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. Nadald

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew

I'd love it if you would follow my blog!

29 September 2008

I'd rather be a freak

Yep, it's official. We all know that I've never been 'quite right,' but I'm just going to go ahead and officially label myself a freak. I am the anal control freak mom. I am the mom that tries to politely back out of regular playgroups. I am the mom that doesn't run to my child's aid when (s)he falls down (within reason, if there's blood or a nasty spill I go like any good person would), but I'm there in a flash if my kid causes someone else intentional pain.
I won't get into why exactly I'm bringing this subject up, but I did want to state that I am very self-aware of the things I choose to do and not do. I realize that it's odd that I don't want to get together in big groups with kids, or do it regularly. Honestly, I think it would be fun and I would love to go. However, realistically it just isn't a good situation for a jumble of kids. Lots of them don't know how to act, and many parents don't correct quickly OR AT ALL when they're out of line and that makes a not fun situation. No kid is immune. Being around that kind of behavior will cause even "the best kid" to act out of character to try out these new found tricks of the trade.

So, I will gladly be the freaky shut-in mom who seemingly never lets her kids out. I will gladly be the anal control freak who is concerned with how my children behave towards others. AND I will gladly be labeled with whatever else people can come up with in regards to homeschooling our kids. Just to get the record straight, we homeschool because we want our kids to have a good education. The fact that they aren't thrown into a room to learn "social" behaviors from other kids who don't act right, is just a plus!

26 September 2008

The Presidential Debate?

Well, I didn't catch the first part because I was putting the kiddies to bed, but here are my initial feelings:

* McCain is a more articulate George W. Bush.
* McCain is incapable of using a sentence that doesn't start with "what I think Senator Obama doesn't understand."
*Apparently the word preparation and the phrase "without pretense" mean the same thing.
* I much prefer watching Obama take on questions. Seems like he throws in a few more pauses, but overall he's much more composed.
* Is it really necessary to show of bracelets and the "touching" stories behind them during a presidential debate? I do believe that's unprecedented. Hey, there's yet another way this election can be "historic" and "monumental." I'm so proud of us... I mean the US.
* And then back to my original feeling, I really don't think I can take 4 more years of Bush. The last 8 was good enough... I could use some "change." <--Okay, so that sounded a lot funnier in my head courtesy of jibjab.com.

So, weigh in your thoughts on the debate here, and of course do the poll on who you think "won," or who you're leaning towards.

The VP Debate is next Thursday, October 2. I'm already excited! This should be interesting.

25 September 2008

Publius was onto something...

In preparing for tonight's colloquium I've been reading The Federalist Papers No. 52-58. The beginning papers are discussing The House of Representatives. They go through basic ideas like qualifications and then move into thoughts on election periods. No. 53 had a statement that made me think of the upcoming presidential election. On page 300 of my copy the last paragraph reads:

"No man can be a competent legislator who does not add to an upright intention and a sound judgment a certain degree of knowledge of the subjects on which he is to legislate. A part of this knowledge may be acquired by means of information which lie within the compass of men in private as well as public stations. Another part can only be attained, or at least thoroughly attained, by actual experience in the station which requires the use of it."

The idea of voting this year is a daunting one for what seems like a majority of Americans. I know I am at odds with myself over whether I will even be able to cast a vote I'm confident of come November. For some reason this little passage made me think. It pretty much gave words to how I'm going about my search for the right candidate. We of course have to look at a candidates prerequisites (as unsubstantial and unexciting as they are at this point), but there has to be a certain element in our vote that takes into consideration a candidates future performance. This can be hard to gauge as the medias speculations have clearly pointed out, but I think it's time we look at things a little more logically.

-How have the candidates adapted to their current positions?
-How have their opinions before and after elections played out?
-How have the candidates handled unexpected events in their respective office(s)?
-What do they proclaim to be their moral stance, and have they lived accordingly? (Notice, I'm not saying that they have to align with everything YOU think to be morally correct, but I do expect them to stand up to what THEY believe is right.... a little integrity goes a long way!)

Maybe a little bit of critical thinking will come a long way. I'm still in the process of my analysis, but for now am feeling pretty happy about a new way to go about sorting the mass of information that comes my way.

I've stated before that I don't expect everyone to know everything about everything, but that I do expect a level of knowledge. Well, that hasn't changed (and I feel pretty happy that my interpretation of Fed #53 says I'm right in thinking so!), but I feel liberated with a new thought that says "how do I think each candidate will perform based on my knowledge of their actions?"

Who is more adaptable? Who is willing to look before they leap? Who can learn from their mistakes, admit them, and be better? Who will be better able to acquire the necessary knowldege needed to be the executive? (George Bush excluded... that apparently was a fluke, turns out you have to know something to add to it, I think we've learned our lesson! Or at least I hope so!)

23 September 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

I don't care who you are, this IS a true statement! I do have more interesting things to post about, but this one is on my mind because of my impending actions.

Seems like the more I learn, the more ignorant I wish I was because I find that there's always oodles more to learn! We've all experienced this phenomenon in one instance or another. This is currently relevant for me because my husband is on his way home, and we will be going out to exercise upon his arrival.

Have you noticed that you don't really notice your weight/physical fitness until you try to do something about it? When one starts to increase their activity for whatever reason, one finds that they are now acutely aware of everything that's moving that shouldn't.
For instance, I gain all my pregnancy weight in my upper legs... yes, fun for you to know huh! This extra weight is of little consequence when I'm pregnant. I accept that I'm getting bigger, but don't stop to dwell on that fact. However, after baby is different. Once a good deal of the fatigue of having a new one is gone my mind does an internal overhaul. Part of this is getting my body back, if not getting it better, to look good for the hubby, but also in hopes of getting back in shape faster after the next pregnancy (I know, it's a never ending cycle but it has left me 10 lbs. lighter with each pregnancy then the previous one, can't complain about that).
Anyway, getting to that point is pretty brutal. Asher is 3 1/2 months old, I'm fitting into my smallest pre-pregnancy clothes, but they just aren't "cute" yet. All this means is that I'm in serious need of getting toned, and that can be a depressing road. When I'm just spending my day frolicking with the kiddies I don't notice anything wrong with me. On the other hand, hello bad body image when I'm trying to change it! Ugh, it's cruel irony I tell yah! Nothing in life worth having is easy, but I'd be willing to let this particular issue be easy and save myself from having to look at a jiggling shadow. So not cute!

