Friday, March 26, 2010

Bike Basket...

Okay I just had to share this ADORABLE girl bike basket with you all. I may try to make this for Megan if I can figure out how to follow the tutorial. I can already envision all the books she could put in it, or the little picnic lunch she'd want to pack inside of it...SO FUN!!! Click HERE to check out the tutorial. If you make it PLEASE let me know how it goes...oh how I wish I were more crafty!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Closet?! What's in it...and what is it again?!

What does the closet look like?!
The closet actually doesn't have to be a closet...its just something that holds all the things you want to inspire your kids about. It could be a bookcase, plastic bin, suitcase on wheels, etc... I know when I first heard about the closet I was so put out. I thought that I couldn't make this TJed ingredient work for my family, because I didn't have an actual closet in that house that would work. So never fear...even a box would work, because the concept of a closet isn't the closet itself...its the idea of having a time, a place, and an opportunity to engage with your kids.

So what's in the closet?!
Really anything could be in your closet, but here are a few of the things that were talked about during this amazing class...oh and I've added a few of my own.
  • Toys
  • Crafts
  • Material for projects (old socks, buttons, thread, etc...)
  • Rocks
  • Books from the library
  • Kits of whatever kind
  • Cards/Letters/Paper
  • Crayons
  • Broken things to take apart
  • Workbooks/Curriculum
  • Sewing box
  • A box of junk
  • Cake Mix
  • Clay
  • Stuff to make a volcano
  • Scrap booking paper
  • Pictures
  • Family History Books
How do I know what to put in my closet?
First of all you should always be adding to, and taking things from the closet. This keeps things exciting, and helps keep the magic of the closet alive so you can inspire your kids. But how do you know what to put in your closet? I loved how she addressed this issue. There were two main points:
  • Have a Family Plan for the year/month/week and use that plan to know what you want your kids to learn about. Then put items into the closet to help guide them in those directions.
  • Respond to sparks. So if your child is interested in a particular subject or topic respond by putting items in the closet that feed their fire and keep them excited about learning!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Purse

Okay I think this is about the cutest thing I've ever seen. Especially when you're a book lover like me!! Here is the tutorial on how to make it. I haven't made one of my own yet, but I'm now on the look out for cute, old, hard covered books to turn into purses.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Highlights from this weekend...

Tonight I was looking over my notes from the classes I took this weekend, and I thought it might help me process everything if I wrote down some of my favorite things I learned. So here it goes...I'll start with one tonight and then try to keep adding one new idea from the conference each day.

(Disclaimer: This is not a picture of my 'Closet.' Its actually just my inspiration know the picture that helps you see what you're trying to accomplish...which is order, intention, simplicity, purpose, power, learning, enthusiasm, etc...I do hope that mine will be this organized very soon!!)

#1: The Closet: This class was amazing!! I have a whole new appreciation for the importance of having a 'closet' in any home that is used to inspire our children to play, learn, interact, explore, and enjoy the journey. The gal that presented this class had no children still living at home. I'm not sure she ever homeschooled any of her children, but she had always used the 'closet' idea that is talked about in TJed circles even though she hadn't ever heard of TJed. I just LOVED this fact, because truth is truth! This wonderful gal talked about how every home could really benefit from 'The Closet.' Why?! Because it provides a tool that facilitates relationships, love, learning, and bonding. There were 5 Rules of Engagement that one must live by to make 'The Closet' really they are:
  • Have Consistent Structured Time: She described this by saying that every day we should have a time set aside that 'The Closet' is open. This helps keep the closet exciting, and keeps kids guessing what they might find in the closet the next day. Have a certain time set aside each day that 'The Closet' is open helps create a nature, consistent, comfortable flow to our day. If you are homeschooling she said that 'The Closet' could instigate the beginning of the structured portion of your learning time.
  • Be PRESENT:: I thought this was such a good reminder of how important it is to really be 100% present with our kids. She described being present as gathering your children around you and then engaging with them. Get on the floor if they are little and play with them, sit next to them and read, help them with their school work, and just make sure they all know that this is their time to be 100% with you. This sounds so simple, but is SO hard to actually do without getting distracted with other household duties. I'm more committed to have Closet time be the time when I am 100% PRESENT!!!
  • LOCK IT: Not literally...but she did encourage us to stick with the time we set aside and to not be afraid to clean up when its time to clean up (even if you have a child that is totally involved with an item that belongs in the closet). I almost gasped when she said this...what I thought interrupt learning?! But her explanation made perfect sense. If 'The Closet' is always open it loses some of its magic and will eventually become uninteresting to the children. On the other hand, if the closet is always opened and then closed at the prescribed times it will encourage learning, anticipation, and planning for the whole family. Stopping a child who is in the middle of a project, book, game, or toy that belongs in the closet will only make him all the more excited for the next prescribed closet time to arrive.
  • SPICE IT UP: Always be taking things out and adding things to the closet! This will help keep the kids excited for 'Closet' time. It also allows you to introduce things that you'd like the kids to learn about. However, she reminded us that being consistent, and being present were much more important than always trying to spice it up.
  • PLANNING: In order to keep 'The Closet' effective you need to plan ahead. This starts with a year long master inspire plan, that is fulfilled by quarterly, monthly, and weekly planning. She quoted the following statement, "If you haven't planned ahead then its already to late to do something today."

