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!

28 March 2011

A Challenge: Let's Help Each Other Learn About The States!

My friend "Crazy".... who you can find here.... gave me a wonderful idea! However, it's only going to work if you help me out! She suggested that I put out the challenge to you, my wonderful reader (who is hopefully a follower of my blog... yes, that was a cheap plug, I'm still waiting to hear from TOS!) to find and send in information on your state. So, your challenge, that I do hope you'll accept, is:

-Take a few minutes to find information on the state you live in!

Then either send me an email or leave a comment with the resources you've found (things we can get free like web addresses to printable activities, library books, or low cost items would be great!) and I'll compile them into a user friendly version and post them for everyone to use. With each state having designated things that are unique to them: flowers, birds, trees, animals... as well as differing histories, state flag designs and stories, famous people, roles in the founding of our nation, traditions, etc., there is alot of information that we can share! So, please! Take a few minutes and help us to learn about your state whatever that may be! Random information works too. A children's book that takes place in your state, interesting facts (Transformer's "Middle East" scenes were filmed at White Sands here in New Mexico, as was Contact etc., we also have HUGE hot air ballon festivals here, and every year in Santa Fe they build a huge mannequin, fill it with the bad things that happened during the year.... bad grades, divorce papers, eviction notices, and set it on fire... we're also the backdrop for stories about Billy the Kid and Kit Carson) are readily accepted and will be added to the list! Who knows what information will help peak a child's interest, so I'm open to anything that you can find that will enhance the learning experience of homeschoolers everywhere!

Also of interest is US Geography helps in general. I forgot to mention my favorite (okay, one of my favorite) History Channel series The StatesThe States DVD Set. (I bought these and The Presidents DVD when they were running a special last year. To get both sets was about $30.00, which is more than half the retail price. They have a deal for both going on right now, but I'm pretty sure it'll get better come future holiday's. Mine were most likely a gift to myself around Independence Day. The children really enjoy these, and my husband and I have learned a lot).

So, if you stumble along some kind of something that you think is a really great tool even if it doesn't have to do with just one state, that's fair game too. Also, should you find information on another state you're welcome to send it in! Depending on the participation that I receive from all of you, I will even create labels that will help you find the information easier here so that when you're ready to teach about the states the links are readily available.

So?!?! What do you think? I think now is a great time to research the great state of "fill in the blank," and send your finds my way! :-)

Studying the States

I have been thinking a lot about geography lately, and was trying to come up with the best way to teach it to my children that would be fun and affordable. This all came to me while I was looking at confessionsofahomeschooler. She had laid out what I thought was a really good world geography curriculum called Expedition Earth and that was inspiring. However, as I sifted through what was there and what I would need to acquire, I realized that this just wasn't for me right now.

My biggest thought came the same way as our learning about history.... we should start with the United States! After all, we do live here :-). So, I tried without any luck to find state curriculum all contain in one place (until today when I went to grab links for this post and noticed that Road Trip USA is now being offered by Confessions and it looks awesome! Plus, there's a giveaway on her site right now). Anyway, I set out to find websites that would help me piece together information for my children, and free is definitely affordable for me! So, since we live in New Mexico, here are the links I found for our state. We learned about the state flower... which is awesome because the yucca is everywhere and my children now point them out as we're out and about... and bird, colored and found out why our flag looks the way it does, and even colored an A-Z picture book of all things New Mexico. I'll post that information here, and then next week I'll make a post of our next state (Nevada, since dad gets stuck there a lot):
Learn about State symbols

http://www.newmexico.org/kids/learn/index.php is our state website and has A LOT of really interesting information. Under the activities tab is where I found the A-Z coloring book that my children grab on their own everyday and ask me questions about without any prompting from me. Sometimes just having things available makes a huge impact!

http://www.kidzone.ws/geography/usa/ has become my number one "go to" site for state information. Here is where we found a picture of our flag to color, as well as some history on it. Here is also where we found pictures to color and information on our state bird: the roadrunner and our state flower: the yucca, and after learning about the two separately my children were set off on their own creativity to color a picture of both together.

I have to note here one thing about coloring these last pictures. Remember my daughter that learns a little differently? Well, coloring a white yucca flower that's only tinted green was kind of disturbing for her. She felt like it should be multi-colored (well, she feels like everything should be multi-colored and comes up with some AMAZING things because of it), so guess what? I authorized multi-colored yucca flowers and a purply/blue roadrunner. Why? Well, I took into consideration why we homeschool. She knows what the roadrunner and yucca look like.... she's seen pictures and can answer questions. Sure coloring the picture "true to life" may have helped solidify in her mind what they look like, but who's to say that not doing it would destroy the reality of what it really is. I bring this up because I think we can really easily get caught up in "the right way" of doing things and forget that sometimes (especially in minuscule situations like this) it just doesn't matter! Yes, I'm trying to teach what these things look like, but if she knows what they look like and would just prefer to do it differently, then why not? We homeschool because our children have different personalities and ways of seeing the world, embrace it! There's a time and place for learning exactness, this isn't one of them.

