Sunday, January 24, 2010


I have to say that its been kind of shocking reading the REAL Pinocchio!! The two older kids and I have been trying to get through it for a few weeks now. Each afternoon we spend about 5-10 minutes reading just a bit from it. What we've discovered is that Pinocchio is very selfish, mean, and sometimes down right nasty. It has been nice to be able to talk to the kids about his behavior, and how ungrateful he is to everyone around him. I think in the end I'll be glad we read it, because of the conversations I've had with the kiddos, but boy oh boy did Disney really change this story up a bit.

Monday UPDATE:: We read Pinocchio some more today, for about an hour, and the kids and I are finally starting to get into it. Thank goodness the little selfish boy is starting to recognize just how lazy and terrible he is, and he wants to change. This is a nice transition for the kids to see. :) I think I'm going to end up liking this book...I hope. Its just been hard because Disney changed the story so much that its very different than what we've heard before.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Having a plan...and living life!

Having a plan with my life is making all the difference. It makes everything easier, because I've already made most of the decisions I used to have to make on a daily basis. Two examples are work and school. At the beginning of this year I made a plan and then wrote it down. (I think the writing it down has been key for me.)

I decided that my kids were ALWAYS going to work before we did school, and that I was going to stop doing their chores for them. Its been three weeks now, and we haven't missed a weekday yet!! The kids are starting to just do their jobs without asking why or complaining. I knew it would work, but to see it happening in my home is stinking exciting.

I also decided that we were going to be consistent with the amount of 'school' time we did each day. In order to give me the best chance of success I implemented a few things.

1.) I started making daily schedules and study suggestions. This has helped me plan out the day and be realistic with what we can accomplish.
2.) We started waking up earlier. Getting up and having family devotional right off the bat is so empowering!!
3.) I decided no matter what I'd try my best to inspire the kids to study. Sometimes we haven't started until after lunch because its taken us so long to get our jobs done. Other times we've gotten started late because one of the babies is crabby...BUT no matter what we've done our best and its be AMAZING!! I think it was Charlotte Mason that talked about the power of habits. All I can say to that is AMEN!! Good habits are powerful!!
4.) We changed our TV policy to NO TV during the week. This has totally changed the tone in our home. I can't even describe it, but our home is more peaceful, more satisfying to be at, and more loving than it has ever been before. I am so glad we did this. Its been hard at times to not watch a little CSI or Office, but then I think of what our home has been like for the past three weeks. Then its easy to remind myself that the benefits TOTALLY out weigh the little bit of sacrifice I've given.

Our school room doesn't look like most classrooms. Today Megan insisted on doing her school work with army guys all around her...I was cracking up, but what the heck she was doing her math so I won't complain. :)


With the TV and Wii off I often find my kiddos small and big off playing with their toys for long periods of time. I keep pinching myself, because its almost to good to be true. After 3 weeks of NO TV and Wii during the week we are FREE!!

Brea found the Potato Heads today, and played with them on and off during the whole day. She is SO dang cute!!

The little boys are in love with their Star Wars action figures! Hyrum's gotten a few new ones lately as a reward to re-learn how to poop on the potty. He's been potty trained for a year now, but for some reason regressed and starting having pooping issues. However, I'm happy to say that the Star Wars action figure incentive program has worked wonders. He's completely potty trained again, and has 6 new action figures to boot!!


Today Becca split her head open on our fireplace seating thingy. Thank goodness we already had a ear re-check set up for today. The doctor checked her out and his prescribed a band aid and anti-biotic ointment. So we are good to go!! Look how cute she is!! No little bump is going to stop her from having a good time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


We didn't' get lots of eggs during the hot Arizona summer! In fact I had to actually start buying eggs from the store again...oh the embarrassment!! I mean its flat out a disgrace to have chickens that don't lay. Thank goodness they are starting to redeem themselves. Yesterday Jarom went out to feed the chickens, horses, and collect the eggs. And guess what...he brought back a mother load of eggs. We must have forgotten to collect them for a few days, because he had 18 eggs in his basket when he came in. WOO-HOO!! Our chickens are rocking!

