Sunday, February 12, 2017

Habit Training Challenge - Anyone Want to Join Us?

Hike up Rock Canyon
I have been thinking a lot about habits lately since writing my last post. It has been so good to get into the habit of writing a priority list daily, asking my kids to write one, and helping my little ones write theirs. The key is to use them as tools for growing closer to God - not as an end in and of themselves. I try to remember to start with a prayer before I write my list and I start with a prayer with each child before we write their list. I tell my older kids to prayerfully write theirs also. It's more than a "to-do" list- it's a way to record impressions from Heavenly Father about how He would have us spend our time. It builds a relationship to Him...

The latest research says we need 66 days on average to form a habit. Some require less and some more. It used to be said that all we needed was 21 days. So I though I'd try for 21 days and see if it works for me as long as I am able to maintain them after the 21 days while starting a new habit. I have 21 habits I want to pass on to my kids - 11 of them are daily habits and 10 of them are weekly habits. If I work on 1 weekly and 1 daily habit for 21 days and move on to the next one (while still maintaining the others) - I  and my family could have acquired all 21 habits in 7 months. I don't know if it's realistic, I may have to slow down and stay with some for longer before adding new ones, but I'd like to try it.

Does anyone else want to do this with me? I could start a Facebook group for those of you who don't Ike to try this so we could inspire one another in our efforts. Following are the habits I want to acquire or improve in the next 7 months by working on 2 habits for 3 weeks (one weekly and one daily) and then moving on to the next 2 habits (while keeping the previous ones) for the next 3 weeks. I already do many of these, but I have ways I could improve in each one if they became the focus of the 3 weeks.

At the beginning of the 3 weeks, I can send out what I have learned as I have tried to acquire each habit, age appropriate modifications for those who are inviting their families, and ways to improve that particular habit if it is already something you do.  What I ask in return is your feedback on what has worked for you and what hasn't - how you've managed, how you deal with distractions, your ideas about what works for you in trying to acquire each habit and any quotes or scriptures that have helped you.

Any takers? Support is always nice when doing hard things like building new habits.

Here are the habits I'd like to improve in the next 7 months:

Habit 1 and 2:
Weekly: Reflection [personal revelation]
Daily: Priority List [heeding personal revelation,  practicing repentance, gaining faith, hope, and charity]

Habit 3 and 4
Weekly: Worship (temple or meditation) [humility, perspective, covenants, individualized spiritual learning line upon line, communion]
Daily: Personal Devotional (journal, scriptures, prayer) [hearing, personal revelation,  self-awareness, finding personal commandments]

Habit 5 and 6
Weekly: Date(if married)
Daily: Gratitude notes (nightly to spouse, to God, or to others)

Habit 7
Daily: Daily Exercise (tuning the instrument of our spirit)

Habits 8 and 9:
Weekly: Evening Family Activity and Lesson with discussion of principles learned that week (learning to share, teach, listen, and family unity)
Daily: 4 Basic Skills (Obedience, disagreeing appropriately, family structure, roles and boundaries)


Habits 10 and 11
Weekly: Family Council (government principles)
Daily: Family Devotional (teaching each other from our personal study, discussion of principles and appreciating the arts)

Habits 12 and 13
Weekly: Decluttering and Simplifying (taking care of personal stewardship, consecration, gratitude, mental freedom)
Daily: Family Work (responsibility, family service, contributing, work ethic)

Habits 14 and 15
Weekly: Healthy Menu/Snack Planning/ Shopping (caring for our personal temples)
Daily: Meals Preparation

Habits 16 and 17
Weekly:  Nature Time (God's lesson book, coming alive, quiet reflection, appreciating beauty)
Daily: Reading from a classic book as a family and individually (imagination, vicarious lessons, family unity and adventures, opening perspective)

Habits 18 and 19
Weekly: Family History Stories or Research (family unity, roots, connections, service)
Daily: Math or Logic Puzzle (reasoning skills, Logic, thinking, feed mind)

Habits 20 and 21
Weekly: Service for the community (monthly book discussion, quilting, crocheting, food drive, production, etc) [increasing circle of influence, charity, compassion]
Daily: Understanding People: Cultural or History Lesson (compassion, gratitude, perspective)

Pictures from the last couple of week:

 Hike with Bill and Cassia:




Everyday moments:






Chinese New Year Celebration:



Nice day for the park:




Ella's burthday:


William's Birthday:
He spent morning at choir and theater, came home for pizza and some Smash Brothers,  went to a dance with some friends and then watched "Fantastic Beasts." It was a full day. I sure love that kid!




Contemporary art Museum:
We had a some interesting discussions after watching the Banishment of Beauty on YouTube and then going to a contemporary art museum. I really recommend the video. It certainly makes you think. But there is some nude art in it, just fyi.





And here's some pictures of our house in progress:




Sunday, January 29, 2017

Habits I Want My Kids to Have by the Time They Leave My Home (and pictures of our trip to Eden)

Pictures from our spontaneous stay in Eden this week when some good people let us use their time-share

I wrote this to myself in my journal last week, and this week we have been trying to implement it. It has been really good- we are not perfect at it yet... not even close... but we are working towards this and seeing some really good things from it so I thought I would share in case it's helpful to anyone else...


