Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homeschooling: Do I Have To?

After reading my dear friend Frankie's post's on history and books, I knew I needed to help her toot her own horn (since she rarely, if ever, does it herself:) I started homeschooling my dear children (only four back then) in 2003 and Frankie was my lifeline! I was terrified of what would become of my sweet children. Would they be social misfits? Would they be able to have basic skills to survive in life? Better yet, would they be able to succeed wildly? Well, I was doubtful when I entered the homeschooling waters, but my sweet friend provided the calming influence I so needed. I am eternally grateful to have been blessed with such a friend...someone who is a sister to me.

I have had many of the same experiences, but with a twist. I loved history! It was my favorite subject in school and still is my favorite thing to read and learn about. (My grades were not a reflection of my passion- they were definitely not straight A's). I have taken my love of history and turned it into a school philosophy that works great for us.

A mutual friend of ours taught a class years ago titled, "History Really is Everything". It gave me such inspiration and I decided that could really be true. So, as Frankie described, we enjoy The Story of the World books and activities; as well as the accompanying literature. I also like to go a little further. We like to see who our ancestors are from that area of the world, or that period in history. It was interesting to learn about our ancestor who lived during the time of Henry VIII and imagine what his life must have been life in England. We even went on google earth and looked for the town where he was from. We also like The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy; we have a corresponding literacy bee and test one another in our cultural literacy of the given time period or area of the world we are studying. It is very fun and there is no pressure; all of the kids enjoy it. Music and art can also be explored...we are just delving more into this area. Mathematics, philosophy, astronomy and language are also fun tangents to explore.

We are also learning to appreciate the Genevieve Foster books. We find they are a terrific companion to The Story of the World series. We have tried timeline's, but they do not seem to work well for our family. Maybe they would for yours...they are worth a try.

I agree with Frankie's book recommendation. Our family has a library of over 2,000 books and most of them were acquired from our local thrift store. The library is also a great option; they often have book sales which beat the thrift store hands down. is a great option as well. We have more than one copy of some titles because they have become such classics it has been necessary to replace them or read them together. Books are a treasure! If you cannot purchase even used books now, as I have been unable to do at some points in our homeschooling life, the internet can be a great resource. Google books has a great repository of out of print, public domain books; many of which are classics you will want for your library. There are also other sites you can search for which feature books which are in the public domain and therefore, free of copyright. We found a very quaint science text called The Story of Science which approaches science from a story perspective; it is outdated, but enjoyable, and the truths are still...well, true.

I believe that the most important books in a family's library are their histories. Not the world's history, but your family's history. The link my children have to their world through the ancestors who lived in it before them, is an immeasurable asset in their lives. You don't need any money to assemble those; just a little time and imagination. One great story about grandma or grandpa can be worth far more than the noblest moldy monarch in the child's mind and heart.

Now, instead of asking the Lord, "Homeschooling? Do I have to?", I ask him, "Homeschooling? Why doesn't everyone?"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Valiant and Virtuous

Tonight I had the opportunity to present at a fireside with a good friend. It was an amazing experience. The title of our fireside was Valiant and Virtuous: Reclaiming Your Role in the Kingdom of the Lord. We spent an hour and a half with the greatest group of young people discussing who they really are and what is really important in their lives. The amazing thing was...they actually know it. They actually know who they are and why they are here. Not only do they know it, they live like they know it.

Most of the kids were home schoolers from our local commonwealth school. I was so excited to see how awake and aware these kids are. If I had known, at their age, even a small portion of what these fabulous young people know, what a difference it would have made!

I am so grateful for the freedom I have to home school my children. As difficult as it can sometimes be, it is more than worth it when you see their eyes light up with the understanding of who they are in God's kingdom. Amazing!! Even my own sons were making comments that brought tears to my eyes. I live with them and I was still amazed at their understanding of the truth of who they are.