I'll update you on our further state learning finds each Monday! Do you have any US Geography favorites? The one thing that I wanted to do that didn't happen this week was get books from the library that would go along with the state of the week. Hopefully this week I can grab some that will be helpful for you too!

24 March 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things

It's getting to be that time where a lot of people are looking for new curriculum, so I figured I'd share what I've enjoyed over the years. My qualification for curriculum is that it has to be fun and reinforce what is learned in an enjoyable way (games for instance). My husband and I spent enough time in school doing worksheets and "getting work done," that it's made it very important to us that our children apply and internalize the information they learn and have it become a part of them. Additionally, while some of my children learn no matter how things are introduced, my daughter is the poster child for unmedicated ADD/ADHD... so capturing her attention is vital. She really is the epitome of childhood, so if a program is not enough that she can spend 10-15 minutes engaged with me, then it's really just not enough. Plus the multi-sensory programs that I've found help engrave knowledge further for my other learners. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite things:

I'm really lucky that I had a friend who had Right Start Mathematics. I didn't know many more options than Saxon Math, Math U See and Singapore. I watched a few videos on Math U See and realized that wasn't for us. While it is a really wonderful program, I wanted to be my child's teacher, and I didn't feel like doing worksheets was something that we needed to be doing. I had also heard a lot of really great things about Saxon math, but I didn't feel like their program was the best for
our home either. And while it's funny reasoning, I wasn't really okay with supporting Singapore Math because they had a "California Standard" version of their products that conforms with CA law that requires their curriculum to be a little more neutral... i.e. word problems can't involve a husband and wife/"traditional" family.

When I saw Right Start Math I knew it was PERFECT for us. They had me at "abacus," but the
more I learned the more I loved how the program was introduced and reinforced. There were lots of games and connections being made. I think we learn math in a more complete way that helps the children enjoy what they're doing and beg for math time. The lessons are straight forward and the teacher's manual gives a simple list of everything that is needed for the lesson. Did I mention the abacus? So, not only do I get to teach their lessons myself, but we're applying math to life ("look around the room and tell me what we have 2 of?") and we're taking advantage of an age old way of calculating numbers and visually interpreting information (8 is 5&3). I like how they discourage counting... although this is a very hard habit to break... and embrace the idea that 5 and 3 is equal to, or the same as, 8. It's not just some abstract fact. So, if you haven't heard of Right Start Math, it's worth giving some time to research if you're looking for something different. Their customer service is also incredible. I bought 3 abacus' when I ordered my kit and one wasn't in the box when I received my shipment. They were easy to get ahold of, and quickly sent out the missing piece with their apologies.

Happy Phonics: I really enjoy being able to just have fun with my children. Before mentioned OCD issues makes it difficult for me to just sit and let loose, so Happy Phonics is a great way to learn with my children and play games that make phonics real to them. I found a copy of this program on Amazon about 2 or 3 years ago from a mom that previously used it with one of her children and found it to not be the mostaffective for a subsequent child. The result of that was being able to have everything cut out for me, all I did was laminate it and cut out and we were ready to go! I was also fortunate enough to watch and learn from the mom that suggested this program and really get some great ideas of how to make phonics come alive for my children. It had a whole lot less to do with the actual information and way more to do with my reactions. Amazing what a few "Wow, that was great! Good job!" can really mean the world to a small child. The program recommends using it in conjunction with Explode the Code. We haven't done this, but I know it's worked for a lot of people.
Click here to enlarge the image

Now, I'm Reading: I LOVE this series!!! Everyone that comes in contact with these books loves this series. I actually recently got a call from a mom that I had talked to last year who wanted me to remind her the name of it because she remembered liking them SO much and now that her son is ready to read she couldn't get it out of her head and couldn't find anything close to it anywhere else. These books reinforce words throughout the book (The Cat, The tan cat, The tan cat ran) etc. They don't throw out words randomly without prepping the child for them, which reduces frustration. The books run through a series and there's a guide in the back of the book to tell you what is being introduced, and even has questions to help the child focus on comprehension. The illustrations are great and my children love the stories. Despite bookshelves packed with books, my children gravitate to these several times a day and there are A TON of options in these books. Things start with Playful Pals and move up through more Advanced books and even have "Independent Readers" that let the children explore Science and Math in a way that is not overwhelming because they've learned the skills to decode the words.
Product Details

