Life of a Real Mom

Unedited Mothering

Tag: kids in school

Some Current Trends in Education

Eighth Grade Promotion

Curt had over 70 standardized tests in middle school! He has often reminded me to help him reach his goals, because the schools aren’t doing it. I recently read The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley. It was very telling. The U.S.A. school system and culture leaves something to be desired. I was not surprised.

Ted Dintersmith

Ted Dintersmith’s book looks at the schools in the U.S. His look is critical, instructive and refreshing. There are some good things going on in some schools that the others could learn from. This talk gets me so excited and concerned all at the same time.

Williamsburg learning says the same thing – the current way of doing things in our schools isn’t going to meet the vast opportunities available to our next generation.

My cousin Monica is a gifted education advocate in Cinnicinati, Ohio. She has recommend the following books for me to read:

I’ve been reading and thinking about homeschooling for years and years. Finally, we are all on the same page and I am going to homeschool Curt ninth grade this fall! I am not going to use Williamsburg Learning, but I have been inspired by some of their ideas.

There are SO MANY resources out there that we will be taking advantage. I would say I am more of a manager of Curt’s education than THE instructor. What AM I going to do?

  • Encourage TONS of exploration and invention, following HIS ideas
  • BYU on-line SCIENCE (Anyone can use this incredible resource.)
  • BYU on-line MATH
  • ASU camps, museum and real-life hands-on field trips
  • Memoria Press Literature and Composition
  • Duncan’s ASU geography content and quizzes from his college curriculum (Did you know my husband is a geography professor?)
  • History books, videos, and research
  • Private piano and violin instruction
  • Our local school sports program
  • Our local seminary program
  • Local homeschooling Co-op for even more socialization and exposure

Out of the 24 classics that Memoria Press recommends for third grade through middle school, Curt has read two. So we are going to have a blast reading the books he has missed starting in August. We are going to read them for fun, for discussion, and for application in real life – not for a test or an assignment. I am so excited! Here is the book list for this fall:

  • Farmer Boy
  • The Moffats
  • The Blue Fairy Book
  • Dangerous Journey
  • The Cricket in Time Square
  • Lassie
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • Heidi
  • The Twenty-one Balloons
  • King Arthur
  • Adam of the Road
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • The Door in the Wall
  • The Bronze Bow
  • The Hobbit
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • The Trojan War
  • The Wind and the Willows
  • Treasure Island
  • Tom Sawyer
  • As you Like It

More than the book list, Curt’s freedom to invent to his hearts content will be the most striking improvement this year. He is constantly sharing idea with me. He watches science shows and SpaceX during his free time. He has drawers of wires and screws. He loves dumpster diving for broken machines so he can take them apart and find out what makes them tick.

I hope and feel quite excited that Curt will have an “out-of-the-box” experience this year. The sky is the limit and Curt is ready to launch.

Parenting Your Best is Good Enough

My blog is full of the ordinary, in effort to bring some reality to the media. I am a great mom who makes mistakes, avoids cleaning, and can’t get-it-all-done, like most people I know. LIKE YOU, I am extraordinarily blessed with a great family, and opportunities to make a positive difference in this world – one day at a time.

Wednesday – I hope my best is enough.

HOW TRUE! Oh my land that is hilarious! My sister Carol shared this photo and quote with me. Mom, you did a great job feeding us and much more! Thank you so so much for all you sacrificed and prayed and loved into us.
… Our kids now-a-days are getting so much from us. You can’t help but figure our best is going to be okay. I sure hope so. This morning included:
– Made their lunches
– Some kisses and some hugs. Some left with only a shout of “I love you!”
– Prayer on breakfast, but no family kneeling prayer
– Homework unfinished for Curt, but others were okay, I think.
– Cold cereal
– As Curt pushed off on his bike he begged, “Mom, please pray for me.” He has been SO stressed about the standardized tests that occur (it seems like every 2 weeks) often and will now be going on for the next week and a half. I PRAY that he will be happy, more than he will do well. He is already doing his best and that is GOOD ENOUGH.

“Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?”
By Elder J. Devn Cornish
Of the Seventy

If you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel—repenting often and pleading for grace—you positively are going to be “good enough.”

“Dear sisters and brothers, what a blessing it is for us to gather to be taught by the Lord’s servants. Isn’t it wonderful how many ways our loving Heavenly Father guides and blesses us? He really wants us to come home.

