Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thoughts on Homeschooling

I love talking to people about homeschooling because everyone has different perspectives and does it for their own personal reasons.  Everyone has their own methods that work for them.  One thing that I have learned is to adapt and adjust and figure out what works for you.  A lot of it is trial and error, giving it time and figuring out what works, what your child likes to learn and how he likes to learn.  It is hard to adjust from the traditional view of school to the plethora of ways of homeschooling.  I started to homeschool to help Blake emotionally. He was never happy and I wanted more than anything for him to be happy.  There are times when I feel like we can do so much more academically but then I take a step back and realize that emotional stability takes time, energy and effort.  Playing tennis, walking around and going on lunch dates is emotional happiness. When I feel like I need to do more, I remember how far he has come emotionally.  For the most part, he is happy.  He still gets angry and has moments of stress but within normal limits.  He smiles a lot.  I don't have to worry about going out and him having a meltdown that we can't get out of.  Blake has been a gift to me because he has changed my perspective.  I was such a type A, driven kid. Sometimes I think if my kids work like I did, they could develop all these skills and gifts and then I remember the unneeded stress that that personality also had.  So now I am just striving for my kids being happy, contributing members to society.  It is a great shift.

Our weeks were filled with various activities.  I made him continue to do his charter school and then when we got back from vacation I decided to leave it up to him and he decided to continue tennis and ceramics.  I feel great about it.  I am trying to listen to him more instead of having an expectation of all the activities we need to do.  

He is becoming an independent reader.  For a long time he would only read really easy books alongside me and now he is picking up easy books and reading them independently.  I watched these sweet girls this week for a friend and Blake spent most of the time reading to them in his room.  They are the sweetest girls.  Pretty much opposite of crazy parker who would never be able to sit for that long quietly reading a book.  It made me so happy.  We are reading a series about dragons and tonight he asked if he could read a page with me.  He didn't get stressed with sounding out words.  Just flowed with the process of reading.  He said how excited he would be because in 2nd grade he will be able to read it by himself.  I know reading will be a great source of happiness and peace for him and I am so grateful for that. 

Our neighbor homeschools and the boys took beanie babies and decided to play all these games with them. They spent hours playing tag with them, throwing them in the tree to see if they could get stuck and then trying to get them down.  Danny and I always talk about how the best fun is usually free and with some made up game.  It was so much to watch and I got to rake up a ton of leaves that needed to get done.  Parker loved climbing in the garbage can to smash the leaves and have them poured on his head. He also liked to close the garbage can on himself.  Hanna ate her apple in the chair and wandered around in the leaves.  Parker took a little cutie and bowled around the stuffed animals.  I hope they realize and remember what a great childhood they had.  We have a great court of kids and neighbors which I am so grateful for.  

Thanksgiving in Utah

We had a great time in Utah.  We left after work on Tuesday and made great timing.  I was able to sleep in the car from about 7pm-10 so felt well rested when I had to drive.  It has become tradition to go to Boomers the day after Thanksgiving but it was supposed to rain so we went the day before.  It was fun but not everyone could make it which was a bummer.  The kids had a great time with their cousins which is always the best part.  Parker got so frustrated with the mini golf because he could never hit the ball but had a great time once he found a hole that shot out at a lower course.  He did it over and over and over again and was entertained while everyone else golfed.  Thank goodness nobody else was on the course.

The next day we had Thanksgiving with Danny's parents and David and Juliann.  Most of his siblings spend the holiday with the other side of the family which is kind of a bummer for us but oh well.  It was great being with David and Juliann and their sweet kids.

The one thing Danny really wanted to do on his trip was go to Provo and get some cookies and creme milk. Michelle and Jared came with us and we had a great time going to the bookstore, getting Pizza and going to the creamery on 9th.  It is always so great to be at BYU.  Kira didn't want to go because the Stevens had just got to Grammy's when we were going to leave but Lily and Lincoln were able to come with us which made her day!  So grateful they could come.  It was so fun getting to know Lincoln's personality a little bit and seeing Lily and Kira together.  I loved going to school there and it has such an awesome feeling on campus. It was a gorgeous day.  I wanted to see the new pool but it was closed.  The kids shopped for BYU apparel and were so excited for their new gear.  They played in the leaves for a long time and we had a great time.  It was fun going to Boomers, but being outside and hanging out for me is so much more fun.  The mountains were gorgeous.  We went to the Skabelunds at the end of the day and it is always so great seeing Grant and Shari.  I love them.  Shari was such a huge part of my life in college and I am so grateful for her.  Danny even stopped by the Che House where he lived in college which was fun.

