nice about it, Ana will never wear "slim" jeans. Not that I care about being "skinny", but I do care about her health and the more active she is as a child the better her chances of not getting diabetes for a long time (I think it's a matter of when, not if). Also almost all of the team sports here play on Sunday so I've had a difficult time getting her on any teams. Blah.

Also, the reason I said I was a bad parent Andrea, is because I avoid interaction with Ana. Remember that adoption book I read? Yes, I am avoidant, because Ana and I are so different, it's really hard for me to interact with her for any length of time. I think though, that it will get better as she gets older, barring her not going off the deep end as a teenager, because most of what annoys me is her immaturity, and I think she is more immature than most kids her age just because of her background. Not her fault at all. I just find it difficult. Although being around my nieces at the last reunion made me realize that all kids Ana's age are annoying. So maybe it's just me. This is why I won't homeschool. For now.


I loved to read but was a slow beginner. My dad once told me that he thought after all his smart kids he had finally ended up with a dumb one--me. Ruff. Anyway, forgetting my middle child angst, I read Nancy Drew and horse and dog stories in second, third, and fourth grade. Louis L'Amour in 5th grade. Ender's Game and Tale of Two Cities, etc. in 6th grade. And in eighth grade I finished War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Then I wasted time reading a whole lot of fantasy in high school and more modern classics like Catch-22 (probably one of my all-time favorite books). I also read a lot of historical fiction. Mostly though, I love classics. I love how well they are written, I love that they have depth. I love that you don't get some pat, predictable ending. Like I've stated previously, my favorite author is Edith Wharton. My husband feels neglected if I read (he's not a reader), plus my children and house ARE neglected if I read, so I try to be selective and pick books now that I think will be educational and that I can really learn from--hence why I joined this group of crazy homeschoolers.

To be honest, I always thought, even as a child that a lot of books were junk food reading, even though I did my fair share. You know that question in Anne of Green Gables, where she asks, "Would you rather be really good, really pretty, or really smart?" (That was a horrible paraphrase.) I would have picked smart hands down all my life. I took Latin because that was a "smart." I read a lot of classics because that was "smart." While that obviously got me nowhere, I still do honestly love classics. But as far as kids go, I try to encourage Ana to read more worthwhile books--kind of a TJed idea here. But if she's reading I'm generally happy and don't push her too much since she knows what she gets paid for or not. Plus I think if you're reading good books, you're more likely to enjoy reading anyway.

Also I do pay Ana for memorizing poems too. That's her only other way to earn money. I don't pay for chores nor do I think I ever will, because I feel that is a responsibility a child should have as part of being in a family and having all the things parents provide. That has been excessively portrayed to me since marrying Leo. He gave his parents a whole semester's tuition that he had saved for his parents to try to save their business. He also worked to pay for bills at his parents house while in college the whole time he lived at home (and that was until he married me--typical of Latino culture). He gave his parents several thousand for the down payment on the first house they bought here in the US. And most of the teenagers in our ward work part-time and turn ALL their money over to their parents so they can survive here and then send whatever they can back to their families in other countries. While I don't want it to be that extreme in my own family, I certainly think my kids should learn to contribute to the family's well-being.

As for scripture memorization and stuff like that, Ana does her Fe en Dios and Articulos de Fe because it is part of her responsibilities, not any other reason. I do try to give her privileges along with being older. Like letting her pick one food she doesn't have to eat--the younger kids don't have that option. Also she gets to go with us to more things, like this weekend we're going to a dance performance. It's hard coming up with privileges though.

More to Say!

I've always got more to say! Agh!

Andrea, along with Kelly, I know you're not a true TJEDer - - and in reality I wasn't full blown until a few months ago. But I see you as a natural TJED Educator because of your upbringing and philosphies already instilled. Have you read the other TJED book about the Phases? It hast like 36 ingredients, musts for true TJED families. Anyway, I thought that was a lot better than the Home Companion, you may want to check it out. Tons of great ideas. I can say we've struggled somewhat with making the older children feel it's a priviledge to be older. We're tweeking it and trying to figure out the best way to do it naturally rather than making a big production out of it. Our kids are all so close in age, they kind of all just mesh together (which is a bonus for the younger kids, but the older kids don't seem to notice much). I do sense recently, John's desire to be more independent and not so tied to the family. Kelly - - what do your kids "earn" after graduating from the Adult Classes?

One thought on the Gospel Study Time, too. I usually wake up before the kids to make sure I've showered and am well into my own study time so when they wake up in the morning they see me doing that. I don't do it just for show, mind you, but when my kids see me doing it it's much easier to encourage them to join me. Plus, for me I just know I study the scriptures so much better in the morning than at night, so if I want to do serious studying, it's then or never. Therefore, sometimes my study time might be ending just when they are waking up, so some kids end up getting maybe 5 minutes in, while some could watch a whole 1hour movie before I'm done. So, take that into consideration if you do start to do this. I no longer expect them all to wake up and start studying for just as long as Mommy does. It's their own time, and if they sleep in longer and miss out on that individual study, so be it. At least they are getting the devotional in the morning. :-)
(sorry, that was more just a realistic expectations blurb there - - and reminder for myself when my kids don't just jump right out of bed and start pondering the scriptures in depth!!!)

Thank you, Kelly for your thoughts on reading. I, too was a Sweet Valley & Babysitters reader, and I've always loved reading. My older sister has always hated reading. She used to love reading self-help and parenting books, and she LOVED the Twilight series, but other than that, she just doesn't like it and doesn't do it. So, yes, I know there are readers and non-readers out there. MY PROBLEM is that I'm wanting to create readers and not just letting it happen on it's own, naturally. Also, it's a comparing thing when I hear other families whose kids read all day long I tend to wonder what I'm doing wrong. :-)

I've got to stop writing. I've loved these discussions!!!


Crazy Homeschoolers tryin' to ejekate their young 'uns...