What now?!

This last weekend I was able to go to the TJed Forum in Salt Lake City. Stephanie and I flew up on Thursday, and stayed with our wonderful dear friend Tricia Cope!! (Thanks Tricia you were SO amazing to let us stay with you, and get to hang out with your family for a few days.)

DAY ONE: On Friday (after getting into a 4 car accident on the freeway...thank goodness we were in front and weren't hurt to bad) we attended a Arbinger Institute seminar. It was so healing. One of the founders of the Arbinger Institute wrote The Peace Giver, and then Arbinger is responsible for books like The Anatomy of Peace, Bonds That Make Us Free, Leadership and Self Deception, The Choice, etc... I could go on and on about what I learned, but my big AH-HA was RELATIONSHIPS!! I was reminded how important relationships are, and given skills, tools, and insights on how to keep my relationships healthy, strong, and vibrant!! Stephanie, Tricia, and I left feeling recharged, and uplifted!!

DAY TWO: On Saturday we attended the amazing TJed SLC Forum. Its my third year going, and I wasn't disappointed. I think some of my non-TJed friends think when I go to something like this that we probably talk all about homeschooling tricks, tips, and techniques...and I think it that was the case I would have long tired of it. Thomas Jefferson Education is way of life and is based on principles that complement my core religious beliefs. TJed as I like to call it is based on 8 keys and 4 phases. I've listed them below, but to really find out more you should read A Thomas Jefferson Education or click HERE for a good online resource.

The 8 keys are:
1. Classics not Textbooks
2. Mentors not Professors
3. Inspire not Require
4. Structure Time not Content
5. Quality not Conformity
6. Simplicity not Complexity
7. You not Them
8. Secure not Stressed

The 4 Phases:
1. Core Phase
2. Love of Learning Phase
3. Scholar Phase
4. Depth Phase

The reason I wanted to explain that first is that TJed is so much more than the way I've decided to educate my children. Its a lifestyle of learning, loving, relationships, intention, virtue, spirituality, etc...that translates into a life of fulfillment, service, and happiness. So whenever I go to a training based on these TJed principles its so much than homeschooling. In fact, most of the time its more about the principles of living a happy fulfilled life, than about homeschooling. I guess this makes sense to me because, you can't really do anything well if your life isn't healthy, intentional, and based on true principles. The more my soul is feed and understands truth the more I am successful at everything I am trying to do.

What now?!
Since Saturday evening I've been process everything I learned this weekend. Last night I was anticipating a new day of life, work, homeschooling, and family ahead of me. As I prayed last night, I asked to know how to implement all this amazing knowledge I learned. I keep a little notebook by my bed to write down inspiration as it comes to me after praying. My husband encouraged me to start doing this, and its been an amazing experience, and has helped me act on and remember more flashes of personal revelation than ever before.

So, back to last night. I was praying for help to know what to do, and had the most amazing experience. I felt direction and inspiration come to my mind and began to understand that it was time to start implementing some things, keeping somethings the same, and tweak some things that I'd been putting off. It was time to find peace, create more order, and get even more intentional.