“Through a series of tender mercies as a young doctor coming out of medical school, I was accepted for pediatric residency training in a high-powered, competitive program. When I met the other interns, I felt like the least intelligent and least prepared of all. I thought there was no way I could measure up to the rest of the group.

“Early in our third month, I was sitting in the nurse’s station in the hospital late one night, alternately sobbing to myself and falling asleep as I tried to write the admission orders for a small boy with pneumonia. I had never felt so discouraged in my life. I didn’t have any idea how to treat pneumonia in a 10-year-old. I began to wonder what I was doing there.

“Just at that moment, one of the senior residents put his hand on my shoulder. He asked me how I was doing, and I poured out my frustrations and fears. His response changed my life. He told me how proud he and all of the other senior residents were of me and how they felt like I was going to be an excellent doctor. In short, he believed in me at a time when I didn’t even believe in myself.

“As with my own experience, our members often ask, “Am I good enough as a person?” or “Will I really make it to the celestial kingdom?” Of course, there is no such thing as “being good enough.” None of us could ever “earn” or “deserve” our salvation, but it is normal to wonder if we are acceptable before the Lord, which is how I understand these questions.

“Sometimes when we attend church, we become discouraged even by sincere invitations to improve ourselves. We think silently, “I can’t do all these things” or “I will never be as good as all these people.” Perhaps we feel much the same as I did in the hospital that night.

“Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today—and even to how we want to be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick.

“Let me be direct and clear. The answers to the questions “Am I good enough?” and “Will I make it?” are “Yes! You are going to be good enough” and “Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel.” The God of heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game. He is our perfectly loving Father, who yearns more than anything else to have all of His children come back home and live with Him as families forever. He truly gave His Only Begotten Son that we might not perish but have everlasting life!1 Please believe, and please take hope and comfort from, this eternal truth. Our Heavenly Father intends for us to make it! That is His work and His glory.2

“I love the way President Gordon B. Hinckley used to teach this principle. I heard him say on several occasions, “Brothers and sisters, all the Lord expects of us is to try, but you have to really try!”3

“Really trying” means doing the best we can, recognizing where we need to improve, and then trying again. By repeatedly doing this, we come closer and closer to the Lord, we feel His Spirit more and more,4 and we receive more of His grace, or help.5

“I sometimes think we don’t recognize how very much the Lord wants to help us. I love the words of Elder David A. Bednar, who said:

“’Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints. …

“’… The Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good. …

“‘… It is … through the grace of the Lord that individuals … receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to [do]. … This grace is an enabling power …’ [Bible Dictionary, “Grace”; emphasis added] … or heavenly help each of us desperately needs to qualify for the celestial kingdom.”6

“All we have to do to receive this heavenly help is to ask for it and then to act on the righteous promptings we receive.

“The great news is that if we have sincerely repented, our former sins will not keep us from being exalted. Moroni tells us of the transgressors in his day: “But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.”

“And the Lord Himself said of the sinner:

“’If he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.

“’Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.”

“If we will sincerely repent, God really will forgive us, even when we have committed the same sin over and over again. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made … , I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

“This does not mean in any way that sin is OK. Sin always has consequences. Sin always harms and hurts both the sinner and those affected by his or her sins. And true repentance is never easy.10 Moreover, please understand that even though God takes away the guilt and stain of our sins when we sincerely repent, He may not immediately take away all of the consequences of our sins. Sometimes they remain with us for the rest of our lives. And the worst kind of sin is premeditated sin, where one says, “I can sin now and repent later.” I believe that this is a solemn mockery of the sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ.

“The Lord Himself declared, “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”

“And Alma proclaimed, “Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.”

“One of the reasons that Alma’s statement is particularly true is that with repeated sinning, we distance ourselves from the Spirit, become discouraged, and then stop repenting. But I repeat, because of the Savior’s Atonement, we can repent and be fully forgiven, as soon as our repentance is sincere.

“What we cannot do is rationalize rather than repent. It will not work to justify ourselves in our sins by saying, “God knows it’s just too hard for me, so He accepts me like I am.” “Really trying” means we keep at it as we fully come up to the Lord’s standard, which is clearly defined in the questions we are asked in order to get a temple recommend.

