Sunday, October 31, 2010

Traditions (and Halloween fun)

Playing in the backyard
"We now live in the best and worst of times for families. The worst of times because families have historically followed the guidance of their community and culture in shaping marriage, child-rearing and the countless other elements of family living; and now the community and culture are unable to provide a coherent vision or set of tools and supports. Families are left to struggle on their own. We also live in the best of times because we understand better what makes families work, and because now we have unprecedented freedom to shape the kind of family life we want, to be intentional about our families.
Sometimes with my therapy clients, I use an analogy of the Mississippi River, which flows just a couple of miles from my office. I say that family life is like putting a canoe into that great body of water. If you enter the water at St. Paul and don't do anything, you will head south toward New Orleans. If you want to go north, or even stay at St. Paul, you have to work hard and have a plan. In the same way, if you get married or have a child without a working plan for you family's journey, you will likely head "south" toward less closeness , less meaning, and less joy over time. A family, like a canoe, must be steered or paddled, or it won't take you where you want to go." - William Doherty. Ph.D The Intentional Family
In a culture where selfishness prevails (as Doherty put it, the question is now "ask not what you can do for your family; ask what your family can do for you) and values are being tossed aside for the sake of "pleasure" and "fun". We will end up miserable and lost if we choose to follow the cultural flow. I know for a fact (as I have seen it over and over again in my life) that focusing on me (my needs, my wants) does not bring me joy, but  focusing on others, ironically, fulfills all of my needs and wants. The cultural flow will lead us to broken or unhappy families and individual misery.

If we want to stay afloat and headed towards eternal family unity and joy - we must evaluate our daily, weekly and seasonal traditions. We must be intentional about what we participate in as a family. Doherty continues,

"At heart, the Intentional Family is a ritualizing family. It creates patterns of connecting through everyday family rituals, seasonal celebrations, special occasions, and community involvement. An Intentional Family does not let mealtimes deteriorate into television watching. It does not let adolescents "do their own thing" at the expense of family outings. It is willing to look at how it handles Christmas or bar mitzvahs in order to make them work better for everyone. It has the discipline to stick with good rituals and the flexibility to change them when they are not working anymore."

I met another mom, at my children's choir practice, that has chosen to not celebrate Halloween in a traditional way. I am meeting more and more of them these days. In the past, my first reaction to these kinds of moms was a feeling that they didn't realize the value of just having fun with their families and enjoying traditions with their community (even if they did start as pagan traditions, they have turned into community bonding traditions and good things have come of them).

Lately, though, as I have become more intentional about the things we do as a family in our daily lives, I have started to see the need for being more intentional about the things we do in our weekly, monthly and holiday traditions. I now admire these women who have had the courage to say, "This isn't working for our family, and, even though it's weird, we will do things differently".

I was reading a post that talked about holidays or "Holy Days" and the purpose behind them. I looked up her links and they also gave me some things to think about in regards to how we want to spend our holidays. I do think there is value to just having fun or "wholesome recreation" as a family. I do want to make sure that that recreation is wholesome and that it works for our particular family.

Traditions are tricky things though. One of the hardest things for a newly married couple to do is to take each others' traditions, modify them, and make them work for their newly formed family. Things as silly as how to wrap Christmas presents, what kind of food to eat for special occasions or even what way to put the toilet paper on the roll can cause conflict. We are very tied to our traditions and we can take it as a personal insult if someone does not agree with how we've always done things. We may also think that people think they are better than us if they think they have "better" traditions than we do. Traditions are emotionally volatile issues.
Ray ready to go to the Halloween party
I saw this yesterday as I proposed doing a few things differently for Halloween. Certain people were very attached to their old way of doing things.   It's funny to see that the younger children really don't care. They are happy with whatever we choose to do since the emotional ties to the tradition have not been built up yet. I even proposed (somewhat in jest, but not really) that we don't go trick-or-treating at all. I mentioned an alternative and the younger kids (8 and under) all said "Okay!", but the older people in the family were very resistant. This makes me want to make sure our traditions are in line with what we want for our family right now, before they are too ingrained and really hard to modify.
At a pumpkin patch with some friends

I don't want this to be a source of contention for our family and our marriage. What I hope to do is set some time aside with Rock and go through our traditions, figure out which ones we love and why, see which ones we just do because we're used to them, and most importantly figure out, through prayer and pondering, which ones our Heavenly Father would want us to keep, to get rid of, or to start. I think, as happened in many instances before, that if we do this we can come to a united plan that will help our family grow closer to each other and to our Heavenly Father.
A rainbow on Halloween night
I do think that this will be different for every family. For example, you've seen pictures of my house and it is obvious that decorating is not my passion (I do want to make my home beautiful, so I'm not trying to use that as an excuse, I know I need to do better), but some people love it. They get exited to get out the Halloween or Christmas decorations and the decorating becomes a very important part of their tradition. Mothers who love decorating, look forward to it, are rejuvenated by it and have more energy and cheerfulness to spread to their family members. However, if you don't love decorating, but feel like you have to decorate your house as nice as the elaborately decorated neighbor's, the decorating will drain you and you will spread the drudgery to the people around you and they won't enjoy themselves very much either. I do think, also, that if you decorate, even if you don't love it, because you think it is important for your children, than you will also be happy in the spirit of service and will feel rejuvenated as if you did love it.

Painting Pumpkins and Gourds:





The important thing is to figure out what you really think is important to your family and do just those things. Those are the things that will have meaning and will bring joy. Anything else will only drain your energy and be a burden.

Here is my list for Halloween:

Things I like:
-Talking to neighbors that I don't often talk to
-A day set apart to do something different as a family
-Harvest-type meals
-Seeing the neighborhood kids when they come to my door (I enjoy this for the first 30-60 minutes. After that, I get tired of answering the door).
-Decorating pumpkins

Things I don't like:
-Too much candy (by that I mean more than 2 or 3 pieces)
-Scary, gory or immodest costumes (I used to love haunted houses, but now I feel like the Spirit leaves me when I'm scared so I don't like them so much anymore)
-Buying candy
-Buying or making costumes that are not what I want my kids to be pretending to be (if it's something that I can put in their dress-up stuff that I would like them pretending on a regular basis, I don't mind so much).
-Answering the door every five minutes (after the initial 30-60 minutes).
-The ambiguity of what exactly it is that we are celebrating. I would like there to be some meaning, but the real meaning of Halloween is not something I would like our family to celebrate.

This year, we modified things a little, but I think we can do a lot better. Here's what we did:
-We made Halloween-type meals: creepy crepes with Spinach smoothies for breakfast, a BIG salad (to counter the candy later) for lunch with a pumpkin-shaped donut, and we had pizza and treats at the ward Halloween party for dinner.
-We dressed up as pioneers (with our pioneer trek clothes)
-We attended the ward Halloween party
-The 2 older kids went trick-or-treating with their dad just once around the block and brought home candy to share with their siblings. The younger kids stayed home with me and helped me make popcorn and hand out candy.
-We passed out candy until 7 and then left it outside with a sign that said "Please pick one"
-At 7 we turned out all the lights, got in our cozy jammies, went downstairs and watched "How to Train a Dragon" while we snacked on popcorn, pomegranates and trick-or-treating candy. A movie has become a novelty around here so that was a pretty big deal.

That's pretty much it. During the day the kids raked up leaves and jumped in them and read books. I thought it was a nice day. I just know we could make it more meaningful if we really thought about it in an intentional way.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy 11th Birthday Spice!

Yes, that's right, ELEVEN.  One more year and she'll graduate from primary and move on to the Young Women program.  Ugh.  I guess it's an exiting time of life, but I just sometimes wish there was a pause button so that I could catch my breath first.

