Thursday, February 23, 2012

Homeschool Community

Sword of Freedom (American Civil War) class Awards Night

The last few months have been full of great reminders as to why I love my local homeschool community!

Mom Nights

In January, I attended two Mom's Night homeschool discussions that refreshed and inspired me. And I was able to help out a couple of moms with some words of reassurance, as well. I came away from both evenings feeling a new strength and determination to improve our homeschooling efforts, and also to seek more inspiration from the Holy Spirit and the scriptures in our family's education

Key things that stuck with me:
  • Pray EVERY morning for inspiration on what I need to teach my kids THAT DAY. (Thank you, Toni!)
  • Teach my children how to use the scriptures-- especially the Book of Mormon-- to find the inspiration they need for their studies EACH DAY
  • At the end of every day, I need to sit down and record all the things we did that day. If I do this, I will be able to better see what we've actually accomplished. (Like Fly Lady's "Ta-Da" list!)
  • The definition of success, according to the "Preach My Gospel" handbook is: "Teach with the Spirit, and Love Those You Serve." This was BIG for me. It keeps my perspective where it needs to be.
  • We need to help one another to know how to start clubs and smaller groups our kids need.
  • Our kids need to be connected, and in order for that to happen regularly is to keep the moms and dads connected with one another.
  • Homeschoolers in our area can help each other better by being more unified. Two mom nights a month was too much time away from my family-- can't we combine the two???

Homeschooling Teens' Classes

First Semester
In the Fall, our Lliam and Bonny joined with friends from our weekly classes last year (Remember the ones we held in our house every Thursday?) to take the next class in the LEMI series from their mentor last year, Susan J.. Our Brennan had already taken the course, but he was asked to be the assistant mentor. The next class is called "Sword of Freedom" and is an in-depth study of the American Civil War. They read books about the war, wrote papers about what they learned, wrote a big paper on their favorite Civil War Hero, memorized battles, scriptures, and the Gettysburg Address, and participated in a battle simulation out in the desert. 

At the end of the semester, if they had fulfilled every requirement, they earned a Civil War replica sword and kepi hat. The picture at the beginning of the post shows the kids with their swords. (Brennan earned his sword as a surprise from the mentor. Since he had earned a Confederate sword last year, sweet Susan got him a Union sword for his help this year. Wasn't that so kind?

Second Semester

In January, our kids joined back up with the existing commonwealth school group that has been offering classes for the last few years. (I used to teach Shakespeare with that group.) I also stepped in to mentor the drama class and direct their production for this year. Since the kids my older children used to hang out with have all scattered, it was a bit difficult for them at first. But  they have since made new friends and have grown to appreciate them.

The other day, a call went out among us to help one of the families in the group. They had received notice that they had to be out of their rental home within 24 hours, and they needed HELP. My two big boys, ages 16 and 15, were immediately ready to go. They spent the day doing all they could to get this dear family's belongings safely out of their home. At least 3 or four other homeschool families responded to the call, moms, dads, kids. (I would have gone if I wasn't dealing with my own issues.) It was wonderful to see how quickly and immediately our little homeschool group responded to help!

And then last Friday evening, we held a Parents' Night where the mentors and students presented each class's purpose and showed a bit of what they have been studying. It began with the little ones in the Joy School and Core groups, went through all the Love of Learning classes, and then each Scholar age class. The last presentation was our Fiddler on the Roof class. We stood together and sang "Tradition." and the crowd went wild! (It's really going to be a great show!)

Looking around that night, I felt such joy and happiness, seeing all the families who actively participate and contribute to our Commonwealth classes. Unlike a regular school, we meet only once a week, and EVERY FAMILY must contribute in some way, whether it's teaching a little kids' class, mentoring a Scholar or Love of Learning class, or serving on the governing board. And because each family is heavily invested in the group, it runs smoothly and with high energy. It's different than just a bunch of moms that drop their kids off to someone's house or school to be taught by someone else. It's a feeling of belonging, of community, of family.

We had something similar with our tiny group in my home last year, and it was so wonderful! (I sure miss those other families! *sniff*) Intimately knowing who is influencing and teaching one's children is such a blessed thing! Our big kids get the time they need with other youth who have high standards and good study habits. And we get the support and encouragement we homeschooling moms so desperately need. (Well, I need it, anyhow...)