This may be just a shameless "mom tirade", but it is still the truth. Home schooling has changed our lives in profound ways and I am eternally grateful for it! I know Frankie agrees with me and ,for me, that is enough:)

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I have been delving into a new blog that Frankie led me to, Latter Day Homeschooling. It is fabulous. It is a treasure trove of tried and tested methods of homeschooling, parenting and living. No matter your style or preference, this site has something for you. You will find inspiration, laughter, tears and wonderful new insights into yourself and your children. So, take a minute and check it'll be glad you did.

The Power of Influence

What do you get when you combine love, power, shared vision and a family of nine? Well, as my 15 yr old son and I drove home from his new job, that was the topic of discussion. His question comes in response to a shift in our parenting paradigm. We have been adding to our knowledge by learning from our friend Nicholeen Peck, the author of Parenting: A House United and a blog called We are having a tremendous amount of positive change in our family as we each make a choice to remain calm in our interactions. It is hard at times not to go back to the default, but it is worth the effort.

What was my son's major concern? That now, I seem to have this weird ability to cause him to want to do what I ask him to do. WOW! So, he asks, is this some kind of positive, loving manipulation? (He knows what he's talking about. I have really given him a few courses in Mom's Manipulation 101, complete with the "Don't make me come down there" syllabus.) OK, after I laughed silently to myself, I asked him if there was any other word he could think of to describe that type of relationship. He thought for a minute and then gave me that stare, which means, could you just tell me what word you are thinking of? Before I could tell him, he jokingly said, well whatever it is, I have to warn all of my friends before their moms start having this weird, positive power over them. I couldn't help it, I laughed...actually I giggled. And then I realized the word to describe positive, loving, calm parental power is influence.

I shared my realization with my son and he had his own light bulb moment. Eyes wide he replied- Oh, I see. Influence. Then he hit me with his own realization. He said, We should call it Influensa because it's going to spread like a disease, but a positive one. I couldn't hold the giggles in and we had a nice laugh together.

But, in all seriousness. I know that my son is right. If, as parents, we can learn to remain calm and express love to our children even in the midst of frustration and family life, we will have accomplished something miraculous. We will teach our children how to be the master of their own emotions and decisions. We will help them choose to act wisely, even in the face of confusion and chaos.

That sounds like a tall order, but I have seen the incredible impact it can have on a family and a community. I, for one, know it is worth the effort. For one day, just give it a try. Choose calm, even if storms are raging. If you feel the desire to see a miracle in action...try it. If enough of us do it, maybe we can cause a worldwide pandemic of calm...what would that be like? What if, as parents, we did as a great man I read about once said, teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves? Or what if we went a step further, and lived correct principles and showed them how to govern themselves?'s worth thinking about.

For further information, I highly recommend The Power of Calmness by William George Jordan and the above referenced book and blog by Nicholeen Peck.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

OK. Frankie and I were pretty sure we would never want to discuss politics on our blog. Too messy. Well, Frankie, I must beg your pardon and warn all who read this, it may get a little messy.

Tomorrow is my sweet daughters birthday. And in Utah, caucus meetings will be occurring throughout the state. My husband and I will be attending ours at the local high school, after our little girls birthday party has ended and the friends have gone home.

As I have studied the candidates for my particular party, I was simply overcome with gratitude for the freedom I have to choose for myself who I will vote for. I am blessed to live in this land of liberty with the God given right to choose for myself. I am excited to be a small part of the process, no matter how broken some parts of our complex system may be. I revere the names of the many men and women who sacrificed so much to found this nation. The colors of our flag run so much deeper than fabric and dyes.

This picture was taken by my 15 year old son and his friend on the mountain above our home. It is a breathtaking reminder of why we should all remember the sacrifices of those who came before us. This beautiful land was won through much blood, sweat, sacrifice and tears.

So, tomorrow as I hang crepe paper for my daughters 5th birthday, I will be thanking the Lord for my family, for the privilege of being a mother...and for the gift of liberty...and the men and women who purchased it for you and I at so a high price.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Finding Out Who I Am

Since we started this blog, NBC and released a new show called "Who Do You Think You Are?". I have watched it these past two weeks and it is a delightful show. Very surprising on prime time network television.

