Thursday, April 21, 2011

Response to Kelly

I think scheduling a day during the month to clean is pretty brilliant. Especially for the "nothing hanging over your head" reason she listed. We've been doing "Saturday's work" on Friday for awhile now so we didn't waste "Tim time." But I've found that a little frustrating because then it feels like I'm the only one who has to get the kids to work. I get tired of forcing people to do things. I also don't like it because it uses up a school day that I'd rather use to do fun school things--like art and music appreciation.

The only thing that worries me is trying to get that much cleaning done in one day. Ouch. Miriam can clean a bathroom but I like to do it every other time to make sure it is done really well. If she did it one month it would be like two months with a subpar bathroom. Then again--I could probably get used to that. :) I'm going to have to toy with this idea and see what I think. It would be a long day every month. It would open up Saturdays during the summer to more yard work without feeling like we are trying to accomplish everything inside and out in one day.

I'm glad there is another homeschooler in the world that doesn't do academic subjects until the afternoon. I like to do other things in the morning--piano, devotional, music time, and then a group activity based on science or history. The afternoon is for math, LA, spelling, handwriting, etc.

Once a Month Cleaning

I wrote a blog post on this article I read (see below).  Do you guys spend much time thinking about this?  I really function better with a certain level of cleanliness.  I think everyone has different levels and that's great.  My mom was helping a sister in her ward clean and pack before a move and she was, well, horrified by the state of that sister's house.  She called me wondering if her priorities were totally whacked and if she had incredibly high standards of cleanliness and perfection that no one could ever hope to meet.  Uh, no.  She just had a different standard.

But my actual thoughts were more along the lines of balancing the need to have a relatively clean house that's used and lived in but not trashed, and the need to have time to do the fun stuff in life.  We were talking about the adult skills and the reason I have not done them as much as I would prefer is really a matter of time constraints.

So currently my basic daily schedule looks something like this:
8am Morning Prep (dressed, bed, breakfast scriptures, family prayer, etc)
9am Family Work (includes music practice for older kids - they do jobs when they are done practicing) 
11-ish  Free time for 30-60 min depending on how quickly we work
12pm lunch
1pm school
extra-curricular activities - usually start at 3pm and go till 5pm on various days of the week.  This is the time when I start thinking about dinner so even if we don't have any outside activities, I'm loathe to start a major project at this time.  If the kids are home, they are playing or reading.
5:30pm Dinner and clean up
family time
8pm bedtime!

So what occurred to me as I read this article was that if I could cut my cleaning time down to 30 minutes each morning, we would have 2 full hours available for projects/adult skills/reading, etc. 

The article is linked from my blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

might be awhile

I don't know anything about the book, Ju.  I requested it but I'm number 126.  Based on the number of copies available I'm like 8 in line....we'll see.

I'm curious to know what's so good about it!

Must Read Book

You all need to get Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.
I'm reading it right now and want to discuss it with all of you.
Get it.  Read it.  If you already haven't. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gospel Study

Kelly - that's so funny you mentioned Sunday night gospel study time because J. and I were just discussing this same dilemma of older kids and younger kids.  I told him, "Why don't we try doing an older gospel discussion on Sunday nights with the kids and have a younger FHE for the littler ones on Monday?"  We haven't started yet, it was still in the discussion process.  BUT it's nice to know that is successful and something worth trying.  :-)  Thanks for that!

And, I agree with Andrea that time management is very much personality.  John (11) and Addie (8) were born with internal "get it done and play the rest of the day" mentalities.  They love, love, love checklists and just "get" the concept of time.  Brooklynn and Joel are both a bit more flighty in how they manage their time.

And, I didn't mean to discourage you from trying the planner, Andrea!  :-)  It just might be what Miriam needs right now . . . or not . . . but like you said, if you don't try it, you'll never know!  :-)  I will be doing the same thing this year with my kids, so we can compare and contrast what works and what doesn't.  I also want my kids recording better what they learned each day (like a commonplace book of sorts).  I was thinking one thing that might work for my kids is after dinner saying, "Okay, now you can go record what you learned today or you can help clean the kitchen."  This would just be for the older three while the younger two would help clean the kitchen.  It's a thought I might try.

Anyway, I think again, with time management and planning a lot of it is really learned by Mom setting the example.  But it's like Andrea has said, too, about how Miriam doesn't pick up on how to spell by reading like others do.  Some kids just don't pick up on things by observing others.  A couple of my kids are like that with spelling, too, and so I have to "drill" them rather than just say "keep on reading."  Does that analogy make any sense?

