Sunday, February 24, 2013

How We are Applying Leadership Education for All Ages and Stages

Leadership Education easily applies to all aspect of our lives.  It affects what I do as a mother, it affects how I communicate with others, and it applies to what I purchase, how I apply the principles of the Gospel, and how I educate my children.   At the writing of this article we have been doing home education the Thomas Jefferson way eight years with nine unique children.  I’ve learned so much along the way and feel much more confident in this stage of home ed than how I felt eight years ago.  

Oliver DeMille says you should start preparing for Scholar Phase when your child is in Core phase.  You need to always been thinking very far ahead.  When the child is in Scholar Phase you should be thinking about Depth phase.   When we started I had pulled my older three kids out of school and they were ages 9, 8, and 7 and I had three other kids ages 5, 3, and a baby.  Fast forward to today those kids are in Scholar Phase: Self-Directed, Apprentice, Practice Scholars.  The next three kids are in Love of Learning phase and I have three other kids who are all in Core.  I guess you could say I’m knee deep in Leadership Education.

Remembering the KEY YOU not THEM, I’ll start with moi.  

I run several home businesses because that is part of my mission to “help the sisters”.  It is also very fulfilling for me to have something larger than myself that I am working on.  I run the HomemakingCottage, the Enrichment Cottage online, sell Essential Oils, and help heal emotions with Energy Healing.  I’m also working on my scholar phase and taking several courses whenever I can to education myself.   How does this look?  Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are my “work” days and I spend 6-8 hours with breaks in between working.  The internet happens mostly in the evenings when I can squeeze it in and that goes for the Essential Oils business.  I also spend several hours a day reading or listening to books.  I listen to books or my favorite podcasts (Alex Jones, Nothing But Truth, Focal Point) in the car.  I read when I wake up and before going to bed.  I take many snatches of time throughout the day to read as well.  I also take time to exercise and I get to the gym four times a week.

The classes I’m currently squeezing in are Foundations of Liberty with Dr. Shanon Brooks.  He comes to Colorado every other month for a day long lecture.  My kids are in Founder’s Commonwealth school on Wednesdays.  I’m taking the adult Scholar class there.  I take Oliver DeMille’s online classes whenever possible.  My husband and I head an Emergency Preparation group and we have classes related to this once a month.  I’m involved in two book groups a month and I enjoy doing a Great Courses class when I can.

Our Home Library---one view
Classics Not Textbooks

When I first began Leadership Education I had no idea how many classic children’s books there were.  Well, I had no idea how many CLASSICS there were.  Within the first couple of years, I found a Book Mentor.  She is still my book mentor even while I mentor others in creating their own home libraries.  She is still several steps ahead in that area.  Additionally, I also use the book The Well-Trained Mind as a guide for classic books for kids.  We have two libraries for our family, a children’s area upstairs and the main library downstairs.  

When I want to focus on music, we go to books, not textbooks.  When I want to teach the children grammar, there are many great books, not textbooks.  Math books are bounteous and when they are older they read from the mathematicians.  We do use a few textbooks for math, but they are the side note not the focus.

Here are a few books in each area for the different phases for examples:


All: The Fandex Family Field Guide Composers

Core and Love of Learning:

Mozart by Ann Rachlin
George Handel by Mike Venezia
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss


Reinventing Bach by Paul Elie
A Taste for the Classics by Patrick Kavanaugh
Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers


All ages:

Up, Up and Way: A book about Adverbs by Ruth Heller
Mine, All Mine: A book about Pronouns by Ruth Heller
A Cache of Jewels and other Collective Nouns by Ruth Heller

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Core and Love of Learning:
Monster Musical Chairs
All of the Sir Cumference books
The Action of Subtraction by Brian P. Cleary


String, Straight-edge and Shadow by Julie E. Diggins
The Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe
The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio

Because classics also define other media besides books, we enjoy Kahn Academy online or on the ipad app as well as TED talks. (Like this one:)

We have about an hour a day (and it’s not always first thing in the morning, although that is ideal) when we do Power of an Hour (see Donna Goff’s site).  I spend time reading from our Core Book (scriptures), we do the Pledge of a Allegiance, sing songs, say prayer, and read one or more of these books as well as a classic and another educational book.  Right now we’re finishing the Hobbit and the book Transformed: How Everyday Things Are Made by Bill Slavin.

Mentors Not Professors

Based on the interests of my children and our family’s vision, the children have several mentors aside from me.  They are for: cello, violin, viola, and piano, sign language, math and science, and two of my children have a reading mentor, ballroom dancing mentor, and several other mentors.

