Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The King James version of Deuteronomy 14:2 says, "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth."

I've heard this many times at church in talks and during lessons.  This verse is often discussed along with a definition of peculiar that means different.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we tend to wear this title happily.  We like to be called peculiar if it means that we are the sort of different that God wants us to be. 

I recently read something that I found very interesting.  Something I hadn't thought about before.  The King James Bible was translated in the 17th century, a.k.a. a LONG time ago.  And yes, I did already know that, but I hadn't connected it with how time affects our language.  How the meaning of words shifts over time.  Did you know that the 17th century definition of peculiar was actually closer to "owned by?" 

The New International Version of the same verse reads, "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession."  I like it.  We are His, chosen by the Lord.

I also like both definitions together.  I like that we (everyone) are His.  Choosing to follow His will (whatever your religion) can make you different than those around you.  Being peculiar (17th century: His) can make you peculiar (modern day: odd or different).  Pretty cool, huh? 

Monday, October 29, 2012


This week I have lots going on, so I thought I'd make a list.  I like lists, they are my friends.

1. Take M to the eye doctor.  Her eyes have gotten worse.  I'm pretty sure this will be an annual thing, but I can always hope that they've gotten as bad as they're going to get...right?  Right.  Bonus, she'll get to pick out some cute new specs.  If only my kids would always pick the ones I think are cutest, oh well.

2. Clean my house.  I always try and keep thing picked up, but I'm not a great cleaner.  My parents are coming into town and once, when my mom was here I mentioned that I really didn't like to dust and she said, "Yeah, I could tell."  Shoot.  So, now I clean my house before they come.

3. Finish a weeks worth of school in 3 days...darn, 2 1/2 days because we're knocking off early on Wednesday for a multitude of Halloween activities.

4. Figure out what Halloween activities we're going to do on Wednesday and make sure I have everything I need.

5.  Finish planning B's baptism (the reason for my parents visit) that's happening this Saturday.  The baptism itself is planned, I just need to figure out what - if anything - we're doing afterwards.

6. Decide what to cook while everyone is in town and what activities to do to keep my parents entertained while they're here.  Well, mostly my dad.  He has trouble sitting still (not something he passed on to me) but he does love playing with his grand, maybe I'll send them all outside and mom and I can relax!  Or, more likely, go grocery shopping once I figure out what we're eating. 

7. Find my brain and convince it to stick around a little more consistently.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Primary Theme 2013

At church (I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) I'm currently serving in the primary, which is for children ages 18 months through 11 years old.  Each year we are given a theme by the general leadership in Salt Lake City, Utah to teach to the kids.  Each yearly theme is supplemented with monthly themes and scriptures.  This year our theme is "I Am a Child of God" and I'm really excited about it. 

We're going to use the armor of God analogy found in Ephesians to teach our monthly themes.  Partly because I LOVE the analogy and partly because it's a good way to get the kids (even the little ones) involved and hopefully understanding a little more.

This is the outline I made.  I used one I found on and just adjusted it to better fit this year.  Tara did an amazing job with the same annual theme a few years ago, I've loved it from the first time I came across it and now I finally get to use it! 

In January we'll talk about our missions here on earth and how we need to be outfitted to better complete them.  Then we'll get out our picture/drawing of primary kid(s) (one of two I haven't decided yet) in large paper doll form.  I was thinking I'd use one of those large tri-fold displays and keep it in the front of our primary room each Sunday.

As we introduce each monthly theme from then on, we'll add an article of clothing (or armor) to our primary kid(s) to help cement the ideas in the kids heads.  I also really want to talk about how important it is that they each pray about what they're learning so they gain strong testimonies of their own.  I'm excited and can hardly wait to get started!!

If you'd like a copy, send me an email (right hand side, near the top)!

* 12/18/2012 Update: I posted different ideas on how to go about making your dress up Armor of God boy or girl here.  Good luck!!

* Update 12/27/2012: I finally chose my Armor of God Guy and added my own pieces, you can read about it here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Homeschool Checklists

My very favorite thing we use during school is our schedules.  I first made one last year with B.  It was my very first year homeschooling and I have to admit, it was a pretty big adjustment for both B and me. 

B was in 1st grade last year and while we were both excited to be spending more time together, we struggled a little bit with our schedule.  Well, B struggled a little bit more than me.  After a few weeks I decided it was due to him not having any control over his day.  He didn't know what was next or when we would be done.

My solution was a daily checklist that we printed out once a week.  On it was every tiny little thing we needed to get done EVERYDAY.  Not just the subject, but each little piece of each subject.  It ended up helping me out a lot too.  I would sometimes forget a little piece or part of a subject I had wanted to cover until after we'd finished school (and sometimes not until the next day) and this way, I had the reminder I needed.