Okay, that's all I have to say.

Sunday Night Gospel Study

I wish I could claim this idea as my own!

Awhile back I was bemoaning the fact that when we do FHE it never turns out right anymore.  We have a 12 year old and a 2 year old and three ages in between.  How do you have a successful FHE with so many ages, attention spans, and interests!!??!!

My friend, Katie, said that in her family they had Sunday Night Gospel Study for the older kids and then on Monday night a very brief (BRIEF) lesson for the little ones that's totally age-appropriate followed by lots of family fun.  She lets the younger kids practically run Monday night - they pretty much do anything that appeals to the youngest kids (they pick the songs, the activity, etc). 

So we tried it.  It's been fabulous for us.  My 12 and 11 (10 when we started) year olds are pretty much required to come.  My just-turned-eight year old son is allowed to come but not required.  We do it after the littles have gone to bed.  We've studied from Preach My Gospel, For Strength of Youth, Conference Talks, Scriptures, etc.  Whatever we feel is important - usually sticking to one for awhile before switching - based on the needs of our kids.  It's been a great way to reach the needs of both age groups without boring anyone to tears.  FHE has been so much less frustrating for us!


Andrea, I had some ideas about teaching time management.  Maybe you've already tried them or ruled them out, but here's what I was thinking.

Talking about time.  Such as, asking how long she thinks it will take to complete a certain job from start to finish, then timing.  My kids are always pleasantly surprised.  Using a timer that she can carry around with her.  Breaking tasks into very manageable pieces - maybe written out with a check box.  

I've been trying to work on the same concept with my kids.  They are required to come to me when a job is done and ask if there is anything else that they can do.  If they don't come, even if the job is done, then I always give them an extra job purely as a consequence to not coming.  If I notice that they are playing before the job is done, they also get an extra job.  Logan - my  most distracted kid - is getting really good at remembering.  It's also a lot of fun to tell him that he's DONE and can go play.

Recently I was reading an article - can't remember where! - that was a person talking about their jobs as a kid.  They said that their mother always gave them the "fun" jobs.  Her feeling was that anyone could clean the kitchen and wash the dishes, so she gave her kids the jobs that sounded more exciting and involved learning a new skill.  I thought the idea was interesting, and it inspired me to make sure that I remember to give my kids jobs that catch their attention.  For example, I love organizing so I usually keep those jobs for myself and give my kids something else, like the garbages to empty.  What I've discovered is that my 11 year old not only loves to organize but is GOOD at it.  The other day I had planned to go through the toy bucket while they were cleaning the play room.  She asked if she could do it instead.  She not only did a wonderful and thorough job (she tossed more toys out than I would have dared), but she enjoyed it.  I picked up the play room and starting sorting through some old papers that I wouldn't have had a chance to sort through if I'd been organizing. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Time Revisited

I think I misled everyone from the comments Julia and Kelly made and the phone call I got from Kami Sue. I don't think giving Miriam a planner and having her write in it will accomplish anything right away--or for years. The reason I want to do it is to start the process of her figuring out that she can control time instead of time controlling her. She's a huge dawdler and is always getting extra chores for getting off task. That's enough actual punishment/reward time management training for right now, I think. But, for her, I think it is going to be really important for me to teach time management and not expect her to just pick it up naturally. Cowen, on the other hand, already knows and implements the concept of "if I get my chore done fast then I have more time to play." Miriam doesn't get it yet. So I think "time awareness" is part age and part personality. Again, my purpose is just to start the teaching process about time.

Anyway, it might end up being a bad idea and I'll get on here in a year and say it was a stupid idea. But, I'm going to try it anyway! I won't know how it will end up until I give it a whirl.

Kelly--what is Sunday night gospel study? I want to know more.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time, cont.

So I just have to wonder - because I really don't know - what are appropriate expectations for kids regarding time?  For instance, it makes sense that a teenager should be able to get themselves somewhere on time.  I can see that ability developing in my almost-thirteen-year-old.  She is starting to remember where she needs to be, and when, and make sure that I get her there.  But not always.  On the other hand, my ten year old is still very much dependent on me saying that it's time to get ready to go to _________.  However, she can be ready in a decent amount of time.  If I say to be ready to leave the house in five minutes, she will be ready.