I love family history and have always enjoyed spending time learning about where I come from. But, as anyone who has ever done it will tell you, when the ancestry bug bites you, it is hard to put it down. It can become addictive...but, that just doesn't seem like the right word. Searching out your kindred dead seems like the epitome of what life here is all about. Can something as wonderful as ancestral research be labeled addictive? Yes, it can. But, it can be tempered, as it must when you are not a professional genealogist with hours to spend.

So, last night, I finally followed through on a desire I have had for several years. I drove ten miles to my grandparents home, armed with my laptop with webcam and microphone, and an excitement to know more about them. My grandmother is the one I had intended to interview last night. I hoped to come back in a week or two and talk to my grandfather. But, when grandma and I began talking, suddenly grandpa appeared in his rocking chair across the room. After a while, he began to offer anecdotes of his own. I began turning the laptop back and forth so I could get them both on camera while they were talking.

In all, I recorded two hours of interview. I left, armed with stories from both of them and a new appreciation for the family that I call mine. I am so grateful for the wonderful, imperfect people who are my people. Our stories traveled from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Wales to Dickson, Tennessee and Grampian, Pennsylvania to Germany, Africa and Vietnam. I am so excited to begin making this information available for my family; my children, siblings, parents, cousins, etc.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Culinary Double Header

I really don't like to cook. I love to eat good food...sometimes, it's good for me, sometimes not. Today, I not only cooked, I baked! My sweet daughters birthday required some sort of sugary confection. Cupcakes were her choice.
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Somehow, no matter now hard I try, the presence of children and food coloring in the same setting causes my nerves to go haywire. Am I the only one who has had those days? When you have tried, unsuccessfully, to clean red food coloring off of hands, clothes, towels and floors simultaneously? (I can hear my dear Frankie now, reminding me that if I stopped using food coloring, with it's nasty petroleum base, I wouldn't have this problem. Yes. You would be right Frankie dear. One day, I will take the plunge...but not this day. You are a braver woman than I.)

Thankfully, today was not one of those days!! The cupcake bonanza was a hit. Even the dog thought so, which is another subject for another day. We piled them high and deep and admired their white, pink and green frosting flourishes. We carried the shining silver platter through the living room for all to admire (read: Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle and our super seven kiddos).

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I decided to capitalize on my baking success and take a crack at cooking spaghetti and meatballs for dinner- also my 3 year old daughters choice. Believe it or not, I pulled it off. And the kitchen is no worse for the war. Or wear. Don't know which I would say at this point....

Who Do I Think I Am?

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I am a daughter of God, wife to a warrior poet, mother to four incredible sons and three delightful daughters. I am a woman who loves... The Lord. My ancestors, especially the colorful ones, they remind me to hope and never give up. To snuggle. To dance. To write. To read. To laugh. To eat. To sing (off key). To play in the dirt with seeds and flowers. To watch my chickens. To hike. To run. Bluegrass music. My grandma's southern accent and her southern cooking. My babies, all seven of them. My husband. To curl up with a Greek lexicon on a rainy day. A great movie. Chocolate. The mountains. A great smile. The smell of rain. Animals.

I am a woman who tries to remember to greet every day with a prayer in her heart and great, comfortable shoes on her feet. I am a woman who doesn't smile enough; my children are helping me learn.

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I am a woman who fears. I am a woman who hopes. I am a woman who loves to talk and I also love to listen. I am a woman who is broad; in foot, in hip, in mind and in imagination. I am a woman who loves to eat, but not to cook.

I am a sister, who was raised as an only child. I am a daughter, who still longs to be mothered. I am a friend, who feels lonely sometimes. I appreciate a beautiful quilt...I've even made a few. I love playing dress up...when I made princess capes, I made one for myself!

I have many flaws, but I am learning to be gentle with myself. I am a woman who strives to follow rebellious streak gets a mite smaller every day...well, most days :) I am a woman like most...I have beauty, talent, vision and potential that can rock the long as I remember who I am.

So, who do you think you are?