Monday, September 8, 2014

My Top Twelve Books



There is a book challenge to list 10 "stick with me for life" books going around Facebook that I have enjoyed reading. BUT, when I was challenged to do it, I decided to extend my list to TWELVE! :-)

I decided to share my list here on my blog so that I can find it again and have a more concrete record of it.

My list changes all the time, but these are the books that speak to me now. {I am not including scriptures on this list, but they would top any list I could make!}

Here is my list, in random order:

~ "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens-- This book changed me in so many ways. I even wrote an article about it here.

~ "Howl's Moving Castle" by Diana Wynne Jones-- I identify so powerfully with the main character, Sophie! I read this one at least once a year, just to be with these favorite characters in a world I adore so much.

~ " Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë-- This is a book that seriously affected my life, my soul . I read it at age fourteen, and the character Jane's life decisions impacted me so much, that I made decisions that lead me down my life's path.

~ " Persuasion" by Jane Austen-- This is my favorite read of all time. The reason? Captain Wentworth's letter. To those women who have read it, you know what I mean!!! (If you haven't read it, READ IT! TODAY!!)

~ " Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe-- This book affected me in a very personal way. I have Confederate ancestors that I love, that served and suffered in the U.S. Civil war. And I have ancestors that owned slaves. This book helped me understand the evils of slavery in a way I never could have by reading a dry history book. It also reaffirmed my testimony of Jesus Christ. There are many who look down upon the character of Uncle Tom, but to me, he was the true HERO of this book. He knew who truly owned his soul. And he was devoted to that One True Master. His nobility of character to stand up to his evil slave owner and declare His love and devotion to Christ give me chills just to think about it.

~ "Falling to Heaven" by James L. Ferrell-- After reading this book, I understand more fully about the Atonement of Christ, His love for me, and what true humility does for each of us. I will never be the same.

~ "The Spark" by Kristine Barnett-- As a mother of two autistic kids-- and eleven others-- I find this book invaluable to my efforts in raising and educating our kids. it also helps me see that there is genius not just in autism, but in motherhood, as well.

~ "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek-- Because of this book, I can never again do anything without examining my reasons WHY I do what I do. That thought brings me back to center when I get too distracted. (Which is ALWAYS. )

~ "A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver DeMille-- Our entire homeschool and family culture is what it is because of this book. It impacts my life every day.

~ " Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo-- I can't see any way for a human being to read this book and not come away from it a better, more loving, more forgiving, more righteous person. There are few books I have cried so much over. My heart hurts in ecstasy just thinking about it.

BONUS BOOKS:

~ "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle-- My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Oler, read this book out loud to us in class, and it fueled my love of fantasy forever. I identified with clumsy, grumpy, flawed Meg so much! (Except she was good at math, and I still am not.) I also attribute this book to my love of freedom and liberty. (And maybe even my dislike of public school! LOL!) I am reading it aloud to my kids right now, and they are loving it, too.

~"Macbeth" by William Shakespeare-- Reading this play in high school made me fall in love with William Shakespeare. And since Shakespeare is such a huge part of my life now, I'd say it's pretty monumental. The scene where Macbeth realizes the weight of sin and the consequences of all he's done, overwhelms me every time. (Especially when performed by Patrick Stewart, here.)

What are YOUR Top Ten-- or twelve-- books? And why? I'd love to hear about your list!

Love,

Monday, July 21, 2014

To Young Mothers, to Make Much Use of Time


Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

Everywhere I turn, especially online, I have been meeting a LOT of new homeschooling mothers. I'm not certain if the increase in the numbers of homeschooling moms is a result of the new Common Core brouhaha, but there is no denying that there are more sweet, "newbie" moms asking advice and seeking answers for educating their little ones.

In fact, it was the inquiry a young mom made to a group of homeschoolers online that has inspired me to write this morning.

Because I don't wish to cause contention and make the young mom in question feel targeted by my remarks, I decided to write this blog post with advice for all the new homeschooling mothers out there.