All About Spelling: I was introduced to this program a few years ago, but didn't take the leap to actually buy it until a few months ago. I borrowed All About Spelling from a friend and really enjoyed the multi-sensory aspect of things (again, I have a daughter who would surely be on Ritalin if in a publicschool setting). This program breaks down words and reinforces phonics. We even ended up buying a large whiteboard and mounting it on our kitchen wall specifically for this program. My children are all smiles when they work with all about spelling. They use magnetic tiles to build words, practice writing words on paper, and learning how to hear the different components of the words. It's amazing when even your 2 year old is picking up phonogram sounds... I love osmosis!
7 - 120x240.jpg

Handwriting Without Tears: Again, this system is very multi-sensory. The children color, use chalk boards, create the letters with wood pieces... and other products I didn't feel itnecessary to buy, but am glad I have the option to if I feel the need. I like that the children can reinforce their writing on chalk boards, they are the perfect size... then I buy sponges at the grocery store, wet them, and they practice again by erasing what they just made in the same order. While this system may not provide the "prettiest" handwriting, it does give the children a perfect starting point, so if they're interesting in progressing to a fancier script they have a solid foundation to go off of. I'll also mention that ALL of my children are left handed. That's an anomaly right? Anyway, their instructions are perfect for any child and show you how a pencil should be held and the proper angle on the paper. Speaking of paper, they also have paper you can buy. I did this so that my children can again, reinforce what they're learning. There are many companies that also provide writing practice in the HWT style. I picked up a free booklet at Currclick.com last month. Unfortunately, it's no longer available for free, but I'm sure that things like this will come up again. You can also buy the font and there's a TON of support on the Handwriting Without Tears website. I don't buy the teacher's guides, I feel like the program is pretty self explanatory, but I'm sure there are wonderful tips and instructions in there on how to make the program come even more alive. I watched some videos on their site and it's really fun and all encompassing. Oh! And the sell a box of 144 golf pencils (the perfect size for little hands) that are pre-sharpened. LOVE that! I didn't buy them the first time around, but this last order I sprung for them and it's been $9.75 well spent!

Song School Latin: I like this program because it uses songs and an activity book to reinforce teaching points AND it's inexpensive! Maybe that's my favorite part. Everyone sings the songs/knows the words, and I get that for a fraction of the cost of other programs. This is a great primer for future feats in Latin. I feel like teaching my children Latin will be beneficial to them
because it is the root of so many languages, including our own! I can't tell you how many times I've figured out a new word because I was able to use preexisting knowledge of Latin roots. This is definitely not a dead language! My cousin teaches Latin back east and goes to many conferences where they only speak in Latin. This language is making a come back in incredible ways and gives insight to all the romance languages! I highly recommend finding a Latin program and implementing it in your home. Song School Latin is a slow easing in to things, and again, at such a small price you can get a feel for where you'd like to take your Latin learning in the future.

Alfred's Piano Books: I really enjoy these books. At about $6 a book they're inexpensive and on Amazon.com they are available for 4 for 3, which gives me a free book! There are all-in-one versions of the books, still trying to feel those out... I think they're great for older students, but 3 & 4 year olds, and those young at heart, would enjoy the separate theory, and note speller books. I have one lesson book for the family and then buy the write in books for each of the children. You'd save money just buying the all-in-ones, so with more children to teach piano to this is something that I've considered. However, I think I really like the separate books for level A and then maybe going to the all-in-ones after you've established a relationship with the piano and your child. I'm a self-taught pianist, so it's nice to go back and reestablish a base... these books are fun and there are endless ways to reinforce what's being taught.

And lastly, while you've read about these before:

Discover the Scriptures: I think these packets that follow the scripture stories put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, provide questions and activities for any parent to help their children increase their scriptural knowledge. They also provide FREE helps to memorize the Living Christ. I also appreciate their approach to Christ centered holidays (Christmas and Easter) and will write about those soon!
LDS homeschool curriculum

23 March 2011

Mornings Are For Me

Here at Jorgensen Manor the kiddies don't wake up until 7am or later. I have one child who would probably get up before that, but I have a Goodnight Light in his room to let him know when it's 7 and he can quietly get up and go find a good book and nestle on the couch until the rest of the house comes to life.