You guys are funny. I was going to say that I think you all underestimate your parenting abilities. And, you would be much happier if you do what I do: live in a state of denial about your short-comings. It's much nicer over here in la-la land. ;-)

Ju - I had forgotten completely that before Kenna was born we did Gospel study every morning as our first school activity (thanks for reminding me!) - where we each studied individually.
Andrea - when I did that I did read my scriptures, but it was more to set an example than to actually learn. I did serious study on my own when children were sleeping.
I'm currently doing something different. Since we do Gospel study while I'm nursing, I read aloud from the Gospel Principles book and we talk about what it means. I think it's helped mykids learn more about the gospel. We also practice one of the primary songs that they're learning this year, because those songs are GREAT gospel teachers.
My independent readers have Scripture Reading on their list of morning jobs (along with get dressed, brush teeth, etc). Josh reads to the family before he goes to work - so we get lots of gospel study in...when we do it all! :-)

Love 'em!!!
We've done less than I want. We're going to do more family sports this summer. I'm going to do an exercise program with the older girls. I coach Brynne's soccer team - we both love that. But I've learned that even if all my kids just play one sport and do music and something else (be it Activity Days or 4H or whatever...) I start going crazy...because I have too many children going different directions! My parents did not let me play a team sport until I was in high school when I could get myself to and from all practices and games. And you know was fine. I loved the sports I played and I actually did well. I'm not saying you shouldn't put your kids in classes. I have. But now I can't manage it with everybody unless I give up other things, which I'm not prepared to do. Circumstances change.
There is a book about physical fitness for homeschool families, if you're interested.

What can I say...chores, chores, chores! I don't teach work ethic through academics. I am totally on board with TJED in this area. If my kids don't do a chore well, they have to do it again.
It hasn't been until recently that my kids were interested in working to earn money. Money was not motivating to them. (Until Disneyland...that changed everything). Now it's making a difference. There is a great spot in "Farmer Boy" (Ingalls) where Almanzo's father teaches him the worth of a half-dollar. How it's plowing the field, planting the potatoes, and hoeing them. Gathering them, taking them to market, and selling them for a dollar a bushel. Almanzo can see how much work went into that half-dollar because he did it. I want my kids to get that concept.

We are doing the Adult Skills classes idea. My kids love them. They are invited to participate when they are at least 8. They have binders with lists of the classes. We check off what they've accomplished. They beg to do it. They don't usually beg to do math. But I'll tell you what - my 9 year old has been comfortable doing fraction conversions for quite sometime because cooking is fun for her. That's inspire, not require in action. That's what it means. The concept is learned through a way that she found interesting. It's the trickiest way to teach your kids - in the sense that you kind of trick them into learning, but especially because it is HARD for the parent/teacher to pull off.

Another link you guys might like is this BLOG written by moms who homeschool using TJED principles. They are all at various stages. I find it interesting and helpful. They post several times a week, usually.

Does anyone else feel like life is hard with babies? I had such a long gap - 4.5 years - between children 3 and 4. I think I got into some good rhythms and had a chance to really get going. But since then, and especially with the addition of #5, I feel like I can't quite keep on top of what I want to do. I'm tired! I'm tired of fun ideas getting interrupted or completely shelved because of little people. I am not good at managing it all. I admire people who have lots of children more and more and more.

I just want to say a little thing about reading.
Some people probably are not going to be huge readers. If it's not their can't force it to be. There is an amount of literature reading that everyone has to do, just like math or science or whatever - but it doesn't have to be their favorite hobby.

My baby sister hated reading. She had a hard time learning, to begin with, and that developed into a hate of reading. She really hated to read. We couldn't understand why she couldn't just love it like we all did. Except, that somewhere in her early high school years she was assigned the book "Ender's Game". She LOVED that book. Since then she has turned into a reader. Granted, she started out by mostly just reading "Harry Potter" and "Twilight", but she's starting to ask my mom and I for good books to read (mom is thrilled!!!) and she's actually reading them and enjoying them. It took that one book to make her love reading. And it took until she was a teenager. But wow! What a great experience.

That's my little thing. But I want to know...what did you guys read when you were kids. I don't know about you, but I sure wasn't reading only great fiction. I read The Black Stallion series, I read lots of fantasy, Anne of Green Gables and other good books - but I spent a lot of time on Sweet Valley High and the Babysitters Club (Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, etc). I read junk! I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I love to read and I read pretty darn good literature now. I hope my kids don't read as much junk as I did - but I think my big concern will be what is in that junk - as long as it's clean junk I think I'll be okay. :-) We have to have standards!! It's hard to know where to pick your battles. If I had a non-reader, I think I'd set my standards lower to begin with. But I don't know for sure, because I haven't actually done that route yet. Yet. I'm sure I'll have my turn. :-)

Surprise, I'm not going to comment because I think I'd pretty much echo everything already written. :-) Betcha didn't think I could do that - not give an opinion. My family would be shocked.

And last but not least - quite frankly Andrea, you say you're not, but I think you are a true-blue TJEDer whether you realize it or not. I think no matter what you do, your kids are going to get a leadership education (even if they go to...heaven forbid...public school!!!!) because that's just the kind of parent you are. Yay for you! You don't even have to try! :-)

And now that I've spent WAY too much time on the computer, I'll go clean something so that I look like a good homemaker.

Response to Ju

Thanks for the link--I hadn't even heard about it. Then again, I'm not a true-blue TJEder yet.

Sports: For me a must. First, it encourages kids to get moving and use their body. I have zero tolerance for obesity in youth. It is TERRIBLE PARENTING creating an epidemic that will affect our whole society in horrific ways. Sports are a good way to show (without lectures) that exercise is fun. Second, your kids will have opportunities to meet lots of people (and potential spouses) through playing sports. Kids don't have to be fabulous, but they should know the rules and be comfortable enough to join in. I don't want any of my kids sitting on the sidelines of anything because they don't know how. Third, it is family time. We play t-ball together, we play soccer, we play football. All those things get us outside building memories together. Fourth, my daughter is homeschooled and I want her interacting with kids her own age. That's the main reason I put such a high priority on Miriam being in a ballet class this coming year and why I put her in t-ball knowing full well she'll just dance around and have no clue what's going on. It's still good for her.

On the other hand, I know exactly what you're saying about sports taking over your family's life. I think letting them play lots of different things when they're little and the seasons are a few weeks and then having them be more selective when they are older and the seasons are more time-consuming is going to be my approach.

Gospel study time: THAT'S AWESOME!!! We have a devotional that consists of reading the Friend together, talking about a scripture, and singing a song of Emeline's choice--usually popcorn popping. I get up and read my scriptures before they wake up because I want to concentrate--but your idea is better. I'll have to give that one some serious thought . . . thanks!!