Today Megan took on the task of cleaning the dirty eggs so they didn't look quite so disgusting. (The four eggs we collected today looked especially YUCKY!!) By the time Megan was done with them they were sparkling. That's my girl!!

We now have an official 'chicken cleaning brush.' Oh the joys of having animals and fresh eggs...I wouldn't trade it for the world. So if anyone wants green eggs and ham come on over. We've got LOTS of green eggs.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nicholeen Peck...WOW!!

The parenting seminar on Saturday went great. We had a fabulous turn out, and I was once again inspired by the information Nicholeen gave us and the vision she cast for our families. What was even better was for Scott to hear it with me!! The only thing I wish was that I'd have been able to have Nicholeen and Spencer stay with my family so I could have been able to hang out with them more. Oh well!!

So, ever since the seminar we've been talking about how we can incorporate even more of what we've learned from Nicholeen into our home. We decided that we're just going to focus on a few things each week. This week we decided to implement couple meetings and family meetings (which we've been spotty on both for a while). We also decide to do a special 'training' (or brush up really because we've talked about this before) on how to accept instructions, no answers, and how to disagree appropriately.

[Couple and Family Meetings]
The 'rules' and 'guidelines' Nicholeen suggests for these two VERY important family meetings has made all the difference in them being successful for our family. We've been kind of doing them inconsistently for the past 6 months or so, so I know they work!! But for some reason we haven't been super consistent with them. After hearing Nicholeen talk about them again on Saturday, Scott and I were recommitted to start holding consistent couple and family meetings. I'm so glad she reminded me how important these are. They really set the tone, and make parenting so much easier. Yesterday we had our meetings, and already its made such a difference.

[Family Training]
Tonight we had our family activity which included, dinner, root beer floats, and some training for us and the kids. Yesterday, Scott and I decided what our default system was when a child decided to...not listen to instructions or accept a no answer. We wanted to first teach the kids what we expected them to do when they were given an instruction or told no to something. Then we wanted to do some roll playing so we could all practice.

First, Scott explained how we expected them to act when asked to do something or when told no. It was awesome to see their little faces fill with confidence as they understood what was expected of them. Scott then taught the kiddos how to disagree appropriately. They were totally excited about this one. I loved telling them that we don't expect them to always be happy when they are told no to something, but we do them to stay in control and disagree appropriately. I think these are all such great adult skills to learn...what a jump start they are getting to learn them as children!!

In order to get a rootbeer float each child had to go through the training and pass it off by roll playing it with Scott. We all had a great time as we practiced our new skills, and gained clarity on what is expected in our home. I'm so excited to keep practicing these parenting skills, so my home is a place of love, order, and joy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Music Day!!

Thursdays have turned out to be our family's music day. I love it, but boy is it a bit crazy.

[Let's Play Music]
My three oldest are in a fabulous program called Let's Play Music. They are in their second of three years and all I can say is WOW!! Its such a fun and inspiring program that teaches the kids all about music and gets them playing the piano. I can't wait for Hyrum to start next year.

This semester we added to our music day the...East Valley Music Choral Organization. It's an incredible choral program that not only teaches the kids about how to sing, and musical theory, BUT also uplifts them and talks to them about the power of spiritual music. My kids are really enjoying it so far. The bonus is that lots of the kids friends are in the program too, so while they are waiting for their siblings to finish they get to play with their friends. This works out great, since they don't get the daily dose of recess time like most kids do at public school. I'll have to take some pictures next week to document all the fun they are having.

Scott has also joined the organization, and he has been SO INSPIRED!! Its kind of a sacrifice because he has church stuff every Tuesday evening and now he has EVMCO everything Thursday. Oh well? Its such a great thing for him I don't mind.

[What a fantastic life!!]
I just have to say how blessed I am, and how grateful I am for the Lord and His vision of who I can become. I have struggled with holding my kids accountable to their household duties in the past. However, what I've found is that they are happier when they are pushed and when things are expected of them. And guess what...I'm happier too!