Funny comic!

Just click to make it bigger. This is funny no matter what your personal preferences are!

Up and running....

The new site www.nathanandcherie.blogspot.com is up and running now. It has a few posts on it, but will get more as blogger and I stop fighting about connection issues. I sent out a few invites to the site... mostly just to people that have asked, and family that didn't have a choice. If you want to be a reader of that one I'll just need your email address, you can leave it as a comment here and I'll delete it. Or shoot me an email if you have my address. Okay, I'm going to go play mom now, hope you're having a great day!

20 September 2008

The world is right again!

So, I was talking to my friend Andrea the other day and mentioned that I no longer had a camera. She is such a doll! She says she just happens to have an extra one "laying around" and that she'd send it to me. I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even thinking about it until last night when we got a package from Hawaii! Well, needless to say we've been pretty click happy today. Thank you so much Andrea!

On a side note, I will be creating a blog tonight/tomorrow that is just about the kids and family updates. It will be a blocked/invitation only kind of thing. This one will still be up and will continue to contain what some may feel are cantankerous thoughts. If you don't care for my monologues on education, food, politics, family in the hypothetical and whatever other subject that pops in my mind, then I'm happy to report the new addition!

There's a fairly good likelihood that I have your email address if you're reading this. However, if you could just shoot me an email that says you'd actually like to be invited that'd be great. I will frequently post pictures, specific updates/funny things, and news about our travels there. Just let me know if you're interested!


16 September 2008

I've been tagged...

Wow! Talk about being stealthy! I read my cute friend Veronica's blog the other day... she'd been tagged and I was reading random things about her.... then all the sudden I wake up today, read a fun post she had written to me, and while being captivated by her thoughts on politics because they were so beautifully articulated, she says "oh by the way, you've been tagged!" So, despite the fact that I think myself to be pretty random in every case, I've come up with 6 things that you probably don't know.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the Person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
5. Let your tagger know when you post your entry.

1. I met Nathan on the internet. That's right, my love and I who fit like "two peas in a pod" are actually yet another internet "dating" success story. He was in Korea at the time (looking for someone), I was in California (and not looking for someone), and he started talking to me. I first wondered to myself, "Why would someone who's 5'6" be writing me? I'm just looking for people to hang out with that are close to home. He's too far away for that, and even if I was looking for someone to date this guy is totally out since he's shorter then me. Didn't he see how tall I was?" Well, I humored him. We talked, he'd call every so often, and after a while I wondered "why is this guy still talking to me?" He was nice (and that was the problem), and I 'just didn't have time for him.' So, I was a big jerk... didn't always answer his IM's or when I did I didn't say much. He got fed up with me and was in the process of deleting me from his friend's list when I starting talking to him. I was being nice, so he warmed back up... we started joking about marriage, and now here we are 4 years and 3 kids later. My parents weren't so hot on the idea, but are still relieved that Nathan and I found each other because we fit so well. I couldn't possibly have seen then how much alike we are and how great things would be... I'm just glad I had a momentary laps of judgement that finally allowed me to have some good sense for once!

2. I was a vegetarian for about 7 years. I actually really like meat, I wish I could say I was a vegetarian because I felt it was the right thing, but it's just because it doesn't like me so much. I had a hard time with it for so long I just stopped eating it for my health. I started craving it a lot in my pregnancies and find that it doesn't bother me then, so that's nice. Although, with Asher 3 1/2 months old now I'm find my immunity wearing off. Thankfully Nathan's not a big meat eater anyway and is a good supporter of me. So, just this morning when I told him that meat isn't settling well he said, "well, maybe we shouldn't eat it for a while." I love him! Makes my life a lot easier... most of the time :-D.

3. I realized the other day that we (the kids and I), have moved 7 times in the last 4 years. While the mechanics of moving can be tricky, I've really enjoyed living in new places. The only down side is that we get antsy living in one place for too long, so Nathan's new job is a little scary in that respect. What am I going to do living in one place for 3 or 4 years?!?!?!

4. My mental process has been described consistently as "male." I like the logical quick solutions, and HATE talking things out. I can easily go to sleep even if there's something bothering me. I probably come off fairly callous because of this, but I'm trying! Nathan jokes that he's the girl in our relationship... he's really good at interpersonal communication. Seems like the best I can do sometimes is just keep my mouth shut. Otherwise it I tend to say all of your favorite phrases like "can you just get over it?"

5. I am obsessed with shows about big families. I didn't know these existed until my sister-in-law said I would like the Duggar family. Boy was she right! I watched them once and was hooked! I have now seen all of their shows 20x's each and visit their website. TLC/Discovery Health also have a show called "Kids by the Dozen" and they've had some fun ones that I've seen multiple times. Jon and Kate plus 8 is also good, but I can't watch her too much around Nathan. I don't think he likes listening to her voice *laugh.* There's also a few other specials that I've caught that feature big families, and I've seen them lots. I'm pretty sure you call that an obsession. I don't generally watch tv, but when I break that rule it's so I can indulge in someone elses family. Weird.

6. As long as we're exposing weaknesses, I found that I'm addicted to snowmen. Yah, it's kind of weird. I never liked holiday's, and as such Nathan and I never decorated for any besides putting up a Christmas tree. Well, there was an after Christmas sale at the BX in Korea a couple of years ago, and wouldn't you know it, snowmen are super cute! I found a snowfamily, several individual ones, and some little wood signs that were great! Turns out if you find something cute and it's 75% off it gets even cuter!! So, I tell myself that after Christmas sales are the way to go and was planning to stick to that idea, until my husband came up with his own! The last two years he's given me something new for my collection. In 2006 I got what I'll call a "snow mommy" who was sitting looking down at her "snow baby." Then last year I got a whole figuring set up of a family and snowmen. It was awesome! Needless to say I can't wait to decorate for this year... and I think instead of taking them down come Feb. I'll just leave them up until we move in April.

