Sunday, September 26, 2010

5,000 Year Leap Colloquium

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." ~Mark Twain

We had the 5000 Year Leap for this month's Colloquium. I read it a couple of months ago, but it is worth re-reading. I found this 5,000 Year Leap Study Guide with Group Questions online and while we didn't have enough time to go over all the questions it is an excellent guide.

I love colloquium. The thoughts, opinions, and ideas that are passed around during this time by intelligent people is inspirational. I always leave uplifted. I have two colloquiums that I belong to. One I am head of and one I participate in. The first one has the following books outlined for us to read:

A House United by Peck
Les Miserables by Hugo
Laddie by Stratton-Porter
Jane Eyre by Bronte
The Future of the Internet by Zittrain

And the second group is reading the following:

October: John Adams by David McCullough **Meeting Oct. 6
November: The Real Thomas Jefferson by Andrew M. Allison
December: The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean
January: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
February: Dearest Friend: Letters from Abigail Adams

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spontaneous Inspiration

Often on our family's personal blog, I write a day book post. Sort of a journal, but they were kind of boring and so I decided to post about daily, weekly or monthly holidays in order to give a sort of introduction and writing prompt for my journal entries. I like it, it gives me something to think about, learn something new and then I head into my typical discussion of thoughts and the kids. Its a great start to blog posts. Use it if you like, works for me.

So today is V-J Day! Yup, Didn't you know that?

Ok... I admit it. I had to look up V-J Day? What is that? It commemorates the day we took Victory over Japan in WWII or more specifically, "The term has also been used for September 2, 1945, when Japan's formal surrender took place aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay."

Well imagine that! So I shared it with my kids, cause after all, I learned something new and I wanted to share that. It seem to take root in my oldest, though it was heartbreaking for him to learn that Japan was a "Bad guy." He likes Japan, especially Sushi and Samurai warriors. Yup... off he went to get our book on WWII to see if its correct. Inspiration at work. And my son is now pouring over it, and a flood of questions is pouring out and apparently a trip to the Library... again this week... is in order.

In Washington on August 14, President Harry S. Truman announced news of Japan's surrender in a press conference at the White House: "This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would." Jubilant Americans declared August 14 "Victory over Japan Day," or "V-J Day." (May 8, 1945–when the Allies accepted Nazi Germany's official surrender–had previously been dubbed "Victory in Europe Day," or "V-E Day.")
Please enjoy this Spontaneous Inspiration today, do you have ways that seem to spontaneously inpire you and your children to learn something?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Start of the Commonwealth School

This year we decided to join a Commonwealth school. It is sort of like a formal mom's school. While originally designed for Scholar Aged children, this school likes to invest in its Core and Love of Learning stage children as a means of teaching new families what a TJED home and community looks like, thus creating a stellar TJED Scholar program in the future. At least, that is the intention. Keep in mind that I am quite a novice when it comes to Scholar aged activities as my oldest is only 9.
So for a half day a week (Scholars do a full day) the kids are brought together in a TJED style.
I am not really in the know as to what the Core children are doing. Seems like Church nursery to me and my littlest is participating in that (he's 3).
Then there is the Love of Learners (generally ages 6-10) though my third is almost 6 and I elected to have him to the LOL classes (otherwise known as Juniors). Then there is a "Introduction to Scholars"Class group (Transition Stage) and finally Scholars.
Basically I don't really know what is going on in anything but Love of Learners. We start off our days in Love of Learners as follows.

9:15 am- School morning devotional- Prayer, songs, saying our School Mission statements, announcements, Pledge of Allegiance (though not necessarily in that order!).
9:30ish- Juniors- I WONDER time- We wonder about things, write it down and the kids are encouraged during the next week to go and seek out some answers and return and report.

Then for about 40 minutes we break into two 20 minute classes and do some science. The mom's take turns and give what they feel inspired to give. All the while the activities should be stimulating and fun. I would say it should feel like the kids are having too much fun to feel like they are learning. Thus accomplishing both the mom's and the kids objectives, in a way.

The the real mom's school begins- Some of the moms have signed up to share "what is their's." For me, I have taken on the role of hadworking instructor. I wanted to implement some Waldorf Handworking into my classes, because I am really into it. Thus, by sharing what is ours, we can not only share our wisdom and knowledge but also our excitement about the subject. That is not something that comes easily when you aren't as into something.
Classes being offered this semester are:
Westward Ho- A pioneer themed
Backyard Adventures- Bugs, Scat and Animal tracks, Kick ball, Track and Field, and a Bicycle Rodeo.
Drawing Dragons and Castles
Handwork- A mini album (Scrapbooking)
What's on your plate (nutrition)
Kitchen Science- Experiments with vinegar and other baking and kitchen science.

Some future classes include but are not limited to-
Beginning Knitting
Working with wool- washing, carding,beginning spinning and naturally dying wool
Role playing adventures
Introduction to sewing

Many of these also include field trips and are full of hands on activities.
We also have two field trips planned. One to the Berry Patch Farm in Brighton, CO for Pumpkin Adventures and also the Hiwan Homestead, in Evergreen, CO for some pioneering activities. We plan to finish up the year doing a world wide Christmas Celebration.

So we finished our first two weeks and so far we really like it. The school has a couples colloquium that is run by the men and our first book is Uncle Tom's Cabin. SWEET!!! That was on my list for this year if you remember. Anyhow, I just thought I would share what we were up to at the commonwealth school. I hope you are doing well in your new/old adventures this new "school year."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Portrait of a Lady: Quotes and My Thoughts

Book Review of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

While I felt the book was slow going at the beginning, I persevered and am so much the better for it. It was, all in all, an excellent book.

