Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Books - High Quality Language AND Content?!

I am feeling rather torn about some books I have kept.  If you've listened to the presentation Stories that Build Statesmen by Marlene Peterson, you'll understand why I feel it's so important to have books in our home with quality content and with beautiful language.  If you haven't heard the presentation, you can hear it for free on the Libraries of Hope website.  Click here and scroll to the bottom left and hit play.  It will be well worth your time!  I'm going to try to listen to it again today.  Maybe it will help me with my dilemma.

I've been collecting the Dear America books when I find them at used book stores.  I now have quite a few and they look really pretty on my shelf.
Bud has been really into World War II lately and in an effort to inspire him, I recommended that he read The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins: A World War II Soldier.  I hesitate to recommend books to him that I haven't read, but frankly - I haven't read enough books!  I thought Dear America would be safe.  I have read some of The Royal Diaries books in the series and I was unsure if they were the best kind of quality I wanted to have in my home, but I learned a lot of history when I read them and a lot about the customs and fashions of the era.  I really liked that.  However, the language was pretty simple and the girls were kind of superficial in their thoughts.  They weren't ideal role models in all ways, but they were real characters in history, even if the journals were just made up.  I kept them since I couldn't decide what I thought.

After Bud read the Journal of Scott Pendleton, I decided to read it and see what I thought.  I was surprised by some of the content.  There was some swearing, and some derogatory statements towards women such as this quote on pg 11:
"I wish we could go back to Darmouth.  If Mikey was right about English girls being easy, I would like to find out about it.  Wojo said that French girls were nasty.  Sounds good to me."
Why would anyone write something like that in a children's book?  I don't think Bud understood it, but I still didn't like him reading such statements.  Maybe they were trying to gear these books towards teenagers who read at a third grade level, but even so - they could do without such statements right?  Isn't World War II pretty dramatic as it is?

I skimmed through the Civil War one, since it was written by a different author and Bud wanted to read it.  I found it was more tame and I told him he could try it.  He read for a while, but then told me that there was some swearing in it and asked me if he should keep reading it.  I told him I didn't know.  I told him to put it down if the spirit left him while he read it.  He decided to stop reading it.

Still unsure if I should just get rid of them all, or if I should read each one (since they are written by different authors), I read The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis about the Japanese Camps in America during World War II. I really liked the message and I learned a lot. I think it was worth reading, but again - the language was pretty simple and there was a little bit of teenage romance (which I think is silly at the age of 14), but the romance was very tame compared to The Diary of Anne Frank which I also just finished reading.

However, at least the Diary of Anne Frank was real. There was no reason for the author of The Diary of Piper Davis to put that stuff in there. (Not that I would let my children read The Diary of Anne Frank anytime soon - at least not without some editing!) I know there has to be other great books about World War II out there that Bud could read! I just with I knew where to find them. Any suggestions?

I guess what I am struggling with is whether or not a book is worth keeping if the content is very good (like the Diary of Piper Davis), but the language is not of high quality. Little Miss just finished a book called Heroes of America: George Washington and the language, again, was very simple, but she loved the book and she learned so much about George Washington. Another example is the Work and the Glory books.  I learned church history through them and they taught good values, but the language was not high quality.  Should I keep them?  There are also the Childhood of Famous Americans books. I've collected quite a few, but they are also pretty simple in language.
The content is all good and they also teach good values.  I just wish I knew of more books - especially historical ones that were interesting for kids to read, had beautiful language, and have high quality content.  Ideally, I would like to only have books that have both high quality content and high quality language.  I know I have a lot of reading lists, but none of the children's books are about World War II.  I do want to find books about subjects that my kids are interested in and those subjects are not always on my reading lists.   In fact, most of the books on my lists are over 100 years old - it is hard to find a more modern book with beautiful language since our language has been so watered down. 

I know it may seem like no big deal to have a few books with low language and high content - especially historical ones, but it is very important to me for the children to get well-versed in the language of the classics.  That is just not going to happen if they spend their time reading simple watered-down language.  Does anyone have recommendations?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Living After the Manner of Happiness

Pictures are from a couple of hikes last month
I have decided I want to live after the manner of happiness.  I was starting to stress out again (pregnancy hormones contributed, as well as getting lazy with my personal study time).  I start to worry about things like "grade levels" and age expectations, etc.  I wonder if I am not what is best for my children - maybe they would learn more at school, etc (you get the picture).
When I went to stake conference yesterday, a theme that seemed to keep emerging was living after the manner of happiness.  It woke me up again to those things that really matter.  A big reason I wanted to keep my children home from school was time, I knew there were things that I needed to make sure that they knew before they left my home (loving and serving one another, understanding how it feels to have the Spirit with them and to learn to keep Him with them, listening to His promptings, developing good spiritual habits, loving their fellowmen, developing a relationship with their Savior, scriptural literacy, strength of character or the ability to do hard things, sober-mindedness,  and other such things). 