Work ethic/money: In the TJED home companion the author talked about classes that cover all the things you need to know to run your home. I fell IN LOVE with that idea and have spent a lot of time thinking about what classes I want my kids to have and when and what their reward will be when they pass things off. Also, I loved the idea the Eyres had about graduating your kids to adult status when they turn 8 and having them be part of the budgeting committee. We're definitely doing that. Also when they turn 8 they no longer get any sort of entertainment during Sacrament meeting and they don't get paid for basic chores anymore--only extra ones above and beyond. I think they'll feel proud--I would have.

Lastly, I've been thinking a lot about what I said about being a lazy potlicker when I was kid (I was) and being glad that Mom made me do things. Mom didn't have to do much "making" with me. I followed her around like a puppy my whole life. I wanted to be just like her. I had all the same opinions and priorities and thought she was the most wonderful person in the world. Maybe there is more to this "inspire" thing than I thought. I'll keep thinking about it and keep you posted on any new inpspirations. :)

I'll Accept Psycho!

I once had a friend tell me, "Julia, we're all going to mess our kids up, parenting is just trying not to mess them up too much." It's TRUE! And the older my kids get, the more apparent it becomes to me! :-) So, yes, I'm a yeller. Yes, I have spanked my children (and hit them on the head, though not with my scriptures that I can recall!). Yes, I started out VERY authoritarian, now I'm more authoritative, and learning I can be quite permissive with some of my children (and depending on my mood I change styles!). So, I'm a ball of confusion for my kids!!!!

Now, onto the great topics we've been discussing!!

Answers to (more like thoughts on, because I don't have any answers) Andrea's questions:
How do you homeschool with a 2 year old? For me it's harder to homeschool with a baby than it is a two year old. I'm finally feeling like I can get stuff done again with Ethan turning two this summer. Now I can start involving him, letting him color while the others do their work, etc . . . Don't get me wrong, we do get lots of complaints when he accidentally (??) colors on the kids' work. :-) Eventually, the two year old gets bored and leaves us alone. I think when I try to tell him he CAN'T be with us, then he wants to be, so when I let him be with us until his interest runs out, it's easire. Secondly, we do A LOT of our stuff while he's napping! :-)

Age Limits: Technically speaking, there are no age limits. BUT TJED people suggest that the CORE Phase is 0-8; LOL is 8-12; and then the Scholar phase after that. But, not every child will follow that pattern. You may already have a love of learner and then have a scholar at age 10, or you may have a love of learner until they are 20! J. HATES these labels/age limits I so badly want to define (it's easier for me). He says that it's all supposed to just happen naturally and we as the parents are supposed to pick up on the transitions/changes and work with them according to our knowledge of the phases.

More Core Values: I know I wrote what was most important to me (scriptures, service, reading . . . ) but the core values are more so those traits you want you children to obtain. What kind of character do you want you children to be? I want my children to be hard working for sure! I don't want them to seek the easy way out, I want them to search for answers and have real questions and problems to solve. This is where chores come in (which is where I think Kami & Andrea are doing great!). I've been thinking about how I learned to be hard working and it was because we were helping Dad in the yard all the time! I don't remember doing much housework, but I'm th 4th of 5, so that could be an easy explanation! :-) My parents were not involved much in my education, they didn't push hard other than I knew they expected A's out of me, so I performed. A couple of my sisters would have benefited from a more inspire rather than require approach. So, that's something I'm watching for in my children - - which ones rebel when I expect and which ones don't? Other core values: honesty and gratitude! I loved Kami's mention of entitlement! There is so much of that in youth today it DRIVES ME CRAZY!!!!! I don't want my kids to think they get just because they are them. :-)

I'm not sure these fit in with Core Values necessarily, but along with Kami I will also require YM/YW Awards and the boys will get their Eagle Scout. Serving a mission is also high up there. I want my kids to be comfortable with sharing their feelings about the gospel.

How do you get them to love scriptures? First of all, I haven't said that we're there, YET! But, that is my goal and that is my passion I hope to instill in them eventually. For now, we do devotional every morning. This year we've been learning about the lives and teaching of hte aposltes. They've loved that and it was great when they knew who the men were during Conference. We also have structured "Gospel Learning Time" into our day. So, every morning when we first wake up we must be doing something with regards to the gospel. I study my personal scriptures. The kids can choose from many things: church movies, the LDS Friend website, reading The Friend, we have books on all the prophets up to Eztra Taft Benson they can read or listen to (books on tape), they can even just color while listening to church music. So, I don't make it a "You have to read your scriptures" it's just a time for focussing on the gospel. Also, I am working on creating a file of "Scripture to be Memorized" (just a recipe box w/ index cards). My kids can earn money through memorization. So far I've just left the choosing up to then John comes back with "Sam begat, so & so . . . " (you know those scriptures) and I think, "What does that have to do with anything!?!?!" So, I'm working on making that more meaningful. Again, we're not to that LOVE yet from them, but I'm at least trying to make it a part of our normal lives so it's not foreign to them when they go to seminary! :-)

THANK YOU KAMI for your comments on reading. I am one of those mothers who struggles with getting her child to read more than just AtoZ Mysteries (2nd grade level stuff). He's going to be in 4th grade. I think he just likes to finish in a day. He loves Roald Dahl. He loves Calvin and Hobbes. But once all those books have been read, he really struggles finding something else that makes him just want to read. For instance, he is now in a youth book discussion group (which I LOVE) and for that he is reading My Side of the Mountain. Well, he read his required ten pages and then came to me and said, "Mom, I have nothing to read." I said, "Keep reading MSM." He didn't want to. I asked him, "Do you like it?" He said he was loving it. Well, if he's loving it why is he looking for something else to read just because he finished reading ten pages?! AGH!!! It's just funny to me. If you like what you're reading, then read!! Anyway, I'm not sure if he's just going through an independent stage or what, but that boy had GOT to be reading bigger books!!! I think he senses how it drives me crazy, too, and so he provokes that along as well. :-( Give me some thoughts here! :-)

More on Music My rule (more unspoken) is that once they learn to play the hymns (real Hymnal, not easy) then they can choose to stop piano. I also want them to be a part of a musical group: choir, band, orchestra, even acting. There is so much benefit in being part of a musical group, learning teamwork, etc.

Any thoughts on sports???? My kids love them so far, but with five kids I can't have them be in everything. I want them to choose their favorite and go with it.

