O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Psalms 43:3

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. D&C 88:118

The kids

The kids

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Can you hear that? That is me doing a happy dance and giggling with glee!


My dryer heating coil died this past weekend. After 12 years and a lot of lint in the bottom of the dryer, it was a good thing since it burned out instead of burning my house down. But, that left my family of 6 without a dryer. Not good! Add to that a ridiculously tiny laundry room where the washer and dryer face each other with the dryer under the stairs so the washer had to be taken out to get to the dryer… thus not only did I not have a dryer that would blow cold air but I also didn’t have a washer… Not good!

But, thanks to a good friend who had the testing tool we needed as well as his help tearing apart the dryer, his wife for washing an imminent load of laundry for us, a parts store 40 minutes from my house that had 150+ of that model coil in stock, and a handy husband and son, I now have a dryer again!!! Not only do I have a dryer, but it dried one load in half an hour!

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Strawberry Performs Choke Escape #2

Strawberry has grown up around the Dojo. The whole family does karate except her. Sometimes when she goes to watch her older sisters' class, the Sensei of the class for 4-6 yr olds invites her in, even though she is only 3. She LOVES it. This is what she learned in class the other day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Growing up and Making Choices

We have been trying to help the kids learn to make choices and budget their time. Of course, being children, these are adult skills and they aren’t perfect!

I have to say I was so proud of Tiger the other day though. He made a commitment (and shook hands on it) to his piano teacher to practice a minimum of 45 minutes per day 6 days per week to get ready for a music festival and adjudication in March. He also made the same commitment to me and shook my hand.

Fridays are our busiest days because of co-op and it can be hard to get that piano practice in by the end of the day. Two weeks ago, Tiger realized it was 5pm and he had karate, dinner, piano, and bed. He realized he would not be able to do it all. He made the decision to stay home from karate to practice piano and committed to go to karate 3 times the following week to make up for the missed class. As B went to class, Tiger sat down at the piano and practiced for the next hour. Last week, he attended class 3 times.

It may not seem like much, but Tiger is preparing for a karate test in two weeks. After 6 years of training, he will be testing for his first degree brown belt. While he does feel confident going into the test, he knows that the more practice he has, the better he will do. He had a tough choice to make and I think he did a really good job.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mentor Meetings are the Key to a Successful Week

As Tiger transitions to scholar phase, we have discovered that his mentor meetings are more and more important to help him stay focused and take responsibility for his learning. Instead of me handing him an assignment sheet of expectations for the week, which ultimately resulted in contention, not enjoying the learning, and not much progress, we have devised a system of accountability that helps him focus, keeps him learning and loving it, and eliminates contention.

I have blogged a little bit about our system before, but we are in the process of making adjustments right now. He has come to me and asked for an even more detailed plan. Originally his plan was only the top portion. Over time, the times and subjects have changed a little, but the real changes are at the bottom. We used to have him just record what materials he was using below his schedule. Now, he still writes details under the days (like h0w much time he spent or a specific book), but he also has a space for goals, books read, and as of today a Commitment for the week. I don’t know how the commitment for the week will work, but we will give it a try.

weekly plan


This past week we were listening to a lecture from the 2012 Family Forum in Salt Lake that was given to the youth. The speaker was talking a lot about the marshmallow experiment and will power. He discussed how willpower is actually something that can be increased and taught. He then proceeded to speak to the youth about how to increase willpower and effort. One of the things he talked about was the difference between goals and commitments. He said a commitment is the bare minimum required. You must tell someone you commit to this action and there needs to be a self-imposed negative and positive consequence attached to it. The goal is bigger than the commitment to help increase and stretch abilities. This really inspired Tiger to want to do more, which is why he requested a commitment for the week.

So what does this sheet have to do with mentor meetings? After all, that was the topic of this post! Mentor meetings are a one on one meeting that B has with each child every Sunday morning. With Strawberry, the meeting is likely to include reading a story, maybe singing a song, and maybe practicing one or two of the 4 Basic Skills (from Teaching Self Government).  With Pumpkin Pie, she shows off what she worked on during learning time- copywork, math, etc. and reads a story with B and talks about what is exciting in her life. B and Pumpkin Pie might also set a goal about a behavior we have noticed that needs work. Butterfly talks about what is exciting, concerns, and a bit about what she is working on during learning time. She also has recently been given a weekly goal sheet to play with but it seems to get lost more often than not still. B and Butterfly set goals for her academically as well as socially (accepting a consequence or getting her room clean quickly). Tiger’s meeting is the longest and most detailed because of where he is on his academic journey. B and Tiger talk about scouts, learning, goals, and exciting things from the week. They work out what Tiger’s goals for the week are both academically as well as in the family/socially. The children look forward to their individual time with B each week. Tiger especially needs his mentor meeting to help him focus in the next week.