Because of this, I try to take advantage of the hours between 4:45 and 7. Why? Well, I'm a crazy person of course! If you've read my blog you know this, and if you know me personally... well, I'm sure I've apologized at least more than once that you've been that unlucky :-). Anyway! Why I really do it (well, besides the given that is), is because that's a little over two hours that are mine before anyone else has even thought to begin stirring. While I was a BIG fan of mornings before... as in waking up between 3 & 4 to get a run in before starting a day filled with 18 credits of college classes, being an Air Force ROTC cadet and working full time... being married to a non-morning person, having morning sickness, etc. has made it hard to get on a good schedule that starts bright and early.

I know it's odd, but a video that I saw on Mother's Day featuring The Osmond Second Generation made me think. The mom of the 8 boys (Suzanne) talked about how she got up at 5 every morning and that's how she got everything done.

Also one of my husband's friends growing up had a mom who was always up first thing in the morning and was able to keep up with was she needed.

Anyway! The moral of the story is, whenever I start my day with a good running start (often literally) my day goes so much smoother! While I enjoy the extra time cuddling with my honey or even the little cat naps I can get in until everyone is actually moving, I'm so much happier when I get up and going. My body automatically wakes up somewhere between 4:45-5:15, so I normally don't set an alarm, I just get up whenever it happens instead of trying to go back to sleep and life is good! Seems like without the time to train first thing in the morning (I have a triathlon that I'm training for and hitting the pool first thing lets me see the sunrise through the glass, BEAUTIFUL!), I'm playing catch up all day long... which means never actually catching up and feeling a little stressed in the meantime. In those extra hours I read scriptures, train for an upcoming race, and get ready for the day before anyone gets up. More than half the time I even have breakfast ready too.

So, mornings are for me. I'd happily share them with my husband if he were up at that time, but I hit the day more energized and refreshed then if I were to "sleep in." There are certainly cycles and stages in life... I'm definitely less willing to keep my crazy schedule with a newborn that just went to sleep at 4:30 etc., so evaluate where you are in life and don't run faster than you're able... but I highly recommend looking at your life and seeing where you can find time for your health and spiritual wellbeing. Your relationship with God and how you care for your body is HUGE, make sure it gets the precedent in your life whether it's first thing in the morning or sporadic throughout the day!

A little randomly... I had a a few miles to put in on my treadmill this morning and since I can't read while running or focus quite well enough for audiobooks, I watch documentaries and things to that effect. This mornings happy find was The Lazy Environmentalist. Lazy Environmentalist: Season 1
I really enjoyed the little tips of how to live a little more "green." While I know not everyone buys the whole "going green" thing, I do think it's important to stick to the basics and that harsh chemicals and waste sitting in landfills and leeching into our earth and ending up in our water supply is everyones concern. We need water people! And contaminated water isn't going to do us any good. Anyway, I'll be finishing out this season and gleaning what I can. Even the episode that I didn't think I'd care about (the guy who makes fashion choices for *stars*), left me with some good ideas and thing to consider. I think especially those of us with big families are pretty good at repurposing items, so that certainly helps, but I hadn't thought of how much we could compost or do differently.

I even left one episode thinking about recycling even though that means driving to another state. Okay, it's not that extreme, we live 1 1/2 hours from the next state and that's where all the "big stores" are. We don't have a program to recycle here... apparently the one place you can go to take things actually just dumps the stuff in the landfill here because it's too expensive to take it somewhere that can do something with it. So, I figured when we run to TX for our monthly Costco trip that we'll make it a time that we can drop off our recycling.

In Korea we had to sort EVERYTHING. Other countries just don't have the space to throw out a bunch of trash the way we do, and apparently even we're running out of space. So, why not find ways to keep our amazingly beautiful land for our amazingly beautiful children and someday grandchildren? Although, I think if you are going to watch this you have to commit to doing some sort of exercise while you are.... and no, hand from bowl/plate to mouth doesn't count! :-)

19 March 2011


Have you ever had a time in your life where a certain theme keeps coming up in everything you see? It happens to me a lot. The particular all encompassing topic of interest that has been my constant companion for the last week has been preparation. It all started with thoughts on preparing for retirement, turned into emergency preparedness, and this mornings readings brought me to preparing children.

I discussed a little about our retirement preparations previously. We are now more focused then ever before on our farm and the "homesteading" life. However, what I didn't expect was how those thoughts would effect our plans for the next 10 years of Mr. Wonderful's military career. We've planned on going overseas and high adventure for years.... yet, come the beginning of this week my desire to do so has been greatly reduced. Why? Well, my husband served a mission in Japan from 97-99, minored in Japanese in college and spent several months there last year. He loves Japan and has taught our family to do so as well. Thanks to Hiragana Mama I've been able to help in the teaching of our children. Anyway, as I'm sure you're aware, recently there has been some massive destruction in Japan (where we were hoping to go next year) as well as the targeting and killing of Airmen in Germany at the airport there (also on our list of places to go.) Now, I'm not saying that these event are going to keep us from going to these places, but they sure have made me think.