Andrea's Husband on Deadlines: This is one J. struggles with as well. That is why he wants all of our kids to test for GATE just so they have the pressure of taking a test that really means something (even though it doesn't mean anything to them if they don't care if they get in or not!).
And it's true we homeschoolers really beat to our own drums. Having the kids go to school once a week has kind of helped with that. However, in my opinion, this deadline discipline comes in by structuring your TIME not your content (another TJED principle). For instance, our daily schedule goes something like this: Gospel Learning, clean bedrooms, breakfast/devotional, group cleaning time, group learning time, lunchtime, individual learning time, playtime, clean up, dinner, etc. . . . There are not exact times attached to these chunks of time, but we do them as a family so the kids learn "Oh, I need to do this fast so I can be with the family." That is one thing to me that teaches deadlines.
The other thing to think about with deadlines is the thought that WHO sets up the public school deadlines in the first place? Who determined long ago that addition was to be taught in 1st grade? Who determined you need to learn Modern History in 4th grade?
Another big thing TJED stresses, I think, is projects. If we work on projects together and have them done by a certain date,that is learning about deadlines. The Scouting program and YW program will teach deadlines. In other words, there are plenty of ways to learn this principle. And, your husband knowing YOU, Andrea, and that you won't just settle should be enough to give him comfort that you're not going to let your children fail. Although, these are very valid points to discuss and ponder when making the homeschooling choice! :-)

Okay, those are my very unprofessional and not the most experienced points on these fascinating topics! :-) Now, I'm going to watch movies, play games and do laundry with my kids because we've had a BUSY couple of days and it's cold and rainy and I'm not in the mood to think about school!


P.S. Ans, do you ever follow the TJED discussion group? I like this blog better, more personal, but it's fun to kind of see what other families have to say on such topics.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Response to Kami

Let me stop laughing first. Hee hee. No, I'm really getting myself under control. HAHAHAHAHHA--you're JUST LIKE MOM!!! AHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHH HEEE EHEEE.

I'm better now. Yeah, I'm totally authoritarian too. It doesn't bother me much. I TOTALLY agree with you about the need to find authentic ways to teach work ethic and follow through in a city. I think your music idea is fabulous. I just won't stop to imagine for too long how you would have reacted. Ha ha. No, I'm really not going to laugh anymore. I'm still much more firmly in the "make them do it" camp than the "inspire them to want to do it" camp. Then again, I was a lazy potlicker as a child and I know I wouldn't have done jack squat if Mom hadn't made me.

What's also funny is that I just posted about what a great day I had with the kids today (and we really did have a great day) but I did not mention the small episode where I was making the pie crust to go on top of the chicken pot pie filling and Emeline and Cowen were standing on a chair watching (I hate cooking with children). Emeline kept picking in and then she brushed a bunch of flour onto the floor, and I had flour all over my hands so I felt a little out-of-control of the situation. I yelled at her to stop touching. Then when she brushed another ton of flour onto the floor I screeched at her to stop touching. Then I took a deep breath, reminded myself that I hadn't yelled in weeks and that there must be a better way to solve this problem, picked up her naked-except-for-diaper body and stuck her outside on the back step and closed the door. And quite frankly, I didn't care about her poor cute toesies and our prickle infested backyard.

Two year olds are DEMONS. Besides, she was happy as a clam out there on her naked lonesome.

I also didn't mention in my cheerful blog post about scriptures and prayer when Miriam couldn't find the right page and started whining and whimpering, and I smacked her on the head with my scriptures. Ironic. It didn't hurt her much, but still . . . time and place made me feel less than impressed with myself. Especially as I'm opposed to physical punishment. Sigh.

You're not alone. Like I mentioned before--nobody is ever going to be real impressed with my parenting. Although you made me feel good this morning when you were talking about chores. I thought about it and my kids (Miriam and Cowen) can wash and dry dishes, clean mirrors/windows, clean the bathroom sink, and sort laundy all without supervision. Their Saturday chore is vacuuming their rooms, they put their clothes away, and they keep their rooms clean or they don't eat breakfast. They still struggle with making their beds, but they're working on it. They also vacuum, but the vacuum is heavy so they don't do quite a perfect job with that yet. And yes, we already covered that I'm an authoritarian work-a-holic parent who thinks modern parents do too much for their children and don't make their children part of the running of the household. One of my big core values--sharing the load a little more so children feel more involved in the success of the family.

Rambled on too long, but this is interesting stuff. I ran the "permanent homeschooler" idea past Timothy tonight. He expressed a worry about math education. Not surprising considering I had to add up on my fingers the answer to the difficult math problem Kami posed. He also expressed a worry about teaching our kids about deadlines since homeschool moms don't really flunk their kids if they don't turn things in on time. Hmm. I'll have to think about that one. He's tentatively okay with it though. Now, am I okay with it??

You all are psycho.

Here's my parenting technique: Try not to kill my children or scream so loud that our neighbor turns up his R&B/hip hop music louder than it already is. Seriously. I'm not reading this blog anymore. You guys make me want to give my children away. Really, I'm an awful parent.


I mean it.

As far as music goes, I decided my kids would start in 1st or 2nd grade (Ana started as soon as she came to live with us in 2nd grade) and that they would have to take it until the end of 6th grade. No questions asked. 15 mins practicing, 6 days a week for the first year, and increase it five minutes every year after that. Counting out loud with the metronome. Double time if I have to remind her more than once to count out loud (actually I say this to Ana every day at least twice while she's practicing.) After 6th grade they can choose a different instrument, but I still want them practicing an instrument. Why? I want them to learn to work, I want them to learn to do things well and correctly--not half-heartedly, and I don't have a five acre farm that I can make them work on instead. Yes, I am a nagging drill sergeant. And yes, I probably should read a little more TJED and try to be a little more lenient.

As far as school goes, my daughter goes to public school. I think it's lame. I hate AR tests. They are so lame. I think my daughter worries way too much about what other kids think/like/don't like/what's popular etc. I think my daughter would still be that way even if I kept her home. It's a very common adoption coping stradegy (or maladaptation). The school asks each student to read 25 mins a day, free reading. I use that and require that it be from a chapter book. No Captain Underwear or whatever the lamesauce books are that Ana brings home periodically. I also bribe Ana to read books I want her too. $2 if it's off a list I created, $5 if it's in Spanish and a chapter book, and $.50 if it's over 100 pages and not on the list. She never reads the Spanish ones. I once refused to pay her for a Goosebumps book (I warned her before she started) because I said I wasn't paying for pathetic, lame books. Yes, I am tyrannical and very biased against Goosebumps. One time I was disgusted because I overheard this conversation at Ana's school, amongst another parent of Ana's classmate and her teacher (this was at the start of 3rd grade): "Well, I usually make my son read 25 minutes, but he always wants to reread the Dr. Seuss books that he has memorized and I'm just not sure how to get him past that point." Umm, make him choose something different?!?!??!