The checklist worked so great last year, I made them this year too and now M, B, and J each have their own.  Just for fun, I thought I'd share them with you over the next few weeks. 

J is our Kindergartner.  He has the lightest schedule (a fact M complains about at least weekly) and most consistently LOVES everything about school.  In fact, we just got a handwriting workbook for him and he's so excited to have something new to do, he runs down to do handwriting first every morning. 

I've read about other families that have schedules associated with a certain time, but that doesn't work well for us.  We normally do the same things around the same time each day, but it's never exact and it makes me feel like I'm a little more flexible than I really am when I leave the exact time open (insert wry smile here). 

James day normally looks something like this:  He starts with math and then begins to work through reading.  Somewhere in the middle of reading, we pause to do opening with the the older kids (their favorite part is the song, we've been learning a new color song every week and we added a continent/ocean song a couple weeks ago).  After opening, we do all the rest of our together subjects: science, history, music, and/or art.  Then M goes off to do her own thing while J and B stick together long enough to do religion, required reading (library books to go along with our history and science curriculum) and memory work.  Last J and I will finish his reading and he's done! 

Including breaks, J's day ends anywhere from 12:30 to 1:30 depending on the day and how cooperative everyone is. 

My favorite part of teaching him this year has been getting to watch him learn to read.  He's learning so quickly and he's so patient (more than me most days).  J has an infectious smile and is almost always in a good mood.  I love getting to spend so much time with him!

(This is from a camp out he went on with his dad, uncle and grandpa last summer.  It makes me laugh every time I look at it.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Last year, around this time, it was beautiful.  Gorgeous fall perfection.  Not this year.  At least, not today.  Today, the weather is trying to pretend it's winter. 

I find myself wondering, does fall have confidence issues?  Maybe it has a hard time being itself and tries to be like another season, hoping it'll blend in.  I sort of want to shake fall and tell it that everyone LOVES fall!  We wish we could have more of it.  Not too hot, not too cold, breezy, sweater wearing bliss. 

Come back fall (this early winter thing is a little too hard on the trees)!!  We love you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Daring Greatly

A while ago I came across a quote by President Theodore Roosevelt that instantly resonated with me.  It's from a speech he gave in 1910 and I found it on Brene Brown's website while reading about her new book (which I haven't read yet, but probably will when it comes to my local library) called Daring Greatly

I loved the quote so much, I decided my kids should memorize it.  As part of school they are always memorizing quotes and facts from history, science and different readings we do, and I threw this one into their rotation.  It teaches that it is the ability to work, I take that back.  We do not have an ability to work hard (it's not something we're born with or not), we have a choice.  This quote very strongly shows that choosing to work hard IS hard.  But it is worth it (even when things don't turn out how we want)! 

President Roosevelt said,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

Every time I read it I want to jump out of my chair while pumping my arm in the air and yell, "Yes!"  It's so inspiring.  And it only gets better when my cutie 5 year old is standing there reciting it for me.  Now that they all know it pretty well, we're going to have a lesson about what it means. 

Man, I love teaching my kids.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review

I finished an amazing book yesterday.  I don't usually like books that make me sad and the only thing that rescued this one for me was that it didn't stay sad forever.  It's a book about hope and finding your way through amazing hardship.

Don't get me wrong, the whole beginning is strange and hard in an almost uncomfortable way, but that's life.  No, this book is not real (at least not in a biography sort of way), but it is realistic fiction.

I just started laughing because as I'm typing that it's realistic fiction, I remember describing Sarah's symptoms (the main character) to my husband and watching the expression on his face turn to something along the lines of, "Seriously?  This sounds about as real as those fantasy books you love."  But Sarah's condition is real.  Crazily and unbelievably real.

It was so good I read it in just more than a day.  I didn't want to put it down.  I HAD to know what was going to happen, how Sarah's life was going to turn out.  If you're looking for a good book, go pick up Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.  You'll finish it thankful for your life and ready to squeeze all the loved ones a little harder.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Busy Day

Today was slightly crazy running from basketball practices (just starting up), soccer games (last of the fall season), a baby shower and trying to get ready for B's birthday party. 

Before I go on, with a show of hands, how many of you think only a terrible parent would read a book off and on during a child's soccer game?  I'm going to pretend everyone agreed unanimously that I'm not, I mean it wouldn't, and keep going.

I was reading Brene Brown's book titled The Gifts of Imperfection and I came across my favorite part so far.  To be honest, I started out not liking the book.  Then I sort of liked it, but it also sort of made me uncomfortable (in a I think this might be talking about me and I'm pretty sure I wish it wasn't way) and now I just like it.  Plain old like. 