This was the first book I decided to write in the margins my thoughts. I've underlined books before, but this time I moved up to the next step. So, I thought I would share the parts of the books that I found moving or interesting and also the thoughts I had when reading. These are random at best, but perhaps you'll find them interesting.

"He was pleased with everything; he had never before been pleased with so many things at once. Old impressions, old enjoyments, renewed themselves; one evening, going home to his room at the inn, he wrote down a little sonnet to which he prefixed the title of "Rome Revisted." A day or two later he showed this piece of correct and ingenious verse to Isabel, explaining to her that it was an Italian fashion to commemorate the little occasions of life by a tribute to the muse."

What a delightful idea to begin again; to write verse as a tribute to the muse. I think I will begin this tradition in our home.

"The world lay before her-she could do whatever she chose. There was a deep thrill in it all, but for the present her choice was tolerably discreet; she chose simply to walk back from Euston Square to her hotel."

It is quite profound when it comes to your consciousness that you are a free being- free to choose whatever you may no matter how insignificant or important. What a blessing from God that He allows us to be free beings and therefore free also to accept the consequences of each choice.

"Madame Merle had once declared her belief that when a friendship ceases to grow it immediately begins to decline--there being not point of equilibrium between liking more and liking less. A stationary affection, in other words was impossible-it must move one way or the other."

That is also true in other aspects of our lives--health, weight, and spirituality. If we are not progressing each day, we are regressing.

"He said to her one day that she had too many ideas and that she must get rid of them. He had told her that already, before their marriage; but then she had not noticed it: it had come back to her only afterwards. This time she might well have noticed it, because he had really meant it. The words had been nothing superficially; but when in the light of deepening experience she had looked into them they had then appeared portentous. He had really meant it-he would have liked her to have nothing of her own but her pretty appearance. She had known she had too many ideas; she had more even than he supposed, many more than she had expression to him when he had asked her to marry him."

Another example in literature of why overlooking serious personality flaws and even differences when dating can be disastrous later on. Many times it leads to an unhappy marriage.

This is going on the list for my girls to read before they begin looking for husbands. I want them to learn the difference between true love and the importance of listening and heeding the advice of those closest to you who have only your best interests at heart. As with other classic books this book illustrates the painful consequences of not doing so.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lamps in the Bedroom to Encourage Reading

“Happy is he who has laid up in his youth, and held fast in all fortune, a genuine and passionate love of reading.” -Rufus Choate

To raise an intelligent, voracious reader as a parent our job is to create an environment conducive to reading. In each child’s bedroom it’s a simple as having shelves for books that are easy to for the child to reach and enjoy the books. My two favorite ways to store books in the children’s rooms are bedside tables with a good shelf and galley shelves made of rain gutters. (See directions.)

Next is providing a lamp for them to read at bedtime. Lamps can be an expense to put one in each room if you go out and buy all new. I enjoy buying used lamps. I’ve never paid more than $3 per lamp for my children’s room. At a garage sale I found a double pair of decorative iron lamps with shades. For my youngest two daughter’s room I found a $3 pink lamp with a sequin shade at a thrift store. Keep an eye out for a good deal on lamps and avoid breaking the bank to add these additions to your home. The best part is if one gets broken, you don’t have to feel so frustrated because you didn’t spend too much on it.

In our home, each night at bedtime, mom, dad or a sibling will snuggle with the younger children and read 1-2 books by lamp light. If we let them read on their own after that, we turn out the lamp 10-15 minutes later. The older children read until sleepy by the light of their lamps.

We use 40 watt bulbs to allow enough light to read by without brightly lighting the entire bedroom. If you can find lamps with the off switch on the cord, it makes it easier for the child to turn out the light without having to reach too far.

It has been proven that even ten minutes a day of Sustained Silent Reading is enough to increase test scores quickly and tremendously. I’m not necessarily after good test scores as much as I am hoping to encourage and nurture a love of reading that will benefit my children the rest of their lives.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Learning: The Epiphany Rate

“It is not what a boy has, but what he is, that makes him valuable to the world, and the world valuable to him.”

A couple of months ago, I bought the book, “Ten Boys Who Lived on the Road from Long Ago” by Jane Andrews which was written in 1898. Each chapter shares stories and insight into a twelve year old boy’s life from more than four thousand years ago all the way to the boy who lived in 1888. Andrews shares information about how each boy throughout the ages dressed, lived, schooled and worked in the form of stories.

During the first part of the book the kids were not as thrilled about my pulling it out to read. We would read one chapter at a time and then move on to the next reading book. Despite their resistance, we learned a lot about history, geography, old names of countries like China, traditions, and old weapons. Instead of learning from a dry, watered down text book, we learned through stories of young boy’s lives and it had more impact on us.

By the time we got to the end of the book, the children all commented how good the book was. I smiled because I remembered the times that they would complain because it was dry and the language is sometimes hard to understand. None of that was important in the end. What was important was how the book changed their perspective and increased their knowledge.