I am not sure what sorts of time issues you feel your children are failing in.  Are they having a hard time staying focused on the task at hand, getting distracted, and not finishing in a reasonable amount of time?  That sounds EXACTLY like my son, who is 8.  He manages to keep from getting distracted if it's something that he really wants to do (or has a visible reward attached - such as if we hurry and get these errands run we'll have time to stop at the park afterwards).  But he isn't managing time himself.

Developmentally, I'm not really sure what to expect from kids.  Rafe is teaching 5th graders, so his expectations would be different than mine would be for my 2nd/3rd grader.  But I'm not sure exactly what those would be.

Or, are you just talking about school and not about other areas of life?  The person who introduced me to homeschooling used to just put her kids' weekly work in little boxes and they managed their own time.  Having 20 worksheets to do on Friday was  a really quick lesson about the benefits of doing a little bit every day.  I guess it worked for her.  I never really asked her.    Managing time and studies sounds like a very mature ability.  I don't know about your kids, but my son is still just getting comfortable with telling time - much less gauging it.


Regarding virtues:  I just got a book I requested through PaperBackSwap called "365 Manners Kids Should Know".  I am going through a couple of them every week.  It's laid out in an interesting format - one lesson per day - for the parent - on a manner they should teach their child.  So far I like it.  I had though to actually do one lesson per day with my kids, but I think they need time to practice each one and the opportunity to get enough practice in doesn't always arise - plus I only want to be harping on one thing at a time.  ;-)  We started with how to greet people, particularly adults (smile, make eye-contact, shake their hand, and use their name - Mr. or Mrs. for anyone over 18).

We use the Eyres book for FHE sometimes.  We're also going through "For Strength of Youth" for our Sunday night Gospel study with the older kids.  I like President Hinckley's book as a devotional idea.  I'll have to go find it - it's on those bookshelves somewhere! 


One last thing.  The other day I did a totally random, must have been inspired, devotional about scripture study.  Usually in the morning we sing a bunch of primary songs and hymns, then read a scripture or talk about a picture in the GAK (trying to keep it geared towards the little ones).  That day I decided to talk about the importance of studying scriptures.  I likened scriptures to salad, and other books to dessert.  If we eat/read nothing but dessert - it might taste good for awhile but over the long-run it's not really that good for us.  We should eat our salad first and make sure we're getting the important nutrients before moving on to dessert.  I challenged the kids to eat their salad every day before moving on to dessert.  My kids actually like salad, (literally), so this was an okay metaphor for them.  If your kids don't like salad it might not work.  ;-)  It's been really helpful - especially when we're helping by reminding them.  Saying "don't forget your salad" sounds so much nicer than "you better read your scriptures"!!  And, it's been a joy to stumble across my kids with their scriptures pulled out as soon as family work is done. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More on Time

So, I have a blog I visit frequently called Tale of our Quest.  Here's what she says about getting her kids to recognize time (i.e. work faster):

The way I have chosen to help them work faster (getting their morning list done on time or cleaning the kitchen before the timer beeps) is that they get an item or more for every minute that goes past the allotted time. Right now, morning lists and breakfast (Bud is in charge of making breakfast this week and Spice of making the smoothie) need to be done by 8 am. I know they are done when a child says, "Mom, do you need anything else?" and then, "Okay, I'm done, will you check my work?" At this time, I check their work and if it is done right, I look at the clock. If it is past 8am - they get to pick up as many items as the number of minutes past.

The first time I did this, I gave no warnings since they had already been taught to do it before 8. Around 8:20, Bud came and said, "I'm done with my morning list." I said, "No you're not, you forgot the last two items. He said, "Oh yeah, do you need anything else?" I asked him to get the baby dressed. Then he said, "Okay, I'm done, will you come check my work." I did and it passed so I looked at the clock and it said about 8:35 so he got 35 items to pick up. The other kids saw what happened so they hurried and finished and got to pick up the number of items they earned. The next day, everyone had their morning list done by 8.

In the kitchen - since they only have 10 minutes to have it cleaned (15 for whoever has dishes - I'll help if there are a lot of dishes) - they earn 5 items per minute that they go over. I'm enjoying not having to say, "Hurry guys, you only have 5 minutes left", etc. I just let the timer do the teaching and I stay quiet. This is much more effective. They are learning so fast!