As much as it sounds inviting for me to want to go back to school for a degree, in all reality that isn’t what I really want.  I think about Nat Bowditch in the book Carry on, Mr. Bowditch and his passion for learning and teaching himself so much.  Whenever I want to learn something new, I don’t register in college, I find someone who can teach me or look online to find a course (via internet, DVD, or tutorials) that can teach me.  

My daughter Charisa sorting receipts with Dad.

Stay tuned for Part two…

Friday, February 22, 2013

Just the facts: Mom’s do Math Everyday

Math is integrated in all areas of life.  Mothers are experts at doing mental math everyday without even thinking about it. In fact, we are quite good at math, but then….I’d wager cleaning your bathroom sinks that you already knew that!

For instance, when I hid four candy bars in my closet and came back the next day ready for a chocolate fix and find three wrappers and half a square of one bar left I use deductive reasoning to conclude that I either a) am a glutton for punishment and candy bars or b) someone thought by leaving a half a square of chocolate that it would satisfy me and alleviate the four spankings that are fairly due.  Another example is… if I leave ten minutes before the orthodontist appointment for my daughter, I should expect to arrive five minutes late.  That equals stress on my part, a dirty look from the receptionist, and ten minutes or more of extra wait time in the lobby plus or equal to the wait I must already have because they are always busy when we get there.   

If I notice my children are not very hungry one afternoon, mathematical reasoning tells me to make fewer sandwiches. Murphy’s Law teaches me that once they start eating they will be hungrier than at first they thought and therefore I must spend extra time pulling the ingredients back out of the cupboard, making more, and cleaning up again.  The next time I notice the children are not very hungry I try to remember the last math lesson I learned and make enough and extra. If they don’t eat it I store it away and then I will have negative time because I have saved it for the next meal or snack.  Negative time equals more time doing what I want---ideally, and therefore a less grumpy mom.

The real fun begins when we start multiplying. My two-year-old, red-headed little boy loves his mother. I could do no wrong in his eyes, so when I get ready to leave the house he always gives me two or more hugs and kisses before I open the door and two or more hugs and kisses when I’ve reached the porch.  When the rest of the children have realized that I’m leaving the house, they beg for one or two to come with (they know that I rarely take all nine children with me) and so now it is time to use their spiritual gift of persuasion.  If this doesn’t work, they move on to the next phase and that is to beg for more than one treat and remind me of all the good things they did that day to earn the treat (they’re learning multiplication and estimation here).   If that is a no-go, they move on to phase three, which is… what else can we get if we can’t come with you.  This looks something like, “Can we watch a movie if we finish all of our chores?” Or “Can we make two bowls of popcorn and listen to Mama Mia…if we finish all of our chores?”  The answers from me vary depending upon mood, or forgiveness of the chores not done, or seeing all their nine innocent faces staring pleadingly up into mine.  They’re good, but I’m better. They learn from the best!

Division is a bit harder.  Lots of pondering must go into division.  Should I cook two chicken breasts and divide them into a stir-fry or a picnic roast and divide it in more generous portions…the answer would depend on the time of day I’m pondering this question or how much work I choose to do standing in the kitchen.

Dividing and conquering cleaning the house can be chaotic and miserable or fun and organized.   Either way, it is a necessary evil math problem.  First, I have to think about who has been lazy lately, who can be counted on, and who should work alone, and who needs a buddy to help them along the way.  Then I have to divide the house into cleaning zones and assign the groups or individuals segments and zones.  This can get complicated very quickly.  The worst is when I see someone goofing off or hiding in the bathroom and I have to remember where they were assigned and to what regiment group.

Each woman has an innate sense of math skills and talent whether she knows it or not.  We are interior designers, which require knowledge of algebra to gain an understanding of formulas and their application to design. For example, determining the amount of paint needed based on surface area divided by the coverage each can of paint provides.  And Geometry is needed for determining spacial relationships in a room as well as measurement. Also, the calculation of angles and area are needed.  She needs these skills in determining how many kids can fit in the bathtub at one time or how many beds and bureaus a 9’x9’ room can hold.
As a mother she is multiplying and replenishing the earth and has to keep track of birth dates, each of her offspring, height, weight, clothing sizes, how many meals she fed them, how many days she grounded him/her, etc.  She divides her time and attention and multiplies her love.  How many times have you used math today?  Does each mother know…she is a genius and Einstein has nothing on her?!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Talk to me

My new year's resolution is to get back into writing mode.  I stopped and slowed down a lot of things I loved over the last couple of years as I was having #9 and just managing to barely keep up with life and homeschool.  My health has returned and I'm really missing old loves like blogging.  So, tell me, what are you looking for when you come to this blog?  This will help me when I sit down to write.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Are We Modern-day Romans?