Community. Isn't it wonderful? :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Doing a Scary Thing

Don't worry-- there is no more real drama going on with me right now. It's all just in my head.

But I'm really nervous.

For reasons I can't explain, I signed up to go to a writer's conference this weekend. And as part of that conference, I signed up for a private pitch session with an editor from Desert Book/Shadow Mountain.




I've been working on a non-fiction book based on my "Old-Fashioned Motherhood" blog. I feel passionately about the movement for women to return to traditional homemaking and motherhood! I've been writing about it since 2005, and researching the subject for even longer. And since I've been pushed and prompted by the Spirit to share this important message, I'm sharing it.

Though nothing will likely happen as a result of this scheduled pitch session, I hope I learn some important things.

I just want some input from someone in the business, some advice! So I shouldn't be scared, right?

*deep breath*


Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I want to thank you all for your prayers. I have felt them giving me peace and strength this week. I so appreciate all your active faith in my behalf!

I have not miscarried-- everything seems to be just fine. My husband and kids have been vigilant about keeping me down and resting, and I feel like it's been the right, best thing to do. I am trying to get an appointment with a midwife, but we've been playing phone tag, and honestly, I'm not feeling anxious or worried about it.

I did get out on Tuesday afternoon for our Fiddler on the Roof auditions. (I just couldn't reschedule and let all those kids down!) There's no way I could have done it without the amazing help of my producer, assistant director, and the other audition committee members. My assistant director, Melissa, especially organized the day, numbered the order of the kids auditioning, arranged rooms, ran errands, and even got the kids to bring in a COUCH for me to sit on! Yes, I am one blessed girl! She is awesome to work with!!!

The audition process took AGES-- from 11:30am to 5:30pm that night! I have been known to be faster than that, BUT the kids were all so amazing, that it was DIFFICULT to cast! Thank goodness for the guidance of the Holy Ghost! We even toyed with the idea of double-casting the show, but that means more work for everyone, so I decided to go with giving some of the kids understudy roles. I hope they're all excited to get started on the show. :-)

I will continue to take the rest of this week off, and then see how things go thereafter. I think I'm going to need to commit myself to taking one nap a day, but I feel a calm about everything.

The Lord is so good!

Thanks again, everyone!!!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Holding on to Hope

Artwork by Greg Olsen

This weekend has been a bit frustrating. And I've been really hesitant to share what's been going on. But, due to my present circumstances, it's becoming necessary-- how else can I explain why I've had to put the brakes on my very busy life?


Friday morning I asked Russell for a priesthood blessing. I try not to ask him for blessings too much because I tend to prefer that means of communicating to the Lord, (I like to hear the words) and I have been known to abuse it a bit. Yet in the last week or so I've felt prompted by the Holy Ghost to ask for one, so I did.

You see, after two miscarriages since Eryn was born, I am finding myself again in the early stages of pregnancy. I am keenly aware that my childbearing days are nearing their end, but in a sacred experience in the temple, I was told that there would be twelve. And that I would need to be BRAVE. That happened way back during the summer.

Anyway, Russell gave me a beautiful, concise, detailed blessing. I was told quite clearly that I would carry this baby to term, bringing another child into our family circle. And I was told to take very good care of myself physically, writing down the inspiration I receive. (See why I'm blogging about this now?) And I was reminded that I need to make a list of all of the good things I'm heavily involved in right now, and to PRIORITIZE them.

I felt such joy, peace, and relief after that beautiful blessing! I have been on edge for weeks, worried that I might miscarry this baby, too. I haven't told anyone I was expecting, except for Russell and my older kids, because of my fear of losing another pregnancy. It's still quite early; only seven weeks.

I resolved to do the things that the Lord has asked me to do. At ten o'clock I had to take Dierdre to her charm and poise class, and so I gathered up a notebook, pen, and the most recent Ensign magazine before heading out the door.

Her class lasts about 2 hours, (but it's far enough away from home that I don't want to go back and forth twice) so I dropped her off, grabbed myself a quick breakfast in the nearby Trader Joe's, and parked at a nearby park. It was a beautiful day and the park was quiet. I quietly turned on some relaxing music, ate my meal, and started to write.

I made a list of everything within my stewardship right now. Husband, children, homeschool, directing a musical, three church callings, unfinished projects. Growing a baby. Everything. As I went down the list, I felt the inspiration of the Lord touching my heart. I could see where I was worrying unnecessarily, and what things I could simplify and re-work. It felt good. I had peace knowing that I was doing what the Lord had counseled me to do.