The same rule applies to when I ring the bell for a meal. They come right away and wash their hands and set the table. If they don't, they earn 10 items or more depending on the circumstances.

p.s. I got a planner/calendar for Brooklynn this year . . . so far it hasn't helped.  :-)  BUT that doesn't mean it won't help Miriam.  :-)  This year I think I just need to be more consistant with the weekly interviews because I think that is KEY and something I haven't done too well this year.  With both John and Brooklynn and Addie all in similar phases next year, I think it will be more effective.  Addie will LOVE planning things out the way I do.  John will LOVE having a list.  I'm just not sure it will work for Brooklynn (the whole planner thing), because she doesn't compartamentalize the same way I do.  She loves feeling "grown up" with her own calendar, though. If her siblings are doing it, she may be more inclined.  ????

Funny story (this is a long p.s.) :  The other night Brooklynn was doing a performance for Savior of the World.  Well, apparently she wasn't backstage when everyone else in her scene was there and so they all started freaking out, "Where's Rebekah!?!" (stage name).  My friend Mary ran to get her.  She found Brooklynn coming up the stairs, no urgency whatsoever.  Well, it turns out she knew exactly where she was going and when she needed to be there and she WAS there right when she was supposed to be.  Everyone else was just early or panicked for no reason (nerves!).  So, anyway, it dawned on me that this "dawdling attitude" I've been fighting against with her for so long isn't really a weakness after all.  She just doesn't sense urgency and doesn't get easily stressed out about time.  She gets where she needs to get when she needs to get there.  It did make me realize that I CAN give her more of a time schedule than I've given "because we homeschool."  Anyway . . . just more thoughts on time.  :-)


I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles with time. One of the first words Miriam learned was "dawdle" but she still hasn't figured out how to STOP doing it!!!! I feel like much of my day is spent forcing other people to do things--like strength of will alone will stop the clock or move the children forward.

So far it has, for the most part, but it is exhausting. I need Miriam to take a little more responsibility. One idea I am trying is getting her a watch and a planner and giving them to her during a special "now that you are 8" ice cream milkshake date. I'm going to explain that now that she is 8, she needs to keep better track of what needs done when, and make sure she meets her responsibilities. Then I'm going to pull out her new LA book and spelling book and handwriting book, and together we're going to figure out how many pages she needs to do of each every day to get through what she needs to this year.

Then, during scripture study time (that she will then be a part of because she'll be 8--instead of just having quiet time like the littles) every Friday, we'll fill out the next week's schedule.

I don't know how effective it will be the first few years, but I hope it will get her thinking more about time and giving her a sense that she can own time and divide time and plan time.

Anyway--I haven't tried it yet so I don't know how it will work, but it is worth a shot!

Thanks for the great book ideas. I'll post about any great books I find.



Love the values idea for devotionals, Andrea!  I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography where he wrote down his list of thirteen attributes and determined to work on one each month for himself.  It's been in the back of my mind to do the same thing ever since.  I think I tried it for myself for a little while, but didn't get too far.   Love tying in children's books with it as well.  Fun! 

Loved Esquith's book.  I have been thinking a LOT about TIME actually (his first chapter was a good one for me) because I've realized as a homeschooling family, my children's sense of time is a bit "off."  Now, I am a compulsively early person.  I agree with President Packer that if you're ten minutes early to a meeting then you're late!  But, that only applies with activities we have OUTSIDE the home.  Inside the home, it's a whole different matter.  There are no deadlines for anything and thus things take longer than they probably need to, decreasing the amount of stuff we could actually be doing or learning.  So, it's been a new focus of mine. . . how to make time matter to my kids in their daily lives.  It's a tough one!!  (especially being 7 months pregnant and not waking up "on time" each morning).  sigh. 

Anyway, you asked for book suggestions:
There is a book called Books that Build Character you might want to check out.
Also William Bennet has a book "The Children's Book of Virtues" or something like that with lots of short stories based on certain virtues.  It's great.  
The Eyres also have a book called "Teaching Children Values" where they take a value each month to focus on.  I think there are some book suggestions in there as well  (their website also focusses on one value a month). 

As I may be building on your idea for our own devotionals next year, I'll let you know if I discover any other valueable books.  :-)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Amber--thank you for your thoughts. I am glad someone else will admit that a lot of child-rearing in the younger years is drudgery. And work. Bucketloads of work. Congrats on your pregnancy!