15 September 2008

What does the word "education" mean? PART 2

Education is indeed a journey. I believe in mentors, people with a sincere interest in your journey, almost like a good travel guide! Someone who finds your destination so exciting that they can't help but take part in your preparation. These people do exist within the public and private school system. We've all come in contact with at least one. These are people who inspire you to be a better person, and thus help shape who you are.
I find that for the most part every person has good intentions. I feel that teacher's do not become teachers for the money (which we've all heard isn't that great), but they too want to be the change in the life of someone else. This certainly happens along the way whether they are a good or poor teacher. However, our system of education doesn't really allow for a steady one on one mentor-ship that existed before our time.
Instead, we have over crowded classrooms in some cases (and legislation that requires smaller classrooms for certain ages because they realized that a high teacher to student ratio wasn't helping kids learn to read and do mathematics), and many children get overlooked. We are all in a situation where starting from age 4-5 there's a requirement of conformity. I believe that our children must behave appropriately in social situations, but forcing them to learn the same way as another child is almost barbaric.

I came from a home where out of five kids, we all learned differently and we all had different interests. I have a sibling who by "the standard" would be considered ADD or learning disabled, and that's the biggest crock I've ever heard! How can a child who could look at something and take it apart just to see how it worked and then put it back together again without help be "disabled." This child continued on being BRILLIANT in art and hands-on science, but is regarded as dumb because the tests that require memorization of abstract concepts weren't "up to standard."

I easily am able to pick up information and regurgitate it for a test regardless of the method of delivery. By "the standard" I am brilliant, but I honestly feel like I know nothing. I may remember a little about everything, but I don't feel like my knowledge is near sufficient for the praise I get. The best thing that ever happened to me is to get married to a man that stimulates me mentally, and now supports and is part of revamping what we've both known as an education. Together we've been able to see the flaws of the current system and hope for more for our our little ones.

We've learned that learning means a lot of different things. We've learned that information we hold on to is more important then information "learned" and lost. We want for our kids to LOVE learning. We want them to be inquisitive and think outside of the box. We want them to guide their own learning, and study what interests THEM. We want them to be held accountable for their knowledge by discussing with us and others. We want our children to look to us as their mentors and know that we have a full interest in them SPECIFICALLY. We want our children to always be excited to grow. We want our children to be leaders... thinking about why things happen or why they are the way they are. We want them to question the world, and try to make it better. We want them to gain knowledge for themselves, and not for government testing that deciphers funding.

Most importantly, I want my children to be happy. Proverbs 23:12 states: Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. President Hinckley stated "I don't care what you plan to do as your life's vocation, but prepare yourselves. Get the best education you can. Qualify yourselves in the best way you know how. It's part of a mandate from the Lord that you train yourselves." I think this definitely speaks to what is happiness.

If you're happy with your method of education/living, then this ISN'T for you. Please continue reading, but don't bother to comment. However, if you are feeling like maybe where your kids are isn't quite right for you or your family (whether it's because you feel like their education isn't adequate or you're stressed out running all over on another entity's schedule) please consider what I and fellow homeschoolers have to say.

I'll write my own story of why we started thinking about homeschooling, and what finally pushed us over into committing to it, in my upcoming education part 3 post. In the meantime, I'd love for you whether your happy in your current place or not, to read a friend of mines blog:

Becky is an amazing person. I am truly grateful to have met her. She is a mom of 9 kids and is currently homeschooling. She did not always homeschool though, so she has a perspective that I wanted you to read. Her post can be found here.

**Maybe by reading yet another segment of my thoughts you too have been encouraged to consider what an education means to you. I hope that perhaps you might feel inspired to better yourself and continue learning. I was directed to this site that I find an incredible resource. It was created for LDS mom's, but I think it's perfectly geared for dad's too, and people of other faiths would find it useful. It includes gospel study (which for LDS goes along with readings for gospel doctrine... but others can easily just read whatever goes along with your Sunday school classes or personal goals), and then adds in many other areas of life that one can study up on, as well as provides a forum to discuss what you've read or done with others. Just an idea!**

Happy learning!

More on Palin and the Today show

So, here's an article from the Washington Post that was left for me on the Palin interview . In a nutshell the guy states that he was the first to use the phrase "Bush Doctrine" and that Charlie Gibson's definition of it was incorrect.
While I can appreciate what was written, I still don't think the interview went well. Palin DID look confused. From what I know, what defines "Bush Doctrine" now (even according to Wikipedia which the author above refers to) is basically a culmination of many different policies our oh so somewhat confused President has put into effect.
I don't expect everyone to know everything. I learn many knew things everyday and wouldn't have it any other way. I also don't expect Palin or any other presidential candidate to know everything, but I DO expect them to say when they don't know something.
I appreciate Palin's moral character, and can align myself with what I know of her ethics and thoughts on family. (McCain doesn't get any respect on that one from me.) However, from my feeble minds point of view, I would have appreciated a "I don't know what you mean by Bush Doctrine" or "The Bush Doctrine means a lot of different things Charlie...." Instead she just starts talking like she's in a huff. I don't care for how she interviews.
Agree with me or not, it was just kind of uncomfortable to watch her. I've enjoyed her speeches, and if she keeps giving those I'd be happy, but in a Q and A session I find her too jumpy.

I HAVEN'T WRITTEN PALIN OFF. I stated this in my initial criticism. I expect some changes though and I'm sure the campaign people are working with her on what I think would make her a lousy leader in today's world. Everything is televised so heavily and you never know who's watching. Everyone has moments of notsogreatness, I WANT for her to be better. I think she could be a good running mate, but for now I see an inexperienced person who needs to better define he knowledge of a question even if that means saying "I don't know what that is."

On a side note, I'm really not looking forward to a "First Lady McCain." Her answers to questions are ones for the history books.
Q: "Does Palin have Foreign Policy experience?"
A: "No, but she is the Governor of Alaska, and Alaska is the closest part of our country to Russia."