Would it be bragging to say that I am often in awe of my little girl?  If so, too bad, because that is what birthday posts are for.  (I don't think it's bragging on my part, though, because it's her choices that make her so amazing, not mine).

Here is a little glimpse of a typical day for Spice:
She gets up early and takes her dog on a walk (yes, every day - even in the cold rain and wind, I sometimes try to talk her into just letting him out in the back yard for a little bit instead of going out in that weather, but she insists that he needs his walk!)  When she comes home, she does her morning list and then reads her scriptures and writes in her journal - for quite a long time.  Sometimes she'll share what she writes with me - it's often some nice insight that she got from her scripture reading.  I often think of this scripture:
And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned. -Alma 32:23
After this, she often plays the piano while she waits for others to be ready and then does her part in the family work.  We'll do our usual morning routine (devotional, breakfast, clean-up) and then she'll have her free time in which she often plays the piano some more, sews something, writes in her journal some more, writes a poem, reads from a book or plays dolls with her sister.

Before dinner, she feeds her dog and takes him on another walk.  Then she'll eat, help clean up, play with her brothers and sisters and her dad, and gets ready for bed.  Then we have our evening devotional and she writes in her journal again (she always writes for a long time - I don't know how she can think of so much to write multiple times a day!) and then she draws as I read to them from a classic (currently Hans Brinker).  Then she goes right to bed (she hasn't read in bed for a long time - she's too tired at the end of the day!  I need to get them in bed earlier - we sometimes take too long reading as a family). 

I am especially impressed with her kindness and her desire to do what is right.  Often, before she goes to bed, she'll come and apologize to me for something, "Sorry I was kind of grumpy during ____ today" or "Sorry I spoke mean to you during _____"  or "Sorry I didn't help you more with____"  And then she really does try to be better the next day.  I wish I could get that pattern down better!

I was watching her the other day from afar at a primary activity.  I was there to help the Sunbeams, but the kids in her class were being rather rowdy (they were talking during songs, giggling, hitting one another, etc.)  I was happy to see that Spice kept trying to do what was right even though she seemed to be the only one (and no, she didn't know I was watching her - I was very nonchalant about it!) (and no, the kids in her class are not always rowdy - they seemed to be having a particularly hard day that day).  I talked to her a little about it that night as I tucked her in.  I told her I was happy that I saw her following directions and respecting the teachers even though the people around here were not doing so at the time, and that I know that can be hard to do!  She said she didn't really understand why they liked to be mean to each other.  Apparently some of them were gossiping making fun of a couple of people.  She said she tried to remember that they had good hearts and that they probably just hadn't been taught that that was wrong.  What a sweetheart.

No, she is not perfect, she still has her spirited moments sometimes (she has an intense personality and is very sensitive to her environment) and she can get goofy and silly with her siblings and sometimes starts to tease, but she recognizes when she makes mistakes and is quick to repent and try again.  I learn so much from her.

Here she is on her birthday morning, opening presents and reading her cards in bed:


She's old enough now that she's actually exited about practical things.  She got a jacket, a coat, boots, a sweater-dress outfit, and a sewing machine.  Actually, she did want one not-so-practical thing - Silly Bandz.  I really dislike them, but since it's the only thing she mentioned that she would like (besides a sewing machine), I got her some of those as well (and so did her grandma so now she has plenty).

For breakfast she requested German pancakes, for lunch, mac & cheese with salad, and for dinner - IHOP.  During the day, we learned how to use her sewing machine (which was a bit of a time waster since we returned it the next day and bought a better quality one since the thread kept getting tangled up - just as it does on my machine which was the same brand of the machine I originally bought her.  Her new machine hasn't had any problems.  Yipee!  She's nice and says she'll let me borrow it when I need it.)

Anyway, where was I?  During the day we worked on her sewing machine, and I did all her chores for her, which, by the way, took a lot of my time.  She works hard around here!  Then we had an Activity Days activity, then we went to IHOP and then to a play called The Savior of the World put on by a near by stake.  It was impressive.  They they did an amazing job.  A couple of our good friends were in it and we were sure amazed at their talents.

Waiting for the play to start

We were going to have cake and ice cream after the play, but we were too tired by then so we took it to my mom's house the next day instead.
We didn't do a "friend" party this year since she had one last year.  I'm trying to wean off "friend" parties a little and to get them to want to use the money we would spend on one to do something fun that we normally wouldn't go do as a family.   Spice has no problem with this (she's more introverted), but I don't know what Bud will think (he's very extroverted and loves social events).  It's not a very big deal to me either way.  I just want them to be happy on the day we celebrate them coming to our family.  It is a special day indeed!

I think she had a nice birthday.  She came up to me that night and gave me a hug, and in her typical way thanked me for making her day so special.

I would do anything for that little girl!  I hope she knows it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Lists

I love good book lists.  I love looking at them and thinking of all the great stories, adventures and new awareness waiting to be discovered.  It's tempting to get too caught up in reading everything in a certain list though.  My personality being one that likes list and checking things off of lists, it can be stressful for me to see a list and notice all of the things I haven't read.

I am so grateful for the recent realization that I don't have to read all of the great classics.  In fact, if I am truly trying to grow closer to Heavenly Father in my daily life and increasing in faith  - I find that am able to find great knowledge in seemingly simple things.  Even a few minute of reading from a good classic (and especially from the core classic - the scriptures) in the evening can give me great deal to ponder on and ways to improve.  What is the use of reading a bunch of classics anyway if I don't give myself time to digest them and see the truth and beauty in them?

I find that a good book gives me perspective, as does a walk in nature, praying, pondering, attending the temple, or taking time to chat with a child.  The Holy Ghost teaches me the things that I need to know when I'm doing these things (and others).  If I'm reading to get through a list- the whole point is lost and I probably ought to be spending my time doing other things.

There are several books that I've read over again, that I learn from each and every time I do so.  Those are true classics.   I think that what makes a book worth reading is that it is true, even if it's fiction.  In other words, it espouses true principles.  I find the fiction books that I can learn the most from are those that portray people with weaknesses and strengths, that those inner qualities are changed for the better of for the worse by the choices they make.  Also, inversely, those choices should be in line with what you know their characters to be like.  In these kind of books, truth shines through.  I am able to ponder on certain universal principles, or God's ways.

Unfortunately, I wasted much of my youth reading stuff without substance.  As my children get older I find I am at a loss about what I really ought to recommend that they read.  I've started on several lists only to find that they are not all the quality of literature that I think I should be spending my time on.

I'm going to link this post to several reading lists that I like.  Some of them I can't find on the internet so I'll write them out.  If any of you want to comment on any books on the lists (if you don't think they are worth reading or if they are not up to a high enough standard, please comment and let me know so that I don't have to waste my time on them).

So what is my standard?  I want books that are true (true in the sense that I describe above), and that would not offend the spirit.  I want to have the influence of the Holy Ghost as I read so I can discern truth from error and find what I can apply to my life.  Some books offend the spirit and then I am left to decide for myself - and that is not nearly as productive ;-)

Here are the lists:
-If there is a book on the list that I read and do not think it is up to the standard above (or if I didn't like the first in the series and am not interested in reading the rest), I'll cross it out.
-If there is a book that I read and it was up to the standard, I'll put in in bold.  Maybe I'll even get around to writing a comment on it and linking it.
-If I don't know anything about the book, or if I haven't read it lately and am not sure how I would feel about it now, I'll leave it as it is.  I would love some feedback from any of you who have read them.

