Daily Challenge

Our mornings have been starting out kind of slow.  I've been just getting the kids out the door and my own stuff done that I've been neglecting the little boys as they wake up.  They putter around for awhile and then we eat breakfast, but it's still slow going.

So, last week I issued them a challenge:  build a pirate ship out of Legos that actually floats!  They were ecstatic!  They rushed downstairs and spent some time (not as much as I'd hoped) building their ships.  They did it!

Well, this reminded me of something I'd been wanting to do, but just never really got around to it.  I wanted my boys to wake up every morning with a surprise challenge on the table.  So I did it.  This morning I had a bunch of items on the table with a big bowl of water and a "Sink or Float" chart to fill out.  Then we watched some videos on why items sink or float.

Yeah.  Great boat, David!!

This was such a fun way to start our day (so fun I forgot about my 6th grader still sleeping downstairs until about halfway through her first period class!!).  The best part of it was that my boys were eager to start their "actual" school work.  It's like their boyish energy and creative minds were exercised enough that they could then focus on their "not so fun for boys" stuff.

So, I don't know how long this will last, but I do think it's a good idea (for us!).  Tomorrow I'm going to have some masking tape on the table with the instructions to create a city (roads) downstairs.  I've got lots of ideas brewing (from Pinterest) but I also know I need to keep it simple if it's really going to work. Maybe, if I remember, I'll start posting what we do here.


Grateful in Any Circumstance

We can choose to be grateful, no matter what.

Reading President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's most recent conference talk, I asked this question of myself:   What does gratitude look like in my life?  

I think I'm a pretty thankful person.  When people give me things or do things for me, I express my thanks readily.  After any event I try to find the person in charge to thank them for a lovely time.  I teach my kids to thank their teachers or others who do things for them.  But is this gratitude? 

What about the times I have my kids clean the kitchen and walk in later only to complain that the sink wasn't cleaned out and the dishes weren't loaded as I would have done them? 

What about when I leave my husband or the kids at home to do something and upon return start demanding the house to be cleaned or it's time to get to bed?  

What about the times when I'm in a hurry (for lack of planning better) and complain about the long line at the grocery store, the multiple red lights, or the slow driver in my way? 

What about the time just this morning when my husband woke up late and so we had to share the bathroom while getting ready for our day?  I could have just been grateful to have more time with him rather than griping about the invasion of my space and destruction of my routine!  

I'm beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, Laman and Lemuel's constant murmuring was simply a bad case of ingratitude!  Maybe it was their ingratitude that led to their eventual rebellion and dissent.  If that is true, oh the importance of practicing gratitude in our own lives so as to avoid the same destructive end.  

And so I pledge to look more at the good than the bad, to see the efforts not the results, and to smile each time I get a bit disappointed so my reaction can be more pure.  


My dear brothers and sisters, the choice is ours. We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi...We can choose to be like Job...We can choose to be like the Mormon pioneers...We can choose to be like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who, while a prisoner in miserable conditions in Liberty Jail, penned these inspired words: “Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” - - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - - 


Weakness is not Sin


I loved this book.  I have to tell you I pretty much cried through the whole first chapter because it so resonated with me.  I think this book would resonate with a lot of people, especially women maybe. This book just enlightened me on how to differentiate between a sin and a weakness AND how to deal with both.  We think we need to repent from our weaknesses, but that doesn't really make sense (now that I've read the book).  Improving to become better is different than the need to repent.  I just enjoyed the whole basis of this book and plan on reading it (a lot slower!) again. 


"Sin can take us to hell.  Weakness can take us to heaven....Sin is a choice. Weakness is a state....While we often think of strength as having to do with our abilities and talents, the strength that interests God has to do with our character..." 
- - Wendy Ulrich, Weakness is not Sin


September: National Rice Month

Last week we talked about RICE.  Strange topic, but there are some fun ideas out there!  Some of the thing we did: 

** Started Reading Li Lun, Lad of Courage.  It's about a boy who doesn't want to become a fisherman like his father and so as "punishment" the father sends him on a quest to plant 7 grains of rice on top of the highest mountain in their village.  The order?  He is not to come back down until he has produced seven times as much rice as he was given.  It's a beautiful story! 

** Followed some of this unit study for the book One Grain of Rice.

** Made Rice Krispies treats.  

** I made an alphabet & number rice bag.  The boys colored in each letter or number as they found them in the bag.  They had more fun with this than I expected, actually!  :-) 

** E made an -ice book.  He had to come up with words that rhyme with rice, write the word and draw a picture.  

** Also, because One Grain of Rice is set in India, I printed off blackline maps of India.   The boys then went on the computer to look for pictures that had to do with India, printed them off and glued them on the map.  

What we didn't get to (but might this week):
** Rice Art!  I bought some different colored rice (white, brown, black) and was going to have the boys fill in a blackline picture with the different colored rice.  There are also plenty of ideas on how to dye the rice different colors, too.  


Planning No More (Kind of)

I used to be an excessive planner.  Our school year used to start with charts, schedules, tons of unit study ideas and more.  Sure, I probably only did half of the stuff I planned, but it was better than had I not planned (at least, that's what I told myself).

Not this year.

I think the year of no homeschooling relaxed me a little.  Okay...it relaxed me a lot (by way of homeschooling, anyway)!  That and a majorly busy summer gave me no real motivation to plan for this year.  I mean, I would sit down and make all sorts of lists and tentative schedules, but that was about it.  All I really knew was that it was going to be all about my boys!

This year we're keeping it simple, more unscheduled (i.e. not many outside of home classes & such), and interest-led.  Of course, when you look at the following schedule it may look pretty scheduled to some, I'm not an unschooler by any means, but it's more like a structure than a schedule.

How does it look this year?

family scripture study, breakfast, and send older kids off to school
bike ride
cleaning time (chosen daily by what looks like the greatest need)
own studies/Mom works with E
family learning time/field trips/errands
free time
everyone home
evening activities

For the boys' own studies we just have a list of things they need to do in the reading, writing & math departments.  They get to put beads in their jars for whatever they accomplish on the list each day.  Bottom line: prize box; Middle line: $1 toy or ice cream; Top: date with parent, stay up 1/2 hour later, or more computer time.

For family learning time I'm using quirky holidays, science and history.  I'm also going with what the boys want to learn.  So, we have a place on our kitchen white board where they can add their interests as they see or learn things they want to know more about.  At the beginning of the month I'm writing up a tentative plan for each week, but only really planning things out the week before (i.e. printing pages, getting supplies, etc).  I think this will save me a lot of money in the end, too, because I'd plan things for months in advance, buy the stuff and then never get to it.

Anyway, I'm feeling quite free this year!  One week down, we'll see how time goes.

My main goal, really? 
Teach the boys to be hard working gentlemen!  
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