In implementing the Thomas Jefferson Leadership education model in personal and family education I love Dr. Oliver DeMille’s idea of the ER or “Epiphany Rate”. He said it’s not the word count or how many books you read that’s important it’s the “Epiphany Rate” or how many times something connects in your mind, makes sense, teaches, or helps you understand. The Epiphany Rate should be your gauge when reading. When I heard that on his recent audio “Lessons from Four Types of Leadership Education” it really made sense to me. I thought of the recent books that changed my life because of the power of the written word, books like the Count of Monte Cristo, and all that I learned about life and even myself as I read the book. Dr. DeMille says this is what we should look for when reading a classic book- the ER or “Epiphany Rate” and it is one I’m now paying attention to when reading books with my children and myself.

Mom's Need Inspiring Too.

As I have mentioned in a previous posting, this is the first year that I am incorporating a plan, albeit a simple one, for my own personal education as a integral part of my children's education. Perhaps, I am moving beyond the core phase myself. It just felt like time. Not that I wasn't doing things that further developed my own personal "well," it is just more formally planned and known by those around me. Before... it was rather spur of the moment. I would share something I read to the kids. Show them something new I learned and always made it a point to share with them when I learned something new. This year... I am formally doing my own studies... still working out what exactly...but still... Mom is "homeschooling" too.

Like many homeschooling moms, I practically devoured any homeschooling information out there. Which of course, made things overwhelming given all the philosophies and options out there, but in doing so, I began to notice a pattern. The ones that seemed most appealing to me all seemed to overlap. Before TJED, the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf Education), were the most appealing but very different than my traditional educational background (aka- My conveyor Belt Education). Much of it just felt right and in my limited study of it seemed to flow naturally in our family. And when I discovered TJED... the two seemed to flow together and TJED was, for our family, a answer to many missing gaps.

Today... I was reading one of my favorite Waldorf Inspired blogs, The Magic Onions, it had a post on the importance of the continual education of Parents and Teachers. It's words spoke so clearly to me. Especially at a time when my personal development is at the forefront of my thoughts these days. Let me share with you some quotes (in red) that I found very inspiring.

Blogger, Melisa Nielsen, shares a quote from Rudolph Steiners, Rhythms of Learning. "The Self Education of adults is essential for the Waldorf approach to educating children, because Waldorf does not consist solely of methods, techniques, or structures, but rather the development of human capacities – those of the children but also, and more importantly, those of teachers and parents.”

I love the phrase, "the development of human capacities." Isn't it wonderful that there isn't a end to that capacity?

Don't you just love the blessings of the internet (and I admit it has its evils too). I think it is vital to remember the Philosophy of "Inspire, not require" doesn't only just apply to how you educate your children. I get so bogged down on requirements, that I placed on myself ,and when I see postings and informations such as this and the other I will mention... it is a breath of fresh air. I need a good homeschooling community of not only real life friends but virtual kindred spirits that inspire me to greater things.
Another awesome posting today I read on Mama Seasons, (nice to know other mamas get "the funk" too. Check out this quote she found:

From the unschooling site:

“If you think you can’t provide a rich, stimulating environment for your kids, maybe they *are* better off in school. Send them.

But if you know that the whole wide world is rich and stimulating, then GET OUT THERE! DO things, BE with your kids. Find cool places to go. Bring new things home. Quit b#@%**’!

If you knew you only had a year more with that child, what would you expose him to? Where would you go? What would you eat? What would you watch? What would you do?

If you had only ONE year—and then it was all over, what would you do? Four seasons. Twelve months. 365 days.

Do that THIS year. And the next.”

Can I just tell you how much I needed that. I can only hope that a life lived to its fullest, is one that won't be regretted. Just how much I need to let go and have faith in the learning process. Back to the Magic Onions, she goes on to talk about just that. Read the posting and think about how it applies to your style. While it is of course from a Waldorf perspective you could easily replace the word Waldorf with "educating children" or even TJED

“The self-education of adults is essential to educating children, because educating children does not consist solely of methods, techniques, or structures, but rather the development of human capacities – those of the children but also, and more importantly, those of teachers and parents.”

Now take a look at this additional Rudolf Steiner Quote. I am going to interject some TJED corresponding stuff in red.

“If one observes children who, through proper upbringing, have developed a natural reverence for the adults around them [CORE Phase}, and if one follows them through their various phase of life[TJED_ Core, Love of Learning, scholar, Depth and Mission], one may discover that their feelings for reverence and devotion in childhood gradually transform during the years leading to old age. As adults, such persons may have a healing effect on others, so that through their mere presence, tone of voice, or perhaps a single glance they spread inner peace to others.[Perhaps this can be attributed to a completion of each phase, few or no gaps or repair work to be done] Their presence can be a blessing, because as children they have learned to venerate and to pray in the right way. No hands can bless in old age, unless in childhood they have been folded in prayer.[For many families, this is a vital part of the Core Phase]

The beauty in this, is that even though we are having to do all of this "repair work" for ourselves, our kids don't necessarily have to... depending on you. I know... pressure. But remember... "It's about YOU, not them." Focus on healing you and and that inner work you do now will affect your posterity. Ok... enough for such a late night. Just thought I would share some inspiration I found today.

Note to self... get a copy of

“Rhythms of Learning” by Steiner
and check out the unschooling site.
It's good to be homeschooling. Now its your turn... share with us your inspiration. What is inspiring you to develop your personal education?

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Book by Edgar Guest

“Now” - said a good book unto me -
“Open my pages and you shall see
Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine,
Gold and silver in every line,
And you may claim them if you but will
Open my pages and take your fill.