I was inspired at the first of the year to stay more organized, and keep my kids more informed of what is expected of them each day. The results of those two perhaps minor shifts in the way I approach my day has made a HUGE difference in my life. I am so grateful for personal revelation, and the peace and blessings it can bring to my life. As I've worked and studied side by side with my kids this year, miracles have started to happen. They respect me more, and I respect them more. The love between us has increased, and our home is a better place to be. I feel like I am getting closer to creating a house of order...and its exciting. I've got lots of work to do, but I'm starting to see the bigger picture with more clarity. I pray that through the grace and love of God, my dream of creating an 'ideal' home will become a reality.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If at first you don't INSPIRE...try try again!!

I LOVE the TJed philosophy of education!! The TJed philosophy has 8 keys of learning. One of them is INSPIRE NOT REQUIRE. Amen to that!! I know without a shadow of a doubt that if my kids are excited about something I can hardly stop them from learning. However, they aren't always feeling super what do I do then? That is where my strategic planning comes into play.

I feel like one the most important jobs I have as a mother (at least as far as the academics go), is to inspire my children to get excited and have a desire to learn. IF my kids are NOT excited to learn, it's my job to switch gears...start exposing them to fun subjects and ideas, maybe I need to plan an activity, or perhaps I should just start reading to them.

[My little Experiment]

This year I've been able to put this idea of "If at first you don't INSPIRE...try try again!" to the test. Here are my results so far:

PROOF ONE: This summer I decided that I wanted to study ancient history with the kiddos. I didn't really ask them if they were interested in studying this...mostly because my oldest is only 10 and didn't know enough about ancient history to make an educated decision.

I picked the books we'd read, and on the first day of school I told the kids how excited I was to start studying ancient history. I told them about the different places we'd be learning about, and why I had always just loved this time period. Then I just started reading. Everyday we'd read a chapter or two out of The Story of the World. At first, they would kind of listen, as they colored or quietly played near by. Now, 5 months later, they beg me to read our history book each day. Its their favorite thing to learn about, and they never want to skip it. We are even reading a history book (right now we are reading a book called The Trojan War) for their bed time story...and they love it. WOW!! I just can't help but smile when I think about it.

PROOF TWO: A while back we turned car time into book time, by always listening to an audio book while traveling in the car. Even if its only a 5 minute drive, we turn the audio book on. I LOVE IT!! The kids don't always love the books we are listening to at first, but by the middle to end of the book they don't even want to leave the car, because they can't wait to find out what happens next.

PROOF THREE: In our daily schedule I have time reserved for personal quiet reading. However, most of the time it doesn't really happen. I've been trying to figure this out...and it finally hit me. For my 10 and 7 year old to sit by themselves, and read a book they really have to want to read it. So duh?! It wasn't happening, because I hadn't found the right book yet. So, now I realized it was my job to figure out what books I needed.

For Jarom, I had heard of a book called The Lightening Thief in mind. It is a fictional series I recently heard about that is set in modern times. What really struck me about the book is that it incorporates the Greek gods. PERFECT!! For Megan, it was easy. She was starting a new semester of Liberty Belles, and they were going to be reading Kit. I knew she'd devour the books (like she had with the Kaya series). I ordered both book sets from Amazon, and they arrived on Monday.

My theory was right. The reason quiet reading time wasn't happening because they didn't want to read. No it was because we didn't have the right books. Ever since they arrived Monday night I have hardly been able to pull them away from their books. Megan has finished two of the six books in her series and Jarom's already read 80 or 90 pages. WOO-HOO!! There nothing that warms my homeschooling heart as much as seeing my kids beg to read.

PROOF FOUR: Cooper, my little 6 year old wasn't reading at the beginning of the school year, and to be honest wasn't really interested in working with me at all. My goal was to have him reading by Christmas, but he didn't know that. All he knew, was that I asked him every day if he'd read with me. If he didn't want to read from the Bob books, then I worked with him for 5 minutes on the letter sounds, and then read aloud to him. Before long he was trying to read the Bob books, and eventually he wanted to read them with me. Yesterday, he finished the first set of Bob books, and read the final book in our Family Home Evening. He was so proud of his accomplishment...and I was THRILLED!! Tonight, Cooper read Hyrum's choosen bedtime book. It was the fun Bernstein Bear Book called, Inside, Outside, Upside Down. He was beaming, and I was so excited that he felt confident enough to read it for us.