Wow! She's a winner. Let the blond jokes commence!

I think Stephen Colbert had it right in his "The word" segment: That's the ticket! Palin/Romney.

12 September 2008

Disappointment is inevitable

Like I've said before, I don't get my hopes up when it comes to people vying for positions. Yet again, those with aspirations of political grandeur have inevitably shown their lack of ability to fill the position they're jockeying for.

That's right friends. My inkling of hope that Palin could make my decision in November easier has now been dashed, and I, once again, am faced with choosing "the lesser evil." Now you may find my criticism of her harsh, but that doesn't change the fact that she isn't in a place (knowledge-wise) to take over as VP.

After watching her first interview on the Today Show it's pretty clear that Palin lacks simple knowledge about this country, ie policies that are a pretty BIG DEAL. Most people probably don't know what the Bush Doctrine is, that's okay your schooling didn't provide you an interest in politics sufficient to make something this big and inclusive matter, I think a governer... especially one "that close to Russia" and who is out to be VP of the US, should probably know!

Her input would matter as VP, and I think that in order to change the future you need to have a clue as to what's happened in the past. "If you don't know your history you're doomed to repeat it." The world has been dealing with the Bush administration for 8 years now, and you can bet full well they know what the Bush doctrine is all about. I'd even bet that the lay citizen of other countries know more about Bush's actions then Palin. She literally looked like she was going to throw up when Charlie was asking her questions. I really feel sorry for her that she was given questions she didn't know the answers to because it made her look ridiculous. It was nice to have Newt Gingrich to defend her, but really, I think my kids would be able to figure out that she was stalling.

I feel sorry for her that she's being attacked in stupid ways. I mean really, to try and hang her out to dry because of her daughter, is dumb. They were really scrapping the bottom of the barrel with that one.

I do think it's a legitimate concern that as motivated and confident as she is, that she really is lacking political knowledge. I'm not writing her off for good, I'm leaving the possibility open that she'll start opening some books as she continues on the campaign trail with old what's his name (who found that campaigning without her was useless and thus NEEDS her in order to get ANYWHERE.... perhaps even turn on the computer?... see my education part 1 post).

I hope you'll weigh in your political thoughts here. I'd like to read what debates you're thinking about as you decide who the best candidate is for the next term. So, PLEASE COMMENT! It'll be fun for me, and probably fairly educational for others. Knowledge is power!


11 September 2008

What does the word "education" mean? PART 1

I've been contemplating the word "education." What does it mean to "educate," to get an "education," or to be "educated"? In theory, I think the general population sees an education as attaining a piece of paper that is a means to an end. Whether we're taking a high school diploma, a BA, BS, MA, MS, M ED, JD, or what have you, these are generally things that get us somewhere. My question is: upon attaining that piece of paper, were you educated?
It's amazing what that piece of paper will get you and what you really don't have to learn along the way. President Bush was a "C" student at Yale... Senator McCain admitted himself that he was 5th from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, that would make him 894 out of 899 and is computer illiterate. (You can watch him tell you himself here). I passed my classes with A's, but didn't actually have to do any work. My college books remained closed while I was in school, and yet I still wrote what I thought were not that great of papers and received comments like "what great insight" and "beautifully written." Was I any better of a student then the not so great leaders of our country? I'd say no. I graduated early from high school in search of a bigger challenge, but found that I wasn't anymore inspired to do more... to BE more.

I think about here is where I need to insert what others thought of my graduating early, and thus what education meant to them. "But what about Prom?" Yes, this was the first question that came out of nay-sayers mouths. My parents supported my decision to escape the ridiculousness that was plaguing my life, and instead of "but what about what she could learn" etc., we were met with "what about prom?" Herein lies what I hear most people say is important about going to school and what people often have against homeschooling..... the social atmosphere... we'll delve into this more in a later post.

Through going to school I learned some pretty bad behaviors and a skewed version of what education is. I am grateful that as an adult I have finally been able to learn what it is, and how it can be attained.

Education is a journey. It is NOT something that needs to be drudged through, information that needs to be memorized quickly and in excess for an exam only to be forgotten, or a painful experience that merely needs to be gotten through.

Everything I am I learned from my parents...

While no parents are perfect, my children can be the first to attest to that, it's inevitable that they shape our lives (whether for good or bad.) I was contemplating my parenting style a lot last night. Sure it'd be great to say that I am just naturally good at discipline and picking out the perfect way to teach each child's different personality, but that would be far from the truth. It made me realize that just about "everything I am I learned from my parents."
I'm the youngest of 5 kids. My closest sibling and I are 7 1/2 years apart, and all of my older siblings are within 5 years of each other age wise. My parents had to learn and instill some pretty fancy moves in order to keep everyone in line, especially since, like most siblings, all of my brothers and sisters are different.
In response to my parents efforts they've turned out some pretty great kids. I have had the opportunity to watch them raise their teenagers to adulthood, as well as be able to watch them impart wisdom to their children about how to raise their children. As I've stated before, I have an uncanny ability to pick up and remember things I've heard, seen, or read (much to my husband's dismay because that means I'm generally right about EVERYTHING) even if it's random. So, I think all of my thoughts I have on parenting are just a culmination of all that I've seen and heard my parents do/teach.
From the beginning I was already following my mother's lead whether I knew it at the time or not. The first night we were home from the hospital with Noah he slept 8 hours straight. Regardless of the fact that the nurses said to wake him up to feed every x amount of hours, I followed my mothers lead and Noah got some much needed sleep. I let him set his own schedule until about 8 weeks. Then the training started... slowly but surely. I started waiting for him to calm down before I picked him up. Then as his ability to sleep longer grew I would let him cry and calm him down off and on around 3-4 months (whenever HE first started to show me that it was time), and from then on all of our kids have been 7pm-7am sleepers by 5 months. I learned from her it's okay to let kids cry and not coddle them, and as a result I have fairly independent kids, who come when they need us and love to have our attention, but are confident enough in themselves to do their own thing. Our kids learned around 12 months (again THEY started showing that they were consciously doing things... not maliciously, but consciously), so we started doing timeouts. As a result, when they do something wrong they know where to go, and they come out bouncing and fine afterward like nothing happened. They know they did something wrong, change their behavior, and know that WE LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO CORRECT THEM. If there's something I hear in my head all the time it is that phrase. I learned from my parents that it isn't fair to not teach your children how to behave properly.