“The other thing that will surely keep us out of heaven and separate us from the help we need now is rebellion. From the book of Moses, we learn that Satan was cast out of heaven for rebellion.13 We are in rebellion any time we say in our hearts, “I don’t need God, and I don’t have to repent.”

“As an intensive care pediatrician, I know that if one inappropriately rejects lifesaving treatment, it can lead needlessly to physical death. Similarly, when we rebel against God, we reject our only help and hope, who is Jesus Christ, which leads to spiritual death. None of us can do this on our own power. None of us will ever be “good enough,” save through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ,14 but because God respects our agency, we also cannot be saved without our trying. That is how the balance between grace and works works. We can have hope in Christ because He wants to help and change us. In fact, He is already helping you. Just pause and reflect and recognize His help in your life.

“I witness to you that if you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel—repenting often and pleading for the grace, or help, of Christ—you positively are going to be “good enough,” that is, acceptable before the Lord; you are going to make it to the celestial kingdom, being perfect in Christ; and you are going to receive the blessings and glory and joy that God desires for each of His precious children—including specifically you and me. I testify that God lives and wants us to come home. I testify that Jesus lives. In the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

We can do it, parents. Even though we have immense pressure from society, church, and our own kids, we are people too, with challenges and strengths. The Lord is at our side if we invite His companionship. He will help us, bolster our efforts. Then, with the magnificent gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our best (which is really better than OURs because the Lord has been amplifying our abilities) is enough. I know this is true. So, love yourself AND your children. You are enough, because you are awesome!

Elder Cornish’s full talk form October 2016 General Conference including footnotes and links is HERE.

My Purpose as a Parent of Older Children


It is easy for every parent to wonder, “What is my purpose?” as I did yesterday for example … and this morning, come to think of it.

I have received a few answers that I would like to share with you because they will help you too.

As a parent, my ultimate role model is my Heavenly Father. He is the only perfect parent, so I can learn from his example as seen in the scriptures and in my own life.

“I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

“Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.”

Text: Naomi W. Randall, 1908-2001. (c) 1957 IRI
Music: Mildred T. Pettit, 1895-1977. (c) 1957 IRI
(From Children’s Songbook, p.2)

“It is never too early and it’s never too late to lead, guide, and walk beside our children, because families are forever”
– Bradley D. Foster

As parents it is our responsibility to focus on the teaching and rearing of our children. The importance of this purpose of parenting is beautifully explained by Sister Joy Jones and Bonnie Cordon during BYU’s Women’s Conference. SEE THE WHOLE keynote speech HERE. “Parents and children should give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and other wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other activities and demands may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”

As I have reflected on their counsel I remembered recent examples of how each of my kids, even though they are older and don’t need me the way they did as little children and babies, needed my purposeful parenting.

Kay (24) – After Sunday dinner two days ago, Kay sat across the otherwise deserted table from me and spoke enthusiastically and articulately in happy tones about new friends, decisions, in-laws, and job searching. I am so glad I knew my purpose at that time was not to do the dishes or read a book or check email, but to listen about her very important life as a young wife and individual. I LOVED looking at her, seeing how happy she was, and admiring her many wonderful qualities, which SHE has developed.

J.D. (22) – Last night J.D. came into Duncan and my room talking about a particular beautiful young woman. He shared and watched our interested and happy faces. He didn’t want advice but someone to express his excitement with. Because we have already taught him about chastity, prayer, and the importance of his choice in his future spouse I could relax (this time at least, honestly I have to really work HARD to keep my mouth shut) and just listen.

Clark (19) – His emails often mention Mom this and Dad that. For example, “Don’t worry Mom, I ….” I sign my emails to him, “Love Mom xoxoxooxoxoxoxxoxooxoxxoxooxoxox
xooxoxoxoxoxoxoooxox” On a recent email he said to me, “I love the xoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxooxxoox. Never let them stop.”

Adam (16) – Adam sent me a text while at school, “When is my orthodontist appointment?” Another read, “Where can I get proof of address for registration?” See? he still needs me! He eats a ton and loves my cooking. He even eats up the daily hugs and kisses I give him.

Curt (12) – Curt is my deep thinker: “How do I know what ‘my’ sport is? What is the difference between a debit and a credit card? If you could choose between cheap hair gel or expensive hair gel which would you choose?” The questions go on and on. MAN ALIVE! I love that kid!

