Category Archives: Favorite things

Here’s what we’ve been growing–

 

Fairy Gardens:

Snowdrops (which we had no idea existed on our property until they burst forth with all the vigor of an invading army this spring):

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Gladiolas, Dahlias, and two kinds of sprouting mystery bulbs, which we uprooted, broke up, and replanted with hope and prayers and optimism:

Sourdough English muffins, and ensuing delicious lunches:

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Decomposing organisms, hopefully mostly in our (outdoor) compost heap. I haven’t got a picture of that, so here’s one more thing we’ve unearthed that delights us:

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Did we do some lanscaping and edging with 103 year old bricks buried in the yard? Yes.

Did we discuss the onset of World War I while doing so? Oh yes.

Literally stumbling across American antiquity all the time is among the best things about living in the wilds of urban Connecticut.

The End.

 

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General Conference Eve in Seven Steps

The most exciting thing about today is that tomorrow is April first, the first (full*) day of the Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

General Conference is Christmas, Easter, and the Superbowl at our house. It’s a glorious time when sitting in front of a screen for 8-10 hours in a weekend is not only justifiable, but hands down the best way we could be using our time.

The refreshment and renewal we get in this weekend is unmatched by any vacation, any inspirational or motivational retreat you could throw at us.

Since lists are all the rage, here is my list of ways to get the most out of conference:

  1. Pray for the speakers to say what they need to say.
  2. Pray that I’ll hear what I need to hear (because 1)teaching and learning are interdependent processes, and 2)being interrupted and distracted by child needs is an inevitable part of our participation in conference)
  3. Take stock of questions I have, areas of my own character that need to improve, people I want to help but don’t know how, current concerns in child rearing that don’t have obvious solutions. Write them all down to keep in mind during conference.
  4. Ask for my heart to be prepared to understand what it needs to.
  5. Remind the kids that conference is coming, review steps 1-4 with them, and gear up the enthusiasm! (our kids are always excited for conference. It may be the outpouring of spiritual gifts and learning, or it may be all the treats they get to eat conference weekend. One way or the other, we all like conference.)
  6. Print off Conference Packets and activities for the children. It’s possible that toilet paper prophets are blasphemous, but by golly, they keep the littler people occupied so we can learn from prophets how to be better people, and therefore better parents.
  7. Draw up menu and grocery list for the tailgate conference party of the year! At least the first half of the year…I’m so glad we get to do this twice annually

 

*It started earlier, with the Women’s Session of Conference. Which is the best women’s conference in the world. And totally free.

Portrait of our Morning

Taken at approximately 9:25 am:

Jane the Austen:

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She practice for 30-45 minutes each morning, often in her bathrobe because it’s cold in the wilds of Connecticut.

Clive the Staples:

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While J the A practices violin, Clive the Staples and Mr. the Rogers cuddle me on the couch. We alternate who is getting in their reading with me, and who is practicing math and writing. At the moment, it’s Clive the Staple’s turn to read. He’s a major fan of Frog and Toad. Note Lucy the Maude’s hair in the corner.

Mr. the Rogers:

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Mr. the Rogers found new passion for writing today, due to the content.

Katherine the Great:

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K the G sleeps in. Being a toddler, we let her. So on this morning, as on many mornings besides, she breakfasts while the rest of the children are already at their lessons.

Lucy the Maude:

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L the M spends her mornings on my lap. But I didn’t photograph her this morning, so here we are on the Fancypants University Shuttle, doing what we always do: imitating kangaroo and joey.

In conclusion:

I love my children.  9:25 am is usually our most glorious time of day.

A Few of My Favorite Things:Family Home Evening Chart

On Sunday afternoons, I try to sit down with each of my children for at least 30 minutes each, doing something with only that one child, hopefully inducing meaningful conversation.

Because, you know, relationships and whatnot.

The child gets to pick the activity.

Jane the Austen likes to write or read, discuss her favorite books, and geek out over musicals and 19th century history together.

Clive the Staples likes back rubs and feet rubs, cuddles, and drawing.

Mister the Rogers likes to make treats with me, particularly cookies or caramels.

Katherine the Great likes dramatic nonsensical conversations, singing, and dancing.

Lucy the Maude generally likes to nurse, and doesn’t really get formal one on one time. She gets her loving in by default. Thank the stars for breastfeeding, snuggles, and infantile unwavering delightful sociability.

 

One Sunday afternoon, Clive the Staples decided we needed to make a family home evening chart together. So we toddled on down to the basement, found an old 2X4, and set to work with a skilsaw, sander, woodburning pen, and drill.

And my oh my, did we ever make a family home evening chart!

Towards the end, Husband the Man busted out the router, because he’s the only one who really knows how to work that baby, and gave it a fancy beveled edge.