Child rearing certainly isn't easy, and we have a long way to go. Personalities play a big role... I know this first hand, raising me reincarnate isn't easy, seems we don't see eye to eye, WEIRD... but I am confident that Nathan and I have laid a good foundation for the future. Sometimes we feel like we might be a little harsh, but when we really look at things, we're glad for the time we have put into correcting our children along the way. There were, and now that they're testing the water 'are', many nights where we've lost sleep over having to teach our children to stay in their rooms and go to sleep at night... but as a result we've had mostly full nights to spend with each other and to rest because of our efforts. We don't let the kids whine and scream for what they want, and while lots of times it would have been easier to just give in so they'd stop, we've been blessed with kids who use their words and say please and thank you. We've taught them that they don't always get what they want right away, and as a result they're pretty patient and able to do many things on their own. We allow them to be themselves, but work hard to make sure that they act within the perimeters that we see fit. We don't want to shatter who they are, we just want to help them on their way to becoming a productive part of society.

My actions on the road to helping my children become the best they can from newborn on is largely geared by my parents. Thanks mom and dad for being strong but kind. I learned a lot from observing you. While I don't hold you responsible for my self proclaimed character flaws (although, you guys aren't always PC either and have a knack for telling people straight up what you think they need to hear... so I do kind of think you have to take responsibility for that, I just need to control mine better :-D ), I want you to know that I am largely what I am because you had the strength to raise me right. I learned that what other people are doing isn't always right, and you have to be strong to stand against the tide and do what's best for your family. Never has their been a more influential couple in all the world.

From my parents I learned that families are forever. That the holy ghost will guide your footsteps in rearing children. That you should hold onto your spouse with everything you have. It seems so small, but even in church my parents were always together... never did a child sit between them. They were always united, and to this day still "date" and nurture their relationship. Their example is one that will live on because it has influenced 5 children who have followed in their footsteps.

Thanks mom and dad!

09 September 2008

Another new tradition I forgot about....

Just so you know I'm not the prude that I probably come off as.... We started to have "Monday Movie-night" a couple weeks ago. It's just as it sounds. After family home evening and getting ready for bed, I put all the kids blankets and pillows down and they get to have a little slumber party on Monday's. I figured that this would be fun and something that we could keep up until they were all grown. It might be just a movie, some treats, and sleeping on the floor, but it's something that we can do together. Granted Monday is a good night for homeschoolers since the phrase "school night" is relative and sleeping in the next morning isn't going to kill anyone. However, you can also find some creative alliteration by instituting "Saturday night sleepover" (Saturday might be nice so everyone is in one place for Sunday morning), "Friday night film." Who knows. It's fun for the kids though, they like something different once in a while and this they can plan on. So, a weekly time to cuddle up with the fam... maybe pull out the sleeping bags etc. is my suggestion!

Per your request...

I've had a couple questions from people, so I figured I'd get to them all at once:

I use a recipe from education week that you can find in my links on the right side of this page. Just click on the one I entitled Best All Wheat Bread Recipe Ever. This recipe defies all common bread making knowledge. The yeast does not get proofed, you just stick it right in with the dry ingredients. Then, instead of using warm water, you use the hottest water your tap can produce. The side "tips" that I got from Gove I'll share with you. Instead of using the oven you want to just leave it on the counter. I think he uses plastic Tupperware boxes (like what you'd store things around the house in), to raise his. I preheat my oven, stick the pans on top of it and then cover. Plus, you'll need to let the bread rise at least 30-45 minutes. After take the bread out of the pans and onto a cooling rack, then cover the bread with the plastic box mentioned before. If the box covers the bread and the rack it allows the bread to cook a little longer because of the steam and that makes a nice bread. Oh, and this recipe is for two loaves.

2-Great Ideas!
Well, I'm not sure that I have any great ideas, but I will post some things that we do around the house. The first is that we've unplugged the t.v. The kids used to be able to go in the library and watch a show first thing in the morning before we got up or when we needed a minute to get things together during the day, but that's no more. They weren't watching a whole lot to begin with, and only had access to PBS and TLC (we had Disney on their for a while, but soon realized that their programing wasn't always appropriate, so they've been X'd), but none at all has been nice. If we do need that second during the day we put on a good movie and they can watch that, but that doesn't happen much. My hubby is even giving up his big screen tv, I'm so proud of him! So, focus on reading and other hobbies/talents is a great way to start coming up with more ideas, and you'll be surprised at how many come from your little one(s).

As for mommy and daddy guided activities.... after Asher goes down for a nap that usually allows for about 2 hours of free-time. I decided to dedicate this time solely to my kids. So, we start with some specific "school" related things and add on from there:

*We have a calendar set that allows us to keep track of what today, tomorrow, and yesterday are. So first thing is to make sure the day is correct and to talk about what is going on today, what happened yesterday, or what will happen tomorrow.

*Then we step outside and see what the weather is like (cloudy, sunny, warm, cool, hot etc...), then it's back inside to put the correct conditions on the wall.

*Then we say the pledge of allegiance and sing the preamble (gotta love Schoolhouse rock!)

*I mention things to them like who the president of the United States is, where we live, and any other random thought that pops into my head about current events that affect us.