We are a family of 6 and counting. We live comfortably in a 3 bedroom house and with my OCD and world traveling husband, we're downsizing quite a bit (mostly it's been in preparation for any overseas move, but still applicable if not). We don't need much, we specialize in multiple sets of bunk-beds and sharing rooms, and we'd happily inhabit the floor if necessary. However, the one thing that is unchanging about our situation that we can't modify like sleeping arrangements, is the need to get everyone adequately fed. It takes a bit more to feed our family than others without as many members, and so preparation for future events (natural disasters for instance) is a BIG deal for me. It seems like everyday gives me a reason to stock up even more on the things that we use. And unfortunately, while we have a good supply of food, to feed 6 people for a month just with what is in our home (assuming the electricity is out and my frozen stuff is now unusable) is questionable to me.

How these thoughts effect my desire for adventures overseas is like this: after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the power went out. No heat, no electricity to your refrigerator, no lights. The commissary at Misawa quickly ran out of essentials, people could only buy things with cash (card machines don't work without power!), and the people in the cities were desperately in need of everyday supplies because they are not allowed to keep a food storage due to hoarding laws. I really evaluated things at this point. I honestly would rather stay in the states and have my food storage, acreage for gardening and the knowledge that I've settled and prepared as best as I can so as not to watch my family go without food and water, and also so that we can have goods available to bless others in hardship. Perhaps it's time to leave the high adventures to others (if it were just the husband and I there would be no question!)

has made me contemplate what I want and what needs to happen for our family. Simplicity comes to mind. Adventure is great, it's exciting, it's wonderful! Our time in Korea was some of the most eye opening and enjoyable times in my life, but if I can't do that and accomplish all the basic needs my family would need in an emergency it's not worth it. So, even though I prefer to be at an ACC base, my husband is actually talking about going to teach at our last base so we can have a farm there and he can have a more set schedule. Weird how things change, right?

Whether or not I got my point across in that last rambling mess, I must move on as children are starting to rise and the day must be on it's way! My last thought was on SPIRITUAL PREPAREDESS. My day began the best way I learn.... through reading. My husband took our iPad and iPod so I hopped on lds.org to read my scriptures and instead of getting that far the opening page spoke clearly to me and everything that I think about... so, I followed the link and it lead me to a Feb 2011 Ensign talk on The Power of Early Preparation.

So, go read that and here's one last thought for you from our nightly reading of Stand A Little Taller by President Hinckley:

~March 18~
A Quiet Voice

A soft answer turneth away wrath:
but grievous words stir up anger.
-Proverbs 15:1

"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills of difference become great mountains of contention. The voice of heaven is a still, small voice; likewise, the voice of domestic peace is a quiet voice."

16 March 2011


Let me preface this post with one very important piece of information: Despite public schools not being the right place for my family and the fact that I relearn that almost everyday, I am not opposed to public school. I do not pitch a fit or feel upset that my property taxes go to education (but I do get a little feisty that the money is allocated poorly so that the teachers and students aren't benefitting as much as they should), and I do not doubt the good intentions of those looking to educate your children. Some people can't or don't want to homeschool and I say more power to yah! I get to choose what's best for my family and it would be tragic for you to not do the same.

I follow Oak Norton at Utah's Republic.org. He is the motivator behind making sure that the Utah's schools are learning proper things.... like the little fact that the United States is a Republic. It was only recently and under his constant prodding that there was a bill passed which made it mandatory for this information to be taught. :-) (If you think we're a democracy, just imagine that you have a nice home for you and your family and some people got together and voted to take your home away... just for funsises. Well, the majority won and now your no longer have a place to live. That's how a democracy works, majority rules.... be grateful and very aware that we live in a republic!)

I got an email this morning from Oak on Common Core Curriculum requirements being introduced into schools. This is something that public and home schooler's should take note of, because we're getting scary here and I can see this branching out to an uncontrollable monster. With this new set of requirements comes a mandatory request for your child's:

"hair color, eye color, gestational age at birth (whether a child was premature or not), blood type, blood test results, birth marks, and even bus stop arrival time."