My Reading List

Children's Book Lists:
The Good Books
Milestones Academy  (thanks Christy!) 
TJed Home Companion: List for Children
A Thomas Jefferson Education: Appendix List for Children


Book Lists for Youth:
TJed for Teens list
TJed Home Companion: List for Youth
A Thomas Jefferson Education: Appendix List for Youth


Book Lists for Adults:
Author Henry King's List for a Lifetime
The Great Books
TJed Home Companion: List for Adults
A Thomas Jefferson Education: Appendix List for Adults

My Reading List: Books to read and my all time favorites

I want to keep a log of which books I plan to read in the near (or maybe not-so-near) future (for those times I'm done with a book and I can't remember what it was I wanted to read next ;-)  ).  Here is what I have so far (in no real particular order, I'll probably pick and choose depending on how I feel):

Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling
Smoky - Will James
Log of the Cowboy - Andy Adams
Flower Fables - Louisa May Alcott
Tanglewood Tales - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hans Brinker - Dodge
The Lost World - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald
The Princess and the Curdie - George MacDonald
Johny Tremain - Forbes
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Wind in the Willows - Grahme
Pollyanna - Porter
Pollyanna Grows Up - Porter
Just David - Porter
Black Beauty - Sewell
The Sign of the Beaver - Speare
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Speare
Captain Courageous - Kipling
Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers
Saint Joan,- Twain
The Yearling
Laddie: A True Blue Storie - Porter
Freckles - Porter
Girl of the Limberlost - Porter
National Velvet
The Walking Drum - Lois L'Amour
Flatland - Abbott
The Deerslayer - Cooper
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Stowe
Gulliver's Travels - Swift
Up From Slavery - Washington
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Douglass
The Education of Henry Adams - Adams
Eight Cousins - Alcott
Tramp for the Lord - Boom
In My Father's House - Boom
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court- Twain
The Last of the Mohicans - Cooper
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Red Badge of Courage
Howard's End
Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories- Irving
Ivanhoe - Scott
The City of God - Augustine
The Divine Comedy - Dante
The Weight of Glory - Lewis
The Great Divorce - Lewis
Walden and Other Writings - Thoreau
Anna Karenina- Tolstoy
The Iliad (translator Richmond A. Lattimore),
The Odyssey (translator Emile V. Rieu)
The Aeneid (translator John Dryden or Robert Fitzgerald)-Virgil
The City of God - Augustine
Nichomachus, Introduction to Arithmetic
Shakespeare Plays
Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained - John Milton
The Pilgrim's Progress- John Bunyan,
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce

Here is also a list of books (that I can currently think of) that I would classify as my all-time favorites so far:

The Scriptures :-)
Great Expectation, Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby, Dickens
Jane Eyre, Bronte
Jane Austen Books
Lonesome Gods, L'Amour
Little House series
Little Britches
The Little Princess
Little Women
Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution
A Thomas Jefferson Education
Arm the Children: Faith's response to a violent world
Middlemarch, Eliot
Mere Christianity, Lewis
The Screwtape Letters, Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The Hiding Place

What are some of yours?

Arthur Henry King's Reading List for a Lifetime

This list is found at the back of the book Arm the Children: faith's response to a violent world by Arthur Henry King.  I think this is the list that I trust the most because I think so highly of the author and his viewpoint.  I got the list online from this site:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/241/A-reading-list-for-a-lifetime

He prepared this list for an honors program at BYU (he thought the students should have read these already before going to the University, but "better late than never," he said.  He also said that although he wouldn't revise it now, he might just concentrate on the five greatest writers: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe.

Bold= I've read them and would recommend them

Arthur Henry King's "Reading List for a Lifetime"
  • The Standard Works (the scriptures)
  • Homer, "The Iliad" (translator Richmond A. Lattimore), "The Odyssey" (translator Emile V. Rieu)
  • "The Bhagavad-Gita" (The Song of God) (translator Christopher Isherwood)
  • Aeschylus, "Aeschylus I — Oresteia" (translator Richmond A. Lattimore)
  • Sophocles, "The Oedipus Cycle" (translators Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald)
  • Plato, "Phaedo," "The Republic"
  • Euripides, "Euripides One" (translator Richmond A. Lattimore)
  • Herodotus, "The Persian Wars" (translator George Rawlinson)
  • Virgil, "The Aeneid" (translator John Dryden or Robert Fitzgerald)
  • Livy, "The Early History of Rome"
  • Josephus, "The Jewish War"
  • Plutarch, "Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans" and "Lives of the Noble Romans" (editor Edmund Fuller)
  • Eusebius, "The Essential Eusebius"
  • Augustine, "The City of God"
  • Bede, "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People"
  • Dante, "The Divine Comedy" (translators John D. Sinclair or Dorothy L. Sayers)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Canterbury Tales" (translator Nevill Coghill)
  • Niccole Machiavelli, "The Prince"
  • William Shakespeare, "Hamlet," "Othello," "Measure for Measure," "King Lear," "Macbeth," "Antony and Cleopatra," "Coriolanus," "The Winter's Tale," "The Tempest"
  • Miguel de Cervantes, "Don Quixote" (translator Walter Starkie)
  • Rene Descartes, "Discourse on Method" (translator Wollaston)
  • John Milton, "Paradise Lost," "Paradise Regained," "Samson Agonistes"
  • George Fox, "Journal" (editor Rufus M. Jones)
  • John Bunyan, "The Pilgrim's Progress"
  • Jean Baptiste Racine, "Athaliah," "Phaedra"
  • Moliere, "Tartuffe," "The Would-Be Gentleman," "The Precious Damsels," "The Misanthrope" (translators Morris Bishop or Kenneth Muir)
  • Jonathan Swift, "Gulliver's Travels"
  • Antoine Prevost, "Manon Lescaut"
  • Samuel Richardson, "Pamela" (Part I), "Clarissa"
  • Montesquieu, "The Spirit of the Laws" (translator Thomas Nugent)
  • Voltaire, "Candide"
  • James Boswell, "Life of Samuel Johnson"
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Emile"
  • Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations"
  • Edward Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire"
  • John Woolman, "Journal"
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Faust I, II" (translators Walter Kaufmann or Charles E. Passage), "Wilhelm Meister"
  • William Wordsworth, "The Prelude" (Books I and II)
  • John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, "The Federalist Papers" (editor A. Hacker)
  • John Keats, "Letters" (editor Robert Gittings)
  • Jane Austen, "Persuasion," "Emma"
  • Stendhal, "The Red and the Black"
  • Soren Kierkegaard, "Fear and Trembling," "The Sickness Unto Death" (translator Walter Lowrie)
  • Honore de Balzac, "Eugenie Grandet"
  • Karl Marx, "Early Writings"
  • Henry David Thoreau, "Walden," "Civil Disobedience"
  • Parley P. Pratt, "Autobiography"
  • Charles Dickens, "Little Dorrit," "Great Expectations"
  • George Eliot, "Middlemarch," "Daniel Deronda"
  • Gustave Flaubert, "A Sentimental Education" (translator Robert Baldick)
  • Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, "The Brothers Karamazov"
  • Leo Tolstoy, "War and Peace" (translator Rosemary Edmonds), "Anna Karenina"
  • Sarah Orne Jewett, "Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories"
  • William James, "The Varieties of Religious Experience"
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, "Thus Spake Zarathustra" (translator Walter, Kaufmann)
  • Henrik Ibsen, "Peer Gynt" (translator Michael Meyer), "Rosmersholm," "Ghosts," "Hedda Gabler"
  • Thomas Hardy, "The Mayor of Casterbridge"
  • Henry James, "The Ambassadors," "What Maisie Knew"
  • Anton Chekhov, "The Cherry Orchard," "The Seagull," "Uncle Vanya," "The Three Sisters" (translator David Magarshack)
  • Joseph Conrad, "Nostromo"
  • James Joyce, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"
  • Sigmund Freud, "The Interpretation of Dreams" (translator James Strachey)
  • Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain," "Joseph and His Brothers"
  • Marcel Proust, "Swann's Way" (translator C. K. Scott Moncrieff)
  • John Maynard Keynes, "The Economic Consequences of the Peace"
  • D.H. Lawrence, "Women in Love"
  • E.M. Forster, "A Passage to India"
  • Franz Kafka, "The Trial"
  • Hermann Hesse, "Steppenwolf," "The Glass Bead Game" (Chapter 7)
  • George Santayana, "The Last Puritan"
  • Montaigne, "Essays" (translator John Florio)
The list is from the appendix in "Arm the Children: Faith's Response to a Violent World," by Arthur Henry King and published by BYU Studies in 1998. King wrote that if he did not indicate a particular translator, the translations are "all equally bad or indifferent, as the case may be." Or it is in English.