I also make Ana do a math worksheet every morning M-F before school that she can usually complete in 5-10 mins, depending on if she has to rework a problem or not. I also did timed drills with her for several months this year to practice adding and subtracting below 20 and then the times tables. It drove me nuts when I saw her counting what's 4+7. Errr... She doesn't do that anymore. Yeah!! The math worksheets review what's she's already studied this year or they are story problems which she needs the practice with reading comprehension.

Last summer, we made Ana do a lot of summer school for a lot of varied reasons. A) Ana was seriously lacking in any parental education involvement before she came to live with us--it was non-existent actually. We felt she would benefit from extra time studying. B) She learned English as a second language starting in kindergarten, another set-back if only in language acquisition. Also, she's had next to nothing as far as conversational practice with an adult outside of a school classroom, she's just amazingly clueless a lot of the time. C) We live in huddy apartments in a rather scary area, our other choices were let her play outside unattended or watch tv.

We started her with math, Spanish, and some reading and writing workbooks my Dad had given me. We cut it back quite a bit by the end of the summer, so she was doing less everyday. And instead of focusing on the reading and writing concepts in the book, we worked on reading the directions and questions closely and following them. Also on not misspelling words that are on that page. That drives me nuts. This summer, I plan on doing the same math worksheets as she is already doing but focusing on logic problems. She'll be doing the next level up in the reading writing workbooks, and Spanish again. Also, I think I'll let her choose one country a week and we'll do one activity a day about it--like a color a map, and then the next day look up music on youtube from there (pre-screened by me), or make a collage of pictures if we can find an article about it in my Nat. Geographic collection. Hopefully that will stay a fun activity and not a torturous affair like the rest of everything. Actually, math is generally okay since she can do the worksheets so quick, but she gets mad fast if she has one wrong and has to go back and fix it. She tells me all the time, "No! I looked at it, it is right!!!" Which makes me want to say, "Yep your right, I just told you it was wrong because I felt like torturing you." I really really try not to say sarcastic things, and that's one thing I can claim: only once or twice as a sarcastic comment escaped me. Phew. Because I have whole lot I want to say all the time.

So there you have it. I'm an awful, screaming, perfectionist, hormonal, authoritarian parent who nags constantly at her children. However, authoritarian parents do generally have high achieving children, which honestly, I do want my children to be high achieving. Okay, that sounds awful. But frankly, I took a regular old normal English class in 12th grade because it fit in my schedule and AP English didn't. It was my first regular English class since 6th grade. I never studied. I never did homework. I spent the entire class reading somewhere else in my textbook. And I only missed 2 points out of all the assignments and tests we had. I had like a 99.999% at the end. Seriously, if my kids are not in advanced classes, I will have issues. Only all my children will be awful, rebellious teenagers because I'm so authoritarian.

As far a core values, or whatever they are, I want my kids to learn to work hard (did I already mention that?); I want them to learn to think logically and express themselves well--at least in writing--I can't speak clearly, so I can't expect that; Leo wants them to learn to serve (not saying I don't too, but he's very adamant about that); Leo wants them to learn to be more financially responsible than I am (I'm working on that); I want them to learn respect and not feel entitled to everything--in that same sense Leo is wants them to recognize the privileges they have; and I want them to know the world--to be able to know the history and the causes behind what is happening in the world today. Also, I personally would like to learn more about politics and become more involved there and teach my children that. And I want them to complete their YM awards and YM awards. Yes, I know I need more spiritual things in there, but I was thinking mostly in school terms while writing this. Anyway, now I really have to go. Sorry, I spent all day yelling at my kids, but you know, it's really only my two-year-old that drives me batty and then everybody suffers for it. Errr.....


Yeah, I'm not a lone woman in the internet universe. Thanks for your thoughts.

Music: Kelly, I'm glad someone else had the same experience as my family. If Mom doesn't make you, instruments don't generally happen. I'm sure there are TJEders out there who would argue with me, but I come from a family of strong-willed people and my children are the same way (except Cowen so far . . . we'll see). I don't expect the instrument thing to be easy. I think it will help that Timothy picks up instruments quickly and is constantly trying new ones. He plays the piano, the harmonica, the Irish tin whistle, and anything else he can get his hands on. His sheer love for music will help.

After much, much, much thought I decided Miriam was ready for basic music training. She's been begging for piano lessons because she knows she has to know piano before she gets to play the harp. For this coming year I bought some basic beginner piano books and I'm going to do a weekly music lesson where learn how to count. Since she sings along with me at church I thought that would be the logical and easiest place to start. Then every day we'll spend ten minutes clapping out songs. I'm hoping that will mutate after a few months into learning basic notes. Then, showing her (much like reading where I let her think she was figuring out on her own) how the notes match the keys and then just leave the piano books on the piano and see what happens.

Good plan? Bad plan? Any thoughts?

Character Education: I loved hearing about Julia's "core values." (Part of me hates using TJEd terms because I feel like a disciple--I only buy into it so far and it isn't nearly as far as all my TJEd buddies. However, it appears I'm on that path no matter how reluctantly so I might as well use the terminology.) I am really good at temporal values (you will know how to make breakfast by the time you are 8) but I haven't invested as much time into spiritual values. Except service; my homeschool plan for the summer is called Service Summer 2009. As yet another sidenote, Miriam has been reading to our elderly neighbor who just got out of the hospital. That is one beautiful thing about Miriam--she is very, very loving and affectionate so whenever she sees this neighbor at church she races up to her and gives her a big hug. It make Sister Riggs so happy.

I just read that and it made me sound like a terrible person. Don't judge me. My point in bringing this up is that reading Julia's core values was thought provoking. I'd love to hear all the rest of you people's core values (even you Kami, although you're only a homeschooler at heart as this point) and any more that you have Julia. And since love of the scriptures is one, how in the heck are you teaching that one? We have devotional in the morning, which the kids love as long as I only read stories in the Friend and not the presidency message or get to know you articles.

Phases: When does Core and Love of Learning end? What age about?

And my last burning question: How in the heck do you homeschool with a two year old lurking about and shrieking??? :)

Again, thanks for your thoughts. This coming year is my year to prove to Timothy that I can really do it as this past year was . . . stress-laden.

