Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dealing with Discouragement

"The almost impossible thing... is to hand over your whole self to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead."
~C.S. Lewis

Dear friends and sister-mothers,

As you probably noticed, the OFM blog has been pretty quiet for a few months. I have been going through a rough year with one of my children, and it has made me feel like I have nothing to contribute to other mothers. 

The enemy has really filled my head with all kinds of bad thoughts about myself, my family, my abilities and all my efforts:

"Who do you think YOU are?"

"You have no business trying to help other moms."

"You can't even take care of your own kids."

"You have nothing worthwhile to contribute."

Once upon a time, I thought I could not write. I had some discouraging things happen in school that made me believe that I would never be a good writer. But then I started blogging and gained some confidence. Next, I took part in a class where we had some writing assignments, and I started to really fall in love with the writing process. And as a mother, I found that I needed to write to record my ideas and feelings about motherhood in order to process everything I was learning.

After that, I wrote with confidence and enthusiasm! I had a wonderful time, and even attended a writing conference, and talked with a publisher about the possibility of writing an OFM book.

And then, LIFE happened.

It might sounds silly, but motherhood suddenly became not just difficult, but impossible to succeed in. And so why would I want to write about it any more? Realizing that I could do everything "right" and still "fail" made me lose hope in many things. 

Luckily, my circumstances also turned me more fully to Christ. I found that I needed Him more than ever. And I found that I never, NEVER can do everything "right"!  Only HE can. 

I have been really inspired by some posts my son's "mission mom" has shared here, here, here, and here. She has reminded me that I can apply the Savior's Atonement to my life. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I need Him every moment of my life. We ALL do! None of us can make it without Him.

And if that's what difficult times teach me, then I am willing to go through them. Because I have my Savior on the journey with me, I can deal with whatever life throws at me. And I can write about it here. So, thanks for still reading.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dinner Menu Ideas from My Friends

Dear friends, I have recently been trying to bring new life to my family's dinner menu, so I posed the following question to my friends on Facebook:
Dinner dilemma: I can hardly find anything worth trying when I go hunting for recipes that are inexpensive, relatively healthy, and don't take hours to prepare. Is this really too much to ask?! (Probably, but humor me here...) Anyone wanna share their favorite go-to dinners that fit the description above? If my family has to eat spaghetti one more time, I may have a mutiny on my hands!
The responses I got were wonderful! And since I wanted to continue to be able to easily access all the ideas I received, and also to share them with others, I decided to record all the responses here on the OFM blog. *Please note that some of the suggestions also have links to the recipes.*