I just didn't feel like I had enough time with them to make sure that they really understood these things.  I know there are people who are be able to send their children  to school and they are still able to have time to teach them these things.  I've met them.  I just wasn't one of them.  I tried.  I don't know how they do it.  For us, it seemed like when they were home for several days, we'd start to get focus on what really mattered and then I'd send them off for most of the day and when they got back we all lost focus again and playing with friends and homework became the focus of our conversation and their thoughts.

I just really want them to have a sure foundation, a steady focus, an eternal perspective before I send them out into that confusion-bombarded world.

The truth is, I don't have time or energy to do everything that they would be doing at school.  I have to focus my efforts on why I brought them home in the first place.  If they have a sure foundation - they will learn, voluntarily, all they need to learn in order to succeed in this life.  They will also know what true success is.

I'm not saying that I will not teach my children anything secular or academic.  Of course they need those things to understand things as they really are.  I will just have faith that, if I do my part and stay in tune, the Spirit will guide me as to what a particular child needs at particular times and in how to inspire them.  Spice wants to learn spelling so I'll keep working with her on that for as long as she needs.  Bud wants to write better, so we'll work on that as well.  Bazinks wants to read so we'll continue working on that.  Little Miss wants to read music and to draw better so I'll make sure to plan for that as well.  Interests will change, but if I stay in tune - I can know where to go with it everyday.  I just need to stay in tune.  I can not neglect the basics.  Nothing matters more to my progression... or theirs.  That seems a like a pretty heavy burden, but I just need to remember that the Savior promised:
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

That is living after the manner of happiness, I think. If I trust in Him and live His gospel the best that I can - I can have confidence that He'll make up the difference in what I lack and that my children will thrive under His direction. What a comfort that is!

The temple president at stake conference said that we learn to live the "manners" of heaven, or happiness, in this life and that a great place to learn those manners is in the temple. He also said that we need to acquire the right manners to stand in the presence of God. That is what I want for my home - a place where we learn the manners of Heaven - a refined heavenly home.

I love what Elder Hales said during the last conference:
When we follow the prophets’ counsel to hold family home evening, family prayer, and family scripture study, our homes become an incubator for our children’s spiritual growth. There we teach them the gospel, bear our testimonies, express our love, and listen as they share their feelings and experiences. By our righteous choices and actions, we liberate them from darkness by increasing their ability to walk in the light.
Why do I always forget?  No more neglecting the basics for me!

Friday, November 19, 2010

An announcement

Baby number 6 is on it's way.

He/she looks like a bean right now - I'm not very far along.  I went in earlier than I would normally go just to get a more accurate idea of how far along I was.  I couldn't rely on the usual way to estimate my due date because I'm still nursing Ray and I hadn't had the usual symptoms of not-being pregnant.

It turns out I am 8 weeks along (which is one week longer than I thought I was) and everything looks good.  Baby is due July 1st.  I know I should probably wait a little longer to tell people.  I should know better because I have had a miscarriage before, but I'm never very good at waiting.

I am feeling pretty good so far!  I am quite tired and sometimes sick, but I actually have times during the day when I feel fine.  I'm usually quite a bit more sick by now.  My friend, Joanne, once told me that she seems to get less sick if she is nursing a baby when she gets pregnant with another.  Maybe the hormones don't fluctuate as much?  I don't know, but I hope it keeps up!  I'm usually feeling pretty awful by 10 weeks so I guess we'll see.

Everyone is really exited for this new little one.  The boys want another boy "just like Ray", but the girls would love another sister.  I would be pretty exited about either one.  It would be nice to have a boy so Ray could have a little playmate that wouldn't mind playing rough with him, but if this is to be our last baby than it might be nice to have a girl - it just seems ideal to have the youngest be a girl.  I'm tempted to not find out until he/she is born!  It would be fun, but the kids think it sounds crazy and they really want to know - so they might overrule me.