I have some thoughts on some books I've read lately. First, I read Lighting Their Fires by Rafe Esquith because Julia rated it on her goodreads. Each chapter discusses a different virtue/life skill that helps a child do well in life. They included:

1) be on time—understand concept of time

2) Focus—ability to concentrate

3) Limit television

4) Smart decision making

5) Sweeping like Shakespeare—anything worth doing is worth doing well

6) Unselfishness

7) Humility

8) Delayed Gratification

All of those things are excellent for children to learn. I liked how Esquith included books and movies that he feels teaches these ideas well. It got me thinking. I have a FHE book all put together that has ten virtues discussed by President Hinckley. You probably saw these as they went the rounds a few years ago. The whole thing is called: Ten Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes: love, honesty, morality, civility, learning, forgiveness and mercy, thrift and industry, gratitude, optimism, faith.

I thought to myself, those are ten great virtues and the core lesson/scriptures/songs are already put together for me. I could easily find some books that reiterate the importance of those characteristics to supplement. Voila--a school year's worth of devotionals. Plus, a primary song to learn each month and a scripture to learn each month.

This is probably very disjointed. I'm very tired. The point is, starting in September I'm picking a virtue to learn about with the kids during devotional and I'm going to use children's books to supplement. For example, Secret Garden works well for civility. I'll assign Miriam to read Secret Garden on her own, I'll get it on cd for Emeline and Cowen to listen to during quiet time, and then we'll discuss how it pertains to civility. I'll also get some shorter children's books to read during devotional.

The Pout-Pout Fish would work for optimism and a book about Abraham Lincoln for learning. It is going to be so much fun looking for books to go with each value.

I also read 52 Weeks of Fun Family Service by Merrilee Boyack. I liked it. The intro got a little redundant but that might just be because she was preaching to the choir. I am always trying to incorporate service into our lives. I wanted ideas of how to do that and this book was full of them.

Probably the most useful thing in the book is the index where she lists a bunch of websites that help match volunteers to different service opportunities and also give ideas for how to help. For example, making t-shirt dresses. I did not know that would be so valued. Also, I had heard about giving a goat or other animal to someone in a village, but I didn't know how or where to look. She gives all the info. So, not riveting reading, but useful. I don't know that we'll do a service activity every week next year, but I want to make sure something happens every other week. We already do something every month (I count simple things like taking a loaf of bread to the neighbor) so I just want to bump it up a little and diversify.

The end.

PS--Any book recommendations to match a value will be appreciated!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two cents worth from a lurker..


Sorry I have not posted for a while. Early pregnancy and I were not now I am starting to feel human again half way through.

On Kami's thoughts, Kelly's and Julia's, I tend to agree with all of them. I get what Julia is saying about how our happiness can be based on our expectations of ourselves. I tend to lean that way while still having expectations for others that they "should" measure up to. I am still this way on my bad days or when I am feeling out of control in my personal life. By personal I mean, my lack of self control or discipline.

I had a life changing experience about two years ago that really made me assess how I view and treat other people, my commitment to Heavenly Father, and made me take a hard look at myself and what it is I value. I won't go into details but I had to hit a hard wall(because I was just that proud) to see that I had way too many unrealistic expectations for myself and others and this was driving a wedge in my relationships with EVERYONE (including Heavenly Father).

I had to realize that while I could blame others for my problems the basic problem was in myself and I was the only one who could change me. I could not change others. Maybe you already know this principle but that was huge for me. Since I am a bit of a controlling person(aren't many women) I had to learn (because my life was out of control) that I could not control every little thing and that I didn't have to. There was someone I could trust absolutely for every little thing I thought important, someone who would not let me down, who knew so much better than I what was needed in every situation.

Once I realize this it was easier to realign my priorities in my personal life mission. I truly was stripped down, humbled, and able to write down what it is I felt I needed to do in this life, who I really was, my eternal nature, etc. I still go back and read what I wrote and it is as true today as it was written.

I, of course, still have tons of natural man in me so I have to pray everyday (as I did then) to have patience, to be led by Him in knowing what it is I should be doing that day, then I have to act. That is such a huge thing for me. I may hear the impressions but do I act on them all the time? Not as often as I would like or should. But when I do, my day is much different than I would have planned yet I get all the things done that I felt were important at the beginning of the day. Power from on high-love it!

Does any of this answer the questions posed? Probably not..but I wanted to share. A few books that I helped me when I was on this crash course were: Bonds that Make us Free by C. Terry Warner and Putting on the Armor of God by Stephen A Cramer. Anatomy of Peace and Peacegiver are other great reads for being able to see others and ourselves in different ways.