So, without further ado, here's a list of go-to recipes from my fabulous Facebook friends-- real moms just like you!
  • Taco Soup: 1 lb hamburger, 1 can corn, 1 can chili, 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can stewed tomatoes, 1 can water, 1 pkg taco seasoning. We scoop it on top of corn chips and add shredded cheese and sour cream. Super simple and yummy!!!!
  • Cheesy Rice and Beans with Corn Chips: Cook 1 cup brown rice. Saute one diced onion in 1 T olive oil, then add one can diced tomatoes with juice and 2 teas chili pwd. Drain and rinse 1 can beans (we like black) and stir into tomato mixture. When rice is done, layer it with the tomato mixture in a greased casserole dish along with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 min. We like to have toppings with it like sour cream, guacamole, olives, green onions, etc. We eat it with corn chips and serve corn on the side.
  • Soups: I do chili, chicken tortilla soup, loaded baked potato soup, lotsa soups. They're my substitution for casserole for my large family.
  • Lemon or Orange Chicken with Rice and Steamed Veggies: We stopped breading the chicken and just grill it on th BBQ. Cuts down on time and calories and tastes GREAT. Each person can put as much or little of the orange or lemon sauce on their chicken as they want.
  • Tater-tot casserole: It's easy and cheap!
  • Lentil Porridge, Rice, Naan Bread, Veggies
  • Stir Fry and Rice: which means whatever is in the fridge or freezer and if there is meat available....the biggest amount of time prep is cutting veggies. I always have fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce available because they are staples in stir fry. Terayaki sauce is easily made with soy sauce and a little sugar and water. Sweet n sour, with a tomato base, pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar.
  • Shepherd's Pie: My family LOVES [it]! I brown hamburger, add a can of corn, green beans, carrots, and tomato soup. Mix it all together in a casserole dish, and cover with mashed potatoes (I use my food storage instant potatoes sometimes) and grated cheddar cheese. Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
  • Hawaiian Haystacks: There's tons of recipes for them on Pinterest.
  • Salsa Chicken: Throw some chicken in the crockpot with some salsa and cook it and then shred it and have it in tacos. Super easy and yummy!
  • Hamburgers with Small Baked Potatoes
  • Homemade Pizza: [We use] dough from Fresh and Easy and [top with] leftover ground hamburger.
  • Crockpot Pork Chops: [Serve] with soup over them and rice on the side.
  • Chicken Veggie Stew: I like to add cream of chicken soup to make it creamy and then cook dumplings on top.
  • Hot Dog Chimi Casserole: Take hot dogs roll in tortillas, put chili in bottom of cake pan, put rolled hot dogs in top then 2 cans chili on top. Cheese bake 30 mins at 375, I believe, and crumble Fritos on top.
  • Rice and Stir Fry Veggies: [It] is always good. 
  • Pesto Pasta: To buy pre-made stuff is expensive and so are most recipes. But there are two inexpensive ways to do it. You can make it out of spinach instead of basil or they also sell pesto packets for a dollar where you just add oil and water. Super yum!
  • "Everything in the Fridge" Soup: I just dig out every veggie and meat I can find, chop it up, add a can of tomato or cream-of-whatever soup, a big plop of sour cream and whatever spices smell good. Its quick, easy, and cleans out the fridge.
  • Easy Korean Beef:  I make it with ground beef and even throw in some quinoa to make it even cheaper. We eat it with rice and steamed broccoli. My kids love it!// My kids really, really love this one. It's really easy to put together and you can make it even easier by buying pre-made bulgogi sauce at the store. All you have to do is put some rice in the rice cooker. We love serving it with lettuce to wrap it up in. Yum.
  • Recipe Websites:  Have you tried allrecipes.com, cookinglight.com,sparkpeople.com, or foodie.com? I have to have 30min or less recipes for myself and my clients and those are few of my go-to resources.
  • Zuppa Toscana: We love potato soup and Toscana soup
  • Honey Mustard Chicken and Roasted Winter Veggies or Potatoes: Brown chicken thighs then place in pan. Mix together equal parts honey and Dijon mustard. Pour over chicken. 3 ways: add sliced Jalepenos for a kick, basil for the classic style or mushrooms and mozerella for a dressed up version. Salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for an hour. Turn every 15 minutes for equal glazing, if desired.
  • Chili and Bread: You can make it with canned beans that are cooked and soft already when you need to make it in a hurry. 
  • Pancakes and Eggs: Works once in a while for dinner. 
  • Homemade French Fries and Hamburgers
  • Baked potatoes: [Serve with] toppings or top with chili and cheese are also quick and easy.
  • Chili Mac: Add chile to macaroni and cheese for --that's something older kids can make on their own when you need a night off. 
  • Taco salad: Easy Peasy
  • Tacos
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Chicken with Rice
  • Pork Chops
  • Baked Potato Bar 
  • Twice Baked Potato
  • Rice Bowls
  • Tortilla Pizzas: On the griddle
  • "Goolosh": Quick and easy--rice, cream soup and whatever veggies and or meat you want.
  • Stews: They are nourishing, yummy and easy. Lentle stew, potato chowder, chicken noodle soup, broccoli chowder, beef stew (more expensive than most, but I look for sales and buy a roast cheaply then cup it up and cook it in a crock pot or pressure cooker). All the chowders can be dairy free by using coconut milk and or cashews.
  • Shipwreck Skillet (from the cookbook "Cheap Fast Good"): [Made from] hamburger, onion garlic bell pepper sautéed then cooked rice (we use quinoa sometimes) and Worcester and seasoning.
  • Chicken Curry: [It] has become a favorite easy meal and I cook it quickly and not do all the simmer time and it is still delicious. First I get 3 cups of rice cooking. Next, I purree an onion and garlic, chop up 2 chicken breasts, put them in a skillet with 1 tsp salt, 1/3 tsp pepper, 2 to 3 TBS curry powder, and 1 to 2 TBS coconut oil. I stir fry that and when the chicken is cooked I pour in one can of coconut milk (needs to be the thick canned stuff) and one medium sized can of tomato sauce, and 1TBS sugar. I let that boil for a couple of minutes and then serve it over the rice. We love it.
  • Ready to Go: I try to always have rice, corn chips, flour tortillas, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, canned beans, canned coconut milk, canned corn, bell peppers, lettuce, and tomatoes on hand at all times because I can usually concoct something easy and healthy from some combination of them.