TJed Home Companion: Adult Literature

Again,
Bold= I've read it and recommend it
Cross out= I've read it and don't recommend it
Normal= I haven't read it or I've read it, but don't remember if I'd recommend it

 The Big List 
Edited by Diann Jeppson

Adult Literature
Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard
Coleridge, The Rime of The Ancient Mariner
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Defoe, Moll Flanders
Dreiser, An American Tragedy
Dumas, The Three Musketeers
Fielding, Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Goethe, The Tragedy of Faust
Hardy, Jude the Obscure
Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hardy, The Return of the Natives
Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romances
Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
Hammett, The Maltese Falcoln
Keats, The Complete Poems
Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Main Street
Lewis, Kingsblood Royal
Malorty, Le Morte D'Arthur
Merimee, Carmen
Miller, Death of a Salesman
Milton, Paradise Lost
Scott, The Lady of the Lake
Scott, Ivanhoe
Stendahl, The Red and Black
Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Voltaire, Candide
Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Wilder, Our Town

Non-Fiction, Adult
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound
Aristotle, The Nichomachaen Ethics
Aristotle, Politics
Aurelius, The Meditations
Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine
Augustine, The City of God
Bhagavad Gita
Confucius, The Analects
Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Familes
Covey, Principle Centered Leadership
Covey, First Things First
Covey, The 8th Habit
Dante, The Divine Comedy
Darwin, The Origin of Species
Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle
Descartes, Meditations
Dryden, Plutarch's Lives
Emerson, Nature
Emerson, Self-Reliance
Euclid, Elements
Freud, Letters of  Sigmund Freud
Freud, Totem and Taboo
Freud, Wit and its Relations
Galileo, Concerning Two New Sciences
Hawking, A Brief History of Time
Ibsen, Peer Gynt
Ibsen, A Doll's House
Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Lewis, Mere Christianity
Lewis, The Great Divorce
Machiavelli, The Prince
Marx, Das Kapital
Moliere, Tartuffe
Montaine, Essays
Muir, The Story of Great Mathematicians
Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil
Nietzche, Thus Spake Zarathustra
Nietzche, The Birth of Tragedy
Nightengale, Florence Nightengale's Notes on Nursing
Pascal, Pensees
Peters, In Search of Excellence
Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates
Plato, The Republic
Polo, The Travels of Marco Polo
Reimer, Mathematicians are People Too
Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
Rousseau, The Social Contract
Schopenhaur, The World as Will and Idea
Smith, The Wealth of Nations
Spengler, The Decline of the West
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
The Bible
The Book of Momon
The Koran
Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings
Toffler, Future Shock
Toffler, The Third Wave
Tze, Tao Te Ching
Tzu, The Art of War
Virgil, The Aeneid
White, Essays of E.B. White
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Wit and Wisdom

100 Classics for Adults from "A Thomas Jefferson Education"

I found this list here: www.theimagefoundry.biz/downloads/100+GreatBooks.pdf

It is Appendix A of A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille

Key:
Bold=I've Read it and recommend it
Cross-out= I've read it and don't recommend it
Normal=I haven't read it or I've read it and don't remember if I'd recommend it

100 Classics List
John Adams, “Thoughts on Government
Aquinas, “On Kingship”
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
Aristotle, Politics
Aristotle, Rhetoric
Augustine, The City of God
Aurelius, Meditations
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Bacon, Novum Organum
Bastiat, The Law
Bastiat, “What is Seen and What is Not Seen”
Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”
The Bible
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
Bronte, Wuthering Heights
Bronte, Jane Eyre
Carson, The American Tradition
Capra, The Tao of Physics
Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Churchill, Collected Speeches
Cicero, The Republic
Cicero, The Laws
Clausewitz, On War
Confucius, Analects
The Constitution of the United States of America
Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Dante, The Divine Comedy
The Declaration of Independence
DeFoe, Robinson Crusoe
Descartes, A Discourse on Method
Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens, Great Expectations
Douglas, Magnificent Obsession
Durant, A History of Civilization
Einstein, Relativity
Emerson, Collected Essays
Euclid, Elements
Frank, Alas Babylon
Galileo, Two New Sciences
Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Goethe, Faust
Hobbes, Leviathan
Homer, The Iliad
Homer, The Odyssey
Hugo, Les Miserables
Hume, Essays Moral, Political and Literary
Jefferson, Letters, Speeches and Writings
Keegan, History of Warfare
Kepler, Epitome
Martin Luther king, Jr., Collected Speeches
Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry
Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Lincoln, Collected Speeches
Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Machiavelli, The Prince
Madison, Hamilton and Jay, The Federalist Papers
Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto
Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart”
Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Sophocles, Oediput Trilogy
Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Thackeray, Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Walden
Tolstoy, War and Peace
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Washington, Letters, Speeches and Writings
Weaver, Mainspring of Human Progress
Wister, The Virginian
More, Utopia
The Magna Charta
Mill, On Liberty
Milton, Paradise Regained
Mises, Human Action
The Monroe Doctrine
Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws
Newton, Mathematical Principles
Nichomachus, Introduction to Arithmetic
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
The Northwest Ordinance
Orwell, 1984
Plato, Collected Works
Polybius, Histories
Potok, The Chosen
Plutarch, Lives
Ptolemy, Algamest
Shakespeare, Collected Works (no, I haven't read all of them)
Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap
Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law
Skousen, The Making of America

TJed for Teens reading list

I hope I'm not breaking some copyright law by putting this list on here.  If I am, would someone let me know?   If so, I'll just put this list in my draft box so I can have access to it when I'm out and about and then I'll have this page just be about the books I'm currently reading or am soon planning to read from the list, in case anyone has feedback on them.

Bold means I've read them and recommend them
A cross-out means I've read them and don't recommend them
No change means that I haven't read them (and would love some feedback about them - see here) or I can't remember if I would recommend them or not.

They say ages are just guidelines and that everyone should read all of the books in the list for all ages.