Summary: changing myself or perhaps choosing fully to be on the Lord's side has helped me in dealing with the day to day details of life. Helped me to learn to love, just a little, the drudgery that can come with a house full of little children; helped me to see my husband for the awesome man that he is. I caught a glimpse of how much my Heavenly Father loves me and that makes me want to be with Him again. Therefore, I will not complain anymore(okay, maybe not so loudly) about changing messy underwear or diapers. :)


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Re: Kami's post

I don't know if this is exactly what Kami was talking about, but I have been thinking about weakness, discipline, gratitude and purposeful-living for the past four months in a very intense way.  In the past six months I've had a huge paradigm shift and been able to completely change how I felt about something that had been bothering me for about five years prior and causing a lot of problems for me (which then rubbed off on my marriage although I didn't realize that's what was happening until recently).

The short details - I hated where I lived and resented my husband for making me move here.  I also hated my calling and resented my husband for not releasing me (while he was Bishop) even though he knew how miserable I was.

I'll tell you some of what has helped me.

When the Primary President moved me to a new class (thank the Lord!) I received fresh motivation to fulfill and magnify my calling.  All my callings, really (including mother and wife).

Some changes that I made in my life at that time that I think made a big difference:

1.  I started using my Mead notebook.  I have a notebook that I keep by my bed at night.  Every night before bed I write down my to-do list for the next day.  Not only does it clear my mind, but it helps me to remember to think about things I might not otherwise.  I only write down 10 things ( I limit myself), and I try to pull stuff from a variety of life areas - such as service, gospel study, housework, schoolwork, exercise, etc.  It has really helped me to focus my day.  Some days after I list my 10 things I have a list running on the side of "don't forget" items that I also need to do.  But mentally having a list of 10 has been great for me.  The notebook usually comes downstairs with me in the morning to refer to.  Having a checklist is good for me.  It helps me feel accomplished - and helps me keep my expectations realistic.

2.  I realized one evening that I had to exercise more discipline in my life (in several areas) and that is one of the purposes of this life.  For me to learn control.  I CONTROL MY LIFE - to the extent that I control the choices I make and what I choose to do with my time.  I decided my priorities were way out of whack.  Not enough time to read scriptures...but I was still making time to check my email.  I realized that I had to fix that.  I had to stop letting the little things rule my life.  My actions reveal where my true priorities are.  So if my priority is to have Gospel Study every day and tell every child I love them, then I darn well better do that.  I included exercise, and much as I hate, and dread getting up early to do it, I have noticed (to my chagrin) that I really do feel better on the days that I do it.  My energy level is much higher.  I just need to somehow turn that into motivation at 6am.

3.  On a personal note - I realized that I had been blaming my husband for my unhappiness.  I read several talks about choosing happiness and gratitude and knew that I had been subtly undermining my marriage with my discontent.  I would go through spurts of unhappiness and really be unhappy with Josh for dragging me to this place.  The truth is, he did choose to move here and although I didn't want to - I didn't TELL him at the time.  That's my fault - not his.  I realized I had to be like the Little Purple Pansies as the primary song goes.  I started by finding things that I was grateful for about my circumstances.  I also started praying for opportunities to provide service to those around me.  My theory was - you love those you serve, so if I could develop more love for those around me I would love being here with them.  I happened to be reading a talk that said to pray for opportunities to serve.  I have put that into practice a few times (when I remember) and sincerely asked the Lord to send me a service opportunity that day.  It's been really interesting what has popped up. 

4.  I re-read President Uchtdorf's talk about creating and realized that part of my unhappiness stemmed from the fact that I wasn't creating anything.  Long story short - I had given up several hobbies due to changing needs, but I hadn't replaced them with any new hobbies and I really felt like I was stagnating.  This is something I'm still working on - but even the small steps I've made towards creating have brightened my life and brought me much joy.  It is not a worthless thing to create beauty (in food, handicrafts, decorating, garden, etc).  In fact, I think it is a God-given ability and mandate.

So in reading Kami's post again - now that I've talked about what I wanted to talk about - I think the key is to set realistic expectations.  I definitely struggle.  I have told my husband time and time again (when he comes home to a wrecked house and no clean laundry) that I can be a good housekeeper or a good mother, but I can't do either well at the same time. You asked, How do you balance necessary guilt... To which I say, I don't.  I just feel the guilt and accept it.   ;-)
Except now it occurs to me that necessary guilt motivates us and helps us recognize areas where we really do need to improve.  It's like a mental kick in the pants.  Unnecessary guilt makes us feel down, depressed, and unworthy.  I'm quite familiar with both kinds.