My favorite part, and one that I am going to do with my husband/family, is to figure out what makes us happy.  Sounds complicated, right?  It's not.  Now, following through consistently after you've figured it out might be a little harder (at least it's been for Brene's family), but it sure seems worth it.

Ask yourself a simple question.  What makes your family (or yourself) work?  Not big gigantic things, but little everyday things.  When you've had a good day/week, what are the things that you've been doing?  Brene's list included things like: working out, sleep, going to church, weekends away, time with family and time to just hang out.  Not long after making the list, Brene and her husband compared it to their list of personal goals and realized that all their goals boiled down to either making more money or spending more money.  Neither of which had any influence on their family list.  So they re-prioritized and made changes in their lives. 

A year or two ago I thought about making a family mission statement and reading about this has re-energized that desire.  Except now, I want to make it based off the things that are most important.  The little, everyday things that will lead to my family being happier today (not after we finally build that dream house we've been talking about for more than a decade).  I'm pretty excited about it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Adventure Town

I do not live in Adventure Town.  At least not usually.  Most of the time, we all reside much closer to Crazy Town.  And sometimes (don't tell) I'm pretty sure I'm smack dab in the middle.  Okay, you can tell, anyone who knows me already knows the truth anyway.

Even though my life is anything but adventurous, I am in the midst of a homeschooling adventure right now.  Homeschooling.  I often look back and am amazed, astounded really, at how I ended up here.  Homeschooling 3 of my 4 kids (my youngest is 3 and too young to be technically called home schooled). 

What I find even crazier (yes, there are crazier things than me), is that I LOVE it!!  A lot.  I am a natural stresser, gifted even.  I want everything to be perfect all the time.  I worry about doing the right thing and knowing where my life needs to be heading (one of the biggest reasons I wanted to overhaul the blog and start writing again), but when it comes to school, I feel peace.  Which is nuts, but in a fantastic way.

Okay, the point of my post today was supposed to be my favorite thing from school this week.  Yes, I got off topic.  Yes, I do that a lot.  Sorry.  I'm slightly tangential (and I make up words or change their meanings at random). 

My favorite thing is?  Video logs.  They are so darn funny.  My kids LOVE them.  They look forward to them all week.  On Friday, they each sit down and think about things they've learned, done and loved from the week. Then they record themselves talking and singing (and sometimes staring off into space) about it. 

I laugh and laugh and sometimes have to cover my eyes (extreme silliness that borders on embarrassing is hard for me to watch) and I think to myself..."I'm going to have some really great blackmail material someday."  Oh wait, I mean, "I'm going to have an amazing record of my kids growing up to look back on."  Huh, it can be both, can't it?

Yes, yes it can.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Conference Tree

I mentioned earlier how I was trying some new things with my kids (and with me) to help us know the prophets and apostles in our church better.  Here is one of those ways.  One I was and am SUPER excited about.

I found this idea on Pinterest (wahoo for Pinterest!) a few weeks before General Conference and instantly loved it.  The kids and I made a tree before conference and put it up on the wall.  Next we printed out leaves from the awesome blog where we found the idea for the kids to color and write on during conference for EACH of the apostles.  I had intended to do up some blank leaves for the rest of the speakers, but never got around to it and decided afterwards that smaller is better sometimes (partially because it made me feel better and partially because it really is true, promise). 

After each session of conference, we stuck some of our leaves on the tree and by the end, I think it turned out pretty great.

In the upcoming weeks we'll talk about the different talks and what the speakers have asked us to do.  After reviewing (on 3, 5, 8 and 11 year old levels) we'll set a goal to work on for the next week (or so).  Then we'll take the leaves from that speaker off the wall so the leaves will be falling as we are following our leaders!!!  I'm so excited to use this as a way to keep General Conference and the prophetic counsel we are blessed to be given in our minds more than just twice every year (conference is held every April and October). 

As excited as I am, I am also of the slightly pessimistic persuasion and know that even the best laid plans don't work exactly as intended.  So, I'll keep you posted on some of our goals and how it's really working for us.  Although, on a positive note, just making the tree and leaves has been pretty fun so far.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Looking Back

As I was working out this morning (gotta love Tony Horton), I glanced behind me and noticed M's picture.  My baby girl.  Only, this picture was taken years ago and she's not so little anymore. 

I have always loved this picture.  It reminds me how thoughtful she is.  How beautiful her eyes are.  How much she does not like to brush her hair (even today).  But most of all, it reminds me how perfect and amazing she is and what a gift it is to have her in my life. 