Age 13:
Girls: Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery
Boys: Ender's Game, Card
Girls: Little Women, Alcott
Boys: Elantris, Sanderson
The Wizard of Oz, Baum
The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis
Mythology, Hamilton
Little House in the Big Woods, Wilder
Beginning Latin Book
The Phantom Tollbooth, Juster
Arithmetic Book

Age 14:
Pollyanna, Porter
A Midsummer's Night Dream, Shakespeare
All's Well that Ends Well, Shakespeare
The Tempest, Shakepeare
Prince Caspian, Lewis
Aesop's Fables
Tom Sawyer, Twain
Beginning Latin Book
Flatland, Abbott
Pre-algebra book
Saint Joan, Twain
Huckleberry Finn, Twain
Little House on the Prairie, Wilder
Best Loved Poems of the American People, Felleman and Allen
Sonnets, Shakespeare
The Jungle Book, Kipling
The Real Thomas Jefferson, Allison et al
Beginning Latin Primer
On Numbers, Asimov
Algebra I book

Supplements:
Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens, DeMille and Brooks
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Covey
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers, Chapman
The Fourth Turning, Strauss & Howe
The Walking Drum, L'Amor
Say*Go*Be*Do, Earl
The One Minute Manager, Johnson and Blanchard
The Cashflow Quadrant, Kiyosaki
A Whole New Mind, Pink
Leadership Education, DeMille
Archimedes and the Door of Science, Bendick

Other books scholars should have:
A good dictionary
A good thesaurus
Latin-English dictionary
The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Hirsch
The Elements of Grammar, Shertzer
The Timetables of History, Grun and Simpson

Age 15:
The Declaration of Independence
The Constitution of the United States
The Making of America, Skousen
The Real Benjamin Franklin, Allison et. al.
The Hiding Place, Boom
Antigone, Sophocles
The Real George Washington, Allison et. al.
Intermediate Latin Book
Introduction to Mathematics, Whitehead
Algebra I book continued
Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
The Monroe Doctrine
The Gettysburg Address, Lincoln
The Law, Bastiat
The Deerslayer, Cooper
Animal Farm, Orwell
Iliad, Homer
Intermediate Latin Book, cont
A Beginner's Guide to Constructing The Universe
Geometry Book

Supplement:
Revolutionary Wealth, Toffler
Megatrends, Naisbitt
Here There be Dragons, Owen
Cash, Cars, and College, Bolon
The Belgariad, Eddings
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey
A Thomas Jefferson Education
First Things First, Covey
The Millennials, Strauss & Howe
Bendigo Shafter, L'Amor
As A Man Thinketh, Allen
SAT/ACT prep books (when the time is right)

Age 16:
Odyssey, Homer
The Trial and Death of Socrates, Plato
Emma, Austen
Hamlet, Shakepeare
Torah, Genesis
Bible, Matthew
Qur'an, Cows
Intermediate Latin Primer
Euclid, Elements books I-II
Algebra II book
Our Home, Sargent
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
"I Have a Dream", King
Les Miserables, Hugo
Democracy in America, Tocqueville
Notebooks, Da Vinci
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass
Advanced Latin Book
Arithmetic, Nichomachus
Algebra II cont
The Science of Getting Rich, Wattles
"Give Me Liberty of Give Me Death", Henry
Othello, Shakepeare
In Flander's Field, McCrae
Pride and Prejudice, Austen
The Art of War, Tzu

Supplements:
The Human Odyssey, Armstrong
Dumbing Us Down, Gatto
The Mallorean, Eddings
The Jackrabbit Factor, Householder
The Coming Aristocracy, DeMille
Girls: Wild at Heart, Eldridge
Boys: Captivating, Eldridge
The Thomas Jefferson Home Companion, DeMille and Jeppson
The Five Love Languages, Chapman
The Eighth Habit, Covey
The Mentor, DeMille and Earl
The Path, DeMille and Earl
The Alchemist, Coelho

Ages 17-18
Poetry and Mathematics, Buchanan
Advanced Latin Book
Elements, Euclid
Trigonometry Book
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien
The Foundation series, Asimov
Where the Red Fern Grows, Rawls
Man of the Family, Moody
The Five Thousand Year Leap, Skousen
Trigonometry Book cont
"The Present Crisis", Lowell
Advanced Latin Book
A Brief History of Time, Hawking
Calculus Book
Girls: Ender's Game, Card
Boys: Little Women, Alcott
Girls: Elantris, Sanderson
Boys: Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery
Jo's Boys, Alcott
The Dhammapada
The Bhagavad Gita
Nichomachaean Ethics
Legal and Medical Latin book
Relativity, Einstein
Calculus book

Books for Youth from "A Thomas Jefferson Education" Book

I found this list here: www.theimagefoundry.biz/downloads/100+GreatBooks.pdf
It is Appendix B in A Thomas Jefferson Education

Key:
Bold=I've Read it and recommend it
Cross-out= I've read it and don't recommend it
Normal=I haven't read it or I've read it and don't remember if I'd recommend it

Classics for Youth
Alice in Wonderland
Animal Farm
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
The Anne of Green Gables series
“Battle Hymn of the Republic”
Ben Hur
The Bible
Brighty of the Grand Canyon
Black Beauty
The Black Stallion series
The Chronicles of Narnia series
The Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
“Concord Hymn”
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
The Constitution of the United States
David Copperfield
Davy Crockett Legends
The Declaration of Independence
The Deerslayer
Don Quixote
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Dred Scott Decision
The Education of Henry Adams
Eight Cousins
Emily Post’s Etiquette
Ender’s Game
“In Flanders Fields”
Flatland
The Foundation series
Frankenstein
“The Gettysburg Address”
“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”
The Great Brain series
Gulliver’s Travels
Hamilton’s Mythology
Hamlet
Heidi
The Hiding Place
History Reborn
Huckleberry Finn
“I Have a Dream”
Ivanhoe
The Hobbit
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Joan of Arc (Twain)
Jo’s Boys
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)
The Jungle Book
King Arthur and the Round Table
Laddie
The Last of the Mohicans
“Let America Be America Again”
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
The Little Britches series (I've just read the first book - so good)

Little Lord Fauntleroy
Little Men
Little Women
The Lonesome Gods
Lord of the Rings series
“The Man with the Hoe”
Mathematicians are People, Too (2 volumes)
Moby Dick
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
National Velvet
Noah Webster’s Original 1828 Dictionary
North to Freedom
“O Captain! My Captain!”
“Old Ironsides”
Old Yeller
Oliver Twist
On Numbers
Paul Bunyan
The Phantom Tollbooth
“The Present Crisis”
“The Road Not Taken”
The Real Benjamin Franklin
The Real George Washington
The Real Thomas Jefferson
The Robe
Robinson Crusoe
Romeo and Juliet
The Sackett series
The Saxon Math series
The Secret Garden
Shipwrecked
Soldiers, Statesmen and Heroes
Sonnets of Shakespeare
Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers
Stuart Little
The Summer of the Monkeys
The Swiss Family Robinson
Tom Sawyer
Treasure Island
The Trumpet of the Swans
“Ulysses”
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle
The Walking Drum
White Fang
William Tell
Where the Red Fern Grows (there is a violent death scene in here that scared my two oldest when the read it - not for littler kids)
The Yearling

TJed Home Companion: List for Youth

Key:
Bold=I've Read it and recommend it
Cross-out= I've read it and don't recommend it
Normal=I haven't read it or I've read it and don't remember if I'd recommend it