“Open my pages and run them o’er,
Take what you choose of my golden store.
Be you greedy, I shall not care -
All that you seize I shall gladly spare;
There is never a lock on my treasure doors,
Come - here are my jewels, make them yours!

“I am just a book on your mantel shelf,
But I can be part of your living self;
If only you’ll travel my pages through,
Then I will travel the world with you.
As two wines blended make better wine,
Blend your mind with these truths of mine.

“I’ll make you fitter to talk with men,
I’ll touch with silver the lines you pen,
I’ll lead you nearer the truth you seek,
I’ll strengthen you when your faith grows weak -
This place on your shelf is a prison cell,
Let me come into your mind to dwell!”

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mother's learn Too

Our family plans on starting structured time schooling again August 2nd and that doesn't mean just the kids going back to school. The philosophies of A Thomas Jefferson Education that influence our homeschooling involves me too. One of those philosophies involves mom.... "It's about YOU, not them." If they don't see me studying then how can I expect the same of them? All too often though they see my studies in scrapbooking and knitting as craft time. While I may be researching techniques to apply or following a pattern... to them it looks like fun and not the work that they are accomplishing. So I thought this fall during our structured time, there would also be "schooling for mom." What is glorious about this is that it forces me to take the time to learn something that I have been putting off or to read something I haven't. I thought for now, a modest goal of reading four books and a topic to delve into and then share with my kids would be a mother-sized goal for me. So when we go to the Library, I have a task of books to seek out as they do. They can see me study in a way they do and not just in the fun ways.

So lets start with the four books. I figured I should get back to working on the Thomas Jefferson Education 5 Pillars Certification books and also put the requirement that I write a book report about each one.

Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew

Holt, How Children Learn

Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

So.... what about this project? I figure that it needed to be something that I want to learn a skill in. Perhaps something that would put me out of my comfort zone.... just a little. I was thinking perhaps Photography. Perhaps I could sign up for a class through the rec center or community college, but then I wondered if it would inspire in me a huge dissatisfaction with our camera. Well that is one option, but what else?
I also really need to learn to sew. The kids wants so many costumes and what nots... it would be nice to have the talents to do those things. But once again, I worry that the kids will think I am having more fun than them. Hehehehe! Part of my reason for doing this is, that not only do I want to make cool things but I also want Cassie to have these skills going into her adult life (and some basic sewing at least for the boys too) as I didn't have them. So perhaps a class at JoAnn's fabric or the Rec Center.So for now, I have at least two topics to ponder and decide on. So how about you? What do you plan on learning this coming fall. Don't forget to take time to continue learning yourselves.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Need to Learn of our Country's History & the Constitution

Declaration of Independence

Our country is in a mess right now and things are getting worse by the day. One of the biggest problems is that few people in our country know any of its history let alone the constitution. The elected officials are disregarding the constitution and trampling over the rights of the people.

That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people...And that, when any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, A MAJORITY of the community hath an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal. (Annals of America 2:432 --Virgina Declaration of Rights section 3)

Because of the ignorance on the side of the people and willful ignorance to the Constitution on the side of the elected officials the government has crossed the line of government. Instead of getting control of the oil spill and many other important issues going on in our country the government is more focused on taking away more rights of the people. Just yesterday I heard of the "worry and concern" the government has over obesity in America so they decided to add a tax on all sugary beverages such as Coke or Gatorade. This is only trivial compared to what is going on in the Arizona and border control issues.

It is time to awaken the sleeping giant. We as parents, homeschooling or not, need to learn all we can about our Constitution and history and then teach it to our children. We need to adopt the attitude John Adams did...

The science of government is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the art of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take [the] place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

Where to begin?

"The first thing you could do, please, is get 'The 5,000 Year Leap,' says Glenn Beck. "Over my book or anything else, get 'The 5,000 Year Leap.' ... It is the principle. It is so easy to read. It's the book Ronald Reagan wanted taught in high schools and Ted Kennedy stopped it from happening. That should tell you all you need to know. ... When you read these principles, your mouth will fall open. ... The scales will fall off your eyes on who we are. ... It will help you understand American free enterprise. You'll be able to defend it. You'll be able to know what makes it possible for 6 percent of humanity living under our free economy to produce one-half of the Earth's developed wealth every single year."
(Thanks to

Here is a sad, sad example of where our country is today...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We Had the Baby - Baby #8!

Shiloah and Braedon

So, we were told that the baby was a girl and while the boys were disappointed we prepared for a little "sister". We bought all pink and purple, frills and bows. It was one of my best pregnancies ever. I was running until my 7th month. After 9 weeks of bed-rest and contracting I got back on the elliptical for the last 3 1/2 weeks of the pregnancy. (Baby was overdue by 5 days).

Braedon Carter Baker was born after 1.5 hours of labor 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20 inches long at 2 a.m. end of June... Much to the relief of his shocked and exhausted mom, dad, his 7 excited siblings, Daddy's chain of command and the gym staff and everyone else that knows us...IT'S A BOY!!! {Not a girl as we were told!}

Braedon Carter

Ben was tickled "blue" and so was Benjamin. Everyone else was excited too, except little Bella who insisted a girl would be better. :) I think she's used to her brother now.