My Favorite Topic!!!

I love homeschooling philosophy discussions! My favorite!!

First of all, I was beginning to wonder if you were "normal," Andrea (which we both know you're not, but that's okay), because this is so normal to have these thoughts . . . and I think this has to happen in order for us to best teach and train our families. Secondly, most of what I might say here is stuff you already know, don't need to hear, other than the validation that YES you are doing a GREAT job and YOUR expectations for YOUR family are right on! :-) I just went through this whole thing a couple of months ago myself and realized several things you are currently questioning.

#1) Keeping our kids to public school level (not letting them get too far ahead). I have to admit I've done this with my children up until now for two reasons. a) I didn't want them to be too far ahead for that what I thought to be inevitable day when they'd go to public school. So far, no public school AND I'm realizing if it does happen my kids will be just fine. b) I never wanted to be the mother who was saying, "My kids are homeschooled and therefore they are two grade levels higher than they should be, and look at all the wonderful things they do . . . " Etc...etc... I just didn't want to gloat about my decision, nor make other think that my decision was better then their decision. It's just different, and better for MY family. :-) SO, with that said, this year I've come to grips with we are 100% homeschoolers and we will be until told different, so stop comparing to public school standards and teach your children!!

#2) Most of the things you were questioning, in my opinion, involved your CORE standards. WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!? If you start making movies now, most likely the kids will continue. However, that doesn't mean you won't have at least one child who pretends to be hating it the whole time (just say they're the wicked stepsister/son). IF saving that 1/10 is important, that is what you require. If knowing every date in history is important to you, that's what you require. If playing music is important, that's what you require. I think the key is to INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE though. So, I'm learning it may be a requirement, but I'm trying to require in an inspirational way rather than a force-down-your-throat kind of a way.

FOR ME: What I have learned in the last couple of months is that I have a few things that are MUSTS in my home. Love of the scriptures/having gospel discussions; Service (my goal: to work with Special Olympics once a month); and love of reading. Those are the things that are most important to me. Those are MY passions. So, if I focus on YOU not THEM then I will hopefully INSPIRE those types of things. I'm also gaining a love for reading math books! I never thought I'd be able to say that. BUT because of TJED I'm really starting to "get it" and I love it. Still, I will most likely always have a math cirriculum to follow. That's just me, and one thing I will require.

So, again, I think you're just questioning YOUR CORE VALUES. That's what you're supposed to do. WE all need to do it. I look at your list and think that is so awesome! Before I had my own CORE VALUES LIST I would have looked at your list and thought, "Oh, I'm not doing any of that, I'm such a loser mom." Instead and I can look at it and say, "Way to go Ans! You're getting your CORE list a lot earlier than I did . . . Bonus for you!"

#3) I was also worried about the loss of childhood/growing up too fast thing. I don't think being educated is what causes that loss of childhood. I think the CORE & LOL Phases are all about having a way cool and FUN childhood. I love what the DeMilles say about how teenagers are different than scholars. Whose to say that because we had 'normal' teenage life, that that was fun and a scholar life isn't? We have a program here called Running Start where at the age of 16 the youth can start taking classes at the local community college. I so wish we'd had a program like that growing up. It's great, and it inspires higher education!

SO, long story short, I think your goals are right on! I think reevaluating time and time again what our kids are learning vs. what we want them to learn is a vital step in truly educating them. I'm not one to push too hard, I don't think I'll have those genius children who know their times tables at the age of two! I have a struggling reader at the age of 8. I have a boy who doesn't test well (and yes, we've worked on test taking skills). I have a 4 year old who knows how to tell time (didn't expect that to happen). BUT what I'm saying is that MY family is MY family! It's up to me to set those standards (and generally they are at level if not higher) and it's up to me in how I execute the plan.

One word on music: I started John at 8 on the piano. He was doing fine. Then, we switched books (because it was supposed to be the BEST way to teach piano). Well, it was fine, but nothing special. Then, a few months ago it became a horrendous chore! Holy cow, neither of us were happy. Finally, he played an Easy Hymn for family night and it all changed. I took away all the other books. I told him we were just going to play hymns. He gets to choose the hymn. He now knows several and can play them for FHE. Then, we discovered Book of Mormon Stories in the Primary book, wow! He learned that in just a few days. So, I think that is where the inspiring comes in. You watch, wait and listen for what they do latch onto. I also try to practice every day, so he sees what can become the future. I know he'll be ready to move on from the easy hymns someday, and he'll know, too. Different story: With Brooklynn I started her on Suzuki, more by ear. We were so impressed! J. and I were so excited and Brooklynn could play beautiful songs. Then, it just go too boring for her. She stopped wanting to do it. Since, I've completely taken her off of piano for now. She likes to write her own songs. Next year I'll start teaching her the notes, and then maybe she'll learn more by writing her own music rather than playing what others have already done. Either way, I've learned that I don't need to stress about piano. It is my goal to have my children play, therefore it will happen (in each of their own way). True TJED stuff there! :-)

So, overall, I think your goals are where they need to be for YOUR family. I think you're doing great! And I so wish we all lived next to each other. I need a good TJED group here to mingle with!!!!


P.S. If you don't want to force practicing (music), find a local bell choir for kids . . . they just play together once a week, no practicing at home needed. To me, the PERFECT instrument for children! :-) (but that's not until they are 8+)

Education for our children

I think that you definitely posed questions that we all ask ourselves. I know that I have (and still do).

You may know that my oldest is experiencing her first year of public school this year. Let's just say that for me it has been a long hard year. My daughter did great. The initial adjustment was difficult for her (what do you mean I don't have time to play?) because between school, piano, and other activities her time was very much not her own. That was new and difficult. She has enjoyed her experience, learned a lot, made friends, and learned that she is glad I'm planning on her homeschooling next year (middle school has never been an option in our family). The strange thing is that even after watching Hannah cry multiple times (she's a perfectionist and tears are a natural part of her coping mechanism), my next daughter wants to have her year at public school. Which I think would have to be this coming up year because I'm not doing the 5th grade adjustment again (apparently the homework load increases between 4th and 5th grades). And yet, I really don't want her to go because I'm tired of doing the public school thing. I want my kids home with me, enjoying our time together. So that is something that I am having to think about right now. I don't think you are wrong to want Miriam to stay home. Families are meant to be together! I never see Hannah anymore. We never have time to do fun things as a family because we don't want to leave her out and she is too busy. I'm glad this was a one year deal for her. Maybe public high school will happen on some level - but it will be completely up to her.