The Big List
Edited by Diann Jeppson 
Literature for Youth: 
Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
Abbott, Flatland
Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
Alcott, Eight Cousins
Alcott, Jo's Boys
Alcott, Little Men
Alcott, Little Women
Alcott, Rose in Bloom
Austen, Emma
Austen, Mansfield Park
Austen, Northanger Abbey
Austen, Persuasion
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Boom, The Hiding Place
Boom, Tramp for the Lord
Bronte, Jane Eyre
Bronte, Withering Heights
Burton, The Arabian Nights
Card, Ender's Shadow
Carroll, Alice's Adventures in the Wonderland
Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Carther, My Antonia
Carther, O Pioneers!
Cervantes, Don Quixote
Chesterton, Father Brown Stories
Clark, The Ox-Bow Incident
Conrad, Heart of Darkenss
Conrad, Lord Jim
Conrad, The Secret Agent
Conrad, Under Western Eyes
Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Red Badge of Courage
Defoe, Moll Flanders
Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens, David Copperfield
Dickens, Great Expectations
Dickens, Oliver Twist
Dickinson, The Selected Poems
Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Dostoevsky, The Gambler
Dostoevsky, The Best Short Stories
Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass
Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Doyle, The Lost World
Doyle, Sherlock Holmes Stories
Du Bois, John Brown
Dumas, The Three Musketeers
Eliot, Silas Marner
Eliot, Middlemarch
Fitzgerald, This side of Paradise
Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Forster, Howard's End
Frank, Alas, Babylon
Goethe, Faust
Golding, Lord of the Flies
Gordon, Beowulf
Green, The Adventures of Robin Hood
Hawthorne, The Scarlett Letter
Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables
Homer, Iliad
Homer, The Odyssey
Hugo, Les Miserables
Huxley, Brave New World
Huxley, Brave New World Revisited
Irving, Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Irving, Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories
James, Daisy Miller
James, The Turn of the Screw and In the Cage
Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Yong Man
Kipling, Kim
Kipling, Jungle Book
Kipling, Captain Courageous
L'Amour, The Lonesome Gods
L'Amour, The Empty Land
L'Amour, Sackett's Land
L'Amour, The Walking Drum
Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera
Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Lewis, Perelandra Trilogy
London, The Call of the Wild
London, The Sea-Wolf
London, White Fang
London, Klondike Tales
MacLachlan, Sarah Plain and Tall
Melville, Moby Dick
Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Moore, Utopia
Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel
Orwell, Animal Farm
Orwell, 1984
Porter, Laddie: A True Blue Storie
Porter, Freckles
Porter, Girl of the Limberlost
Potok, The Chosen
Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows
Shakespeare, The Complete Works
Shelley, Frankenstein
Solzhenistsyn, First Circle
Sophocles, Antigone
Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
Stevenson, Kidnapped
Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stevenson, Treasure Island
Stoker, Dracula
Stow, Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Gulliver's Travels
Thackery, Vanity Fair
Tolkien, The Hobbit
Tolkien, Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Tolkien, The Silmarillion
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Tolstoy, War and Peace
Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, The Adventure of Tom Sawyer
Twain, Pudd'n Head Wilson
Verne, Around the World in 80 Days
Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Voltaire, Candide
Washington, Up From Slavery
Wells, The Invisible Man
Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau
Wells, The Time Machine
Wells, The War of the World
Wiggins, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Wilde, De Profundis
Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wister, The Virginian
Wright, Native Son
Wyss, The Swiss Family Robinson

TJed Home Companion - List for Chidren

Key:
Bold=I've Read it and recommend it
Cross-out= I've read it and don't recommend it
Normal=I haven't read it or I've read it and don't remember if I'd recommend it

The Big List
Edited by Diann Jeppson 
Children's Literature:

Angeli, The Door in the Wall
Barrie, Peter Pan
Brink, Caddie Woodlanwn
Burnett, A Little Princess
Burnett, Little Lord Fauntleroy
Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Field, Calico Bush
Forbes, Johny Tremain
Gipson, Old Yeller
Grahme, Wind in the Willows
Jordan, Winter of Fire
Kalashnikoff, The Defender
KElly, THe Tumpeter of Krakow
Lamb, Tales from Shakepeare
Latham, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
Lowry, The Giver
MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind
MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin
MacDonald, The Princess and the Curdie
McGraw, Moccasin Trail
McGraw, The Golden Goblet
Moody, Little Britches
O'Dell, Sarah Bishop
O'Dell, Island of the Blue Dolphins
Otis, Toby Tyler
Porter, Pollyanna
Porter, Pollyanna Grows Up
Sewell, Black Beauty
Smith, Aladdin and Other Favorite Arabian Night Stories
Spyri, Heidi
Speare, The Bronze Bow
Speare, The Sign of the Beaver
Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
White, Charolette's Web
White, The Trumpet of the Swan
White, Stuart Little
Wilder, The Little House on the Prairie Series

Books for Children From "A Thomas Jefferson Education" book

 I found this list here: www.theimagefoundry.biz/downloads/100+GreatBooks.pdf
It is Appendix B in A Thomas Jefferson Education

Key:
Bold=I've Read it and recommend it
Cross-out= I've read it and don't recommend it
Normal=I haven't read it or I've read it and don't remember if I'd recommend it

To Read to Young Children
Aesop’s Fables
Andersen’s Fairy Tales
Beauty and the Beast
The Bible
The Blind Men and the Elephant
“Casey at Bat”
Charlotte’s Web
Chicken Little
A Christmas Carol
Cinderella
Dinotopia series
Dr. Seuss series
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Fourth Wise Man
The Gift of the Magi
The Giving Tree
“God Save the Flag”
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
“The Highwayman”
Hansel and Gretel
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
“Lincoln, The Man of the People”
“Little Boy Blue”
The Little Engine that Could
The Little House on the Prairie series
The Little Red Hen
Little Red Riding Hood
McGuffey’s Readers
Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes
“Paul Revere’s Ride”
Peter Pan
Peter Rabbit
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Pinocchio
Pollyanna
The Princess and the Pea
Puss-in-Boots
Rapunzel
Riki Tiki Tavi
Rip Van Winkle
Robin Hood
Rumpelstiltskin
Rudyard Kipling “Just So” stories
Sleeping Beauty
The Song of Hiawatha
Snow White
Tales of the Arabian Nights
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Little Pigs
The Ugly Duckling
Tom Thumb
“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’”
The Wind in the Willows
Winnie-the-Pooh series
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Rest of the House: Before and After

Six month ago, when I read "The Headgates" and got rid of a bunch of things, The house felt nice for a little while, but pretty soon little things started creeping up into rooms and popping out here and there.  I wondered where all the stuff was coming from.  "It seeps through the walls!"  I thought.  Well, no, it was actually seeping through the nicely organized closets I had kept too much in and were quickly becoming unorganized closets.

Trying to keep the perspective this time that  I only wanted to keep those things which I thought we needed and giving away the rest was really helpful.  I even got rid of some things that I wanted to keep, but realized there was no good reason to keep them.  I realized the stuff took too much from me in time, mental space, energy and physical space.  It's just not worth it.

I learned a few things about myself in the process.  The most painful was that I was not as neat of a housekeeper as I always thought I was.  The house got clean at least once a day - sometimes twice (okay, twice was rare).  The different rooms got a thorough organizing and cleaning once a week (sometimes once every two weeks, to be honest), but I realized that the majority of the time - the house looked messy.

Sometimes my husband would dare mention that it would be nice if the kids learned to clean up after themselves.  I responded by thinking he was a little ungrateful for the hard work they put in every morning during family work time.  I also thought he didn't understand how impossible it was to keep after them all day to put their things away.

I had, of course, tried this way of doing things.  "I'm just going to focus on making sure the kids put their things away when they are done using them!  Once they are in the habit, it won't be such a big deal."  So I went through the day stressing out whenever they got things out, or when I'd find anything out of place, and feeling like I was focusing on the negative as I called out all day, "Bud, you forgot to put your football away",  "Little Miss, you left some papers out", "Spice, don't forget to put the hair things away", "Bazinks, you have 2 pairs of shoes in the front room",  etc, etc.  As I tried to keep the house picked up throughout the whole day.

Then suddenly, I would have something else to do for a little bit besides following them around and making sure they put their stuff away and I would find afterwards, to my dismay, that things were looking messy again.  It was too stressful to live that way.  I decided to relax a little and to be okay with letting them get things out and making sure everyone picks up their things before every meal.

I didn't exactly follow through with this either.  It's hard to check the entire house before every meal.  I did check it always before breakfast, but I did sometimes let some things slide (a little toy in the corner here, a few things under the bed there, some clothes off of their hangers in the closet) I didn't always notice these things and I also didn't want to discourage their efforts by being too nit-picky.