Umm... why? So you can see what factors lead to better test scores and success in school? And if that is the case.... how does one use this information now that you have it? I know what Hitler did with his information. Don't laugh just yet, seriously, feel free to think why all this information is needed and leave a comment. Consider too, that the Common Core Curriculum is also trying to make local and state school boards obsolete. How do you feel about completely federally run schools? Is it okay to not have a say in your child's education at a local level? Personally, I don't think so! Even if my children were in public school that would not make obsolete my right as a parent to know about and fight for/against what is being taught to my children. But, of course, this question is for those of you in the public school system right now. I'm interested to hear thoughts.

Anyway, Oak's preface is here, and you can read the whole article here.

Even if you're a homeschooler what happens in the public schools can directly affect you, so take note! You are not an island to yourself, and something like this could very well legislate down to us, especially in the more regulated homeschooling states.

What are the functions of a public school, and how should they be run? Many say that their goal is to "educate" children, but the first question posed to homeschooler's is how our children get socialize (GREAT article on that here), and still yet we have legislation mandating all day Kindergarten and extending school hours for the main purpose that it's easier for working parents.... suggesting a daycare-ish purpose. It's quite the enigma to me!

14 March 2011

Learning to Work

A few months ago I read a post on Latter-day Homeschooling which was written by a lovely mother of 7 (who I'm lucky enough to be friends with thanks to the internet), and it got me thinking.

I'm an obsessive cleaner by nature, and when I get stressed that desire gets worse., I'm sure you have no idea what I'm talking about ;-). While this normally wouldn't be bad, the problem is that it's hard to be such and not go nuts when you have a bunch of little children. I've worked for years at trying to find a good balance in work and play and have come up miserably short. Ever wonder "How am I supposed to help these children learn these life skills when all I went to do is quickly complete a task (because it takes FOREVER for them to do it and it's still not done the way I want it) so it's finished and we can sit and learn/play/go out?" I sure have! I've tried schedules and lists and I've always come up short... until this post on Stewardships.

Teaching my children how to work in a family setting took on a whole new meaning when we starting to think of being stewards of the different areas in our homes. The idea that someone (or all of us) are responsible for certain areas and that everyone learns how to care for each area, has made a world of difference. So, not only did I get equipped with a new way of looking at things, but I was able to have a specific idea of how to teach my children what to do. I'm not super creative, I prefer patterns and set instructions, so it helps me be able to implement things that I want to do when someone has already set the stage of what I want. I downloaded the individual work sheets that look like this:
stewardship 1
and then changed them to be applicable to my home (which I have a picture of, but haven't downloaded yet). With Heather having already written out the steps to cleaning each room, all I had to do was tailor them for my home, and I was even able to add on additional areas that needed attention in my home. Each list is broken down into daily and weekly jobs, and everyone gets cycled through the jobs at different times depending on age until everyone knows how to clean each room appropriately. My problem before in keeping up with keeping my home in proper order was that there was no specific written way to do so. Kudo's to all the mom's who can sporadically function and get everything finished, but without a concrete page in front of me (that of course can be deviated from, but it's just nice to know you got to everything you intended or know exactly what you meant to exclude instead of doing so by mistake!), I was finding myself irritated that I hadn't really accomplished what I'd set out to do.

Now every child in my home knows what they are responsible for, and I'm better able to help them accomplish their goals. After a quick round of stewardships in the morning and perhaps the evening, we're finished and ready to go! I don't have to supervise every little thing anymore. The first week we implemented our new system, we didn't get through all the cards. We maybe got through half. However, my son learned how to clean a bathroom and was excited about it, my daughter learned how to wipe down all the doors, doorknobs and light switches with Clorox Anywhere spray (that's my favorite product by the way) and a towel, and the next youngest son learned that we expect him to be present, account for, and willing to do little things that are asked of him... i.e. wipe something down, put away toys etc. The next week we got through all the cards... it took us nearly all day, but the house was shinning! Since our training has come to a close with everyone spun up and knowledgeable about what needs to be done and where, we can now complete all of the "big jobs" in our home in a few hours. Amazing isn't it? And so worth the training time! I'm confident that subsequent children will be able to pick up these new skills quite easily thanks to the stellar example of their siblings.

Anyway, my home is not perfect or perfectly clean. Chicken feed, wood chips, dirt and dust are constant additions to our floor, but everyday we have a chance to catch up with these things so they don't multiply too bad and move forward with everyones help. Plus, it helps that once a week I know that everything will be in order! That sure helps my tendency to want to do all those "big jobs" all day, everyday. There is a time and a place for everything, so knowing a particular thing will happen in "x" amount of days helps me remember that, unless there's been an accident that makes doing that job a necessity... i.e. so and so peed on the kitchen floor, things can wait and it's more important that I go and play!