*Learning letters is always fun. We have a bunch of different things we do for this:
-A bag of stringable letter beads. I like to pull out the letters for their names and we look at them, say the letters, sound them out etc.
-Magnetic letters. Nothing is more fun then sticking stuff on the fridge! Unfortunately we have a stainless steel fridge, but at least the sides are magnetic, so we pull it out and the kids can stick them on there.
-Letter hunt. I read from a homeschool site the BEST idea ever. We love this one. Find some small letters that span the alphabet (we use our stringable letter beads, which is good but I wish I had more now since two sets of the alphabet are constantly out of commission now), and put them in a box completely covered. The suggestion was to use rice, which would be a great idea, but we usually use a lot of rice so I opted for our less used oats. So, whatever you have that will cover the letters and be fun to move around works. Anyway, the kids can search for the letters and then match them up with bigger versions somewhere else. The original idea was to have them on the ground, the kid finds the small one and runs to the proper match and so you have kind of a little race. Personally, I just printed out a sheet of paper that has all of the letters spaced out on it and stuck in a sheet protector so they can do this for a quiet activity. The containers I use are the kind of shoebox sized plastic containers complete with lid so all we do is slip the sheet in the box, close it up and it's ready for another day. **The oats do leave some dust behind, plus I can give you no promise that whatever substance you use will completely stay in the box... just set the kid somewhere that's easy to clean and have a vacuum handy. A little (or big like it is at our house) mess never hurt anyone. Don't freak out, just tell them that they need to keep it in the box and later vacuum it up. Mess solved, and it just so happens kids love to vacuum! You might want to enlist their help.**
-Printed letters. I have big lined kindergarten paper and we right out words for Noah to trace (and Nyah to doodle on). We normally stick to first and last name and focus on saying the letters aloud with him. I'll tell yah, he's pretty proud of himself when he does this... you've never seen a happier kid, so it may be tedious in some points of view, but he loves it.

*Art projects:
-Do-A-Dot-Art. This is great for art and letter learning combined. You can either draw out things for them to trace (like letters so they learn the shape), or let them at it. It's basically a large pen with a rounded tip that they can press up and down and it leaves a dot. I love these! They're great for so many projects. If you goggle Do-A-Dot-Art you'll find some fun stuff, I highly recommend it.
-Watercolors. Who doesn't love watercolors. My kids love to paint, and because watercolors are really washy they're an easy choice for me. Recently we've taken sponge stencils (pretty cheap at Walmart), and painted them then stamped them down. Nyah usually dumps the water or just uses wanted to paint by the end, so make sure you do this over a hard floor!
-Washable paints and nature. My kids haven't met a rock they don't like, so they find a good one and we paint it. It's good to do the paints in steps with little ones (letting the paints dry between colors) otherwise you just have brown or black paint by the end.
-Super scented playdough and kitchen tools. We make our own playdough with colored drink mix so it smells yummy (no, it doesn't stain), and then I gather random stuff from the kitchen and we all go at it.
-Crayons and markers. An oldie but a goodie! Both of my kids have their own pencil box (complete with name on it so you have yet another place they see the letters), in it is their pencil for printing letters as well as their own stash of art supplies.
-Cutting. Who knew cutting could be so fun? The kids love it, I don't count it as my favorite activity since I don't want them to hurt themselves or cut anything they're not supposed to, but how do they know unless you teach them? So, we practice cutting, and then they can do whatever under supervision.
-Scrounging for others ideas. My favorite site is www.homeschoolingadventures.com. From there I print out coloring pages having to do with our letter of the week, they have songs and stories for the letters, and my favorite is they have some cute projects.

*Preschool age games. Noah loves to play games, plus they give you an opportunity to just sit down and enjoy time with them. So, I highly recommend:
-Luck Ducks (Helps reinforce a few colors and shapes.)
-Memory (I like the one with real items on it so you can talk about the different things as opposed to the Disney/Dora stuff.)
-Candy Land (A great opportunity to learn colors.)
-Chutes and Ladders (Counting, and learning up and down.)

*Music is a big part of our home. My kids love all kinds. Action songs are great. They love musicals and can often be heard singing a few selections of the Sound of Music, plus this is a great time to instill a love of classical music. Nathan and I like lots of different sounds, and as a result Noah regularly (at least once a day) favors us by humming some Mozart. I have to admit, I do feel pretty proud of the kid for picking up on these melodies. Both kids also randomly start singing I am a Child of God, My life has a purpose, The first article of faith, and other songs that speak of core religious principles. It reminds me all the time that what they hear the most, they will learn and make a part of themselves. It's because of this that I do my best to not keep them sheltered, but rather to keep the best things going into their minds.
They learn best by repetition so music is usually in the background of our house. We sing throughout the day, play piano, pat out melodies, shake homemade maraca's (beans in a plastic cup that's taped together), the possibilities are endless.

*Reading. There's a big line of books that has simple words. Noah loves trains, so Thomas the Train books are numerous here. He's into them, it helps hold his attention, and we're reading... so, so be it.
-The Book of Mormon reader is great. It helps kids visualize the stories and familiarize them with names in the BOM. Believe me, with the way kids have a handle on fairy princesses it IS possible to learn BOM heroes with ease if you consciously make an effort to introduce them and make them important.

-Zoo. Get a zoo pass... learn about an animal during the week and then go see it in real life and note the things you learned about them (habitat, food preference etc.)
-Museums. The Bean museum at BYU is fun and FREE. The Church Museum of History and Art is FREE. **we plan to go here soon. They have an exhibit until January that is interactive for families called "I am a child of God."
-Just walking around the neighborhood. Talk about nature, bring along some chalk, bubbles, drinks and a snack and see where that takes you. My kids don't know that I grab stuff to take, so they're pleasantly surprised when I pull them out.

3-Kitty pictures
We have a cat, Nigel. He's a little over a year old, really great with the kids, and mostly fun to have around. We've been asked for pictures, I could only find one so far, but here you go:

08 September 2008

The good, the bad, the ugly, the really ugly, and the really really ugly

The Good: Guitar with dad
Nathan pulled out his guitar last night for the first time in a LONG time. Asher was on laying on the floor completely enamored by the sound, and the kiddies were sitting next to him with eyes peeled on dad. So cute! After a while he started playing church music and we got to sing along. Fun, fun!