You know the reason I decided to homeschool in the first place was two-fold. First, it was about logistics. There was only one school in our area that was not doing full-day Kindergarten (which I vehemently oppose as developmentally inappropriate for 5 year olds) and I didn't have time to do 20 minutes of driving each way to drop her off and pick her up - especially with a newborn. So we opted to keep her home just for that first year. The second reason was because she and I had had a ROUGH year (the year she was four) and I decided that until our relationship improved, sending her to school would be a bad idea. The way to improve the relationship wasn't to spend less time together, but more. And it worked. We both learned a lot about how to live together. What is it about oldest kids? Anyway, after the first year homeschooling we never looked back because we all loved it.

So about the music thing...that is a TOUGH area for me. If you read the TJED literature, they suggest waiting until the kid is begging for lessons, right? And stopping when it stops being fun. But based on the experiences in my own family, I have a hard time with that.

My mom decided she wanted all five of us to learn to play piano - the ward always needs a pianist! Her system worked great at first. I was too obedient to not take lessons. My next sister just loves music and has a natural gift for it. But trouble started with number 3 and kept going. My third sister refused to take lessons after 2 years. She put up such a fuss about it that my mom finally gave in. And once that precedent was set, it was easy for sisters 4 and 5 to quit, also. However, now that they are all grown, they all regret quitting because who has the time and money for private piano lessons as an adult! (As a side note, all three of those sisters played instruments in band and one is still playing hers with the community band - so they did learn instruments). If they had been pushed to continue over that stalling point, they would know how play! So I don't know what to do there.
My personal plan is to try really hard to make piano lessons something FUN. And to let my kids know that if they want to branch out to another instrument I'm all for it - just master the basics of piano first.

I'm also not starting them at age eight. I'm waiting until at least 9, preferably 10. Hannah started at age 9. She's pretty good and she seemed ready. My next daughter just turned 9 and she is not ready. Maybe next year. I did suggest to her that if she wants to learn another instrument (which she does) she could start learning music on her own with all of our beginner piano books. She's enjoyed that and can now play several beginner songs that she has taught herself. I think that's where the TJED stuff works.

I kind of think that as parents, as long as we are always thinking about things our kids need to learn and how we can improve - we're probably doing okay.

I also decided that I needed to have some ultimate goals; character traits and skills that I expect my children to have before they go off into the world. And once I know those, then I can make sure that our daily activities focus on achieving those. All other things turn into a bonus. I can't do and teach everything. I can't make sure my children are exposed to every good thing. But I can set the stage for a life-long love of learning and experiencing the world.

I could ramble on and on about things. I always think about homeschooling and how I could do it better. At this point I don't wonder if it's right. I think circumstances change (thus we felt that it was good to send Hannah to school for a year), but in general this is a good path for our family.

The Bronze Bow

While I have to admit that I would much rather respond to your post about TJED revisited, I figured I should take a few brief moments and give my thoughts on "The Bronze Bow". I finished this about two weeks ago but just haven't had time to sit and write much. I keep waiting for that time to appear, but oddly enough it hasn't!

First, I did really like this book. I love Young Adult books because they explore interesting ideas that are common themes in everyone's lives. No matter our upbringing, I think we all experience some similar feelings and thought processes as part of growing up. Andrea touched on most of these - including ones I hadn't quite thought of yet. :-)

One thing that I liked about the book was that Christ was more of a periphery figure - that the book was more about the journey of the characters than about their interactions with the Savior. It shows how He can have an effect on people just by being who He is.

I will admit that I spent a majority of the book waiting for Daniel to figure out what a jerk Rosh was. It was a predictable necessity to the story and I wanted it to happen so I could stop waiting. :-) I loved the character of Samson and I wished I could have learned more about him and find out how much he understood about what was going on. He was a great example of the effects of loyalty and love.


I just read a book called "Infidel" by Ayann Hirsi Ali. Anyone read it? It is her own memoir about growing up Muslim in Africa (with a brief stint in Saudi Arabia) and finally seeking asylum in Holland. Fascinating. She is only 8 years older than I am, but what a different life.

And since my baby is just now waking up I'm going to stop here. I want to think about the homeschooling thing and maybe get back to that later today.

Whoever chose this book - thanks! I enjoyed it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

TJED Revisited

I'm rereading some of my favorite homeschooling/education texts to get inspired for the new year. This year we've pretty much stopped doing anything but math and reading, although most of our reading is historically based. Except for George's Marvelous Medicine (Miriam loved it and I sat there inwardly cringing because I forgot how twisted Dahl can be) and Hot Fudge Pickles (one of my childhood favorites that Miriam loved and wouldn't let me stop reading until we finished the whole thing).

We've also been reading a book about Thomas Jefferson. After he left formal school he decided he wanted to be an educated man. Instead of spending the required six weeks to become a lawyer he dedicated five years of intense study to his profession and education. In five years time (from 20 to 25) he became fluent in six languages along with a rigorous study of geography, history and science.

When I read about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and even George Washington (who wasn't quite a Renaissance man in the same way), I think about DeMille's question: "Is the education our children are receiving on par with their potential?" Then I think about my Philippine student who was so dedicated that she wrote more gracefully in English after one year of English study than her American classmates. I also think of my Middle Eastern student who wrote more gracefully and thoughtfully than I do when he was a tenth grader. His education outclassed my students by an immeasurable margin. Granted, he was rich and had all private tutors and private school education. Still--the point I'm making is the potential is there in our children to reach levels of education that we have been taught to believe are not worth attaining because they do not help us in the job market.

I admit to straddling the fence on this issue in the past. Does it really matter if we are that educated? Does it matter if we can converse on all the major topics of the day, all the greatest literature, and know where every country is on the map? Is it a pride issue or is it a "whatever level of education you attain in this life will be for your benefit in the next" issue? (That was a paraphrase.)

Yesterday I was daydreaming about Kayli's husband, a biomedical engineer, getting a job in Logan (his interview is Tuesday--cross all your fingers and toes). In my daydream Eli had engineer inclinations and due to my homeschooling and his early college courses, Brett was able to provide Eli with an internship when Eli was 16. (Also in the dream was Eli going to live with Kayli for the summer, me missing him, and Kayli and Brett being impressed with my great parenting. Eli getting an internship is much more likely than anyone being real impressed with my parenting, but if you're going to dream . . ..)