It's important to learn to work. My children are happier when they are working and the atmosphere of our home greatly benefits. It is worth the time to teach your children how to run your home, and it's important to start early! Don't wait until they're "better able." My 5 year old cleans both of the bathrooms beautifully and cheerfully even months down the road. You don't have to be overworked. slaving at being everything and doing everything for everyone in your family. Helping your children learn to do the work and work alongside with you becomes a fulfilling and enjoyable time for all. My gaggle begs to do dishes. There are no incentives for them to do so... no extra treats, attention, nothing, but they still love to do the work anyway. Why? Because, good hard work feels good! We're working for a common goal and we're blessed for being good stewards over the things that the Lord has given us!

13 March 2011

New Clothes for the Children

A few weeks ago we purchased some new "uniforms" for our gaggle. Old Navy was having a 20% discount + free shipping, so I took the opportunity to buy a few items for our brood to wear to church. I'm slightly obsessed with sweater vests and both hubby and I especially love when all the boys match, so here is what we picked up for them, and then we added the matching dresses for our daughter.

We also were in need of new church shoes for the boys. I had foundsome black, no lace, church shoes on sale at the BX a few months ago, and for the last few months I shake my head every Sunday at the deteriorating specimen that is their shoes. So, after talking with Mr. Wonderful I took the 3 big kids to the local Dollar Boots and Jeans store and got them some Tony Lama boots.

While a little pricier, this is my thinking: these shoes can be used for various activities from horses back riding, playing in the back yard, any outing, and on up to going to church (we clean them Saturday night). Also, the amazing girls there fit my children perfectly and left room to grow (I asked for this), plus Tony Lama's have a removable sole that will allow for even more growth. We had some Ariat's for the oldest two the year before last and I had to hide them from my daughter in order for her not to wear the boots that had become almost 2 sizes to small. Yes, boots are loved that much around here! I'd rather pay a bigger price tag upfront for some long lasting versatile footwear than cheap shoes that I end up buying several pairs of and eventually pay as much as I would have for a nice pair of leather goodness!

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Do you have any quirky purchase habits when it comes to your children? I never buy anything full price (except for boots), so I'm always on the lookout for coupon codes or a clearance rack. Feel like sharing your secret shopping tips?

12 March 2011

Homestead Blessings

I'm surprised that I haven't mentioned Homestead Blessings! I bought some DVD's in 2009 because I desperately wanted to learn some skills to benefit my family and I couldn't find anyone that new how to do what I wanted to do! My hubby laughed when he first knew of my acquisition, but readily became excited as we watched soap and candle making! He still talks about them... and we've acquired "a few" more since on everything from gardening and canning to quilting, sewing, and dairy products. I love the West Ladies that host the show, and they inspire the homesteader within me every time I watch their shows!
Franklin Springs often has really great sales, so you'll have an opportunity to add the video(s) of your choice to your home that will fit your family budget, just be patient!

Just for fun, and to try to peak your interest, here is their recipe for hamburger buns. I LOVE making my own Hamburger Buns and I directly thank Homestead Blessings for giving me the confidence to do this. Seriously, it's so easy, really yummy, and it saves me money. There is no down side to having this recipe on hand in your home:

~Hamburger Buns~
4-5 cups Flour (white, wheat or a combo of both)
2 Tbl yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
3 Tbl honey
1 tsp salt

*Mix 2 cups flour with 2 Tbl yeast. Heat water, oil, milk, honey, and salt on the stove until very warm. Pour liquid mixture into the flour and beat well. Start adding the rest of the flour until the dough is soft. Knead briefly, then let rest for 10 minutes. Next, roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thick and cut out buns (I use the mouth of one of our cups for this, the West Ladies use biscuit cutters), and let rise for half an hour on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

So, their explanation is prettier, mine here came from the shorthand that I wrote myself in my recipe book, so get the movie and enjoy having the recipes straight from them via pdf! I have no incentive to write this post other than to share with you the joys that I've received from being able to "spend time" with ladies that know skills that I literally pray to have in my life.

Happy perusing!

*Are there any favorite recipes or skills that you've learned that help you feel more self-sufficient?

From City Girl to Country Mama

Life is funny sometimes isn't it?

Once upon a time my life was filled with dreams that looked a lot like an Ikea showroom:
(perfectly pristine, complete with the lack of toys, books, and who knows what strewn over the floor), and was topped off with a large home that I occupied all alone with some massive dogs (think Rottweilers or German Shepherds), for safety, while I slaved day in and out as a Southern California attorney.... on the defense side of the house of course, but why that is may have to wait for a different post. I was a college educated (whatever that means), focused, cut throat individual who sat for hours on the 91 and 5 freeways to get somewhere that would normally take 20 -30 minutes. Life was good! Or so I thought. Who wouldn't want to "have it all?" Boy was I naive! Thankfully I was whisked away from all that by a very patient and loving husband.