Ben, Shi, Braedon

FYI- Because we are so thrilled about our new son, we're having a sale at the

Deluxe Edition Magazine
Coupon Code: new-baby for 50% off Deluxe Subscriptions

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What's Mine is Mine: Part 2- Writing is mine

I got an email from one of my blog readers (nice to know I still have some) asking how I keep track of all my ideas. I will have to add a photo of my bag that has what is "mine" in it. I counted out 6 paper journals and 7 blogs. Is that crazy or what? I hadn't really put them all together before. Now let me just be upfront and specify that when I say writing I mean words, not grammer and all that. No... Just free expression of me. Lets's change up an old quote to state... " A blog is for free expression... not good impressions." Who am I kidding... a little good impression and a comments from readers make me so excited... but I digress. So I took up journal writing as a means of inspiring my kids. They write in their journals daily, have nature journals and I encourage them to write things down for me, "cause Mamma is forgetful." Hehehehe! But for me, it took off. I love looking at journals, handmaking journals from my scrapbooking stash. Perhaps I will get into book making... need to add that to the bucket list. I love looking at other's blogs and I even have a collection of blogs. So many that I never have time to read them, but they were put there because there was something on them that inspired me. Perhaps they inspired me to write, do, or make something. The kids each have private blogs too... how's that for "inspire, not require."

I will start with my blogs because most of my journals are an extension of one of the blogs.
1. Blog: Healing Kindredmamma is my private, only for me, though nothing too intensely personal as the intensely personal stuff is in my paper journal tucked in my bag. Hmmmmm.... Maybe I won't show you a picture of my bag and stuff. Anyhow... it is for me... it is Kindredmamma in the RAW. Usually a mad amount of writing when overwhelmed with strong feelings I would rather not share with others. So it isn't a consistent blog or journal... just as needed.

2. Blog: TJed Mothers... Here I am a contributing writer. It is centered around our homeschool philosophies pertaining to a Thomas Jefferson Education. But my paper journal is far more active as I am constantly writing thoughts as I read books on education and just my general homeschool thoughts.
3. Exploring Colorado And Beyond This blog is a hobby blog. And it is developing more and more, though most of the information it currently has is also found on my main family blog, A Kindred Family. It's counter part paper journal is included with my educational journal above and also a nature journal with sketches and writing while out in nature.

4. A few others that lost their drive. One for Scouts and one for health, one for a side scrapbooking thing that hasn't panned out yet. Not really worth mentioning until I get excited about them.
5. A Kindred Family- My main family blog, now closed to the public, but only for invited guests. Its contents are mainly focused on the family unit as a whole and each child of course. After all... we need to make the grandma's and papa's happy. But it also has my interests woven with in it all.
6. Two Crafty Cousins- The craft blog, of course, lovingly shared with my Jedi Master, Cousin Ann. And it has mostly paper crafting projects of ours, but I think soon you will see more. I have several I need to post still. My craft journal is huge... mostly project ideas, patterns, scraps and inspirations. Not necessarily top secret...but mine. I also have a sketch book that I might sketch out ideas in or notes and measurements on something I am working on.

7. Will be starting a companion blog to my new Esty Store... Working on getting that ready.
Additional paper journals
1. Book Journal. Filled with lists of books to check out, favorites, lent and borrowed books. Quite the composite of notes and scribbles.
2. The Book of Jeremy's medical speech stuff notes, articles and all things pertaining to therapy and appeals.

All of these blogs and paper journals are filled not only with their purpose but thoughts and musings as well. In looking it all over...I think I have created a monster. What will my posterity think if they were to compile the variety of journaling I have created and see the big picture of my life. I think it would be some work to put it all together in one spot. "Good Luck," I say. "I did my part... I journaled as was counseled by Prophets... The rest is your problem!" And I of course add a chuckle to that. It has kept me sane and enriched... I just wish it would inspire my kids to write more than it has. But time will tell. So there you have it... a bit of craziness into "the world... according to Heather." See mom, the world really is according to me.... at least in part.

Oh and on a side note... I had three out four F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S days of homeschooling this last week. It may not happen again but I just had to mention it. Every day is different but those days I felt particularly successful... Maybe they will happen again next week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

What's Mine is Mine

Today I was talking to a close friend of mine and it got me really thinking about teaching what is mine. I know I have posted on this topic before...but isn't that such a strong part of TJED philosophy? After all... would I share it with you if it wasn't mine. This next year (School year), marks a big change for us. Our third child has been attending preschool for speech therapy and we are now about a month away from its completion and he will begin homeschooling with our older two kids. I await the freedom that comes from not having his schedule interfere with the spontaneity that can occur with the inspiration that is often unplanned in our home. We are planning on attending the commonwealth/mom's school/co-opland my friend was inquiring about our participation. I felt concerned about my abilities to help. I informed her that I could be there during that time, but that I didn't want to be assigned to have prepare stuff ahead of time....Until....we started talking about Nature School.

What is Nature School???? Well...Nature School is mine, not that you can't do your own, but it has been a way for me to spend time educating myself... for my own benefit but also so that my kids see me studying too. As a Scout Leader, I began to slowly develop an interest in the outdoors as I prepared to take my scouts on outings and I loved it. As the author of Last Child In the Woods says, Nature was his Ritalin (a drug often prescribed for those with ADHD/ADD). I found it true for myself. It was healing, inspiring, and I felt as if I was a better mother and person by being out in nature. Slowly it became mine. I have began collecting books, started a blog, Exploring Colorado and Beyond that chronicles our outings, infused my love for it into my scouting program, and even invited others to participate with us in our Nature School.