 We woke up to snow on Saturday morning.  We ate breakfast and went to play in the snow. A neighbor invited us to his backyard and the kids had so much fun!  They went tubing and sledding and made a giant snowball.  We got home, ate some lunch and headed to the rec center to go swimming which has also become a tradition with the Stevens family.  The kids had a good time and I tried to teach Parker how to swim since we don't have a membership to Diamond Hills anymore.  Hd did great.  I am going to have to get a membership to teach him before summer starts.  We got out when everyone was ready and the kids played on the rock climbing wall for a while.  Parker loved going up and down it.  Kira went through a period she was scared to do things like that but her fears seem to now be over.  After, everyone came over to watch the BYU game.  We played some games and had a fun night even though it was just us and the Olsons that ended up watching the game.  Somehow it was a magical end to the weekend.  It was cool that we went to BYU with the Olsons and the kids had all their gear and got pumped up for the game.  We never watch sports and BYU was supposed to get killed and it ended up being a really great game.  BYU did amazing and then lost a 21 point lead in the 3rd and 4th quarter.  It was crazy.  The kids would go out into the snow when Utah scored and had a great time.  Grampy didn't think it was too amusing and wanted the house cleaned which I totally get.  I gave myself 2 hours to pack and clean and I miraculously got it done with 2 minutes to spare and was in bed by 1AM with everything ready to go the next morning.  There is nothing better than packing the night before and being able to go to bed knowing you can just wake up and be ready to go.  I sleep so much better.  I felt like it was a tender mercy.  

We headed home and while the family couldn't get together all at once I felt so grateful that we got to see everyone and catch up.  Making memories are what has become so important for me.  I don't think I will forget the memories of the kids cheering on BYU like crazy and going into the snow during a U touchdown in their BYU gear.  It was magical.  I hope it is memories that they hold onto forever.  They love their cousins and I am so grateful for the time that they got to spend with them.  I am grateful for Danny's siblings and parents. It was a great couple of days in Utah.

Paradise Fires

Our City and entire county had two weeks of horrible smoke from the devastating Paradise Fire.  A fire swept through the entire town of Paradise, an area about 3 hours north killing 88 people and essentially destroying the entire town.  Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by the fire.  It was hard to process we live in a time when so many people can die from a fire. I just assumed that with technology and advancements that wouldn't happen.  It is devastating.  So sad to see videos of people trying to flee.  There were minimal roads to evacuate, not enough time and poor communication.  The Chico Stake and church leaders sent a letter reiterating the importance of these natural disasters in areas where we all live and to be prepared.  I can't help but think that these are signs of the times.  Earthquakes, natural disasters, etc.  It is amazing to see communities rally together to help those in need.  This is what our sky looked like for about 2 weeks.  Certain days it was like we couldn't see the sun.  The smoke was so bad.  School was cancelled for Thanksgiving and as bad as the air was here, it was nothing compared to what the people of Paradise went and are going through.  It is unsure if the town will ever rebuild. A lot of people were retired and lived in mobile homes with little industry.  

3rd grade play

Kira had her 3rd grade Brentwood Musical.  It is a really cute musical all about Brentwood.  She had the opportunity to be the engineer and did such a great job.  She decided to put on make-up (brown/black eyeshadow) that made her look dirty from working on the railroad.  She is so independent and confident.  We are so proud of her.  She did a great job getting up in front of the entire school and performing.  Probably the highlight of the play for me came after when she was taking a picture with her friend and saw another friend watching and making sure she included her in the photo.  I think the most important quality any child can have is being inclusive and kind so I am so proud of her for that!  Sometimes I worry about that with her because she is so confident and girls can be exclusive.  She has always had 1-2 friends all dependent on the class she in and try to talk to her about being friends with everyone and including everyone. 


Scott and Tyler are in Scouts.  I really like the program and am grateful they get to do it.  I am excited about the new program the church is coming out with to replace scouts because I know that it will be inspired and totally amazing whatever it is.

On Wednesday after school we go to Tyler's scout leaders home to work on scouts.  She lives on this amazing property she has converted into a "scout land".  Tyler gets to learn all about outdoor living, safety, emergency prep, fires, etc by amazing leaders and in this beautiful setting that is about 10 minutes away. My other kids get to roam around and enjoy the outdoors in this little oasis.