MY CONCLUSION: I believe that if you just keep trying to inspire your kiddos or yourself to learn eventually you'll get inspired to learn. It might get a bit frustrating along the way...but I've found (at least for myself) that if I just keep trying, eventually I've been able to figure out exactly what it is that inspires my kiddos.

My new motto for 2010:
If at first you don't INSPIRE...try try again!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dang Coyotes!!!

This morning I admit we woke up a bit late, and were having trouble getting the kids to get out of bed for scriptures. So Scott and I were along in the kitchen for a few minutes. I was getting some hot cereal ready, and Scott was making our daily 'green shake.' The kids still weren't down, and it was 7:30 so Scott had to take off to get to an 8am meeting.

I glanced out the back window in time to see what I thought was a dog, and then I saw Scott running and throwing a rock at the beast. He kept running then jumped in his truck and drove after the dog down the back dirt ally way. About 4 minutes later he called on the phone and let me know that he had just chased after two coyotes!! WOW!! Thank goodness we saw them. Too bad we had just let the chickens out 30 minutes before that, and the coyotes had killed our wonderful rooster!! His name was Course Hair, and he was the most protective little guy of his little band of hens. We are so sad!! I am not loving coyotes right now.

I guess we'll have to work a little funeral into our day. It will be a great opportunity to talk about death and life.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I'm so excited about this upcoming week!! Why?!

1) Its NOT our first week back to school...which means the kids brains are fairly turned on and starting to think and learn again. So this week should be even more fun than last week, which is hard to believe because last week was fabulous.

2) I'm getting in the groove of making our daily schedule and chore sheets, and I've already made one for Monday!! WOO-HOO!!

3) Nicholeen Peck is coming on Saturday to teach her AMAZING parenting seminar. I CAN'T wait for that. Its going to be SO inspiring...just the boost I need at the beginning of this New Year. (If you want to find out more about it click HERE.)

4) I planned all my menus for the next 7 days, and went shopping on Saturday. So I've got TONS of food in the fridge and in the pantry. WOO-HOO!!

5) This week I'm going to implement mentor meetings into my schedule. Instead of trying to do them on Sunday which we just haven't been able to get to work. We're going to do them with on our family night...which this week is Wednesday (normally we have them on Saturday). Its going to be a great addition to our week.

6) My house and yard got cleaned on I'm feeling very zenful as I approach my new week. I think so much better in a clean orderly home. :)

Its going to be a Fabulous week!!

Friday, January 8, 2010


[Electronic Withdrawl]
So I have to kids have definitely been going through electronic gaming with drawl this week. A couple times I almost caved into their requests to play 'just once.' But I reminded myself of the way things go when I give in and I stayed strong. Like an alcoholic all my kids seem to need is just one Wii or Computer game and their imaginations and normal brain waves start to turn themselves OFF!! I'm so glad I stuck to it!!

[Our Family Standard]
One thing that helped with getting the kids off the gaming devices without a HUGE fight was the creation of our Martineau Family Standard. I got the idea from Nicholeen Peck who is AMAZING and I was so inspired that Scott and I drafted one for our own family. Our family standard is basically a document that outlines everything we do and do not do as a family. It covers TONS of stuff, and one of the things is covers is our family policy or rules on electronics. It covers computer time including its use for researching, blogging, gaming, etc... We presented and read the whole document to the kids at our New Year Dinner last Saturday. Then we had everyone in the family sign the bottom of the document as a sign that each of us will live by our family standard. It was AMAZING!!

So, my older kids knew what the Family Standard was on Wii, DS, and computer games. It was really interesting comparing the way my kids asked about playing electronics this week vs. other weeks. This week when my two oldest kids tried to ask if they could play a electronic device I would say something like, "What is our Family Standard on that?" or "No, you know what our Family Standard is on that." They would then say something like..."Oh ya," and drop it. My younger kids had a harder time with this logic, but realized that the older kids weren't pushing it and followed their lead. WOO-HOO!! What an amazing break through this was for our family. We've really struggled with the hold electronic gaming had on our kids and this simple, honest, straight forward approach has worked miracles.