Dear New-to-Homeschooling Mothers:


Hooray! You have decided to do the hard, but wonderful thing and homeschool your children. Congratulations, and welcome to the sisterhood of homeschooling moms everywhere!

I have been homeschooling for fourteen years. (yikes.) Somehow, we have produced two high school graduates, and many more to come. (We have thirteen children, so yes, I am in this for the LONG haul!)

I have tried a lot of resources, and made a ton of mistakes where I have fallen on my face, crying my heart out. I have even wanted to quit forever more times than I care to admit! But through it all, I have been blessed to be comforted and inspired by my husband, other homeschooling moms, and by the Lord, Himself.

I presently find myself in a lovely place of knowing what works for me and my children, but also having experience enough to know that things will and can change in heartbeat. It truly has taken me these full fourteen years to come to this place, and my only wish now, is to save other moms from some of the mistakes I have made.

Often, when we are starting out in our homeschool, we will ask for advice from those with more experience and wisdom, but then broadly reject what we hear from those voices of experience. I freely admit that I have done it myself!

Of course, we can each do things the hard way, and learn from our own mistakes. But we can save a lot of time and heartache, if we humble ourselves enough to learn from the experiences of others.

So, here's some hard-earned advice from this fourteen-year-veteran-homeschooling-mom of thirteen. Take it, or leave it, but it is all given in love and with the intent to help you on your homeschooling journey.

Gather Ye Rosebuds, While Ye May

There's a lovely poem written in the first part of the seventeenth century that I quoted at the beginning of this post. It's advice given to young maidens about how they should spend their time when they're young.

As a mother of grown children, I feel this advice is also good for young moms. When our children are young and we are first starting out, we tend to get in a rush for our little ones to grow up. We can't wait to see them crawl, then walk, and then talk. We tend to live in their futures, and while it's all well-meant, we may regret those inclinations when those little ones are grown.

Recently, there have been a few articles I've seen written by young mothers, complaining about older moms telling them to treasure the time their children are little. They say they don't want to hear it! They say that more experienced moms don't understand, or don't remember, how hard it is to raise little children.

Honey, we get it-- we LIVED it. We haven't forgotten how hard it is, or how lonely it often feels. We simply know that things will get harder, and in more heartbreaking ways!

So please stop being angry. Dry your tears, take a deep breath, and try to honestly hear what we are saying.

On a related note, I know it is frustrating for new homeschooling moms to hear again and again that six year olds don't need a fully-comprehensive curriculum so they can get ahead, or stay "on level" so they don't "get behind." They are ready to dive in, full force, so that their precious kids don't "fall behind."

Sweet, young mothers, there are reasons for the responses you get to your questions, and here they are:


1) Burn Out Is REAL.

I started homeschooling my babies when my oldest child hit the age for preschool. I read everything about homeschool that I could get my hands on, and spent hours and hours perusing catalogs with shiny new curriculum and fun-looking workbooks. I spent an inordinate amount of money on a stack of textbooks and workbooks.

MY kids were going to be brilliant! I would do everything the RIGHT way, and would find the PERFECT curriculum, and that would be it for us, forever and ever, amen. YAY! We would master homeschooling!

Honestly, that enthusiasm and confidence lasted for about a year. And suddenly, one day I found myself sobbing, staring at a textbook I hated, crying for mercy. I wondered why I had ever thought I could do this homeschool thing. My kids hated it. I hated it. I began searching the yellow pages (This was before Google, y'all.) for schools, thinking my children would definitely be better off without me as their teacher.

And then, in one last-ditch hope, I attended a small homeschool conference, and finally listened to what other homeschooling moms had been trying to tell me: 

"Enjoy the journey." 

"Don't stress out-- relax!" 

"It's okay to try something else, if what you've got isn't working." 

"Let them play. They are only children once!" 

"Build the relationships first." 