I get why mom schools can be so successful and perhaps why I felt my hesitation about being involved in teaching something at the co-op. Suddenly I felt unhindered at the thought of being able to share with others what is mine. And now... my first real endeavor in a mom school is the official start of nature school this summer. So what is mine is branching out beyond my family and that feels good. How about you... what is yours and how have you blessed your family and others with it? It would be good to hear about others way of incorporating this philosophy.

Oh and Shiloah... you are welcomed to join in on some if you can make it. We have got to hook up now that we are only about an hour apart.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Treasure Hunting for Books Podcast


“Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it." -Jeanette Winterson

Shiloah Baker interviews Linda Edwards who is a homeschool mom of 4 and an avid book collector. Linda shares her extensive knowledge and advice on how to find books, especially used books for the family.

Transcripts will be available later this week for a small fee.

Disclaimer: We apologize that Linda’s phone was full of static at times. Editing was done the best we could do, but we are both busy homeschooling mothers and just haven’t found the time to re-do this interview. We hope you enjoy it anyway. {Smile}

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mom, What Do You Do for Socialization?

As a homeschooling mom, I get asked on a regular basis by “professionals” everywhere from the doctor, the therapist, church leaders, even perfect strangers what my children do for socialization. When was the last time any of them has ever looked me in the eyes and asked, “What do you do for socialization?” I am sure I would remember it, because, man -forget the kids, I need more socialization!

The average homeschooling mother spends many hours a day with the kids educating, mentoring, and inspiring. Add to that the meal planning, preparing, and eating. Housework is multiplied with the family “living” in the home twenty-four hours a day.

We can’t forget the man of the house. He needs quality time with his wife. Oh, then there’s the necessary evils of grocery shopping, appointments, errand running, and any groups or activities the family participates in.

The second the van pulls into the driveway- the kids want to be off fulfilling their needs to play, unwind-and socialize! Where is mom? She is lugging the baby and the groceries inside and collapsing on the couch from exhaustion.

Really sit down and add it up. If I, instead of the children, got eight hours a day in a school environment plus outside activities filled with socialization, honestly I’d be exhausted and just plain overwhelmed. I would be irritable and over-sensitive to what people think of me. I would definitely start worrying too much about what I was wearing every day. Social pressures shouldn’t bother me to that extent, but if I were put in an environment where I was always “socializing”, rarely relaxed, and was never alone with my loved ones during that time- I’d be a mess.

I thought school was invented for educating? When did we get to this point where it is more important for children to socialize than to be educated? Maybe some may say that isn’t so, but then why is that the first question out of everyone’s mouth?

What is the big deal with excessive socializing of the children anyway? They end up spending more time fighting over belongings, food or drinks, running off on their own, or forming cliques. When they finally make it home from all this socializing they are over-stimulated, exhausted and irritable.

Seriously, I think it’s a little backwards. All kids want to play and most get their playtime with playmates after the school (home or public) and chores are finished. Throw in a church activity and a music lesson, and that is plenty of socialization for any one person. Take the mom, she is working hard all day and up most of the night catching up or taking care of kids who wake up, won’t go to bed, or are up puking. She wakes up haggard and worn, ready to rinse and repeat! The mom is the one who needs more socialization.

Unlike children, socialization for a battle-worn mom is refreshing, revitalizing, and stimulating. She returns home after an enjoyable time with friends ready to face the giants-or um little giants. Instead of worrying excessively over whether or not junior is socialized enough, let us keep on doing what we are and worry more about whether poor, tired MOM is getting enough refreshing social time.

Shiloah Baker is a mom of seven, pregnant with #8, married to the man she's madly in love with. Exercise is her vice. She runs a The Homemaking Cottage and homeschools. In her spare time she sews, crafts, writes and reads. Join us at The Homemaking Cottage Deluxe Edition for 1057 ways to improve your home and family!

And don’t forget to join our ezine for more free ideas. Free Homemaking Newsletter

Monday, March 1, 2010

Book Review: The Coming Aristocracy

The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom by Oliver DeMille

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Whether or not we chose to believe it, America is in trouble and it’s not just the economy, the war on terror, etc. The real problem in America is that we are being destroyed within by the aristocracy.
This is an excellent book with a warning for us in our day and age. The author explains in simple terms what the aristocracy is and why it is not only a threat to our country (USA) but how it is in practice today and where this will lead.

The author made a point of explaining that today in our country we do not even have core truths. He calls it the “truth trap”. “If anyone mentions values, goodness, or says that something is ‘true,’ she can count on being asked, ‘Whose values?’ ‘Whose truth?’ and ‘Who made you the truth monitor?’” This is a growing trend, especially with the overtaking of Political Correctness. Even within the walls of church I have seen women make a comment and immediately stop mid-sentence afraid that the truth of gospel will offend someone within the walls of our church. This is a sad state of affairs.

Along with the important information shared in this book, the author shares a list of books to read to learn more of what is happening in America and several books on how to make the change.