That is the kind of thing that I always poo-pooed before. Don't make them grow up too fast, I thought. People learn what they need to know and not much more, I would think. Now, I am not so sure. Part of the issue is that I've been trying without really trying to keep Miriam from getting too far ahead of her classmates because I've always assumed that I'd put her back in the system eventually. More and more I've started rethinking that. No, I would never let her skip a grade but why am I planning on putting her back in the system? Why am I trying to hold her back???? In much the same way that I used to think homeschooling was weird and then changed my mind, I've now changed my mind about the parents who keep their kids home until they need a class or two at high school or the local college or university.

Would it be so wrong for me to homeschool Miriam and then have her start taking classes at Weber when she's 16 or so?

I don't know. Every once in awhile I feel this huge wave of guilt that Miriam won't ever have the chance to be in Kindergarten now because of a decision I made for her. Kindergarten was fun!! And she missed out.

On the other hand, she and I have really strengthened our previously weak relationship over the course of this year. She has daily become more and more delightful to be around. Her destructive tendencies have slowly dwindled. Her imagination is incredible. She loves to curl up next to me while I read to her or she reads to me. I can't stand the thought of ever sending her away for the bulk of the day.

In all my musings about my own choice to homeschool I have never once questioned my ability to do a better job than the school system. I worked in the school system. Miriam would do fine in the public school. She would excel. But she wouldn't learn more or be better prepared for college by the public school system.

So--as I think about this upcoming year and the pace I want to set and the avenues I want to explore my question is this: am I limiting my children? Am I failing to help them excel because I'm scared of where we could end up? If I decide to start down a path of excellence education (leadership education--Jeffersonion education, whatever you want to call it), I have to rewrite my whole life agenda and master plan. Am I ready to do that? Would that be the best thing for my family?

I don't want my children to be so attached to me and my family that they can't let go in a normal way (several missionaries that I know have returned home after a few weeks in the MTC because they missed mom too much). My own homesickness when I left home at 17 was severe. Are there other issues that I've forgotten about as I've thought about possible futures for my family?

Are my family goals feasible? For example, Timothy wants the kids to start a family business and I expect my children to contribute a tenth of what they earn to tithing and a tenth to a general family missionary fund. I want all my children to contribute to everyone's missions. Is that unreasonable? So far they don't mind, but they also don't know that a dime is worth more than a penny.

Another goal that Timothy and I have is to make a family movie every summer. Eventually the kids can do the whole thing on their own--including write the script. Will they still think that's fun after a few years?

I want all my children to learn two instruments--piano and whatever they choose. Miriam is dead set on the harp. Cowen, when I asked, said he wanted to play the trumpet. I didn't know he knew about trumpets. Am I up to forcing kids to practice???

Timothy wants the kids to learn Spanish. I don't even want to go there.

I want my children to write beautifully. That's the only thing I'm confident I can teach them without much strife. Writing is blessedly fun. If you teach it correctly.


Sorry to ramble. I'm putting together next year's curriculum and these questions keep me up at night. Thought you other homeschoolers might have some thoughts.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Bronze Bow

The Bronze Bow is a fabulous book for many reasons. The first and foremost is that it reminds readers of the political climate during Christ's lifetime. It reminds readers that many if not most of Christ's followers expected him to rid the Holy Land of the Romans. They wanted a fighter. They wanted a prophet who could call down God to exact vengeance on the interlopers. They didn't want to hear about love or sacrifice or mercy. They definitely wanted to hear about justice but they did not understand the justice of which Christ spoke. When the Romans killed the Savior, many of Christ's followers were bitterly disillusioned. Christ had failed them. The Bronze Bow is an accessible YA novel that makes all that real without scaring me off by being too in-depth or scholarly. I am not Kami. I do not thrive on Nibley.

Another reason the book is so great is it clearly warns against the dangers of choosing to become a follower of a fanatic. It is a touchy issue since Christ is one such character and yet Speare was able to warn of the dangers of blind, passionate loyalty to a person and a cause while still maintaining that such loyalty is not wrong--it can just be easily misplaced. For young people who are searching for something to be passionate about, there are many options today. Speare warns in her novel that before you commit yourself you should try to see the object of your passion clearly. You should think about all aspects of the cause you are joining. You should not act without deciding for yourself if your actions help your cause. Blind loyalty can lead down many dark roads. Passionate loyalty to the wrong cause can ruin your life.

And yet, young people want something to be passionate about. Look at the Muslin suicide-bombers. The desire to be such a person is easily understood. Great glory in the hereafter, bravery and honor in this life. It is a beacon to those who do not feel they have a purpose or for those who choose to hate because they have nothing to love. So entirely understandable. So incredibly sad.

Another thing that Speare warns her readers about is labeling. He is rich therefore we have nothing in common and cannot believe in the same cause. He is a Roman therefore he cannot be a son, a lover, a husband, a friend. If he is Roman he is not human. Because my sister cannot interact with others in a normal way she is useless. A burden. Because he saved my life I will follow him blindly until the end of my own. The main character, Daniel, is so real because he displays so many unpleasant teenager traits. He is selfish but thinks he is not. He is loyal but to the wrong cause. He thinks he knows better than anyone else. He will not ask for help. Speare cleverly points out the wrongness in his actions and thinking without being preachy. She doesn't make Christ the person Daniel wants him to be. She simply sets up Rosh's values and actions against those of Christ. Slowly, Daniel was led to question both men's values. Slowly, he gains the experience needed to evalute both men's actions. Slowly, the teenager develops.

I love this book. Yes, it is YA. Yes, Daniel drives the reader nuts periodically. Yes, it has its problems. Overall, however, I can't imagine a better way to approach Christ as a character in a fiction (albeit historical fiction) novel. Bravo Elizabeth.

Monday, April 13, 2009


The blog2print people just sent me an email saying the expiration date on the coupon was wrong and it is good for an extra month--so May 15th. If you want it, you can have it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I don't think I'll be ready. Thanks, though!

Friday, April 10, 2009


Hi, I just got my 20% off coupon from blog2print and it expires--those dirty rotters (as me mammy used to say). I can't use it by April 15th, and so if you want it--I'll post the coupon code.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Loved it!

Andrea - I absolutely loved your essay on Hamlet. Loved it!! I don't have an essay. Can't form my thoughts, but I do have some great quotes. I'll post them later, I just wanted to say I loved your essay!