And how much I need to focus more on that in the little moments everyday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Yesterday I sat down multiple times on Zaner Bloser's website trying to decide which handwriting book to get for my boys.  I know, it's seems like it should be straightforward (and it probably is) but that doesn't change the fact that I had the hardest time deciding which book to order. 

Should J start with the Kindergarten book?  He is in Kindergarten after all, but he's way past practicing writing his letters.  Would the 1st grade book be too advanced?  It would mean I would have spend more time with him on it and that in itself might be a good thing.  But there are times when I just want to give him a book and have him take care of it himself. 

Should B do the level 2c book to start cursive?  It looks like it might be more his level from the sample pages, but it's also VERY similair to the book he's just finishing (2m), the only difference being it's introducing cursive writing (I know, some of you might think that cursive is pointless, I'm not one of those people).  Or should I move him up to the 3rd grade book?  He's in 2nd grade so does that mean it would be too advanced for him?  I'm all for pushing my kids, but not to the point where they buckle and run away screaming (melodramatic much?).

I went back and forth too many times.  Enough times that if I told my husband he would have either laughed at me or rolled his eyes (and probably both).  I even had samples for each book up on my computer screens at the same time so I could simultaneously scroll through them.  Which, in hindsight, didn't make much sense since they aren't the same books and the sample pages weren't even the same page numbers for each book.

Finally, I just made a choice.  Darn it.  I even clicked the complete order button and everything.  I ended up with the more advanced books for them both.  I figure if they are too advanced, I can stick them on the shelves and use them later.  You know, after I buy the books I decided not to buy yesterday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Multiple Personalities

The other day I came across a blog post that I completely identified with.  Except for the fact that I've never met the author, I'd have said she was writing about me.  So amazing and very funny.  She talks about how each day her children have a new and different teacher and how each teacher has their own unique personality.  She even mentions how staff meetings can be quite crazy.  The thing is, she homeschools and teaches her children, you know, herself.  Did I mention the post is SO GOOD?  You should check it out here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Happiness Project

I just finished a book titled The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  I liked it A LOT.  I think I liked it so much because the author reminded me of myself.  It's an easy, fun read with lots of little gems sprinkled throughout.  Here are a few of my favorites:

~ "Nothing is insurmountable if I do what I know ought to be done, little by little every day."  And relatedly, but worth repeating, "Do not underestimate how much can be done in only a few minutes every day."

~ "I can do anything I want, but I can't do everything I want."  Sorry, Sharilyn.

~ "On the whole, though I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet as I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been had I not attempted it." I now want to read Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.  I love his resolutions and find his attitude, even after failing in his original goals, inspirational.  I also (like Gretchen) want to make my own resolutions chart for myself and my family.

~ And lastly, "There are times in the lives of most of us when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over us unappreciated and unenjoyed."  I want to engrave this quote from William Edward Hartpole Lecky on my soul.  Does that sound cheesy?  Weird?  Well, it's still true.  I want to never forget (even though I know I will) or at least remember as often as possible to cherish and treasure the small moments every day because as Gretchen said many times in her book, the "days are long but the years are short." 

If you're looking for something to read, something fun that will make you think and be grateful, go pick it up.  Or be like me and check it out from your local library.  I have some serious love for my library.  Shoot, did that sound weird again?

Saturday, October 13, 2012


A long time ago I read a book by Dave Ramsey where he talked about money, and how if you do not tell it where to go, it just goes.  That is applicable to so much more in life than money.  Heck, it's applicable to LIFE!  I try very hard to tell my life where to go.  Or at least to be purposeful in it's general direction.  Even though I've found that my life will often (aka: all the time) take me on crazy paths that I had never even considered.  The amazing part is that those crazy paths actually get me to where I want to go even better than the ones I had planned on taking.  And I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't find the better routes if I wasn't already trying to purposefully move forward. 

For example, I recently read an article by Elder Neil L. Andersen, who is currently an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, titled, "Teaching Our Children to Love the Prophets."  The article is from a magazine published by the church called the Ensign.  I am in my second year homeschooling my kids (another unexpected path) and I'm always praying that I can teach them what they need to know.  I'm usually thinking about normal school type subjects and responsibility and how to turn them into the amazing adults that I KNOW are in there (somewhere).  Then, I found and read Elder Andersen's article and I instantly knew that this is something we need(ed). 

I was headed in one direction and found myself being pulled another and what do you know?  It's exactly where I REALLY wanted to be!  I came across the article just before General Conference and it was amazing to watch my kids (even the little ones) get excited when they saw the prophets and apostles they RECOGNIZED getting up to speak.  I am so thankful for the direction I get in my life and for the direction that my life is headed.  I am thankful for the plans that I get to make and even for the course corrections that consistently come my way.
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