One thing I realized I have been struggling with is holding my kids accountable for their chores. I have continued to do their chores for them, and then get frustrated with me and them. So, when we were writing our Family Standard Scott made sure to put something in about that. He wrote this section of our Family Standard:

"Work: People who know how to work hard have a much better chance of accomplishing their mission in this life. Doing your assigned chores will help develop your ability to work, and will also make the load lighter for others. Parent should allow children to develop the ability to work by not taking over their work jobs."

I've really tried to follow this counsel, and its been amazing. I have to admit sometimes, it takes us much longer to get the chores done than I'd like. But we're getting faster each day, and I know the kids will become more skilled and confident as they continue to practice their skill of working.

One fabulous accomplishment we've made in this department has to do with laundry. For some reason my kids have always been a bit overwhelmed when it comes to putting away their clothes. We've been working on this for a while. First I took out all the summer clothes and clothes that were too small out of their closets so it was easier to manage. Then I took time to teach them all what I expected when I asked them to put their clothes away. After a few weeks of teaching them what I wanted I pushed them a bit today. I asked Megan and Jarom to put their own clothes away, and help their younger brothers with their clothes. They did it...with only a slight sigh. I'll take it. So now my laundry room is clean, and it was a painless process. LOVING IT!!

[Loving the feeling in our home!!]
So even though my kids are having slight with drawls from electronic additions I know they are feeling good about the way their are feeling!! Its just awesome to have a house filled with kids who are happy, able to imagine and entertain themselves, and excited to learn.

One example of what this feels like is how spontaneous, happy, playful games are erupting like crazy all over the house. The kids did this before, but now its happening with increased frequency and its just becoming the way we live. Tonight while the kids were waiting for me to take care of the little ones so we could watch our family movie they started playing and laughing in the kitchen together...NOT fighting over the movie, complaining that it was taking to long, or something along those lines. NO they were happily playing in the kitchen and having a wonderful time. I just love how simple true leisure really is. I once heard someone say that true leisure or entertainment isn't about having something or someone outside yourself entertain you, but instead finding something within yourself that brings you joy and satisfaction. I love that!!

The kids and I are LOVING Latin. We don't know much, but we're learning together, laughing a lot, and trying something new. In fact we are having so much fun is CRAZY...yesterday the three of us got to laughing so hard that I almost started crying. What a hoot. After we finished the lesson I started thinking about just how lucky I am to have my kids home with me. What a blessing!!

My 7 year old is so adorable. She has a private blog where she writes down things she learns at school, or random thoughts she wants to share with her family. Today I just LOVED what Megan wrote on her blog about our Latin lessons...

"Here's a couple of things I learned this week. I changed my name to Claudia which is pronounce Clawdia. My mom's new name is Lavinia but you say it LaWEEneAAA. I think that is funny. Jarom's new name is Octavius, but you actually say it OctaWEEus. Isn't that funny. We are studying Latin this year, and so we all gave ourselves Latin names to call each other during our Latin lesson. We even put our Latin names on our Latin worksheet. SO FUNNY!!!"

My second to youngest is such a girl!! Tonight during her bath (which is also the big utility sink in the laundry room) she took a wash cloth and wrapped up her little Dora doll. She said she was putting her baby to sleep. Man I love her cute little girly personality. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My mornings and Custom Made Systems

[Hectic Morning]
So, today after devotional things got a bit hectic. My two little girls decided to wake up just as we were finishing up, my hair was drying (I have curly hair and so it has to be blown dry in a certain window of time or it goes frizzy), and kids were hungry. So, first I got my two little ones out of their cribs, and quickly buckled them into their high chairs. I presented them little bowls of applesauce hoping they would accept the offering, and forget about the fact that I didn't have any yougart (their number one breakfast choice as of late). Don't they look smashingly?! I just love Brea's hair. :) Luckily, they liked applesauce today, and started happily eating.