For the last 7 years I've followed my husband and have now, for the first time in my life, truly receieved an education. While I still don high heels and big dreams, the above mentioned realities for me seem like they exist in an alternate universe. My dreams look a lot like this now:
.... just makes my heart all aflutter! (There's a child kind of cut out of the picture on the right who is down on the ground with some animals) What's odd is that I NEVER wanted to have children, now we can't stop wondering when the next one will get here. I'd never known, or cared to know, that you could make a cake from scratch, raise chickens (people far away did that right?), grow your own food, or become properly 'learned' outside of a certified public schooling institution.

I'm writing this post today because retirement is weighing heavily upon our minds here at Jorgensen Manor. While retirement to many people means "yay, no more working," around our place we count down to it because it creates even more varied opportunities for work and growth. It's a little tricky trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up when you move every 1-3 years. However, every move we do a little more (like switching to cloth diapers a few years back, making our own laundry detergent, raising 3 chickens despite living on a residential street. etc.) as well as acquire all the information that we can in order to reach our end game.... being self-sufficient. To us, working to start a 50-100+ acre farm 30-40 minutes from the closest town is a beautiful thought! And today, we added a few more specifics to our plans.

This my friends is an Arabian Horse.
I asked a man that we go to church with if we could come out and work for him today in exchange for information on horses. Hubby and I have discussed having horses on our "farm," so I figured today would either solidify that desire or cast it off completely. Well, let's just say my cute honey literally just informed me of a horse (then followed with several more and added on saddles) that he wanted to buy.

Our latest plans? Well, while we have yet to pick a location to buy land since Mr. Wonderful doesn't know what kind of job he'll want to have when he parts ways with the military (he'll be 42 when he retires if he only stays in 20 years), we're getting a little more direction. After time spent with the horses today we now have visions of grandeur that consist of boarding/training horses and making a living off the land together as a family. Settling near a university where we could alternate teaching classes would also help keep funds flowing (turns out money is needed to raise children and have a farm, who knew?), and military pension doesn't hurt.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that dreams can and do come true and you should do all you can to research out your desires. I've learned repeatedly over the last few years to not disregard the thoughts that come to me, even when they seem incredibly obscure.

How my idea of perfect went from this to thisI may never know. Kind of seems like a no brainer now!

But with each day I hope that we'll find the simple things in life that make it so beautiful! May your days be simpler, full of more love, and in pursuit of rekindling lost arts that help will us feed, clothe, educate and inspire our families in the best and worst of times.

11 March 2011

A Favor To Ask....

So, I normally write just because I can. Lately I haven't because I've been researching funding my Master's degree... to no avail (if you know anyone that likes to fund degrees for homeschooling mom's you're welcome to pass my name along! The program I want to do is through AMU. I'm looking into National Security, but have toyed around with the idea of Education. My end game is to teach at a University, which is why I want the politically charged degree so I can help the next generation find hope in government and their voices, but of course the Education one would applicable to my life now... and what it will be for many years to come, so I wouldn't mind teaching that either.) Anyway! My brain has been working on that for a few weeks and I've finally dropped the subject and can think about something else. (I was literally told not to mulit-task by my neurologist... don't know how she said that to me with a straight face seeing as how all of my kids were standing there with me... but I have an excuse for not being able to think about writing here too :-D)!

On to my favor! Because my brain cells are now freed up, and desperately in need of something more to do, I'm thinking about applying to be a reviewer with TOS (a very helpful homeschooling resource that I stumbled on 4 years ago after googling "Homeschool Magazine"). They are looking for bloggers to review homeschooling programs... which if you homeschool you KNOW that deciding on a product that fits your needs can be aggravating when you don't have real peoples opinions... and I'd like to help out. The application process is in full swing, I'm sure I'll be contending with a lot more fun, interesting, and less controversial mothers, but I'd like to at least try!

So, what can you do to help? FOLLOW ME! :-). I need to have at least 25 people publicly following me. I know a lot of people end up here and that I'm on blog rolls that I don't know about, so, if you're spying on me, would you please make yourself known. I promise not to disappoint! For the "school year" I'll have a 6, 5, 3, and 1 year old, (and with any luck we'll be expecting again), so I'll give you a real day in the life look at how these products work in regards to various ages, especially how realistic they are to use when there are tiny humans about.

K, there's my plea. If you feel able, please take a second and like me now. They will be announcing their crew soon so hurry and tell your friends :-).