“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”
― David O. McKay

It all boils down to where the lasting joy comes from. It is all about the family. I am so glad I am a mom. I have the most important job in the world. My ideas matter. My talents and skills are being utilized in a demanding and important way that WILL change the world.

Remember the Value of Family


Remember
by Claudia Goodman

Who will raise their voice for the family?
Who’ll defend the rights of our liberty?
Come preserve your own, in the srength of God and home.

All who will rejoice in this privilege
Let them now maintain freedom’s heritage
Come with fervent zeal. Join us on the battlefield.

CHORUS:
Remember our homes, The safeguard of peace.
Remember the children who look to you to keep tomorrow free.
Remember God, Remember His love.
He calls to us, Remember, Remember, Remember.

Fathers, join together in your brotherhood.
Mothers, stand united in your sisterhood.
Rally round the cause, Come before the battle’s lost.

CHORUS

Now the nations stray forgetful, heedless to the past.
If we fail to plant the standard, how can the family last?
Who’ll receive this charge?
Come and show a valiant heart!

CHORUS

He calls for us, He cries to us, He pleads with us
Remember, Remember, Remember!

Cutting the Commercialism of Christmas

Reflecting on Christmas traditions with a few of my sisters


Having Christmas on Sunday in 2016 may, at first, have seemed inconvenient. I understand. We all want to enjoy our family and open gifts and stay at home on the biggest holiday of the year. Upon thinking about it longer, what is good about having Christmas on Sunday? Well, most of all, we dressed up and went to church together. The focus was on worshiping the Savior of the world, not on the gifts. Many of my siblings are exemplary in teaching their kids the real meaning of Christmas. Here are just three examples:

Sister #4, who has 6 kids from ages 18 to 8 already has her kids draw names. Each child gives to 2 siblings and the dollar range is between $15 and $20 per gift. The parents’ gifts were mostly repairs/replacements for the trampoline, basketball hoop, and such this year, which as we all know can really add up.

Sister-in-law #2, who has 6 kids from ages 10 to 6 months has seen an increase in sibling gift giving pleasure. They have tried to emphasize the giving part of the Christmas, by using teaching moments in November to talk about buying a gift for a sibling instead of buying something for themselves. As a result, their kids used their hard earned money on each other and the added awareness and sacrifice translated into excitement for each giver. As mom and dad, my Sister-in-law and brother give three gifts. One for the Heart, one fort the mind, and one for the body. This year that meant a Musical instrument ($5 – $20) — such as a harmonica, melodica, piano horn, xylophone; a book, and a scooter. “Santa” only fills stockings with treats, an orange, and small things. They have told their kids for years that “Santa uses the money that parents give them. That is why some kids get more than others.” Finally, this great family helps remind their children about the meaning of Christmas by focusing on service throughout the month. This year they discussed the daily invitation in #LIGHTtheWORLD during their morning scripture study.

Sister #5, who has 9 kids from ages 17 to 4, only gives her kids pajamas – which they open on Christmas eve and then only the sibling gifts are given on Christmas day. So each kid gets 8 presents on Christmas morning. Santa only gives things in the stocking. She used to give three gifts. One for each: fun, practical and spiritual, but has discontinued that. This year she did give a “name sake book” to each child. She and her husband discussed Christmas budgeting years ago: $20 per child for 3 gifts. But, since they have discontinued this, there has been no change in how much they enjoy Christmas morning. These changes have all been discussed and tested. The result is that Christmas morning is still exciting. Throughout the month she will often ask one of her kids, “How are you liking your Christmas?” This is to teach that Christmas is all month long as they learn about traditions around the world, sing, perform, and give to others. Christmas expectations are not met or failed between 8 and 10 a.m. on Christmas morning. Also, for their family giving happens all year long. The parents may give a trampoline in September (more weather appropriate for Illinois) and they replace the kids socks and clothes when they need to. She wants her kids to know that “We love you and take care of you year round.”