I then quickly helped the other kiddos get cereal, and rushed to my bathroom to start drying my hair so I wouldn't look like a total freak today. I kind of forgot about the four oldest kids for a few minutes as I finished up the blow drying process. However, as soon as I was finished I remembered them, and wondered what they'd been up to. I was crossing my fingers that they had started on their morning stuff, and weren't trying to sneak in a game on the computer. The house was surprisingly quiet, other than the grunts coming from my one year old indicating that she wanted more food. I refilled her bowl, and kept looking and listening for any trace of my big kids. I peaked around the corner, and much to my surprise three of them were all snuggled up on what we affectionately call our 'book bed' listening to my 7 year old read aloud a book. Of course my heart melted, and I couldn't help but document the little slice of heaven on Earth with a few photos.

Each day is getting better and better!! I feel like my house is in order, and as a result everything else is just falling into place. I am so blessed!!

[My Custom Made System]

I've been trying to figure out how to organize all the books we check out of the library. Not only am I concerned about keeping track of them, but also wanted to figure out a way to organize them so we actually used them. You see, some of our library books go along with what we're learning in history, others are cool science books (right now everything is about plants), others are just fun picture books, and then of course I have a few different categories of chapter books for my two oldest ones.

Last night an opportunity arose for me to have some free time to create my little system. My husband was so tired he went to sleep at 8:30, and so I headed off to Walmart to conquer my book organization/storage issue. After much looking, thinking, and calculating I found these $4 containers that seemed to work for now. Each one is labeled so that the kids, and I can quickly find what we are looking for. So far so good. We've had the books from the library for a few days, but I could definitely tell that today the kids read more of the books, and I've believe its because they could find what they were interested in.

Totally simple...probably totally lame, but hey it works. I just LOVE the power I have as a mother, to be creative and ingenious in my efforts to build a family culture that really works for our family. What a fabulous job I have!! Here's to more custom made systems for the Martineau family!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I've got my evenings back!!

I have to admit today was even better than yesterday. It wasn't perfect, but things seemed to run a bit smoother. I think the kids' minds are starting to return to their bodies, and they are starting to regain the ability to think. So here's how day #2 went:

7:10 morning devotional (its scheduled to start at 6:45)
7:30ish Breakfast (yummy Cream of Wheat made by Megan)
9:00ish we finally finished all our morning stuff and morning chores (I'm hoping we'll get faster at this)
9:00-11:20 School/Learning Time: (We only started an hour late...not too bad.) The best part of school today was when the two oldest begged me to read about history...they said they love it. WOO-HOO!! That's called inspire NOT!! I've just kept reading them out of our great Story of the World book all last semester when. Sometimes they were playing or eating or trying not to pay attention, but come to find out they were listening...oh yes and learning. It helps that we are studying a super fun time period. Ancient history is just plain amazing stuff. Today we read about Babylon, The Hanging Garden of Babylon, and Crete (the mysterious kingdom that seemed to just disappear) stinking fun!!
11:20-11:45 Outside time (The kids are loving this weather!!)
11:45-12:00 Lunch (Yummy Chicken Nuggets...not healthy but fast and easy.)
12:00-12:15 Lunch clean up
12:15-12:30 Load up for the drive to Knights of Freedom for Jarom
12:30-1:00 Drove and listened to Emlyn's Moon (its fun to make car time learning time too!!)
1:00-3:00 Jarom went to KOF, and the rest of us crashed a Fulton Home's subdivision park and played for a few hours.
3:00-3:30 More car reading/listening time
3:30-5:00 Dinner prep and kids playing outside
5:00 Dinner and clean up
5:45 Milkshakes for my clean up crew, and then I rushed off to take Jarom to scouts
6:00-7:00 While Jarom was out scouts the rest of us sewed bows and colored together!!
7:15-8:15 Bedtime stories and lights out.

I just have to say WHEW!! It was an AMAZING DAY!!

With this new semester we took a stand on electronic gaming and the TV. I've been limiting it for a while, but now its even more restricted. My boys just love the Wii, and I think its fun to play it as a family from time to time, but NOT on a daily basis (like we let them do during Christmas break). So, we've cut back to one movie a week, and a maximum of 3 hours of family electronic gaming on Saturdays (I'd like to cut it back to 2 hours, but I had to compromise). The electronic gaming can only be done during a certain time period, and only once chores and other assignments are completed. The kids are adjusting, and the proof is in the pudding as they say...or for me the poof is in the quality of our evenings. The last two nights I've felt like I have my evenings back. I just love how Dr. DeMille said "Evenings are for Inspiration!!" Amen to that!!

