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.

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Algebra and Life

19 Feb
 I began homeschooling in August 2016 using Saxon math.  I had been given the textbooks my children needed, and I had heard over the years of my own schooling that Saxon was the best.  In October 2016, I switched Cherry Pie over to a different Algebra 1 book. She was struggling, and I thought the new program would be easier for her.  Each chapter was written in story form.  I was feeling like Saxon Math was boring, and that it doesn’t help kids see the beauty that is in math–it’s all just endless repetition of problems. But some of the homework problems in the new book were tricky and made leaps beyond the instruction that weren’t explained. Sometimes neither Cherry Pie nor I could figure out how to get the answer, and the book didn’t have a solutions guide.  Also each chapter covered 4-5 concepts at once, which was too much new information!
After about 6 more weeks of still seeing her struggle, I pulled out The Saxon Math book again.  I went through a lesson with Cherry Pie. I get so excited about math when I’m teaching the lesson,  I realized I have to teach her every day, or math is just not going to work for her or me.  For one, because I don’t know what’s going if I’m not directly teaching.  For two, I need the review because I haven’t done Algebra for 20 years.  For three, Cherry Pie needs the direct instruction 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 much too long.  I heard from many home school moms use math as the subject their children are expected to work independently on.  Most of the curriculum choices brag that students can work through their program without much help from parents.  But now that I’ve been home schooling for 2 years, I can conclusively say that my children cannot progress in math on their own.  More important than which curriculum I choose is just me, the teacher, working  one-on-one with them each day.
Bonus! in the Saxon book, each of the homework problems has a small number beside it that tells which lesson that concept is taught in.  So if neither she or 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 said 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, and that part of the reason for practicing math each day is to develop your own strategies that help you avoid making mistakes.  That was the understanding I needed, because then 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 payed attention to how I solved the equations.  What were my strategies that I developed all those years ago that were now so instinctive I hardly noticed what I was doing?
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 can continue to practice.  We can develop strategies to avoid making those mistakes again. It’s going to take a lifetime of practice, and it can indeed be beautiful.
❤️ Glowworm

Faith and Farmers

19 Feb

 

My dad had a small herd of cows all the time I was growing up. I think the most cows he ever had at one time was 12 or 15. But those sweet Jersey cows filled up the milk cooling tank, and the tanker truck came and took the milk away. We had all the milk we wanted to drink, and my mother made butter and cheese as well. Sometimes I would go out to the barn and watch my dad milk his cows. Sometimes I had to help chase them in when the fence was down and they got out. Milking was a constant in my life.

Cows are creatures of habit.  They know when it’s milking time.  Every evening, my dad stepped out and called “So Boss”, and those cows came up from the pasture along the path they had made by walking over the same ground every day.  They mooed as they came, letting us know it was milking time.  Right into their stalls they went, each cow knew her place.  Call it consistency, call it the rhythm of life, by whatever name you call it, those cows added a security, an anchor, and a confidence to my flighty self.  Even today, though I do not own cows myself, if I walk outside at 5:30, I can hear my neighbor’s cows lowing as they come up from the fields to be milked and fed, and I feel that all is right with the world.

In Sunday School when I was growing up, we often talked about faith.  What is faith? What does faith look like?  I knew then as I know now: Faith is knowing the farmer will milk his cows.  You can see children’s cartoons on TV that show a farmer who has a cold, and so he doesn’t milk his cows.  You can read picture books about what the farm animals do when the farmer sleeps late and doesn’t feed or milk them.  That is not real life.  In real life, the farmer milks his cows.  Come sickness, snow, sleet, summer heat, tornado, or fire, the farmer milks his cows.  He could choose not to, but he never will.  He will always milk his cows.  My father’s next door neighbor was also a dairy farmer.  One night he had a massive heart attack.  His wife called my father at 2 a.m. and asked, would he please milk her husband’s cows that day, because he would not go to the hospital unless his cows were taken care of.

The farmer milks his cows.  This is something that you can depend on and take comfort in, when all the world is going insane around you.  The cows come home. The farmer milks his cows.

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.

April Fools

21 Apr


For the most nasty and creative April Fools prank ever, Pumpkin Pie and Tamale Pie made “orange juice” from water and the cheese powder from a box of Mac-n-cheese.  They totally tricked the Resident Captain into drinking a big glass when he got home from work.  

Additionally, they made fake cat feces with some wet cardboard and told me that the cat had made a mess in the laundry room.  They then transferred the mess to Blueberry Pie’s room and got him as well.  

You might ask, if you know us well, how on earth we came to have a cat?

George is a stray cat that adopted us. He is an OUTSIDE cat, but Baby Bean sneaks him into the house pretty often.


He puts up with a lot of silliness–I’m often surprised that he stays around.


Some days I wonder if I’m only fooling myself when I call him an outside pet.

The Skooter Pies Discover Mud.

20 Apr

Skeeter


Spring has arrived, and on one balmy afternoon I let the twins outside, knowing they would find the mud puddles–even though they’d never played in puddles before.  It didn’t take long for them to find the puddles.

Baby Bean and Key Lime Pie (not pictured) joined in the dirty fun. I just sat on the porch and enjoyed watching their excitement and curiosity.

Skeeter likes to dip his head in the water

The downside is that they know about mud now, so they beeline it to the mud puddle every time they get outside.  (Which is pretty often because Skooter learned how to open doors. Curses.)

Zeek

It was still worth it.

Tasting the muddy driveway gravel.  They had to taste the mud several times. Seriously these boys have refused to taste so many delicious foods, like flan 🍮(!!), but the mud went right into their mouths–more than once!

A muddy bath to extend the fun. And there were little muddy bite marks in the soap when they got out of the tub.  Seriously, I don’t know why I bother cooking.


Muddy paw prints are clues that fun was had today.

In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet and growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it for the most part spent out in the fresh air.

Charlotte Mason