A Comparative Look at Roman Life to ours

I have always been fascinated with history.  Perhaps it’s due to a curious thought that I should have been born in another timeframe.  Not that 60 BC would have been my timeframe of choice, but I do love to read about it.  I’d much rather learn through other people’s mistakes than completely mess up my own life and end up giving up like Cleopatra and letting a poisonous asp bite me because I couldn’t think of another way out of my problems. And vice versa, I love to learn from the successful people who changed the course of history in positive ways.  It’s an example to me that I have the same power to be a positive change in the world.

We’ve all heard the names of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, and Augustus Caesar.  Some lesser known names are Cato (a Roman Senator), Crassus (military general and politician), Pompey (military and political leader), and Sulla (a military leader and later a political leader).  Cicero was a famous lawyer, orator, philosopher, statesman, constitutionalist, and great writer of those times.  I find it fascinating to read about all of their lives.  There could be a TV mini-series or soap opera worthy of hearing about their lives, choices, their mistakes, and triumphs.
The sun keeps rising each day and each night the sun sets again.  For thousands of years the world has continued to go on.  Our world is the same world as it was thousands of years ago, with some modern day exceptions.  “There’s nothing new under the sun.” (See Ecclesiastes 1:9)

My chariot is a black Suburban, affectionately dubbed the big, Black Angus.  Most of us women are spoiled, though we may not care to admit it, and live in a similar fashion to Cleopatra.  We have closets full of clothes and many luxuries that we enjoy daily.  We even have servants, aside from our kids, and they are known as the Dishwasher, the Washing Machine, the Clothes Dryer, the Butler also known as the answering machine on the telephone, and the list goes on.  We are spoiled in that we don’t often think of what we have until the refrigerator stops running and then there’s panic. 

We are not slaving away all day to prepare food and daily living so our bodies need a little more working out.  My husband often speaks of these “modern-day”, “new to us” workouts where men pick up logs and boulders to throw them as a way to work the muscles.  Thank goodness for the modern day gym because there is no nudity allowed.  I wouldn’t be caught dead naked in a gym anyway, but then women weren’t allowed in the gymnasium in Roman times.  Look how far we’ve come, Cleopatra?

Let us, step back from this closer view and look at the larger picture.  The Roman aristocracy kept their people busy with distractions known as “Bread and Circuses” while they were destroying the Roman constitution--and the Republic itself.   Our country is filled with large distractions such as organized sports and free government food and handouts.  The government of the Roman’s was always dealing with corruption, selfishness, and greed.  People were more than willing to stab their best friend in the back if it served them and helped to progress them to a higher, more powerful position or rank.  Do we see like archetypes in the “aristocracy” of our day? 

The coliseum was filled with entertainment that often bothered the people but they frequented it anyway.  Sometimes, their entertaining actors (like Hollywood?) the gladiators revolted their places and Spartacus and his followers rebelled.  While the Roman’s enjoyed the gladiator fights, they were so afraid of them that they made them live and train far away from the city of Rome.
Are we making positive changes in our day, using our power and influence for good?  These thoughts I’ve been pondering as I finished reading about the Romans.  The Roman’s lives and their influence are now written down in the pages of history.  The sun has risen and set and many moons have now passed.  It’s our turn now. How are we living our lives?  Are we living as positive examples for our descendants?  What will be said of our generation?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What I'm Reading

This past month, my husband and I decided to begin listening to audio books together.  It has been such a fun bonding experience and has spurred many great conversations.  We find we only get to listen to them when we drive somewhere together or in the evenings before going to sleep.  But, even with these limitations, we've still managed to listen to White Fang and Alas, Babylon.

I'm also listening to the unabridged Les Miserables and reading it when I can.

I'm reading two books for adult colloquiums:  Farmer Boy and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Our Relief Society is reading the entire Book of Mormon in 3 months.  They laminated a schedule for us and covered a new copy of the Book of Mormon for each of us.  I'm currently more than halfway through Mosiah.

As a family, I'm reading aloud: The Hobbit (at night with hubby home), The Golden Fleece (during the day doing Power of an Hour), and Transform:  How Everyday Things Are Made.

Still plugging away on Don Quixote about 10 pages at a time.

Also reading: Will Mrs. Major go to Hell? (Humor), The Magic (inspirational), AntiCancer (health), and The New Wellness Revolution (business).

What is on your reading stack?