Tonight, instead of feeling chaos it was peaceful. Which is saying something in a house of 6 little ones 10 and under. I knot that an earlier bedtime, and a longer bedtime routine (complete with lots of reading and bedtime songs) definitely contributes to this feeling, but part of it is the kids' state of mind. They are calmer and able to find quiet things to do to entertain themselves. While Jarom was at scouts tonight Cooper, Hyrum, Brea, Megan, and I just sat in the craft room and colored and made bows for an hour. Talk about peace on Earth!!

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that now that I've got myself organized, and back on a schedule things are AMAZING!! I'm so thankful for the evening I was able to spend with my kids tonight. It was an uplifting, quiet, peaceful, and inspiring experience. I pray to many more nights like tonight, and I know if the environment is right they will happen more and more often. I am so grateful for this new lifestyle I'm living. Its really quite a simple sift that's happened over the past 3 years, but that small shift has made all the difference. I live a simpler yet more intentional life now. I find myself focusing more on my family, and trying to be 100% present when I am spending time with them. I want to really know my children and husband...I mean really know and understand them. I want to grow in my personal development more than I've ever wanted to before. And its so exciting and empowering!! I want to serve more and get to know others more!!

I am so grateful that homeschooling found me, because for some reason this has been the change that has lead to a simpler more fulfilling life.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Spring Semester Begins

I was so excited to start school today with the kiddos!! I'd taken some time during our very relaxed Christmas break to plan, think, make some changes, create some new systems, and just get plain excited about learning and hanging out with my kids again. SO FUN!!

Here are the top 7 changes I've made to make the spring 2010 semester of my family's life AMAZING!!!

Change #1: New family wake up time!! I'm not much of a morning person...I really like my sleep, and need 8 good hours at night to keep me happy and awake. I've actually been trying to get myself up earlier to study, and have a few hours on my own before the kids wake up...but the thought of getting my kids out of bed early (when I could have a few more minutes of peace and quiet) just about killed me. However, it was time to just do it...and I know our family will be blessed. Today was our first day, and I think we did pretty good. We started devotional at 7:05, ate breakfast right after, did our morning chores, and started school at 8:30. I guess there is something to the saying 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise."

Change #2: MORE BOOKS!! With 6 kids its important to be prepared...I've been getting better, but I felt like with this new year it was time to step up my game a bit. So I requested books from the library that go along with what we're studying in history. Then I looked on a Charlotte Mason list and in the Read Along Handbook for books that my 4 and 6 year old would enjoy having read aloud to them, and requested a few from the library for me to read to them during school time and during their 1 hour of quiet room/reading time. Then I looked for books that would be fun to listen in the car. Then I realized I needed books from my 7 and 10 year old to read and/or listen to during their 1 hour of quiet reading/room time so I found some books for that. Then I thought about evening or bedtime books. I'd need two, one for my little boys, and one for my older kids. I ended up requesting over 50 books from the library. I picked up 15 today, and its been SO AMAZING!!! (I have 35 more coming.) We started reading/listening to Pinochio during our Mom story time, and I'm all set for the older kids to listen/read The Cay during their quiet room/reading time tomorrow. And I started reading the Trojan War to the older kids tonight for their bedtime book and they loved it!! I LOVE BOOKS!!

Change #3: A Family Binder!! I've wanted to create something like this for years, but for some reason never got around to it. Its seemed overwhelming, and I didn't think I could make it perfect. So, I finally decided what the doesn't need to be perfect...I just need to start somewhere. So over Christmas break I started putting something together that could hold everything we needed to make our family AMAZING.