The tags are flipped backwards, because, you know, privacy, but you get the idea.

Now, every week as we rotate everyone’s tag to a new job, I am reminded of my sweet secondborn, and how terribly fast he’s growing up.

 

The End.

Why I Don’t Care if My Children Go to College

I grew up in a generation that was told college was the answer. College was the key to personal and financial success.

It was even used by my high school teachers as a carrot and stick:

Take this class so you can get into college!

If you don’t learn to do this, you’ll never get into college!

So I took the right classes. I passed the AP tests. I went to college. It was great. I have no regrets.

HOWEVER.

When I really think about what success actually means, and what I want most for my children, college doesn’t make the list.

Here’s what I want for the progeny:

  1. Strong personal integrity
  2. An ability to repent and change when necessary*
  3. An ability to forgive and heal when necessary*
  4. A happy family and home life
  5. Employment that enables them to provide for self and family, keeps them perpetually learning and growing, and affords them freedom to maintain integrity to what they believe is right.
  6. A desire and ability to be constantly learning and growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.

That’s pretty much it. And all of that is just as attainable for an electrician or plumber as it is for a physicist or biochemist. In fact, I would submit that these goals are more tenable in technical vocations than they are in certain advanced fields of study-where “being intelligent” is often equated with having the *correct* opinion. Academic consensus does not always equal objective truth, and when one’s life is steeped in academia, this can be a slippery concept to hold on to.

But I digress.

The goals of homeschooling are the above mentioned goals with one more:

Prepare the children academically so that they are capable of rising to the challenge of whatever they wish to do.

If they become physicists or doctors or firefighters or stay at home parents, I will be equally pleased.

My only goal is to hand them the tools and habits necessary to build whatever they want. And if that whatever includes no formal schooling beyond a technical certificate, that’s fine with me.

True achievement has very little to do with degrees, and everything to do with what we build personally.

I would sooner see my sons become uncelebrated blue collar worker- faithful husbands with happy marriages than Stephen Hawkings with broken ones.

I would sooner see my daughters be barefoot, stay at home mothers with their daughters trusting them than Alice Walkers with estranged and abandoned progeny.

And if my children become great, both in the eyes of the world, and in the arms of their families, wonderful. If they are only great by the work they do in their families, equally wonderful.

There is one real goal here.

There you have it. There are those who think that my hopes for the progeny set the bar too low, but they are mistaken.

These hopes sit on top of the highest bar there is.

 

*Quite Possibly the Most Important Thing Ever.

A Few of My Favorite Things: Temple Quilt

Shortly after Husband and I got engaged, Mother in Law called me up to ask what color I wanted our temple quilt to be.

“What’s a temple quilt?” I so eloquently replied.

Come to find out, a temple quilt is an incredibly gorgeous, thick quilt featuring the Portland temple, where we were married, surrounded by flowers, our names, and anniversary.

A temple quilt hand quilted by family and friends.

My mother was awed when she saw it, and proudly told me she got to work on the temple in the middle. Sometimes I look at the temple in the middle and imagine her hands embroidering it.

At one point, I sat on the floor of my future in-law’s house and learned to bind the edges of the quilt while watching Teahouse of the August Moon with my beloved future sister-in-law.

Our temple quilt covers our bed and every morning, as we spread it out, it reminds me of one of the best decisions I ever made.

To the remarkable hands that made it, most especially our beloved mothers’, thank you.

Happy Sabbath

A few Sabbaths back*, Jane the Austen and Mr. the Rogers were sick, so I stayed home from Church with them and Lucy the Maude. Husband the Man took  Clive the Staples and Katherine the Great to Church, where they were (reportedly, miraculously) well behaved in the pew while he gave a talk.

Lucy the Maude, the invalids, and I curled up on my bed and watched Sound of Music, whilst I had a theological texting conversation with a friend. Because Sunday!

Later, Mr. the Rogers wanted to build an elevated block city with me while Jane the Austen took an epsom salt bath. Lucy the Maude and I joined him on the floor for urban development (a city for dinosaurs and the occasional horse) and Jane the Austen eventually also joined us, snuggled in a blanket,. Pajamas, and bathrobe, reading Harry Potter.

When the three churchgoers got home, I left to go visiting teaching. I should know better than to leave husband alone with the kitchen, because when I came back, I found he’d been playing with the food (and the children):

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Reason 443 of Why I am Married to Husband the Man

He took the adorable deviled eggs home teaching to feed those he serves.

Ladies and gentlemen, home teaching is hot.

So is husband the man.

I love the sabbath.

Happy, happy sabbath.

 

* I binge write this blog on weekends, so you never actually get our family’s adventures in real time.