Last thing - when my children are driving me crazy (above and beyond the norm) I have found it beneficial to take a break.  Drop the expectations.  Go outside (we go to the beach or the Botanical Gardens).  Don't do anything workish.  Enjoy being a family.  Start fresh the next day.  Otherwise I just get angry and do and say things that I regret later.  Laundry and school, and even dinner, can wait.  

Julia - those books sound good!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Notwithstanding My Weakness


The only thing that really kept coming back into my mind was that we need to read Notwithstanding My Weakness (it's on our reading list!) and discuss it.  Along with that we need to read Spiritual Lightening by Catherine M. Thomas.  These two books literally changed my perspective on how I think about myself.  Which, in my opinion, is most of where the principles you mentioned come from:  guilt, expectations, and motherhood.  I think I've thought almost everything you yourself thought today.  I can say though, that this past year or so I have felt a huge sense of accomplishment in raising my children.  I still have feelings of, "Oh, shoot, I didn't teach them that, did I?" when they do something I don't approve of (or don't do what I expected, etc), but I don't feel the hugely, overpowering amount of guilt that I once used struggle with.  Guilt is something I think most women/mothers (men?) deal with.  But, again, all I can say is those two books MUST be read by every woman/mother.  Then we can discuss this further.  :-)

In more direct answer to the questions you asked: :-)

Either way, whether I feel good about the day or not is often dependent on that mental checklist.  This is the life of every mother! 

To tell you the truth, I couldn't think of one example where expectation didn't play into happiness (This is another point where I did want feedback. Can you think of an example where this isn't the case?).   I still think love is an expectation as well, whether a child has felt it or not, I think it's a basic human need/expectation.  ??? My happiness is usually based on my expectations of myself.  And when I'm not happy with my children it's really a reflection on my lack of training them to do what I expected them to do in the first place.  Does that make sense?  (spouses are different! )  ???

What do you all think? How do you balance necessary guilt (necessary for change and betterment) and unnecessary guilt that holds you back? How do you manage to eat the carrot stick and not the chocolate truffle? And how do base your self-worth on your knowledge of yourself as a child of God rather than your sense of accomplishment? How do you keep yourself from going crazy with your children when there's no feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day and exercising when the thought makes you cringe? (Exercising and parenting have a lot in common.) And where does that leave my mental checklist and my expectations for a tidy house?  In answer to all of these:  Read Notwithstanding My Weakness!  :-)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thoughts while vacuuming.....

Today I was thinking about self-control, self-worth, happiness, sense of accomplishment, and instant gratification, all while vacuuming. This was after a day with a complete lack of self-control, of which my children bore the brunt of. Plus, it was on my mind after Andrea's awesome lesson in Relief Society (I went to her ward last week for Harriet's baby blessing) from Elder Scott's talk on Faith and Character. And yes Andrea, I did go home and read it again. Here it is for anyone interested. So here's my thoughts for what it's worth--I actually wanted some feed back on what you all thought. But I'm going to try to make this short as I still have cookies to go make.

On Sunday, a lady in Andrea's ward made a comment pointing out that in the scripture

Ether 12:27

27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

the word weakness is singular, and really that that weakness is the natural man. Like in this scripture.

Mosiah 3:19

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

I'm not going to go into discussing whether that's true or not at this point--I'm just going to make that assumption. So what's the natural man then? I think it's lack of self control. (Reading Elder Scott's talk will really help you follow my logic here.) Sorry, I'm not going to explain my logic entirely--I'm just going to make that assumption again. But here's a brief example of my thinking--what's the opposite of the natural man....Christ, right? And Christ was perfect, right? Well, he had to have complete and utter self-control to be perfect. He's actually a perfect example of self-control. Perfect self-control in resisting sin, perfect discipline in helping others and doing what Heavenly Father wanted rather than the easier route of doing something self-gratifying, like lazing around on a couch and eating chocolate bon-bons. Why? Love, right?