Ugh, this one really gets me. Such a cute moment and I couldn't capture a single second of it! My camera was broken last month and I can't afford a new one. So, my option is to haul out the video camera, which by the time I get it out and going the moment is gone. Not to mention that the quality of the pictures it takes is horrible because they aren't focused, they're pixel-y, and lighting is a big issue. Go figure, I get a bunch of great pictures for my other kids at this age, but Asher's are few and far between, and horrible when I can get them. (If any of you reading this have a camera that you'd like to get rid of, or were looking for a good reason to buy a new one, I'd be more then happy to take it off of your hands!)

The Ugly: Kids not in bed
Normally bedtime is uneventful at our house. Last night was a MAJOR exception. For some reason we had about 10 instances of kids out of bed. This was extremely annoying because it was already pretty late, and we were trying to turn in early so we could get up and get things done today. Yah, no such luck there! The trip to the gym I was going to take got cancelled, and Nathan getting up at 6 to do homework and prepare for class was nixed. Why? Well let's just say things escalated....

The Really Ugly: Flour on the Floor
We were laying in bed reading, the house was dark except for a single light we leave on over the stove, when we heard little footsteps. These footsteps were then followed by some movement of our door knob, but no one came in. After a game of rock, paper, scissors (I won!), Nathan when to put the offender(s) back in bed. It took about a half of a second before I realized that something was wrong. Sure enough, I looked to the side of the door and found that there was quite a bit of flour on it... plus the flour bucket... and then as I got up and walked to my pantry, wouldn't you know it! MORE FLOUR. We ended up sweeping and vaccuming about 7 cups of flour (which didn't make me too happy since I'm almost out as it is). So, the kids had to help, and additionally we made them pick up the library and then head to bed. Problem solved right? Yah, right....

The really really ugly: Nyah in the laundry room
We finally were settled into bed, now almost 2 hours after initially trying to go to sleep. We were trying to lighten the mood by chatting, getting back into the scriptures that got disrupted before, and I started contemplating finger prints and got Nathan in on the analysis.... I know, strange, but fun, you should try it! Anyway, I thought I was just hearing the guys upstairs, but there was a little something in between that I could quite place. Yah, that's because it's not everyday that I hear a little girl in my laundry room. She had let Nigel out, probably ate his food, and was busy getting into dads bike parts (of which we have no clue how she got to), including his bike chain full of nice black grease. Thankfully this was the extent of this infraction seeing as how she was the mastermind behind a previous laundry room breech that entailed taking the cat liter and spreading in around the kitchen with Nigel's food bowl. I'm just glad she didn't have a chance to get into the laundry detergent.

So, what started out as a great night with everyone in bed by 9 (which would normally be 7 or 8 for the kids, but we let them stay up for the guitar festivity), ended up with Nathan and I finally asleep by 12:30. Oh, then Asher was up at 2.... 5.... 6. It's days like last night that make me think, 3 kids is great! I think we're done. I'm sure I'll change my mind soon, but for now, I think we're done!

05 September 2008

Unsolicited advice/commentary

I have a blog, as you know, and here in this forum I say what I want and expect feedback... that's kinda how this whole thing works. You can either relate to me, or feel provoked by me, either way I'm all ears for whatever you have to say. There are, however, many circumstances that I really don't care to attract advice or commentary.
For instance, when I'm walking down the street with my children.... I'm not a walking billboard that says "please, tell me what you're thinking." Likewise, if I'm in a store, hallway at church, sitting down at a restaurant, or well... pretty much anywhere other then spewing my thoughts and asking for opinion, I don't care what you have to say, and I REALLY don't care to hear it.
The conversation usually starts something like this:

spectator: "wow, are they twins?" (referring to Noah and Nyah)
spectacle (this would be me): "no, they're 15 months apart, he's the oldest."
spectator: "really, so how far apart is your girl and the baby?"
spectacle: "they're 20 months apart."

**here this conversation can go to a few different places. Usually I get the "wow mom, you have your hands full" or "I'm sure they keep you busy" or "so you're done right?" or my favorite "how do you take care of all of them?".... last night however the conversation went like this:

spectator: "wow mom, you need to take a break. They're too close."
spectacle: "actually, we really like the 15 month spacing, they get along really well with each other."
spectator: "I'm talking about you, you need to give your body a rest in between all of these kids, you're going to wear yourself out... it's too much."

Yes, yes, I can appreciate the concern. However, the overall disapproval despite the fact that she did comment later that it looked like I had things under control and was doing well, is really annoying coming from a COMPLETE stranger. I had never met this woman before, didn't solicit so much as a hello from her, and here I get some nice advice shoved down my throat.

My irritation wasn't so high last night as it is on the days that I get the super ignorant people that love to tell me that my kids are close. Really? Didn't notice. I love the stares, those are good, but I especially love how people don't even know how to handle themselves these days. Yes, I want a big family.... yes, my kids are close... no, it isn't impossible, it's actually fun, and why do you care?

I loved a blog that I found through www.lotsofkids.com. The mom was trying out some thoughts reverse of what people say about large families, and you have to admit, they sound pretty ridiculous.

"You poor thing, how do you manage with just one child? You must be so selfish and lonely. You also must have so much time on your hands, what do you do with yourself? How do you do it? Your life must be so boring."

No one says these things! However, you show up with a couple of kids close in age (heaven forbid that they're little and you're pregnant), or have a large family and you're automatically a spectacle that people must come and converse with!

I'm just happy there's "crazy" people out there like me. A couple of good friends to keep you going is all you need. In the world there's so much of tearing people down, it's good to be uplifted, especially when you're doing something you know is right. I have never felt more inspired and centered then when I knew that we needed to have our oldest two. Having never been pregnant, or ever had the desire to be, I didn't know what I was feeling with my oldest.. it just seemed right. Then our little Nyah, Noah was so young but I just kept getting tugged at that she needed to come and join our family. I had the biggest confirmation of the correctness in that choice when Nathan gave Nyah a blessing that said she would be the reason that her older brother would go on a mission. How does that work? What if I would have completely ignored the spirit? I know God's plan can't be foiled, but what about my little Noah? What experiences would have been lost without her? And as fiesty as she is, I can't imagine my home without her sweet spirit. Would we have the desire to have a large family if we hadn't had her right away? Would we have be content with just Noah? I can't imagine the things we would have missed if we hadn't been listening, and those experiences are by far the some of greatest achievements of my life (the first would be marrying a wonderful man who allows himself to be open to the spirit.)