In conclusion, it is easy to get Christmas mixed up, but we shouldn’t feel bound by tradition or what the Jones’s do. Remember how sad Curt was when he found out that Santa was really Duncan? Or should I say me. I did most of the decision making and “shopping” to relieve Duncan’s stress. (THANK YOU Amazon.) But he still feels like the kids got too much. He doesn’t like clutter and we don’t like worldliness in general. Christmas has a lot of both. We can start to de-emphasize Santa. I am so thankful for a fresh start. No doubt about it: 2017 will be full of worshipping the Savior all year long.#LIGHTtheWORLD

Parenting Adult Children

What advice do you have for parenting adult children?
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This is a big and very good question. I have three adult kids, but am new at this because they are only 23, 21, and 18. It reminds me of when I would ask my mom, who had eleven children, a question about potty training. “Well, there are eleven answers to that question,” she would say. Every kid/adult is so different:

– How much emotional separation they WANT from you. (My kids want to be further from me than I would like them to be, but I have to get over it. Just because I want to know what they are doing every minute of the day doesn’t mean my desire is a healthy expectation.)
– How often they WANT to come over. (Duncan and I have decided – for now at least – to have Sunday dinner at 6:00 p.m. Our adult kids that live locally know that they are invited to Sunday dinner, but don’t HAVE to come. We look forward to the holidays when we will all be together!)
– How much they WANT to contact you. (I often, not always, let them take the lead in contacting me so I can get a sense of how often they want to talk or text.)
– What they WANT to hear from you, etc. (Wait from them to ask for advice. I am still learning from my mistakes on this one.)

Notice the constant? The question isn’t what YOU want or even what THEY NEED, it seems to be what THE ADULT CHILD WANTS. We raise them to be independent. Once they are, we must let them think, act, and live on their own.

In science, constants are values that do not change during the course of a particular experiment. I am afraid that parenting usually feels like an experiment to me. However, there are proven truths in parenting adults that must not be forgotten in this “experiment” to keep it from failing. These are:

– A relationship is a living thing. It takes nourishment and care to be healthy.
– Love is the glue in a family. Couple LOVE with CHRIST and you have a winning formula.
– A parent still has an important role to play in his/her adult children’s lives. (Be an example of righteous and responsible living, organize family events, AND express and show support for aspects in their lives.)

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

A variable is anything that can be changed in an experiment that could affect the results of the investigation.

– Each of my children are different. Their personalities and stages in life seem to cause different responses to and needs for Duncan and I. Following the Holy Ghost’s promptings is the best help available to every parent.
– Duncan and I are also different. We have different strengths that serve our children in their adult life. Duncan and I realize these differences are gifts and we are getting better at appreciating and working with both our abilities and approaches. We must check our motives. We try to be humble. We must forgive and say sorry. We must love unconditionally. We must try and try again.

I know that even though I have made many mistakes in parenting adults, the Lord is aware of my efforts. I pray that my children and husband will forgive me for messing up and let me try again. Even though parenting appears to be an experiment at times, it brings great joy. I have felt it! All the effort is SO worth it.

Families are the pattern of heaven.

More sources:
“3 Little Pigs” by Kristin
“The Price of Priesthood Power” by Russell M. Nelson
“A Plea to My Sisters” by Russell M. Nelson
“The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness” by Kevin R. Duncan

Why Do I Post? Why Do I Care?

Why do I post?

– I post because I have a billion things going through my head and I want to write them down.
– Because I want to spread the FACT that raising a family is rewarding, even though it is a mixed bag of hardship, pleasant surprises, pain, sweet love, disappointment and long lasting joy.
– Because I would love to know that someone learned from my mistake or experience instead of having to make it themselves.
– Because I want to bring some reality to the media. I am a great mom who makes mistakes, avoids cleaning, and can’t get-it-all-done, like most people I know.
– Because, LIKE YOU, I am extraordinarily blessed with a great family, and opportunities to make a positive difference in this world – one day at a time.

As people gain more experience, they perceive more information. (I give you the information I have.)

More information allows capable people (you) to learn more efficiently, succeed quicker and achieve more.

Why do I include a photo of myself every day?

I want my daily posts to feel like a conversation. If you can see the way I look in front of the computer while I share, maybe my thoughts will seem more personally given.

Why do I care?

I have been all around the United States and even in many foreign countries. I love everyone I meet. There are 7.5 billion people in this world today and most of them are good, kind individuals who love their family. I KNOW that we are all Children of a loving Heavenly Father. We are connected as brothers and sisters.

“Ye are a light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

I hope that by putting myself “OUT THERE” I am letting the light of Christ that is in me shine on a hill. I know that so many shine their light for me to see the way. This is just my own way of doing my part. I hope it helps you, or someone you know come closer to Christ and become a happier parent.

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