The author has a way of motivating and exciting the changes that we can make. He closes the book with HOW we can stop the aristocracy from taking over and none of it requires going to battle against the elite in Washington. It is more subtle, in some aspects simple and powerful. I truly believe this can be done. Every American should read this book. Ignorance is not bliss. For the sake of your posterity, today is the day of change. It is vital.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thrift Store Books

Look at our blessings this week!  I took a little one with me to help find some fun books and the other's were at home checking to see if we had certain books.  Goodness knows I can't remember all the books in the collections we have. :)

For me:
Quick & Thrifty Cooking
Busy Woman’s Cookbook
Household Survival Manual

We enjoy collecting the Great Illustrated classic books for the young readers. Brand new they are $10 a piece. We found three new books for our collection at 99 cents each:

Sleeping Beauty and other stories
Black Beauty
Little Women

Classic Mystery Books for kids:

Spies of the Revolution by Katherine and John Bakeless
The Mystery of the Pilgrim Trading Post (An old Weekly Reader book)

We collect Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books. We found two Hardy Boy books:

Detective Handbook
#58 The Sting of the Scorpion

We love Classic Golden books and were excited to find these at 29 cents each:

Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Jack and the Bean Stalk
Little Red Riding Hood
Richard Scarry’s Best Balloon Ride Ever
The Lion King –the Cave Monster

Other Classics:

The Wind in the Willows illustrated Classic book
Treasure Island illustrated Class book
Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
Charlotte’s Web (Thought we didn’t have it-ooops!)
Children’s Stories of the 1850’s
Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom
Box Car Children #14 Tree House Mystery (love this series too!)
We were so lucky to find three Little’s books!
The Little’s Have a Wedding
The Little’s Have a Party
The Little’s to the Rescue

Love Disney books so we got:

Lilo and Stitch

Books to assist in our Family Education:

The Value of Believing in Yourself- about Louis Pasteur (love this series! Found this for 50 cents!)
One Small Square Seashore (even has pictures of seashells and animals and identifies each one) by Donald M. Silver
365 Science Experiments with Everyday Materials
Michael Faraday- father of Electronics by Charles Ludwig
Weather: How to Watch and Understand the Weather and its Changes

This one isn’t a school book, but we love the Far Side in our home:
The Cows of Our Planet by Gary Larsen

All this for $25, I was so excited! We just finished Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s Magic so the kids want me to start the Little’s Series. They love it so far. {smile}

Friday, February 26, 2010

Do You Have An Education?

No, I’m not speaking about a degree or initials attached to the end of your name. I’m speaking of a true education. The following two quotes define an education very well:

“The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life-by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past-and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.” ~Ayn Rand

“The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think—rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men.” ~Bill Beattie

Do you know about the past, the TRUE past, not just watered down facts from a history book? What about the past President’s and their wives? What about the lives and writings of great people such as Pope, Byron, Cervantes, Sir Walter Scott, etc.? Half a century ago everyone knew these people and all were familiar with their writings and many could even quote them.

One sign of an education is that one becomes less interest in trivial and mind-wasting topics such as what drama the latest star has gotten involved in or who broke up with whom in Hollywood. Those who value their education and by extension their minds are choosy about what they watch on television and how much they watch. They also are watch guards over how and what their children watch. The educated know that just like food feeds the body and either strengthens or tears down one’s health, the same applies to what one feeds the mind as in media: books, TV, music and internet.

Scientists have proven that those who are actively using their brains to learn new things tend not to acquire diseases such as Alzheimer’s later in life. The educated are always striving to improve their knowledge and enjoy learning deep, spiritual and thought provoking ideas.

The saying, “Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events and small minds talk about other people” is true. Think of the conversations lately in your home, especially among the adults. What category do you fall in? Being conscious of what we are doing and saying is important in improving oneself. Once you become aware of what category you are in, hold yourself more accountable and if you should need to do some changing, make that change today.

Take a person off the street today and ask them what makes a person great. Many will answer things like: fame, fortune, influence (we’ll define as worldly influence), position, or status. Society has become ignorant to the fact that they are ignorant. Just because someone has power- like a president or king, or money, or worldly fame and influence does not make him great.

So what does make a person great? The answer includes but is not limited to: morals, religious conviction and belief, personal ethics code, and education. Years ago I read a book about one hundred key great and important people throughout the ages. They all had their own struggles and trials, but each great man and woman had one main thing in common-a true classically based education, most had a self taught classical education. Their education was acquired through the reading of classic books. Through the classics they learned to think deeply, attain self-mastery, and to discover and live their mission in life.

The saying “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” shows just how low our society has come. Sure it is meant to be humorous, but is it really? Really what we should be saying (and most importantly-living) is “All I really need to know I learned from the scriptures and classic books.”

Sadly, few today understand the classics. Walk in any Barnes and Noble or Borders books and you will see shelves full of cliff notes and other books with (someone else’s) interpretations of classic works. These books completely defeat the purpose of the true unabridged classic book. We cease to learn and grow when we are looking for someone else’s take on a classic book. The purpose of the classics is to inspire and teach your very core, the person that you truly are. They remind us through other’s experiences and lives whether ill or well lived. We don’t have a long enough life to experience everything so learn from other’s examples, especially the examples of truly great people. This is what happens to those who strive to get a true classical education. One cannot help but become a better thinker and most importantly a truly great person.

Shiloah Baker is a mom of seven, pregnant with #8, married to the man she's madly in love with. Exercise is her vice. She runs a The Homemaking Cottage and homeschools. In her spare time she sews, crafts, writes and reads. Join us at The Homemaking Cottage Deluxe Edition for 1057 ways to improve your home and family!

And don’t forget to join our ezine for more free ideas. Free Homemaking Newsletter

Galley Book Shelves Made of Rain Gutters

Children learn through their senses: smell, touch, taste, see, and hear. When it comes to books, children love the bright colors, smelling them, looking them over and over again, many times tasting them depending on the age, and listening to them read to them over and over again.