I went to pick up my daughter, and visited with her teacher for quite some time about her midwife. She gave me her reasons why she liked her so much, and told me more about her practice and how she worked. I felt good about her recommendation. I determined to go home and talk to Russell about it so that we can start planning and saving to pay for the birth.

I finally allowed myself to get excited about the pregnancy, seeing that we would really be getting a new baby out of this! I could relax and rejoice. I even started playing with baby names again. (One of my favorite things!)

After I arrived home, I made a scary discovery-- I was bleeding. Only a tiny bit, but still. That's how my last two miscarriages started. I ran to Russell, panicked. What about the blessing? What about the promises of the Lord? I thought I had done what He asked of me. Had I done something wrong?

I quickly laid down, and Russell and I talked. He told me that he had hesitated to make those promises in the blessing, but that the Spirit had pushed and prodded him to say those things exactly in that way. I took deep breaths, and remembered the story of an acquaintance who had been able to keep from going into labor with one of her babies by rubbing lavender essential oil on her abdomen. So I applied some lavender oil and prayed and PRAYED. The words "Faith is a verb" kept going through my mind.

Since then I have put myself on bedrest. I'm not out of the woods, yet, so Russell and the kids have taken over. I look at my calendar and try not to panic. This was going to be a very busy week for me! Auditions for the musical are on this Tuesday-- Valentine's Day, not to mention I had some big plans for Russell and I that evening.

Now I think I understand better about what the Lord meant when He told me to prioritize. I'm working my way through one moment at a time. We'll see what this week holds. But I am also trusting in the Lord's promise that I will carry this baby to term, that he or she will be okay. I need to do my part and follow the promptings of the Spirit, so can know what is most important for me to do right now, and not endanger the life of this new little one.

Thanks for listening. Any prayers would be most welcome.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Our Fairytale

Image Source

Once upon a Time...

There was a young girl in high school with lots of plans for her future. She was going to major in Music Theatre, be a member of  BYU's performing group, The Young Embassadors, go to BYU's Jerusalem Center in Israel, get her Bachelor's degree, and by then maybe young men would notice her and she'd get to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a wife and mother.

And until graduation in the Spring, she would fill her schedule with choir classes, drama classes, and participate in every play she could.

My High School Senior Photo

At the same time, there was a handsome young man just finishing up his service as an LDS missionary. His plans included immediately returning to Ricks College-- though with a change in majors. Where he had been a computer science major before his mission, thanks to the influence of a great, musical family he met on his mission, he would now focus on Music Theatre. Other hopes involved a cute daughter in the musical family...

Russell, on a mission hike, at the top of the Superstition Mountains

The young man had special permission from his mission president to end his mission a bit early, in order to attend college at the beginning of the semester. His paperwork was all in order, his classes were chosen, and he was ready to go. He returned home with honor...

BUT. Just before arriving home, he found that the school had lost his registration. He would NOT be starting school at the beginning of the semester.

Now what?

He decided to kill some time in between working and waiting for school to start, and actually try out this "music theatre thing" for real-- see if he really liked it.

Coincidentally, the little community where he lived announced auditions for it's yearly musical show, produced by his local, tiny high school.

My Fair Lady

The young lady had just been cast as "Jack's Mother" in the musical "Into the Woods"-- which was not her first choice of role. And in her Drama II class, she had snagged the role of the lead (Dolly Levi) in the play "The Matchmaker."

BUT. Her dear friend, Krisalyn and her friend's mother, Shari, were going to audition for My Fair Lady in a little town south of theirs. (In fact, Shari-- the girl's music mentor and teacher for years-- was the show's music director.) Would she like to join them in another show?

Uh, YEAH. Of course!

Yet the young lady's dad was worried about all the driving and going. Why did she want to be in another play?!

But the young lady was determined. She had wanted to join her friends in these small town shows for years, and now that she was a senior in high school, it just might be her last chance.

Interestingly, while she was negotiating with her father, a little voice in her heart was saying "This is a big decision. If you do this now, it will change the course of your entire life." 

She brushed it off, thinking "What could possibly happen in that little town?" 

She would soon find out.
Rehearsals Begin...

The production of "My Fair Lady" was in full swing. Both the young man and the young lady had small roles-- he as the Footman, she as Maid #2-- and filling in chorus numbers, as well. As a result, they each spent lots of time waiting for their turn to be onstage.