Anyway, that really wasn't my point...okay, I don't have a point to this at all, but moving on anyway. My thoughts today were more about this--I've been unhappy all day. Why? Well, I didn't get hardly anything done I wanted to. And then I was thinking about that, and the days I'm most happy are the days I am able complete the things I wanted to complete. Sometimes this mental list is enormously long and impossible, and sometimes all I want to accomplish is a simple thing and fun, like going a hike with my family. Either way, whether I feel good about the day or not is often dependent on that mental checklist. (This IS one point I wanted your thoughts on, is that how any of you are, and do you think that's right--morally, ethically, religiously or whatever?) Further, I once read a study on the happiest people (I believe it was some Scandinavian country who ranked the highest of happiest) and the research showed that the biggest factor to people happiness is their expectations. This backs up my feelings entirely. I expected to be able to clean up the breakfast dishes and wash off the table before noon and this didn't happen till 4:30 PM and so I wasn't very happy, etc. To tell you the truth, I couldn't think of one example where expectation didn't play into happiness (This is another point where I did want feedback. Can you think of an example where this isn't the case?). This also follows along with the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance and self-concept

(The psychologists who paved the way for this concept were Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Rogers had the idea that everyone is seeking out a positive self-concept. He said that everyone is trying to get from their real self to their ideal self, and the closer someone is to that ideal self the happier that person will be. Rogers also said that one factor in whether or not someone will be happy is the amount of unconditioned positive regard someone gets, or UPR. An example of UPR would possibly be a parent or guardian of a child taking care of them no matter what.[14]))
So clinically speaking, is that why God's love for us as his children so important?--because we need that UPR? And I guess I just answered my own question about happiness and expectation--happiness can be influenced by unconditional love, which is unrelated to expectation. Well, usually, a child does expect love from his parent, but only if he's received that before.

Also, I decided I really like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with my mental checklist--I was actually thinking about this because of wanting to go back to college and all the projects I have--I think I really like doing something well, and being able to (mentally, at least) say, "Oh, look what I accomplished! Yeah me!" But is that a form of self-gratification? I mean that in the context of my day of whining, messy children who don't obey, don't listen, and where I spend twenty minutes doing something like cleaning up the breakfast dishes only to spend another thirty minutes cleaning up the mess the kids made while cleaned up the breakfast dishes, or on the other hand, another sixty minutes if I try to make my children clean up said mess. So, what I'm trying to say, is that with parenting there is no sense of accomplishment. I may do my kids hair and dress them cute and take them and people say, "Oh what cute kids!" But that only lasts till my kids pull out their hair, start kicking and screaming and whining, and then people say (to themselves usually), "What an awful mother!" That was a superficial example, but even with more profound principles, I think my point still applies, because parenting is never FINISHED. (What do you all think?) So, I think it's obviously wrong to base my happiness on my sense of accomplishment, plus that's so short-lived an insubstantial.

On the opposite side of things, what makes me really sad and depressed and angry? Simple. When I (and others) don't live up to my expectations--which always is a result of lack of self-control (I was mostly thinking in context of myself, not others). And then I feel GUILTY. Okay, true confession here--my family goes to family therapy every week because of my daughter's adoption and the issues that raises in our family. And one big issue I have is guilt. So guilt is generally considered something negative and necessary to move past (like in the repentance process--a certain amount is necessary but then you're supposed to forgive yourself and move on.) Here's a tidbit from wikipedia on guilt:

Guilt is founded on our empathy system and mirror neurons. When we see another carrying out an action, we carry out the action ourselves in neuronal activity, though not in overt action. The neurons that mirror others are called mirror neurons. When we see another person suffering, we can feel their suffering as if it is our own. This constitutes our powerful system of empathy, which leads to our thinking that we should do something to relieve the suffering of others. If we cannot help another, or fail in our efforts, we experience feelings of guilt. From the perspective of group selection, groups that are made up of a high percent of co-operators outdo groups with a low percent of co-operators in between-group competition. People who are more prone to high levels of empathy-based guilt may be likely to suffer from anxiety and depression; however, they are also more likely to cooperate and behave altruistically. This suggests that guilt-proneness may not always be beneficial at the level of the individual, or within-group competition, but highly beneficial in between-group competition.[citation needed]T

To sum up,

Ummm....never mind the sum up. What do you all think? How do you balance necessary guilt (necessary for change and betterment) and unnecessary guilt that holds you back? How do you manage to eat the carrot stick and not the chocolate truffle? And how do base your self-worth on your knowledge of yourself as a child of God rather than your sense of accomplishment? How do you keep yourself from going crazy with your children when there's no feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day and exercising when the thought makes you cringe? (Exercising and parenting have a lot in common.) And where does that leave my mental checklist and my expectations for a tidy house? I'm not sure any of this made sense, I was just ruminating while vacuuming.