  • Bean Quesadillas: One of our favorites is to take tortillas (corn or flour, both work) refried beans, green chilies, and cheese. Mix the beans, chilies and cheese together. Spread over a tortillas. Top with another tortilla, or fold one in half. Toast on a griddle or fry pan. If you want to be unhealthy but decadent, fry them in oil instead of toasting.
  • Taco Soup: My taco soup recipe is meat free, and all from canned goods. 2 cans Kidney beans, 1 can corn, and 2 cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes. Mix with some taco seasoning and you're done. Serve with cheese, or sour cream and chips.
  • Kat's Lentil TacosThey are seriously so delicious! // This is one of my favorites. it’s super inexpensive, usually everything is on hand, healthy (if you don’t fry the tortillas ; ) ) and good enough to entertain with.
  • Steamed Potatoes and Smoked Sausage with Green Beans: Peel your potatoes and cube them up or you can keep the skins on, slice up a bunch of carrots or use baby carrots and a can or two of green beans. Then you buy the smoke sausage, has to be the smoke sausage , and you slice that up. The trick is you need a pan that steams. It's like a colander pan and so the steam is what cooks everything it doesn't actually boil or touch the water and you put the sausage over all the vegetables so that the juices run down over and give them flavor. Cook until the vegetables are done, put butter over everything and I like to use Mrs. Dash to season. It is delicious and feeds a lot of people.
  • Pinto Beans and Smoked Ham Hock (with corn bread): I don't always love crockpot meals because they taste all the same to me. But, I DO like crockpot pinto beans (which can turn into refried beans the next day), with cornbread. My cornbread recipe is a yellow cake mix plus 2 Jiffy corn muffin mixes. Maybe not super healthy, but the beans are at least.
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala: I love Indian food, and my kids love tikka masala. This is a good one!
  • Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter: Another easy meal that's quick to throw together is anything with store bought gnocchi. It's so filling and yummy.
  • Turkey Breast and Crash Hot Potatoes: We also will get a pre-cooked turkey breast and serve it sliced with Crash Potatoes which may seem hard, but are really so easy my kids make them frequently.
  • Chinese Cabbage and Hamburger: So in desperation one day I made up a recipe and everyone liked it so we have it regularly now. I get a head of cabbage and slice it up so it is shredded. No need for perfection here. Then I dice an onion. I stir fry the onion a bit and add the cabbage. Cook tip soft. I add a little tamari sauce and some fish sauce--I don't measure. After that is cooked I set it aside and brown some hamburger also adding a bit of tamari (or soy sauce) and some fish sauce and some garlic powder. (Use as much or as little beef as you want. It adds flavor even when there is not much.) I then throw all of it together and serve over rice. Tastes like Chinese food.
  • Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes: My mom's go-to meals when all of the kids were at home was hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes and hamburger with cabbage. Brown hamburger, add chopped cabbage, saute til cabbage is soft.
  • Skillet meals: Hamburger/macaroni noodles/tomato sauce/topped with cheese and hamburger/potatoes/carrots/onions/beef bullion. 
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Chicken pockets: Chicken/cream cheese baked inside refrigerator croissants
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Chicken with Dumplings: [Cook] in the crockpot with refrigerator biscuits 
  • Meatballs over Rice
  • Homemade Mac n' Cheese
  • Grilled Tuna or Cheese Sandwiches
  • Slow Cooker Bajio Chicken: My kids love this chicken in taco salad, burritos, etc.
  • Crockpot Chicken Fajitas: We just did these last night...every single child plus the missionaries gobbled it up. That NEVER happens!
  • More Soups: I love soups! Beans are cheap if you start from dry. I like to stock up when they are on sale at sprouts in the bulk foods. I hear Winco has cheap bulk food, too! I buy whole chicken's (which lately have been under $1/lb on sale) and I can usually get three large crockpot soups out of each one. If you use the beans or lentils you can stretch the chicken meat even farther and save some for casseroles and sandwiches. I use ground turkey instead of hamburger. (Hubby claims to tell a difference in taste, but I tell him I feel a difference in the wallet!)
  • Creamy Chicken Stew: Chicken breast, chicken stock, peas, carrots, potatoes, spices, with a roux to thicken it, and whole wheat drop biscuits. It took longer than I had planned, but it was cheap, we had all the ingredients, and it was pretty healthy!
  • Beans and Rice: My family is only five, so you will need more, but I use 3 cans of kidney beans (drained) and 1 Hillshire turkey sausage thingy. I put 1 1/2 cans of beans in 3 cups chicken broth with some spices. (Whatever you like, I use cumin, chili powder, garlic and thyme.) Mush the beans up with an immersion blender and then add the other can of beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes while frying the sliced sausage. Add the sausage to the bean mixture and serve over rice with green beans on the side. My whole family likes this.
  • Fajitas: Slice 1-2 onions and an equal amount of colored bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange - your choice) removing pepper seeds. Slice up 1 lb. of either beef or chicken into thin strips. In a bowl combine 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 garlic clove minced, 2 1/2 Tbsp. fajita mix (recipe to follow) and add to the meat, covering it all well. In a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add onions and peppers, stirring for 3-4 minutes until softened; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add meat to skillet and cook, stirring 3-4 minutes or until they lose their red color. Return onions and peppers to skillet; stir for about 1 minute. Serve in warm tortillas, with toppings such as salsa, cheese, sour cream, etc. Feeds 4-6 people. Fajita mix (enough for 5 recipes): 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 2 1/2 tsp. cumin, 2 1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes, 2 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 2 1/2 tsp. salt. Mix together in a bowl.
  • Crepes with Jam: [This] is another fun breakfast/dinner we do it with canned fruit or jam. Or if you've read a jam blend up the fruit and call it good.
Are your creative homemaker juices flowing? I know mine are!