The young lady had noticed the quiet, mysterious returned missionary right away. He was awfully handsome and had a beautiful tenor voice. But the girl knew that she was silly, a bit boy-crazy, and that she was chubbier than her lovely friends. She was nervous, but determined to find out more about this young man. So she bravely left the company of her friends to approach him as he sat alone.

Their first conversation lasted longer than she had expected. He surprised her by opening up about how he missed the city of his mission, and how strange it was to be home and back in a family dynamic.

Amazingly, she didn't say too much. She listened with rapt attention, surprised that he was talking to her.

And so they became friends. He even asked her to be his dance partner on one number. But she was falling in love with him, all while he was oblivious to her, romantically.

And yet she was nervous about the fact that she was still in high school, and he was a 21 year old returned missionary. Everyone knows that returned missionaries are counseled to find a spouse as soon as they can. She was NOT looking to get married anytime soon. She had plans, remember?

Being Friends...

Soon they were spending lots of time with each other and all their friends in the show almost every day. (That's how rehearsals work.) And then, one day he asked her out on a date.

Her first, honest-to-goodness, un-arranged-by-friends, HE-asked DATE.

They saw a movie (My Girl), went dancing, and talked and talked and talked. But it was more than crystal clear that he was not interested in being any more than friends.

After he took her home, she firmly proclaimed to her mother, "Don't worry, Mom. I won't marry him."

And Then One Day...

... Out of the blue, (The very next week, in fact!) he approached her in the middle of rehearsal, eased his arm around her shoulders, and asked "So what are we doing this weekend?"

She was astonished! And speechless. She fumbled around in her mind, thinking about all the things on her busy calendar. Finally, she told him about her first cousin's wedding reception that weekend. Would he like to join her for that?

He agreed.

And she was confused.

My uncle, my grandpa, me, and Russell

They had a great time at the reception, and he suggested they go back to his house to watch a video. But in her nervousness, she asked her two other cousins to come with them. (Hi Tylynn and Michelle! Only one of them came with us.) She was still not sure that he was actually interested in her, and she was also still nervous about the whole "returned missionary thing."

Throughout the evening he made it clear to her that he was, indeed, interested. In her. Romantically.

She and her cousin stayed late, past her curfew. But she didn't care. Something big was happening.

At my high school's prom

Trials and Tribulations...

In no time at all, they were "a couple," holding hands and spending even more time together. But there was something that was still unresolved between them. Remember that cute girl in the musical family from his mission? He still had a bus ticket to go see her and find out if there was anything to his plans after his mission.

The heroine of our tale was scared. She didn't want to have her heart broken. But she also didn't want him to always be wondering about the other young lady. She knew he had to go. So she made him a big batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies for the trip (she was a bit crafty, after all) and agreed to meet him at the end of one of her performances of "Into the Woods."

And then, she waited.

And he returned. He met her at the stage door after her performance. With a single red rose.

Everything was going to be just fine-- or so they thought.

After a long drive to his house one day, they talked about marriage. They were soon officially engaged.

She was still worried about being so young. But later, one chilly April night, he took her to the temple grounds by the river for a walk. As they sat in the moonlight, he quietly pointed to the temple and said, "I want to take you there."

She stared at him in shock. He was echoing some of the words from her own patriarchal blessing. And then she was sure that this was right. And this was real. She knew that he was the one she never thought would come into her life so soon.

But then the real opposition reared its ugly head. Her parents were not happy about how young she was. What about all her well-laid plans? She was only seventeen! Her friends thought she was crazy.

But she loved him. She was a responsible, strong, mature young lady. (She thought so, anyway.) She was spiritually prepared. And all her really important dreams were coming true.

Just sooner than she expected.

Graduated and Engaged

And so...

The happy couple set their wedding date for December. She had already paid her housing down payment, after all, and she wanted to try living on her own before getting married. He gulped and agreed to wait until then.

Luckily, her wise grandmother took our heroine's mother aside and told her that December was too long to wait-- August would work just fine.

The couple happily agreed.

They were married for time and for all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on August 14th, 1992.

Their biggest, brightest, greatest dreams were coming true. So, of course...

They lived happily ever after! 

 This post is part of a Wordfull Wednesday link-up hosted by Chocolate on my Cranium. Share your love story and link up your post!