With this sheet, when I notice that focus is waning, I just need to ask Tiger how he is coming on his weekly goals and he quickly gets back on track. He also is able to see where he spends the bulk of his time and what areas need a little more focus the following week. As he is still in the love of learning phase, he sometimes hyper focuses on one or two subjects one week and then works on something the next. Ultimately, he is moving forward with giant strides, but it is a little asynchronous. This past week, he focused on music, history, computer programming and science and spend a huge amount of time reading Les Miserables and a few other book. He is loving the story, but he has a goal of going to see the movie with B when he is finished with the book. Next week, I imagine there will be a different balance of subjects.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The other day Strawberry took a nap. When she woke up, she wasn’t quite ready to wake up. She snuggled up next to me and fell back asleep. These days with a little one to snuggle go so fast. I am grateful I got to spend an extra half hour snuggling her while she slept and my older kids played some games and read books.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Vocabulary, Books, Movies… Are the Children being Inspired?

The other day we had a babysitter come while B took me on a date. When I went to take her home, I noticed a book in her hand. I asked her what she was reading and she said, “I don’t know. I just had to pick a book from the library for my English class. I don’t even know what it is called.” I thought, how sad! How can someone be so apathetic to a book that they don’t even know the title! Then she continued. “The title is some made up word that I don’t even know how to pronounce. P-A-N-D-E-M-O-N-I-U-M.” I must admit, I was shocked. This girl is rather bright. Yet, here she was 16 and in the local high school, which is supposed to be pretty good and yet she didn’t know the word pandemonium. She thought it was just some made up word. She didn’t know what her book was about, and she wasn’t interested at all!
When I contrast that with the discussion the Webelos had at cub scouts the other night, I realize some things are going right- probably at home since these boys are only 5th grade. I asked the boys what they were interested in and somehow they got on to the topic of some of the recent movies- Hobbit, Life of Pi, etc. The clincher here was that my son has not been allowed to see movies unless he has read the book first. So, he read both the Hobbit and Life of Pi. He brought up how he preferred the book Life of Pi because the movie left out certain parts he thought were crucial (think 10 yr old boy potty humor type parts). The other boys jumped in. They too had read the book (or claimed they had) and agreed that generally books were better than movies. They were also hoping that the future Hobbit movie doesn’t mess up the story of the Hobbit too much.
How sad that someone just grabs a random book off the shelf that she isn’t even interested in just to check off a box in English class. How sad that words like pandemonium are “made up” and unknown. How exciting that these boys were reading great books and comparing it to the movies. They had passion and had been inspired.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to Make a Memorable Arrow of Light Arrow

Jan 2013 036The Arrow of Light is the highest possible award in Cub Scouts. It is the only Cub Scout award that a young man will take with him to Boy Scouts. As a result, his Arrow of Light ceremony should be memorable. At that ceremony, he will be presented with an arrow as well. Our pack wanted to do something a little more meaningful than the standard issue BSA arrow. While nice, they lack the symbolism that our pack desired.           

The arrows I have made are not solely my creation or brain-child. I was taught by a friend and former scout leader who is sadly no longer  a leader in our pack- how to make a meaningful arrow. The arrows we have made are a symbolic record of the scouts’ journey through cub scouts. Read on to learn how to make an arrow that is unique, personalized, and symbolic of the journey that the scout has taken through cub scouts.

First, you need some beads, feathers, string/raffia/leather cord/etc, buttons/shells/or other decorative features like the inexpensive eagle metal medallion below, felt, hot glue, dowel with a notch on one end, and an obsidian arrow point.

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Insert the arrowhead into the dowel. Glue and wrap in place with binding material of choice. In this case I used red and green raffia.Jan 2013 047      

Glue and wrap tail feathers to the arrow. Jan 2013 050

Now it is time to decorate!