"All they need is for you to read aloud to them." 

"God sent your children to YOU for a special purpose. Trust Him."

As I opened my heart and humbled myself, the burden began to lift, and I began to hope again that we just might be able to continue homeschooling. And we have!

Rigid structure, strict deadlines, trying to live up to perfection, and worrying about kids being "caught up" all CAUSE BURN-OUT. 

Ask any experienced homeschooling mama, and they will tell you the same thing. 

Please listen!

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire - William Butler Yeats


2) Love of Learning Can Be Killed.

When I was trying to shove textbooks and multiple assignments down the throats of my sweet little ones in a effort to "show the world" that I could be a good teacher, I cultivated vitriolic seeds of hate for learning into my children. 

They were frustrated. 

I was frustrated. 

And they were learning NOTHING, no matter how much harder I pushed.

There is a wonderful quote by the brilliant poet, William Butler Yeats, that holds great truth. 
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
As a winner of the Nobel Prize for poetry, Mr. Yeats knew of what he spoke! In fact, he was paraphrasing the great Socrates when he said it.

Our children's minds are not blank slates for us to write upon. Rather, they have genius in them that we need to draw out! And nothing closes a person's mind faster than coercion.

We may even be able to produce little automatons that do everything they are told to do, but what happens when they grow up, and no longer listen to us? Either they will do whatever the majority of the world tells them to do, or they will spend far too much of their adulthood rejecting everything they're told, until they come to learn through hard experiences and years of wasted time.

On the other hand, when our children fall in love with learning, they thirst for knowledge, and will be much more open to the lessons we have to teach them. We become more effective teachers with less frustration and heartache, and peace ensues.

And who doesn't want peace?

3) Relationships Are Easily Damaged.

This next point is closely attached to the last one. Nagging, yelling, forcing, and punishing do not build relationships of trust. They never have, and they never will! 

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained... only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
We cannot truly influence our children for good, unless we seek to influence them in the same way that God influences us.

We must come to Him-- He will "force no man to heaven."

When we are pushed by someone, resentment takes root. Trust cannot be built between an enforcer and the enforced. Our very nature, as children of God, rejects coercion.

Remember "persuasion..., long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and... love unfeigned."

That is how GOOD relationships are built and maintained. And, consequently, how the best learning can take place.

4) Your Kids WILL Learn, Even in Spite of You

When the Lord asks us to homeschool, He will always provide a way for us to do the difficult thing He has asked us to do. (1 Nephi 3:7)

And it will all work out GREAT.

I freely admit that I have made an immense amount of mistakes as I have taught my children at home.

But wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, they have learned everything they need to know in spite of all my failings! I have two grown children who are doing wonderful things in the world, and while they are not perfect, they will be FINE.

In fact, they will be more than fine.

It feels GOOD.

And YOU can do it with your children, too.

5) A Second Witness

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matthew 18:16)
I am not the only homeschooling mom who has successfully homeschooled her children. There are many moms that have done much more amazing things in their homeschools than I have done. 

But I am willing to bet that every homeschool mom has had to learn the same lessons I have listed above. 

Those that have not learned those lessons have given up and sent their kids back to school.

I have many homeschool friends who also have words of wisdom to share. If you don't want to take my advice, I invite you to read the following articles by other homeschooling moms I love and admire:

The above posts are great places to start, and each blog listed has even more fantastic articles to offer.

You Can Do It!!!

Don't let any of the advice you read discourage you. YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL! 

But please, PLEASE learn from those who have gone before you. You will save yourself a lot of heartache, wasted time, and even loads of money if you do so!

Wishing new homeschoolers everywhere the very best, with love,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Our New Little Girl


Fiona Temple
Arrived on April 28, 2014
at 8:51pm
7lbs. 1 oz. 21" long

Thank you for your patience as I take a break from blogging, in order to enjoy my "babymoon." We are loving this precious new gift from our Heavenly Father!

Love,
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