Whenever I am there I am in awe of how lucky we are and how grateful I am.  I decided to take pictures this past week so I wouldn't forget a little slice of their childhood.  Swinging, playing, zip-lining, watching the chickens and horses. Parker almost crashed into the tree at the end of the zipline when a kid decided to accelerate him half way through.  I am pretty certain he was saved by a ministering angel.  I think that is a common in my kids lives. Maybe even why Carl needed to be part of our family. Part of me thinks it would be awesome to live 200 years ago when kids roamed free and learned to work really really hard just to live.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


We went to Kira's halloween parade in the morning and she was so excited to see us.  Parker was excited to see her and his patience quickly turned to wanting to go to the park.  We lasted just long enough to watch her walk with her class.   The below picture shows where he wants to go every day.  That child is full of energy and spoiled so we spend a lot of time at the park.  Then we went to Parkers preschool parade in the afternoon.  He basically walked to the next home and back with his preschool which was very cute.  Blake wanted to join in so he also got to be in a parade.  It worked out perfectly.  You realize that it doesn't matter how long or is just the concept.  Scott wore a onesie for the day and Tyler went as Dustin to school and something scary at night.  Probably a zombie or something.  I got Kira a unicorm costume from the store but of course being Kira, she took the horn and made her own, comfortable, unique version of the unicorn.  I love her confidence and unique attitude.  It is such a gift!  I finally let my kids decide what they really want to be.  I got Blake  a costume before the cruise because they were going to have a parade.  He really wanted to be a jester but they didn't have jester costumes.  So when we got home and he kept talking about jester costumes, I got him a second costume.  It made him so happy and he was so grateful.  I used to be so cheap.  I am still not a spender, but feel like I have a perfect balance of spending and saving.  It made me so happy to see him so happy and realized that we only have a couple of years to celebrate being a kid and halloween.  Scott is almost out of the halloween stage if not out of it and it made me happy to see Blake so happy. 

Blake and Tyler wanted sticks to go with their jester costumes so they got 99 cent sticks, some craft tape and spray painted their goblin sticks or whatever they are.  They did a great job and it was a fun craft for the day.  so much better to make a costume and be creative.  We are not that creative or great at planning so I chalk it up as win for creating sticks.

The kids had a good time carving pumpkins.  Friends came over when they were carving so I sent them outside to clean them out.  6 year olds don't do a great job so the pumpkins lasted a day or two before making it to the trash full of fruit flies and insides that weren't cleaned out.  Perfect timing for the garbage man.  Kira went with a friend trick or treating.  Scott and Tyler went to pizza and trick or treating with friends.  Danny and I went with Parker, Hanna and Blake with the neighbors around our court.  Blake really wanted to go with a friend so he coordinated with a neighbor when they would go out which worked out simple and perfect.  We then went across the street and the kids enjoyed trading their candy loot the entire week. All in all a perfect week.  

I have seen a lot of people incorporating the day of the dead traditions into Halloween which I really liked.  Talking about or learning about a different ancestor.  I want to do that next year.  I think it would be fun to learn about 1 new ancestor a day leading up to halloween.  I want to put the kids in charge of researching one person and they can present a little something about them the day they are in charge of giving prayers.  I am really bad at traditions but that is nice and simple and I think we can pull it off.  I think this was the first year in many years that we carved pumpkins.  I chalk it up to not working.  YIPEE!!  

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Book Of Mormon Challenge

General Conference was so great!!  So many things to enrich the lives of our family and children.  I am so eager to start them.  A friend of mine does "Mile Monday" with her kids that we run a mile and then we play soccer after.  I totally forgot about it last monday because vacation.  Blake told me it was time to go to Monday mile so we hopped in the car, hanna in PJ's and oatmeal to eat there. Anything Blake is excited about I am down for.  We talked about President Nelson and what a diligent and dedicated man he is.  Electronics and wasted time has been on my mind so much lately.  I see kids and adults on phones all the time.  I worry about that influence in my kids life and our culture.  I feel like I need to be on the offensive.  She talked about reading the book of mormon and the incredible blessing it has been in her home and how when her husband started the challenge with her blessings doubled.  So I decided for FHE we would all start the challenge together.  Kids included.  Obviously, I need to read to the younger three but the older three can totally do it.  So I found some bookmarks from some amazing blogger for reading the book of mormon in 60 days.  We finished week 1 and the kids are all really into it.  It is usually about 5 chapters a day.  I have already noticed a difference in our home.  I know it will help prepare us for the new year with new church curriculum.  We are so blessed!  I am grateful we started.  One week at a time.  We are all holding each other accountable.