A recent problem we discovered in our home was how we were storing the books for our little children. We have many bookshelves full of books in our home and one large one for all the little kid books. Fortunately our children love to read. Unfortunately, they pull the books out of the shelves all day long. This isn’t because they are choosing to be little stinkers- it’s because they want to read and it’s not fun when you’re a kid picking out a book from the spine! Little kids want to see the front- or like my little tot- the back to see what books in the collection we still need to buy.

When I discovered galley shelves made of inexpensive vinyl gutters, I was thrilled! It was the perfect solution for the problem! The children could have shelves that look nice in the house (not ghetto) and best of all; they can see their books from the front or back depending on how they put them on the shelves. They are always accessible and the shelves encourage reading with the books flashing their bright colors and pretty pictures.

To make these shelves in your home here are the directions:

Vinyl Gutters (Price ranges about $6 a gutter)
Circular saw or hacksaw.
2 hangers per shelf- 3 if you plan to make them long
Long wall screws
Left and right end caps
Tape measure


Decide how many shelves you want and how long each one should be. Mark it on the vinyl gutter and cut with either a hand saw or circular saw. Sand the edges if you wish. With a wet washcloth wipe down the debris left from cutting.

Decide where you want the shelves. Some good ideas are in family areas of the home and next to beds with enough space to safely roll under them.

Slide on the gutter hooks; use two for smaller shelves and three for long shelves. Slide each hook/hanger to the end of each side. Screw the hooks into the wall. Add end caps, gluing into place if you want them more permanent.

Allow the kids to line up the books on the shelves and you will find more reading going on than ever before.

Shiloah Baker is a mom of seven, pregnant with #8, married to the man she's madly in love with. Exercise is her vice. She runs a The Homemaking Cottage and homeschools. In her spare time she sews, crafts, writes and reads. Join us at The Homemaking Cottage Deluxe Edition for 1057 ways to improve your home and family!

And don’t forget to join our ezine for more free ideas. Free Homemaking Newsletter

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Beauty of a Classical Education

After learning all about bears my four and three old were overheard having this conversation:

3 year old, "I'm scared of the bears in Colorado."
4 year answers, "There's no reason to be scared because number one, it's winter time and bears hibernate during winter, remember? And number two, Colorado only has fuzzy bears."

Another conversation they had while playing:

3 year old, "Let's put all the Panda bears in the raccoon family."
4 year old, "No, we can't do that. Don't you remember that scientists have changed their family? They used to be in the raccoon family and now they're in the bear family."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On My Reading List This Week

I'm thoroughly enjoying:

The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute
Healing Feelings from Your Heart by Karol Truman
The Coming Aristocracy by Oliver DeMille

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Re-Evalue America Presentation by Dr. Brooks: My Notes and Experience

Dr. Brooks and his wife plan to make it around the country with a goal to share their message to at least 1 million families. If you get a chance to have them in your city, I encourage to you take advantage of this powerful and free lecture. It is life changing!

I was blessed with the opportunity to take my husband and second eldest daughter, whom I felt needed some inspiration for learning.

The speaker, Dr. Brooks, is a former president of George Wythe University in St. George, UT. The following is a quick bullet point synopsis what he speaks about in this meeting.

• The Five Founding American Ideals and How to Be An American

• Summary of the State of American Education

• Solutions for a Nation in Crisis

• The Moral Center of Families

• 3 Steps to Reviving American Confidence

• An Introduction to The Cycle of Freedom and How America Measures Up

• Defining Education

• An Introduction to A Thomas Jefferson Education: The Science of Building Americans

• The 4 Phases of Learning

• The Real Story of the American Founding

• The Proper Role of Government

• The 7 Keys of Great Teaching

• The Rise of Social Leadership

• The Secret Roles of Mothers and Fathers

Some things that really stood out to me during the meeting were:

How our society values skills over virtues such as schooling over education.
We don’t know that we don’t know. The Federalist papers were written for the Newspaper. Farmers and everyday citizens were the ones reading these. He had comments from people that they had poor grammar back then with run on sentences. Dr. Brooks reminded them that we had to shorten sentences for our day and age because people couldn’t comprehend the high quality English language. It’s not that they had run-on sentences- it is that we {as a society} are ignorant. Most importantly, we DON’T HAVE TO BE. We begin by getting our own liberal arts education. If you don’t know how to do it, that is where TJED steps in. Go to the classics, my friends.

When he got to the area of fathers and mothers I was so thankful to hear what he said. Everyone knows the primary role of a mother. Today we have lost the role of father- no one even knows it. We all guessed things like: provider, comforter, etc. None of them was correct. The role of fathers is to praise and honor. WOW. How powerful and how true it is.

Books he highly recommended:

Wild at Heart by Eldridge
Oxford English Dictionary- all volumes
5000 Year Leap, a Miracle That Changed the World by W. Cleon Skousen
A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
A Leadership Education, Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille
The Coming Aristocracy by Oliver DeMille
A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens by Oliver DeMille and Shannon Brooks

Just as I was thrilled to be at the meeting and learn and grow, I was most thrilled to see my husband and daughter as inspired. I bought the books I didn’t have and my daughter grabbed the one for teens and has been reading it excitedly since we came home with it. He encouraged the parents to read it, but I will wait my turn as it thrills me to see her gain the inspiration for the purpose of TRUE education.

Afterward, I was most excited to meet some local mothers just starting TJED or some who had already been doing it. We are planning get-togethers and I can’t wait to get a colloquia started again. In the meantime, I have been re-inspired and have a renewed sense of what direction I’m headed- raising leaders.