In closing, CHILDREN ARE NOT A PLAGUE THAT THE EARTH HAS BEEN SMITTEN WITH! The last I checked we were all kids at one point. It's a good thing your parents wanted to have and keep you, right? I was adopted, so already I know that a human life is pretty precious. A white, unwed 20 year-old who wound up pregnant with a black man's child when it wasn't the cool thing to do could have made an "easy" choice and gotten rid of me. Instead, she went through 9 months of pregnancy... which isn't fun for anyone who's tried it.... and gave birth to a child she wouldn't be able to watch grow up. It's absolutely heart wrenching to think of that, but I'm so proud of her. I have had a wonderful life, great parents and siblings, incredible oppurtunities, and now an appreciation for things that I wouldn't have without my experiences.

God's work and glory is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man. What good can we do in helping Him in this mission if the spirits that are meant to be here aren't being born?

As a favor to me... I know all of you are good, helpful people who read this, but let's try to consiously be aware of those around us more often. We've been instructed to be encouraging and help those with large families. Maybe the next time you see someone with a lot of kids, think of something you can do for them. Maybe you could hold a door. Comment on how cute one or all of the children are. If you have some in your ward perhaps you can offer to babysit or do something with them. There's such a huge stigma there (even in the church), that any help is appreciated. (Although I would caution to not go with the "wow, you're amazing, I don't think I could even do that" approach... it gets old.... maybe just stop at amazing and tack on a good job?)

02 September 2008

Husband extraordinaire strikes again!

My birthday was yesterday, September 1, and for all I care it could have come and gone without any mention and I would be just fine. We had plans to go hang out with friends for Labor day, but they literally got rained out. The only other thing happening that day was that we were supposed to pick up my sister-in-laws KitchenAid mixer so that I could make some bread. I was just planning to send Nathan alone, but he broke it to me that he had actually planned for her to make me cheesecake (my favorite dessert). I could have taken this news a lot more gracefully then I did, but that's yet another character flaw that will have to be discussed later.

We get to my sister-in-law's only to have my husband say "what should be do first, cake or presents?" As you might have guessed, presents weren't on the "to-do list" previously mentioned, so I was a little shocked and thus very curious. Husband extraordinaire then proceeds to bring out a pretty good sized box. In it could pretty much be anything, but there's only one thing that I've been needing....

I like to be able to do everything myself. I'd rather make it then buy, so I'm constantly trying to learn how to do or make things that are useful to my family. There have been a couple things on my list that have alluded me.... sewing well (clothes etc.), keeping something green alive... and up until a little bit ago, making bread. We've tried a few "family recipe's" that we loved growing up, but we don't own Crisco or plan to in the near future, so they never quite turned out using alternative fat sources. We then tried a bread maker only to find that the loafs weren't the size that we wanted, and that was annoying. All the while I begrudgingly bought bread at the store and continued my unconscious pursuit to find something better. The answer came when I took home a loaf of bread from the colloquium I attend and the kids pretty much devoured it even though they already had quite a bit during the discussion. I had been following the fact that this couple was applying for a permit to sell bread, so I figured I would ask if I could be a fly on the wall while the next batch was made. They let me come watch and play 20 questions (basically comparing past failures and eagerly trying to figure out how to make future successes), and I came away with an ALL WHEAT FLOUR bread that used oil for the fat source. How awesome is that! Not to mention that the bread is so soft that you wouldn't ever know that there is no bread/white flour. So, I took this away in my excitement, but then my brain had to work. I didn't have a mixer, and this bread was going to have to be kneaded well. Like most people we don't have an endless supply of money so I couldn't just go buy one. Instead I got the idea to try and borrow my sister-in-law's mixer and she was gracious enough to let me steal it once a week. This was getting tiresome, but we had yummy bread that didn't have any preservatives and I didn't have to spend anything more then gas money (which actually by driving a Jeep Commander I may have been close to buying one just by not driving... gotta love gas prices!) Anyway, Nathan loved this bread, it was hard keeping enough of it around the house because we went through it quickly and I didn't have the ability to make more when we ran out, and I didn't have time enough to make what we needed for the week all at once. That brings us up to yesterday when we were supposed to get the mixer again, but instead.....

Husband Extraordinaire bought me a KitchenAid standing mixer in the pretty, pretty color of pink. Yay!

Needless to say we had some fresh bread for sandwiches this afternoon, we'll be making a larger batch of whole wheat pizza dough for yummy homemade pizza (much yummier and tastier then buying from somewhere), and husband extraordinaire will be getting Chocolate Lava cake for his birthday (Sep 30), courtesy of my present and the yummy list of recipes inside the instruction booklet!

ADDITIONALLY, I pretty much have a whole new living room/dinning room thanks to my hubby, or will at least after tomorrow. When we bought our condo we were too late to pick anything other then carpet and appliances. Since that meant that our dinning area was going to be carpeted too we went for the builder's cheap stuff (as in FREE), and planned to rip it out later and replace it with the laminate flooring that's in our entry and kitchen. With Nathan graduating and thus leaving in December we decided that we'd better get a move on our plan. With installation prices at $2 a square foot Nathan talked me into getting him the tools to do the project instead of paying those guys, and then he'd have them for later houses/projects. So, that's what we did, a happy man is one with power tools right? Anyway, he just installed my floor last week, Costco will be laying carpet tomorrow, hubby will put my moldings back on when he can, and then I'll post pictures onf my cute little house!

01 September 2008

Wedding & Other Formal dresses

My father-in-law has a business called "Formal Couture" in Richland, WA. His whole vision is to have a reception garden that can cater to all wedding needs. For now he carries a good variety of wedding and formal dresses as well as accessories, and schedules consultations for the perfect fit. He's still working of the website, but you can go take a look at what's he's doing. Plus if you have any friends or family who need help planning for their special day you have one more resource!