Life as it Happens or Make Life Happen?

This morning we had another great Mentoring Mothers meeting.  It was all about goal-setting (and a bunch of other stuff in between).  It made me really think about my goals and what I really do want to achieve each day and in my life.  I stumbled upon a new favorite blog in the process of finding good fodder for the discussion today.  It's fabulous!  One of my favorite quotes from there states something like this:  "Don't get so caught up in doing the mundane that you fail to do the miraculous."  I like that.  I want to implement that frame of thinking more in my day to day living.

The author of this blog also uses the phrase, "intentional motherhood."  Are we letting time, life and craziness happen or are we making things happen in our day that are good,wholesome, and rewarding?

I have big goals, dreams, wishes...whatever you want to call them.  I do.  So big that sometimes my husband just laughs and has to pull me out of the clouds and back to planet earth (like the time I dreamed our family could ride bikes across country some day....could happen....maybe).  ???  Anyway, I think I just don't want to look back and say these phrases:

I wish I had....
Where did the time go?
What did I do back then?
How did I get here?
What did I accomplish?

Intentional living.  Making plans.  Setting goals.  Doing things instead of just dreaming things (okay, still standing on solid ground...easily distracted).   I was reminded about one aspect of goal-setting this morning.  Goals need to be attainable, realistic, worthwhile and have a timetable.  As said before I am a planner...but what if the planning weren't so far out there in the future, but more day to day.  Big goals are GREAT and necessary, but not at the expense of and really, only as a guide for what can be happening today.

I love,love, love this post from Kat at Inspired to Action on How to be an Amazing Mom Today:

Step 1: (1 minute) Write down 1 characteristic you want to describe you as a mom.

Step 2: (1 minute) Write down 1 characteristic you hope your children have as they go off to college.

Step 3: (3 minutes) Write down 2 simple ways you can invest in those today.

Don’t over think it. Just write it. Then do it.


Pictures Anyone?!?!

Meet Our Smiliest Kid Yet!!!

This was funny to me because this was his constant position while in the womb and it's how he continued to sleep for the first few months.

And I couldn't resist a picture or two of my six crazy kiddies all together.  CRAZY like their Mama!!!

2 Great Inspirational Ideas

I have been mulling over a couple of issues with my 11yo son, wondering how to inspire him to (a) read books that might be a bit more challenging, and (b) write.

He has always been a fantastic reader and loves to read.  But getting him to read more challenging books, not just the exciting books (i.e. Fablehaven, Harry Potter, the Olympians, etc.) has been a struggle.  These books he reads are great, I've enjoyed some of them myself, but I just would like to see him branch out some more.  He does seem to love listening to me read aloud the more classic books, though.  Anyway, I came up with what I think is a brilliant plan.  I invited him to read books with me (not aloud, just separately but at the same time).  So, first he chooses a book and then I choose a book.  It's been great!  He chose first.  I was reluctant at first to read what he chose (The Candy Shop War) because of my goal to have him branch out.  But then I realized if I didn't trust his choices, he wouldn't trust mine.  We also have a deadline by which the book needs to be read.  So far we've read Candy Shop War and Castle Corona (actually B's choice because she thought to join in for a minute).  And now we are reading The Westing Game (my pick).  And the best part of it is, I am being forced to read  (not that I need much arm twisting, but giving myself time to read isn't always easy these days...now I have a great excuse...there's a deadline!).  I'm excited to see how challenging I can get as the year goes on.  :-) 

As for the writing.  Well, I didn't realize he didn't like writing until recently.  The kid will do whatever I ask him to do...but I want him to love it!  Well, in our new learning system (to be explained in a different post) he wrote down "movies" as one of his goals.  What!?!?  So, I explained that he could add movies to his list, but he had to do more with the movie than just watch it for watching's sake, you know... discuss it with mom, answer questions about it, etc....  And then it hit me....Why not combine something he LOVES with something he doesn't like so much??  I did a bunch of research and found some websites that discuss how to write  a movie review.  Today was his first trial.  We read the tips on how to write a review.  Then I had him read some example reviews and highlight the parts in the reviews we wanted to include in his reviews (i.e. character development, opinion, etc.).  And then he chose and watched Toy Story 2 (I wanted him to start with a simple movie).  He took notes while watching and now has a deadline to finish his review (edited and revised) by Friday.  We'll see how it goes, but I'm excited to try it out.  Maybe we'll post his reviews on the blog for added incentive and enthusiasm.  :-)

Websites I found:
Teach with Movies - this site has an annual fee, but I like it for the age-by-age movie suggestions
How to Write a Movie Review (the best one I found)
Scholastic movie review ideas (this has some printable pages I kind of liked)

***note: my friend found a free website with worksheets and questions tied to movies, I'm still waiting to get that site info from her and will add it soon


Changes, Choices and Chores

Okay, so after a few weeks of  stress and frustration, being completely inspired by President Uchtrdorf's talk, and re-reading a great book, I made some major changes this week with fabulous results.

First, let me remind you of a quote by Elder David A. Bednar from a previous General Conference.  He said,

As children of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not merely be acted upon—especially as we “seek learning … by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).  . . . Are you and I helping our children become agents who act and seek learning by study and by faith, or have we trained our children to wait to be taught and acted upon? Are we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? (emphasis added)

Since hearing these words over a year ago I have been trying to figure out a way to help my children learn to act for themselves (in more ways than just gospel study).  I haven't been able to find a balance that works with my need for structure and my want for them to feel they have freedoms. Nagging them sure was against the principle and letting them have free choice to "do whatever you want" didn't seem to work either.  So, I sat down last weekend and drew up a new plan with energy and excitement.

This week we started with CHORES and it's amazing how the CHOICE of CHORES made my kids much more wiling to do them.  Agency works!  :- )

Here's what we do (mostly taken from the Home Companion, tweaked a little for our needs):

Going room by room I made a list of ALL the chores I like to get done around the house, little and big  (I even included laundry).  Then I wrote each chore on jumbo popsicle sticks.  Now each morning I choose which chores I need done that day.  After breakfast they take turns choosing a job until they each have their three.

Our new schedule now consists of an hour(+/-) with Mom for learning, reading, & projects together and then the kids are set free for the rest of the day to work on their jobs and own studies (more on the studies changes in the next post).  They are not allowed to play until these things are done. 

That's it.  SIMPLE but SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than I even anticipated.  One day I caught my 9 yo talking to herself.  "What do we have to do today?  Oh, yeah, I get to choose myself."  And then she skipped off to do her chores.  There's no more arguing or nagging from mom to get the jobs done by a certain time.  The consequences are no longer in my hands, it's all up to them.  FREEDOM WORKS! They really are acting for themselves and not being acted upon.  And what's really cool is that our house has been really clean this week.  :-) 

I did not include my 4yo in the stick pulling process.  He was so sad I told him that when he learns to clean his room by himself I will include him in the rotation.  Nothing like more chores as motivation, right?!  It worked!  He's been eager (this week) to clean his room.  We'll see how long that lasts.  :-)

I've also incorporated this same type of agency-based system in our goal setting and studies plan.  After trying it out more fully this next week, I'll keep you posted.  :-)


Other talks on Agency-Based teaching:
What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be? 

General Conference talk by Matthew O. Richardson, October 2011 (Teaching by the Spirit)

Agency and Control by President Boyd K. Packer
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