The result was that if I ever had any unexpected guest, I had to give several reasons why things weren't clean right then.  "If only people would come over right after family work time," I thought, "they would see that my house does get clean and that I am teaching my kids to work and that we are not total slobs."  Most people, however, including my husband, came in during the evenings and things just didn't look as nice by then.

What I didn't realize was that I hadn't addressed the root of the problem.  There were just too many things to keep track of!  There were too many things to get out.  I would have saved myself a lot of time and effort if I would have realized this sooner.  That's okay though.  Better late than never!

As I went through the house and started taking pictures of the rooms "before", I would make some excuse as to why it looked so bad right then.  I started to realize that maybe my husband was right in feeling like we needed to do a better job about living in a clean environment.  I had gotten used to seeing a pile here and a little mess there.  I knew when we were getting to it so it didn't bother me that it wasn't being cleaned up right then.  Seeing my house from the perspective of others as I took the pictures helped me open my eyes to the fact that, most of the time, the house did not look tidy.

The last few days (and I'll admit it's been very few since I finished getting rid of stuff through the entire house) have been so serene.  I still have to tell children to put things away, but with only a few things to be got out - I don't feel like I'm doing it all day and they don't feel like they are either.  I have a high standard for what each room needs to look like and everything has a place in which it should be.  AND there are not so many things with so many places to be, that it's easy for everyone to keep track of what goes where. 

I've been going through the entire house before breakfast, checking under beds, in closets and drawers for anything out of place.  For each thing I find that is out of it's place, I move us up one less step on the family ladder (we start with a possible 5 steps every morning).  The first day, I found like 10 things out.  They were disappointed because they thought they had done a good job cleaning.  However, they quickly understood the higher expectations and the second day I found only 4 things.  We've been doing this for about a week.  There was one day where I found nothing out.  Yesterday, I found 2 things.  They are getting better at noticing when something is not in it's place and so am I.  The challenge is now going to be how to not let things start creeping into the house (For example, Spice asked if she could make paper dolls from a cereal box the other day.  I even let her have some loose paper to make them some clothes.  Now she has a little collection of paper dolls.  They are loving playing with them, and I love their imaginative play, but it sure seems like children can use anything to make more stuff out of!)

So now, to the rest of the pictures.

On Saturday, all I had left to clear out was one hallway closet, three basement closets, the laundry room and the main room in the basement (I'm not sure what to call that room.  It's not really a family room since we seldom go down there.  I guess it's kind of a "man cave" room since that's where the TV is and where we store the movies and some games, but Rock only watches a movie like once every two weeks or so.  I guess it's more an extension of the toy room since that's where the kids play when they have friends over.  They'll make little huts with blankets, the futon and banana chairs; or play with their babies in the little built in play house.

Again, I didn't take "before" pictures of every place.  I would look in a closet and think, "there's not much in here, I'll just take a few things out real quick.  There was always more than I realized though.  I'll let you know what I remember getting rid of in the places I didn't take "Before" pictures in.  I'll start from the top levels of the house going down.

The top level is the bedrooms and the computer room, which I've already posted about.  Down some stairs, you get to the front room.  There's not much in there so I have no before pictures.  Someday I'd like a couple of recliners in here, but for now it's just a piano and some music (the kids decorated the piano with some Halloween lights).  There is also the two boxes of stuff I want to sell (curriculum and Geotrax - we spent so much money on that silly train set!), but those will be out of there soon.

This room has a closet for coats and shoes.  No before pictures, I just got rid of old coats and old shoes.

Next to this room is the kitchen, maybe I'll talk more about the kitchen on a different post.  I'm liking it a lot right now.

Down a few steps from the kitchen is the Living Room.  Here's one side of it (again no before pictures - there's just less books now):
Here is the before pictures of the other side of this room:
It didn't look quite so bad with the doors closed.  I guess this is what you would term our "TJed closet"  (see more about a TJed closet here - maybe I'll add a couple things to interest them to the bottom shelf on a rotating basis - like  books or something.  I don't know, we'll see).  We were also keeping our devotional boxes in here, but those are now upstairs in the computer room (where we like to do devotionals these days). 
I just threw away some things.  Here is what is kept:
Top: Games.
Right: Our bean jar, a bin of math manipulatives (abacus, wrap ups, compass, times-tables flashcards), and at the bottom is our nature journals.
Left: Games (we also have a game closet downstairs, but these are the games we play most often.  Hmmm.... come to think of it, maybe the ones downstairs should go...)

Next to this room is a half-bathroom (with nothing in the drawers but extra toilet paper) and the laundry room.

Here is the "Before" pictures of the laundry room:
The stuff in the basket came from the project room.  Everything else is just cleaners that the kids can't reach to put away or that don't fit into the cupboard above.

This is the cupboard above.  Lots of different cleaners.

This it the other cupboard above.  The bins have things to use for our leather couches.  Rock usually takes care of that so I wasn't sure what exactly we needed out of them.  I still need to ask him to look through them.

I eventually want to have only a few basic ingredients for homemade cleaners (like the recipes found here), but I have to work up to that as I try different recipes and find what works well.  I tossed a bunch of cleaners that I don't use anymore (mostly because the kids clean the bathrooms and those cleaners had harsh chemicals so we hadn't used them in a long time).  This made room so that I could put the stuff that we do use in the cupboards.  I didn't want to have to get everything out and put everything away whenever it was time to clean the bathrooms, though, and the cupboards are high, so I left three little cleaning baskets out (with the safe cleaners) where the older kids could reach them and put them away on their own.

Here's how it looks now:

I did keep one bottle of the harsher chemicals for me to use if I had to, and the Comett, just in case.  Everything else is things we use often or still need.

Not a lot of  difference on this side
Here is one hallway closet (by the laundry room).  We had all sorts of miscellaneous things in here.  Most of it just got tossed.  I put the games in the TJed closet.  This closet is next to the garage door so I kept some "going out" things in here.

Before:

After:
 It's kind of blurry, but I just kept sunblock and bug spray, tapes (packaging, duct, etc), a bin of gardening things (some seeds, gloves), a few "educational" coloring books (butterflies, wildflowers), a picnic blanket, and some Brainquest cards to play in the car on long drives.

Next to this closet is the door that heads to the basement where we have the project room and the toy room (which you've seen), a hallway closet, a bathroom (with nothing but extra toilet paper in the drawers), the food storage closet, and a few stairs that lead down the the "man-cave, game, play room-extension" room.

Here's the hallway closet next to the bathroom:  We keep "Guest" things in here - sheets, blankets, pillows, towels.  Except for on the bottom shelf which holds a sheet that the kids can play with. (No before pictures on this one)

Then down the a few stairs to the "Man-cave, game, play-room extension" room ;-) (no before pictures- there wasn't really a change here).
Yes, there is a big TV that the futon is faced towards, but, alas, it didn't fit in the picture ;-)  The TV has a Wii and a DVD player under it.   No one has played the Wii in months.  Obviously, it should go, but apparently there is something about "knowing that it's there should we ever choose to use it" that makes the boys of the house think we should keep it. 

In the closets behind the futon, I got rid of a lot of electronic things and wires. I didn't even remember what they were for.  I didn't take before pictures, but here is the back of the van filled with the things I pulled out of the basement closets:
 
Here's one closet:
All of the top shelf has movies we should get rid of, but they are not mine to give away.   The middle shelf has CDs. The Thirld shelf has Church DVD's.  The bottom shelf has Wii accessories.

 Other closet:
I threw out some games and kept these.  More should probably go.  If we don't play them in the next few winter month, I'll get rid of them.

And that's it.  Our entire house.

Okay, not really. 