I started getting suspicious that I was pregnant on Halloween.  The kids shared a Kit Kat with me (one of my favorite candy bars) and it made me feel a little sick and I didn't want any more chocolate.  I didn't want any chocolate the next day either so I knew something very fishy was going on.  I usually can't resist chocolate.  I took a test that following day just to put my mind at ease either way.  I was home alone with Bazinks whom I had brought home from church early since he was complaining of feeling sick.  So Bazinks was the first to know.  I was going to wait so Rock could be the first to know, but Bazinks noticed something was up and he said, "Mom, why do you keep smiling so much?"  So I broke down and told him and made him not tell anyone until I told his dad.  He did good.  Rock told the news to the kids and they were all very exited.

The only thing that would make all of this any better is if I could convince my family to let me have this baby at home!  I think that would be such a wonderful experience - and studies show that it's actually more safe than having a baby at the hospital (if it is not a high-risk pregnancy), but no one seems to want to budge on this for me!  Any suggestions?  I'm sure it'll be a lovely experience at the hospital as well.

I better get to my morning - it seems that there is much to do today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Follow-through and Holy-days

I haven't been feeling all that motivated to write lately. I'm not sure why. I think part of it is that I have plenty I'm trying to work on that I have already written about so I'm just working on follow-through. I'm terrible at follow-through. I do want more self-discipline, but that is something that is earned little by little and I hope someday to have a sufficient amount. In the mean time, I'll keep plugging away at my slow pace. I think I'd be a pretty awesome mom if my pace were faster and I actually implemented all of my ideas for more than a couple of weeks. Anyway, I'm working on it and hopefully the kids will see that example (of working on it) and won't notice all the things I lack quite so much.

Another reason I'm not feeling like writing is that I'm still trying to figure out how to make the holiday's more holy and I'm still trying to figure out how to go about it.  This is the first year that we won't be spending Christmas at my mom's house or with everyone at our house (all of my side of the family will be in Florida, but Rock couldn't get enough days off of work so that we could go - and it would have been very expensive even though they all offered to help us out).  So I really want to make it special and memorable with all of the right kinds of special and memorable things.  I want to do service, but we need to find some way to do so.  I don't want a focus on presents or on Santa.  The kids are okay with not doing Santa at all this year.  Should we go with it?  I want to do homemade presents for each other.  I want to spend the day being together and not on playing with mindless toys.  I want it to be a day where we turn our hearts to Christ - a birth in our hearts.  I'm struggling as I try to figure out how to make it all happen.  Does anyone have any traditions that they love that really help bring the Christmas spirit?

I have a couple of kids trying to get my attention so this is a short blog post, but here are some pictures from our weekend:

Decorating the Christmas tree on Saturday:

I took my Activity Day girls (and Bud) to Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday.
It was neat to be there!  We need to make it out there more often.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kids Performances

I just wanted to put up a quick post about when the kid's upcoming choir performances are going to be, so that any family and friends who want to come support them can know when to with enough notice :-)

Spice, Bud and Little Miss:
Monday, November 29 - Friends and Family Concert - Columbus Center, SLC - 5:30pm
Friday, December 3 - Festival of Trees - South Towne Expo, Sandy - 10:55-11:25am
Saturday, December 4 - Santa's Breakfast - Columbus Center, SLC - 8:45am & 9:30am
Monday, December 6 - Columbus Senior Center - Columbus Center, SLC - 11:30am

Spice (she is in an older choir and, in addition to the above concerts, will be performing The Messiah on the following dates:

Wednesday, December 8 - Provo Tabernacle - Downtown Provo - 7:00pm-8:00pm
Saturday, December 11 - Temple Square Assembly Hall, SLC - 7:30pm-8:10pm

We would love to see you there!

*Click here to learn more about Heralders Children's Choir

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Latest

We've had a busy week since I last wrote.  Mostly it's been busy because we've had bouts of sickness.  Bazinks got sick with the croup early last week.  Fortunately, he was better by Friday so I took the kids to choir and then we went to Temple Square.

There is such a wonderful feeling about that place.  We ate at the Joseph Smith memorial building cafe, listened to a man practice playing the organ in the old conference center (the sound was amazing, we were all mesmerized - except little Ray who wanted to play on the sloping floor - and due to the wonderful acoustics in that room, we couldn't stay very long).

We also visited the South Visitors center and saw a miniature replica of the Salt Lake temple in which you can see the inside of the temple and play videos that tell you about each room.  The kids really liked that.

 We also went to the North Visitor's center and went through a presentation about families with the sister missionaries.  I am so incredibly grateful for my eternal gift of a family.

The next day, we went south to my parent's house so they could watch the younger two children while the older 3 went with Rock and I to a The Price of Freedom concert.  It was incredible.  We already had all of the songs memorized (it's Bud's favorite CD so we listen to it often) and then when you add to it the footage from WWII, and the excerpts from letters, with the amazing talent on that stage - we'll never forget it.