As I finish my new menu for the Autumn season, I am looking forward to trying some of these ideas for our large family's dinners. 

If you have some dinner ideas you'd like to share, please comment below! I'd love to hear them!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's Important to You?

This lovely, sweet song made me think a lot about my priorities today.

What is important to YOU?

It's a good thing to ponder. 


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.


~ "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!


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!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Women of God

“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. “ ~Margaret D. Nadauld

I'm afraid I've lost my patience.

I have lost patience with all the whining, complaining, and boo-hooing about "It's not FAIR!"

(And no, I'm not just talking about the occasional weeping and wailing that goes on by the little girls in my house about why life is "soooo un-FAIR!")

Actually, I do want to explore that complaint for just a second.

Life is Not Fair

I love the phrase "Fair is where you go to see the pigs." A "Fair" is a PLACE, not a principle that applies to our lives.

I use the phrase often in my home with my children. Because it's TRUE!

This very morning, my six year old daughter was scowling with her arms folded, demanding to know why life is NOT fair.

And it made me think, "Why isn't life fair?" Why don't we all have the same problems and blessings? Why aren't we all the same?"

I think if we take that thought all the way down the path it starts on, we can see how awful life would be if we were all just cookie-cutter copies of each other!


Life ain't fair, folks. It's meant to be a difficult test, and each person will have their very own, customized list of inequalities and unfair struggles to deal with. No human being gets a walk in the park, where everything is sunshine and roses all the time. There is always a cost. (Even for sunshine. I live in Arizona; this I know!)

My Awesome Grandma N.

No Whining Allowed

The picture above is of my Grandma. She is in her nineties. When you look up the word "stalwart" in the dictionary, her picture is there!

(Okay, not really, but it should be!)

This woman was raised by her often-single mother through the Great Depression. (My great-grandmother was also a force to be reckoned with! She buried three husbands throughout her life. She raised and supported a houseful of kids. She was AMAZING.) 

She learned how to work hard for everything she has ever had. She does not complain about life, she ACTS. The biggest trial in her life right now may be her physical limitations due to her age. She can't stand that she can't do more. 

My Grandpa, her husband, has been gone for twelve years. She still lives alone in the house where she raised her eight children, and gathers her great posterity around her. I remember her being a young women leader when I was in young women's. She has been a camp director and mover and shaker her whole life.

And she is a faithful daughter of God, who has never complained about the role of women within the Church.

I have a pretty good idea of what she probably thinks about all the complaining some women are doing about not having the priesthood...

There's a plaque my Grandma has up in her house that she brought home from one of her many treks to Yellowstone Park. It says:
My Grandma doesn't whine and moan about "unfairness." She rolls up her sleeves and goes to work.

And I'm thinking there's some women protesting who should stop complaining and instead do what they can to make their families, homes, neighborhoods, wards, and the world a better place-- using the gifts they have already been given by the Lord.

A Second Witness

And now for my FAVORITE blog post about the so-called "protest" going on this weekend and next. I feel this wonderful lady said all I've wanted to say beautifully and simply, with humility and even a suggested course of action!

From the At Home blog: "The Problem with Priesthood Protests"
I firmly believe if the women in the church were busy doing the callings they've already received, they'd have little desire for the priesthood. Ladies, let's serve where we're planted, and support our brethren in the callings they've received.

Oh, YES! And thank you! We DO have a lot of work to do.

I firmly believe that Satan is distracting the women of the Church with the utter nonsense of whining about what we don't have.

What we need is less griping and whining and more action in building up our families and the Kingdom of God.

There is much for us to do, so let's not complain, but instead get to work, as women of God should!

Just like my intrepid, faithful, stalwart Grandmother.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Feminists verses Families

The following article is just exactly what I have been trying to say for years-- except, as a man, I believe the author says it with more authority on the subject.

Much love,

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Respecting Our Husbands

I dearly love and respect my amazing husband!

Today was definitely a "PREGNANCY DAY."

And life has been crazy, and I've been terrible at blogging, but I do still have lots I want to share with my OFM readers and friends.

But today, all I really have the energy to do is share a great article I read on another blog about the respect we wives should give to our husbands.

Often, people will say that a husband should only be respected if he “earns” it. This attitude is precisely the problem. A wife ought to respect her husband because he is her husband, just as he ought to love and honor her because she is his wife. Your husband might “deserve” it when you mock him, berate him, belittle him, and nag him, but you don’t marry someone in order to give them what they deserve. In marriage, you give them what you’ve promised them, even when they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.
Read the entire article HERE. It's a good one!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Where Will YOU Stand?

I do not live in the state of Utah, but I and many others from other states are watching what Utah will do in the coming months to defend traditional marriage.

As you may remember from my last post, Utah now stands at the forefront in the battle to keep the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.

I've read lots of articles and essays on the subject, as well as talking to many people, and I must say that I am frustrated that there are those in Utah who are giving up!!!

When we pick up one end of a stick, we also pick up the other. When we choose one road over another, we also choose the destination of where that road leads.

To keep our heads in the sand, and think that we will be "left alone," if only we just "give people what they want," we are only deceiving ourselves.

 For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!
And then, in the Doctrine of Covenants the Lord says:
And thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell; and thus he causeth them to catch themselves in their own snare.

Staying Valiant in the Cause

I often, when thinking of fighting for truth, think of Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon. His people were in REAL danger of losing their freedoms. Those who opposed the people governing themselves had joined with the vast, innumerable armies of the Lamanites. They were outnumbered, discouraged, and tired.

But did Captain Moroni give up and say "Oh, well. Let's just give them what they want, and then they'll just leave us alone. What's the big deal?"

Uh, NO. That's not what he said.
Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.
And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.
And he didn't just talk, he ACTED:
And it came to pass that when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage.
And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.
And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; and they fled even to the waters of Sidon.
Of course, we should be civil and Christlike in our defense of traditional marriage. But I know, with all my heart, that if we sit back and do nothing to protect the most sacred, divine institution (marriage) that God has created, The Lord WILL hold us accountable.

From Elder Robert D. Hales:
"Do what is right even though it seems you will be alone in so doing, that you are going to lose friends, that you will be criticized. I have never been sorry on any occasion that I stood for what was right even against severe criticism."

Though our enemies are numerous, and though they mock us, and call us names, and "gnash their teeth" in hatred and anger at us, we still have God on our side.

As our church leader, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated:
"In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham’s seed."

We MUST stand obedient and strong in the doctrine of our God on the issue of marriage.


What will YOU do to stand up for marriage?

I invite everyone who truly believes in the sanctity of traditional marriage who is in Utah to attend TONIGHT'S Rally celebrating Traditional Marriage between a man and a woman.

Please stand for truth. 

Please stand for families. 

Please stand for religious freedom. 

Please stand for our children and the world they will inherit. 


Tonight, at 7pm, at the State Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City. 

We will be watching you, Utah.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Standing Up for Traditional Marriage

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” 

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” 

This post has been brewing in my mind and heart for a couple of weeks now, and then Cocoa's post today urged me on to write my own post on the matter of marriage, as a way to add my voice to hers in defense of The Traditional Family. (Another great blog post supporting traditional marriage can be found here.)

Some of my readers may not have heard about the blow that was given to the people of the state of Utah mere days before Christmas of 2013. A lone judge in the state declared-- against the law passed by the people of Utah way back in 2002-- that "same sex marriage" was legal in Utah. In the midst of Christmas shopping, and the flurry of new winter snow, the law protecting marriage was brushed aside and declared void.

I was baffled and shocked that one man felt that he had more knowledge, more insight, and more influence than all the people of an entire state. And more than that, I was disappointed and saddened that this one judge felt that his judgement was more important than the eternal laws of the very Creator of the universe.

"A Family Grouping" by James Hayllar

I wish to raise my voice with others to say that I KNOW that marriage is ordained of God. I declare firmly that children need, and are entitled to, a loving mother AND father. I testify that God's laws and morals are unchangeable and eternal.

Luckily, the Supreme Court has issued a stay on the matter, but the battle for traditional marriage in Utah is not over yet.

I am so grateful that our Church is led by men who are called of God, who are not afraid to stand and declare truth in the face of opposition. I'm also thankful that they expressed love and kindness to ALL, reminding us all to be civil and respectful to one another.

Ironically, this talk, and this talk were given to all the members of our church around the world in October of 2013-- just two months before this notorious judgement was brought down upon the people of Utah. (MANY of whom are members of my church.)

To learn more about what our Church teaches about marriage and the family, see "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

With love and conviction,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Drop by Drop

Last year, a couple of my blogging friends talked about their "word for the year." I chose my own word (schedules), and really worked hard on that theme. 

I think I did better at scheduling than I have before, but sticking to schedules is still a difficult thing for me. (Creating them is easy!)

I'm a spontaneous person, who'd rather "go with the flow" than stick to a rigid list of tasks and the times they need to be done.

YIKES. That stresses me out to even just think about those words!

I hope I have improved over the years, and I think I HAVE, but I know that my children need a bit more structure in their lives.

"Con Amore" by Edmund Blair Leighton

The Law of the Harvest

"The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing." ~Proverbs 20:4 KJV
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;" ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 KJV
At the beginning of this new year, I am pondering a lot about "the Law of the Harvest," and what that means to us when creating excellence in our lives, families, and homes.

I have been heavily involved in music since I was a little child. I know what it means to practice a piece of until it is "right." There are no shortcuts, no cramming that can be done to substitute daily, methodical practicing.

The same thing applies to learning many different subjects, like math, reading, and writing. And, of course, the principle of daily growth, little by little, also applies to our spirituality. 

"Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me." ~Alma 32:28, The Book of Mormon 
If we want a bountiful spiritual "harvest," at the end of the "season," we must do the small daily tasks of reading the scriptures, praying, pondering, and spending time with God.

The same thing can be said for our relationships with our husbands, our children, our extended families, and our friends and neighbors. What kind of relationships are we cultivating with those we love?

Bountiful Blessings

Imagine how different our world would be if we followed the "Law of the Harvest." What if we stopped demanding instant gratification? What if we had to plant/plan earlier, and work a little bit every day in order to have the resulting blessings throughout the year?

Imagine what WE, our children, and those around us could be, what we could accomplish, when we work on the most important things, little by little, day by day.


How great the harvest would be, indeed! This year, for 2014, I want to end with an even better harvest than I've ever cultivated before. And that will take the daily building up of my "drops of oil", one drop at a time.

Spiritually. In my relationships. In my personal study. In what I teach my children, and how I nurture them. In how I care for our home.

If I will improve just the tiniest amount each day, I know I can expect a bountiful 2014!

Love to you and yours in the new year,
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