I'm so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the way learning and studying classical literature, history, and science enhances my testimony, understanding, and gratitude for my Savior Jesus Christ. The principles of The Thomas Jefferson Education are principles of FREEDOM. Not only in the sense of political freedom (although that is part of it), but FREEDOM from sin, hate, ignorance, apathy, laziness, depression, fear, worldliness, etc... It has equiped me with knowledge and KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!! The kind of power that can make each day amazing, because we have the power to understand ourselves, others, the world, and the plan God has for us!!

So now after being feed amazing uplifting information all weekend long at the TJed Forum and then at church on Sunday I feel more power to tackle my problems, improve my situation, and make my life even better than it was before.

Oh this is getting really exciting!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Food = Life Skills

So last week I decided it was time to finally spring a little idea on my kids that I've been thinking about for a while. I noticed that we had a few 'issues' in our here's what they were, what I did it, and why I'm LOVING it so far!!

1. My life sometimes seems to be dominated by FOOD!! With six kids to feed, I'm often in the kitchen preparing, serving, or cleaning up a meal. I would love some help so I can focus on some other really important playing with my kids, reading my weekly 'scholarly' assignments, doing my daily scripture study, and so on...
2. My kids don't have a lot of ways to make a little money so they can succeed, fail, and become competent at dealing with money. (I really would rather them blow $30 vs $3,000.)

So on Monday I told the kids about my issue, and acknowledged their issue (as mentioned above). I then explained my plan. I told them what I have budgeted for groceries each week. Then I told them if they were willing to plan the meals, prepare the shopping list, do the shopping (of course I'd drive them there and help push a cart), put the groceries away, and prepare, serve, and clean up all the meals they could keep the difference of what we spent and what I had budgeted. They were excited, and confident they could spend less than the budgeted amount of money on the week's groceries.

Bring it on:
And so it began... First, Jarom and I planned out the menus and created a shopping list. Then I took all 6 kids shopping with me (which I NEVER do), and Jarom and Megan owned the entire shopping experience. All I did was push the cart, and help them figure out where different items were in the store. My favorite part of the shopping trip was, seeing them tell their little siblings no on all the impulse purchases (like gum at the check out, and expensive boxes of cold cereal).

I was so impressed with them, and I have to admit it was one of the most enjoyable grocery shopping trips I've ever had! We were finished in record time, and best of all the kids came in $36 under the budget. They were thrilled.

The proof:
So how has it worked?! FANTASTIC!!! This week Jarom and Megan have been working their very hardest to do all the cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. The deal was that they would receive the $36 after they had prepared all the meals they had planned and shopped for. Then we would evaluate the experience, and see if we wanted to do it again.

So far, its been an AMAZING success, and I hope the kids keep up the good work!! The best part is it didn't cost me a dime, my kids are learning important life skills, it frees up some of my time, and its helped my kids serve and love each other more!!

This Friday I attended InfusionsCon. It was a conference focused on helping the users of Infusionsoft (the company my husband works at). It was so fun to hear all about these amazing business ideas and how much these wonderful people are doing for their business...BUT it got me thinking. I have a 'business' too!! I have my home, family, children, husband, church...I have MY LIFE which is my 'business.'

I've decided that from now on I'm not just a mom or wife or whatever...I'm an Entrepreneurial Women!! That's right I'm an Entrepreneurial Woman applying the same level of energy, creativity, passion, devotion to MY LIFE as these business people were applying to their ventures!!! I won't settle for mediocre, or second best anymore!! For example...if I'm not getting the results I need to, then I have to make some changes NOT become complacent. If there is a problem or issue, then its my job to find a solution...etc.

That is what I would expect of myself if I was working at a company...why would it be different at home? WOW...what power and what energy!! I can make things happen, increase productivity, create unique systems, and really impact the lives of my family and friends and community by pouring myself even more into MY ROLE in this life.

So you're probably wondering why in the heck I just went off on this tangent. Well, it has everything to do with this post. Implementing my "Shop, Cook, Clean" program reminded me that expressing my entrepreneurial spirit in my home makes all the difference. I can hardly express my feelings into I'll just say I'm LOVING THIS!!!