Here's one song that I love (the narration comes from real letters):

And here's Bud with the singer:
They were all so amazing. 

That night, Little Miss and Ray started getting fevers and now they both have croup.  Little Miss is an angel when she is sick.  She just lays down and never complains.  I have to remember to ask her if she needs something.  Ray is not so easy.  He likes to be held, so I've had to do a lot of things one handed lately.  Babies are so pitiful when they are sick.  They just look at you with sad eyes wondering what is going on.  We stayed home from their usual club days yesterday and they made forts in the front room and played World War II.  They also found boxes to hide out in.

The kids asked me recently to teach them to spell better.  I've been looking at different programs - detailed ones like The Phonics Road (which I have, but need to sell) or just lists to memorize.  The former seemed too thorough, the latter not thorough enough.  My mom introduced me to Words their Way so I spent Saturday figuring it out and we tried it yesterday.  They liked it, so hopefully it's what we need.  It teaches children to look for spelling patterns in words and find the rules as they see them.  They do it by sorting words.  It's pretty interesting.

I'll also been trying to figure out how to take all this interest in war and soldiers and use it to help our family.  Our new devotional song is We are all Enlisted and they're pretty excited about that.  We are also going to study US history more thoroughly and give World History a little break.

I've also been thinking a lot about traditions and how to change some of the ones I don't like.  It's slow going, but we're coming to some decisions I think.  I'm sure it's a process that will take years.  We just need to start somewhere.   I talked to the kids about the irony of Jesus' teaching us to look not for the riches of this world and to seek for the things of a better and the crazy commercialism that surrounds celebrating His birth.  They agree that this ought not to be.  Now we just need to figure out what to do instead.

That's pretty much life and what's going on in my head these days.  Now I better go take care of some sick children...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wish List

A couple of family members have mentioned to me that we are very hard to shop for since we don't want any more stuff.   They asked that I give them some ideas as to what we would like so I thought I would write some ideas on here for them, and whoever else feels the same way (and don't worry, we would appreciate any gift even if it's not on the list - we are thankful when people are so sweet to get us anything at all). I was worried about writing a wish list because I didn't want it to sound like we not only expect gifts, but we expect certain ones as well. That is not the case. This is just a list of ideas for those interested.  I'll be sure to keep it updated.

I tried to make sure to only write things down that I knew the children would be exited to get, so this isn't just a list of items that I would like them to have.

Ideas for everyone and anyone in the family:

- Teach a skill you know (for example, if you know how to make jam you could give a child or the family a coupon that says "Good for one class with _____ on how to make jam".
-If you know a lot about a subject taking us on a field trip and explaining what you know would be wonderful like maybe a coupon that says, "Good for one nature hike with ______ to learn more about birds" etc.

- A family membership to:
The zoo
Tracy Aviary
The Ogden Nature Center
Treehouse Museum
Discovery Gateway
National Parks Pass

-Tickets to a musical performance or a play

-Gift Certificate to JC Penney, Old Navy, or a book store

-Money to put into their savings fund (this will go to their missions or college)

Ideas for specific family members:

-Gift certificate to Jo-Ann's, Michaels or Roberts
-Book ideas:
The Princess and the Goblin by MacDonald
Flower Fables by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Just David by Eleanor Porter
Five Little Peppers Midway
Draw and Write through History (any in the series)
Drawing for Older Children & Teens by Mona Brookes
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll 
-Cute accessories (she likes cute hats and hair accessories)

-A whittling book or supplies (he has a pocket knife and a sharpening stone)
-A Telescope
-A "real" basketball hoop (not the little plastic kind)
-Book Ideas:
The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess
Secrets of the Woods by William J. Long
Nature Friend Magazine
G.A. Henty books
School of the Woods by William J. Long
-BYU paraphernalia (useful things like a mug, water bottle (not plastic), notebook, pen, etc)

Little Miss:
Book Ideas:

Nonsense Poems by Edward Lear
Draw Write Now (any in the series)
-Cute hair accessories

-Book Ideas:
Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose Coloring Book by Kate Greenaway
Holing C. Holling books
Water Babies by Charles Kingsley  
-BYU paraphernalia
-His own small-sized basketball

The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich
The Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers
The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour
Jane Austen Oxford Illustrated Set or any in the set
The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff
Oxford Illustrated Charles Dickens hardcover (any in the set)
Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series
-Dutch Oven
-Camping Stove

Long Biking Pants or other biking things
Music Download Gift Cards
iTunes Gift Cards
BYU paraphernilia