Here is what I wrote:

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017


I am feeling overwhelmed by the out of control screen time at our house again. We seem to slip back so easily into these bad screen time habits when we are not watching it diligently. One thing that seems to have worked well in how I homeschool is that I’ve never told the kids we’re doing “school.” Learning is just part of life and something we do every day. There are certain skills we need to be able to serve Heavenly Father well, so we work on those skills. It’s not “school” - just life. This has had some good benefits, like we don’t usually do “holidays” when they public school says we are supposed to have them. Holidays may mean we don’t go to our out-of -home classes, but if learning is a way of life, you just do it as part of what you do.



But this philosophy doesn’t work as well when screens are involved. We seem to “forget” that we are life-long learners because they distract us. And then life becomes about what we need to do to get to our screens - or even worse - we don’t even remember that we had stuff we were supposed to do before we got to our screens.


I have felt impressed to make our home a training school for life (not a training school for college, or for a test or a job). What is it that we need in order to become the most fine-tuned instruments we can be in God’s hands? How can we learn to hear and follow Him daily? What kind of habits take us to Him?

This morning, I want to write a list of life-long habits that I want my kids to have when they leave my home (and habits I want to have in my own life too):

  1. Write in a journal every morning
  2. Read from scriptures every morning and write in journal something applicable to that day or situation along with a prompting and learning list for the day (the prompting part is more about serving others that day and a learning part of the list is about improving yourself so you can better serve others)
  3. Kneeling Prayers - morning, evening and with the family
  4. Read from a classic book at least 30 minutes a day
  5. Daily exercise or movement
  6. Spend time in nature at least weekly
  7. Go to the temple weekly
  8. Family dinners and other meals when possible (don’t start a meal until everyone is sitting when they are home)
  9. Cleaning up after ourselves before we leave the room we were in.
  10. Weekly discussions with others about what they we are learning  - in person or online (this has been a great learning tool for me even as an adult, that’s why I hold classes or blog, I think this is also supposed to be the goal of our classes at church)
  11. Weekly prayerful goal setting (a time we reflect with our Heavenly Father about what he’d like us to focus on that week - preferably in preparation for sacrament)
  12. Keeping a learning list (list where we write down the things we are interested in learning about or talents we want to work on so we can move towards those goals and use it to make personal learning goals)
  13. Adequate sleep daily (to bed early and arise early)
  14. Healthy snacks and food with a willingness to eat things that are unfamiliar
  15. Respect and love for others in hearts, language and action (including obedience to parents)
  16. Love people, not acquiring stuff - just keep things we love and use; give the rest away to others who can use it.
  17. Serve their family and others- Realize their circle of influence and stewardship starts with their family and expands from there (not the other way around)


If my kids were to leave my home having acquired those 17 habits/values  - I would consider our “homeschool” a success. I would have taught them to go to the Source of all Truth for their education and to follow His guidance. I would have taught them to care for others, their bodies (the instrument of their Spirit) and their environment (their material stewardship).

So then the question becomes, how can I form my week in order to help us all acquire these habits? What does our homeschool actually look like?

  1. Sundays: Make a learning list of things prompted to learn that week, a classic book to study,  people prompted to help that week (starting with family)  and a physical health plan for the week (includes sleep, exercise and food - menu planning for me that includes something different each week)
  2. Teach by example and expectation to do the following every morning: Kneeling prayer, scripture study, and write in a journal. Journal writing should include an applicable scripture or thought from scriptures and a  prayerful prompting/learning list for that day that references the Sunday list.
  3. Morning devotional where we share and discuss what we are learning and our thoughts from our scripture study
  4. Wednesday and Saturday - nature days (it would be nice to be in nature twice a week, but if one of those days is really yucky - at least we’ll have gone out once that week)
  5. Friday - temple day for youth. Wednesday night or Saturday morning - temple day for me
  6. Monday - this is when we’ve scheduled a group discussion with friends (in the afternoon of course, evenings are for family home evening)
  7. Saturday (or Friday if we’ll be gone Saturday): Deep clean the house and dejunk our stuff (get rid of everything we don’t love or use)
  8. Work on the following each day and teach/instruct about it through the week: a) Family Meals - being together before we start and cleaning up before we leave, b) respectful language (the heart and action of respect will come more from their prompting list), c) obedience, d) family jobs (serving beyond cleaning their own stuff) and e) cleaning up before we leave a room.


I think those 8 rituals would cover all 14 habits/values I want my kids to have and learn before they leave my home. That sounds pretty simple right? I think the trick is to realize (and help everyone else realize) that these 8 rituals come first and we fit all other activities around these things instead of the other way around where we’d fit these things in if we had time.
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Since this post, I made some bookmarks for me and my kids to help us reflect on Sundays. My hope is that they will keep the bookmarks in their journal and use them to write a priority list for themselves each day. The plan this week to help us get in this habit, is to have the kids turn in all electronics after our family scripture study at night and we will give them back to the kids in the morning after they have written their priority lists for the day. Of course, the little kids need a lot of my help for the whole process, but slowly they'll transition into doing it themselves I hope.
Here are some more pictures from our trip to Eden: