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Home School & Toddlers: Get Help!

15 Aug

via Home School & Toddlers: Get Help!

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Home Schooling and Twin Toddlers

18 Jul

Home Schooling with toddler twins is extra hard. Find out my tips!!

Small and Simple Home School

TWINS (2)If you are a home schooling mother with twins or multiple toddlers, I want to share with you the things I tried that worked for us.

But first, the background story:

I have twin boys who are almost 3.

The year that the twins were 1-year-old, was a pretty good year, school-wise.  It was our first year home schooling, so I gave myself permission to not be perfect.

The twins were happy to sit by me on the couch, drinking their milk, while we did sort of an extended morning time version of home school.  I read aloud and my students narrated.  It was a beautiful time.  By May, as the twins reached 18 months and demanded more attention, school got harder and harder.   With a sigh of relief, we took summer break, and I reassured myself that school would be easier in the fall.  After all, I…

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Is Motherhood a waste of brains?

12 May

via Is Motherhood a Waste of Brains?

I made it: HP 1205

20 Feb

In January, I took a day to sew something for myself.

HotPatterns 1205 the Genius T.

I love it.

Algebra and Life (and the secret to successful home school math)

19 Feb

Beginner Home school Math Mistakes
           I began homeschooling in August 2016 using Saxon math.  Cherry Pie in Algebra 2, Pumpkin Pie in 8/7, and Tamale Pie in 6/5, I had been given the textbooks my children needed (for free!), and I figured I should use what I had rather than spend money on dreamy manipulative heavy curriculum (MathUSee.)  The benefit to using Saxon was (aside from being able to start for free) that it is a respected curriculum.  So when friends and family members raised their eyebrows and worried that I was going to be one of those home school moms whose children just played and wasted time, I could say, “I’m using Saxon math,” and they all relaxed and got off my case.  However, I second guessed myself more than anyone realized.  I worried that I should buy a different program that might be better for my children.   I worried that the daily work was too repetitive and boring and took too much time.  I worried that Saxon was not helping my kids to see the real beauty that is in math.
            By October 2016, I could tell Cherry Pie was definitely struggling.  I thought a different program would be the solution for her.  I also realized she needed to review Algebra 1, which she had supposedly learned in 8th grade.  So I picked up a textbook called EZ Algebra at my favorite used curriculum store.  Each chapter was written in story form.  This would be fun and interesting, I hoped.  A textbook written in story form seemed to fit with what I understood “living books” were (Charlotte Mason method).  Reading how the characters solved their math problems might help her understand the “why” behind the math.  But many of the homework problems in the new book were tricky and made leaps beyond the instruction that were not intuitive for her or me.  If neither Cherry Pie nor I could figure out how to get the answer, we were sunk because the book didn’t have a solutions guide.  Also each chapter covered 4-5 concepts at once, which was too much new information all at once! I intended to work with her on every lesson, but I was new to home school and schooling 4 children in 4 different math levels plus keeping the 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 1-year-old twins happy and out of mischief was a struggle. Most days, Cherry Pie was on her own for math.
I Learn the Secret to Successful Math Learning:
         After about 6 more weeks of still seeing her struggle, I pulled out the Saxon Math book again, Algebra 1 this time.  I went through a lesson with Cherry Pie. I get so excited about math when I’m teaching the lesson! It’s fun! I realized I have to teach her every day, or math is just not going to work for her or me.  I have to teach daily for me because I don’t know what’s going with her if I’m not directly teaching, and I need the review because I haven’t done much Algebra for 20 years.  Cherry Pie needs the direct instruction every day because she got none in 7th or 8th grade in public school.  She was given an assignment on a computer and told to ask her neighbor if she didn’t understand something.  She was left to flounder on her own for far too long.  I didn’t know this until later, but now that I know, I understand why she was so lost, and why math was so painful for her.
           As I was researching home school, I heard from many moms that they use math as the subject their children are expected to work independently on.  Many of the curriculum choices advertise that students can work through their programs independently.  But now that I’ve been home schooling for almost 2 years, I can say that my children struggled progress in math on their own.  When I began, I thought my 12-year-old and 11-year-old were moving through their Saxon math books by themselves okay, but that was because the concepts were almost all review for them. They weren’t learning anything new, and at the end of each month when I would finally remember to check up on their homework, I would discover that they had completed about 4 lessons for the entire month. (They should have been completing 3-4 lessons per week!)
           When I made the decision that I would work with each child each day for math no matter what, something magic happened. No one was bored with math any more, and everyone began to finish their math assignments in a reasonable amount of time.
Here is the big secret to schooling math: More important than which curriculum you choose is YOU, the teacher, working  one-on-one with your students each day.  I would even venture to say, that the curriculum you choose does not matter at all as long as you work with your children each day.  Choose one that is fun and interesting to you, or at least find one that does some of the thinking for you, because you won’t have time to write lesson plans for every day.  But do not think that the shiny curriculum you really want, but can’t afford, is the key and pine for it.  Because it really is not the answer.  You are the answer.  Even if you have your child work through Khan Academy online (which is free except for the cost of good internet speeds), the key to your child moving at a good pace through the math program is you being their with them for 20 minutes of their math time each day.
I discover that Saxon math is pretty cool, after all.     
           I discovered that in the Saxon book, each of the homework problems has a small number beside it that tells which lesson that concept was taught in.  So if neither Cherry Pie nor I can figure it out, I know where to go to review that concept.  Not only that, I can use those numbers to notice patterns in which problems Cherry Pie misses, and we can go back and review skills that she consistently makes mistakes on.
      Best of all, there is a letter from John Saxon to the students in the beginning of the book.  He says algebra isn’t difficult, it’s just different.  We have to learn to think differently in algebra.  He talked about not being discouraged about making mistakes–that everyone makes lots of mistakes. Mistakes don’t mean that we are bad at math and should give up. We practice each day to develop strategies that will help us avoid making mistakes in the future.
           That was a concept I needed, because once I understood that we were developing strategies, my mindset changed.   As we went through the lesson together, I was specifically paying attention to how the book showed to solve the equations–looking for strategies to help Cherry Pie.  I also payed attention to how I solved the equations.  What are my strategies that I developed all those years ago that are now so instinctive I hardly notice what I am doing?  I asked Cherry Pie to pay attention to how we solved the problems so she could find her own strategies.
        I should never have doubted Saxon.  I realized that he totally gets the beauty of algebra.  He just knows that algebra takes lots of practice.
      Maybe that’s a bit of an allegory for life.  We are here on the earth, trying to learn how to think and be like our Heavenly Father.  His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  We make tons of mistakes.  However, we aren’t supposed to be discouraged by our mistakes or quit or just decide that we are no good at life.  With the help of the master teacher, we continue to practice.  We develop strategies to avoid making those mistakes again. It’s going to take a lifetime of practice, and it can indeed be beautiful.
❤️ Glowworm

19 Random Facts about Me

28 Oct

1. Do you make your bed everyday?

Yes, (well no, because my husband usually makes it in the morning. But if he doesn’t, then I make it–right before I climb into it at night.)
2. Favorite number?

27 Except for that number, I prefer even numbers. Odd numbers make me feel unsettled.
3. Dream job?

Teaching and writing

4. If you could, would you parallel park?

I avoid this whenever possible. However, if I drove a compact car, I’m sure I could do it.

6. Name a job you had which people would be shocked you had:

I had my securities license and sold insurance and mutual funds.

7. Do you think aliens are real?

Yes, but I think they look like us.

8. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes

9. Guilty pleasure? Project Runway and Regency Romance Novels

10. Tattoo? No. I found out they hurt when you get one.

11. Favorite color? Emerald Green (so jealous of people with May birthdays)

12. Things people do that drive you insane?

When they say they “thought really hard before coming to this decision” almost every time someone says that, it is in defense of a pretty dumb/mean choice or action. Sorry friends, “thinking really hard” about something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

13. Fear? Lake dwelling brain-eating amoebas

14. Favorite childhood game? Rook and Masterpiece

15. Do you talk to yourself?

Pretty much all the time. Sometimes I narrate my life in 3rd person to myself as it happens. When I ask myself questions and answer sarcastically, I start to get worried that I’m losing it–usually I decide I just need more sleep.

16. Do you like doing puzzles? Yes. Especially with others.

17. Favorite music?

For what? music has reasons.

Sewing & Happy Days: Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Sigur Ross, Showtunes

Fixing bad days: Hymns, Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Road Trips: Beatles, Neil Diamond, show tunes, Group Love, Peter Paul & Mary, John Denver

Angry Days: Melissa Etheridge, Pink, Madonna

Cleaning the house: The Proclaimers, Billy Joel, Elton John, Barry Mannilow

Make myself do something I don’t want to: Rocky Soundtrack
18. Tea or Coffee? Herbal tea if I’m sick or have insomnia

19. First thing you remember you wanted to be when you were growing up?

A teacher

The Thoughts of a Wandering Sheep

27 Oct

Sunday I was asked to share what I learned from watching the General Women’s Broadcast a few weeks ago.  So here are my thoughts and how it all came together for me.  It was a really good conference, and the messages really inspired me.

I began my talk with this poem.  I explained that I wasn’t going to read it exactly as written, because it is written in a vernacular, and that though I love this poem exactly as it it, I didn’t want the oddness of me trying to talk the way the poem is written to get in the way of the message.  I’ve learned by experience that my dad’s jokes aren’t funny when I tell them.  Willie Nelson’s songs just aren’t the same when I sing them, and I feel this poem would be the same way.   (But I’m not going to re-write it, you have it as it is)

Poor Lil’ Brack Sheep by Ethel M. C. Brazelton

POOR LIL’ BRACK SHEEP dat stray’d away,
Done los’ in de win’ and rain,
An’ de Shepherd He say, ” O hirelin’,
Go fin’ my sheep again. ”
An’ de hirelin’ frowns, ” O Shepherd,
Dat sheep am brack an’ bad. ”
But de Shepherd He smile like de lil’ brack sheep
Is de onliest lamb he had,
Is de onliest lamb he had.

An’ he say, ” O hirelin’, hasten!
For de win’ an’ de rain am col’,
And dat lil’ brack sheep am lonesome
Out dere so far from de fol’. ”
An’ de hirelin’ frown, ” O Shepherd,
Dat sheep am ol’ an’ gray. ”
But de Shepherd He smile like de lil’ brack sheep
Wuz fair as de break ob day,
Wuz fair as de break ob day.

An He say, ” O hirelin’, hasten!
Lo, here is de ninety an’ nine,
But dere way off from de sheep fol’
Is dat lil’ brack sheep ob mine. ”
An’ de hirelin’ frown, ” O Shepherd,
De rest ob de sheep am here. ”
But de Shepherd He smile like de lil’ brack sheep
He hol’ it de mostes’ dear,
He hol’ it de mostes’ dear.

An’ de Shepherd go out in de darkness,
Where de night was col’ an’ bleak,
An’ de lil’ brack sheep He fin’ it,
An’ lay it agains’ His cheek.
An’ de hirelin’ frown, ” O Shepherd,
Don’t bring dat sheep to me. ”
But de Shepherd He smile, an’ He hol’ it close,
An’ de lil’ brack sheep — is me!
An’ de lil’ brack sheep — is me!

So how does the Shepherd reach out for us and how does he bring us back to the fold when we have strayed wide?  I submit that one way He reaches for us is General Conference, and aren’t we lucky that the Lord doesn’t mind repeating Himself!?  He will call us again and again.  Sometimes I have to hear a truth many times for it to really sink in.  Sometimes I think I understand something, and then the Lord repeats it, and I realize there is a much deeper meaning which I had not yet understood.

I learned much from the General Women’s broadcast this fall.  Sister Eubank gave a definition of righteousness that I really loved.  She said: “Being righteous doesn’t mean being perfect or never making mistakes.  It means developing an inner connection with God, repenting of our sins and mistakes, and freely helping others.”  I can do that!  You can do that!  We can all be righteous.  Sister Eubank also said, “There is an energy that comes from happiness and optimism that doesn’t just bless us—it builds everyone around us.”   Hmm.  What small thing can I do to light real happiness today? What if it were as small a thing as changing my focus, could the things I already have to do change for the better?

Sister Jones shared how knowing our divine nature can give us courage and hope.  We need to value ourselves as Heavenly Father values us.  She encouraged us to savor the whisperings of the Holy Ghost and recognize that when we feel the Spirit, it is evidence of our worth to God.  She said:

If the love we feel for the Savior and what he did for us is greater than the energy we give to weaknesses, self-doubts, or bad habits, then He will help us to overcome the things which cause suffering in our lives.  He saves us from ourselves.  Let me re-emphasize: If the pull of the world is stronger than the faith and trust we have in the Savior, then the pull of the world will prevail every time.  If we choose to focus on our negative thoughts and doubt our worth instead of clinging to the Savior, it becomes more difficult to feel the impressions of the Holy Ghost.

Isn’t that true?!  It is true for me.

President Uchtdorf urged us to be joyful.  He spoke of a sister who lived joyfully “not because her circumstances were joyful, but because she was joyful.”  He said:

There may be things about life that are beyond your control.  But in the end, you have the power to choose both your destiny and many of your experiences along the way.  It is not so much your abilities but your choices that make the difference in life.  …You can find joy and happiness in the grace of God and in the love of Jesus Christ. You can be glad!  I urge you to fill your hearts with gratitude for the abundant and limitless goodness of God.”

 Sister Mariott’s talk was my favorite.  She reminded me of something I had learned and needed to re-learn better.  She counseled us to abide in the Lord.  Jesus said, “Thou shalt abide in me and I in you; therefore, walk with me.”  This is something I keep forgetting to do.  When my day is hard—when it begins with yet another night of short, interrupted sleep because the twins apparently don’t need sleep like regular humans—I forget to turn to the Lord, to ask His help to do my work cheerfully.  Sister Mariott said, “Our challenges can pull us off this course of happiness.  We can lose our trusting connection to God if trials drive us to distraction instead of sending us to our knees.”

For a large chunk of my life I tried to repent by myself.  I thought that was how I was supposed to do it.  I asked God for forgiveness and promised to be better, then I tried to make myself better.  Eventually I learned a truth that Sister Mariott also knows.  She said, “Independently forcing ourselves to love others is insincere and hollw, and it simply doesn’t work.  Our sins and pride create a breach—or gap—between us and the font of all love, our Heavenly Father.  Only the Savior’s Atonement can cleanse us of our sins and close that breach.”  I have a weakness towards pride when I am angry that I’ve struggled against for years.  President Benson said, “Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right.  It looks sideways to man and argues who is right.  Pride is manifest in the spirit of contention.”  So if there is fighting, it’s pride.  In my own efforts to change, all I achieved was a thin veneer that fooled me into thinking I was making progress but then cracked under any real pressure.  I remember a day when I was suddenly confronted with how little progress I’d made and how ugly my sin was.  I thought of the years I’ve been trying to change and felt my live was a wasteland, a barren desert devoid of hope.  I realized that I had not changed in any essential way.  I spent a couple of days drifting about in shock not knowing what to do, still praying and reading but without faith or hope that it would do me good.  I couldn’t see a way forward, I was so discouraged by my past failures.  President Uchtdorf said, “Even when you stumble, even when you turn away from him, God loves you.  If you are feeling lost, abandoned, or forgotten—fear not.  The Good Shepherd will find you. He will lift you upon His shoulders. And He will carry you home.”

And so the Good Shepherd found me and carried me home.  I came across these beautiful words in Isaiah 43:18-19 “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”  He will do it. He will make the highway through the wasteland and rivers in the desert.  When I took myself to the Lord and admitted that I was powerless to change and asked Him to change me, then some real change began in my life.  I learned that I have success conquering my weakness ONLY when I remember to abide in the Lord’s power.  Sister Mariott said, “The Savior repaired the breach between us and Heavenly Father.  He through His great atoning sacrifice, opens the way for us to partake of God’s loving power, and then we are enabled to repair the waste places in our personal lives.” The more I turn to Heavenly Father and seek His help, the more I have felt His love surrounding me.  When I was a teenager, I thought that the reason the Savior said His yoke was easy and His burden light was because being righteous causes us less problems, and wickedness leads to all kinds of extra misery.  That’s probably true.  But I’ve found since, that His burden is also light because He helps us carry it.  Sister Mariott urges us to accept God’s love and sacrifice our own natural selfish and fearful tendencies.

It is now with our mortal limitations, that the Father asks us to love when loving is most difficult, to serve when serving is inconvenient, to forgive when  forgiving is soul stretching.  How? How will we do it? We earnestly reach for  Heavenly Father’s help, in the name of His Son, and do things His way instead  of pridefully asserting our own will. 

It is easy to become overwhelmed by all that must be done.  We think we must do all the things.  A few weeks ago my husband and I met with our bishop to counsel with him about a problem that we had not been able to solve ourselves.  He gave us some counsel, including to rise each morning with grateful hearts.  After we got home, I sat down with a notebook to write down the counsel he had given us and the impressions I had so that I wouldn’t forget them.  Then I remembered that we had also been challenged by the Stake President to prepare for our upcoming stake conference by praying and asking the Lord what he would have us do (Acts 9:6).  I felt suddenly overwhelmed, how could I change so many things at once? Surely I would fail.  But I had my pen and paper out so I figured I had better buck up and get on with asking.  So I prayed about it, and the answer I got from the Lord was to be more grateful for my blessings.  So when the Lord says, “by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” that doesn’t just mean that the prophet speaks for the Lord.  Literally, the advice of my priesthood leader and the message from the Lord were the same.  The Lord is so efficient!  Think of the Savior.  On this Earth, he did not heal all who were sick.  He did not heal all who were blind.  He did not raise everyone who died right then.  He got tired.  He left one town and went to another.  He did not do everything.  But He did do all the Father asked.  And that was enough.  We, too, can do all the Father asks of us.  Sister Mariott said, “When we give our heart to the Father and the Son, we change our world—even if circumstances around us do not change.  We draw closer to Heavenly Father and feel His tender acceptance of our efforts to be true disciples of Christ.  Our discernment, confidence, and faith increase.”

I believe this is true, and I know that our Heavenly Father indeed helps us when we seek Him.