First I had to figure out what it was that would make our family amazing. I came up with the following things (so far):
  • A Family Mission Statement
  • A Family Theme
  • A List of Monthly Scriptures we wanted to memorize as a family that went along with our theme for the year.
  • A Family Standard that spelled out what our family does and does not do and why these things are important to us.
  • A Family Default Schedule for the next Semester
  • A list of the books we are reading or going to read for the next month or so.
  • A place for our goals as a family.
  • A place for our goals as individuals.
  • A place for our mentor meeting reports
  • A place for our family meeting agendas and notes
I presented the binder and its contents to the family at a special New Year Eve candlelight dinner on Saturday. The food was simple, but the impact was HUGE. My kid's whispered the entire time, and haven't stopped asking when we're going to do it again. I think we're going to start doing a candlelight dinner once a month to celebrate our accomplishments for the month!! Oh...I'm excited already!! Now only if I was a better cook. :)

Change #4: School Time and Quiet Time Toys!! A lot of my friends have figured this one out...but not me. FINALLY I have learned that everything will run smoother if there are toys that can only be used during quiet time and toys that can only be used during school time. All I can say is...MAGIC!!

We even moved the new kitchen set into our school room, because my little ones stay so happy and busy playing with it in the school room. That way I have time to help my older ones with their stuff. Now everyone is happy.

Change #5: A De-cluttered School Closet!! In order to fit my school and QT toys into the school closet for safe keeping I had to get rid of some junk. It was like a breath of fresh air when I had open space in the closet for the special toys, activities, and puzzles. I also simplified each kid's school stuff and fit it into one container that they can pull out during school time. I am LOVING IT!!!

Change #6: Green Shakes!! In 2010 I wanted to start eating healthier and exercising!! I have to admit I'm terrible at fitting in my daily servings of fruits and veggies. So, Christmas all I wanted was a powerful blender that could make me healthy Green Shakes. Thanks to a wonderful husband my Christmas wish came true. Scott and I are loving the new green shakes, but the only kids that have given my new green creations a shot are Cooper and Becca!! Rebecca helped herself to my shake this morning and LOVED it. Isn't she cute?!

Change #7: A Customized Daily To Do Plan!! This I know seems super simple, but I was creating more of a weekly plan last semester, and this semester I've tweaked it, and have decided to take a few minutes each night, and type up a customized plan for each child. I could do it once a week for each day of that week like I was trying to do before, but I'm not that organized yet.

It was great to have it for today, and then when I created my Tuesday plan tonight I was able to think about exactly what was going on tomorrow, what house work needed done, and where we left off in school so that their sheets for tomorrow really reflect what we need to do tomorrow.

I am super excited about taking it a day at a time. I've planned what I want to accomplish this semester, and gotten the materials I need in my house, or have requested them from the library. However, I like planning the specifics on a day to day basis, I think it will help me work out the details so I actually accomplish my year long plan.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


This last 5-6 months has been quite the adventure for me personally, and I really had to take a step back and simplify my life. So blogging kind of vanished in my day to day list of 'To Do's.' However, I am ready to blog again!! I feel like I've reached the calm that follows the storm. This Christmas break has been especially rejuvenating for me. I've taken time to relax, think, and plan for this upcoming semester. As I think about Monday I feel balanced, organized, and peaceful...and stinking excited about life. WOO-HOO!!

I've grown so much over the past 6 months, and I'm super grateful for all the lessons I've (unfortunately) learned. I know that someday I'll understand why it all happened, but for now I just pray that I've learned the lessons I'm suppose to learn so that I can become who I'm suppose to become, and fulfill my mission in life.

My computer crashed 2 or 3 months ago, and even though I'm pretty sure all my photos have been recovered they are very unorganized, and in a big folder with photos from the last 3 years. Its going to take me a long while to re-sort and organize all of them since I have oh about 13,000 photos in this one HUGE folder of chaos. I'm highly motivated though...I want to create some fabulous family digital photo books before 2010 is over!!! I'll get it done!!

So, tonight I randomly ran across our Halloween pictures from this year. We did a cowboy theme and I think my four oldest are SUPER cute all decked out in their western outfits. My two little girls were so tired and sticky from suckers that they didn't even make it into their costumes. Oh well!!

Jarom sporting a HUGE hat and an even BIGGER grin. :)

Megan is just about the cutest little Cow Girl I've ever seen.

Cooper was a very handsome cowboy if I do say so myself. He was so excited to trick or treat this year!! I love this guy.

Hyrum was loving his big hat, all the candy, and dressing like all his older siblings.