There is one more closet/area - the food storage place.  I almost went through it, but I'm scared of the spiders.  I think I'll wait until Rock pulls out the Christmas decorations that are in there and then I'll toss the stuff that is under them (there are a couple of boxes that I'm not sure what's in them, but obviously if I haven't missed them all year - they should go.  The storage room has food, tent, sleeping bags, a baby swing, suitcases, empty boxes and bins, Christmas decorations, a Christmas tree, paint and other "fix it" things for the house (and the two boxes I don't know about).  I hesitate to show it here... here it is anyway:
This is the hallway that leads to it.  We have two mattresses stored here for guests and two fans for summer.


Here is one side of the food storage room:
Here is the other:
There is a bin of legos in here that I'm ready to part with, but I forgot about it until just now. I should probably get rid of the swing too. This closet will look better come Christmas time! 

Well, at least everything else is done and the kids are too scared of this area to go into it so the mess won't infiltrate into the rest of the house. 

Okay, now that really is it.  Now you know all the dirty secrets :-) 

I'm sure loving how it feels in our house now.  I'll have to figure out some way to get some of my neighbors to come over unexpectedly again so they can get a different impression.   (Just kidding - I really didn't do any of it for the neighbors!)

Does anyone else have pictures of how their 6 month purge went?  I'd love to see them!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Unity. And Good Literature. And Harry Potter.

I finished simplifying the house yesterday! It feels so nice and simple in here now.  I'll post pictures tomorrow (or maybe the next day) as well as some things I learned in the process.

Today, being Sunday, I wanted to write about some spiritual things that have been on my mind.  I hope they don't offend anyone - I'm just speaking from the heart and I hope everyone knows that I'm not trying to pass judgment on others, but I'm simply evaluating where I stand on different things and why.

Again, my opinions are subject to change at any time!

As I've been getting rid of stuff, I've thought a great deal about what I will let into my home.  I want it to be a place where the Spirit can be and where we can ponder on the things of eternity without being encumbered by unnecessary distractions.  I want a safe haven.  I want an "incubator" as Elder Hales put it in this last conference.

The bible dictionary states that only our homes can compare with the temple in sacredness.  I know that the things that take place in a temple are different than what takes place in the home, but the purposes is  the same!  The purpose of both is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man".  Both are places in which we can commune with God and work to bring about His purposes.  Unity with God, each other and His work should prevail.
And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them
Contention comes from disunity.  Contention comes when pride steps in and what we want becomes more important than anyone else.  I am working hard at teaching my children the source of contention and how to overcome it.  I am seeing that as we try to grow closer to God together - disagreements are seen less and less and we can come to mutual understanding more quickly.  We are all working towards the same goal - making our home a place where the Spirit can dwell.

I was surprised at how easily a possible conflict was avoided yesterday.

I read an interesting blog post about Hunger Games.  I've never read the books and I wasn't planning to read them.  I'm finding more and more that sensational modern literature tends to be a bit unrefined and lacking substance  and I don't really have a desire to read it (Although, I got the impression from the post that Hunger Games wasn't lacking in substance, but was clearly lacking in refinement).  Anyway, the comments after the blog post kept lumping these books with literature like Twilight and Harry Potter.  I could understand how Twilight makes the list of unwholesome literature (the sexual tension throughout the book and the less-than-stellar heroine), but I didn't see why Harry Potter was being ranked in the same category.  I knew that Harry Potter wasn't exactly quality literature.  The language wasn't up to par to the great classics out there and there was some violence and making out which I didn't really like my kids to read about, but, after all, that stuff is out there right?  So maybe the kids should get a glimpse of that perspective every once in a while since they are sheltered so much at home.  And the story was so good!  It was a great struggle between good and evil with good prevailing and evil being shown for what it was - miserable and without real power in the end.

So I did a little research about why people have angst with it, and why some people think they're crazy.  I saw that people who understood the occult had more problems with it than those, like me, who have never been tempted with it or who know much about it.  These people saw a potential danger in teaching that the occult can be used for good.  In other worlds, "magic" and "spells" and "witches" are Satan's counterfeit for God's priesthood power.  If children become interested in Satan's counterfeit, they may start experimenting with it and loosing the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Now, I must admit that I don't see any danger in my children becoming obsessed with the occult or experimenting with it's power.  In fact, I could see how we could use the "good" power in the Harry Potter books as a metaphor for God's power and the "bad" power as a metaphor for Satan's.  Aren't most stories metaphors anyway?

I had to admit that I was rather naive about it all, though, and that witchcraft and fortune telling and all of those things are real, and they are out there so I ought to consider the opinion of those who have more experience than I do.

People also bring up some of the books obvious anti-catholic references, etc.  They also brought up Harry's character.  In the first book, he felt awful about lying, then in subsequent books it gets easier for him and he gets really good about getting away with things through telling fibs and by using his influence.  I hadn't really picked up on that.  I didn't realize that my kids had.  Here's how I found out:

We were talking over dinner about the different books I got rid of.  Spice asked, "Did you get rid of Harry Potter?"  I said "no" (I knew that it was a book that they loved and despite all of my research on it, I didn't think that it was enough to warrant the contention that would arise from my getting rid of them), but then I told them about some of the reasons people don't like the books.  They listened with interest and when I told them about Harry's lying, Spice said, "Oh yeah, I noticed that and I thought, 'I don't think that happens in real life - where people get away with lying so much.'"

So we talked about how Harry's character actually got weaker in some respects as he chose to take the easy way out of some of his experiences and how he got away with a lot because he was good at Quiddich or because he was famous.  I hadn't picked up on these things either, but apparently they were there.

Anyway, I told them that I thought it was a good story and fun one to read, but I didn't know if it was one of those stories that was worth reading over and over again like a true classic would be and how I wanted to only keep those books in our home that were worth reading over and over again. 

To my surprise, they agreed and said that we could always check them out at the library if the littler kids wanted to read them when they were older, but there really wasn't any reason to have them in our home (we haven't been to the library in months, by the way, we have enough books that I want them to read that I don't want to introduce more just yet).

I had chosen not to fight that battle with the kids, but I didn't have to fight it at all.  They see the vision that I have for our home and they want it to.  We are becoming united in purpose and the contention did not have to arise.  What a beautiful principle.

Anyway, I kind of went off on a tangent there, and I didn't mean to imply that Harry Potter books are evil and that children will be corrupted through them.  I think they sparked good conversation, but my standards are rising as I become more aware of what real quality is.
A few more books for D.I.
Why does it even matter? Why do I care if the things in my home are not always "the best"? Is this not prudish? Will my kids grow up with a warped sense of real life? I'm reminded of this quote by Arthur Henry King:
Every single object in a room is of relevence to our education and to the education of our children...Children are affected from the beginning by what they see and hear within the walls of their home. Their environment creates their taste"
I remember reading that King read Dickens, Thackeray, Goldsmith and others between the ages of seven and nine. I think we underestimate our kids nowadays. I want my children to read the beautiful language in those hard books. I know they are capable. We recently read "Oliver Twist" and "The Prince and the Pauper" together and they understood what was going on. But why would they want to pick up this more difficult literature on their own if they have entertaining, easy, dumbed down literature available in our home? I don't know. So I am getting rid of the dumbed down stuff and seeing what happens. I'll keep you updated ;-)

Our bookshelves after clearing them out yesterday (not to say that everything in here would be classified as "the best", but I got rid of all I could for now!):
*My friend, "Busybee", wrote a blog post about this sort of thing as well today.  You can read it here.   I happen to know her outside of blog-land and I admire her and her children a great deal.  Her comment on Misfit's blog was one of the ones that made me want to look into Harry Potter a little more.