Fashion four award points using some felt and feathers as desired. These award points will create the record of the cub scout’s journey. Jan 2013 040

Add hanging feathers with beads to the arrow. In this example, I have hanging feathers near the arrow point and a faux animal tail which was in the collection of materials we pulled together. On both strings I used some extra beads to decorate the string.Jan 2013 052Jan 2013 046

String gold and silver beads on four separate strings. The first two are for Wolves and Bears. They represent how many arrow points the cub scout earned as a Wolf or a Bear. So, for example, if as a Wolf the boy earned 3 arrow points, the string would have 1 gold and 2 silver beads. If he earned 4 as a Bear, the Bear string would have 1 gold and 3 silver beads. For Webelos and Arrow of Light, I place 2 gold beads on each of the last strings to represent the 4 required activity pins plus enough silver to cover the remaining pins the boy has earned. Because our pack only does Webelos for 1 year, I divide these as evenly as possible. Here is an example of the wolf year and the Webelos and Arrow of Light strings:Jan 2013 037Jan 2013 048

This particular arrow was for Tiger and since he earned 7 arrow points as a Wolf, he has 1 gold and 6 silver beads on his wolf point. His Webelos and Arrow of Light points have 2 gold beads each symbolizing the four required beads. Then the rest of his activity awards are spaced out. In his case 8 silver on each string.

Tie the strings to the arrow at even distances along the shaft and then glue the award points on top. These award points can be decorated with shells, buttons, etc. In the case of this arrow, I used small conch shells collected on the beach.

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Congratulations! You have completed a meaningful Arrow for an Arrow of Light ceremony.
Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have other How To____ posts this week. Be sure to check out what they have to say by clicking the button below. (It will go live Tuesday)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas Break Continued

Sorry for the blurry picture…  but I had to snap a picture of the entrance to the worst parking garage I have ever attempted to enter… Just as the picture ends in the background, there is a 90 degree corner where the lanes swap places! Truly the whole way up this ridiculous tower there is room for 1 car. You drive in a spiral up and up and up and all the parking spaces are compact. There is no room for error and the lanes are backwards. We drove up about 10 floors without finding a spot and finally found a few empty spots. By the time we got there, we decided to use the spots to turn around since the tower was so tight our minivan wouldn’t fit in any spots safely anyway. We were all completely dizzy after driving up.

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While we were in the hotel lobby of the gingerbread house display, Strawberry borrowed Butterfly’s hat and muff for a little bit. They were Christmas presents from their grandma Nia.

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After we went to the gingerbread house, we walked several blocks towards Pike Place Market. We went to my favorite spice store- Penzey’s and Pike Place Market. After our long walk, we needed a treat, so we went to a tiny ice cream store with homemade ice cream and cupcakes. Tiger and B finished so fast I didn’t get pictures of them, but here are the girls. Dec 2012 181   Dec 2012 184 Dec 2012 185 Dec 2012 186 

Strawberry quickly finished her cupcake and then proceeded to requests “tastes” from her sisters…  Pumpkin Pie was very kind and shared quite a bit with her. Dec 2012 187 

Butterfly also shared her ice cream.Dec 2012 189 Dec 2012 188

After we were done, we walked back to our car. On our way, we saw a bus being towed. Dec 2012 191 Dec 2012 192

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Amazing Gingerbread Houses

B has the week between Christmas and New Years off every year. We love to take advantage of that time and go on adventures, see new things where we live, and play. This year was no exception. We went down to a local hotel where an incredible display of gingerbread houses is presented each year. They are built by local architecture firms. The children had so much fun figuring out what kind of treats and looking for tiny details. One in particular had a tribute to at least a dozen Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They had quite a lot of fun looking for all the stories.

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The turrets of Aladdin's castle were made of blown sugar.  Dec 2012 146Dec 2012 140   Dec 2012 174Dec 2012 159  Dec 2012 147  I love the detail of the mosaic floor. This could not be seen by most people- only the very tallest visitors to the display, and those who put their camera up high!

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Beauty and the Beast’s Castle changed from light to dark Dec 2012 154Dec 2012 151Dec 2012 150 Dec 2012 152 

Grimm’s Fairy Tales had lots of lighted features.  Dec 2012 155  Dec 2012 157 Dec 2012 158Dec 2012 142 Dec 2012 162 Dec 2012 163  

Of course, what is a fairytale display without Alice in Wonderland!Dec 2012 166 Dec 2012 167 Dec 2012 168 Dec 2012 169Dec 2012 171Dec 2012 170Dec 2012 172